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CHAPTER FIVE. False memory syndrome

Valerie Sinason Karnac Books ePub

Susie Orbach

In this chapter, Susie Orbach shows the part that feminism played in the understanding of the extent of abuse against women and children. She examines the processes of personal denial in the consulting-room, as well as societal denial and the role of the media.

In the spring of 1993, I wrote a piece in my Guardian column raising concerns about the take-up in the media of the so-called false memory syndrome. I expressed my surprise and concern that so many column inches were being devoted to a discussion of parents claiming to be unjustly accused by their children rather than to what I considered the more serious problem of the sexual violation of children.

I argued that—as Jeffrey Masson (1984), Judith Herman Lewis (Herman, 1981, 1992), and others have argued—psychoanalysis has a complex and reasonably dishonourable history in relation to the acceptance of the veracity of reports of childhood sexual abuse. Since Freud abandoned the seduction theory in the late 1890s and transferred his understanding of the accounts of his patients’ childhood memories of sexual encounters with parents to the realm of internal phantasy, psychotherapy and its allied fields have tended to overlook both the existence and the real trauma of sexual abuse.

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Chapter Eleven: Reflections on the Treatment of Dissociative Identity Disorder and Dissociative Disorder not Otherwise Specified—a Closer Look at Selected Issues

Valerie Sinason Karnac Books ePub

Richard P. Kluft

Coons (1986) followed up the work of twenty clinicians, each treating one patient with dissociative identity disorder (DID), then called multiple personality disorder (MPD), for an average of thirty-nine months. Nineteen had not treated DID before. Twenty-five per cent of their patients achieved and sustained complete integration as defined by five of the six criteria used in Kluft's studies (Kluft, 1984a, 1986). Others had achieved partial integrations, or complete integrations that proved unstable. Two-thirds were reported much improved. Psychodynamic psychotherapy and hypnosis were the primary therapeutic modalities. Treatments averaged only one session per week, half the intensity currently recommended (International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation, 2011). No other study offers comparable insight into therapeutic encounters between non-specialist therapists and stringently diagnosed DID patients. Coons’ patients resembled the early cohorts reported by Kluft (Kluft, 1984a, 1986), an experienced therapist employing similar therapeutic techniques.

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Chapter Seven: Dissociative Identity Disorder, Culture, and Memory

Valerie Sinason Karnac Books ePub

Lina Hartocollis

I am a clinician. I am also a researcher and an academic. These different parts of me created something of an internal tension as I approached the writing of this chapter. I was asked to contribute a piece on the cultural context and meanings of so-called dissociative identity disorder. I was also asked to discuss the attendant polemic surrounding recovered memories of abuse. These are topics that, if not handled with care, can feel to survivors of abuse, like further assaults. Although I have not had first-hand experience with ritual abuse I have worked as a clinician with women who suffered sexual abuse as children and I have heard stories and seen suffering which has kept me up at night. I am well aware of the pain and the shame that can haunt abuse survivors well into adulthood. I know how important it is to create a therapeutic relationship in which support and validation and acceptance are necessary, if not sufficient, conditions for helping and healing survivors of abuse. I also firmly believe that survivors should be supported in finding their voice and telling their story—the story of their suffering and also a new narrative of healing and strength and hope for a different future. As a clinician, my role is not to question the “truth” of these stories in the forensic sense, nor do I question the nature of my patients’ suffering or the particular shape and form which their suffering takes. I applaud Anna for the courage it took to speak out and tell her story and I trust that although the story was not published in this volume, the writing of it gave her strength and helped in her journey toward wellness.

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APPENDIX: USEFUL ADDRESSES

Valerie Sinason Karnac Books ePub

•   DAUGHTERS AND THEIR ALLIES (DATA) PO Box 1EA, Newcastle Upon Tyne, NE99 1EA, UK

Daughters and Their Allies was launched in the northeast of England after false memory syndrome was fielded successfully for the first time in a British trial in the summer of 1994. A group of professionals, together with survivors of sexual abuse whose parents were members of the British False Memory Society, came together to campaign for justice for Fiona Reay, the first daughter in Britain whose father’s defence team had mobilized false memory syndrome against her allegation that he raped her throughout her childhood. Ironically and tragically, Fiona Reay had never forgotten her abuse. She produced medical records that testified to a decade of trying to tell her story. Although the Crown Prosecution Service had initially assembled other witnesses and medical evidence, she was ultimately left as the only witness, despite their willingness to give evidence.

DATA is deeply concerned that members of the health and welfare system refused to allow their professional employees to speak in her defence once the accusation of false memory implanted by professionals was raised in the media. DATA exists to ensure that no lone survivor or professional will have to take sole responsibility for breaking the silence.

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CHAPTER THREE. Trauma, skin: memory, speech

Valerie Sinason Karnac Books ePub

Ann Scott

In this chapter, Ann Scott looks at the role of language and speech in the false memory debate. Drawing on the psychoanalytic work of Henri Rey, she provides a careful linguistic analysis of the pain involved in this subject.

One of the first features to strike us when we consider the question of false memory and the controversy that it has generated is the role of speech both in organizing the terms of the debate and in preserving the anguish for those involved, in both generations of the families. I use a word as strong as anguish deliberately: the briefest survey of the ephemera of the False Memory Syndrome Foundation shows how much pain is embedded in the letters and statements of those who feel themselves to be falsely accused (see, for example, FMS, 1993; for the FMSF’s Affiliated Group in Britain, see ACAP, 1993). Because it is increasingly recognized that sexual abuse is a profound impingement of boundaries, psychic and actual, we tend to react with anger to a “denial of the truth” on the part of a parent accused of abuse (who is most likely, of course, to be the father). But I want to suggest that it is in the nature of this situation as a whole—where memories are so much at odds—that words can, to cite Henri Rey (1986), “be expelled as unwanted objects” (p. 185), by both daughters and parents. Furthermore, since sexual abuse and the memories associated with it concern the body, I want to suggest that it is through considering something about the relationship, felt and linguistic, between words and the subjective sense of the skin as the body’s boundary that we might be able to account for at least some of the uncontained feel that this debate has come to have and the experience of puzzlement that many have at the irreconcilably different accounts of the family members involved. My text is the reported speech of concerned journalism, and I am examining the issue through the lens of an idea about dialogue evolved within the clinical setting.

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