By: David Bloomberg
Re: Costs of FMS
From: romulus.ehs.uiuc.edu!m-net.arbornet.org!aaron (Aaron Larson)
(c) Newsday, Inc., 1/9/1995, Pg. A-27
Viewpoint: Repressed Memories
By Susan Kiss Sarnoff, DSW. Garden City
I want to applaud Jamie Talan's even-handed discussion of the repression
of childhood memories of sexual abuse ["When Memories Collide," Health &
Discovery, Dec. 17].
I was particularly pleased that the sidebar noted the financial effects
these claims have on a state crime-victim compensation program. Although
Washington was used in the example, repressed memory claims are the
fastest-growing type of claims among such programs.
We must develop means of objectivity determining the accuracy of
long-repressed "memories" of sexual abuse. Such information should not be
used against claimants, but to identify practitioners who tend to
"diagnose" false memory syndrome with too little data (and perhaps too
much ideology). Real victims of sexual abuse deserve compensation for
mental health treatment no matter when the abuse occurred. But the sudden
"discovery" of this phenomenon, and the number of claims which have
resulted from it, suggest that some claims based upon it are false.
Unless this cost is controlled, victims of other crimes will continue to
see reductions in compensation for funerals, lost wages and medical bills,
which have already been necessitated by the increase in mental health
claims by victims of long-past abuse.
Finally, we must recognize that increased government for crime victims and
recent tort precedents give people reasons to lie about being victims. In
the absence of alternative means of paying for needed services, some
people will claim to be victims to obtain the "benefits" of that status.
We must not be in such a hurry to help that we fail to control fraud and
abuse in a poorly funded system which hardly meets the needs of actual