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What FMSF said they did:

The Foundation is accused of harboring "perpetrators." Records that can be verified by responsible independent professionals must be kept to address that charge. [1]

When resources permit we will be able to go back to records and determine error rates

What FMSF actually did:

✓ + Lacked a standard documentation procedure: did not require volunteers to record details about ‘documented cases.

The FMSF claims to have a standard procedure for ‘documenting cases’ by phone interview: “There is a standard procedure that is followed for phone interviews… Unless we have complete and standard documentation, we do not add these people to the count of affected families.” [3] This standard procedure would ensure numbers published by the FMSF “reflect only those reports in which we have information that can later be examined by independent researchers interested in determining error rates.” [1]

Very little about the FMSF’s ‘standard procedure’ has been made publicly available:
“We have codified the procedures and developed training materials so that the documentation of stories will be consistent.” [4]

“When we receive a request for information, we now send an "introductory” letter… we now wait to receive information in writing from the caller." [1]

“We never enter anonymous communications in our count of families. That is the first step in screening… For every family that is included in our list, we have a name (sometimes, we understand, a pseudonym) and an address so that any information we have can be corroborated by other researchers. [2]

“We try to filter out all but those stories in which "repressed memory" is clearly an issue.” [2]

“We generally talk to first-time callers for 30 to 40 minutes… As we have said over and over again, we cannot determine the truth or falsity of any story that we hear; we can
simply record and look for patterns.” [2]

The FMSF’s qualification for a ‘documented case’ is a name or pseudonym, an address, and a brief mention of repressed memories. There is no apparent procedure for documentation beyond this. Despite having a ‘standard procedure’ to obtain verifiable information, the procedure to determine whether a story is sufficiently related to recovered memories has never been released to the public.

Moreover, more than a third of the FMSF’s ‘documented cases’ lack details. In the March 1994 FMSF newsletter, a graph visually presenting ‘documented cases’ revealed that over a third of cases represented “callers or writers [who] have said that they had a family problem, but we do not yet have details.” [5]

The count of ‘documented cases’ was consistently conflated with other statistics. Multiple columns in the FMSF newsletter conflated FMSF membership with all received phone contacts. When describing a graph titled “Number of Cases Documented,” Pamela Freyd conflated ‘documented cases’ with ‘family contacts.’ [6] This repeated conflation and lack of clear and consistent procedure led to a wild exaggeration of ‘documented cases.’

✓ + Kept cases reported to them anonymous and never submitted to external review.

Despite their lack of clarity on procedurally ‘documenting cases,’ The FMSF repeatedly asked for individuals and organizations to investigate the cases reported to them:

“We can, however, expect that the accusations will be investigated… We are now aware of more than 4,000 families who are begging to have their cases investigated.” - Pamela Freyd, in the FMSF Newsletter.[7]

At the 1997 Day of Contrition Conference sponsored by the FMSF, notable members discussed forming a committee to beg organizations to review accusations of abuse reported to them: "We met in Salem, and this committee says… that people who are accused of horrendous crimes by using these memory retrieval techniques need to be reviewed again, all of their cases need to be reviewed again.” Elizabeth Loftus, the forum moderator, responded affirmatively; “We could as a group say, "We want, we beg, we ask you to review cases where [recovered memories were] used as evidence to convict people… that those cases be reviewed by someone." [8]

Over the 27 years of the foundation’s existence, the FMSF’s ‘documented cases’ were never, by the FMSF’s own account, made available for external independent review. Instead, Pamela Freyd wrote in the FMSF newsletter that “Nothing that can personally identify an individual will ever be released by us, but the sheer size of the collection of material and the absurdity of the majority of stories will surely help alert reasonable people to the fact that something… is actually going on.” [9]

The FMSF maintains an archive in Buffalo, New York. We have attempted multiple times to visit the archive and view survey questions, records, and data, and we have been refused entry. This is contrary to how the FMSF often responds to criticism by inviting people to view their records: “None of the critics of FMSF has yet come to the office to look at the reports we have on file or to interview the families. How do they know?” [10]

Without verifiable details and subsequent independent review, it is unsure whether the FMSF’s ‘documented cases’ are based in truth. As stated by the FMSF themselves, they do not investigate ‘documented cases’ or try to determine the truth or falsity of them. [2]


[1] FMSF Staff. (1993, October 1). Change In Procedure In Family Count). FMS Foundation Newsletter. 2(9), 13.
[2] FMSF Staff. (1993, January 8). Our Critics; Constructive Criticism: FMS Foundation Newsletter. 2(1), 3.
[3] FMSF Staff. (1993, May 3). Important Organizational Notice. FMS Foundation Newsletter. 2(5), 7.
[4] FMSF Staff. (1992, August/September). Who Are The Volunteers? FMS Foundation Newsletter. 2(8), 3.
[5] Freyd, Pamela. (1994, March 8). Dear Friends. FMS Foundation Newsletter. 3(3), 1.
[6] Dallam, Stephanie. (2002). Crisis or Creation: A systematic examination of false memory claims. Journal of Child Sexual Abuse,9 (3/4), 9-36.
[7] Freyd, Pamela. (1993, June 3). Dear Friends. FMS Foundation Newsletter. 2(6), 1.
[8] Goldstein, Eleanor & Loftus, Elizabeth. (1997, January 13). Forum B: Social Science Issues. [Audience and Moderator Commentary]. Day of Contrition Revisited, Salem, MA, USA.
[9] Freyd, Pamela. (1992, August/September). Dear Friends. FMS Foundation Newsletter. 1(8), 1.
[10] Freyd, Pamela. (1993, December 7). Dear Friends. FMS Foundation Newsletter. 2(11), 1.

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