“You erased the victims of recovered memory therapy.” — Grey Faction’s Letter to New York Magazine

These letters are part of a set of letters issued to New York Magazine in response to their reporting on false memory and repressed memory. For greater context, and to see all letters, please start here.

Photo by Nicole Mason on Unsplash

A letter from Evan Anderson to New York Magazine:

January 19, 2021

Hi Melissa and Katie,

I want to make sure you’re both aware of the egregiously poor reporting in “The Memory War.” Katie, this has been pointed out to you by several different people on Twitter and also on Lucien’s Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/posts/lying-for-new-of-46379921. So I know that you know about the several mistakes (we’ll call it that for now) in the article, but it won’t hurt to spell it out for you again.

Melissa, I am hoping that as the editor this is the first time these things have been pointed out to you, as the article remains (as far as I can tell) exactly unchanged since publication. I love NY Mag and The Cut, so I will presume this to be a series of errors in judgement [sic] that do not uphold the standards of your publication and so will be corrected.

Perhaps the most blatant “error” is the mischaracterization of Jimmy Coan’s comments. I’ll let him speak for himself here:

Then there’s your treatment of Lucien. You spoke with him at length nearly a year before this article was published. But you didn’t include a single word he said. Instead, you published what you believe to be his legal name and took a stab at guessing his age. You do realize he gets death threats, don’t you? Not only did this add nothing to the piece, it very well could put him in danger. Especially in an article wherein the thesis is that those who raise awareness about false memories during therapy are just pedophiles or pedophile apologists. Check out his article on Patreon if you haven’t — all posts have been free for nearly a year now, something you neglected to mention in your characterization of him as getting rich off patrons for promoting faulty science in service of protecting pedophiles.

You refer to the campaign that I direct, Grey Faction, as the “cult obsessed sons” of the FMSF. Are we obsessed with cults? Are we obsessed with one cult in particular — the FMSF? It’s really unclear what your claim is here. If you’re claiming we’re obsessed with cults, that’s blatantly incorrect. We expose therapists who practice the pseudoscience of recovered memory therapy and who promote discredited notions of Satanic ritual abuse and Illuminati mind control. If anything, we bring attention to “cult obsessed” therapists. Calling us “cult obsessed” is like referring to a group fighting against harmful conversion therapy as “gay obsessed.” It’s an impression a high school sophomore would get after spending no more than three minutes on our website. If your claim is that we are obsessed with FMSF, well that’s just a lie. We take a very different approach from the FMSF — for example, we work with (and include among our volunteers) people who have been subjected to recovered memory therapy and other forms of bad therapy. We don’t work with alleged abusers. We help end bad therapy by listening to and taking guidance from the victims of it. But you throw us in with the “pedophile protectors” anyway — referring to us as a “false memory subgroup” of The Satanic Temple to give the reader the impression that we’re just like the FMSF. In fact, it’s obvious in hindsight that your entire purpose in reaching out to us was to fish for links between us and the FMSF, hence not using a single quote from Lucien. It’s a nice little smear-by-association, the impact exemplified by this tweet written by someone that approves of the article: [redacted — cp]

These lies, smears and omissions are on top of the fact that the entire thrust of the article is severely flawed. Whatever happened between the Freyds is known only by them. You simply can’t honestly filter an analysis of the entire concept of false memories through the FMSF. It makes no sense to assess the truth value of a concept based on your impression of whether it can be used for nefarious purposes, but that’s exactly what you’ve done. To go back to the conversion therapy analogy: it would be nonsensical to defend conversion therapy just because some group that fights to ban it might be doing so in bad faith. And this is not to say I subscribe to your account of the Freyd situation and the FMSF’s work — in fact, your egregious errors make it clear that no one should trust a word you’ve written.

Look, I get it. You want to advocate for victims and you muddied the truth a little bit in pursuit of that. It happens to the best of us. But you erased the victims of recovered memory therapy — the lives destroyed, the families ruined, the communities upended. You didn’t want to mention the countless retractors who have been helped by the FMSF, because that would undermine your narrative. You didn’t want to mention those subjected to recovered memory therapy who regularly contact us, some of them victims of abuse they’ve always remembered who are nonetheless subjected to hypnosis and other techniques to uncover additional abuses they’ve “repressed.” It’s certainly news to those of them who have joined Grey Faction to fight against the pseudoscience of recovered memory therapy that they’re aiding in the defense of those who sexually abused them!

It’s no coincidence that all the “mistakes” in the article point in same direction, that all of them are carefully constructed to support your overall narrative. And in sacrificing your journalistic integrity in pursuit of a misguided defense of purported victims, you’ve trampled all over victims of therapeutic malpractice. Was it worth it, Katie?

Melissa, I expect something to be done about this.

Sincerely,

Evan

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