Starting in the 1960s, a theory appeared claiming that abuse victims can “repress” the memory of their abuse and, under specific conditions, recover them. This is the case especially among children, but it applies to adults as well. The belief that the memory of abuse can be “repressed” subconsciously is a pervasive one throughout the academic literature and especially in the popular press.

Despite popular misconceptions, there is no empirical support for this view. Memory doesn’t work this way. The notion that terrible memories can be involuntarily lost to consciousness and later accurately retrieved is as unproven as it is dangerous. Penn State’s Jerry Sandusky is in prison on the strength of “repressed memories” that his lawyer didn’t have the wherewithal to refute.

Psychologists have repeatedly shown that memories associated with strong emotion are always remembered in great detail. This is part of the problem. Abuse victims wish they could forget what happened to them. There are very few, if any, cases where combat veterans, for example, were able to repress harsh memories and hence avoid PTSD symptoms. Why this “repression” ability scheme seems to skip them remains a mystery to the theory and its backers.

Regardless, this topic remains in bitter dispute due to its utility in throwing men in prison with minimal evidence. There are several parts to the equation:

1. The reality of any ability to involuntarily banish memories from consciousness;
2. The claim that these memories, if repressed, are retrieved in the same state in which they were stored;
3. The agenda and techniques of those doing the “recovering,” and finally,
4. The reason for the recovery.

Repression doesn’t mean forgetting. Repression is a theory of why someone may not remember a traumatic event where they were the victim. Its a defense mechanism. A major false assumption has been that “repressed and recovered” memories do not operate in the same way as ordinary memories. “Most people who were sexually abused as children remember all or part of what happened to them although they may not fully understand or disclose it” (American Psychological Association, Working Group on Investigation of Memories of Child Abuse, 1996). Few deny that memories change over time, especially those from childhood. Why should these specific memories remain in a pristine state? To them, memories are banished to a sort of cold storage that exists only for unpleasant memories but not others.

Popular culture has significantly propelled this simplistic belief. There are a huge number of number of Hollywood films dedicated to this topic.  Just a few are Three Faces of Eve (1957), Fearless (1993), Dolores Claiborne (2006), Sleepers (2006), Repressions (2007), The Prince of Tides (1991) and Sybil (1977). These  have been especially powerful influences in recent decades concerning this phenomenon. Prior to the 1960s, this issue was virtually unknown.

Memory is usually seen as merely a record of what has happened in a person’s life, or at least what the person thinks is worth remembering. This comes from Enlightenment-era empiricism and Nominalism. Trauma, on the other hand, is said to be different in that the pain associated with the memories forces the mind to remove the images from awareness until a significant event or therapy technique triggers release and the memory is revealed.

Although the simplistic, empirical concept of memory is found in the popular media and self-help books, it is not consistent with research or even the basic theories of memory function. Psychologists have described the brain’s capacity to construct and invent reality from the information it processes. Memory is not passive.

Psychology, for all its many faults, has shown that memory is a process that is constantly undergoing adjustment and reconstruction; it is malleable. A “memory,” especially over time, actually consists of fragments of an event, subsequent discussions and readings, other peoples’ recollections and suggestions, self-interest, as well as present beliefs about the past. Few of us are innocent in this regard.

“Psychologists acknowledge that a definite conclusion that a memory is based on objective reality is not possible unless there is incontrovertible corroborating evidence” (Canadian Psychological Association, Position Statement on Adult Recovered Memories of Childhood Sexual Abuse, 1996). This is especially important to memories formed in childhood, memories to which there are strong emotions attached and very old memories. Memory is problematic in general.

Memories of life events may be easily altered by outside factors. Memories can be changed by the passage of time, through recapitulation or by the person’s sense of himself. People build myths about themselves. They pick and choose memories to construct their sense of personhood. This is not an entirely conscious process. The mind doesn’t record every detail of an event, but attention is selectively given to specific features only. When we look back, we “fill in the blanks” based on what “must have been.”

There is a long history of research on the effect that emotion has on the strength of recall. The evidence shows that strong emotions generally create unwanted and intrusive memories, as opposed to blocking them. For example, studies of war veterans and victims of natural disasters show that most often people suffer from hypermnesia or intrusive recollections. This is the very opposite of repression. The evidence suggests that it is possible for specifics to be lost over time, of course, but not the event itself or its emotional impact.

Even more, there is no scientific evidence that repressed memories are placed in cold storage; frozen, so to speak, so they remain unchanged. “It is not known how to distinguish, with complete accuracy, memories based on true events from those derived from other sources” (American Psychiatric Association, Statement on Memories of Sexual Abuse, 1993). Concerning children, we read “The AMA considers recovered memories of childhood sexual abuse to be of uncertain authenticity, which should be subject to external verification” (American Medical Association, Council on Scientific Affairs, Memories of Childhood Sexual Abuse, 1994). This is to say nothing about the pressures of the person doing the “recovering” or the events that require its recovering, such as a trial. Being a “victim” in American society has many rewards, and this only increases the reasons for a “memory’s” rediscovery.

Even more, we read: “The available scientific and clinical evidence does not allow accurate, inaccurate, and fabricated memories to be distinguished in the absence of independent corroboration” (Australian Psychological Society, Guidelines Relating to the Reporting of Recovered Memories, 1994). Even worse, “At this point it is impossible, without other corroborative evidence, to distinguish a true memory from a false one” (American Psychological Association, Questions and Answers about Memories of Childhood Abuse, 1995). This is the consistent findings of all psychologists involved in this issue and yet, the myth remains.

In other words, “At present there are no scientifically valid criteria that would generally permit the reliable differentiation of true recovered memories of sexual abuse from pseudo-memories” (Michigan Psychological Association, Recovered Memories of Sexual Abuse: MPA Position Paper, 1995). Yet men are sitting in jail based on these “recovered memories” either from children or adults. The Catholic clergy “scandal” is almost entirely based on this non-existent phenomena.
There is also no reason to believe that a victim of any kind of sexual assault will refuse to tell anyone about it. People are certainly quick to complain about physical and verbal abuse, but somehow sexual abuse has its own psychological ramifications. We read from Britain:

Psychiatrists are advised to avoid engaging in any memory recovery techniques which are based upon the expectation of past sexual abuse of which the patient has no memory. Such memory recovery techniques may include drug-mediated interviews, hypnosis, regression therapies, guided imagery, body memories, literal dream interpretation and journaling. There is no evidence that the use of consciousness-altering techniques, such as drug-mediated interviews or hypnosis, can reveal or accurately elaborate factual information about any past experiences including childhood sexual abuse. Techniques on regression therapy including “age regression” and hypnotic regression are of unproved effectiveness (Royal College of Psychiatrists, Reported Recovered Memories of Child Sexual Abuse, 1997).

Such “memories” are a godsend to anyone who wants to throw men in prison without actual evidence. A woman, behind a wall of anonymity, can make cost-free accusations against whomever they will. “While traumatic memories may be different than ordinary memories, we currently do not have conclusive scientific consensus on this issue” (International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies, Childhood Trauma Remembered: A Report on the Current Scientific Knowledge Base and Its Applications, 1996).

For example, Porter and Peace (2007) published a lengthy, longitudinal investigation that concluded: “Trauma does seem to create scars on memory, resulting in remarkably vivid and consistent recollections over long periods. As much as people may wish to forget painful experiences, the details remain fully intact in their consciousness.” Howe’s (2006) metastudy concluded: “Studies conducted to date give us no reason to believe that a different set of memory development laws pertain to those who have been abused and those who have not.” Sadly, most children remember trauma in the same way that anything else is recalled.

Kendall-Tackett (1993) reviewed 45 studies of sexual abuse victims involving 3,369 people. Although the review describes numerous psychological effects attributed to sexual abuse, there is no mention of repressed memory for any of these many victims. David Holmes (1990) concluded the evidence of repression most frequently offered by clinicians “consists of impressionistic case studies, and in view of the data concerning the reliability and validity of clinical judgments, those observations cannot be counted as anything more than unconfirmed clinical speculations – certainly not as ‘evidence’ for repression.” Holmes work is a metastudy of the last 60 years of research on memory and trauma.

This must be tied in with the recent flood of fake rape accusations. We’re often told that the memory of the event has been repressed and only the “courage of other women” has jarred loose. Today, a lapse of decades and decades doesn’t dissuade the press from assuming the accusation is true. This has reached crisis levels today, with each week seemingly showing yet another man accused of a rape that occurred sometime during the Civil War.  So why does it occur? Why the media obsession with it? As far as women’s accusations go, Rod Berene writes in a non-academic article:

In the current political climate, the more “oppressed” and “underprivileged” a person is, the more status they are conferred. For many privileged middle class girls, they are acutely aware that they occupy a tenuous position among the oppressed classes. Many privileged girls are jealous that racial minorities and transsexuals are receiving more attention than them. If a girl wants to leap forward in the Victimhood Olympics and gain social points, she can falsely accuse a man of rape. Nobody is higher status on a college campus than a rape survivor. As soon as a girl claims that she has been raped, every word from her mouth must be treated as though it came from God himself. Nothing she says can be questioned, and everything she says must be treated with awe and reverence. . . In sum, multiple incentives exist for girls to use the tool of a false rape accusation. First, they can use it as a weapon to ruin a man’s life if they feel he deserves it. Second, they can use it as a method to garner large amounts of attention. Third, they can make a false rape accusation to boost their social status in an era of victimhood culture. And finally, they can avoid feeling like a slut by claiming that a man made them do something they didn’t want.

While stated harshly, each word is observably true. Its not mentioned because most males live in fear of crossing women on campus. They know what the results might be. Women are universally aware of its truth, so they seek to keep it under wraps by hysterical overreaction anytime its mentioned. With an incentive structure like that, it is certain to be a problem for a long time to come. Many accusations of rapes (or sexual assaults), that allegedly occurred decades earlier are based on having “repressed” memories or, even less convincing, “being too afraid” to say anything.

A critically important issue is that for an academic, especially a male, to claim that most rape charges are false would lead to rapid dismissal and campus ostracism. The professor would be pilloried for months to come, even literally so. Therefore, it is difficult to take much of the academic work seriously in this climate. This makes clinical refutations of these “memories” all the more powerful since it goes against their professional interest to mention it at all.

Kanin (1994), among many others, investigated the incidences of fake rape claims made to the police in one small urban community between 1978 and 1987. He states that unlike those in many larger jurisdictions, this police department had the resources to “seriously record and pursue to closure all rape complaints, regardless of their merits.” He further states each investigation “always involves a serious offer to polygraph the complainants and the suspects” and “the complainant must admit that no rape had occurred. She is the sole agent who can say that the rape charge is false.” The number of false rape allegations in the studied period was 45; this was 41 percent of the 109 total complaints.

Rumney (1981), while using a smaller sample, unearthed a false accusation figure of 91 percent. Feminists have attacked the figures used here, as if having high rape rates is a positive thing, yet their arguments don’t use statistics. They partake of the “everyone knows” style of argument well known in the condo-complexes of Manhattan. They only get hysterical and have their white knights do the talking for them. Its significant that Rumney’s article is so early. The climate wasn’t nearly as bad as it is now.

Alleged rape victims aren’t normally identified to the public. This is the only area of law where this occurs, except with children. This is because the woman, in being identified, will then be the object of discussion and her previous behavior, previous false allegations and sexual habits will draw witnesses forward to testify. Without identification, gathering witnesses becomes difficult for the defense and it permits the media to declare the man guilty before any trial or evidence.
A man accused of rape or sexual assault, on the other hand, will now have his sexual history open for discussion during his trial in England. Britain’s Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has permitted this method while decrying it being used against women. The system screamed against any use of a woman’s sexual past as a means of determining whether or not she’s been raped. It’s not an irrelevant factor, and that’s proven by the CPS’ desire to dig into a man’s history.

Few consider the mechanics of a rape in 2018. Its hard to do. Any adult woman would scream, punch and claw her attacker without mercy. The lack of struggle is essential in exposing a false rape claim. Girls will fight with fury when their vagina is under attack. It would be entirely instinctive and would have no relation to any looming threat. Its hard to see what this threat would be, given the extreme nature of the crime being committed. For a rape to exist, an implicit threat would have to exist too. So, since women fight back even with a threat hanging over them, it cannot be used to explain why some women don’t fight back. Its a nonsensical argument. Since it would be instinctive, its also irrelevant.  So without struggle, its hard to claim a rape has occurred. This argument only works with adults, generally. Children would be a different story, but the subject is so unpleasant I’ll leave it at that.

Women honestly believe that men are such horny pigs that they’ll f*ck anything, even a woman who is completely unresponsive and uninterested. It’s not true. As Jim Goad put it, most men are turned off by a lack of consent. Every guy has a horror story about a girl who was a dead fish in bed [sigh], refusing to react to anything he did to her. The reason why Fleshlights, blow-up dolls and other male sex toys will never be as popular as vibrators is because most guys find the idea of banging an inanimate object to be repulsive. . . A man who wants to date rape a girl has to not only drug her, but somehow get her to a secluded spot where he can get his rape on without getting caught by her friends or the multitudes of human beings around him. If even the slightest thing goes wrong, he’s looking at jail time and worse. And even if he succeeds, all he has to look forward to is a few minutes of dry sex with what’s basically a living corpse.

In other words, rape is hard to do, that is, if there is actually no real consent. In order to rescue the sexual revolution from being the foundational cause of rape, the system’s academics say vaguely that its “not about sex, its about power.” This is rarely defined and largely begs the question. How many different ways can a man exert power over a woman? He could steal her purse. He could punch her out. He can beat her in a debate. He might mock her and call her fat. Why must it be sexual? And what sort of power would this be anyway? It would likely lead to his imprisonment and a lifetime of public contempt. “Power” makes no sense, especially if the alleged perpetrator is a celebrity or a man of power.

The whole rush and thrill of sexual conquest is that a beautiful woman wants to be with you. That gives a very strong sense of power and validation. If power is a concern, then rape wouldn’t be a method of showing or achieving it. Cosby and almost all the other celebrities accused of sexual misconduct have no motive. If sex is really “about power,” then why do powerful men rape?

There are no “date rape” drugs. This is a common misconception. Bill Cosby is behind bars because his defense attorneys and had no idea what a “Quaalude” was. It is not a depressant, at least not at first. It’s actually a stimulant for the first few hours with a strong crash. Regardless, he didn’t give her enough for it to work that way.  Its effects are also negated with food, and the “victim” here had a full stomach. The problems with the Cosby case are legion. Why would Bill rape someone he could have easily had a thousand times over? Its like Warren Buffet robbing a liquor store for $20. Nomen Nescio writes:

A 2007 study [by Greene, et al] performed blood tests of people (82% female) who came to the emergency ward of an inner city London hospital, claiming their drinks had been spiked. The vast majority was merely very drunk and, in other cases, medicinal or illicit drugs were detected. Rohypnol was not found.
An Australian study [the Quigly study] from 2009 came to similar conclusions, where none of the 97 people who visited an emergency ward for drink spiking were found to have been roofied. Most people were blind drunk instead of drugged.

Both papers, in fact almost all objective studies on the issue, say that “date rape drugs” are rare to the point of non-existence. It is another media-generated fad issue. How can a man can’t take a “roofied” woman away from her friends? “Rape drugs” are nothing more than an excuse for bad behavior. In the Green paper, we read:

[the idea of drink spiking] has inspired a female code of conduct and a language that gives license to binge-drinking. Alcohol consumption was very rarely explicitly framed as a problem, and limiting alcohol intake was very rarely seen as a means of mitigating risks to one’s safety and health. Unprompted, respondents nonetheless felt the need to address the alcohol contribution in their accounts, if only to deny its role. There appears to be widespread disbelief, or active denial, that excess alcohol could cause the same incoherence, physical distress and incapacity associated with the date rape drugs.

The women who invent these stories don’t know how men operate. Women don’t go out drinking alone and would never let a man drag a friend off somewhere. This drug is very difficult to get. It has no medical use in the USA. Oh, and, since all muscle control is lost,  she will urinate and defecate herself. Sexy.

A rape claim is likely false when a) there are no signs of struggle; b) they willingly went to their alleged attackers house; and/or c) police were alerted only months or years after the event. No rapist would rape a woman where he can be identified and his house remembered. A man cannot rape in an area where anyone can hear them, so most places are immediately out of the question. If a woman invited a man to her place, no incentive for rape would exist. There, sex is guaranteed and even worse, no alibi can be constructed later. The Lena Dunham claim, the Lady GaGa claim, and the Rolling Stone UVA frat rape claim have all been proven false. In fact, this has become an epidemic. What are some of the reasons women use to justify their false claim?

Nicola Osborne lied about being raped because she was cheating with the alleged rapist. The invention was a way to over this up. If a woman is caught with a man, claiming it was rape is an almost irresistible cover story. Elizabeth Coates was caught looking at porn by her mother. At a loss for words, she claimed that she was sexually assaulted as a girl (and repressed the memory) so that her porn addiction would then become acceptable or at least understandable. Coates sent a man to jail and, once she admitted her lie, ended up there herself.

Kelly Harwood was sleeping with her friend’s son. Feeling guilty about this, she accused him of rape. This is a variation of the Osborne story. Lynette Lee invented a rape story because the sex was bad. She recanted, but not before she destroyed a man’s life. Rhiannon Brooker failed her bar exam. She invented a rape, complete with self-inflicted injuries, as an excuse for her failure. She was sent to jail for almost four years for her lies.

Katherine Bennett said that complications from psych medications caused her to invent a rape story. Gemma Gregory had a thing for police officers. When they rejected her, she accused several officers of rape over a four year period and claimed the memory was repressed. She was soon arrested as her story was absurd.

Linsey Attridge invented a rape story, complete with self-inflicted injuries, because things were going badly with her boyfriend. She was sentenced to 400 hours of community service when she admitted her lies. Hannah Bryon was trying to make her boyfriend jealous. Cori Lynn Osiecki was angry that her man was breaking up with her. In a strange use of logic, she accused him of rape. She admitted lying later. This is happening constantly.

It gets worse. In Britain, alleged rape victims, always anonymous, now cannot be cross examined in court. The Telegraph wrote in 2017

Rape victims will be spared cross-examination in court and instead provide pre-recorded video evidence, under plans being brought forward by the Government. . . Pilot schemes found that defendants were more likely to plead guilty at the start of a trail after being confronted with the evidence that would be brought against them. Although judges have the power to intervene to prevent overly aggressive cross-examination, there are growing instances of victims being left traumatised after confronting their attacker during a court case.

The women here are automatically called “victims.” The point is to get more guilty pleas and pad the numbers. What is “overly aggressive cross examination?” It can only mean an examination that gets to the truth. Cross examination is meant to be aggressive. This is one step away from automatic conviction, a long standing dream of feminists. In the Cosby case, they just kept trying him until they got the result they wanted. One jury refused to convict, so they convened another. In case anyone noticed, many of Cosby’s accusers outside of Pennsylvania have admitted making their stories up, even though most of them were of fairly minor crimes.

In the Home Office Report of 2007 in Britain, the number of false rape allegations is astronomical. There, only 8.4 percent of those accused were convicted. In the US, even the feminist RAINN admits that for every 300 reports of rape, roughly 290 end up thrown our or lead to an acquittal. This means the bulk of the rest are false, taking into consideration areas where procedural misconduct led to a evacuation of the charge. The pressures on a man to plead guilty are immense. It means there was no forensic or DNA evidence that could convict the man. In Britain especially, the Home Office’s policy is to “monitor” the police so they don’t drop rape cases.

Consent is a serious issue at all levels. It is rarely a simple yes or no. Most women have sex with men because they”re merely keeping them happy. They fear the man will leave them otherwise. Is this consent? Women have many varied and often ambiguous reasons for opening their legs on a second date. Women are often, if not always, second guessing their sexual experiences. The more ambiguous their views are to a man (in other words, the more he displayed Beta tendencies), the more they will second guess their choices. A simple “yes” or “no” is rarely possible under the complexities of our psychology and the morass of our “dating culture.”

“Repressed memories” are a myth. They too are designed to throw as many men in prison as possible. Most high profile rapes are from events that occurred long ago, but the memories have been repressed for one reason or another. No one would deliberately avoid reporting a crime such as rape while being quick to report any other sort of violence, especially in a society where the accuser is totally and unjustly anonymous. These “crises” are media inventions used to destroy various classes of men.



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Matthew Raphael Johnson

Matthew Raphael Johnson is a scholar of Russian Orthodox history and philosophy. He completed his doctorate at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln in 1999. He is a former professor of both history and political science at the University of Nebraska (as a graduate student), Penn State University and Mount St. Mary’s University. Since 1999, he was the editor (and is presently Senior Researcher) at The Barnes Review, a well-known renegade journal of European history. Dr. Johnson is the author of eight books. Six are from Hromada Books, "Sobornosti: Essays on the Old Faith;" "Heavenly Serbia and the Medieval Idea;" "Orthodoxy, Autocracy, Nationality: Lectures on Medieval Russia;" "The Ancient Orthodox Tradition in Russian Literature: "The Foreign Policy of Mass Society: The Failure of Western Engagement in the Middle East;" and "Officially Approved Dissent: Alasdair MacIntyre’s Strategic Ambiguity in His Critique of Modernity." And two published by The Barnes Review, "The Third Rome: Holy Russia, Tsarism and Orthodoxy;" and "Russian Populist: The Political Thought of Vladimir Putin."