Re-Upholstered Memories

 

Recovered memories

There’s a guy I know who fell into an upholstery machine. He’s fully recovered now.

I know, I know. It’s a stupid joke. But I’ll do anything to get a laugh.

The only tie-in with my theme here is that it’s about “recovering”.

It wasn’t until a few days ago that I discovered that Christine Ford’s accusations against Brett Kavanaugh are based on “recovered memories”. Not a lot has been written about this part of the story. Most of us focus on the fact that it happened so long ago, that there isn’t much evidence that it happened, but she seems so sure that it happened.

That’s where the recovered memories come into play. Recovered memories are sometimes a tool used by psychotherapists and other counselors. The idea is that, if you are having a psychological problem, then it may well be your brain’s response to a traumatic memory it is trying to repress. Through interviews, recounting personal history, and possibly hypnosis, the psychotherapist tries to bring those traumatic memories into the light where the patient can discuss them. By successfully dealing with these recovered memories, so the story goes, the patient is eventually freed and healed.

That’s the theory.

I remember being part of a church in the late 80’s and early 90’s where a counsellor held group sessions to heal people with psychological problems. This counsellor focused on recovering memories of practically everyone in the group. Everyone had traumatic childhood sexual abuse. Everyone.

And there was a twist, though. The childhood sexual abuse caused each patient to develop multiple separate personalities. It was basically like the movie Sybil or the Three Faces of Eve, old movies that dealt with the topic of multiple personalities in a person.

Getting back to the experience, I was an elder in the church, and I was concerned about what was going on. I started reading about Multiple Personality Disorder (or MPD), and it seemed like a lot of superstition based on very scant evidence. I began to hear about bizarre therapy sessions going on. The counsellor acted like a hammer in search of a nail. Everyone had the same condition.

In the half dozen years since that period, I read stories about how this was going on in other churches and counseling practices. Patients “recovered” memories of childhood sexual abuse, sometimes at the hands of parents or pastors. The place of abuse was said to have taken place in a church basement, even if the church didn’t have a basement. These patients often confronted their supposed abusers. In almost all instances that I heard about, the abuse never occurred. Tempers flared between the accusers and the accused. Families were torn apart.

According to an article in the Huffington Post, the practice and phenomenon actually in vogue about 130 years ago, then died down. It appeared again after The Three Faces of Eve came out in 1957, then died down. It reappeared after Sybil came out as a TV miniseries in 1976, then died down again. And the latest outbreak was in the late 80’s and early 90’s. It is now in a quiet phase.

Professional psychiatrists looked into the matter and saw a gaping chasm of scientific evidence. In most instances, any instances of multiple personalities were really borne out of “suggestible and gullible therapists” guiding “suggestible and gullible patients” into discovering recovered memories and multiple personalities. The therapists were not so much helping the patients to recover their memories as they were actually training them to come up with memories.

It is still controversial, with some people saying they were helped by the approach. I think it’s bottled snake oil.

Studies have been conducted into how easy it is to implant false memories into a willing subject. The researchers told their subjects that specific things happened when they were younger, such as getting lost at a mall. As the researchers told more details about the false story, the subjects began to envision the story as if it were true. Eventually, the subjects adopted the false stories as true stories.

The therapy of recovering lost memories should have been totally debunked by now. There may be a small number of patients for whom it is true, but it seems to be primarily just a lot of bunkum. Yet, there was at least one therapist who still practices it, and that therapist used it to treat Christine Ford.

And here we are, decades after it was largely discredited in the psychiatry profession, with a woman claiming to have recovered memories of being raped by a man who many years later is a nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court.

In my opinion, it may very well be that Christine Ford actually thinks she was assaulted by Kavanaugh many years ago. It is possible that she was coached into searching her mind for some event in her distant past – an event that was somehow assumed to include a sexual assault. I can’t imagine why she picked Kavanaugh, but it may have been that he stuck out in her mind for some reason. Nevertheless, it could be that Ford actually believes it happened, primarily due to the particular brand of psychotherapy she was subjected to.

This is why both Kavanaugh and Ford may be telling the truth. The former actually didn’t do anything, and the latter is recounting something from an implanted false memory. I can’t say the same of Ford’s Democratic handlers. Those handlers just seem to be doing anything they can with Ford for political purposes. And it’s still possible that Ford made all of this up. But there’s also the possibility that she’s just talking about false memories she was guided into.

Regardless of how this turns out in the battle for the Supreme Court, I hope the practice of recovering memories gets pushed way into the back of the therapists tools and only used for rare, extreme cases where it may be needed.

snake oil

 

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Galileo, the Rainbow, and Guido

Researchers at Brown University recently came up with some surprising research results. So, of course, the Ivy League School did what any institution committed to science and free speech would do.

They quashed the results.

That’s because the findings upset the Perpetually Offended in the LGBT community. It didn’t please them, so Brown University knew they had to remove the results from their web site, even though it appeared in a peer-reviewed scientific journal, PLOS One.

We know that’s the right thing to do, because that’s exactly  what happened to Galileo:

“Hi, Gal! What’s up? Anything new on that telescope?”

“Oh, hello Cardinal Snooticus. I just discovered that the sun does not revolve around the earth. It’s the other way around.”

“Oh, that can’t be right, Gal! You need to look again. Maybe you’ve got a smudge on your telescope. Yeah, that’s right. It’s a smudge.”

“Well, I don’t know about that. I can only report what I observe, Cardinal.”

“Gal, or perhaps I should say Mister Galileo. I don’t think you are getting the picture. Your scientific results do not sit well with the Church. “

“But that doesn’t matter to me. It’s science.”

“Maybe you should talk to Bishop Guido here. He’s from the Inquisition.”

“Actually, uh, Cardinal, I do think I may have a smudge after all. Never mind. It never happened.”

Of course, we all know that’s not what happened. Western society for centuries has put science in a high position in our culture. Christians of all stripes have learned to consider science as another important source of truth, but not the most important source. (And my apologies to my Catholic friends. This was just a silly story.)

But for people who have abandoned Christianity, there is nothing else that’s authoritative to turn to other than science. Secularists like to say that they count on science, and science alone, as the source of truth. We are constantly reminded of that by celebrities and luminaries, lecturing Conservatives about how we need to just focus on science, not opinion. One of the most recent examples of this was Harrison Ford, who spoke out against the anti-science leaders who are skeptical of climate change.

This is thrown at us all of the time. The Perpetually Offended accuse us of being anti-science. But, at the same time, those same accusers only accept the science they like.

And that’s where the research at Brown University comes back in. It was entitled “Rapid-onset gender dysphoria in adolescents and young adults: A study of parental reports”.  The study had a number of interesting findings:

  • The parents of many female adolescents reported “outbreaks” of gender dysphoria that were statistically unlikely. These girls never reported any instances of gender confusion until they began to hang out with other girls who engaged in heavy Internet use and binge-watching of videos of transgenders.
  • There is a high probability that the outbreaks of gender dysphoria were due to social and peer influence and pressure
  • Peer influence in adolescent girls is typically linked with depression, eating disorders, and drug use

These findings do not fit the template put forward by the LGBT community. Their story is that transgender people are “born that way”, and that it’s not a trend you can just try out and adopt because your friends are doing it.

So the Perpetually Offended were offended again. Adopting the same bully tactics they use with practically anything else they object to, they raised a ruckus with Brown University and demanded that the paper be deleted. Brown University complied. These days, it doesn’t take actual death threats to bring universities into compliance with the Perpetually Offended. It only requires the possibility of death threats. Or perhaps a visit from Guido.

Past studies have shown that the vast majority of adolescents who identified as homosexual or transgender as a minor no longer do so as an adult. I think it’s fair to say that it probably would happen to the children in the Brown University study as well.

The earliest American attempt to determine the percentage of adults who are homosexual was a 1948 book by 1948 book by Alfred Kinsey called Sexual Behavior in the Human Male. That study claimed that 10% of the male population was homosexual, but it was based on a count of incarcerated men. It is well understood how “group pressure” in prison often makes those men homosexual, at least while they are in prison. (It should be noted that the 10% figure has been discredited, although it is still repeated throughout the culture. Subsequent studies have shown homosexuals at somewhere between 1.5% to 2.4%.)

Interestingly, a recent survey of Americans showed that most Americans believe the rate of homosexuals in our population is about 21%, which is much, much higher than the actual population. Much of that is probably attributed to the fact that the lifestyle is pushed and promoted throughout the media. That media gives the general impression that homosexuality is more prevalent than it really is.

In addition, there have been a number of recent studies that focused on “sexual fluidity”, or the concept that at least some people can flow between heterosexual and homosexual behavior easily. There certainly are a number of celebrities who appear to have done so, including Drew Barrymore, Elton John, and Anne Heche. But the other studies cited earlier show that the vast majority of people who have ever engaged in homosexual acts will not continue to do so throughout their life.

We are beginning to get a better picture of how homosexuality has become such a “big thing” in our culture. It is a cultural phenomenon that is primarily spread by group pressure. After that pressure is lifted, there is only a very small fraction that remains attracted to the same sex. The homosexual lifestyle has an influence that reaches far beyond the actual population, primarily due to their allies. However, it appears that the vast majority of those who have tried that lifestyle did so because of pressure. It was tried by them and rejected. Let us help those who want to leave that lifestyle. Let us also continue to allow academic freedom to pursue science wherever it leads us. And let us resist the Guidos of this world that pressure us.

Do Super-Women Really Exist?

 

There are many times when we are discussing difficult issues and the issue is staring us right in the face. But the reason we don’t go there is because we think it’s not permissible in the current culture. There was an article recently on CNN.com that is a great example.

A digital producer, Alexandra King, recently wrote about an interview that the Harvard Gazette gave to Lauren Groff, a novelist. During the interview, Groff was asked how she achieves a balance between work and family. King was really interested in what she would have to say. Most women struggle to balance the two, so King was hoping to get some insight into how to juggle both work and family. Instead, Groff said:

Until I see a male writer asked this question, I’m going to respectfully decline to answer it.

Social media picked this up, and many women heartily agreed with her answer. But King was disappointed.

King does not have children. She must be thinking about it, although I have no idea what her marital status is. But Groff did not answer the question for King. All she did was have a snappy comeback.

King is struggling here. She’s wondering if super women really exist. In her view, work/family balance for most women is achieved:

WITH GREAT DIFFICULTY. BALANCE ISN’T EVEN THE RIGHT WORD. FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, DO SOMETHING.

King was searching for some help, some advice, but she received none. Most women in today’s society, bombarded by the feminist message, don’t see why women should be hindered in their careers by their family. They want to be unhindered, just like men appear to be. King feels the same way, yet, she says:

But more broadly, I’d argue, whether we like it or not… current circumstances do make this a woman’s question. It’s an undisputable fact that it’s the ladies, not the gents, who have to endure the physical onslaught that is pregnancy, birth and postpartum recovery.

And later, she says:

It’s safe to say that American mothers live in crisis. Yet your average working mother is rarely asked how she balanced work and family. She just has to figure it out.

The problem, says King, is that successful women such as Groff never really say how to achieve work/family balance. They never answer the question. And most women in our society are simply struggling. They believe everyone else is doing it except them. Most women believe the successful women have actually figured it out. However:

The sort of women who are publicly asked about what it’s like to be a working mother in the United States are almost always the ones more likely to have more resources to address the myriad challenges every working woman in America faces.

Exactly, celebrities and top business women seem to have it all together, but that’s because they’ve got money to hire “resources” to take care of their children. They may have nannies, tutors, or well-paid babysitters. Or they send the kids to top boarding schools where they don’t have to worry about them. Or they can take off a year or two from work without seriously damaging their family’s finances. Meanwhile, most women today aren’t at a financial level to have those “resources”.

So what is the answer?

In her article, King seems to believe the answer is for the U.S. government to give women more paid maternity leave. She misses the point that it’s not the government who has the answer. Even if a woman were to get 3 years of paid maternity leave, she might not be present for her child. The answer is for the parents to allow the mother to take time away from her career in the early years to be present for her children.

But what if King could actually question whether her premises about feminism are true?

  • Why do women struggle so much with this?
  • If women are liberated, why is childcare still a burden for them?
  • Why does the daily burden of caring for children still mostly fall to the mother, while men still feel most comfortable with being the primary provider for the family?
  • If nature or God equipped women with the means for giving birth, for nourishing them when they are infants, and with empathizing with their children more than men, then is feminist ideology really true?

I’m sure some of you reading this are wondering what cave I crawled out of. Where have I been for the past 50 years?

I get it. I’m not trying to say that women are not equal with men, nor am I trying to say that women are the only ones who should be raising children. Women are just as smart and capable as men. Women should be allowed to have the same careers as men, where physical strength is not an issue.

But why not look at whether mothers should look be spending more time with their children and less time at work? Perhaps suspend their career, especially when the children are very young. Perhaps super women don’t really exist.

This is the recommendation of Erica Komisar, a psychoanalyst who wrote Being There: Why Prioritizing Motherhood in the First Three Years Matters. She writes about many studies that show how children do much better physically and psychologically when their mothers – yes, their mothers – stay home and take care of their children. This I not a religious belief. It’s something she discovered through her own work. She herself worked part time in the early years. She writes:

From my firsthand professional observations, I have come to understand the connections between these symptoms and disorders and the emotional and physical absence of young children’s mothers in their day-to-day lives. An increasing number of parents come to see me because their child is suffering from a variety of social, behavioral, or developmental disorders. It’s clear to me that these symptoms are often related to the premature separation of children from their mothers.

What is the primary problem?

Too often, mothers are putting their work and their own needs ahead of their children’s. I know this issue is a very controversial one – so controversial, in fact, that few dare to address it.

There it is again. No one wants to talk about it. Young children need their parents’ time, especially their mother’s time.

The obvious answer for King’s question of work/family balance seems to be to put career on pause, at least for awhile. Stop struggling and searching for an answer that doesn’t seem to exist. Instead of stretching both you and your child, give yourself time to be with your child by taking time away from your career.

But the feminist leanings in King don’t seem to allow her to go there. I suspect it’s hard for most women to consider that. Most probably still think there’s a way to do both excellently.

It has only been since the 1970’s he women have entered into the workforce in large numbers. It remains to be seen whether the social experiment of feminism actually works. We have already seen that no-fault divorce, which was a well-meaning approach to helping couples get out of a failed marriage, has been a disaster. It may be that we will see that with feminism as well.

 

Is Clint Eastwood a Good Father?

Recently, an article on Fox News spoke about how Clint Eastwood is a great father. The article mentions that he “is earning critical acclaim for one of his oldest roles – being a dad.” The article speaks of Eastwood in glowing terms, mentioning how he was “hands-on” as a father, had a great sense of humor, and made time for each of his kids.

Being a good father does, in fact, include having time for your kids. But that’s not all. It’s also about providing a stable family for your children.

And then there’s this:

His son Kyle, 50, is his eldest from his first marriage to Maggie Johnson, which lasted from 1953 to 1984. Alison, 46, followed after, but during that marriage, he welcomed another daughter in, Kimber, 54, through an affair with Roxanne Tunis. Clint has two other children, Scott, 32, and Kathryn, 30, with his former girlfriend, Jacelyn Reeves, as well as a 25-year-old daughter, Francesca, with Frances Fisher, who co-starred alongside him in the four-time Academy Award-winning Western, “Unforgiven.”

In 1996, he married Dina Ruiz and the couple had a daughter, Morgan, now 21-years-old.

That makes 7 children from 6 wives.

In the past, divorce and broken homes were seen as bad because it was breaking a life-long promise to remain faithful to one another. But if both man and wife wanted to split, then it was considered okay. Perhaps not ideal, but okay. The kids, it was thought, were resilient and would recover just fine.

And that was how most of our culture considered divorce when No-Fault Divorce swept the nation in the 1970’s.

However, a recent book called Primal Loss by Leila Miller explores the toll divorce has taken on children. The book consists of stories told by adult children of divorced parents. Over and over, these adult survivors of divorce talk about how hard it was to understand who their family was. One individual recalled the following:

I recently realized that I was forced to abandon and then reconstitute my idea of family seven times by the time I was 23:

First family: my mom, dad, and me…

Second family: post divorce, still my mom, my dad, and me but living in two homes; my two parents are single

Third family: my mother remarries; my dad is single

Fourth family: my father remarries; both parents are now remarried

Fifth family: my father divorces; he is single again, and I remember feeling excited that I’ll get to spend more time with him; my mother is still married

Sixth family: my father remarries again; both parents are now remarried

Seventh family: my father and his third wife separate; he is single again, and my mother is still married

The testimonies in the book recount over and over again about how they never really knew what was family, what was home. They were constantly moving. During holidays, they would have to be part of a blended family where they hardly knew many of the people present. There was no one to confide in. No real place to come “home” to. Most of these individuals are still recovering, even decades after the divorce.

It shines a light on Eastwood’s concept of family. It was whoever he happened to be with at the time. If you happen to be one of his children, you would be hard-pressed to find your father spending vacations, holidays, or birthdays with your own family. Eastwood would be off with whoever is his latest family.

I don’t mean to come down hard on just Eastwood. There are plenty of families broken by divorce that cause those children to wonder who they belong to, where their home is. It’s the culture we have created. And now we have lots of divorce survivors who need to be healed.

The good thing is that there is a religion that heals and mends broken hearts. It’s a religion that allows anyone, no matter how broken their family is, to find a new home among real brothers and sisters who care about you.