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Diana E. H. Russell, Ph.D.
The Great Incest War: Moving Beyond Polarization -- Introduction to The Secret Trauma: Incest in the Lives of Girls and Women (2nd Edition)


  Introduction to The Secret Trauma:
Incest in the Lives of Girls and Women
(2nd Edition)*

The republication of The Secret Trauma could hardly be more timely.  Although this book was published in 1986, the survey data on which it is based were gathered in 1978 — well before incest was widely talked about and covered in the media.  At the time, disclosures of incest were still frequently greeted with skepticism by clinicians, law enforcement officers, child protection workers and courts, and even by parents, teachers, and social workers.  Nevertheless, an unprecedented 16 percent of the 930 randomly-drawn women interviewed in my study reported having been sexually abused by a relative before the age of 18.  The more general finding that just over one in three (38‰) women in this study disclosed at least one experience of child sexual abuse is now the most widely accepted estimate of the prevalence of child sexual abuse in the United States. 

In the years following the publication of The Secret Trauma, however, the debate over incest escalated into a momentous and venomous controversy.  As cases such as the 1987 McMartin's Preschool trial for the alleged satanic ritual abuse of over 350 children by 6 perpetrators, and the 1994 recovered memory trial in which Holly Ramona charged her father with rape after her “memories” of these assaults emerged in therapy, many people's skepticism about the validity of widespread claims of satanic ritual abuse and recovered memories of child sexual abuse (mostly incest) increased.  “The Memory Wars,” or “the Great Incest War,” as these battles have been called (Crews, 1995, and Armstrong, 1994, respectively), pitted the child sexual abuse/incest (1) recovery movement against the false memory movement.  This movement was led by parents many of whom had been charged with incestuous abuse by their children, who believed that most or all recovered memories of child sexual abuse are false — the product of suggestions by therapists, other incest survivors, and/or suggestive reading material.

While the rigorous documentation of very high prevalence rates of incestuous abuse in The Secret Trauma indicates that incest continues to be a widespread and urgent problem, I now believe that both sides of “the Great Incest War” have some validity as well as many shortcomings. I also believe that both sides have undermined the feminist effort that first brought incest to public attention.  I believe that therapists in the incest recovery movement were the first culprits responsible for subverting the feminist incest revolution and transforming it into a counter revolution — a view I will explain at the end of this introduction.

The Secret Trauma reminds us that there is a great deal of real suffering that should not get lost in this controversy.  Above all, I hope that the widespread prevalence and trauma of incestuous abuse documented in this book will undermine those in the false memory movement who seek to engender doubt about the validity of all or most victims' charges of incestuous abuse, not just those retrieved in recovered memory therapy or suggested by those who interview children about sexual abuse at day care centers and the like.


Clinicians (exemplified by Freud and the neo-Freudians) and scientists (exemplified by Kinsey and his colleagues) long denied, minimized, or covered-up incestuous abuse.  But in the late 1970s (with one early exception), when the survey data for The Secret Trauma were collected, feminists began to publish a host of books and articles challenging the sexist lens through which incest had been viewed for centuries (Rush, 1974; Herman and Hirschman, 1977; Armstrong, 1978; Butler, 1978; Rush, 1980; Herman, 1981).  Survivors started writing their stories, educating the public, demanding reforms, confronting their perpetrators, and meeting in free and supportive self-help groups which enabled them to feel less isolated.  With the help of the media — always eager for a new angle — the women who spoke and wrote about incest revolutionized thinking on the issue.

Therapists began to break with the Freudian tradition of blaming victims and treating their disclosures as fantasies, instead asking their clients directly and early in the treatment process if they had ever been sexually abused in childhood.  New laws were passed, one of which required professionals to report all suspected cases of child sexual abuse.  As a result of these changes, more survivors reported their victimization to the authorities and became willing to prosecute their perpetrators.

While the new openness about incest brought about undeniably positive changes, at some point the incest revolution began to go haywire.  Some therapy clients who had had no memories of incestuous abuse prior to therapy, started to remember experiences in the course of therapy.  Most therapists in the incest recovery movement attributed this phenomenon to repression, a Freudian concept believed to explain how individuals typically protect themselves from having to face memories of unbearably painful experiences.  Therapists began to use memory retrieval techniques with their clients, particularly if they suffered from any of the symptoms that clinical experience or research had identified as associated with a history of incestuous abuse.  Some therapists became quite punitive toward those who failed to “remember” such experiences (Goldstein and Farmer, 1992; 1993).  Even when clients entered therapy with memories of being incestuously abused, some therapists pressed them to remember additional experiences of sexual abuse.  Some therapists also urged their clients to confront their perpetrators, sever their relationships with them, and prosecute them.  To accommodate survivors with retrieved memories, the statute of limitations for reporting incest was increased in many states, (2) setting a time limit on reporting from the moment of remembering the abuse rather than experiencing it.

In the 1980s, some therapists claimed to have uncovered a new kind of sex crime called ritual abuse.  Satanic ritual abuse, which entailed macabre forms of sexual and other abuses against children and adults, was the main manifestation of this new crime.  The now-notorious McMartin preschool case in Manhattan Beach, Los Angeles, was one of the cases to launch the era of accusations of ritual abuse in satanic cults that was soon to grip America and become a household word (Nathan, 1990; deYoung, 1997; Fukurai, et al., 1994; Pendergrast, 1997).  After what Mary deYoung describes as “relentless grilling” of the McMartin children by social workers, 369 of them told of experiencingthe ritual ingestion of feces, urine, blood, semen, and human flesh; the disinterment and mutilation of corpses; the sacrifices of infants; and the orgies with their day care providers, costumed as devils and witches, in the classrooms, in tunnels under the center, and in car washes, airplanes, mansions, cemeteries, hotels, ranches, gourmet food stores, local gyms, churches, and hot air balloons.  And they named not only the seven McMartin day care providers as their satanic abusers, but their soccer coaches, babysitters, next-door neighbors, and even their own parents, as well as local businesspeople, the mayor's wife, who was said to drive around town with the corpses of sacrificed infants in the back of her stationwagon, news reporters covering the story, television and film stars, and members of the Anaheim Angels baseball team (Nathan and Snedeker, 1995, as cited by deYoung, 1997, p. 21).

As a result of the spread of these wildly inventive beliefs, by 1986 “there had been at least fifty 'little McMartin's across the country” (deYoung, 1997, p. 22).  Five years later, there were fifty more (p. 22).  However, no corroboratory evidence of satanic ritual abuse was ever found in connection with these day care cases (Lanning, 1989; deYoung, 1997, p. 22). 

Children were not alone in acquiescing to authority figures' suggestions of ritual satanic abuse.  Increasing numbers of adult women and some men also claimed that they had been subjected to brutal and grotesque experiences of ritual abuse in satanic cults.  Most people's reports originated in individual therapy (Feldman-Summers and Pope, 1994), but some also arose in survivor group therapy and/or after reading accounts of satanic ritual abuse (e.g., Smith and Pazder, Michelle Remembers,  1980).  These “memories” tended to become increasingly bizarre with the addition of more and more perpetrators added as therapy proceeded — sometimes for many years.  In addition, some therapists who practiced recovered memory therapy increasingly diagnosed incest survivors as suffering from Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD), a previously very rare disorder which proliferated dramatically in the 1980s.

The profession failed to monitor and sanction these increasingly outrageous practices in their midst.  And, until the False Memory Syndrome Foundationburst upon the scene in 1992, therapists in the incest recovery movement were subject to very little outside criticism (Ofshe and Watters 1994, p. 12).  

The Birth of the False Memory Movement

The FMS Foundation was founded in Philadelphia by Pamela Freyd and her husband Peter in 1992.  Peter Freyd, who had been accused of incestuous abuse by his daughter Jennifer, maintained that her charges were false, and his wife supported his claim. (3)   Many other members of this organization also claim they were falsely accused of incestuous abuse.

The primary goal of the FMS Foundation is to protest against false charges of incestuous abuse and satanic ritual abuse, and to assist parents and child victims of false memory syndrome (defined as a condition in which a person's identity and interpersonal relationships are centered around a memory of a traumatic experience which is objectively false but in which the person strongly believes [Kihlstrom, 1994, cited by Pope, 1997, p. 998].

Most of the 48 individuals on the Scientific and Professional Advisory Board of the FMS Foundation have impressive credentials and scholarly achievements, many in areas germane to memory and psychotherapy, and some of them actually do therapy. I believe none of them has done research on child sexual abuse, but nevertheless, the list of experts has likely helped the FMS Foundation to influence the media, the outcome of legal cases involving retrieved memories, and public opinion.

Many advocates of the false memory movement claim that there is an epidemic of people suffering from this syndrome (e.g. Goldstein and Farmer, 1993, pp. 8-9; Crews, 1995; Spiegel, 1997, p. 995).  Prevalence estimates range from close to 67,000 cases to approximately 1,476,000 cases (de Rivera, 1997, p. 996, and Dawes, 1995, respectively).  Many therapists in the recovery movement consider these estimates to be wild exaggerations (e.g., Pope, 1996), but neither side has any hard evidence to support their claims.

False memory advocates believe that recovered memory therapy is the major cause of false memories.  They argue that many, most, or all therapists (there is no consensus on this) who engage in this kind of therapy are guilty of using suggestive, manipulative, coercive, or even brainwashing techniques with some of their clients in order to achieve their objective.

FMS advocates are particularly critical of recovered memory therapists who use hypnosis, relaxation techniques, dream analysis, age regression, and drugs like sodium amytal, in an effort to retrieve memories.  FMS advocates point out that ample scientific evidence demonstrates that these techniques heighten clients' suggestibility as well as their confidence in the correctness of their “memories”; however they do not enhance the accuracy of clients' memories (e.g. see Ofshe and Watters, 1994).  False memory advocates also criticize group therapy for survivors and those who are trying to retrieve “memories” of incestuous abuse, arguing that listening to other's experiences — or alleged experiences — of incestuous abuse often induces participants to recover false memories of their own incestuous abuse.

Advocates of false memories also condemn the authors of the many books and articles that stress the importance of retrieving memories of childhood incestuous abuse.  They especially attack Ellen Bass and Laura Davis' book,The Courage to Heal (1988), which they frequently refer to as the Bible of the recovered memory movement.  They ridicule the authors for making irresponsible statements such as, “Many women don't have memories, and some never get memories.  This doesn't mean they weren't abused” (1988, p. 81), as well as providing a long list of symptoms supposedly indicative of child sexual abuse but so broad that it is likely to apply to many others as well.  After reading The Courage to Heal — often at the request of their therapists — many women have retrieved memories of incestuous abuse.

FMS advocates maintain that the central flaw in the recovered memory argument is therapists' reliance on the Freudian concept of repression.  MostFMS advocates claim that there is no such phenomenon, or that there is no scientific proof for it (e.g. Loftus, 1994; Ofshe and Watters, 1994; Pendergrast, 1995; Ofshe and Singer, 1994).  At the extreme end, some even argue that genuinely traumatic experiences are not forgotten.  For example, cult expert Margaret Singer maintains that, “Trauma does not cause people to repress memories.  Trauma has just the opposite effect: people can't forget it” (Jaroff, 1993, p. 57; emphasis added).  By Singer's logic, allretrieved memories are false. 

Richard Ofshe coined the term “robust repression” to conceptualize the type of repression he claims recovered memory advocates believe in.  It includes the notion that the repressed information is “held in a pristine, nondeteriorating form until the anxiety with which the information is associated dissipates” (Hagar, 1995, p. 9) and “that each event [of sexual abuse] is forgotten as it happens and that repeated assaults are experienced as if for the first time“ (Brandon, et al., p. 301).  According to Ofshe: “There's about as much evidence for this kind of repression as there is for unicorns, the Loch Ness monster, the abominable snowman, and ET trying to call home” (Hagar, 1995, p. 17).

In response to this kind of criticism, some recovered memory advocates have now switched to using the term dissociation in place of repression (Hopper, 1998).  But according to Ofshe and Singer (1994), changing the label achieves nothing: dissociation is another Freudian concept with no more scientific basis than repression.

In an attempt to prove their theory, several recovery movement researchers have conducted studies purporting to show that many clients have periods of amnesia for experiences of incestuous abuse that they later retrieve (e.g. Herman and Schatzow, 1987; Briere and Conte, 1993.  A. Scheflin and D. Brown maintain that there are now 25 studies “all of which demonstrate amnesia” for experiences of childhood sexual abuse [cited in Hopper, 1998, p. 11]).  However, these researchers overlook the possibility that the retrieved “memories” are not authentic. Nor do periods of amnesia prove what mechanism is involved in the failure to remember.

For example, in an attempt to prove the existence of repression, John Briere and Jon Conte (1993) conducted an experiment in which they asked 450 therapy clients who identified themselves as victims of child sexual abuse whether there had ever been a period in their lives before the age of 18 when they could not remember their abuse experience.  Fifty-nine percent answered in the affirmative leading Briere and Conte to advise “the clinician who has some reason to believe that his or her client was molested as a child … to continue to entertain that hypothesis during treatment, even in the absence of specific abuse memories,” and even when the clients deny such a history (emphasis added; p. 26; also see Elliot and Briere, 1995).

However, Ofshe and Watters (1994) point out that the pool of respondents from which Briere and Conte drew their subjects probably included many recovered memory clients (p. 308).  And,

If the memories of abuse were not 'discovered' in therapy but rather 'created' in therapy, the patient would, of course, believe that she had been amnesiac for the material.  This is to say that the survey is only valid if the recovered memories are valid.  Briere and Conte offer no evidence to counter this problem, saying only that due to their “clinical experience” they “doubt that abuse confabulation is a major problem in abuse research.”  (pp. 308-309).

But “clinical experience” is totally subjective and unscientific.  
I believe that both sides of the memory wars are mistaken in treating their different views of repression as central to their disagreement.  The real problem is not the unacceptability or unprovability of the terms repression, dissociation, or amnesia; it is that retrieved “memories” cannot be assumed to be authentic.  The key question that research needs to address is whether recovered memories of child sexual abuse are true or false, and if both, what is the approximate ratio of true to false memories.   

It seems likely that research on the brain will contribute to answering these questions.  According to cognitive neuroscientist Michael Gazzaniga, “it is the easiest thing in the world to implant memories into someone;” although the right brain “is very low on false memories … the left brain is a genius at it” (Public lecture, 1998).  Perhaps future brain research will discover a way of ascertaining the veracity of memories of child sexual abuse.

Retractors' Suits

By 1994, dozens of suits had been filed around the country by retractors who maintained that “bad therapy led them to false memories of past abuse” (Ness, 1994, p. A1).  In 1994, for example, Kimberly Mark of San Luis Obispo, California, accused five therapists in a suit whom she claimed had “encouraged her to believe she had been molested” (Ness, 1994, p. A1). (4)  The first therapist Mark went to see “diagnosed a small pain in her chest as a 'body memory' of childhood sexual abuse.”  Then, under the care of a series of [other] therapists, who used hypnosis and other controversial techniques, and working with Davis' workbook, Mark came to believe she had 400 personalities and had suffered satanic ritual abuse at the hands of her father and others … (Ness, 1994, p. A1).

After reading a Time magazine article on the recovered memory/false memory controversy, Mark started to “doubt that she'd ever been abused… By then, her emotional health had been destroyed and she couldn't work,” according to her suit (Ness, 1994, p. A1).  The accused therapists agreed to a settlement of more than $100,000 (Patrick Clancy, Mark's attorney, personal communication, November 5, 1998).

According to Mark Macnamara (1995), “the end of repressed-memory cases is coming, and the logic is clear.  The diagnosis of repressed memory … is now professionally risky… (p. 36).”  Aside from the suits of retractors, recovered memory therapists have become anxious about suits against them by parents claiming they (therapists) are responsible for creating false memories of incestuous abuse in their (the parents') children.  Increasing numbers of judges now rule that testimony on recovered memories of child sexual abuse are inadmissible because “the Court has concluded that the phenomenon of traumatic amnesia [is] not sufficiently accepted in the relevant scientific community” (Friedman, 1996, p. 2).

Fear of being sued has had a dramatic impact on therapists' practices of recovered memory therapy. I have heard (but cannot document) that some therapists have also become wary of treating incest survivors in general.

My Evaluation Of the Memory Wars

I have long been skeptical about the validity of reports of satanic ritual abuse, but I used to believe that recovered memories of other sorts of incestuous abuse were always authentic.  Like many members of the incest recovery movement, I saw members of the FMS Foundation as a bunch of perpetrators who were part of the backlash against the incest revolution.  But since then, my thinking has changed.  In 1993 when I was analyzing in-depth interviews with 20 incest survivors in Cape Town, South Africa (Russell, 1995b), I felt bound to conclude that of the four cases of retrieved memory in my small sample, two were valid and two were false.  Both of the women whose “memories” I considered false had retrieved them in American therapy situations.  In contrast, the memories of the two cases I considered authentic had both been triggered by experiences outside of therapy (Russell, 1995a).

My thinking changed radically when I read lengthy personal accounts by retractors (5) who had retrieved “memories” of incestuous abuse and/or satanic ritual abuse in therapy only to denounce them as false later in their lives (for example, see Goldstein and Farmer, 1992 and 1993; Pendergrast, 1995).  Following is a brief summary of the experience of Lynn Gondolf, an emotionally fragile bulimic woman who became a retractor:

She had never forgotten being repeatedly raped as a child by her uncle.  In the mid-1980s, her therapist told her that her symptoms were too severe to be explained by the rapes alone.  He encouraged her to imagine what else might have happened, and she soon visualized her parents sexually abusing her…. Gondolf's therapist put her into a therapy group apparently dedicated to emotional strip-mining.  Within two months, she had confronted her parents; later she tried repeatedly to kill herself and ended up on a psychiatric ward.  Only when her insurance benefits ran out and her therapist abandoned her did she slowly rebuild her life, get a job, get off alcohol and drugs, and reconcile with her mother and father. (Butler's summary of a case described by Loftus, 1995, p. 11)

The immense suffering described by retractors dismayed me and also convinced me that some of the claims being made by false memory advocates were valid.  When I mentioned this to colleagues and friends who are advocates of recovered memories, however, I was horrified at the callous way some of them dismissed these retraction cases as minuscule in number and significance.  Even were there only a few such cases, this would not justify dismissing the sometimes lethal trauma that these women suffer because of their therapists' inappropriate methods of so-called memory retrieval. 

Some recovered memory advocates believe that the retractors have merely returned to a state of denial about their childhood traumas (Spiegel (1997); Whitfield, 1995, p. 83).  But the fact that retraction often results in a radical improvement in the mental health of former clients (as in the case cited above) suggests that this interpretation is incorrect (Goldstein and Farmer, 1992; 1993).

Although some researchers claim that retrieved memories have never been satisfactorily corroborated (e.g., Barnes et al., 1988), the criteria they require for corroboration are much too stringent, in my opinion.  Indeed, requiring such an arduous test for this crime alone smacks of sexism, just as the now defunct requirement that rape must be corroborated was considered to be in the past.  In an in-depth analysis of one of the authentic retrieved memory cases in my South African sample, I described many factors that I believe validated my conclusion regarding its authenticity (1995a).  I fall, then, somewhere between the hardline positions of both camps.  I believe in the high prevalence of incestuous abuse and that some recovered memories in and outside of therapy are valid, while some are not.

Believing that there are authentic cases of retrieved memories of childhood incestuous abuse both in and outside of therapy, and that the same applies to false memories, I wondered what the approximate ratio of true to false memories might be.  An experiment by Stan Abrams was very influential on my thinking about this question.

Abrams (1995) examined the outcomes of polygraph tests given to two groups of accused child molesters who had been referred for testing by their defense attorneys.  All the accused molesters denied being perpetrators.  Abrams compared the polygraph test results of an experimental group of 46 subjects who had been accused of being perpetrators on the basis of the plaintiffs' recovered memories with the polygraph results of 300 subjects accused of being perpetrators on the basis of the plaintiffs' continuous memories.  He found that 96 percent of the subjects accused of child molestation on the basis of recovered memories tested as honest in their claim of innocence (i.e., they passed the lie detector test) compared with only 22 percent of the subjects accused on the basis of continuous memories.  These
results “cast strong doubts” on the authenticity of recovered memories, indicating that they are true in only a minute percentage of cases (p. 291).  His experiment leads me to believe that the majority of retrieved memories are false.

Abrams also noted that in the early period of awareness about child sexual abuse, only approximately 10 percent of the charges of child molesting were estimated to be false reports whereas the percentage of false reports had more than doubled (22‰) at the time that he conducted the experiment described above. Assuming this finding can be generalized, the increase in false reports over time may be yet another sign of the incest culture that has developed in the United States. This in turn may have prompted more women to embrace the now less-stigmatized identity of incest survivor for secondary gains (e.g., to get an unwanted stepfather out of the house, to find an acceptable explanation for all their suffering, to get attention and/or sympathy).

In contrast to Abrams' experiment, I find Loftus' attempts to prove that recovered incest memories are false to be wholly unsuccessful.  Her most provocative experiment involved only five subjects ranging in age from 8 to 42 years who were told by a family member that they had been lost in a shopping mall when they were children (Loftus & Ketcham, 1994).  With varying amounts of manipulative prompting by their relatives, Loftus' subjects claimed to remember being lost in a mall, often embellishing this experience with details of their own.  Loftus believed her experiment proved that “it is possible to create false memories for childhood events” (p. 99). 

Psychiatrist Lenore Terr dismissed Loftus' memory experiments on the grounds that “You can't replicate trauma in an experimental lab” (Terr, 1994, p. 52).  Many other recovered memory researchers concur with Terr, criticizing Loftus' mall experiment as having nothing in common with traumatic experiences of incestuous abuse.  Robert Schwarz and Stephen Gilligan (1995) go even further in their criticism:

Loftus's application of her experimental research to the recovered memory debate is often reckless and misleading.  She implies that since much of memory is malleable, nothing within memory is really believable.  Most memory research, however, is really about the distortion of details, not central events….  Yet she plays the great debating trick of saying that since some memory is likely to be distorted, all memory is likely to be distorted, and no memory of childhood abuse should be believed unless corroborating, objective evidence can be found.  (p. 22)

Since Loftus has testified as an expert witness in court cases more than any other false memory advocate, this shocking misapplication of her research has presumably had a seriously negative impact on the outcome of many trials.

Although I am convinced that the prevalence of false memories comes nowhere near the prevalence of authentic cases of incestuous abuse (estimated in Chapter 4 of The Secret Trauma), I nevertheless believe that many therapists in the recovery movement severely underestimate the prevalence of women and children who have had, and who continue to have, false memories of incestuous and ritual abuse. 

For example, an enormous number of children have had false memories of ritual abuse in satanic cults at day care centers throughout the United States (e.g., 369 at the McMartin Preschool alone).  The National Center for Child Abuse and Neglect investigated 12,000 accusations of satanic ritual abuse without finding any evidence to corroborate the accusations.  Presumably this means there have been at least 12,000 cases of false ritual abuse memories, many of which typically involve the alleged victims' relatives as well as many other perpetrators.  Furthermore, there are often large numbers of alleged victims per case in ritual abuse cases charged by adults (e.g., see Lawrence Wright's extraordinary false memory case study described in Remembering Satan [1995]).  Finally, extrapolating from Abrams' experiment (described above), approximately four-fifths of retrieved memories are false (whatever this number may be).  Although this evidence is quite compelling, it may prove even more conclusive if based on a large scale methodologically sound prevalence study that is thoroughly evaluated by members of both sides of this conflict. 

This is not to say that I am sympathetic to many of the claims of the false memory advocates.  True, I now believe that a high percentage of memories recovered in therapy and outside of it are false.  But I also believe that false memories of having had a happy abuse-free childhood can be induced.  As Spiegel (1997) has noted: “If a false memory of abuse can be produced, a false memory of nonabuse is also possible” (p. 995).

A Feminist Analysis Of the Memory Wars

While my perspective on the memory wars may be construed to be a radical departure from the views of many feminists, I believe that my analysis is a feminist perspective of the false memory debate.  My goal in this section is to provide some feminist insights into the memory debate, including what led up to it and the dangers ahead.  This section reveals my indebtedness to Louise Armstrong who is, to my knowledge, the only person to date who has undertaken a comprehensive feminist analysis of this conflict (1994).

Many male writers have failed to give feminists credit for playing a vital role in the emergence of the incest problem in the late 1970s.  For example, recovered memory advocate Charles Whitfield (1995) has a one-page chart of “landmarks in child abuse prevention and recovery” in which the words feminist or women's movement do not appear (p. 53).  Instead, he gives credit to “the integrity, courage and creativity of countless survivors and many helping professionals” (p. 51). (6) 

Goldstein and Farmer (1993) are two false memory advocates who believe that “aspects of the radical feminist movement” have contributed to the development of “a milieu in which false memories can flourish,” although these authors fail to explain what aspects they are referring to (p. 7).  My analysis of the major culpability for the development of false memories is very different from theirs.  While these authors blame feminists, I share Armstrong's view that the major liability lies with therapists. 

After feminists transformed incest into a political issue, therapists took over and recast it as a therapeutic problem that required clients to engage in intensive and often long-term treatment.  As Armstrong (1994) observed:

Rather than lending support to grassroots, survivor-led existing services and fueling the already growing movement against abuse, therapists with the power of the mental health industry behind them took over.  They seem to embrace the movement against violence against women and children.  But their clinical focus works against any political agenda.  (p. 209)

So instead of fighting male domination in the family and the predatory sexuality and sense of entitlement males are socialized to have in patriarchal societies, therapists pathologized and depoliticized incest, diverting survivors away from a political activist approach to incestuous abuse.  “By defusing the political content, it [the therapeutic ideology] serves the status quo,” Armstrong notes (p. 214), which “readily leads to, not change but imaginary change” (p. 211).  In effect, Armstrong (1994) believes that therapy has replaced political empowerment with infantalization:

It [the Great Incest War] is, alas, the story as well of the power of the promise of “help” and the language of “treatment” to infantalize massive numbers of women, emphasizing their fragility, securing their helplessness, isolating them from the larger universe, so cementing their focus on the purely internal that it looms to fill their entire visual screen.  All in the name of “empowerment.”  (p. 3).

While many therapists and other advocates of recovered memories believe that the false memory movement's attack on therapists constitutes a backlash against the incest recovery movement, I see the therapists' takeover from feminists of the incest issue as a backlash against feminism and incest survivors' interests.  Hence, “Rather than feminism politicizing the issue of incest, incest-as-illness had overwhelmed and swallowed up feminism” (Armstrong, p. 207).  This may explain why there is no survivor-led national organization to combat incestuous abuse like there has long been for both rape (the National Coalition Against Sexual Assault [NCASA], a national coalition of rape crisis centers) and battery (the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence [NCADV])

Finally, Carol LeMasters (1995) has noted that the recovery movement became indistinguishable from the incest survivor movement and, for many, from feminism itself.  One of the reasons for this was that “political action alone was not giving women what they needed,” and “the recovery movement filled that gap” (p. 7).  Unfortunately, it did so by becoming a wolf in sheep's clothing — with survivors and feminists being the sheep (Pitman, personal communication, August 6, 1998,).  Although therapists may not have been aware that they had become the wolf, they did in fact sabotage feminist principles.

Consequently, many women, including feminists, have been coopted by the therapist backlash and taken on recovered memory therapists' perspective on incest.  Ellen Bass and Laura Davis, authors of The Courage to Heal (1988) are the most conspicuous examples of this phenomenon.  I think false memory advocates are correct in their objections to this book, and I share their opinion that it has done considerable harm by fostering false memories of incestuous abuse in many women.  However, I also believe that it has helped many incest survivors. (7)  More to the point: I consider that Bass and Davis have only popularized the views held by many professional recovered memory theorists.  It was these therapists who embraced The Courage to Heal and recommended it to their clients.  Had therapists and incest researchers denounced it as trash, as dangerously suggestive, as unscientific, as the work of unqualified people (Bass described herself on the book's back cover as a poet and workshop facilitator for survivors, their partners, and counselors.  Davis described herself as “a writer, radio producer, and former talk-show host”), it would not have been popular.  Hence, I think FMS advocates are unfair to focus their criticism on the popularizers as if they are more responsible for the recovered memory movement than the professionals.  I can think of at least one well-known recovered memory therapist (Eliana Gil) who made some of the same overly-general statements as Bass and Davis in a self-published book that predated theirs (1988).

Attacking Gloria Steinem for making statements that obviously came from professional recovered memory authors is even more unfair (see Ofshe and Watters, 1994; Goldstein and Farmer, 1992).  Journalist Moira Johnston (1998) went so far as to proclaim that if Steinem would only make a public apology for her belief in recovered memories, this would be a very important step toward diminishing the intensity of the memory wars. (8)  Misdirecting blame toward feminists rather than toward those who were responsible only serves to perpetuate the myth that feminism caused the false memory uproar, when, as I stated previously, I believe that therapists are the main culprits.

Although I believe the false memory movement deserves credit for stopping the escalation in irresponsible therapy, I also believe the false memory movement poses a real threat to feminists, incest survivors, and therapists.  Earlier in this introduction, I described anti-feminist attitudes among some false memory advocates.  Katy Butler (1995) charges Ofshe and Watters in particular for sexist attitudes toward female incest survivors:

In Ofshe and Watters' book, the incest recovery movement — composed primarily of women who have never forgotten memories of garden-variety abuse — has 'morphed' into the 'recovered memory movement,' a quasi-cult of hysterical women devoted to explaining away all present problems by dowsing for a traumatic past.  (p. 11)

Ofshe and Watters report that “the large majority of recovered memory patients are women” (1994, p. 2; also see Pope, 1996, p. 124).  Similarly, according to research based on FMS Foundation data, at least 90 percent of the victims of false memories are female (cited by Pope, 1996, p. 128).  How might we explain this?  Could it be that the greater power difference between female clients and male and female therapists as compared with male clients and male and female therapists makes women more suggestible than men and/or more eager to please their therapists and hence more willing to fulfill their expectations?  If this power difference enables therapists to be more successful at implanting memories of abuse in women than in men and in coercing women to remain in therapy despite the terrible deterioration in their mental health, this replicates the patriarchal oppression women are forced to live with by promoting dependency and passivity in women and enhancing the power and seeming omnipotence of their therapists (Pitman, personal communication, July 30, 1998).

Pope (1996) contends that “the reaction to recovered memories would likely have been quite different if those reporting them were overwhelmingly men rather than women” (p. 128). (Unfortunately, Pope does not suggest how the reaction might have been different.)  Perhaps both male and female therapists are more inclined to do retrieved memory work with their female clients.  Had 90‰ of the clients with retrieved memories been male, would their therapists have been so relentless in their efforts to recover their memories?  According to Pope, “Historically, many therapists have been remarkably tolerant of abuse toward women” (p. 126).  And many therapists have also been remarkably ignorant of the oppressiveness of their “therapeutic” tactics on women, as was Sigmund Freud, the misogynist father of psychotherapy (Pitman, personal communication, August 3, 1998). 

Freud as Coercer of False Memories

On the basis of what Freud has written about his early work (see Masson, 1984), I now believe that he switched from trying to impose (not always successfully) a false memory of incestuous abuse on many of the 18 female clients he had diagnosed as “hysterics,” to imposing a vastly different false memory — that they had only fantasized the incestuous “memories” as a mask for their own incestuous desires toward their fathers.  Freud appeared to forget that it was he who had imposed these “memories” on many of them in the first place (we have no idea, of course, how many of his 18 clients had actually been incestuously abused).  Ofshe and Watters (1994) make this same point when they accuse Freud of making “two unforgivable mistakes: coercing false memories from his clients, and then blaming the client for the creation of these beliefs” (p. 293).  Hence, their contention that, “Freud cut the very figure of a recovered memory therapist” (p. 293).

Ofshe and Watters (1994) describe the consequences of Freud's decision to discredit all reports of child sexual abuse by his clients:

By lumping all accounts of sexual abuse together and labeling them fantasy, Freud gave those portions of Western society impressed with psychoanalysis an excuse to ignore the reality of childhood sexual assault for much of the twentieth century.  (p. 293)

Unfortunately, Freud's damaging legacy has spread way beyond those who are impressed by psychoanalysis.  There are probably very few therapists and educated people who have not incorporated some of Freud's assumptions and theories, including those who consider themselves to be anti-Freudians.  And regardless of whether post-Freudian therapists have been eliciting or denying reports of childhood sexual abuse, they have often manipulated their female clients into believing whatever it is that they (the therapists) believe notwithstanding the clients' prior beliefs and convictions.

Although I am not aware of any study that documents whether male survivors of child sexual abuse are more likely to be believed than females, I have gained the distinct impression from newspaper accounts that relatively few men are charged with false memories.  What might explain this observation?  Research has established that boys are much less likely to be incestuously abused than girls.  Although incestuous abuse is often perpetrated on more than one child in a family, large numbers of boys are often sexually abused by the same extrafamilial pedophilic authority figure.  Cases involving multiple victims are typically judged to be more credible than solitary victimizations because of the corroboration they provide.  On the other hand sexism may also be a factor.  This is clearly a matter for future researchers to explore.

The virulent anti-mother bias evident in many of the retractors' accounts is another indication to me that there are anti-feminist forces at work in the recovered memory therapy camp (Goldstein and Farmer, 1992; 1993). Exaggerated mother-blaming for incestuous abuse has long been a common manifestation of sexism in the incest literature. (9)  I believe it is even more prominent in false memory cases.  Retractors' accounts often reveal therapist-manipulated accusations against mothers as colluders or participants in the sexual abuse of their daughters. More noticeable yet, large numbers of female caretakers at day care centers have been charged and often found guilty of child sexual abuse and/or bizarre and violent acts perpetrated in satanic cult settings, despite the fact that most prior research has shown sexual abuse by females to be relatively rare. (10)  In the McMartin case, for example, six of the seven day care staff who were accused of sexual and ritual satanic abuse were female, including a 77-year-old wheelchair-bound grandmother (Nathan, 1990).  I am virtually certain that such a ratio of female to male perpetrators has never been found in any authentic case of mass child sexual abuse.

Getting Beyond the Memory Wars: The Polarization Begins to Crumble

Briere, one of the leading proponents of the validity of repression and recovered memories (whose views were described on page __), appears to have done a 180 degree shift in his position on these issues.  According to Kenneth Pope (1998, September 9), Briere told a hushed audience at the12th International Congress on Child Abuse and Neglect that there were “so many bizarre recovered memories back in the '80s” because

over-enthusiastic therapists thought it was vital for patients to remember everything — especially deeply buried traumatic experiences — in order to get well; [these therapists thought this] possibly because of what he [Briere] called ideological errors.  By the mid-1980s, “the idea was to liposuction people's memories out of their brains.  It was a bad idea, bad therapy, and I don't recommend it”….

It's not the therapist's job to help patients remember anything — and to do so invites the most traumatized among them to simply invent a memory to satisfy the therapist. “Treating a false memory as a true memory can be a very, very, very bad thing.  Why?  Because most of these recovered memories involve crimes such as a child saying they had been abused by Dad.  Also, an individual then receives therapy for what did not occur.” (p. A13).

And, most significant of all, Briere concluded that “Our best guess is that if they say they weren't abused, then they probably weren't” (Emphasis added, p. A13).

Because Pope's newspaper report on Briere's speech is necessarily incomplete, we do not know whether Briere also acknowledged that he has been one of the prime advocates of the theories and clinical practices of which he is now so critical, and/or whether he acknowledged his earlier claim that his experiments and those of other recovered memory advocates' had provided scientific validation for these theories. (11)  We also do not know whether Briere explained what was responsible for the radical transformation in his views.  Nevertheless I believe that his turnabout represents perhaps the most significant breach in the consensus of recovered memory advocates and will likely influence many others in this camp.  

Feminists will probably have to constantly remind these people and others who follow suit that author and incest survivor Louise Armstrong was a voice in the wilderness who articulated some of Briere's criticisms long before he did.  However, giving credit where it is due is not nearly as important as Briere's contribution to the crumbling of the polarization of the two camps involved in the memory wars.

The Importance of The Secret Trauma

For those who believe that all recovered memories are false, the task of differentiating true from false memories poses no problem.  But for those who believe that some cases of recovered memories are authentic (as do I), finding valid criteria that can differentiate true and false memories is very important.  Although the incest survivors in my San Francisco survey were not specifically asked whether they had ever forgotten their memories of abuse, none of them volunteered this information when providing often lengthy qualitative accounts of their sexual victimization experiences.  Hence, it seems reasonable to view them as continuous memories.  What can we learn by comparing continuous memories of incestuous abuse with retrieved and/or false memories?

On reading accounts by retractors who had retrieved their memories during therapy, I noticed that they were strikingly different from accounts of incest survivors with continuous memories of their abuse experiences.  Table 1 compares a tentative list of the characteristics of retrieved then retracted “memories” of incestuous abuse with the characteristics of continuous memories of incestuous abuse reported in The Secret Trauma.  I believe that the incest memories included in this book are authentic because of the rigorous procedure employed for disqualifying inconsistent or incomprehensible cases.

Table 1
Characteristics Of Retrieved/Then Retracted Memories and Continuous Memories Of Incestuous Abuse (a)

Retrieved/Retracted Memories Continuous Memories
1. Fathers are typically the  first to be singled out as perpetrators by female clients or by their therapists.  Only 4.5% of the perpetrators in Russell's study were fathers, while 12% were other relatives.
2. In one study of retrieved memory cases, biological fathers were accused of sexual abuse in 50% of the cases, whereas only 3%  involved stepfathers. (b)    In Russell's study, stepfathers greatly predominated over biological fathers as perpetrators of incestuous abuse.
3. Mothers are typically named as  co-perpetrators or collaborators with the father.                   Maternal incest perpetrators are extremely rare; many mothers are not aware of the abuse by their husbands; and some mothers confront or leave their husbands if they know about the abuse. (c)
4. The sexual abuse is frequently described as "rape."    Only 9% of the incestuous abuse experiences in Russell's study involved completed rape (i.e., penile/vaginal penetration).
5. The sexual abuse is never a single incident.                   43% of the incest survivors Russell's study were incestuously abused only once by their perpetrators.
6. The sexual abuse typically  occurs frequently and          over long durations Only 10% of the incestuous abuse in Russell's study occurred more than 20 times, and only 6% occurred over more than 10 years.
7. Incestuous abuse is frequently  remembered as starting at very     young pre-verbal ages.     

Memory experts typically claim that children below the age of four are not capable of remembering. (d)

In Russell's study, only 11% were below the age of 5 when they were abused, and the mean age was 11-15 years.

8. The sexual assaults almost always involves multiple perpetrators.     Only 3% of the incest 
survivors in Russell's study were abused by more than one relative.
9. Significantly more females are accused of perpetrating sexual abuse in retracted cases. The sexual assaults almost always involve multiple perpetrators.     In Russell's study, women comprised only 5% of the perpetrators of child sexual sexual abuse and only 4% of incestuous abuse. 
10. Many of these women come to believe that they were victims of satanic ritual abuse. No case of ritual abuse was disclosed in Russell's study.
11. Many of these women become decidedly more disturbed and unhappy during therapy than when   they entered therapy, not infrequently attempting suicide and/or requiring hospitalization. Therapy typically ends neutrally or positively for clients.
12. Many of these women fluctuate  between believing and not believing "their memories" during the course of their therapy. These kind of fluctuations were not apparent in Russell's study.
13. Recovered memories tend to be  "built up over time ... with more being added at each attempt at recall, often becoming increasingly elaborate and bizarre." (e) Very few of the cases in Russell's study were elaborate or bizarre.
14. Most of the accusations      based on recovered memories  have been made in the previous six years. (f)   No comparative data available
15. Many of these women         confront their perpetrators,  then sever all ties with them. No comparative data< available.
16. A small minority of these women develop multiple personalities (MPD) during the course of treatment, or are perceived to suffer from MPD by their therapists. None of the incest survivors in Russell's study described suffering from MPD.
17. Hypnosis, relaxation states,   drugs, regression techniques,  and dream analysis are often used by the therapists of these women to try to retrieve more memories of child sexual abuse.    None of these techniques were mentioned in Russell's study. Indeed, therapy was only rarely mentioned.  This is not surprising since it was a community sample.

(a) Main source: Russell, 1986. (b) Gudjonsson, 1997ab. (c) Faller, 1988.(d) Brandon et al., 1998. (e) Brandon et al., 1998, p. 304. (f) Gudjonsson, 1997b.


The list in Table 1 suffers from several limitations, for example, it is based on the limited number of cases available in the literature.  It is possible that only the more extreme retractor cases have found their way into print.  Also, sexual assault survivors who seek therapy are likely to have been more traumatized by the abuse than those who do not (Herman, Russell, and Trocki, 1986).  These two factors probably serve to magnify the contrast between the characteristics listed in the two columns of Table 1.  However, they are unlikely to render them invalid.  

Some researchers believe that some of the characteristics listed in Table 1 have already been substantiated.  For example, in their report for the British Royal College of Psychiatrists, Brandon et al. (1998) maintain that: “Memories of satanic abuse or other bizarre events, memories from before the age of four years and memories of repeated abuse over many years forgotten until recovered therapy [,] are not credible” (p. 304). 

Assuming that retracted memories start out as recovered memories that are false, then retracted and false memories presumably share many characteristics.  Hence, if future research substantiates some or all of the differences between retracted and continuous memories listed in Table 1, it could prove to be an effective method for differentiating between authentic and false memories of child sexual abuse. 

Both sides of the memory wars need to take cognisance of the high prevalence of continuous memories of incestuous and extrafamilial child sexual abuse documented in The Secret Trauma.  My study makes it clear that even without any cases of retrieved memories, the prevalence of incestuous abuse and child sexual abuse in general would still be extraordinarily high (i.e., 16‰ and 38‰, respectively).  This fact is clearly unknown to many members of the false memory movement, many of whom are very ignorant about child sexual abuse.  For example, when criticizing Steinem, Goldstein and Farmer quote her statement that “Perhaps a third of the children in the United States … have been subjected to sexual and other kinds of severe neglect” (1993, p. 219), as if this is an outrageously high assessment.  The Secret Trauma shows that Steinem's prevalence estimate is actually an understatement of the prevalence of sexual abuse found in my study before the heyday of recovered memories had begun (note, Steinem includes severe neglect in her statement).  Since participants in the recovery movement are more invested than false memory advocates in the best prevalence estimates, they should join with feminists in constantly bringing these rates to the attention of false memory advocates, the media, the legal and law enforcement professions, and the public at large. 

Survivors must realize that activism around the issue that has caused them so much pain can be both empowering and effective.  For example, getting funding for feminist-run survivor centers, which can provide supportive services similar to those that rape crisis centers provide for rape victims, could be very helpful.  A coalition of such centers could provide a basis for a national organization committed to representing the interests of incest survivors, and to mobilizing them and their allies to demand social changes that will help to prevent and combat incestuous abuse.  As an alternative to therapy, survivors should consider participating in therapist-free self-help groups like those available when feminists were still at the forefront of the incest survivor movement.  If they feel the need for professional therapy, they should be provided with a list of good therapists, as well as a list of danger signals to watch out for in therapy.  They should also be urged to maintain a connection with the political movement. 

It is clear that more and better research is needed.  The methodology is likely to be greatly improved if researchers on both sides of the memory wars undertake collaborative projects.

Since these wars are far from over, I believe there is a very grave danger that the growing skepticism about all retrieved memories will develop into greater skepticism about incest survivors with reports of continuous memories as well.  False memory advocates have already won over the media, many judges, and a growing percentage of the public to their point of view.  While it is of utmost importance that the scandalous implanting of false memories by some therapists and others be stopped as soon as possible, it is also vitally important that disclosures by the far larger number of authentic incest survivors are believed.  As journalist Butler (1995) so eloquently states:

The danger is that books like Making Monsters[Ofshe and Watters, 1994] and The Myth of Repressed Memory [Loftus, 1994] will once again silence women and men from speaking — and being believed — about very real abuse, and will create a new breed of experts who will once again presume to know the truth.  (p. 11)

Two people who read this introduction have suggested that incest survivors may believe that my analysis of the memory wars contributes to their being disbelieved.  This, of course, is certainly not my intention (it may likewise not be the intention of Ofshe and Watters).  Distressed as I would certainly be if my analysis were to be misused in this way, the danger of this does not justify my pretending to believe that every charge of child sexual abuse is valid.  Given the havoc caused by many recovered memory therapists, incest survivor groups, some well-meaning parents who question their children in highly suggestive ways, some simplistic and irresponsible reading material on child sexual abuse, as well as media reports that at one time uncritically validated the recovered memory viewpoint, many women continue to be convinced that they are child sexual abuse survivors when this is not the case.  I am personally acquainted with such individuals.  These unauthentic victims are as incensed as genuine victims tend to be with anyone who questions the validity of women or children who identify themselves as victims.

I desperately hope that it will not become necessary once again for incest survivors to have to provide water-tight evidence in order to be believed, as was the case with a 12-year-old girl in Phoenix.  She is described as having “tried in vain to convince someone that her grandfather had been sexually abusing [her] since she was 8” (San Francisco Chronicle, 1998, p. A4).  She was finally believed when she took some of her grandfather's semen in a plastic cup to the police so DNA testing could be done.  Her grandfather was subsequently accused of five sex crimes against her.

Concern that my hope will not be fulfilled has been magnified by the role Loftus has chosen to engage in at the International Criminal Tribunal (ICT)for the Former Yugoslavia in the Hague.  In June 1988, she served as an expert witness for the Defence of Anto Furundzija, a member of the Croat armed forces, who was accused by a woman referred to as Witness A of being her principal interrogator and torturer.  Witness A, a Muslim woman, testified that she was raped numerous times on or about May 15, 1993, after she failed to provide Furundzija, her interrogator, with the information he sought.  She reported that Furundzija orchestrated these rapes by another soldier in an effort to coerce this information out of her.  She told the court that she was raped vaginally, orally, and anally; forced to swallow sperm and urine; forced to strip naked in front of about 40 armed soldiers; and had a knife rubbed against her vagina accompanied by the threat that it “might be cut out” (ICT, 1988, p. 663). 

Loftus, one of the major hired guns of the false memory movement who has testified in trials “perhaps 220 or 230 times” (ICT, 1998, p. 599), told the court that in her opinion, those who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are more likely to be “especially vulnerable to post-event suggestions“ — i.e., false memories (p. 615).  She cited no research to support this conjecture.  The Defense subsequently argued that Witness A's memories about Furundzija role in her torture were untrue — a product of reconstruction after her extreme trauma and likely PTSD (p. 697).

Serving as an expert witness for the Defence in genuine cases of false memory is an important service.  Presumably, Loftus has often testified in such cases.  What makes her a hired gun in this particular case — and I suspect many others — is that she had no reason to believe this was a false memory case before she agreed to be an expert witness for the Defence.  She admitted to the court that she had only “skimmed” her testimony and others' in the case, and that she had not spoken to any of the investigators involved (ICT, p. 618).  Yet she was willing to contribute her expertise to create doubt about the validity of the memories of a known torture/rape victim in an infamous genocidal and femicidal war.  Instead of admitting that there is no research on the relationship between false memories and PTSD, Loftus contributed a speculation that could be used against most victims of rape and serious cases of child sexual abuse.  Moreover, Victim A had certainly never forgotten that she had been raped and tortured.

This account of Loftus' behavior illustrates my concern that false memory advocates are going to raise doubts not only about recovered memories of child sexual abuse, but about all memories of child sexual abuse — and perhaps rape of adult women as well.

If we fail to be vigilant (and militant, if need be), we may have a devastating counter revolution in store for us that is even more destructive than the counter revolution represented by the incest recovery movement.  This is why it is especially vital that feminists reclaim incest as a political issue.  Because The Secret Trauma focuses on incestuous abuse as a social, not an individual, problem, and provides a feminist analysis of this crime, it can play a useful role in this reclamation. 


I am enormously grateful to Jo Ann Miller for deciding to republish The Secret Trauma.  I was very disappointed when this book went out of print.  I am also indebted to Louise Armstrong for her useful suggestions and support, Gayle Pitman for her excellent substantive editing, and Roberta Harmes for her invaluable assistance in obtaining references on the memory wars, as well as her impressive skill at tracking down in a very timely manner whatever information I request.  I also appreciate Ellen Kaschak's role in alerting me to Loftus' nefarious testimony at the International Tribunal in the Hague.




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1. Because it gets too cumbersome to routinely mention incestuous abuse and child sexual abuse — which includes incestuous and extrafamilial child sexual abuse — the term incestuous abuse should be understood to often include extrafamilial child sexual abuse as well.

2. According to attorney Mary Williams (1996), 31 states had enacted such statutes by 1996 (p. 210).

3. See Doe (a pseudonym for Pamela) in Goldstein and Farmer, 1992).

4. In addition to suing her therapists, Mark's case was the first ever to sue a written work on the recovered memory movement for its contribution to her false memories.

5. A retractor is an individual who retrieved memories of child sexual abuse and/or satanic ritual abuse only to denounce them as false later in life.

6. Although social worker Florence Rush and psychiatrist Judith Herman were members of the helping profession, their analyses of incestuous abuse were explicitly feminist.

7. This is not to say that these presumed positive effects justify the misleading information and the negative effects that have resulted.  I was very critical of The Courage to Heal when I read it soon after its publication.  However, like so many others, I failed to express my views in my publications or speeches because I had no idea then that such material could cause so much harm.

8. Public lecture to the Commonwealth Club, April 29, 1998.  This statement was not included in the edited transcript of Johnston's lecture (May 26, 1998).

9. This is particularly evident among family systems theorists and therapists.

10. It is true that the relatively few men who work in day care centers have also often been charged with child sexual abuse.  However, this is consistent with research findings based on incest experiences that were never forgotten.  Males have always predominated as perpetrators of child sexual abuse.  This is not to say that there have not also been many cases of false charges against males.

11.  It seems most unlikely that Briere acknowledged that the views he was expressing are no different from many of the false memory advocates.

Δ Top*Published by Basic Books, NY, 1999.


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