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01.01.1970 01:0000    Comments: 0    Categories: General Articles      Tags:
What is False Memory?

What follows was my response to an email asking this question. False memory is a non-professional term used to describe an unproven phenomonon where people are believed to have mental images of events that supposedly never happened. Some suggest (again with no valid evidence) that people can have false ideas placed in their heads by unwarey therapist suggesting things such as sexual abuse, traumas etc. Theophostic Prayer Ministry avoids all practices that might lead to this ever occuring even if it were possible. The Theophostic Prayer Ministry Session Guidelines are very clear that implanting information in any form is a violation of the process even to the extent of sharing insight and truthful edification.

The person's question to me:

"As you well know, there is much controversy over recovered memories and their validity. I have a client that recovered memory of abuse by her father. The memory did not come in a Theophostic session but with a different, non-Theophostic counselor. Later, in a Theophostic session with me, she went back to the memory, Christ was present and she received much healing and peace. However, now she is starting to think that possibly the abuse didn't actually happen and was a product of the counseling practices of the counselor she had before coming to me. He has many allegations of implanting memories in other clients. My questions are, If Christ was able to be present in her memory of abuse does that confirm the memory? If the memory turns out to be false does that mean that Christ was not really present and also a product of her imagination? Also, how do we explain the enormous change in her as she received Christ's healing and His peace? For me, this issue brings up the validity of the Theophostic process as I don't believe that Christ would confirm a lie and if the memory is not true then her seeing and hearing from Christ can't be true. Can you help me with this dilemma?

My response:

There are many levels to the questions that you have asked. I will try to respond to it one level at a time. First you prefaced your question with, "As you well know, there is much controversy over recovered memories and their validity." Actually, I do not believe that there is that much true controversy. Without a doubt, there are some people who are making much to do about it with some validity, but the number of people who are not raising this urgent concern is much greater. From what I can see, the false memory debate is not that prominent in the greater populous of the mental health community. Nevertheless, It is always important that people avoid practices that might lead to implanting information into people's minds. Theophostic Prayer Ministry teaches avoidance of doing this relentlessly.

Though it may sound surprising to some, I am in agreement in many ways with those who are having the most discussion in this area. In principle, what they are saying for the most part about memory is true. Where I have trouble is where people want to make Theophostic Prayer Ministry guilty of implanting false memory when in fact we "overkill" on helping people not to do such. I agree with them that memory is a fragile science and must be dealt with very carefully. I also agree that not everything that people report as memory is valid. I agree that where "false memory" is in fact present it needs to be exposed and that all memory needs to be handled with great caution and care. I am very clear about this in the new revised Basic seminar Manual. However, an imbalance occurs when people bring judgment and scrutiny upon the whole field of ministry/counseling based upon a few isolated incidents. (I say "few isolated" based upon the thousands of ministry/counseling session occurring around the world and the small percentage of actual reported cases that have suggested the existence of "false memory.") Does this mean that we should not concern ourselves with the possibility of people surfacing false information? Not at all, it is very important that people differentiate between what is the truth concerning what they have remembered and what is not. However, to bring judgment or undo question on an enormous number of ministry/counseling sessions based upon a few isolated cases is not reasonable. This would be like bringing into question the entire medical community over the bad practice of a few negligent doctors.

However, knowing what is true and what may be distorted is not always an easy thing to accomplish. In spite of this, if one would read the guidelines of this ministry approach he would discover we do everything we can to encourage the prevention of this happening. We strongly urge people to avoid any practice that might result in someone believing something that was not true. This does not minimize the few cases where false information was present in a ministry/ counseling session but it does eliminate Theophostic Prayer Ministry as being a cause. Even one false memory that results in a false accusation or disruption in relationship is too many. We must continually strive to do effective ministry and avoid any practice that might result in such outcomes.

You go on to ask, " If the memory turns out to be false does that mean that Christ was not really present and also a product of her imagination?" Based upon what I have just said, it appears that the Lord can and will reveal truth in the context of a memory that is not totally accurate in all detail since no memory is totally accurate in all respects. Jesus can and does reveal truth to us concerning our lie-based interpretations in the context of our memory (even when what our brain has contrived is inaccurate.) When I say lie-based interpretation I am referring to how I interpreted the event that I remember. A memory is the sum total of all aspects of what my brain recorded during the time of the event. My recollection of the event at a later date is not just this data but may also include aspects from other events as well. There is also "fading" element that occurs in memory retention. My memory may indeed fade and distort over time. With all this said, Theophostic Prayer Ministry is focused on the lie-based interpretation that is embedded in this memory context and not the memory itself.

For example, if my parents divorced when I was six years old I may interpret this event as being my fault. I might believe that if I had been a good boy, then they would have not fought so much and Daddy would have not left. The memory is "my parents fighting and Daddy leaving home", but it is my interpretation that is giving me trouble. My memory concerning the details of the divorce is probably inaccurate in many regards. However, it is not the memory of the event that is causing me to feel guilty, hate myself and struggle in relationships. The source of this emotional pain is in the interpretation of the event and not the event itself. Jesus can show up in the context of what I remember (even though it is inaccurate) and reveal truth concerning the false interpretation I am harboring in this memory context. His presence does not validate or invalidate the recorded memory. The memory is merely the container that is the basis for the lie-based interpretation I hold.

You asked several additional specific questions. The next one was, "If Christ was able to be present in her memory of abuse does that confirm the memory?" I have never had a session where Jesus confirmed the validity of the memory itself. I honestly do not believe He will ever do this. For Him to validate a memory would require Him to provide the "total" picture of the event of which my mind does not even contain. It appears that the Lord is not so concerned with the validity of what has been remembered as He is in the falsehood that has been embraced. As is taught in the Basic Training, it is the lies believed that are causing the emotional pain and not the memory itself. The truth is, all memories have some measure of inaccuracy. No one remembers without some measure of inconsistency. My memory is what my brain recorded based upon what came in through my five senses from my particular viewpoint and perspective. It is very possible that my memory is skewed in some part or fashion. However, within this context I also have embraced interpretations about what I believe may have happened resulting in "lie-based thinking". The Lord can come into my memory (my brains recorded information) even though it may not be totally accurate in all details and can still bring renewal to my false interpretations thus resulting in peace. His revealing truth to my lie-based thinking does not validate the accuracy of what I remember as far as what actually happened (since all memories lack complete accuracy) but rather dispels the false interpretations that I came up with based upon what I remember having happened.

You went on to ask, "how do we explain the enormous change in her as she received Christ's healing and His peace?" My conclusion is if what she has experienced is genuine transformation then it is due to the Lord replacing the falsehood (interpretations) with His truth not in his validating the memory itself. Even if what I believed may have happened did not, the emotional duress is connected to the lie-based thinking and not the memory content. Christ can reveal truth into my interpretation even if what I believed happened may not have occurred. This does not mean that we should not trouble ourselves with discovering the truth of the event. We must to the best of our abilities help the person to know the truth of what has happened to them if this I what they desire to do. I say "if this is what they desire to do" in that I have worked with people who were not interested in doing this and some who even forbade me from intervening. Free will and personal choice always comes first in this process.

Replacing false interpretations does not have anything to do with the memory content. Even if I come to believe that what I remembered was in fact not ever a reality, it does not change the fact that my embracing a falsehood (interpretation) was what caused me emotional pain. The false interpretation and what I believe may or may not have happened are two separate issues. It is also possible that if this person had genuine emotional pain that it was rooted in some real event that she has not been able to access but yet was able to identify the false interpretation (the source of the emotion al pain.)

You ended your question with the statement, "For me, this issue brings up the validity of the Theophostic process as I don't believe that Christ would confirm a lie and if the memory is not true then her seeing and hearing from Christ can't be true." I agree that Christ would not confirm a lie, but, based upon the explanation above, I disagree with:

1. The assumption that the Lord's silence regarding the validity of the memory content is equal to Him confirming a lie.
2. The conclusion that the experience with Christ is therefore invalid because the memory content is not validated by the Lord
If "the Lord" were to show up in a false memory (an event that never occurred) and proclaim or validate the memory as true when in fact it was false then this would be demonic and not the Holy Spirit since this would be a lie. It is not uncommon for a person to report seeing or hearing from a deceiving spirit and think that it was the Lord when in fact it was not. The role of the TPM facilitator is to help the person discern when such is the case. As I said earlier, I have never known of the Holy Spirit to validate what the person reports in his or her memory. In my opinion, this is not the equivalent of Him confirming a lie. The memory is what it is, a container of information recorded by the brain from the person's specific perspective. In your stated case above the memory could be a fabrication implanted by an unwary counselor. Nevertheless, it became this person's "container" in which false interpretation was resident. This woman needs to do investigative work to determine what is true. At the same time she should be encouraged to enjoy the release, freedom and peace that she has received through your ministry with her.

In the newly revised Basic Seminar Manual I give much attention to helping a person confirm the validity of the memories he or she surfaces. I also have a section in the last chapter that I have included here. Some of this will be redundant of what I have just said. I would encourage you to look there for further information. I hope that this discussion helps.

Excerpt from Basic Manual.

Does Jesus' willingness to reveal truth in the memory not validate the accuracy of the memory? Would Jesus not reveal to the person the memory as false if indeed it was?

There are several things to consider in this question. First, the presence of Christ in a memory does not validate anything concerning what happened or did not happen in the actual event. When the Lord reveals His truth in a memory, it is in relation to the lie the person is holding and not to the memory itself. The person is held in emotional bondage due to the lies he or she believes and not because of the memory. These lies will be the person's interpretation of what he or she believed happened and not necessarily what may or may not have actually occurred. This is a very important concept to understand. For example, I have ministered to many people who report memories that would be identified as Satanic Ritual Abuse. I do not believe that everything that is being reported by these people is accurate by any means. The very nature of what is being reported lends itself to fabrication and implanting of falsehood. If even a portion of what has been reported is accurate (which I believe it is), then the people doing the evil deeds would want there to be all manner of falsehood, mistaken identities and fabrication present. Logic would say that falsehood would intentionally be put into the person's mind by the perpetrator so that the person would never be able to sort out the truth. Nevertheless, in these memories, as with all other lie-based memories, it is not the accuracy of the details in the event that has the person in emotional bondage, but rather the false interpretation that the person is holding. Jesus enters into the memory container no matter how misconstrued the memory may be and addresses the lies that the person believes. He is not there to validate the accuracy of the memory, but to expose and expel the lies.

Second, validation of the complete accuracy of the memory content will be difficult even with corroboration of witnesses and supporting physical evidence. What can be hoped for is that the essence of what happened can be verified. If a group of people all watch the same event, their separate reports will vary in detail. The same is true for all memory. Validate to the degree that you can but do ministry and encourage people to embrace the pain that they carry and find truth in relation to the lies they are holding.

One final word here. As I have already said in an earlier section, Jesus will not reveal memory content or tell a person what happened in the event apart from the person's willful choosing. If He did otherwise He would have to violate the free will of the person. Also, be especially careful when a "Jesus" shows up and accuses someone in the "memory" of a wrongful act. I had a lady once write me a letter sharing how "Jesus" had told her that she had been sexually abused by her father when she was a baby. She said had no real memory recall of the event but took at face value what "Jesus" had said. She said that the "revelation" had come in the context of some very bad feelings that were stirred up in her during a ministry session. I encouraged her to go back to this place in her mind where she received this message and try to feel the emotions that where attached to this "revelation." I also asked her to consider the possibility that this "Jesus" was an imposter. Later it was discovered that the message was demonic and the emotions around the "revelation" where connected to a real place in a conscious memory that she did not initially want to look at. As she was willing to visit the real memory place holding the emotional pain and find truth and renewal, the other "revelation" was easily dismissed along with its messenger.

 
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