Monday, January 23, 2012

Bogus "Repressed Memory" Theory Still Lives in Some Places


As I was reading online newspaper articles this morning, an item about David Clohessy, national director of SNAP -- Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests -- caught my attention. It seems that he and SNAP are resisting a court order that he and SNAP disclose communications they may have had, in violation of a gag order, about communications with the press and alleged victims of sexual abuse. This court order, of course, raises First Amendment issues. However, what caught my attention is that the controversy arose out of a civil action in which the plaintiff is apparently relying on the theory of "repressed memory." This is most distressing -- inasmuch it is fairly obvious to any halfway rational person that the theory of repressed & recovered memory is bogus. See, e.g., this article in the Skeptic's Dictionary.

In the underlying civil action the John Doe plaintiff apparently alleges he was abused "in the 1970s." So he allegedly forgot about the sexual abuse for roughly 40 years. Who really believes this sort of stuff? (Well, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court apparently does. Compare this post.)

N.B. SNAP still holds national conventions. (The 2012 convention, SNAP reports, will be in Chicago.) A major focus of such conventions seems to be to encourage victims to come forward. It is possible SNAP's encouragement is a bit too brisk. (One wonders whether in 2020 some person at a SNAP national convention will suddenly remember being abused by a priest in the 1970s. I suppose so!)
 
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