Those of you old enough may remember the satanic child-abuse panic of the 1980s and early ’90s. That was a period when broader, “big picture” pedogate realities were more out in the open.
On the issue of child abuse/pedophilia, in 1991 more than 80 percent of media coverage was weighted toward stories of survivors, with recovered memory taken for granted. In the ensuing three years, a full-court counter-offensive by dubious characters was waged to sway public opinion about sex abuse memories. By 1994, more than 80 percent of the coverage focused on false accusations from children.
In 1992, pedophiles, ritual abusers and their perv justice warrior (PJW) allies had set up an entire organization devoted to gaslighting victims under the notion of what they dubbed the “false memory syndrome” (FMS). This is not to be confused with poor or suppressed memory.
Rarely has such a strange and little-understood organization had such a profound effect on media coverage of such a controversial matter. The foundation was and is an aggressive, well-financed PR machine adept at manipulating the press, harassing its critics and mobilizing a diverse army of psychiatrists, outspoken academics, expert defense witnesses and litigious lawyers. With a budget of $750,000 a year from members and outside supporters, the foundation’s reach far exceeds its actual membership of about 3,000.
The board is dominated by research psychologists and biologically oriented therapists — inclined to seek physical reasons for problems and treat them with drugs.
These actors had little, if any, psychological qualifications. Indeed, the key co-founder, Peter Freyd, besides being an accused pedophile himself, was a mathematician.
Freyd and his wife, Pamela, started the FMSF foundation in early 1992. Freyd had been accused by their grown daughter, Jennifer, a respected University of Oregon psychologist and memory researcher, of childhood sexual abuse, the memory of which she said she recovered as an adult. It wasn’t Jennifer Freyd but her parents who made her allegations public. The Freyds went back and forth for several years over the “memory wars” thus giving attention to this so-called syndrome.
As the story and witch hunt narrative against the children unfolded, more family dysfunction emerged when Peter Freyd’s brother suggested that the couple fabricated FMS as a result of their own abuse issues. The brother also revealed that Pamela and Peter were step-siblings.
The Freyds were reinforced in their PJW crusade by one Ralph Underwager, a former Lutheran pastor who, prior to co-founding FMSF, had set up shop as an “expert witness” on “false memory” in criminal trials involving child rape, etc.
In the courtroom, he is repeatedly exposed as a charlatan. In 1988, a trial court decision in New York State held that Dr Underwager was “not qualified to render opinion as to whether or not (the victim) was sexually molested.”
Other court rulings on his testimony on memory was ruled improper, such this one in 1990- “in the absence of any evidence that the results of Underwager’s work had been accepted in the scientific community.”
And in Minnesota, a judge ruled that Underwager’s theories of “learned memory” were the same as “having an expert tell the jury that (the victim) was not telling the truth.”
Well after the Foundation successfully swayed public opinion, Underwager was forced to resign from the Foundation’s board. He and his wife, Hollida Wakefield, remained advisers and gave an interview to a Dutch pedophilia magazine in which he was quoted as describing pedophilia as “an acceptable expression of God’s will for love.”
In the interview, he prevailed upon pedophiles everywhere to shed stigmatization as “wicked and reprehensible” users of children. In keeping with the Foundation’s creative use of statistics, Dr. Underwager also told a group of British reporters in 1994 that “scientific evidence” proved that 60% of all women molested as children believed the experience was “good for them.”
A forerunner and ally of the Foundation, based in Buffalo, New York, was the Committee for Scientific Examination of Religion, best known for the publication of Satanism in America: How the Devil Got More Than His Due, widely considered to be a legitimate study. The authors turn up their noses to ritual abuse, dismissing the hundreds of reports around the country as mass “hysteria.”
Cult researcher Carl Raschke reported in a March 1991 article that he coincidentally met Hudson Frew, the Satanism in America co-author at a Berkeley bookstore. He stated, “Frew was wearing a five-pointed star, or pentagram, the symbol of witchcraft and earth magic.”
Regardless of the quackery, “false memory syndrome” — a catchy slogan invented by the Freyds but not scientifically accepted — was promoted by the (((usual suspects))) and became implanted in our collective consciousness, complete with its own heading in the Reader’s Guide to Periodical Literature. The disingenuous psycho-babble is off the charts. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist or great logic to understand that small children are in no position to accuse adults of much of anything until they are at a more secure and independent place in life, if ever.
A Nov. 29, 1993, TIME article by Leon Jaroff — who calls himself TIME’s longtime “resident skeptic” — quoted several foundation advisers and conveyed the impression that “literally thousands” of people were coming forward with false memories induced by therapists.
Even earlier, in a July 21, 1992, a New York Times story, Childhood Trauma: Memory or Invention? by the science and New Age writer Daniel Goleman, a psychologist, became one of the first journalists to popularize the foundation’s contention that accusations based on recovered memories were modern-day witch hunts.
Fortunately, in recent years, there has been some revisionist push back against FMS skullduggery. The “witch hunt narrative” is superbly examined in the following book. It is based on 15 years of careful research by Ross E. Cheit, professor of public policy and political science at Brown University and his students. Cheit shows that almost all daycare cases in their study were based on real evidence of child abuse. This book documents how misinformation promulgated by the media and by so-called professionals “led to the public perception of an epidemic of false accusations.”