By: David Bloomberg
Re: 2 more articles on Frontline
Back to the Dark Ages 04/07/95 SAN FRANCISCO EXAMINER
SOMETIMES I feel like taking my copies of Aristotle,
Darwin, Melville and Cather and holing up in the
mountains. It's getting weird down here in civilization.
The American middle class, particularly in California,
is going medieval.
On one side we have the survivalists, dittoheads and tax
resisters, solid middle-class Americans all, and a lot of
them quite nice people if you're not from the IRS. They're
digging in to fight the elitists who want to tax them to
death to pay for welfare mothers' limousine services and
federal masturbation-education programs.
That's what the feds do with tax money, isn't it? Of
course, these same anti-government warriors will fight
to their last round of stockpiled ammunition to protect
their federal veterans benefits and Social Security
payments. They earned it, right?
On the other side we have an army of solid middle-class
people who seem like harmless neurotics, but are really
inner children on the march.
As shown in the PBS documentary "Divided Memories" and
in The Examiner series by Stephanie Salter and Carol Ness
two years ago, these inner children couldn't be more
insidiously frightening if Stephen King had invented
The inner children's crusade involves going to a
"therapist" to unearth memories of the sexual
molestation that surely occurred in the past to cause
one's present unhappiness. Then the treatment may
proceed to accusing one's parents of being the "perps"
of the sexual assaults.
"Perp," or "perpetrator," is the word used by these
therapists (most of whom have fluffy credentials, if any
at all). The client often eerily refers to "my
perpetrator." Then there is the therapeutic admonition
to "come from a place of truth" and the all-purpose New
Age verb "empower."
In Tuesday's PBS "Frontline" documentary, one of the
therapists was shown unearthing a patient's buried
memories of abuse in a former life. In a really
embarrassing group-therapy session in Seattle (the
northernmost outpost of California), a patient was shown
acting out memories of being an ovum passing through a
These are unhappy people. Unfortunately, their
therapists convince them the cure lies in accusing their
aging parents of foul crimes. The only thing the therapist
doesn't provide is a dunking stool.
Somehow this "buried memories" hokum has become a
rallying point among certain feminists. The idea seems to
be to liberate women from their victimhood, but the result
is a whining claque of professional victims.
Professional victims never won revolutions, of course,
but that's who gets on daytime talk shows.
Just as the buried-memories crowd ascribes Satanic
conspiracies to parents, their dittohead neighbors see
evil conspiracy in the federal tax system.
They may have a point there, but they also think they can
get away with not paying income tax because it wasn't
mentioned in the Constitution. Sorry, but driving drunk
wasn't mentioned in the Constitution, either.
A growing section of this crowd is dressed in camouflage
fatigues and forming militias to prevent the feds from
taking away their guns. The April issue of Soldier of
Fortune has one of these smooth-faced, over-fed ragtag
militias on its cover, pointing designer assault rifles
to the right under the headline, "Modern Minutemen Aim to
Keep America Free."
These are the folks who talk about mysterious sightings of
black helicopters, perhaps a preparation for the gun
grab. Of course, every once in a while the feds do go to
Idaho or Waco and kill some civilians with gun caches.
Similarly, there are parents who have abused their
children. Not every seemingly strange idea is wrong. But
there are too many strange ideas around for them all to be
right. There's an abuser in every branch of the family
tree, and ATF agents ready to snatch guns in every forest.
These two wings of medieval middle-class America
probably account for less than a quarter of the
population. That wouldn't be too bad, but most of the rest
are watching the O.J. case, talking about Kato Kaelin and
how O.J. may have been set up.
The basic problem, besides brain failure, is that
Americans are too rich and have too much time on their
hands. A lot of people could use a job in a factory or a
mine. You don't see poor people having buried memories,
and if they have guns they use them as tools of their trade
or for protection from real enemies.
I don't know whether it'll be the inner children's crusade
or the militia that tries to burn me at the stake. But at
least one of them will. The modern medieval mind is
unforgiving, whether it speaks the language of therapy or
Come and get me. I'll be dug in up the mountain reading
Cato. That's Cato with a C.
Repressed memory care a `war zone'
The San Diego Union-Tribune
Ofra Bikel waded into the smoke, blood and anguish of a war that has
been escalating for 10 years and emerged shaken and changed.
"It's a senseless, dumb war. I started out with great respect for
therapists -- I've been in therapy myself. But I tell you I've lost
a lot of respect for them," said Bikel, a highly decorated
"These therapists don't take prisoners. There is no mercy at all.
The sad irony, though, is that they are otherwise good people who
think they're only trying to help."
Bikel's excursion into the complex, frightening and fascinating
psychological battlefield of repressed-memory therapy is chronicled
in a four-hour "Frontline" documentary, "Divided Memories" (8 tonight
on KPBS/Channel 15).
The Israeli-born, New York-based filmmaker, whose acclaimed
"Innocence Lost" pieces for "Frontline" recently explored a tragic
Dale Akiki-type case in North Carolina, comes late to the
Many books, including those by San Diego psychologist Michael Yapko,
UC Berkeley social-psychologist Richard Ofshe, and University of
Washington memory expert Elizabeth Loftus, have already covered this
ground. Scores of TV programs, including "60 Minutes," have tackled
it as well.
Yet all wars of profound historical importance rightly attract many
correspondents who view the conflict from various vantages and time
Bikel, in her trademark understated storytelling style, probes deeply
into the lives of unhappy women and the therapists they've turned to
She begins with the notorious George Franklin case in San Mateo in
which a woman claimed to have unearthed a decades-old repressed
memory of her father murdering a childhood friend. Her testimony put
her father behind bars. (Franklin's 1990 conviction was recently
overturned by an appeals judge, however, who cited egregious error by
the trial judge. A new trial was ordered for Franklin, who is
serving a life term in state prison.)
Bikel then spends equal time with parents who say they are falsely
accused of raping their daughters and the social scientists who warn
of the devastation unleashed by the employment of unfounded theories
regarding the workings of memory.
"I tried to understand what's going on, how it all began, the culture
in which this phenomenon has flourished." said Bikel, who pointed out
that there is no doubt that child sexual abuse is a very real and
widespread horror within our society.
"I don't really care if there is such a thing as repressed memory or
not -- after a while, I put that argument behind me."
Despite the raging emotions on both sides and the intransigence of
psychotherapists and their patients who believe in repressed memory,
Bikel said, at least one universal conclusion emerged.
"The smarter people on both sides agree that once someone comes in
with a confabulated memory, there is no way to distinguish it from
the truth," Bikel said.
And yet the therapists she interviews, while stating they believe
their patients, insist it is absolutely not their job to try to
corroborate whether a father actually raped his daughter before
accusing him of the crime.
Feminist politics, Bikel said, shroud the proponents of
"Outspoken feminists like Judith Herman (an associate professor of
psychiatry at Harvard extensively interviewed) will not give an inch.
She feels that to concede anything is to revert 30 years to a
patriarchic society," Bikel said. "You can't even talk to people
Bikel said her year spent examining the complex genesis of
repressed-memory therapy taught her that it has far more to do with
power than money.
"Power and control -- the therapist says I will be your mother, you
don't need your parents, your family," Bikel said. "I will show you
how to live.
"I think it's the good girls, the girls closest to mom, who get
caught up in this. It's not the rebels. It's those who were always
having to please mom and suddenly they can't.
"But no one is going to give you sympathy for merely being neglected.
It's not nearly as dramatic as sex abuse. Parents will pay attention
to that; dad will pay attention."
But in a "strange and terrible way," Bikel concedes, such therapy
"You destroy your family, but it makes you feel better," she said.
"You've got them waiting for your phone call. It gives you power, it
gives you control."