False Memory Syndrome vs. Lying Perpetrator Syndrome: The Big Lie

We have recently been writing our new page about Society’s Denial of child sexual abuse and dissociative disorders.

One of the topics we are working on is the “False Memory Syndrome” – it is an official-sounding term which is typically used to convince both judges and the public that many memories of child sexual abuse are totally “false”. The term was invented by the False Memory Syndrome Foundation; a lobbying group originally setup by the parents of Dr Jennifer J. Freyd, after she spoke out about the child sexual abuse she experienced at the hands of her father Peter Freyd.

The “false memory syndrome” never did get official diagnostic criteria or proof of existence despite the vast numbers of media interviews and extensive research. What the campaign did show was how willing society in general was to believe that child sexual abuse was “rare”, could never be forgotten and remembered later, and that therapists helping trauma survivors were somehow “dangerous”. It also showed how willing media organisations are in publishing blogs or online articles which have very limited accuracy.

Here are some quotes about “False Memory Syndrome” from False Memory Syndrome vs. Lying Perpetrator Syndrome: The Big Lie

When I was in grade school, I learned about the big lie technique used by the Nazis. If you tell a big enough lie often enough and loudly enough, people will believe it. This is happening today in with the supporters of the False Memory Syndrome Foundation.
No one is claiming there is a “false memory syndrome” except the accused parents of child sexual abuse survivors and their earnest but ignorant “scientific” advisors, most of whom have based their academic reputation and life work not on the study of trauma but on the study of non-traumatic laboratory-experiment- induced memories. They have no expertise in the field of trauma.
 “False Memory Syndrome” vs. Lying Perpetrator Syndrome: The Big Lie by Patience Mason (1995)

Full article:


A lot has changed since 1995 – not only has the False Memory Syndrome Foundation lost its office premises and phone number, but it has also been exposed for including false information on its website, scientific board member Dr Underwager had to resign after giving a pro-pedophile interview, the “false memory syndrome” was discredited in court, and many of their academic articles have been heavily criticized for lack of scholarships and distorting facts.
Dr Ross Cheit – also a child sexual abuse survivor who experienced repressed memories has had his abuser convicted as a result of significant corroborating evidence, and compiled an excellent list of over 100 other corroboration cases or forgotten then remembered child sexual abuse in his Recovered Memory Project.


2 thoughts on “False Memory Syndrome vs. Lying Perpetrator Syndrome: The Big Lie

  1. ugh. thank you for writing this. Just knowledge of this foundation that supports this syndrome made me doubt even my own memories. Maybe I have that syndrome? My family seems to think I’m crazy. maybe I am. It taken me a lot of therapy and looking at the few facts that I do have to start to believe myself. Its hard to get out of form the tornado of confusion that my family created to silence what went on in our family. Finally being able to view my family from an outsider perspective a little bit makes me see how dysfunctional we were and still are. Anyway, I’m rambling, but thank you for writing this.


  2. Pingback: Coping with Father’s Day – a difficult day for abuse survivors | Trauma and Dissociation

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