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     MindNet Journal - Vol. 1, No. 14
     V E R I C O M M / MindNet         "Quid veritas est?"


The following is reproduced here with the express permission of
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Permission is given to reproduce and redistribute, for
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The views and opinions expressed below are not necessarily the
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otherwise noted.

Editor: Mike Coyle 

Contributing Editors: Walter Bowart
                      Harlan Girard

Assistant Editor: Rick Lawler


False Memory Syndrome Foundation Newsletter

Vol. 4, No. 2, February 1, 1995

Report on the Johns Hopkins/False Memory Syndrome Foundation
Meeting, Baltimore, December 9-11, 1994

Colin A. Ross, M.D.

_Colin A. Ross, M.D., author of many hooks and Director of the
Dissociative Unit at Charter Hospital in Dallas, Texas, has
several times been the subject of disparaging comments in this
Newsletter (Vol 2, Nos. 4,5,8). He is often considered to be one
of the most prominent advocates of treatment for multiple
personality disorder. He has contributed the following
communication for the FMS Foundation Newsletter. We are
delighted to print it. Responses, as usual, will be welcome._

   I am submitting this report simultaneously to the Newsletters
of the International Society for the Study of Dissociation (ISSD)
and the False Memory Syndrome Foundation (FMSF). As immediate
past president of the ISSD, I was concerned that I might receive
a hostile reception at the meeting in Baltimore. In fact the
response to my presence was warm and cordial, with a few
exceptions, and numerous people said that they were glad to see
me there, and that the two camps need to begin a conversation
--the individuals who expressed this view included accused
fathers, recanters who have successfully sued their therapists,
wives of accused fathers, lawyers who have won false memory suits,
psychologists, and psychiatrists.
   The social process and dynamics of the Baltimore meeting were
identical to those of the multiple personality meetings held in
Chicago in the mid to late 198O's. Both meetings were in part
expressions of a social cause, with the audience providing
standing ovations when stirring orators espoused the group
political doctrine. The audience at both meetings was a mixture
of survivors, paraprofessionals, and clinicians, and at both
meetings victims in the audience could be seen receiving back
rubs form significant others. At both meetings the speakers were
predominantly male M.D.s and Ph.D.s. There were survivor forums
at both meetings, and undisguised cases were presented on stage
in Baltimore. Both meetings involved a great deal of belief and
insufficient empiricism.
   The meetings differed demographically, with an upward age
shift in Baltimore, and many more males in the audience in
Baltimore. The key difference was a rotation of the
victim-rescuer-perpetrator triangle--both meetings were focused
on championing the cause of the victim. In Chicago in 1988 the
highest-ranking victim was the female MPD patient whose
perpetrator was a male Satanist and rescuer a therapist, while
in Baltimore in 1994 the victim was a falsely accused father,
the rescuer the lawyer, and the perpetrator the MPD therapist.
The demographics of the roles had shifted but the dynamics were
   At both meetings the projected bad self was clearly
identified--in 1994, ISSD members tend to view the FMSF as
"perps incorporated" while FMSF members tend to view the ISSD as
"incompetent hysterics of America." Both these perceptions are
based on the sociology of rumor, the psychodynamics of
projection, and overgeneralization from biased samples. Many
FMSF members, I learned, have attitudes towards me which are
based on rumor--this is the inverse of the Satanic panic
analyzed by Victor (1993) and Mulhern (1994).
   ISSD members lend towards an equation according to which FMSF
membership = perpetrator = denial, while FMSF members tend to
accept the equation MPD diagnosis = hysteria = false memories =
patient and family harm. Many professional FMSF members are
below scholarly standard in terms of knowledge of the
dissociation literature, while many ISSD members are
insufficiently aware of the literatures of the imprecision of
memory, demand characteristics, and coercive persuasion. The two
organizations are mirror opposites of each other. Both have a
lot to teach each other, although in both groups there are
ideologically fixed extremists. Both groups tend to be highly
critical of the other, but blind to the same logical errors made
by themselves.
   Many of the Baltimore talks could be given at an ISSD meeting,
and be well accepted there. ISSD members need to be aware that
there is a wide diversity of viewpoints among speakers at FMSF
meetings, as there is in the ISSD--in Baltimore different
speakers stated that there is no such thing as repression,
espoused classical psychoanalytical theory, described treatment
of a retractor based on classical Janetian trauma-dissociation
theory, and described a variant of cult exit counseling. Much of
the focus was more on standards of practice than memory issues,
and I agreed with more than half of what was said.
   One of my goals is to convince FMSF members that the key
variable of mutual interest should impaired professionals and bad
therapies. According to substantial but not definitive data
MPD/DID is a reliable and valid diagnosis according to the DSM-IV
system rules. The DSM-IV diagnosis of MPD/DID does not require
adherence to a theory of "robust repression," a reported history
of sexual abuse, or belief in any particular mental mechanism or
metaphychological construct. This is analogous to panic
disorder--establishing that the diagnosis of panic disorder is
reliable and valid has nothing to do with Freudian theories of
signal anxiety. The DSM system is atheroretical and
phenomenological thought, including in the dissociative
disorders section. The belief that the validity of MPD/DID
stands or falls based on theories of repression is simply wrong.
   I would like to convince FMSF members that MPD/DID should be
disconnected from the problem of bad therapies and impaired
therapists. Until 1991 was a full-time salaried academic in
Canada--I saw countless examples of wildly incompetent
polypharmacy with major harm to patients, any of which would be
grounds for a successful malpractice suit. I'm not convinced
that the percentage of impaired clinicians is higher in
dissociative disorders field than in biological psychiatry.
   It is true that there are impaired therapists practicing in
public dissociative disorders field. I believe, based on my
clinical experience, that some patients with Satanic ritual
abuse memories are suffering from DSM-IV dissociative disorder
not otherwise specified resulting from exposure to coercive
persuasion and indoctrination in a destructive psychotherapy
cult. However, the false memories are only a minor component of
the problem clinically. Why? What is really harming patients and
families is generic bad clinical practice, and basic ethical and
boundary violations, It is possible to have false memories in a
good therapy and no false memories in a bad therapy.
   The problem is not the existence as such, it is how they are
managed and handled in therapy. I think the FMSF has
over-attributed the causality of the false memories to therapist
variables, and over-attributed the problems in bad therapies to
the memories. On the other side many ISSD members have been
blind to the damaging effects of their failure to maintain
therapeutic neutrality with regard to the reality of the
   The primary error of FMSF members is that, since someone has
to be bad, the family can only achieve reconciliation if it is
the therapist who caused the problems.
   The primary error of ISSD members is that the FMSF crowd are
only interested in protecting perpetrators. This simply isn't
true. Both groups overgeneralize from subsamples within the
opposing population. My motive for going to the Baltimore
meeting was in part my knowledge that meeting someone
face-to-face is a powerful counter to projection of badness. It
is time that psychiatrists and psychologists in both camps sought
a common ground, and took an empirical and scientific approach to
complex problems. The mental health field suffers from
MPD/DID--the ISSD and FMSF are "alters" within a larger system
who are refusing to talk to each other or inhabit the same body.
This does not work inside individuals, nor does in work in the
mental health field.

Mulhern, S. (1994). Satanism, ritual abuse, and multiple
personality disorder: a sociohistorical perspective.
_International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis_,
42: 265-288

Victor, J,S. (1993). _Satanic Panic. The Creation of a
Contemporary Legend_. Chicago: Open Court.


[A note about the FMS Newsletter from the Pamela Freyd.]

  "This newsletter was written for an audience of people who
believe that they have been falsely accused of a terrible crime
which no one will investigate and for professionals who are
urged to critically examine their own assumptions, their own
practice, and the ability of the mental health community to
monitor itself. The newsletter is not intended to undermine
people who believe that they have "recovered memories." FMSF has
never questioned the wide extent nor the terrible effects of
child abuse and neglect. There are many people who have been
abused in the past who are only now finding their voice about it.
That is a welcome improvement. Rather the concern is to separate
the political issues, the scientific issues and the therapy
issues that have become so entangled. We wish to inform people
about scientific information on the nature of memory and
influence, not to take away anyone's memories. We cannot know the
truth or falsity of anyone's memories, neither accusers nor
accused. We are concerned that all people, professionals, clients
and others affected by the "recovered memories" reflect
critically on the processes used to elicit them. Some memories
are surely true, some confabulated, and some false. That is the
nature of memory. Misremembering is common. Because
misremembering is so common, we urge all people to examine
critically "memories" of things for which there is no empirical
evidence: past lives, space alien abduction abuse,
intergenerational satanic conspiracy abuse, and some claims of
childhood incest."

                                  - Pamela Freyd, Ph.D.
                                    Executive Director, FMSF

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