Thank you so much for speaking out!
This reminds me so much of a similar “movement” I lived through 30 years ago: the era of Repressed Memory Therapy for childhood sexual abuse. Thousands of women came to believe they’d been brutally molested by their fathers or other family members, but had forgotten the abuse until therapists uncovered their “repressed memories.” Many were convinced they were victims of Satanic cults, had witnessed human sacrifices and had multiple personalities. They cut off contact with their families, sued them, filed criminal charges. People went to prison or otherwise had their lives ruined based on evidence from dreams and hypnosis sessions. Mainly men, but some women too. Parents, teachers, day-care workers.
Finally, desistors (or “retractors”) emerged who realized their new memories were not real. Therapists and hospitals got sued. Most (but not all!) the accused were eventually exonerated. But not before a whole lot of damage was done: to the accusers, the accused, the women’s movement and the larger culture.
There are so many parallels! Some hospitals and doctors made big money off the trend. Other professionals just believed passionately they were doing the right thing. Women seeking therapy were told almost any problem could be a sign they were “survivors” – including, of course, not remembering any abuse. Huge swaths of the public assumed you had to believe all of this, if you were any kind of feminist. Doubters, male or female, were denounced as woman-haters and apologists for child abuse. (And, of course, it was not 100% BS—not at all. For years the medical establishment had wildly under-estimated the prevalence of incest, and at least some repressed-memory patients were actual victims.)
Thankfully, it’s stopped – but most of the history has been shoved under the rug. I know of only one account by a “retractor” of her experience: a memoir called My Lie by Meredith Maran. For the most part the mental-health establishment, the feminist movement, journalists and everyone else who endorsed all the madness seems to have “repressed the memory.”
I wonder if digging it up could open some people’s eyes and persuade them it’s no sin to ask a few questions about current transgender trends?
For a psychological review of the repressed memory phenomenon, see a book called Try to Remember, by Paul McHugh.
Well done to all at Pique, you have initiated something brave and necessary.
Thanks for the post