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Author Topic: Truth of Molestation?  (Read 2401 times)
Abigail
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« on: September 17, 2007, 11:09:36 AM »

  My friend/neighbor has a 20 year old daughter who was diagnosed with BPD about a year ago and is doing much better since being on medication.  Recently the daughter told her mother that her step grandfather had molested her when she was about 5 or 6 years old.  She only recently remembered this.  The daughter had been in therapy since being a toddler (including play and doll therapy) through high school but this had never come up before and she can't remember her daughter being afraid to visit the stepgrandfather or acting strangely or showing any other signs of being molested.
   The mother is aware that memories can be buried and forgotten and later remembered.  The mother and sister grew up with the stepgrandfather (would have been their stepfather) but neither of them were molested.  She's not sure what to believe.
  She is urging her daughter to go for therapy and perhaps hypnosis to determine what did or didn't happen.
   She also knows that borderlines can remember some things incorrectly or differently than other people.  How does she determine what the truth is?  Will hypnosis help?  Can a therapist determine false memories from real ones?
   Abigail
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Mikki
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« Reply #1 on: September 17, 2007, 08:04:30 PM »

Geez. I dunno. I mean, really, it could go either way. Even if the daughter is being honest, I too have heard of people having false memories during therapy sessions. I don't know if the hypnosis would be fool proof or not.

That is really a tough call all around. Any experts out there able to field this one?
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ForeverDad
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« Reply #2 on: September 17, 2007, 08:20:57 PM »

Remembered memories.  This is a subject where you tread very, very carefully.  If false but believed, an innocent man could have his good name ruined or worse.  If true but not believed, a young woman may feel violated a second time by the disbelief.

Can a therapist determine false memories from real ones?  Nothing is 100% sure.  A therapist would probably rely on prior experience and judgment.  And, considering the way our memories work, the more we think about it the more it is reinforced in our memory.

While many suffering with BPD do report child abuse at a young age, some don't, so there are surely multiple causes, including possible genetic tendencies.
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« Reply #3 on: September 17, 2007, 09:14:43 PM »

I lived through several periods of remembering repressed memories about child abuse with my ex, it was an especially trying time on me because she would cry her eyes out over what had happened to her then the following day deny she ever said those things the evening before and that I was crazy or that I had made the story up. I experienced this several times and tended to believe her because of other supporting things I had observed and sometimes really wondered if they were repressed memories or just purposely repressed to avoid pain over other issues she did not want to deal with. Today I still don't know what the truth was.

LA
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Silas Pseudonym
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« Reply #4 on: September 17, 2007, 10:05:43 PM »

Hi Abigail,

Wow I was reading this just last night...

It is very common for children to detach during molestation.  It is as if they leave there bodies & the literally do not remember & yes it will come up later.  It is often some sort of sexual awakening that is associated with this new insight.

It is also possible to be lead there by the therapist, meaning the T has to be-careful not to plant the memory, so in that respect, look at this persons credentials & credibility.  It is also the right age, about for this sort of thing to surface.  My gut says yes, but I am not in her presence.

The book is not specifically about abuse or children but ...leave it to me...SEX!  "The Erotic Mind" by Jack Morin, PhD.  He is a sex therapist, with a long history.  I have to say I am enjoying the book (who wouldn't)  It is very graphic, but I am impressed with the ultimate outcome, which is the root of how we tick...

Ok got the book out ..he goes on at length...a case study P 206 followed by some comment about the situation in general he does speak of the false sort, but hesitantly, because he falls on the side of the patient...

Here are some quotes:

"Unlocking memories...is torturous, delicate work.  Children molested by those on whom they depend will go to great lengths to conceal, even from themselves, the full truth of what they endured.  During abusive episodes, boys & girls typically protect themselves by going into a trance like state called dissociation.  Consequently they aren't fully present during their abuse, which, of course is a blessing at the moment.  As time passes painful memories are kept in check with an arsenal of defense mechanisms, especially repression (banishing painful memories form consciousness), denial (acting as if it didn't happen), downplaying (minimizing the destructiveness of the experience), or rationalizing (concocting plausible explanations for the abuser's behavior).  So much effort goes into not experiencing the pain, no wonder unambiguous memories are difficult to grasp."

He does say they usually have an idea something was wrong, but clearly you are speaking of a troubled human being if she has been in therapy all this time...

I am glad I caught this thread with the book so fresh in my mind.

He says, "Some people try to forget about terrible childhoods & move on.  They fail to recognize that to move beyond a trauma they must come to terms with it...

There are...potential perils..in letting out...memories..As memories grow clearer...become overwhelmed by depression, fear, rage or despair.  For the first time they feel the full impact of the self loathing that is a by product of their mistreatment.  Some even become suicidal.  That's why it's crucial to have the support of friend's & loved ones, and perhaps professional...""

Wow that sounds like BPD...

Hope it helps!

Silas

PS  When the defense mechanisms mentioned are operating, they are not being consciencely ...deployed.
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Abigail
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« Reply #5 on: September 18, 2007, 01:51:58 PM »

Remembered memories.  This is a subject where you tread very, very carefully.  If false but believed, an innocent man could have his good name ruined or worse.  If true but not believed, a young woman may feel violated a second time by the disbelief.

That's just it.  There is the potential to believe the wrong thing and someone is hurt in the process.  Decisions and actions could be based on incorrect information.
My friend is leaning towards believing her daughter because even though it doesn't make sense to her, she can't see how her daughter would benefit by making this up.  At this point, she doesn't have a lot of contact with the stepgrandfather anyway.  And this could be one of the reasons her daughter developed BPD (in addition to the fact that her biologial father most likely had BPD).
Thank you all for your thoughts and input.  Silas, what you had to say was very interesting.  I didn't realize just how common it was to repress those memories so totally and have them come to light many years later.  I knew it occurred but I thought it was rare.

Abigail
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« Reply #6 on: September 18, 2007, 02:03:55 PM »

Hi Abigail,

Yes I think this must be one of the most destructive events that can occur to a person's mind.  Horrific.  At this stage is it important to even confront the perpetrator?  Can the young woman not be treated as though she is telling the truth until, she is on firmer ground?

My impression from the book was that, this situation in particular is one where disassociation routinely occurs.  The menu of coping mechanisms, conceals the reality even from them, though there is an indication there is a problem (BPD!).  These events happened when she was possibly not so verbal as to even be able to have the vocabulary in place to define it.  That too contributes to the difficulty in translating it to herself, let alone others...

And though not the other girls...maybe the Step Father?  Is that what I am seeing?

Oh..so sad!

Silas
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ZenLady
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« Reply #7 on: September 18, 2007, 03:24:20 PM »

 The mother is aware that memories can be buried and forgotten and later remembered.  The mother and sister grew up with the stepgrandfather (would have been their stepfather) but neither of them were molested.  She's not sure what to believe.
  She is urging her daughter to go for therapy and perhaps hypnosis to determine what did or didn't happen.
   She also knows that borderlines can remember some things incorrectly or differently than other people.  How does she determine what the truth is?  Will hypnosis help?  Can a therapist determine false memories from real ones?

I would guess it's darned near impossible to know "the truth." Repressed memory syndrome is controversial to begin with, and tossing BPD into the mix will give you a "chicken or the egg" question- did abuse cause the BPD, or did the illness influence possibly false reports of abuse? Because someone else is involved, it's a big deal if these accusations are pursued falsly. And with BP, I wouldn't even bother to question if there's a "rational reason" to make stuff up. You can't expect someone who is not rational to behave rationally, so that's essentially a nonissue.

The best  advice I've ever heard concerned repressed memories is to focus on the feelings and issues directly, not the details, much as Silas just suggested. Regardless of the "truth", one thing is clear: the girl needs help. I've seen BPs sob and rage about stuff that I know never happened, but being BP doesn't mean that awful things don't happen to someone, either. Rather than trying to clarify the details of potential abuse, I'd address the feelings in therapy and let the therapist try to sort it out, and encourage the mom to get her own support because it's got to be incredibly difficult for her. She can be of no help to her daughter if the whole situation leaves her a wreck in the process.

I would be cautious personally in avoiding a therapist with a "specialty" in repressed memory, however, and would also be cautious about the use of much hypnosis, epsecially early on because people are highly suggestible in a hypnotic state. Someone who wasn't especially competent and tended to "see" repressed memories everywhere could cause more damage that was there to begin with. Instead, I would try to find someone who has experience in family therapy, working with borderlines, and sexual abuse.

While children do often dissociate during abuse episodes, BPD in and of itself is very similar to other dissociative disorders and I don't know that tells you much.
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schnitzel
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« Reply #8 on: September 19, 2007, 05:40:14 PM »

My memories of being sexually molested by my mother came to me in a dream when I was almost 40.
I personally know of a woman who was very very close to her grandfather. She also had a dream during therapy in which she remembered him masturbating on her leg when she was 6 years old and in a bed with him. She went back and she spat on his grave. When the sexual act is so totally repressed then oftentimes one can actually be very close with the perpetrator, so it isnt always the case that a little girl will hate her abuser, especially if he gives her candy and favors at other times.
I have also experienced a woman who said it was some worker on the farm who sexually abused her (raped her at 6 - horrendous) only to finally be able to remember that it was her own father.  cry This woman had recurrent urinary tract and uterine infections as an adult and was unable to conceive due to this.

The 3 main excuses perpetrators of sexual abuse with children give is: sexual education, hygiene, and medical reasons. This is what they tell the children they are trying to get close to. ( i.e. I have to examine you down there because you could be sick. I have to wash you down there. etc etc.) Of course there are also perpetrators who just do it.

What doesnt really jive is that she was already in therapy as a toddler ( so before the sexual abuse?) but who says a child can`t have BPD first and then be sexually molested. What also comes to mind is that if this grandfather was sexually interested in children- then he must have behaved in some way lustful with children other than just this girl.
So I wouldnt know if it could actually be determined whether this 20 year old woman was actually sexually abused ( what KIND of abuse? Molested? Real intercourse? There are various degrees of severity which also make for different symptoms- emotionally and physically meaning psychosomatically) and also perhaps if so, whether she remembered the right guy. I would expect that further therapy might elucidate her memories more as she works through them with the T.
I guess I would first and foremost be empathetic without taking over or beginning a war. I would let her work through this with her T. As I said- sometimes the clarity of the memory might come later- even years later.
Otherwise- just dont know... ?
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« Reply #9 on: September 19, 2007, 07:19:04 PM »

Hi, Abigail ~
This has been nagging at me since I first read your post.

Somewhat recently there was a segment on one of the tv news magazines, like Dateline or something, that had to do with a medication that would alleviate PTSD symptoms in sufferers by somehow altering the impact of their memories. It was interesting and brought up provocative questions, as you can imagine.

Anyhow, an interview with a research doctor especially impressed me. She said that memories are not perfect. She implied that input and minutia that we are exposed to all the time can have an effect on what we remember. She felt that revelations of 'repressed' memories could often be unintentionally fabricated, maybe in order to find some order where it is absent, sometimes guided unwittingly by leading questions from a counselor/hypnotist.
I think I would encourage a friend of mine to consider this as a possibility.


The daughter had been in therapy since being a toddler (including play and doll therapy) through high school but this had never come up before and she can't remember her daughter being afraid to visit the stepgrandfather or acting strangely or showing any other signs of being molested.

These are definitive factors that I would weigh heavily.


Quote
She also knows that borderlines can remember some things incorrectly or differently than other people.  How does she determine what the truth is?  Will hypnosis help?  Can a therapist determine false memories from real ones?

If there's any creedence to what that doctor expressed - and I tend to believe it - then any 'ordinary' person can remember things inaccurately. Someone with BPD is just more prone to it, not to mention the 'victim' and 'drama' aspects that come along with the disorder.

I'm thinking that maybe I'd encourage my friend to be supportive of her daughter's need to work through this memory, true or not so true, without taking action on her behalf. Is that possible...?

~ river
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ForeverDad
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« Reply #10 on: September 19, 2007, 07:38:54 PM »

Somewhat recently there was a segment on one of the tv news magazines, like Dateline or something, that had to do with a medication that would alleviate PTSD symptoms in sufferers by somehow altering the impact of their memories. It was interesting and brought up provocative questions, as you can imagine.

River, I believe you're thinking of propranolol.  Here's some of my notes from last year.

On 11/26/2006 the program 60 Minutes had a segment The Memory Pill concerning the use of a heart medication, propranolol, to lessen the traumatic memories associated with PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder).  Currently it is in early testing stages.  Research indicates adrenaline causes memories to be stored more strongly and propranolol lessens the effects of adrenaline, moderating strong memories.

I wonder, could this be tested whether this moderates the symptoms and behaviors of Borderline and other Personality disorders?  Of course, not all causes can be identified and traced to early childhood traumas, but many can.  Could treatment with this drug, which apparently has minimal or no side effects, helped moderate the extremes of BP behaviors?

Also, some have expressed concerns that this is messing with memory.  In the interview the researcher responded that we routinely give pain killers to injured persons to lessen their pain, so how is this so different?  Thus far it only lessens the traumatic effects so they're more like normal memories, it doesn't wipe them out.

http://www.acfnewsource.org/science/memory_pill.html
Quote
To counter the harmful effects of stress hormones like adrenaline on memory, Pitman has been experimenting with propranolol, a drug commonly used to treat hypertension. Since propranolol blocks the action of adrenaline and noradrenaline, Pitman thought it might prevent memories from being burned too deeply in the amygdala of the brain. "We figured we could give people this propranolol to affect the memory before it gets laid down," he explains. Pitman is quick to point out that the drug doesn't cause people to remember things differently, just less strongly. "We would say it would more approximate a normal memory," he says.

http://www.cognitiveliberty.org/neuro/memory_drugs_sd.html
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GameGirl
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« Reply #11 on: November 09, 2007, 06:25:02 PM »

  My friend/neighbor has a 20 year old daughter who was diagnosed with BPD about a year ago and is doing much better since being on medication.  Recently the daughter told her mother that her step grandfather had molested her when she was about 5 or 6 years old.  She only recently remembered this.  The daughter had been in therapy since being a toddler (including play and doll therapy) through high school but this had never come up before and she can't remember her daughter being afraid to visit the stepgrandfather or acting strangely or showing any other signs of being molested.
   The mother is aware that memories can be buried and forgotten and later remembered.  The mother and sister grew up with the stepgrandfather (would have been their stepfather) but neither of them were molested.  She's not sure what to believe.
  She is urging her daughter to go for therapy and perhaps hypnosis to determine what did or didn't happen.
   She also knows that borderlines can remember some things incorrectly or differently than other people.  How does she determine what the truth is?  Will hypnosis help?  Can a therapist determine false memories from real ones?
   Abigail

This is something I have always wondered about too.  I know that people do block being molested out, but I can't imagine how.  I remember every detail and always have.

I was molested by a family member over a period of 5 years.  I never forgot the memory, but I have never told anyone in my family.   

Incest is a big, shameful secret, and the people molested often feel an irrational need to protect their molester.

So, the only answer I can give is that there is no easy answer.  I think that if the memories are consistent, then they could be real.  Therapy is definately a good idea.  It is the best way to get the situation sorted out and get her the support she needs.

As for showing "signs", why was she in therapy from such a young age if she wasn't having emotional problems? These problems can often be a sign of sexual abuse.  I didn't sleep well, had constant stomach problems, agression, poor grades and started lying a lot.  I developed PTSD, but not BPD.

I also think that denial is huge in families where incest is occuring.
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« Reply #12 on: November 09, 2007, 07:21:39 PM »

I got angry when my therapist suggested I was "too close" to my dad (covert incest). But when the memories came I finally understood so many of the decisions I had made in my life. It explained everything.

When it is intuition and not a real memory you do have to tread lightly. But when the therapist's intuition triggers a memory then you must honor it and process it all.
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Abigail
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« Reply #13 on: November 09, 2007, 10:20:16 PM »

  My friend finally said something to the stepgrandfather about the accusation.  He didn't answer for a while and he closed his eyes and put his head down before he finally said it wasn't true.  That he would never have done that and that he always knew the granddaughter had "mental " problems.  My friend believes the abuse did occur especially given the way he reacted.  He also quickly changed the subject.
   I have since learned that repression is more common than I knew.

  Abigail
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« Reply #14 on: November 09, 2007, 10:34:03 PM »

My daughter was molested for 10 years by her uncle. She told me finally after she was an adult. She said if I had not believed her it would have killed her. We sent the perpetrator to jail.  I cannot deal with codependents who stay with the perpetrator and turn on the victim. I just want to say this. This is such a painful subject for me. My daughter lost her first child from the damage done to her body. He only did 9 months in jail. I wanted the death penalty.
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