False Memory Syndrome

The False Memory Syndrome is a condition in which a person’s identity and relationships are affected by ‘memories’ that can be factually incorrect but that they strongly believe.

Scientific evidence suggests that memories can be fairly easy altered by outside influences, such as recovered memory therapy that is still used by unscrupulous therapists. This method can include a mildly hypnotic state, sedatives and - in most cases - probing questions by the therapist.

The results of these malpractices can result in false memories about incest, childhood sexual abuses, satanic ritual abuses and alien abductions. People who have these false memories quite often accuse family members and these accusations may tear entire families apart.
Needles to say: these memories weren’t suppressed to safe the personality of a victim. No evidence exists for the repression and recovery of verified, severely traumatic events, and their role in symptom formation has yet to be proved. There is also striking absence in the literature of well-corroborated cases of such repressed memories recovered through psychotherapy. Given the prevalence of childhood sexual abuse, even if only a small proportion are repressed and only some of them are subsequently recovered, there should be a significant number of corroborated cases. In fact there are none[1].

Especially in the US, where therapists sometimes appear more gullible than their patients, there was a wave of people who during ‘therapeutic sessions’ suddenly 'knew' to be the victim of alien abduction. During the late 1990s, multiple therapists have been sued for malpractice[2].

The feeling of alien abduction can be better explained as episodes of the Old Hag Syndrome. The False Memory Syndrome is not confabulation, fabricated memories that frequently are the result of dementia or other brain disorders.

[1] Brandon et al: Recovered memories of childhood sexual abuse. Implications for clinical practice in The British Journal of Psychiatry - 1998
[2] Spanos et al: Past-life identities, UFO abductions, and satanic ritual abuse: the social construction of memories in The International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis - 1994

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