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 The Newsletter of the Australian False Memory Association

 Part 3

 Concerning Recovered Memories

 Volume 6 No 3 November 1999


 | Part1 | Part2 |




False memories of Ritual Abuse

By Cheryl Bornhauser

In September 1993 I was referred to a Clinical Psychologist by the Castle Hill Community Health Centre. I had been suffering from depression for some time and after a number of doctors had failed to help me I arrived on the doorstep of the health centre in a desperate emotional and mental state. The mental health team felt they could not handle my case and suggested that I see a clinical psychologist in private practice. I was given three names to choose from and I chose xxxxx xxxxxxin Galston NSW. I went to see xxxxxx a few days later and my first impression of her was that she was weird but offered a new approach to my problems, and that was novel and interesting for me. The first tool she used was a time line [family tree] and after about twenty minutes of dissecting my family tree she declared that I had been sexually abused by men on both sides of my family. About a week later I went to see xxxxxx again. I was extremely upset about what had happened to me as a child so she hypnotised me in order to help me release repressed memories of abuse. She took me back in time until I was about two years old. I saw my family and I was standing apart from them. I cried bitterly knowing the people I trusted the most had abused me. My mind was playing tricks on me as she asked me questions� I was confused and devastated. After that sessions I suffered form paranoia and delusions until quite recently.

Eventually I did not know who I was and I rang xxxxxx for help. She asked me to prepare myself and told me over the phone that I was a multiple personality. Then she explained in detail what would happen next. I was to expect groups of names to arise in my mind and astonishingly that process began that very night. It continued for the next two weeks until I had one hundred names or personalities. My goal was to supersede Trudi Chase [When Rabbit Howls] who had ninety-six personalities. I wanted to impress my therapist and felt I had succeeded when she told me that one hundred was a record. I felt extremely important because she validated me all the time and I wanted to please her more than anyone else on this earth.

I do not know why but my two children remain with me today. They suffered shockingly, always hearing my stories of abuse, and seeing me "change" personalities all the time. My husband could not cope with a crazy wife. Despite his efforts to stop me and reunite me with my family I forged ahead making accusations of sexual abuse constantly.

Then the memories of ritual abuse started after I told xxxxxx about a vision I had. She declared that I was in a satanic cult and that I had been ritually abused. She gave me literature to read on the subject of multiple personality and, to make matters worse, I was studying religion and ritual at university. Reading material had a profound effect on my vulnerable mind and I began to build a life in a cult.

I had dreadful memories of being ritually abused at rituals, of abusing and killing others myself, of seeing my daughters being raped by their father and uncle. I saw my mother aborting me because I was a breeder. I saw my mother aborting herself. I saw visions of sexual and physical abuse every day for almost five years. I was psychotic and, in my opinion, dangerous because I was not only suicidal but had homicidal feelings as well.

In 1994 my children and I were taken to a church in Arncliffe where a pastor and her followers exorcised me over a period of tow days. My daughters were obliged to watch me screaming and spitting out demons on the floor. One of them tried to strangle herself. We were imprisoned in a tiny room in the manse and they were intending to send us off to Indonesia. As a result of all that had been happening my husband sought the help of a local GP who came to my home and threatened to schedule me on the spot if I did not go before a panel of psychiatrists. I felt so scared but agreed to do so the next day.

My therapist assured me that I would lose custody of my children if I did not go through this assessment. She told me what to say: in particular that she had not been hypnotising me on a regular basis. This seemed to worry her.

Since 1993 I have alienated my family; my marriage has ended; one daughter tried to strangle herself; the other daughter cut her wrists and tried to hang herself. I sold my home and spent $100,000 in three months. I was exorcised by a church in Arncliffe and went through a deliverance in a Salvation Army church. I was a recluse for eight months in Avoca and eventually tried to kill myself.

Since 1995 I have been analysing my mind by writing on the computer daily, meditating, painting, exercising and using any other natural tool I could, to find a peace in my life. I am reunited with my family, my children are much happier and I am in more control of my life.


Australian State Items

The newsletter will be happy to receive for publication reports of activities and suggestions for other actions relevant to AFMA's goals....ED


The third meeting this year, on 1 August 1999, was attended by 19 members of the NSW group. Several joined as a result of the advertisement in the Sydney Morning Herald in June.

The discussion was at times intense. Most important was the necessity to give reassurance and support to Bill who was accused only six weeks earlier and was still in a state of stunned shock and unbelief. It was a great relief to him to meet a group of people who fully understood what he was going through.

Also of special interest was the attendance of Davis Hardaker from the "7.30 Report" [ABC TV}. He had been involved in the presentation of the segment dealing with false memories screened shortly before the meeting. His quiet presence and thoughtful comments left us feeling that we had found an "outsider" who truly felt for us.

Tony, Denise and Phil reported on a symposium they attended at the St John of God Hospital in July. It is hoped to have some of the speakers at that symposium at our next meeting to make them understand our feelings and concerns.

All are reminded that we are still building up a file of short case histories. If yours has not yet been written up and sent to Fay, please see to this as soon as possible. Fay is most willing to advise you [Tel. O2 9144 6044]. Such a file of [anonymous] case histories could be handed to guests to be studied at leisure. It would no doubt reinforce any discussion held at a meeting and strengthen our sad cause. The more case histories we have, the greater the impact we can make.

Gloria - NSW Representative.



Letters to the editor are encouraged and may be edited due to space limits and/or other considerations.

The following letter was addressed following the revelations regarding the use of recovered memory therapy by the Anglican Counselling Service (Sydney). Since the mentioned 7.30 Report referred to the Anglican Counselling Service (Anglicare is organisationally separate), it is the former that the letter is referring to. The content has been edited to preserve family's privacy.


Rt Rev Harry Goodhew
Archbishop of Sydney
Chairman of Synod

Dear Rev Goodhew

I write to you in relation to the Anglicare Counselling Service which I believe is under the direction of the Diocesan Synod, and the counselling practices which have been normal there in the past as revealed in the recent item on the 7.30 Report.

I was extremely satisfied to learn that the Counselling Service has been directed to discontinue the practice of recovered memory therapy in its counselling of clients who seek the help of the Counselling Service.

Recovered memory therapy has no place in a Christian counselling service which must take account of the overwhelming evidence that there is no scientific basis for the theory of recovered memory. May I quote from the report commissioned by the Royal College of Psychiatrists [Brandon S, Boakes J, Glasser D& Green R [1998]] :

No evidence exists for the repression and recovery of verified, severely traumatic events, and their role in symptom formation has yet to be proved. There is also striking absence in the literature of well-corroborated cases of such repressed memories recovered through psychotherapy. Given the prevalence of childhood sexual abuse, even if only a small proportion are repressed and only some of them are subsequently recovered, there should be a significant number of corroborated cases. In fact there are none.

I am the father of twin daughters, my only children. Subsequent to their consulting counsellors, [not in the Anglican service] they both accused me of unspecified sexual abuse. There is no basis for their accusations. I am entirely innocent of any thought or act towards them of such a nature. They have refused to discuss with me any detail of their accusation and I have not seen one of them since 1991 and the other only twice in extremely distant circumstances. They do not respond to my frequent letters and have cut off all contact with family and friends who question the veracity of their accusations. Their counsellors refused to agree to a meeting unless it was preceded by an admission of guilt by me. I love my daughters dearly, but will not compromise my integrity and lie to achieve a flawed reconciliation.

My wife has been sorely tried by the situation in which she has faced the impossible choice between her trusted husband and her children whom she did not believe were liars. She has threatened suicide on several occasions but the support from friends and myself has helped her to cope.

I pray that you will support the decision of the supervising committee and resist all the efforts of the misguided persons who may seek to have the decision reversed. It is a truly Christian act to support those in need, including those in need of emotional psychological and spiritual help. That help must be provided without harm to the recipients and their innocent loved ones.

I pray for God's guidance for you in this situation and the wellbeing of the Anglicare Counselling Service in fulfilling its proper function.

Yours sincerely

The following reply is reprinted by permission of the author.

Anglican Church Diocese of Sydney
20 August 1999

Dear Mr Xxxxxxzxxxxxx

The Archbishop has asked me to acknowledge your letter which we received last week concerning the Anglican Counselling Services. The Archbishop has asked me to say how greatly and strongly he regrets your experience and how sad he is that your family has been so damaged by your encounter with recovered memory therapy, through whatever agency it came.

I have been asked to thank you for writing your very supportive letter and to assure you that we are most concerned to uphold the very best practice throughout all our agencies.

The Archbishop asked me to record his hope that reconciliation and healing may yet be achieved in your family relationships through the grace and mercy of God.

Yours sincerely
PJR Smart
Archdeacon Smart
Personal Assistant to the Archbishop


The following letter to the Editor of the NZ Star-Times was written by Gordon Waugh who spoke at the AFMA 1999 Seminar. The letter remains unpublished in that venue.



"Focus" (Aug 1) underscored one effect of recent sexual abuse hysteria.

That hysteria and its ensuing deluge of false allegations caused male teachers to leave in droves. It stopped others choosing a teaching
career. But male teachers are vital to the future balance of society.

We all know the causes. PC thinking removed from the Evidence Act the time-honoured need for corroboration in sexual cases. "Believe the complainant" became a catch-cry. A presumption of guilt became the norm.
To the detriment of our community, self-interest groups were allowed unfettered licence to spread fallacies and unproven beliefs about sexual abuse. A generation has been corrupted by that misinformation into believing all women and children are at risk from all men. To save the next generation from a similar fate, we must take positive action now.
Police have begun to charge some who make false sexual allegations. We must re-establish sensible, unbiased investigatory processes. We must re-learn common sense and demand genuine, corroborated evidence. We must re-learn to reject unproven beliefs, theories and biased "statistics" and to boldly challenge those who spread them.
When a man is falsely accused, he deserves support. His accuser deserves punishment.


The following letter, drawn from an internet list, was written by a Canadian who declares himself to be wrongly convicted.

The Fellowship of the Unashamed
by "GeraldCole"
I have been beat-up, burned-out, banished and robbed of my life's savings.

I have been abandoned, unloved, and left to rot in a prison cell of silence.

I have been told when to get-up, go to bed, what to eat, when to speak,
what to fear, and when to worship.

I have been shunned, shackled, despised, and damned with the Mark of Cain.

I have been denied the gift of giving and the eternal joy of my now faceless grandchildren.

But most of all, I have been denied the love of my family that was destroyed by Repressed Memory therapists who no doubt (or so they think) will one day sit on the right hand of God.

But we are part of the fellowship of the unashamed and our banner is clear.

We won't give-up, shut-up, let-up, or throw-up until we have exploited those who seek to rekindle and justify the murderous works of the Salem Witch-Hunt Trials of three centuries ago.

We won't slow down, back away or be still; we cannot be bought, compromised, detoured, lured away, turned back, deluded or delayed.

We will not flinch in the face of sacrifice, meander in the maze of mediocrity, or hesitate in the presence of the enemy.

One day, these so-called self-proclaimed memory scientists will destroy no more.

One day, those fathers and grandparents who died in their beds and in prison from a broken heart will not lie unloved anymore.

"Gerald Cole"
Cell one-eleven, August 16 1999



Readers who are puzzled about how some persons can recover a memory and believe that their parent/s sexually abused them might like to ponder over the practice of David Calof as quoted by Joan Acocella. What research based evidence does Calof have for the recommendation he makes to his clients? ED

Acocella, Joan. CREATING HYSTERIA: Women and Multiple Personality Disorder.
San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers, 1999.
Page 172. Footnotes for Chapter 9. Footnote 11.

"One MPD-treater, David Calof, recommends that his patients 'cut off' from their families but not confront them, not tell them why. The reason for this is that the family is likely to make the patient doubt her abuse memories. 'You can't fight the family hypnosis,' Calof says. He related the cautionary tale of a patient who, having been in therapy with him for five or six years, was 'finally beginning to accept the reality of the horrendous, torturous child abuse she had endured' from her parents. She now told him that she wanted to confront her parents. He tried to dissuade her; she did it anyway, and came back to Calof protesting that the abuse memories were untrue: 'She said, "Why do you keep talking to me about stuff like that? My parents are wonderful, they could never have hurt me like that." Calof reports that it took him months to get her 'back on track' - that is, back to believing that her parents had abused her. 'Worse,' he adds, 'the
alters who knew the truth were so enraged at her, they started cutting on her regularly for several weeks' (Calof, Multiple Personality and Dissociation, pp. 55-56)."


Kooky Korner

Robin Balbernie of Severn NHS Trust writing in Clinical Child Psychology
and Psychiatry, Vol 4, Issue 2, April 1999.

"In this paper I describe an example of projective identification from work with a six-year-old adopted boy, where I found myself almost completely unable to function for several sessions. A traumatic past experience
belonging to my patient, which he could have no conscious knowledge of, had been pushed out of his unconscious to lodge in mine; and then, in turn, I acted out a version of that experience."


Glib liar dupes Germany's elite

The Dominion, 1/1/99

A postman who posed as a psychiatrist for more than six months held a top post at a hospital near Colditz, writes Roger Boyes
A postman dubbed the biggest German liar since Baron Munchhausen is to be tried in Leipzig after posing successfully as a senior psychiatrist for more than six months.

Gert Postel's other jobs - acquired by the diligent forging of documents and bluff - included judge, prosecuting lawyer and theologian.

However, it was his impersonation of a top psychiatrist that has put him
in the dock.

Postel, 40, was an expert psychiatric witness at 30 trials. Saxony's judicial system says his evidence did not lead to any miscarriage of justice, but inevitably, there will be appeals. That is only a small measure of the embarrassment felt by the institutions that were comprehensively duped.

The fault, say many, lies in a society that puts too much emphasis on documentation and an authoritative manner.

Postel's career began in 1979. A school dropout, he faked a leaving certificate and became a legal clerk. Eventually the forgery was discovered and he lost the job, but he became the lover of two women doctors and picked up enough knowledge to bluff his way as a clinical psychologist.
"If you grasp dialectics and the jargon of psychiatry, you can put any old nonsense into a convincing form," he said later.

At a rehabilitation centre, he was so plausible that he was allowed to stand in for the supervising doctor. He was rumbled by a patient, a judge who knew him from his brief legal career. But while on bail he was, under a pseudonym, made responsible for all referrals to psychiatric clinics and supervision of social psychiatric services in the city of Flensburg.

He reduced the art of psychiatric referral to two formulae.

If the patient was shy, sleepy or reluctant to speak, he was having a "lightly autistic psychosis". More lively ones were suffering from "active psychosis of a schizophrenic nature".

Found out after he lost a wallet containing two identical photographs in different names, Postel received a year's suspended sentence.
The lure of medicine was too strong, however, and in 1996, he became chief neurologist and psychiatrist at a big regional hospital near Colditz. He built up such a reputation that he was tipped for a chair in neurology. But the game was up. Shielded by former lovers, he evaded the police until late last year.

He has admitted deception and faces a year in jail.

The man may not be a "liar" but deluded. (AFMA comment).




The AFMA does not condone child abuse.

  • To offer support to families claiming to be falsely accused by adult
    children who have recovered memories.
  • To keep abreast of the latest information.
  • To publish a Newsletter regularly to disseminate information.
  • To adopt a professional approach to the media.
  • To encourage objective discussion and study of memory.
  • To bring together an Advisory body of persons of professional
    standing drawn from a variety of disciplines.
  • To assure all persons contacting the Association that their enquiries will be treated with the utmost confidentiality.


Whilst the members of the Professional Advisory Board support the Aims and Objectives of the Australian False Memory Association, the views expressed in this newsletter may not necessarily be held by some or all of the Board members. Equally, the Association may not always agree with the views expressed by any Board member.



Graham Burrows, A.O., M.D., Ch.B., D.P.M., F.R.A.N.Z.C.P., F.R.C. Psych., M.R.C.M.A., Professor/ Director of Psychiatry, University of Melbourne, Austin Hospital, Victoria.

Andrew Gibbs, B.Sc.[Hons],M.Sc.,Ph.D.,M.A.P.S., Senior Neuropsychologist, Royal Melbourne Hospital, Melbourne

Robert McNeilly, M.B.B.S., D.Obst., R.C.O.G., Psychotherapist/Founder, Centre of Effective Therapy, Melbourne

David Millikan, B.A., B.D.[Hons], Ph.D. Uniting Church Minister, Broadcaster & Author, Bronte, NSW

Edward Ogden, M.A.[Hons],M.B.B.S.,B.Med.Sc. Forensic Physician, Department of Forensic Medicine, Victoria Police, Melbourne.

Donald Thomson, LL.B., B.A., M.A., Ph.D., F.A.P.S. Professor of Psychology, School of Social Sciences and Liberal Studies, Charles Sturt University, Bathurst, Barrister, Victorian Bar.

What you can do to remedy the disaster of false/ recovered memories.


  • Educate yourself about recovered memories so you are able to clearly understand the issues from all viewpoints.
  • Write to your State and Federal Politician.
      The contact details for your electorate can be obtained from the Australian Electoral Commission, listed in the White pages of your telephone directory.
      Hand-written letters can have a significant impact as opposed to form-written typed ones.

  • Copy this newsletter and mail to interested others.
       Those who may be interested- politicians, media outlets, church and charity organisations, etc�

  • Remember to seek assistance and help if the burden becomes too much.
    It is important to also care for oneself, in order to care for one�s family and others.
  • If you are not a financial Member of the AFMA, become a supporter. The AFMA has very limited means.


(In confidence)

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Name: ................................................................................

Address: ............................................................................





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The AFMA is a voluntary non-profit "shoe-string" organisation coping with the devastating aftermath of false recovered memories. It receives no government or external assistance. Any support, be it financial or via one�s skills, or sympathy with the aims of the AFMA, is greatly appreciated.

THANKING you sincerely for your support to keep the AFMA ..

Caring for individuals and families.

The next AFMA Seminar And AGM is
Scheduled for Oct. 7-8 2000 in Canberra.
Advance planning is advised.


Due to rapid developments taking place a new onus is being brought to bear upon the AFMA.

An urgent need to assemble a meeting/workshop of the Committee members, all the state and regional Representatives and members of the Professional Advisory Board has arisen.

Canberra in February is in focus pending further consultations and arrangements.


Post Script,

Be aware of internationally acclaimed Australian playwright Joanna Murray Smith's explosive new drama about one of the most contentious issues of our time - (false memories) - an intriguing and intellectual play, "NIGHTFALL".

Showing at the Melbourne Playbox Theatre until 11th Dec. Then at Geelong Performing Arts Centre for five nights
14 - 18 December, before heading to Sydney Theatre Company's 2000 season.



 | Part1 | Part2 |

Australian False Memory
    Association (Incorporated)

Australian False Memory Association
Caring for Families and Individuals

Email the AFMA at false.memory@bigpond.com

PO Box 74
Campbelltown SA 5074

Ph: 1300 88 88 77

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