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Mark Pendergrast

Writer, FMSF Columnist
Wrote books arguing against the validity of recovered memories, frequently published in the FMSF’s newsletter.

Mark Pendergrast is a writer and was a columnist for the False Memory Syndrome Foundation. He started his career writing books about the history of coffee and coca-cola, but after being accused of abuse by his two daughters, turned to writing about ‘false memories’ and accusations of abuse. His work takes an extreme view: he believes there is no such thing as recovered memory, and that there are millions of therapists practicing family-destroying “recovered memory therapy.” He often portrays himself as a science writer and independent scholar, despite having no formal scholarly training.

Mark Pendergrast spoke at conferences organized by the False Memory Syndrome Foundation, and the foundation frequently published his letters and book reviews in their newsletter. Starting in 2002, Pamela Freyd asked him to write columns for the newsletter on various topics related to recovered memories:
“Pam Freyd asked if I might write something for the FMS Newsletter…” - Mark Pendergrast, in the FMSF newsletter. [1]

Conflicting Narratives of Abuse:
Mark Pendergrast has been accused of various forms of abuse by both of his daughters. His daughter ‘Stacy’ cited a history of forced skinny dipping, massages, early sexual conversations, a lack of boundaries, manipulation, and control. ‘Christina’ accused him of violating her physical and emotional boundaries. He has repeatedly denied these accusations of abuse. His narrative is documented in his lengthy book, Victims of Memory. However, within this book, he admits to some of the actions his daughter ‘Stacy’ accused him of; “I may have given her a backrub, but I couldn’t imagine… that could be interpreted as sexual.” “I reversed the roles by making my children my confidants and supports.” “I’m sure we did go skinny dipping… but I certainly couldn’t imagine forcing her to do so.” [2]

This narrative is contrary to how Pendergrast portrayed these events in interviews. When interviewed on the tv show Straight Talk in 1995, he said “Yes, I was a child of the sixties, and did some hippy things, including making my teenage daughters skinny dip with me… only a hysterical therapist could have convinced them that I’d done something wrong.” [3]

Regardless of how Pendergrast interpreted his admitted actions, they made his daughters uncomfortable.


[1] Pendergrast, Mark. (2003, November/December). Recovering From Recovered Memories. FMS Foundation Newsletter. 12(6), 6.
[2] Pendergrast, Mark. (1996). Victims of Memory: Incest Accusations and Shattered Lives. Upper Access Books. ISBN 978-0-942679-16-8
[3] Makupson, Amyre. (1995, June 11). Straight Talk [Television Broadcast]. WKBD-UPN 50 Studios.

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