We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is False Memory Syndrome?

By Adam Hill
Updated May 21, 2024
Our promise to you
All The Science is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At All The Science, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

False memory syndrome (FMS) is the term coined for the apparent recollection of events that did not take place, and which often occurs in psychotherapy sessions. Traumatic events, such as abuse, are those which are generally referred to in the context of false memory syndrome. Recovered memory therapy is a term used to describe the situation in which a mental health professional can lead patients to remember things that were forgotten, or perhaps altogether false. There is a degree of controversy surrounding false memory syndrome, led on one side by those who believe that such memories are in fact false, and on the other side by those who claim that people who have committed abusive acts are using FMS to discredit allegations against them.

Much of the controversy over FMS stems from the fact that the memories in question are said to be repressed and not remembered again until adulthood, long after the event takes place. In a typical example, an adult remembers an event such as childhood sexual abuse at the hand of a parent or other authority figure, and does so while in the care of a psychologist. There are accounts in existence which relate that those who have been falsely accused of abuse have in some cases suffered ill health or premature death due to the type of stress that such an accusation brings.

The effects of memories such as these coming to the surface, whether they are actual memories or not, is often the devastation of previously functional families. The False Memory Syndrome Foundation (FMSF) was organized in 1992 by families and professionals who wanted to study those who had suffered from the airing of such claims, whether true or false. Those who had been accused of incest in this pattern came together to find mutual support, in the same way that parents of children with disabilities do.

While it is certain that children are abused, and that it is a serious social problem, uncorroborated claims of abuse from decades past are the focus of the controversy over false memory syndrome. The nature of our memories is such that it is possible for events to be distorted or completely fabricated, without intentional deception. Unlike a video recorder that plays back events exactly as they happened, memory depends not only on our accurate initial perception, but our emotions surrounding an event, as well as other factors. Memories which a person claims to have repressed are often subject to an even greater degree of uncertainty. The frequency with which false memory syndrome occurs is unknown, which does not help in diffusing the controversy over it.

All The Science is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
All The Science, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

All The Science, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.