An important name as it relates to the issue of multiple personalities begins to appear in the early 1990s – Dr. Paul McHugh at Johns Hopkins Medical Center. The following are excerpts of two articles. The first is an article in the Baltimore Sun in 1990.
The second article appeared in a Letter to the Editor in The Washington Times in 2002.
“According to the March 4, 1990 article, “Dr. Berlin acknowledged in two interviews that he understood the legislature’s intent [of reporting child abuse] but had deliberately skirted the reporting requirements.” Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr. retorted that “the language of the law could not be clearer” and that Dr. Berlin, a mental health provider, was not exempt from it”… “Dr. Berlin’s boss, Dr. Paul R. McHugh,”said the hospital “did agree with the Sexual Disorders Clinic’s interpretation” of the law. “We did what we thought was appropriate,” Dr. McHugh stated. Dr. Berlin acted with “the blessing of his superiors.”2
Paul McHugh became a very outspoken critic of the diagnosis of Multiple Personality Disorder. (Going forward, I will refer to it as DID – the abbreviation for Dissociative Identity Disorder). It is important to hear his thoughts about the disorder and to determine for yourself where his allegiance lies.
With both PTSD and DID now recognized as psychiatric disorders, more therapists began to reveal that survivors were presenting with the documented symptoms defined in the Diagnostic Manual. At the same time, however, a counter movement began among some people in the field who did not believe in the diagnosis. Obviously, they either did not research what had been documented for over 100 years or they simply had a different agenda. Whatever the case, these people mounted a vicious campaign against their fellow researchers and therapists with one goal in mind – silence the therapists treating DID patients, thus silencing child abuse survivors who dare to talk about their abuse.
This group of people aligned themselves around a totally fabricated diagnosis in the early 1990s called the False Memory Syndrome. This made-up diagnosis was thought up by two people whose daughter said her father abused her as a child. To further their aims, these two people enlisted the support of researchers and psychologists to form the False Memory Syndrome Foundation (FMSF) – the purpose of which was to advocate for parents, like themselves – whose children had accused them of being child molesters and pedophiles.
To give you some background as to why this organization and its so-called Syndrome is a fabrication, let’s talk about scientific research.
Evidence-based practices, that is, those that have been scientifically confirmed to improve outcomes, are the cornerstone of sound practice. To be designated as an evidence-based practice, conclusions have to be reached through a systematic review of thousands of studies combining new statistical techniques and the judgment of expert reviewers. The established principles for determining the effectiveness of treatments are:3
- Randomized clinical trials improve the validity of causal conclusions,
- Replication of results in multiple settings improves the validity of results for actual practice, and
- Consistency of findings builds confidence.
The process for conducting systematic, evidence-based reviews includes:
- Statement of objectives and eligibility criteria,
- Identification of (all) potentially eligible studies,
- Application of eligibility criteria,
- Use of unbiased procedures for extracting data,
- Critical appraisal,
- Assembly of the most complete data set feasible,
- Analysis of the data set using statistical syntheses and sensitivity analyses only if appropriate and possible, and
- Preparation of a structured report.
NONE OF THIS WORK HAS TAKEN PLACE to substantiate the so-called “False Memory Syndrome” or to establish it as a recognized, evidence-based practice. It is not even in the DSM Manual for mental disorders. Dissociative Identity Disorder, however, IS included in the DSM.
FMSF members primarily specialize in: family practice, forensic psychology, dreams and sleep disorders, schizophrenia, mathematics, cognitive behavior, excessive sleepiness and fatigue, memory, hypnosis, child development, learning and memory, linguistics, classical conditioning, human sexuality, bulimia nervosa, and pain. One member said they specialized in dissociative disorders. Some members specialize in English and American literature, cults, exercise physiology, sex education, kleptomania, police brainwashing, supernatural, occult and paranormal powers, and there is even a member listed who doesn’t have a degree in psychology but has one in business.4
On June 25, 1991, in a letter to the Editor in The Washington Post, an expert in the field of child sexual abuse, Dr. Charles Whitfield, wrote:
“Joel Achenbach’s “Why Things Are” column on Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD) quotes two people – Richard Ofshe and Paul McHugh – who speak against the reality of MPD as a diagnosis [Style Plus, Sept. 22].
The fact is neither has published any research on MPD, and both are charter board members of the False Memory Syndrome Foundation, which sponsors the denial of both accused and convicted child molesters.
What they don’t talk about is that what is actually a nonentity is “false memory syndrome: (FMS), which they so passionately advocate and defend. There are no published case histories in any peer-reviewed clinical or scientific journals. FMS is their creation. False allegations of child sexual abuse are few. False denials are the norm. Abusers, whom McHugh and Ofshe support, have always bullied their victims into silence. FMS is just another weapon, as are their attacks on MPD.”
Charles Whitfield MD is a pioneer in trauma recovery, including the way we remember childhood and other trauma and abuse. A physician and frontline therapist who assists trauma survivors in their healing, he is the author of fifty published articles and ten best-selling books on trauma psychology and recovery; three of these books have been translated and published in ten foreign languages. For over 23 years he has taught at Rutgers University’s Institute on Alcohol and Drug Studies. He has been a consultant and research collaborator at the CDC since 1998. He has a private practice in Atlanta, GA, where he provides individual and group therapy for trauma survivors and people with addictions and other problems in living.
Since the formation of the FMSF, there has been a concerted effort by those who support the False Memory Syndrome Foundation to convince legislators, courts, colleges and universities and anyone else who will listen that their fabricated syndrome provides a justifiable excuse to stop the persecution of who they claim to be innocently accused child abusers in America.
1 “Doctor Skirts Reporting Law on Sex Crimes: Attorney General challenges policy of Hopkins clinic,” The Baltimore Sun, March 4, 1990.
2 “Catholic Bishops Need Proper Counseling,” Letters to the Editor, by Judith Reisman, President, Institute for Media Education, The Washington Times, September 1, 2002.
3 “Evidence-Based Psychology: APA Presidential Task Force on Evidence-Based Practice,” American Psychologist, May-June 2006
4 The FMSF Scientific and Professional Advisory Board – Profiles, www.fmsfonline.org/advboard.html, 2009 (This web listing has been deleted.)