I myself actually was sexually abused when young, and, though I am a man, can feel for women who are swept up in the #MeToo movement. I understand a lot of the self-loathing and guilt, and also rage and hatred, involved, though I myself have largely “lived it down”, in terms of my own life.
Part of the process of leaving such trauma in the past involves confession. It is a very ancient process, described all the way back into Old Testament times.
The reason events are hidden is often due to an element of shame, for quite often, even when a person was taken advantage of in a most foul manner, the situation began with the person being tricked into trusting someone they should not have trusted, and they therefore feel ashamed for trusting. Because the person is so ashamed they never bring the crime out into the sunlight of Truth, and it lurks about in the shadows of their mind, influencing them in any number of ways. However as soon as they confess, the sunlight of Truth disinfects. Saint John described the process like this: “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
Of course, if the abuser is a priest, one wants nothing to do with the church. However the exact same process is enacted by secular psychologists, even if they happen to be atheists. They may not believe the Christ is the Truth and the Way, but they do notice the “Way” to “mental health” involves “Truth”.
People in the #MeToo movement tend to feel they are involved in something new, riding the breaking wave of social progress, but in fact we old-timers know we have “been there and done that”. Back in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s there was a great deal of excitement about new “psychologies”, and that in turn sprang out of a disillusionment with older Freudian psychiatry which people had been excited about in the 1940’s and 1950’s. Many of Freud’s own students stated his approach had flaws, and came up with “new and improved” approaches of their own. As a young hippy I tried out a number of the interesting new approaches, and I also worked for a psychologist and got to see the new approaches from a different and interesting angle. Lastly, I studied psychology further on my own, not as a client but because I was very curious.
I had and have no doubt it is good for the soul to confess. I witnessed some heartrending catharses that used up entire boxes of Kleenex, and could often see people felt much better afterwards, as if a huge burden had been lifted. I took part in pounding pillows for various reasons, “getting my feelings out” and expressing “repressed hostility” towards people I hardly remembered, (for example a football coach who benched me back in Junior High). To be honest, it got a bit silly at times, for I was “less repressed” than some, and recall I one time alarmed a psychologist because I got too enraged and beat the hell out of a pillow with too much ferocity. In the end there came a time when enough was enough, and it was time to stop dwelling in the past and to go get a Real Job.
In the process of digging up things one resented from their past one entered a interesting landscape where so-called “recovered” memories were encountered. These were not things that had troubled you for years and years, but things you had supposedly “completely forgotten”. Some psychologists made a good living by claiming they could help people “recover” things they had forgotten.
The problem was, the human mind is very creative. In exploring various psychologies I’d investigated the interpretation of dreams, and also fantasies. Fantasies were very interesting, in that they were windows into your own subconscious or the subconscious of another, and it was fascinating what people could dream up when wide awake. In cases where powerful emotions were involved, the fantasies could be quite vivid, as real as an intense dream. The problem with “recovered memory” was that they might be the same thing. I actually witnessed people “remember” things that hadn’t occurred.
The mind is constantly working on ideas. An idea does not simply sit in the brain, but rather is revised and improved-upon. These changes are actually a good and healthy thing.
There has been some research hinting that memory itself is initially stored in one part of the brain, and later filed in another, and then called forward and worked upon and then refiled, undergoing revisions in the process. Memory isn’t a photograph that stays the same, (or perhaps yellows with age, becoming “golden”.) For this reason witnesses have varying accounts of the same incident.
This is also a good reason to keep a diary. (I’ve kept a diary since I was nine years old. Now, as an old man, there are certain stories I’ve told [and perhaps bored people with] many, many times. It is a bit shocking to look back in my old diaries to when the event actually occurred, and see how I have changed the tale. I have made it “better” in some ways, altering the chronological order and even my own responses, but I have not made the story more accurate.) The mind’s ability to improve upon raw data means that it is important to verify what is remembered, to be sure it is true and not fictional. In some cases a memory may be false.
The creation of a false memory is called “memory consolidation” by some. Much like a dream, the mind creates an image that basically states how the person feels. Then the image is “recalled” and the person believes it is an actual memory.
It is unfortunate that some psychologists can, either inadvertently or intentionally, cause this process to occur, and confuse a false memory with a real one. There have been cases where lives have been ruined because parents were “turned in” by psychologists for sexually abusing their children, when no such abuse occurred. In some cases the “recovered ” memory was from when a child was supposedly only two.
My Dad befriended a woman who had suffered such an experience, and refused to accept the disgrace and suffering she and her husband were subjected to without cause. Her name was Pamala Freyd, and she and her husband Peter started the “False Memory Syndrome Foundation.” The response was immediate, because it turned out a lot of parents were falsely accused by their hippy children. (Having been a hippy, I used to visit some cult-like communes and met megalomaniac leaders and saw how susceptible young, innocent and suggestible minds could be to B.S.)
Here is the False Memory Syndrome Foundation website:
There are, of course, tremendous battles between accusers and the accused, with each insisting the other is false.
My initial impression is that Judge Kavanaugh is a victim of False Memory Syndrome. My reasoning is that:
1.) It took so long for the memory to be “recovered”. That in and of itself is not a good sign that the memory is genuine. In cases where actual abuse has occurred the memory is not forgotten, but rather tends to plague the person year after year. They attempt to forget, but are haunted.
2.) There is a huge lack of corroborating evidence. In the example I gave from my own life, I can go look back in the yellowing pages of my own diary to check up on the details of my recollections. I also have old friends and family I can talk with, to see what they remember. Christine Ford has failed (as of this time) to offer more than a “memory” that came back to her thirty years later, in a psychologist’s office.
I only throw my idea out to be considered, for I haven’t heard False Memory discussed at all. Like everyone else, I wait to see if any corroborating evidence is forthcoming.