Screams from Childhood

book on child abuse

therapeutic books

Die Falle der Vergebung
Begegnung mit einer Mauer des Schweigens
Liebesbrief an meinen Ärger
1. Kapitel
Foreword: Hero Child
Instructions for Dehumanization
The War against the Truth
My Therapeutic Journey
Outrage over a Handcuffed Girl
Getting to Know my Self-Hatred

Liberation from Guilt
The Trap of Forgiveness


Facts about the hoax of the "false memory syndrome"


1.) "From its inception, the False Memory Foundation has made media influence a priority, funneling public perceptions of the research through a specific value-laden filter. Yet there is no research to date documenting either a set of symptoms making up such a syndrome or an epidemic of those symptoms, in spite of the widespread promulgation of this term for political uses. We need to ask the following: Do false denials happen? If one is going to name syndromes, one also needs to ask about a false denial syndrome, which work with abusers suggests."

Jennifer Freyd in her book "Betrayal Trauma"


2.) Lana Alexander, editor of a newsletter for survivors of child sexual abuse, has said, “Many people view the false memory syndrome theory as a calculated defense strategy developed by perpetrators and the lawyers and expert witnesses to defend them.”


3.) It is both sad and maddening to see the term "False Memory Syndrome" receive any credibility in the press, considering what it is alleged to represent. There is no designation of "FMS" in the latest (or any) Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders of the American Psychiatric Association (DSM-IV). FMS is a political/legal term contrived to systematically discredit any and every person alleging to have been sexually molested and to have discovered this by having recovered memories of the abuse later in life.
One of the contributing authors of this book, Elizabeth F. Loftus, ("The Myth of Repressed Memory") has consistently taken the indefensible position that no memory that emerges later in life can be trusted. This means that if I remember a pleasant summer day 40 years ago, it is a 'false memory'. What is suspect about her and others of like view is that *sexual* memories, in particular sexual *abuse* memories, are targetted for vehement discreditation. This says something. It says that someone is very very nervous about the resurfacing of abuse memories buried deep in the mind because of their traumatizing nature. Who would be nervous but those who perpetrated or were accessories to the abuse?
Children are especially susceptible to trauma, particularly from their adults, elders or guardians. Children can heroically and stunningly develop ways to rewrite traumatic events in their minds in order to live with them as they happen or after they happen. It is how they survive such traumas (and it is the reason they are called by the term "abuse survivor"). It is when those rewritten memories are untangled as adults that they hopefully start to get back to the core truth of their original abuse. This is a painful process of therapy. By the time persons who have recovered memories of sexual abuse are ready to confront or prosecute their abusers, they have usually spent years in agonizing private therapy, assessing and re-assessing their memories and feelings about them, testing them over and over again. Those who take these issues and their perpetrators to trial do not do so lightly. It is perhaps the most agonizing form of litigation for the victim to initiate, since it brings up, in a hostile legal environment, the most hurtful form of abuse conceivable, that of being molested and/or raped as a child. It is a terrible thing to face and confront one's abuser.
Dr. Bessel Van Der Kolk, founder of the Trauma Clinic in Boston MA, pioneered the breakthrough into unravelling repressed memories. As it happens, his subjects were veterans from the Vietnam War, who were (unbeknownst to them) re-experiencing battle trauma in the present which they had suppressed in their minds at the time of the trauma. This led to the coinage of the term "Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder" or PTSD. PTSD is the brain chemistry of traumatic stress, i.e., how the brain processes horrific events it cannot bear and cannot understand. As children are the most vulnerable of all, they develop much deeper kinds of PTSD which often takes years to resurface in terms of memories as 'flashbacks' or 'body memories.'
Elizabeth Loftus, a self-acknowledged victim of child sexual abuse, has been systematically attacking the credibility of adult survivors of child sexual trauma for many years now, even though the research that established her as an authority led to conclusions of the validity of suppressed memory and its recovery.
This is not to say that there have never been errors in memory of sexually traumatic events. No one has claimed that memory is perfect, and in fact, it is acknowledged universally that memory is tricky and subject to redaction over the course of time. But to automatically dismiss all sexual trauma memories as invalid is precisely what Dr. Loftus and her colleagues have been promoting. And it is the underlying position of this and other books like it.

review at of: "Child Sexual Abuse and False Memory Syndrome"


4.) Jim Hopper: Recovered memories of sexual abuse

In summary:
• Loftus has conducted and published research which calls into question her public statements on recovered memories; her own study demonstrated that the conditions of amnesia and delayed recall for sexual abuse do exist.

• She has relentlessly attacked the construct of repression in her scholarly work, in her expert testimony to judges and juries, and in her statements to the media; this behavior causes many uninformed people to believe she is arguing that the conditions of amnesia and delayed recall for sexual abuse do not exist.

• She has misrepresented the facts of a legal case in a scholarly paper and, after finally apologizing to the victim of her misrepresentations, continued to promote the article riddled with falsehoods (see Consider the Evidence for Elizabeth Loftus' Scholarship and Accuracy)

• She is aware that experts on traumatic and recovered memories, when they do employ explanatory constructs, use dissociation much more than repression to understand these phenomena.

• She has used repression to explain recovered memories reported by subjects in her own research, though experts in traumatic memory would argue that they are more likely dissociative in nature.

• For most of you, this is the first time you are learning these facts, because most members of the popular media addressing this issue have note done their homework or made any of these facts known. (For more on the unreliability and poor track record of the popular media on this issue, see Mike Stanton's piece in the Columbia Journalism Review, U-Turn on Memory Lane).

(Jim Hopper: "Recovered Memories of Seuxla Abuse: Scientific Research & Scholarly Resources")


5.) Consider the Evidence for Elizabeth Loftus' Scholarship and Accuracy.

"Remembering Dangerously" & Hoult v. Hoult:
The Myth of Repressed Memory that Elizabeth Loftus Created

by Jennifer Hoult, Esq.

quote: "Loftus is frequently employed to testify for violent criminals like the Hillside Strangler and Ted Bundy. She once claimed that she "usually" only worked for individuals she believed were innocent[115], but since making that statement she has worked for the legal defenses of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh and child rapist Father Paul Shanley. When criticized, she casts herself as a victim of zealots who oppose science. "'I am used to fighting clean, academic fights, duking it out in the pages of a scientific journal,' Loftus said. 'But when you get into those real-life cases with some of those people who harbor beliefs that, I think, are unsupported by science and they are so wrapped up in their belief of every accusation no matter how dubious it is, they fight dirty.'"[116] As the Kandels' article described, current scientific research clearly demonstrates that traumatic amnesia and recovered memories are well documented phenomena among victims of severe trauma like combat veterans and victims of domestic violence and child abuse. Research also indicates that recovered memories are no more or less accurate than continuous memories.[118]

"Loftus claims she was herself a victim of child sexual abuse.[120] Describing her abuser, she wrote, "I hate your guts," saying he "betrayed [her] trust, stole [her] innocence, and put an indelible impression, a bad, black memory into the place where only good, warm, happy memories should be."[121] Alternately she has said her molestation was, "...not that big a deal."[122] Loftus is critical of the memories of victims who have proven their claims in courts of law, but she protects her own memory from investigation or critique by withholding the name of her alleged abuser. While she claims continuous memory of the molestation she alleges, Loftus' description that her memory of the incident "flew out at [her], out of the darkness of the past, hitting [her] with full force,"[123] bears striking similarity to descriptions of flashbacks by Hoult and others who report traumatic amnesia. Furthermore, like Hoult and many other victims of sexual abuse, Loftus reports no eyewitnesses or medical records of abuse, and a twenty year lag in her reporting of the abuse.[124]

"While Loftus passionately supports defendants' claims of innocence and attacks victims' memories, she expects the public and press to believe her claim without the investigation and kinds of corroboration she expects of other victims. Without providing her alleged abuser the chance to deny her claim, she denies him a chance to exonerate himself, shields herself from any possible claim that hers is a "false memory," and prevents other potential victims from being warned that he may be a threat. Loftus denigrates "uncritical acceptance" of other victims' claims,[125] but expects uncritical acceptance in her own case. Since she has "no proof or evidence of guilt other than the word of the accuser,"[126] it appears Loftus cannot satisfy the standard she applies to others.[127] Under her standard, if her alleged offender denied the molestation, as most sex offenders do, he ought to be believed and her memory deemed "false." "Interview the [accused]," she says about other cases, but not her own.[128]"

How to cite this webpage: Jennifer Hoult, "Remembering Dangerously" & Hoult v. Hoult: The Myth of Repressed Memory that Elizabeth Loftus Created (2005), available at


6.) Wikipedia

The FMS Foundation became the subject of a bitter public controversy of its own, concerning the personal motivations of its founders and the purpose of the foundation as an organization. The controversy resulted in the resignation of two founding members of the FMSF Scientific Advisory Board.
Writing under the pseudonym "Jane Doe", one year before she established the False Memory Syndrome Foundation, Pamela Freyd published a first-person account of her daughter's accusations of sexual misconduct against her husband, Peter Freyd.[7] The publishers of this journal were Hollida Wakefield and Ralph Underwager. [8]
The Freyds' daughter is Jennifer Freyd, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology, University of Oregon. She writes,
"For the first two years of my work on betrayal trauma theory, I did not discuss my private life in public. ... In my own case I lost the ability to choose privacy. Approximately eight months after I first presented betrayal trauma theory, my parents, in conjunction with Ralph Underwager and others, formed the False Memory Syndrome Foundation (FMSF). Before the organization was formed, my mother, Pamela Freyd, had published an article under the name "Jane Doe". The Jane Doe article, when circulated to my professional colleagues and to the media by my mother, made public accusations about my professional and personal life, at the same time that it helped spawn the false memory movement. ... If people who dare to speak about sexual abuse are attacked by those whom they have relied on and trusted, is it any wonder that unawareness and silence are so common?"[1]
Jennifer Freyd has received support for her account from significant members of the Freyd family, including Peter Freyd’s mother.[9] Peter Freyd’s brother William has written that he considers the creation of the FMSF as the Peter and Pamela Freyd’s response to the truth, rather than the falseness, of their daughter Jennifer’s claims of abuse: "There is no doubt in my mind that there was severe abuse in the home of Peter and Pam. . . . The False Memory Syndrome Foundation is a fraud designed to deny a reality that Peter and Pam have spent most of their lives trying to escape"[10]

read more at:


7.) Loftus' Testimony in Scooter Libby trial
On October 26, 2006, Dr. Loftus was called as the first defense witness in a pretrial hearing in the federal perjury case against Lewis Libby.[14] The Washington Post reported that under "withering" cross-examination by prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald, Loftus struggled to defend the scientific basis of her methodology amid apparent contradictions between her testimony and her work, and internal contradictions within her work. [15] According to the Post, Loftus also "insisted that she had never met Fitzgerald" previously; however, Fitzgerald reminded her that he had cross-examined her before in another case in which she had been an expert defense witness. [15] [16]

14. "Memory Expert Pressed In C.I.A. Leak Case.", New York Times, October 27, 2006. Retrieved on 2007-09-25. “The special prosecutor in the C.I.A. leak case tangled with a psychologist who testified about memory research, forcing her to acknowledge errors and misstatements in her research. The prosecutor, Patrick J. Fitzgerald, left, spent three hours cross-examining the psychologist, Elizabeth Loftus. She was testifying at a procedural hearing at which the defendant, I. Lewis Libby Jr., Vice President Cheney's former chief of staff, was trying to persuade the judge to let him call a memory expert at his trial on charges of obstruction and perjury. Mr. Libby wants to use a memory expert to help argue that a faulty memory, brought on by a stressful workload, resulted in his making false statements to investigators about his conversations with reporters regarding a Central Intelligence Agency operative, Valerie Wilson. The judge did not immediately rule on the issue. ...” 

15. a b "In the Libby Case, A Grilling to Remember.", Washington Post, October 27, 2006. Retrieved on 2007-09-25. “With withering and methodical dispatch, White House nemesis and prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald yesterday sliced up the first person called to the stand on behalf of the vice president's former chief of staff. ... But when Fitzgerald got his chance to cross-examine Loftus about her findings, he had her stuttering to explain her own writings and backpedaling from her earlier assertions. Citing several of her publications, footnotes and the work of her peers, Fitzgerald got Loftus to acknowledge that the methodology she had used at times in her long academic career was not that scientific, that her conclusions about memory were conflicting, and that she had exaggerated a figure and a statement from her survey of D.C. jurors that favored the defense. ... One of those moments came when Loftus insisted that she had never met Fitzgerald. He then reminded her that he had cross-examined her before, when she was an expert defense witness and he was a prosecutor in the U.S. attorney's office in New York.”

16. Page 21 of the transcript from the hearing indicates that Loftus said "I don't remember meeting you before" then "I just can't get the memory back". When Fitzpatrick provided details of the case, she said on p. 21, "I vague -- well, I remember the defense attorney ... "


8.) William Freyd's letter. He is the brother of Peter Freyd who cofounded with his wife Pamlea the FSM Foundation. It is Willaim's answer to a PBS programm:

"Peter Freyd is my brother. Pamela Freyd is both my stepsister and my sister-in-law. Jennifer and Gwendolyn are my nieces....

The False Memory Syndrome Foundation is a fraud designed to deny a reality that Peter and Pam have spent most of their lives trying to escape. There is no such thing as a False Memory Syndrome. It is not, by any normal standard, a Foundation. Neither Pam nor Peter have any significant mental health expertise.

That the False Memory Syndrome Foundation has been able to excite so much media attention has been a great surprise to those of us who would like to admire and respect the objectivity and motives of people in the media.... We do not understand why you would "buy" such an obviously flawed story. But buy it you did, based on the severely biased presentation you made of the memory issue that Peter and Pam created to deny their own difficult reality.

For the most part, you presented very credible parents and frequently quite incredible bizarre and exotic, alleged victims and therapists. Balance and objectivity would call for the presentation of more credible alleged victims and more bizarre parents. While you did present some highly regarded therapists as commentators (Dr. Herman, for example), most of the therapists you presented as providers of therapy were clearly not in the
main stream. While this selection of examples may make for much more interesting T.V., it most certainly does not make for objectivity and fairness.

I would advance the idea that "Divided Memories" hurt victims, helped abusers, and confused the public. I wonder why you thought these results would be in the public interest that Public Broadcasting is funded to support.

William Freyd"

more letters by Ross Cheit und Ellen Bass


9.) Recovered Memory Project, by Ross E. Cheit

The purpose of this project is to collect and disseminate information relevant to the debate over whether traumatic events can be forgotten and then remembered later in life. That debate has focused on recovered memories of childhood sexual abuse. But the phenomenon extends to other traumas, including physical abuse or witnessing a murder. Almost everyone would agree that such traumas are normally remembered. That is, most people who experience such a trauma are likely to remember it, perhaps vividly and to the point of being intrusive. But do some people forget completely? A variety of scientific sources say "yes."  The purpose of this website, then, is to bring together the extensive and growing evidence of cases ignored or overlooked by self-described skeptics of various sorts.

Peer-reviewed prospective studies and clinical studies continue to document this phenomenon. Moreover, cognitive psychologists have combined experimental data with these other sources to develop better ways of understanding this phenomenon. See e.g., Jennifer Freyd, Betrayal Trauma: The Logic of Forgetting Childhood Sexual Abuse (Harvard University Press, 1996).


10.) Sexual Abuse of Infants
A five-part question focusing on sexual abuse during infancy.

Can infants recall sexual abuse later in life?

The key word in this question is "recall." Unfortunately, for most, the concept of memory is limited to the storage and recall of cognitive, narrative memory. In this conceptualization, a pre-verbal infant would not be capable of "remembering" and "recalling" any event. Furthermore, we are all familiar with the developmental amnesia that occurs at approximately age three. In this normal developmental phase, there appears to be a reorganization of cognitive and memory functions such that narrative memory for events prior to age three or four are difficult to access later in life. These two points have led to the pervasive, inaccurate and destructive view that infants do not recall traumatic experience, including sexual abuse. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The human brain has multiple ways to "recall" experience. Indeed, the brain is designed to store and recall information of all sorts – motor, vestibular, emotional, social and cognitive. When you walk, play the piano, feel your heart race in an empty parking lot at night, feel calmed by the touch of a loved one or create a "first impression" after meeting someone for first time, you are using memory. All incoming sensory information creates neuronal patterns of activity that are compared against previously experienced and stored patterns. New patterns can create new memories. Yet the majority of these stored memory templates are based upon experiences that took place in early childhood – the time in life when these patterns of neuronal activity were first experienced and stored. And the majority of our 'memories' are non-cognitive and pre-verbal. It is the experiences of early childhood that create the foundational organization of neural systems that will be used for a lifetime.

This is why, contrary to popular perception, infants and young children are more vulnerable to traumatic stress – including sexual abuse. If the original experiences of the infant with primary caregiving adults involve fear, unpredictability, pain and abnormal genital sensations, neural organization in many key areas will be altered. For example, abnormal associations may be created between genital touch and fear, thereby laying the foundation for future problems in psychosexual development. Depending upon the specific nature of the abuse, the duration, the frequency and the time during development, a host of problems can result. In many ways, the long-term adverse effects of sexual abuse in infancy are the result of memories – physiological state memories, motor-vestibular memories and emotional memories, which in later years can be triggered by a host of cues that are pervasive. Incestuous abuse in infancy is most destructive in this regard. It will result in the association of fear, pain and unpredictability into the very core of future human functioning – the primary relational templates. If these original 'templates' for all future relationships are corrupted by sexual exploitation and abuse, the child will have a lifetime of difficulties with intimacy, trust, touch and bonding – indeed the core elements of healthy development and functioning throughout the lifecycle will be altered.

Furthermore, if the child is sexually abused during early childhood, they may not have any cognitive "memory" and be completely unaware that the source of their fears, difficulties with intimacy and relationships has its roots in this betrayal in infancy. This can lead to problems with self-esteem and, will make any therapeutic efforts more difficult.

Can infant sexual abuse arrest cognitive, emotional or behavioral development?

The sexual abuse of an infant is often accompanied by extreme disruptions of normal caregiving behaviors and by extreme and prolonged stress responses. Altered caregiving and a prolonged stress response will alter the development of the infant. The major mediators of emotional, cognitive and social environment and, therefore, learning during infancy are the primary caregivers. Development in all domains can be disrupted if these primary relationships are compromised. As mentioned above, it is almost inevitable that emotional, behavioral and cognitive development will be arrested by early traumatic experience.

Does infant sexual abuse affect attachment?

The development of attachment and healthy socio-emotional functioning depends upon the presence of consistent, responsive, attuned and nurturing caregivers. One of the central tasks of these relationships is to keep the child safe. If these caregivers are unable to protect, or worse, if they participate in the sexual abuse of the child, the core of all future relational interactions is corrupted. The distortions in attachment that result from sexual abuse in infancy can be toxic to all future relationships. Again, the cascade of problems that result from impaired socio-emotional functioning due to early life sexual abuse can impact all domains of functioning and be a source of ongoing confusion and pain to anyone experiencing sexual abuse in infancy.

Are there physiological changes in the brain resulting from a traumatic event?

As mentioned above, the brain is designed to change in response to experience. Indeed, all experience changes the brain. With traumatic experiences, the changes are in those parts of the brain involved in the stress and fear responses. Many studies with adults and, now with children, have demonstrated a host of neurophysiological changes that are related to traumatic stress. While many more well-controlled studies are needed, it is likely that certain brainstem catecholamine systems (e.g., locus coeruleus noradrengergic), limbic areas (e.g., amygdala), neuroendocrine (e.g., hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis) and cortical systems involved in regulating stress and arousal may all be altered in traumatized children.

Do infants display sequelae similar to older children who are sexually abused?

The sequelae that result from sexual abuse will vary as a function of several keys factors: what is the nature of the abuse, the duration, frequency, intensity, time during development and the presence of attenuating factors such as other caring, attentive caregivers in the child's life. In general, however, with all traumatic experiences, the earlier in life, the less "specific" and more pervasive the resulting problems appear to be. For example, when traumatized as an adult, there is a specific increase in sympathetic nervous system reactivity when exposed to cues associated with the traumatic event. With young children, following traumatic stress, there appears to be a generalized increase in autonomic nervous system reactivity in addition to the cue-specific reactivity. Due to the sequential and functionally interdependent nature of development, traumatic disruption of the organization and functioning of neural system can result in a cascade of related disrupted development and dysfunction. Examples of this include the motor and language delays in traumatized children under age six. The "causes" of these delays are likely due to the primary, trauma-induced alterations in other domains (e.g., the stress response systems, thereby influencing physiological reactivity, hypervigilance, concentration), which, in turn, impair the young child's willingness to explore, capacity to process new information and ability to focus long enough on new information to learn.

Bruce D. Perry, M.D., Ph.D.
Thomas S. Trammell Research Professor of Child Psychiatry
Baylor College of Medicine
Chief of Psychiatry, Texas Children's Hospital


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