False memories are the events which never happened, or events, remembering which is different from the way happened. The most frequently used paradigm in studying false memories is the paradigm, made by Deese-Roediger-McDermott. According to the typical DRM experiments, where participants were studying some words that were related to the non-presented world. The high level of false memories was demonstrated when the participants, mentioned earlier, were asked to remember and recall the words from the lists.
The term of False Memory Syndrome was first created by FMSF, and it was called “a pseudoscientific syndrome which was developed to defend against the claims of child abuse”. In fact, this syndrome was created by parents for their kids, claiming to be falsely accused of child sexual abuse. The research of this subject has revealed that most of the childhood abuse memories are true. It has been shown that false allegations of sexual abuse are rare at all, with the rates about one percent, while the other studies show the higher rates.
The members of the FMSF were criticized for misrepresenting data of their researches for their reasons and creating the idea of the syndrome. The scientists who were examining or writing about the FMS theories were subjected to harassment. Anna Salter critiqued the defend of people, accused of child sexual abuse: “The people who support and defend those accused of child sexual abuse indiscriminately, those who join organizations dedicated to defending people who are accused of child sexual abuse with no screening whatsoever to keep out those who are guilty as charged, are not necessarily people engaged in an objective search for the truth. Some of them can and do use deceit, trickery, misstated research, harassment, intimidation, and charges of laundering federal money to silence their opponents”.
The actual definition of FMS was found in the literature, written by John Kihlstrom – the FMS is the condition, when the identity and interpersonal relationships are centered near the memory of some traumatic experience, which was false but still in which the person strongly believes. The syndrome itself isn’t characterized by the false memories at all, since we all have inaccurate memories. The syndrome can be diagnosed when memory is too engrained so it orients the individual’s personality and style of life, disrupting all sorts of adaptive behaviors. The false memory syndrome is destructive itself, because the person tries to avoid confrontation with any evidence that can trigger the memory.
FMSF published the claim: “Psychiatrists advising the Foundation members seem to be unanimous in the belief that memories of such atrocities cannot be repressed. Horrible incidents of childhood are remembered.”. The questions emerge when examining claims about the diagnoses of false memories syndrome and the epidemic, which doesn’t judge all the reports of recovered memories of abuses. The methodology doesn’t yield an acceptable rate of false positives.
Until using the methodology and raw data in identifying and validating the FMS by verifying cases to constitute the epidemic, it may be good to consider the methods and evidence that were set forth to determine memories of abuse as the false ones. In 1994 FMSF published a letter, called “How does a person know that memories of abuse were false” which was based on studying of people who experienced such memories. They can’t describe their experience or describe it with phrases that these memories “are not like the other memories” and something like that. Many people describe a sense of peace with their decisions, about which their memories are false and the sense of missing something during the memory recovery process.
The second set of criteria had 7 points, which were set forth to identify the false memories were: “There are no such memories prior to therapy”, “The accused has no history of any pedophiliac tendencies and there is no evidence of any sexual interest in children”, “The accused and the family are willing to openly discuss the allegations and explore them for logical coherence”.
The third set was set by Pamela Freyd, FMSF executive director. It was set with the article “How do we know we are not representing pedophiles?”. Two methods of this article were presented to show that memories are meant to form the basis of accusations against family members are absolutely false: “There are two ways that we will address this concern. The first has to do with who we are. If I had taken a camera to any of the three meetings held here in Philadelphia, I would have been hard put to know whom to photograph. We are a good looking bunch of people: graying hair, well-dressed, healthy, smiling. The similarity of the stories is astounding, so script-like and formulaic that doubts dissolve after chats with a few families. Just about every person who has attended is someone you would like find interesting and want to count as a friend. The second way that we will address this concern involves lie detector tests.If all members of the FMS Foundation either have had or express a willingness to be polygraph, we will have a powerful statement that we are not in the business of representing pedophiles”.
Finally, people who thinks that their duty is to determine if the person has got sexually abused or whether a memory of such event is the false one, have to be well versed in the subject regarding memory. These people should know that every person is pliable to some degree, but children are the most weak and vulnerable to such harassing actions, so the leading questions may make harm to the young children psyche.
The false memories, fabricated or distorted recollection of an event which never happened. As it was said earlier, it can be caused by some dramatic events happened in the life of the patient. The factors, which influence false memory, include misinformation of the original actions, events and source of information, making the real memories recollected and mistaken and entirely false.
According to Elizabeth Loftus, who demonstrated through her research about the possibilities of inducing false memories through the suggestions. She says that false memories can become stronger as the time goes on, also becoming distorted and changeable. The researches of Loftus have proven that memories can form readily and easily. As an example: participants, who watched a video of a car-crash were asked to answer some questions about the video. The people were asked the same questions, but words “smashed” were replaced by “hit”. The next week when the participants were giving a memory test about the video of the car accident, those who were asked with the “smashed” word said that they saw broken glass during the video. Loftus thinks that false memories form better when lots of time passed after the actual event of original memory.
As said Christopher French from Goldsmith University: "There are still people who believe memory works like a video camera as well as people who accept the Freudian notion of repression – that when something terrible happens the memory is shoved down into the subconscious”.
As for my own mind, even if false memories “defend” our psyche from the real events happened in our life, it isn’t good for person not to know about the thing, happened in his/her past. It’s bad to remember only the things you want to remember and not the true memories. The researches of the false memories developing fast, and it makes more and more people realize about their false memories, which can both save and destroy us.
Spanos, N. (1996). Multiple identities & false memories. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
Taub, S. (1999). Recovered memories of child sexual abuse. Springfield, Ill.: C.C. Thomas, Publishers.
Yapko, M. (1994). Suggestions of abuse. New York: Simon & Schuster.