memory based therapies and found them to frequently create memories unsupported by the evidence. Accusers then often retract stories after the social circles that encouraged and supported the false memories dissipate. In the early 2000's the courts began to realize that memory based therapies were creating a glut of wrongful convictions. Legal reversals and settlements in favor of the falsely accused mounted. Therapies based on eliciting tales of past horrid events subsided though are still used by the uninformed or ill informed. A new trend emerged in the memory based therapies. In 2008 Dr. McHugh, a former Chair of Psychiatry at John Hopkins, predicted that a new wave of false diagnosis and therapies using the idea of "traumatization" and "victimhood". Ten years later his dire predictions were realized. That errant movement continues to wreak havoc worsening the impact of tragedies on the lives of innocent clients and the innocents they accuse based on the false memories created.
Why Use Tragedy Producing Therapy?
The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry published an article by numerous reputable psychiatrist in the US, Canada and England. The article detailed how therapists surveyed in the United States and Canada hold incorrect views about memory and are as a result using dated therapies approaches that induce harmful outcomes. This is at the heart of the mental health crisis in the United States. There is a clamoring for better and more informed training of those who become therapists. A naive public, therapists and a highly influential but misguided entertainment media unknowingly perpetuate memory myths and the resulting damaging therapy.
Many experience professional gain and monetary profit as a result of harmful therapies. These incentives have both short term and long term impacts that perpetuate the harmful therapies. The economics of our system props up misunderstanding about memory. poor therapy and harmful outcomes. How is this so? We can quickly look at the economic impact on the lives of professionals who benefit from poor mental health treatment to better understand what is happening.
The therapist is the first intervention that can help ward off a mental health episode. Using harmful memory based therapy extends treatment time and the client persists in a state of turmoil. The therapist uses possibly unintended suggestion(s) to nurtures the idea that their may be more to treat than the symptoms the client need help with. More treatment means more income for the therapist.
The client may have a variety of personal motives for the false memories that are written about and documented. If the claims of abuse are "credible" and the presentation is convincing then there are civil lawsuits that can win the client hundreds of thousands of dollars. There is the use of false memories implanted in children to gain advantage in custody cases. There is also the use of "victimhood" to garner sympathy and access to monetary assistance not otherwise available. The client can directly profit monetarily by recounting false memories in a convincing fashion.
Lawyers on all sides experience additional opportunities for income. Child custody disputes are common and lucrative. Civil actions based on "repressed memories" from 10-70 years old can be the source of huge amounts of cash in civil settlements with institutions and wealthy families wanting to keep such talk suppressed for fear of those who seek to profit. Those falsely accused face the possibility of decades behind bars for clase accusations. Lawyers on both sides of the contentious emotional controversies generated by poor therapies then involve high stakes (lifetime of prison) and emotionally heightened accusers who have come to genuinely believe they have been harmed by events that never actually happened. The result is litigation that generates lucrative financial rewards all the lawyers involved.
Expert witnesses that include forensic psychologists and medical doctors trained in "abuse" have a chance for bonus paydays. It seems ludicrous but experts in trauma will use "poor memory" to substantiate the validity of claims. The less accurate the details then the more traumatic the event! A major defense of the accused is historically is to cite the inconsistencies of recollections. Experts can then be called in to substantiate that "inconsistent and unreliable memory" validates the memory of trauma! The innocent and accused can have no rational defense for an accuser believed because the story is erranta and changing! The innocent but falsely accused facing such "experts" must then hire "experts" who can help maintain that these issues lessen reliability. Memory based therapies then produce a need for more experts to sort out if the testimonies ar relevant. The high stakes and heightened emotions contribute to the increased income for experts who can bolster client testimony.
"Child advocates" who work for institutions can justify a fully paid position that can protect the institution wih "safe policies" and determine when "accusations are credible" . There are no policies that will ever stop false memories and resulting accusations but it does not matter. The more accusations that require official action then the greater the impact and importance of the "child advocate". So the advocate is enhanced by claiming as many false suspicions and false accusations as "credible" whether possible, impossible, true or not. A lack of physical evidence assists in justifying a full-time staff person who benefits financially and professionally from more accusations whether true or false .
"Child Protection Services" professionals experience growth and advancement when the load of cases they elect to take on increases. Confirmation bias is known to be rampant as everyone in the system realizes they are needed more than ever if they confirm another accusation by every person with "memories" of abuse. What is even more sad is when the child protection service is directly corrupted for money and as well as increasing departmental budgets and personal advancement in order to "protect innocent children". Who would be against that?
Detectives act quickly to become heroes and advance careers. The greater the number of cases they present with convincing testimony the greater the need of their department. The department is then given more resources and personnel to help more of those who "remember abuse".
Prosecutors can benefit professionally in a number of ways. Prosecutors know that highly emotional child abuse cases, even if the victim is an adult claiming to be a child, quickly garner the sympathy of juries. The convictions often need no expensive physical analysis of evidence (because they have none) and are both cheap and fast. This helps the "conviction rate" and shows the competence of the prosecutor as they are able to put more people in prison. Their next reelection in assured with higher rates of cheaply obtained convictions and more declared criminals in jail (based on false memories). Personal financial security, increased resources and professional resume building are the result of successful prosecution rates when emotionally charged cases needing little or no physical evidence are so easily and quickly convicted.
"You Tube Counseling" sites have attractive, personable, vibrant emotive presentations describing repressed memories, trauma and dissociation with the associated ads, booklets and accounts available for subscription with special information. They avoid the hundreds and hundreds of replicated studies debunking the errant memory myths but they will accept your views, clicks and money with bizarre tales of abuse that never happened.
Political influence can use traumatic false memories of abuse to destroy a candidate for any position. Supreme court nominees can suddenly face scrutiny false suspicions and hordes of angry partisans if someone can step up and generate an "memory" from 20, 30 of 40 years ago. Details of the candidates life can allow for creating moments and locations of contact. Students can get even with teachers using traumatic memories and false accusations that depicts the teacher as a sexual predator . Priests can find themselves disowned, with no legal representation and tossed to the side after decades of service to their church based on an accusation that is unsupported by evidence, bizarre but deemed "credible". Accusations are an easy way to dispense with people who hold positions you do not like. In the case of "childhood trauma" with the evidence bar so low for "credible accusations" unsubstantiated accusations can be useful in removing people in power who have dissimilar political viewpoints.
The financial and political pay offs of a system that encourages and protects false accusations are quite significant for a wide variety of clients and professionals.
There are helpful therapies and approaches to mental health that have clear evidence based outcomes which verify improvements in patients. These improvements in treatments have accelerated immensely since the ground breaking book called The Broken Brain by Nancy Andreason who is Psychiatrist with both a Medical Doctorate and a Ph.D.
Dr. Andreason points out that most of the psychological struggles people have are related to physiological issues affecting the brain that are untreated. Hallucinations, delusions, mania and despondency can all created with a variety of physiological problems. She goes much further. Dr. Andreason thinks that all of the mental health and psychological issues can be treated with somatic techniques that include medications and focus on physiological health. Incredible results occur when a competent psychiatrist helps a patient or client regain occupational functioning, emotional stability and healthy family relationships.
Somatic treatment need not be limited to medication. A new breed of counselors are now "naturopaths" and medical doctors who understand the metabolic impacts of nutrients. Nutrients can also help those with psychological or mental health issues. Abram Hoffer was a psychiatrist, and Medical Doctor with a Ph.D. who wrote, researched and practiced using a combination of somatic treatments and therapy to help those who were struggling with mental illness and psychological challenges. His work was groundbreaking and he frequently was thwarted in his attempts to change the focus of his profession from psychotropic medication alone to therapy involving medication, nutritional supplements (such as niacin) and forward looking cognitive based therapy.
Cognitive based therapy is the only therapy associated with positive outcomes despite the person who is using it and is recommended by those who carefully track outcomes. In this form of therapy the client is challenged to think in new ways about what afflicts them. It encourages more productive strategies to solving personal problems and by adapting new strategies for making sound decisions, setting realistic personal goals and focusing on the present and the immediate future. Cognitive based therapy has no need for recalling, imagining or creating trauma in order to "free" the client. A therapist that uses this approach exclusively will lose patients frequently because the patients implement to strategies, their lives improve and the client no longer needs "therapy". Cognitive therapy fosters client indepence without blaming and repeated recollections of trauma. The result are clients that move on and spend less on the therapist.
PERSONAL "MEMORY HEALING" STORIES ON MEMORY BASED THERAPY
BOOK ON MEMORY BASED THERAPIES
Baker, Robert A. Hidden Memories: Voices and Visions From Within (Buffalo, N.Y. : Prometheus Books, 1992.).
Crews, Frederick. (1997). Memory Wars: Freud's Legacy in Dispute. New York Review of Books Reprint Edition.
Dawes,Robyn M. Everyday Irrationality : How Pseudo Scientists, Lunatics, and the Rest of Us Systematically Fail to Think Rationally (Westview Press, 2001).
Erwin, Edward. (1995). A Final Accounting: Philosophical and Empirical Issues in Freudian Psychology. MIT Press.
Gardner, Martin. (2006). "The Memory Wars."Skeptical Inquirer. Part 1 is in vol. 30 no. 1, parts 2 and 3 are in vol. 30 no. 2.
Goldstein. Eleanor C. (1992). Confabulations: Creating False Memories, Destroying Families. Sirs.
de Rivera, Joseph. "'Trauma searches' plant the seed of imagined misery," The Sacramento Bee, May 18, 1993.
Hallinan, Joseph T. "Money for repressed memories repressed," Sacramento Bee, Jan. 12, 1997, Forum.
Johnson, M.K. et al. "Source Monitoring,"Psychological Bulletin, 114, 3-28.
Johnston, Moira. Spectral Evidence: The Ramona Case: Incest, Memory, and Truth on Trial in Napa Valley (Westview Press, 1999).
Loftus, Elizabeth and Katherine Ketcham. The Myth of Repressed Memory (New York: St. Martin's, 1994).
Mullen Paul E. and Jillian Fleming. 1998. "Long-term Effects of Child Sexual Abuse"
Ofshe, Richard and Ethan Watters. Making Monsters: False Memories, Psychotherapy, and Sexual Hysteria (New York: Scribner's, 1994).
Pendergrast, Mark. Victims of Memory : Sex Abuse Accusations and Shattered Lives 2nd ed. (Upper Access Book Publishers, 1996).
Schacter, Daniel L., editor, Memory Distortion: How Minds, Brains, and Societies Reconstruct the Past(Harvard University Press, 1997).
Schacter, Daniel L. Searching for Memory - the brain, the mind, and the past (New York: Basic Books, 1996).
Singer, Margaret Thaler and Janja Lalich. Crazy Therapies (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, Inc., 1996). Review of "Crazy" Therapies
Tavris, Carol. "Hysteria and the incest-survivor machine," Sacramento Bee, Forum section, January 17, 1993.
Wakefield, Hollida and Ralph Underwager. Return of the Furies - An Investigation into Recovered Memory Therapy (Peru, Illinois: Open Court Publishing Co., 1994).
"Debunking Myths About Trauma and Memory," (2005). Richard J. McNally, Ph.D. Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, Vol 50, No 13, November.
My review of Crazy Therapies by Singer & Lalich
Twelve Myths about False Memories
Mass Media Funk: Study shows the longer one is in RMT, the more disabled one becomes
Statements by Professional Organizations on recovered memory therapy
"Truth or invention: exploring the repressed memory syndrome" excerpt from The Myth of Repressed Memory by ElizabethLoftus and Katherine Ketcham
"Remembering Dangerously" by Elizabeth Loftus
False Memory Syndrome Foundation WWW Page
Recovered Memories or Modern Witch Hunt? by Douglas E. Hill
Recovered Memory Therapy and False Memory Syndrome by John Hochman, M.D.
"First of All, Do No Harm" A Recovered Memory Therapist Recants An Interview With Robin Newsome By Mark Pendergrast
Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance: repressed memory therapy page
"Recovered Memories of Abuse: Assessment, Therapy, Forensics," By Kenneth S. Pope, Ph.D., ABPP and Laura S. Brown, Ph.D., ABPP
"Recovered Memories of Sexual Abuse: Scientific Research & Scholarly Resources" By Jim Hopper, Ph.D.
Lisa Nasseff claims therapist Mark Schwartz brainwashed her A woman is suing a St. Louis therapist, claiming he hypnotized her into falsely believing she had been a part of a satanic cult, had multiple personalities, and had taken part in satanic rituals.
Back to Salem: Paul Shanley and the Return of "Recovered Memory" by Alexander Cockburn
Exonerating the Friedmans by Chris Mooney