[Marxism] the politics of paranoia

Yoshie Furuhashi furuhashi.1 at osu.edu
Thu Mar 10 16:45:22 MST 2005

>"recovered memory" (not repressed memory), with some REMOTE 
>connections to psychoanalysis,  was more or less a creation of the 
>new "feminist" therapies of the 1970's, most of them decidedly not 
>Freudian, and, for many of them, the main enemy was men, as fathers, 
>lovers, potential rapists, etc. I really defy you to show me a 
>"liberal feminist  psychoanalyst" who propagated this "recovered 
>memory" crap. I think Ofra Bikel did an eyeopening documentary on 
>this 10-12 years ago.
>steve heeren

I've seen the same phenomenon refereed to by various terms -- 
"recovered memory," "repressed memory," and "false memory" (the last 
term used by skeptics) -- both in popular magazines and scholarly 

As for the nature of your main objection, my contention wasn't that 
most therapists who created and propagated the idea of recovering 
repressed memory of child abuse were Freudian, though, as Freud put 
it, "The theory of repression is the corner-stone on which the whole 
structure of psycho-analysis rests."  I don't know if the original 
proponents were Freudian psychoanalysts or other schools of 
psychoanalysts, but eventually the belief in the recovered memory 
spread very widely within the therapeutic profession:

<blockquote>Many therapists believe in the authenticity of the 
recovered memories that they hear from their clients. Two empirical 
studies reveal this high degree of faith. Bottoms, Shaver, and 
Goodman (1991) conducted a large-scale survey of clinicians who had 
come across, in their practice, ritualistic and religion-related 
abuse cases. Satanic ritualistic abuse (SRA) cases involve 
allegations of highly bizarre and heinous criminal ritual abuse in 
the context of an alleged vast, covert network of highly organized, 
transgenerational satanic cults ( Braun & Sachs, 1988; Ganaway, 1989, 
1991 ). Clients with SRA memories have reported vividly detailed 
memories of cannibalistic revels and such experiences as being used 
by cults during adolescence as serial baby breeders to provide 
untraceable infants for ritual sacrifices ( Ganaway, 1989; Rogers, 
1992b ). If therapists believe these types of claims, it seems likely 
that they would be even more likely to believe the less aggravated 
claims involving ordinary childhood sexual abuse. Bottoms et al.'s 
(1991) analysis revealed that 30% of responding clinicians had seen 
at least one case of child sexual abuse. A detailed analysis of 200 
clinicians' experiences revealed that a substantial number of cases 
involved amnesic periods (44% of adult survivor cases). Overall, 93% 
of clinicians believed the alleged harm was actually done and that 
the ritualistic aspects were actually experienced by the clients. The 
conclusion was, in the investigators' own words, "The clinical 
psychologists in our sample believe their clients' claims" (p. 10).

A different approach to the issue of therapist belief was taken by 
Loftus and Herzog (1991). This study involved in-depth interviews 
with 16 clinicians who had seen at least one repressed memory case. 
In this small, nonrandom sample, 13 (81%) said they invariably 
believed their clients. One therapist said, "if a woman said it 
happened, it happened." Another said, "I have no reason not to 
believe them." The most common basis for belief was symptomatology 
(low self-esteem, sexual dysfunction, self-destructive behavior), or 
body memories (voice frozen at young age, rash on body matching 
inflicted injury). More than two thirds of the clinicians reacted 
emotionally to any use of the term authentic, feeling that 
determining what is authentic and what is not authentic is not the 
job of a therapist. The conclusion from this small study was that 
therapists believe their clients and often use symptomatology as 
evidence.   (Elizabeth F. Loftus, "The Reality of Repressed 
Memories," _American Psychologist_ 48, 1993, 

Initially, most clients who believed that they recovered their 
repressed memory of sexual abuse were women and children, but 
nowadays an increasing number of men, too, seem to suffer from the 
same idea, as some of the Catholic Church sex scandals, which has 
given a second wind to the false memory syndrome, show.

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