Thursday, 14 June 2012

False Memory Syndrome

Did you know that it is possible to truly believe that something has happened to you when in fact it hasn't?  That you might have flashbacks and nightmares that are your mind has created because of other trauma that has occurred?

I have been doing lots of reading about this recently as I am currently having to deal with allegations being made against people I know and love.  Unfortunately it seems that the only way of ever getting to the bottom of false memories is by getting all parties to talk about it to find where the distortions of memory may have occurred.  For my situation this is not possible as there are no mentally reliable people left to talk.

Most of the reading I have done seems to centre on sexual abuse by parents or grandparents, the majority of stories and research also centre around poor therapy where abuse may have been inadvertently suggested.

However there is a smaller body of evidence that seems to show that it is possible that people are able to start to recount false memories or flashbacks in order to avoid looking at real trauma.  This is not done on purpose but is a coping mechanism of a damaged person.

I am now tasked with finding a way of living with the information that I have been given.  Reading this article has helped.  This encourages the focus to remain on the person who may be having false memories and remembering that they are occurring for a reason, even if it is not the reason they might believe it to be.  What I am surprised by however is the lack of conversation that has occurred with any professionals that we are involved in to discuss False Memory Syndrome at all.  I have stumbled across it (and the fact that there is a British society of it!) because of deep gnawing feeling and some pretty reliable evidence that suggests these allegations are not true.  I had presumed that they were just lies - but now I can see that there is far more to it than that.

I do not know whether there will ever be a conclusion to the situation that I am in, I have been told not to expect one.  It has made me turn whole heartily to my faith in God, it is a burden far to big to be able to bear alone.

Matthew 11:28  (NIV)

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."

Amen to that! 


  1. I thought I'd mention that it is possible for a child with a perfectly happy childhood to be ensnared in False Memories. We have a strong Christian home and raised our child to love God and to seek His will and guidance in all things. We were more close as a family than I can even explain.

    After falling into the hands of a therapist, our wonderful child turned into the exact opposite of who she really is. In a recent letter, she accused me of doing horrible things, with the explanation that her Mother and I were just in denial and had blocked these memories.

    Our daughter even admitted that she had only recently "recovered" these memories. Now, our child says that she hates God, and has cut off contact with us, while speaking glowingly of this therapist, who has become the center of her world.

    I found this online:

    "The Construction of False Memory Syndrome", and they explained that the steps go like this:

    This pattern may be characterized as follows:
    1. A belief that a behavioral problem--an eating disorder, a sexual inhibition or promiscuity, a depressive reaction, or any other behavior that ought not occur--is a reaction to a past event that was so traumatic that its experience was completely repressed or dissociated.

    2. The development of pseudomemories that one was sexually abused as a child.

    3. A centering of identity and relationships around these pseudomemories (so that the person becomes defined as a "survivor").

    4. The development of an extreme dependence on the therapist and a distraction from the problems that initially precipitated therapy.

    5. A defensive avoidance of any evidence that might challenge the belief system and a severing of contact with family members and friends who do not support the belief system and are considered to be in denial.

    Thank you for writing about this. People like me will undoubtedly find your site, and be helped. Six weeks ago, we did not even know this type of things was possible. Now we are reading everything we can get our hands on and have been quite shocked at we are finding.

    We are praying daily and asking God to protect our child until she can be restored to her real childhood memories.

    Of course, we are hurt, but we feel like our focus needs to be on our daughter's pain, which is needless, except for the sinister suggestions of a therapist, who is among many thousands who practice "recovered" memory therapy.

    Thank you again, and God bless you.

    1. Thank you for your encouragement, it is not something people generally like to read about, but I am sure as you have confirmed that there are other people stuck in these situations and the torment for all family members even those not directly involved in accusations is devastating x.