Tuesday, March 29, 2016

False Memories

There’ll always be accusers who claim they were sexually assaulted but weren’t. In recent years, we’ve become familiar with the false-memory syndrome. They’re “suggestible” individuals who claim to have suddenly remembered their childhood abuse, usually under hypnosis or guided imagery.

To suddenly remember the events of childhood isn’t unusual. Many of us had no memories of our abuse. A century ago, Freud pointed out that we block out those memories that are too painful to accept.

On TV, I recently watched the 1973 film, and heard Barbra Streisand sing the movie’s title “The Way We Were.” One line says that what was too painful to remember, we chose to forget.

But when I think about the false-memory syndrome, I’ve encountered three people who told me such horrendous tales of abuse, including infant sacrifices, that they strained my level of credibility.

How do we, the survivors of childhood trauma respond? Do we believe their words? Or even more, how do we help them?

I don’t know the answers, and my only response is, “Show compassion.” I write that because even if molestation didn’t literally occur, the person still has serious needs.

The most healing thing I can do is to listen. To care. To express compassion.

Even if the person lies or it’s a false memory,
I can never go wrong by being compassionate.

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Are there questions or specific topics you'd like Cec to address in upcoming blog entries? If so, please send an email to his assistant at the following address: cecilmurphey(at)mchsi(dot)com.

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