Unlike the UK, the US is all about self-examination and therapy via television and radio programming, so for many years our airwaves have been rife with psychology-based shows featuring professionals of greater or lesser ability.
Nobody comes close to the popularity and expertise of genial Texan Dr. Philip McGraw aka Dr. Phil, who was first discovered by Oprah Winfrey when he worked on her legal team as a forensic psychologist during a case brought against her by the Texas Cattlemen's Association, who were suing her for making statements against eating beef on her television show, thereby potentially causing severe financial damage to the beef industry.
Dr. Phil went on the air twelve years ago, and every weekday afternoon he interviews people who run the gamut from teen murderers to child abuse to cyber stalking to addiction to you name it. Show archive for 2014.
This week, as serendipity would have it, the show featured False Memory Syndrome in connection with sexual abuse. False Memory Syndrome is described by experts as follows:
"A false memory is a fabricated or distorted recollection of an event that did not actually happen. People often think of memory as something like a video recorder, accurately documenting and storing everything that happens with perfect accuracy and clarity. In reality, memory is very prone to fallacy. People can feel completely confident that their memory is accurate, but this confidence is no guarantee that a particular memory is correct.
Factors that can influence false memory include misinformation and misattributing the original source of the information. Existing knowledge and other memories can also interfere with the formation of a new memory, causing the recollection of an event to be mistaken or entirely false.
Memory researcher Elizabeth Loftus has demonstrated through her research that it is possible to induce false memories through suggestion. She has also shown that these memories can become stronger and more vivid as time goes on. Over time, memories become distorted and begin to change. In some case, the original memory may be changed in order to incorporate new information or experiences."
This may explain why the Duncroft accusers were silent regarding Jimmy Savile for many years. Indeed, one of them was on social media, i.e. Friends Reunited, back in 2004, trying to organize a reunion, singing the praises of Duncroft, what a wonderful place it was and how great her life had been thereafter - all thanks to the now evil and vilified staff. She even went so far as to write a letter to former headmistress Margaret Jones to that effect. In fact, this particular person was very close to one of the staff, had been for years. Said staff member was godmother to this woman's child, they had even lived under the same roof at one time. And then this woman suddenly morphed into a vicious accuser of Duncroft, her former friend and other staff members. A complete one eighty.
Pioneer Duncroft accuser, the troubled Karin Ward, had been under the care of a psychologist who suggested she write her Duncroft 'memoir.' Karin also went onto social media, looking for friends who were at Duncroft with her, because she said she didn't remember much about any of it. So, armed with the recollections of other women, she published and is now damned. Many of the women who were at the school at the same time have relentlessly torn this book apart as a work of fiction. Comedian Freddie Starr is suing Ward for defamation.
Meirion Jones, trawling the internet, found the Karin Ward work of fiction, and then, using social media, reached out to others he hoped would cooperate with his idea to expose Jimmy Savile and Duncroft, a place he had visited in his youth, as his aunt Margaret Jones, his father's sister, was the headmistress.
Meirion had seen Savile at the school on one occasion at least - a fund-raiser. Meirion's mother, herself a headmistress, and Margaret, reportedly had an uneasy relationship, which later deteriorated over family issues. It was at this occasion that Jimmy Savile allegedly took a few of the girls for a short ride in his Rolls, while Meirion and his mother allegedly tut-tutted at the very thought.
The discovery of the Karin Ward work of fiction was the perfect opportunity for Meirion to get back at Aunt Margaret plus produce what was at first intended to be a very short segment for the the BBC.
Then, enter self appointed 'child protection expert' Mark Williams-Thomas, who had been involved in the search for Maddie McCann, thereby gaining some traction with television audiences. Having heard of the Savile project, he talked his way onto the team, and became the contact for the Duncroft accusers, speaking with them at length, grooming them for their appearance on the infamous television show. This is where, I believe, the false memory syndrome came into being. Either way, it was a perfect storm.
I spoke with Mark at the onset of this situation, because he was looking to speak with women who had been at Duncroft. We had a long, cordial but cautious conversation. I told him I didn't believe what was being alleged regarding Jimmy Savile could have occurred at Duncroft, based on what I knew at the time about the school and the staff; he was respectful but obviously disagreed with me. I was obviously not the sort of Duncroft woman he wanted to talk to!
So, I have to consider that Karin, and all the rest, to a greater or lesser degree, were unduly influenced by outsiders with a vested interest in creating something out of almost nothing.
The British media also has a great deal to do with the possible implanting of false memories, resulting in a flash flood of accusers against Jimmy Savile the like of which hasn't been seen since the Salem witch trials. Jimmy Savile became The Great Satan, with sexual powers that would intimidate even the satyrs of Greek mythology. Of course, a lot of that has been disproven, and the only remaining accusers are represented by well-known ambulance-chasers, looking to make the whole thing the BBC's problem.
I'm starting to think this truly is false memory syndrome, initiated by Meirion Jones and Mark Williams-Thomas, and then perpetuated over and over on the television, in the newspapers, on-line, here, there and everywhere. All to the detriment of the British tax-payer, in bucketloads of loot being spent on police investigations which haven't come to anything much. And a British public that seemed to have lost the ability to reason clearly. Just as every Muslim was once a terrorist, now every elderly celebrity was a child molester.
The juries in the LeVell trial, the Roache trial, and the Travis trial, who listened to testimony that was the result of questioning by skilled lawyers, fortunately realized that something was pretty wrong. And decided accordingly. Given this, things may all go sideways for those who want to profit from false accusations.
Freddie Starr has been arrested yet again, but has been denied habeas corpus. That should get sorted in March.
A question that goes unanswered is why this happened in the first place. Why did what initially appeared to be fairly normal women from a highly-respected approved school in the mid-70s, who started out simply looking to find friends from those days for no other reason than to reminisce and have a couple of beers, turn into a gang of harpies who will not brook any denial of their claims?
Yet another unanswered question, what exactly is it that these accusers want? Revenge? Money? Fifteen minutes of fame? All of the above?
Mark Williams-Thomas opined recently that none of the 'victims' were in it for the money, which sort of made hash of accusers who are represented by high-profile tort lawyers, presumably not in it for the benefit of their health.
When asked what on earth he was talking about, he quickly switched it to none of the 'victims' he had personal contact with. The man does more tap-dancing than Fred Astaire.
Last unanswered question, and perhaps the most significant - why have the Surrey police failed and refused to respond to an appropriately-submitted Freedom Of Information inquiry regarding Mark Williams-Thomas? Just saying.