British False Memory Society BFMS

Serving People and Professionals in Contested Allegations of Abuse – Registered Charity No: 1040683

False memory is the phenomenon in which a person is convinced a memory is true when it is not. It was first postulated and diagnosed more than 100 years ago. More recently, clinical evidence suggests it is more widespread than had previously been appreciated.
In particular, it is creating severe problems in the field of alleged sexual abuse. Naturally, the Society acknowledges and abhors the fact that there are many genuine cases of child abuse that may require the application of the criminal law … (about 1/2).

All Pages have the same URL. To reach them, click on the internal links in the left column, as:
Welcome, About the BFMS, Key Issues, Having Therapy, False Memory Matters, Fractured Families, AGMs & Meetings, BFMS Press Releases, Events & Notices, News & Articles, Newsletters, Legal Affairs, Books, Talking Point,  GMC/Dr Eastgate, Landmark Libel Trial, Fundraising, Links, Programmes, Scientific Advisory Board, Management & Trustees, Services & Membership, Disclaimer & Detractors.

Contact Details: BFMS, Bradford on Avon, Wiltshire, BA15 1NF, UK, Tel: 01225 868682, Fax: 01225 862251, E-mail BFMS.

About 2/2: … However, what is happening is that a number of people, usually during psychotherapy or counselling, are recovering ‘memories’ of having been sexually abused in childhood, even though those accused – usually, but not always, their parents – deny such abuse and there is no corroborating evidence.

Not surprisingly, such memories, if false, have severe consequences both for the person concerned and for his or her family. It is not uncommon for a whole network of family relationships to be destroyed as a result.

The extent of the phenomenon led, in 1993, to the formation of The BFMS and to the establishment of its Scientific and Professional Advisory Board (see link on the website’s left column).

Formation of the BFMS

  • The earliest autobiographical accounts of incest and childhood sexual abuse did not rely on repressed memories. These were people who had simply never spoken of their always-remembered trauma. Soon, however, some ’survivor’ histories began to suggest the notion of frozen memories of abuse. The supposed existence of these hidden incest histories became conflated with the idea that therapists could heal the ‘victims’ and in the early 1980s this became formalised into a conscious search for abuse histories. In 1988, following the publication of The Courage to Heal, the number of accusations based on newly ‘recovered memories’ of sexual abuse increased.
  • In 1992, after an article in the American press drew a huge response, a group of accused parents in America attended a meeting with professionals from the University of Pennsylvania and Johns Hopkins University and the False Memory Syndrome Foundation (FMSF) was formed. The appointment of a scientific advisory board led to a critical scrutiny of the social movement in which these therapeutic theories and practices were emerging. The rationale being offered by the therapists and their designated forms of treatment began to be challenged.
  • In Britain, the turning point was 1990 when the British edition of The Courage to Heal appeared and, following the American experience, a belief arose that ‘repressed memories’ of sexual abuse were commonplace. After the first FMSF conference in Philadelphia in the spring of 1993, accused parents who attended from the UK met and formed an organisation which was to become the British False Memory Society.

The Purposes of the Society

  • The Society aims to raise public awareness of the inherent dangers of false memory by: disseminating relevant information through newsletters and articles in learned journals; organising seminars and conferences; and, when appropriate, assisting the media to produce suitable articles and programmes.
  • The BFMS collaborates with professional organisations, for example, to encourage the highest standards in the training and practice of psychotherapy and counselling.
  • The BFMS incorporates a telephone helpline to support families affected by the phenomenon of false memory. The Society also offers advice and access to legal assistance. However, we do not offer counselling services nor do we have in-house legal advisors, although both these matters are open to general discussion.
  • The BFMS aims to improve the understanding of false memory by encouraging, sponsoring, conducting and publishing academic and professional research.


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