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Template:Pov-check The False Memory Syndrome Foundation (FMSF) is a nonprofit organization founded in 1992[1] by Pamela and Peter Freyd, after being accused by their adult daughter Jennifer Freyd of sexual abuse when she was a child.[2] The FMSF describes its purpose as the examination of the concept of false memory syndrome and recovered memory therapy and advocacy on behalf of individuals believed to be falsely accused of child sexual abuse[3] with a focus on preventing future incidents, helping individuals and reconciling families affected by FMS, publicizing information about FMS, sponsoring research on it and attempting to discover methods to distinguish a true or false allegation of abuse.[4] The FMSF was conceived during meetings at the University of Pennsylvania and Johns Hopkins Medical Center by several families accused of abusing their adult children when younger. This initial group was composed of academics and professionals and the organization sought out researchers in the fields of memory and clinical practice to form its advisory board. The goal of the FMSF expanded to become more than an advocacy organization, instead attempting to address the issues of memory that seemed to have caused the behavioral changes in their now-adult children.[5]

The FMSF originated the terms 'false memory syndrome' and 'recovered memory therapy' to describe what they believe is the orientation of patients towards confabulations created by inappropriate psychotherapy, and the methods through which these confabulations are created respectively.[6] Neither term is acknowledged by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders,[7] but are included in public advisory guidelines relating to mental health.[8] [9] The FMSF has been criticized for misrepresenting themselves, the science of memory, selectively quoting the science of memory, protecting child abusers and encouraging a societal denial of the existence of child sexual abuse.[2][3][10]


In 1990 Jennifer Freyd (with the support of her grandmother and uncle) privately accused her father of abusing her throughout her teenage years after memories surfaced during treatment by a therapist for issues unrelated to sexual abuse. In 1991, Pamela Freyd published an anonymous first-person (and extremely unflattering to Jennifer Freyd[2]) account of the accusation in a non-peer reviewed journal that focused on false accusations of child sexual abuse.[11] The article was reproduced and circulated widely, including to Jennifer Freyd's department at the University of Oregon. Jennifer Freyd later stated that were numerous inaccuracies in the article, including the circumstances in which the original memories of abuse and the portrayal of her personal life. The FMSF was formed one year later by Pamela and Peter Freyd, with the support and encouragement of therapists Hollida Wakefield and Ralph Underwager. Initially the early membership and advisory board of the FMSF consisted of parents who had been accused of sexually abusing their now-adult children when they were younger but rapidly expanded to include professionals with expertise in the area of memory.[2]

The founders of the FMS Foundation were concerned that the adult offsprings' devastating new beliefs about their childhoods developed because of therapy experiences that almost always included one of the following techniques used to "excavate hidden memories": hypnosis, relaxation exercises, guided imagery, drug-mediated interviews, body memories, literal dream interpretation, and journaling. It is the position of the FMSF that there is no scientific evidence that the use of consciousness-altering techniques such as these can reveal or accurately elaborate factual information about any past experiences, including sexual abuse.[12]

According to the FMS Foundation, "The controversy is not about whether children are abused. Child abuse is a serious social problem that requires our attention. Neither is the controversy about whether people may not remember past abuse. There are many reasons why people may not remember something: childhood amnesia, physical trauma, drugs or the natural decay of stored information. The controversy is about the accuracy of claims of recovered "repressed" memories of abuse. The consequences profoundly affect the law, the way therapy is practiced, families and people's lives."[13]

Members of the FMS Foundation Scientific Advisory Board now include a number of members of the National Academy of Sciences and Institute of Medicine: Aaron T. Beck, Rochel Gelman, Leila Gleitman, Ernest Hilgard (deceased), Philip S. Holzman, Elizabeth Loftus, Paul R. McHugh and Ulric Neisser. The Scientific Advisory Board includes both clinicians and researchers. The FMS Foundation has no affiliations with any other organizations. It is funded by contributions and has no ties to any commercial ventures.

The FMSF claimed 2000 members in 1993.[14]


Scientific criticisms

The claims made by the FMSF for the incidence and prevalence of false memories have been criticized for lacking any evidence, and disseminating inaccurate statistics about the alleged extent of the problem.[2] Despite claiming to offer scientific evidence for the existence of FMS, the FMSF has no criteria for one of the primary features of the proposed syndrome – how to determine if the accusation is true or false. Most of the reports by the FMSF are anecdotal, and the studies cited to support the contention that false memories can be easily created are often based on experiments that bear little resemblance to memories of actual sexual abuse. In addition, though the FMSF claims false memories are due to dubious therapeutic practices, the organization presents no data to demonstrate these practices are widespread or form an organized treatment modality.[15][16] Within the anecdotes used by the FMSF to support their contention that faulty therapy causes false memories, some include examples of people who recovered their memories outside of therapy.[2] The FMSF has also been criticized for cherry picking studies and data to support their points.[citation needed]

Social criticisms

The FMSF and its activities have been described as reversing the gains made by feminists and victims in gaining acknowledgment of the incestuous sexual abuse of children.[15] The FMSF has also been criticized for describing itself as a scientific organization while undertaking partisan political and social activity,[2] and transforming criminal and moral act into a "memory problem".[7]

Resignation of Ralph Underwager

In 1991, an interview with founding member of the FMSF Ralph Underwager was published in Paidika: The Journal of Paedophilia containing statements which were interpreted as supportive of paedophilia and the idea that it was actually a positive experience for some children.[17] In the controversy that followed, Underwager resigned from the FMSF's scientific advisory board. Underwager later stated that the quotations in the Paidika article were taken out of context, used to discredit his ability to testify in courts and through guilt by association, damage the reputation of the FMSF.


  1. "About the False Memory Syndrome Foundation". False Memory Syndrome Foundation. Retrieved 2009-09-16.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 Dallam, SJ (2001). "Crisis or Creation: A Systematic Examination of 'False Memory Syndrome'". Journal of Child Sexual Abuse (Haworth Press) 9 (3/4): 9–36. doi:10.1300/J070v09n03_02. PMID 17521989.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Olio, KA (2004). "The Truth About 'False Memory Syndrome'". In Cosgrove L; Caplan PJ. Bias in psychiatric diagnosis. Northvale, N.J: Jason Aronson. pp. 163–168. ISBN 0-7657-0001-8.
  4. Kinnear, KL (2007). Childhood sexual abuse: a reference handbook. ABC-CLIO. pp. 256–7. ISBN 1851099050.
  5. "The FMSF Scientific and Professional Advisory Board – Profiles". False Memory Syndrome Foundation. Retrieved 2009-09-16.
  6. McHugh, PR (2008). Try to remember: Psychiatry's clash over meaning, memory and mind. Dana Press. ISBN 1932594396.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Fink PJ; Whitfield Cl; Silberg JL (2001). Misinformation concerning child sexual abuse and adult survivors. New York: Haworth Maltreatment & Trauma Press. pp. 56. ISBN 0-7890-1901-9.
  8. "Adult Recovered Memories of Childhood Sexual Abuse". Canadian Psychiatric Association. Retrieved 2010-12-13.
  9. "Recovered Memory Therapy". Department of Human Services, State Government of Victoria. Retrieved 2010-12-13.
  10. Whitfield, Charles L. (1995). Memory and abuse: remembering and healing the effects of trauma. HCI. pp. 5,10,73,79. ISBN 1558743200.
  11. Doe, J (1991). "How could this happen? Coping with a false accusation of incest and rape". Issues in Child Abuse Accusations 3 (3): 154–165.
  12. "Frequently Asked Questions – What therapy practices cause concern?". False Memory Syndrome Foundation. Retrieved 2009-09-16.
  13. "Welcome To Memory and Reality: Website of the False Memory Syndrome Foundation FMS Foundation website". False Memory Syndrome Foundation. Retrieved 2009-09-16.
  14. Calof, DL (1993). "A Conversation With Pamela Freyd, Ph.D. Co-Founder And Executive Director, False Memory Syndrome Foundation, Inc". Treating Abuse Today 3 (3).
  15. 15.0 15.1 Walker, JA (2005). Trauma cinema: documenting incest and the Holocaust. Berkeley: University of California Press. pp. 64–5. ISBN 0-520-24175-4.
  16. Olio KA (2004). "The Truth About "False Memory Syndrome"". In Cosgrove L; Caplan PJ. Bias in psychiatric diagnosis. Northvale, N.J: Jason Aronson. pp. 163–8. ISBN 0-7657-0001-8.
  17. Wakefield, H; Underwager R (1993). "Interview with Hollida Wakefield and Ralph Underwager". Paidika 3 (1): 3–12.

External links

  1. REDIRECT Template:Official website

de:False Memory Syndrome Foundation

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