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Remembering mass hysteria - the 'repressed memory' fraud by Jay Knott (10/09/10)       ⇌ (Ethnic Studies)       


Leftists, feminists and environmentalists have been as guilty of stirring up hysteria about non-existent problems as religious people. In the eighties, a holy alliance of Christian fundamentalists and women's libbers invented 'repressed memory syndrome', which sought to pathologize the family, by claiming incest was rampant. A novel by a black woman which pushed all the right buttons - sexism, child abuse, etc. - won the Pulitzer Prize in 1983, and not just for its literary merit [1]. The basis of this moral panic was a theory which Sigmund Freud rejected: it was too unscientific even for that charlatan [2].

The first left-wing journalist to stand up to the repressed memory fraud was Alexander Cockburn. He has also expressed doubts about the current wave of insinuation against Catholic priests, and the Climate Change scam. He could go further and deconstruct anti-fascism and 'hate crime' hysteria. 

So what's my point? We need to avoid groupthink. When someone starts a campaign to pathologize or even change our behavior, we need to ask why, and which interests does it serve?

The attraction of millenarian movements is an invariant problem. I used to think I believed in some of the ideas of Karl Marx, though I should have been able to see they mostly fail to make testable predictions, and are therefore unscientific, or do make predictions, which invariably turn out to be wrong. Later, I was influenced by Franz Boas and some of his disciples in the cultural relativist school of anthropology. It turns out they were lying - Wesern Samoa was not a paradise, and violence is more common among the Kalahari bushmen than in Western societies. What is the urge that makes so many people follow fraudulent 'critiques' of Western culture, the family, and so on?

1. The Color Purple, Alice Walker, 1982 - http://www.amazon.com/Color-Purple-Alice-Walker/dp/0156031825/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1287871411&sr=1-1

2. The Memory Wars, Frederick Crews, Granta Books, 1997 - http://www.amazon.com/Memory-Wars-Freuds-Legacy-Dispute/dp/1862070105/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1286637866&sr=1-2


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