We Are Survivors 

This blog is dedicated to the tens of millions of adult survivors of child abuse and neglect who get up every day and try to work and function in a world that seems to not care about us.

Dissociative Identity Disorder - Part 20

I have shown throughout this series documented, scientific research of reported incidents of multiple personalities, the causes, and the need for effective therapy. As a child abuse survivor, I had about 20 personalities/alters that I integrated into one during 11 of my 23 years in therapy. Thank God, I had a trauma therapist who knew what she was doing.

The battle continues between supporters of the False Memory Syndrome Foundation (FMSF) (who defend those who are accused as pedophiles) and the legitimate therapists and researchers in the field of trauma who treat and support survivors.

The media has continued giving those who want to perpetuate the distortions about dissociative disorders a public platform. The general public, not aware of all I have discussed in this series, take their articles as sound investigative journalism. Nothing could be farther from the truth. You can make your own decisions by reading the articles below.

Article 1

“A group of psychiatrists and literary scholars, led by Harrison Pope of Harvard Medical School argued that the psychiatric disorder known as dissociative amnesia is a “culture-bound syndrome”– a creation of Western culture sometime in the 19th century[1]…Pope said a wide search of literary texts in European languages, Arabic, Sanskrit and Chinese has produced no convincing examples of a character created before the year 1800 who suffered a traumatic event, repressed the memory and later recovered it.” [Pope didn’t mention he is/was a member of the False Memory Syndrome Foundation’s scientific advisory board. He also didn’t talk about the hundreds of multiple personality cases cited after the 1800s like I have in this series.]

At the time of this publication in The Washington Post, I tried repeatedly to contact the reporter, Mr. Vadantam, to provide a balanced view, but I could not get a response from him. I would have directed him to the 2006 article written below.

Article 2

“Judith Herman’s “Afterword 2000” to Father-Daughter Incest explains how in the 1990s the False Memory Syndrome Foundation emerged, co-headed by Pamela and Peter Freyd (whose daughter claimed to have been molested by her father), and Ralph Underwager (a man who was forced to resign from the board in 1993 after making embarrassing comments endorsing child-sex in the Dutch publication: Paidika: The Journal of Pedophilia).[2]

“Since then the political backlash has focused on making psychotherapists the source of the “false complaints.”… “Elizabeth Loftus (a member of the FMSF advisory board) had managed to convince many court juries that there was no evidence of amnesia following traumatic events.”… [Richard] McNally [in his book Remembering Trauma] suggested that sexually abused children actually “exhibit an impaired ability to forget disturbing material.” But he does point out that Freud often used the terms repression and suppression interchangeably, implying that patients who are currently diagnosed as suffering from amnesia may have consciously chosen to forget their unpleasant pasts.”

 “Women have always been damaged by rape and sexual abuse, although past societies have chosen to respond to the aftereffects in various ways: in biblical times such women were generally labeled lascivious, fallen, and evil; during the medieval period they were often thought to be possessed by demons or called witches; at the turn of the twentieth century damaged women were deemed hysterical, then later reclassified as mentally disturbed; and only in the past three and a half decades have they finally been recognized as victims of complex posttraumatic stress disorder.”

In 2007, Newsweek quoted Paul McHugh as saying: “One psychiatric hospital in Maryland “had a whole ward with patients—some male, some female, some mooing like cows or barking like dogs,” says Dr. Paul McHugh, former chair of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins and a leading skeptic.”[3]

Even if that were true, how professional was it for Paul McHugh to mock child abuse survivors’ behaviors? And could it be that the Maryland hospital he was referring to was John Hopkins?

The following year, Newsweek once again printed an article denigrating the plight of millions of trauma survivors. Publishing the one just mentioned and the one shown below helped promote validity to the outrageous claims of followers of the False Memory Syndrome Foundation to an unsuspecting public not versed in the issues.

Article 3

“Stress debriefing is designed to prevent symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder in those who have suffered or witnessed trauma[4]… Many of those who undergo stress debriefing develop worse PTSD symptoms than those who deal with the trauma on their own, controlled studies show, probably because the intense relieving of the trauma impedes natural recovery.” [Conveniently, they did not provide the source of these so-called controlled studies.]

“Psychotherapy for dissociative disorder (formerly multiple personality disorder) can pose even greater risks. Some therapists believe that the best treatment for these fractured souls is to bring out the hidden identities, called “alters,” through hypnosis or helping alters leave messages for one another…” “As more alters come out, it gets harder to get the patient back to having one identity,” Scott Lilienfeld of Emory University says. “The longer someone stays in therapy, the more alters show up, evidence that “many and perhaps most alters are products of inadvertent therapist suggestion.”

If this sounds all too familiar, perhaps it would be important to know that Sharon Begley (the article’s author) was affiliated with a $1 million outreach program funded by the David and Carol Myers Foundation. Other members included Elizabeth Loftus. Scott Lilienfeld was a founder of the Commission for Scientific Medicine and Mental Health. Some of his peers on this commission were the same ones supporting the False Memory Syndrome Foundation: Elizabeth Loftus, Paul McHugh, and Harrison Pope.

It is important to note that they didn’t provide any documented, peer-reviewed research articles supporting their claim that alters are products of therapist suggestions because there aren’t any.

I hope that survivors and those who treat and care for them have learned a great deal about what has happened regarding dissociative disorders. It may help you to understand the issues more clearly.



[1] “Was Repressed Memory a 19th Century Creation?” by Shankar Vedantam, The Washington Post, February 26, 2007.

[2] “A Wounded Deer: The Effects of Incest on the Life and Poetry of Emily Dickinson,” by Wendy K. Perriman, Cambridge Scholars Press, 2006.

[3] “Inside Karen’s Crowded Mind,” by Anne Underwood, Newsweek, October 20, 2007.

[4] “Get Shrunk at Your Own Risk,” by Sharon Begley, Newsweek, December 15, 2008.

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