False Memory Syndrome Foundation
The False Memory Syndrome Foundation was founded in
1992 in response to the large number of reports by people that
they had under hypnosis, dream revelry, or other related therapeutic
technique have remembered experiences that in normal
waking consciousness had previously been forgotten.
These experiences were of such a traumatic nature that seemingly,
one would not only remember them, but be unable to forget
them. However, hundreds of patients were reporting incidents
of childhood sexual abuse, participation in Satanic
rituals, abductions aboard UFOs, and subjection to intimate
and painful medical examinations, the memories of which were
completely lost until some later date, often years or even decades
Those therapists who believed such accounts to be true also
believed that traumatic experiences were frequently repressed
immediately after their occurrence. The memories of these
events would resurface at a later time through a variety of physical
and mental symptoms that collectively became known as
the survivor syndrome, or due to the frequent connection of the
symptoms with a girl’s memory of abuse by a father or other
male relative, Incest Survivor Syndrome (ISS). Those afflicted
with ISS were led to therapists who specialized in recovered
memory therapy (RMT) that included a variety of techniques
designed to bring forth the repressed memory. RMT rose to
prominence in the late 1980s as it came to be associated with
several widely publicized court cases, especially the McMartin
Dayschool Case.
At the same time, therapists were witnesses to parents whose
lives were being disrupted by the sudden accusation of their
now adult children of abuse and involvement in Satanic ritual
abuse, usually several decades in the past. Suddenly, seemingly
happy families were torn apart by accusations of parental abuse
and in some cases, the parents were arrested and tried on the
basis of an offspring’s supposed recovered memory.
In 1992, a group of families and therapists in the Philadelphia
and Baltimore area created the False Memory Syndrome
Foundation to document and study the phenomenon. The
foundation emerged out of previously existing parent support
groups that had formed in many cities. Soon after it formed,
a network of parents and therapists formed across North America.
Elizabeth Loftus, a psychologist at the University of Washington
and specialist in the study of memory emerged as the
most vocal defender of accused parents and exponent of the reality
of the false memory syndrome. False memory syndrome
suggests that during the attempt to recover memories, fantasies
are misperceived by the patient who, through misguided therapy,
comes to believe the fantasies are accurate memories.
Through the 1990s, the work of the False Memory Syndrome
Foundation has been largely successful, and the tide of
belief in repressed memory that includes both belief in UFO
Encyclopedia of Occultism & Parapsychology • 5th Ed. False Memory Syndrome Foundation
abductions and Satanic ritual abuse have been discredited,
though strong pockets of belief in both remain. Several psychologists
who supported belief in repressed memory have
been successfully sued by former patients and at least two psychologists
known for their work with abductees, Elizabeth Fiore
and Richard Boylan, have been forced to give up their licenses.
During the years of the foundation’s existence, court cases have
moved from a focus upon parents who reputedly abused their
children to therapists, whose use of RMT, abused their patients.
Recognition of Loftus’ contribution came with her recent
election as president of the American Psychological Association.
The foundation is located at 3401 Market St., Ste. 130, Philadelphia,
PA 19104. It has an Internet site at http
False Memory Syndrome Foundation. http
www.fmsfonline.org. May 16, 2000.
Loftus, Elizabeth and Katherine Ketchum. The Myth of Repressed
Memories False Memories and Allegations of Sexual Abuse.
New York St. Martin’s Press, 1996.
Ross, Colin. Satanic Ritual Abuse Principles of Treatment. Toronto
University of Toronto Press, 1995