du Fresne and false memories

Sometimes we do things that are bad for us.  Silly things.  Health threatening things.  Things that we stay stuck with, replaying over and over, for far too long afterwards.  You all know what I mean.

Reading anything Karl du Fresne has to say about gender and sexuality is one of those things for me.

So why, I hear you ask, do you do it?

Well, sometimes you can’t tell where he’s going, like when he heads his opinion piece with “Here’s when ACC really became a welfare agency” and you think, just momentarily, that he might be bringing his undoubtedly clever analytical brain to bear on the current magic-being-played-with-numbers-in-order-to-soften-us-up-for-privatisation.

But no, instead this was about:

In 1988, ACC accepted 221 claims for sexual abuse or, more precisely, mental illness arising from alleged abuse at a cost of $1.9 million. By 2004, claims were running at an average of 5000 a year and annual costs had risen to more than $27 million.

One claimant got more than $150,000 in backdated compensation and several were being paid more than $60,000 a year in weekly compensation payments based on their earnings before their “injury” was diagnosed.

No doubt many claims were legitimate but 5000 a year? 

Well, bless the wee curmudgeon, but I’d say only 5000 claims of sexual abuse a year was a bloody bargain for ACC.  Given we’ve been averaging more than 3,500 reported to the Police every year for the last three years, and given the National Survey of Crime in 2001 estimated that just 12% of sexual violence was being reported to the Police, it makes The Warehouse prices look overinflated.  And that’s not even considering how many of the ACC claims go much further back than just the last few years.

Then we come to his other gripes:

No corroboration of the alleged abuse was required, other than a supporting statement from an ACC-registered counsellor. There was no requirement that the supposed victim lay a complaint with the police, still less obtain a conviction. The alleged abuser didn’t even have to be identified.

Actually, Sensitive Claims require a GP or ACC-registered counsellor – that is, one who specialises in supporting people who have been sexually abused – to assess the mental health of someone who alleges abuse.  But perhaps “doctors” are too professional and sensible and well, respectable for curmudgeonly sneering?

And isn’t it just as well we don’t require a complaint to be laid with the Police, when so few sexual violence complaints are, still, in 2009?

But then we come to this gem:

In many cases the alleged abuse was far in the past, raising suspicions about “recovered memory” syndrome.

This is when I really doubt Mr du Fresne’s committment to “objectivity” around sexual violence.  “Recovered memory” syndrome is not listed in the diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders, and in fact I think Mr du Fresne is actually getting his words muddled here, and is intending to refer to “false memory syndrome” – also not clinically or medically recognised.

It was a term invented in 1992 by the False Memory Syndrome Foundation in the USA, which has since been utilised all over the world, sadly fed to the public by a compliant media.

The FMSF was a group of parents, mainly fathers, accused of sexual abuse.  They included Ralph Underwager, who was quoted in a Dutch paedophile magazine as saying sex with children was part of God’s will;  Pamela and Peter Freyd, whoses adult daughter Jennifer told the media about her sexual abuse, believing her parents were doing unquestionable harm to abuse survivors; Paul and Shirley Eberle, who edited a child pornography magazine in the 1970s with explicit photographs of children and features like “Sexpot at five” and “My first rape, she was only 13.” 

Yep, nice people we should trust when they talk about sexual abuse all right.

I find it deeply ironic that those who deny sexual abuse is common frequently talk about “gravy trains” of those who treat survivors – but don’t even look twice at the claims of “false memories” by people who are on the record as promoting child abuse.

Mr du Fresne hasn’t had me this het up since he said Gill Greer shouldn’t head Family Planning, at least partly because she was a lesbian.  And I’d have thought women who exclusively love women would be amongst those for whom family planning would be obligatory…

I’ll get someone else to vet his columns in the future, I promise.

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3 thoughts on “du Fresne and false memories

  1. I like Karl du Fresne. But I agree….he comes up with stuff that betrays a certain blindness that I find inexplicable.

    Something might be obvious as dog’s balls to me, but Karl will miss it by a mile…and be utterly sincere in doing so. I don’t think he is ever disingenuous.

  2. Karl is right on the button. Colossal rort of ACC by a counseling industry which has too few controls and even less scientific supported validity to support their core activities.

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