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Medium 9781855751224

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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Medium 9781782203490

Chapter Two: Commentary on Life Writing from Survivors

Valerie Sinason Karnac Books ePub

Annalise, Wendy Hoffman, Alison Miller, Mary Bach-Loreaux, Paula Bennett, Amelia van der Merwe, Kim Noble, and Joanna

Between the personal contributions that follow, we have inserted autobiographical excerpts from another survivor, Annalise, who has written many pieces on the subject. In these excerpts we include the hardest point of all. This is harder than the horror story of the B movie organised abuse can turn into. It is harder than any description of war torture. It is the L word—the twist at the start of everything: love and attachment.

Many themes so central to the suffering of those with DID are covered in the excerpts, like survivor guilt, body shame, rage, the reality of conflicting alters, memory, and the practical realities of living with DID. But the most recurring and penetrating theme is the deep and complex ambivalence towards the perpetrator. Mourning for the perpetrator is the core of everything—the heart of the bondage that holds so many survivors captive and unable to experience true compassion and love for themselves, which is the true beginning of healing.

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Medium 9781782205630

Chapter Three: Life—What's That?

Patricia Frankish Karnac Books ePub

How do we even prepare to begin
To tell of a life that is without sin
The child not at fault and yet so abused
Treated liked dog dirt and totally used
Hurt and controlled and tortured and pained
Rituals glory the bad people gained
So the child broke in pieces with lots of new names
Because of torturer's spiteful evil games.

The battle to live began at our birth
The child constantly fighting to even have worth
The horrors that happened splitting her mind
Into children and adults, animals of all kinds
The fight for their freedom constantly aflame
Until one day they were rescued and their freedom came
Many years came and many years went
Until one day a new life was sent…


To most people in the world, I exist as one person—that is what society sees and thinks I actually am. But to those who know me, we are much more than one person—we are many inside one body. This is because we have Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), and have many alternate personalities (alters). As a collection of alters we switch in and out of the body, and are many different ages, both male and female, and animals who keep our body safe, all with different abilities and roles. Within the following writing by ourselves, you will notice changes between the words I and we. This signifies switching between alters, which we felt was important to happen for chronological continuity and for everyone inside our body to have their say who wants to. Also, direct quotes by any alter are indented in a different font. Everyone within our system has been silenced for too long, and now it is time for our truths to be known.

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CHAPTER THIRTEEN. How can we remember but be unable to recall? The complex functions of multi-modular memory

Valerie Sinason Karnac Books ePub

Mary Sue Moore

In this chapter, Mary Sue Moore reviews new research findings on multi-modular human memory systems which have important implications for understanding the impact of trauma on memory. She then focuses on procedural and declarative memory as shown in human-figure drawings.

Recent neurocognitive research has produced empirical findings regarding the non-linear organization and interactive complexity of all human brain functions. Previous methods used for measuring brain function—as state rather than dynamic process—have limited our conceptualization of the variability and overall capacity of the human mind. Theoretical formulations of these functions generally involved either cause-and-effect statements or attempted measurements of an “absolute” capacity. The most widely accepted methods of data analysis were linear. This chapter presents an invitation to the reader to consider the profound implications, for mental health treatment and human development, of non-linear, interactive formulations of human brain function which recognize physiological process and context as dynamically linked aspects of an irreducible whole. This understanding of brain function as a dynamic, interactive process, along with the concepts of neural plasticity and multi-modular organization, forms the basis of a revolutionary new theory of human memory. The conceptual frame described above is one that relies on a complex systems point of view, not just as an option, but as a necessity if we are to gather an accurate understanding of any brain function. It has become clear that to adopt a linear, isolated frame of reference when analysing human brain function—in this case, memory—is to distort that which we are studying to the point of gathering “false or erroneous” data (Grigsby & Schneiders, 1991; Grigsby, Schneiders, & Kaye, 1991). Grigsby and Schneiders (1991) describe the irreducible interactive whole—which is comprised of the organism and its environment—lucidly arguing for the abandonment of the well-practiced experimental approach in which a particular function is selected and experiments are carefully (and artificially) designed to study this “uncontaminated” by other human processes:

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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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