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One chapter - exerpted in Cosmopolitan Magazine, is here:
Copyright 1995 Information Access Co., a division of Ziffq
Communications Co.; Copyright 1995 Hearst Corporation Cosmopolitan
SECTION: Vol. 218 ; No. 4 ; Pg. 248; ISSN: 0010-9541
LENGTH: 5583 words
HEADLINE: Truth or invention: exploring the repressed memory syndrome; excerpt from 'The Myth of Repressed Memory'
BYLINE: Loftus, Elizabeth ; Ketcham, Katherine
It all began in a room bright with sunshine. Eileen Franklin, a beautiful twenty-nine-year-old woman with long red hair, cuddled her two-year-old son inher arms. Her daughter and two playmates sat on the carpeted floor at her feet, and as Eileen looked into her daughter's eyes, the memory returned, and Eileen Franklin's carefully ordered world plunged into chaos.
In the vivid scene that flashed into her mind, Eileen saw her best friend, eight-year-old Susan Nason, sitting on a rock in a wooded setting. Behind her, silhouetted by the sun, a man held a heavy rock above his head. Lifting her hands to protect herself as the man moved toward her, Susan glanced at Eileen, her wide eyes conveying her terror and helplessness. Seconds later, the man's arms came down with tremendous force. The rock crushed Susan's skull, and Eileen covered her ears against the sound of bones shattering.
In that burning flash of memory, Eileen believed she had made contact with the forgotten past. A memory she had buried for two decades, almost two thirds of her life, had returned without warning or premonition to reveal the shocking truth: She had witnessed her best friend's murder. But the flashback disclosed another shocking fact: The man who murdered Susan Nason was George Franklin, Eileen's father.
For months, Eileen tried to avoid the memory, but it kept returning and gaining detail and precision. In November 1989, ten months after her memory first returned, Eileen decided to tell her husband, who insisted that they call the police.
On November 25, 1989, Eileen Franklin sat down in her living room with detectives Morse and Cassandro to relate the astonishing details of a playful outing that ended in rape and murder. Her memory was perfectly formed, filledwith colors, sounds, textures, emotions, and word-for-word conversations. As she added detail to detail, faltering only occasionally, the detectives exchanged looks. As amazing as it seemed, this woman appeared to be telling the truth.
Her story began early on a Monday morning--September 22, 1969--when she was in the fourth grade. George Franklin was driving Eileen and her sister Janice to school in the family's beige Volkswagen van when Eileen spotted Susan Nason. She asked her father if they could give Susan a ride. Eileen recalled that when Susan jumped into the van, her father asked Janice to get out.
George Franklin drove Eileen and Susan around for a while and, at one point, pulled up to the front of their elementary school as if to drop them off. But instead, he announced that they were going to play hooky. They continued driving around, eventually heading up into the hills on Half Moon Bay Road and pulling off the highway to stop in a wooded area. Eileen and Susan played outside in the brush and trees for a while and then climbed back into the van. They ran back and forth from the bucket seats in the front to the back of the van, where they bounced on a plywood platform bed covered with a mattress.
George Franklin climbed into the van and started playing with them on the bcd. Eileen was in the front scat when she saw her father climb on top of Susan. "My dad pinned Susan down," Eileen told the detectives, "with her legshanging off the edge of the bed, up toward the front seat, and he held her two arms up with both of his hands and with his elbows straddling either side of... her body, he began to, um ... to rub back and forth on her, in a humping motion ... and, um, he continued to do this, and I walked from the front seat back to where they were, and I got really scared when I looked directly at Susan." When her father pulled up Susan's dress, Eileen saw "something white underneath," perhaps a slip or an undershirt.
Eileen rolled herself up into a ball next to the bed until her father was finished with Susan. Then she and Susan, who was crying now, got out of the van. Susan walked over to "a point or a peak," where she sat down. Eileen stayed next to the car and picked up a leaf that had fallen off a tree. When she looked up, she saw the sun streaming through the trees and her father standing above Susan, holding a rock above his head, his right arm and leg forward. Susan looked up, then quickly glanced at Eileen and brought both hands to her head. The rock came crashing down. Eileen screamed when she heard the sound of rock crushing bone.
Then her father grabbed her and knocked her to the ground, pushing her face into the leaves, telling her that he would kill her if she ever told anyone, that no one would believe her anyway--they would take her away and put her in a mental home. When she stopped screaming, he pulled her up and sat her on his knee. He told her to forget all about it; it was over. He took a spade or shovel out of the van and began digging. With Eileen's help, he pulled the mattress out of the car, swearing at her for her clumsiness. She climbed into the van, put her head down, and curled up next to the seat. The sliding door closed, and they drove off. She begged her father not to leave Susan because she would be afraid, and she would get cold. But he kept driving, ignoring her frantic pleas. When they got home, Eileen went straight to her room and climbed into bed.
After she finished telling her story, the detectives questioned her closely, and she answered with more astonishing details. Were there a lot of trees around? It was "moderately dense," she answered, with three narrow trees in a "zigzagged row" and more trees over to her right. What kind of a road had they been driving on? A dirt road, unpaved. Hadn't she mentioned something about a ring in one of her phone calls to the police? Yes, Susan wore a "silver ring with a stone in it... she had her hands up to her head" when the rock came crashing down.
The detectives left Eileen Franklin's house convinced that she was telling the truth. On November 28, 1989, George Franklin was placed under arrest for the murder of Susan Nason. The only evidence against him was his daughter's memory.
When Doug Horngrad, George Franklin's defense attorney, called me in the summer of 1990 and asked if I would be willing to testify as an expert witness in the case, I remember thinking, This is the most bizarre story I have ever encountered. Where was the evidence? In murder cases, you can usually depend on some kind of hard evidence --a bloodstain, a semen smear, the murder weapon--or a damning array of circumstantial evidence, But this case rested solely on the credibility of a woman's memory for an event she had witnessed twenty years earlier, when she was just eight years old--a memory that had apparently been buried without a trace and was only recently unearthed.
But if Eileen's memory was false, where did those colorful and essentially accurate details come from?
"Did she reveal facts to the police that could only have been known to an eyewitness?" I asked Horngrad.
"Every detail she gave the detectives can be found in the newspaper articles that appeared at the time of Susan's disappearance and two months later when her body was discovered," he said. He agreed to send me the newspaper clippings and Eileen's preliminary statement so that I could compare the details in her statement with the facts reported in the local media.
The prosecutors were arguing that Eileen knew details about the murder that she could not possibly have known unless she was an eyewitness. If the defense could prove that the critical details in her story --specifically, the rock, the ring, and the mattress--were widely reported in the media and thus available to anyone who read the papers, watched television, or listened to others who knew about the murder, then Eileen wasn't giving the police anything they didn't already know.
The newspaper articles were revealing. The details Eileen described in her preliminary statement matched almost perfectly with the facts reported about the murder. Three months after Susan disappeared, her body was discovered under a mattress in dense underbrush at the bottom of a steep embankment on a highway pull off above Crystal Springs Reservoir. Her skull had been crushed, and traces of blood appeared on a three-pound rock found at the site. She wore a blue print dress, white socks, and brown saddle shoes. A silver brocade ring that Susan wore on her right hand was smashed. and the stone was missing; it was later discovered by a search team.
These facts were reported in newspaper articles published when Susan's body was discovered. But several of these widely reported details were not completely accurate. Susan actually wore two rings: a silver Indian ring on her right hand and a gold ring with a topaz on her left. One newspaper account confused the two rings, stating that the silver ring contained the stone; twenty years later, in her preliminary statement to detectives Morse and Cassandro, Eileen made the same error, recalling a crushed ring containing a small stone on Susan's right hand.
Another point of confusion was the mattress covering the body. One newspaperreport mentioned a mattress, while another correctly identified it as a box spring (which, it turned out, was too big to fit in the back of George Franklin's van). By the time of the preliminary hearing, six months after her original statement to detectives Morse and Cassandro, Eileen changed her description from a "mattress" to a "thing": "He was crouched over Susan's body, putting rocks on her. I thought I saw him put this thing over her body."
In the preliminary hearing, Eileen also changed the time of the murder from midmorning to late afternoon. George Franklin could not have picked up Susan Nason in the morning, as Eileen first reported, because Susan had gone to school that morning. She came home from school sometime after 3:00 P.M., said hello to her mother, who was sewing a dress for her upcoming birthday party, and asked if she could walk to a classmate's house to return some tennis shoes she had left at school. Susan left her home around 3:15 P.M. Several neighbors remember seeing her walking along on the sidewalk.
About 4:00 or 4:30 P.M., Margaret Nason began to worry about her daughter, who was always so responsible and careful to inform her mother about her whereabouts (and who never missed her afternoon snack). Margaret rode her bike around the neighborhood, looking for Susan, and as time slipped by and her daughter was nowhere to be found, she became frantic. Around 8:00 P.M., the Nasons called the police.
Sometime after her initial interview with Detectives Morse and Cassandro, Eileen altered the time of day to fit with the known facts about the murder. The more she thought about her father's silhouette with the sun behind him, she explained, the more she realized that the murder could not have taken place in the morning. Susan must have been murdered late in the afternoon, Eileen decided, because in her mind, she could see the sun slanting through the trees at a low angle. While she claimed later that her memory was modified in late November or December 1989, she didn't inform the prosecutor about the alteration until May 9, 1990, just two weeks before the preliminary hearing.
Eileen also changed her mind about Janice being in the van. She originally told the detectives that Janice was in the Volkswagen van which her father stopped to pick up Susan, and that when Susan climbed in, George Franklin made Janice get out. But in her May 9 statement to the prosecutor, Eileen again revised her memory, claiming that she remembered seeing Janice in an open field near the place where her further stopped to pick up Susan.
All these additions and subtractions in Eileen's account of the murder confirm what researchers know to be true about the malleability of memory. Over time, memory changes, and the more time that passes, the more changes and distortions one can expect. As new events intervene, the mind incorporates the additional facts and details, and the original memory gradually metamorphoses.
Some of Eileen's memory seemed absolutely normal to me. She clearly remembered her best friend, and she never forgot that Susan had been brutally murdered. But what happened over the next twenty years to those two basic, unforgettable facts? It is at least plausible that Eileen incorporated into her memory facts gleaned from newspaper and television reports and added more details picked up from casual conversations, creating a story that made sense. According to this theory, Eileen's mind took the scattered facts of a senseless murder, mixed them with her fantasies and fears, tossed in rumors and innuendo, and arrived at the mistaken conclusion that she had been in the woods watching when her father raped and then murdered her best friend.
The prosecutors argued that this elaborate "memory" was an accurate version of the past, and they invoked the mechanism of repression to explain why Eileen forgot about her part in the murder and then twenty years later recalled exactly what happened. Changes and inconsistencies in Eileen's story should not be construed as evidence that the memory itself was flawed, they reasoned, but taken as simple proof that this was an old but reliable memory in need of a few repairs.
What triggered the flashbacks? In August 1989, Eileen confided in her brother that she was in therapy and had been hypnotized. The next day, she told her brother that while she was under hypnosis she had visualized her father killing Susan Nason. In September 1989, Eileen told her mother about the memory, confiding that it had come back to her during a hypnotherapy session.
Just a few months later, Eileen had a different story to tell. After her father was arrested and charged with the murder, Eileen called her brother to ask if he had talked to the defense team. When he admitted that he had, she quickly changed her story about being hypnotized and asked for his help in confirming the new version. The memory had come back to her in a regular therapy session. she explained, she had never been hypnotized. Please, she begged her brother, if the police call, don't mention anything about hypnosis.
In the preliminary hearing, held in May 1990, Eileen admitted that she lied to her brother and her mother about being hypnotized. She had never been hypnotized, she said, and only told her family that hypnosis was involved because she wanted them to believe her. Apparently, she had believed at the time that hypnosis would add credibility to the story.
Was Eileen's mental picture of the murder a flashback, a dream, or a hypnotically induced memory? None of the above, the prosecution insisted. It was a repressed memory, pure and simple. Repressed means that the memory was not simply forgotten, nor was it deliberately kept secret. Because of the traumatic nature of the murder, Eileen's mind reacted by removing the memory from her consciousness. The memory disappeared without a trace and was sealed off from consciousness for two decades.
More than half a million copies have been sold of The Courage to Heal: A Guide for Women Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse (called the bible of the incest-recovery movement). In the preface, coauthor Ellen Bass notifies readers that she is not "academically educated as a psychologist" and "none of what is presented here is based on psychological theories." Having offered that caveat, the authors go on to give specific advice regarding repressed memories: "If you are unable to remember any specific instances of abuse . . . but still have a feeling that something abusive happened to you, it probably did." This gross generalization is followed by a section titled "But I Don't Remember," in which the reader is told that her feelings can be taken as proof that "something happened" even if the memories have not yet surfaced.
As I read through this and other popular incest-recovery books, I found it difficult to escape the conclusion that if something feels real, it is real, and hang the fact that you don't have any memories (let alone proof). Feelings and emotions are what count, but the feelings are important because they function as symptoms indicating that somewhere in the unconscious a memory of abuse lies dormant, waiting to be discovered.
Popular books rarely warn the reader that it might be advisable to seek verification or outside corroboration of derepressed memories. In fact, the strong theme which emerges in the popular literature is that requests for proof only revictimize the patient. If the patient expresses doubts about her memories, the therapist is encouraged to identify the events as real and convince the patient of the historical reality of the abuse. No matter how outlandish the memories or how serious and potentially damaging the accusations arising from these memories, the survivor is told that she is not responsible for providing proof or validation of her memories. As the authors of The Courage to Heal write: "If your memories of the abuse are still fuzzy, it is important to realize that you may be grilled for details.... You are not responsible for proving that you were abused."
The problem for both the accuser and the accused is how to determine whether a recovered memory is a reasonably accurate representation of past reality, a mixture of facts and fiction, or a complete fabrication.
Dr. Lenore Terr was scheduled to testify as an expert witness for the prosecution in the Franklin trial. I was curious to see how this psychiatrist and clinical professor who works with traumatized children (she became famous for her work with the kidnapped children of Chowchilla, California) would explain the concept of repression. I ordered her recently published book Too Scared to Cry and read it from cover to cover. What I found surprised me.
While I couldn't find a definition or description of the term repression anywhere in the book, I did find a definition for suppression, which Dr. Terr characterized as "entirely conscious and thus not a defense mechanism." By implication, then, was repression (defined by Freud and accepted by most modern clinicians as a defense mechanism) entirely unconscious? It didn't seem that way. Dr. Terr clearly and consistently stated that sudden, fast events overwhelm a child's defenses and create "brilliant, overly clear verbal memories" that are "far clearer, more detailed, and more long lasting than ... ordinary memory." Only when a child is subjected to continuing trauma or terror are the defense mechanisms stimulated, interfering with memory formation, storage, and retrieval.
How did this trauma theory apply to Eileen Franklin's memory? It seemed clear to me that Eileen's experience would fall in the "sudden, fast event" category of trauma that, according to Dr. Terr, would leave a permanent and indelible imprint in her mind. Dr. Terr had quite a lot to say about the nature of traumatic memory, and her theories seemed to confirm that if Eileen Franklin had witnessed her best friend's murder, she would have remembered it.
More confused than ever, I called defense attorney Doug Horngrad. "Do you have any idea how Dr. Terr plans to explain away her own recently published theories about permanent, indelible memories in traumatized children?" I asked. He did have an idea, for Dr. Terr had recently refined her theory. In a soon-to-be-published scholarly paper, she delineated two distinct types of psychic traumas: Type I trauma and Type II trauma. Type I trauma was a short, single event or experience; this allegedly led to brilliant, accurate, and indelible memories. Type II trauma was caused by multiple incidents or continuing, ongoing events. Repressed memory entered the picture in this second type of traumatic experience for, Dr. Terr theorizes, children subjected to repeated abuses would learn to anticipate the abuse and defend themselves by dissociating and repressing the memory. In this way, they avoided the pain of remembering the ongoing trauma and discovered a way to function "normally" in a perpetually stressful and abusive environment.
The prosecution, Horngrad continued, would attempt to match these theories to Eileen Franklin's story. They would argue that the single traumatic event in Eileen's life (witnessing Susan Nason's murder) took place within an ongoing, everyday series of traumatic events involving physical, emotional, and sexual abuse in the Franklin household. Prosecutors were lining up witnesses who would testify that George Franklin had abused his wife and children, this evidence would create a plausible scenario to explain why Eileen had repressed the memory of her best friend's murder.
I took the stand on Tuesday, November 20, 1990, and for two hours discussed my experiments investigating memory distortion. I explained to the court that memory fades with time, losing detail and accuracy; as time goes by, the weakened memories are increasingly vulnerable to "post-event information"--facts, ideas, inferences, and opinions that become available to a witness after an event is completely over. I told the jury about a study I'd conducted in which subjects watched a film of a robbery involving a shooting and were then exposed to a television account of the event that contained erroneous details. When asked to recall what happened during the robbery, many subjects incorporated the erroneous details from the television report into their account. Once these details were inserted into a person's mind through the technique of exposure to post-event information, they were adopted as the truth and protected as fiercely as the "real," original details. Subjects typically resisted any suggestion that their richly detailed memories might have been flawed or contaminated and asserted with great confidence that they saw what their revised and adapted memories told them they saw.
Elaine Tipton, the prosecutor, attempted to persuade the jury that my studies on memory distortion had little or nothing to do with Eileen Franklin's repressed memory. You study normal memory and forgetting, but so what? her questions implied. What does that have to do with this extraordinary repressed
Tipton made the point that Eileen Franklin's extraordinary memory didn't have to abide by the rules of ordinary memory. Because Eileen Franklin's memory was repressed, apparently it could do whatever it wanted to do. Scientists couldn't study it or understand it because repression is too complex and mysterious, part of the unconscious and unknowable processes of the human mind.
As I sat in the witness box answering the prosecutor's questions, I began to realize that repression was a philosophical entity, requiring a leap of faith in order to believe. For those willing to take that leap, no amount of "scientific" discussion would persuade them otherwise. The courtroom was awash in credulity, the jurors' and spectators' opinions seemed predetermined, and my carefully researched scientific studies were just an inconsequential detour on the road to confirming Eileen Franklin's memory and finding George Franklin guilty of murder.
Nine days later, on November 29, 1990, jury deliberations began. The jury reached a verdict the next day: George Franklin was guilty of the crime of first-degree murder.
I have little doubt that Eileen Franklin believes with every cell of her being that her father murdered Susan Nason. But I believe there is a very real possibility that the whole concoction was spun not from solid facts but from the vaporous breezes of wishes, dreams, fears, desires. Eileen's mind, operating independently of reality, went about its business of collecting ambiguities and inconsistencies and wrapping them up into a sensible package, revealing to her in one blinding moment of insight a coherent picture of the past that was nevertheless completely and utterly false. Eileen's story is her truth, but I believe it is a truth that never happened.
When patients describe scenes from their childhood in rich and realistic detail, with powerful emotions that are appropriate to the event being relived, therapists (and any others who happen to be listening) are understandably impressed. The intense emotional expressions, the physical indications of fear and panic, and the abundance of vivid detail convince the listener that something did, in fact, happen. How could anyone invent a memory and then feign such rage, fear, horror, and grief? Why would people put themselves through that kind of emotional anguish?
But even if therapists are willing to accept the possibility of a fabricated memory, they are faced with a distressing double bind. Compassionate and conscientious clinicians work hard to create a safe and trusting atmosphere for patients to express their emotions and tell the truth about their past. In fact, a therapist's skill can be measured by his or her ability to elicit painful, deeply buried material. How can clinicians then betray their patients' confidence and trust (and call into question their own interrogation methods) by questioning whether the memories and emotions being elicited are verifiably true?
It is not difficult to understand why therapists are so impressed by the emotional anguish expressed by their patients when they recall memories of abuse, nor is it hard to deduce why they are reluctant to disbelieve, question, or seek outside corroboration for repressed memories of sexual abuse. They fear destroying trust, impairing the therapeutic relationship, and perhaps even driving the patient out of therapy.
But perhaps the most compelling reason to believe these stories of recovered memories is that not believing is edged with painful complexities and ambiguities. We want to believe--in fact we need to believe--Eileen Franklin's story because the belief in her memory affirms that our own minds work in an orderly, efficient way, taking in information, sorting it, filing it, and calling it back later in full and vivid detail. In a chaotic world, where so much is out of control, we need to believe that our minds, at least, are under our command.
If our minds are capable of feeding us tall tales from the past with such intense, hallucinatory detail that it never occurs to us to question them, where is the boundary between truth and lie, reality and fantasy, sanity and madness?
The boundary, I believe, is permeable and unguarded, and we cross it all the time in our dreams, desires, and imaginations. Memory is the vehicle by which we transport ourselves from reality to fantasy and back again, as many times as it takes to spin coherent and colorful stories from the dry straw of real life. Our memories tell us stories, and we listen, enthralled. We want to know what happened in our past, we need our questions answered, we seek to resolve our uncertainty and ambiguity. Memory, our most loyal and faithful servant, complies with our wishes.
Why did Eileen Franklin come to believe that she saw her father murder her best friend? On a more practical level, what possible motivations would she have for sending her father to jail for a murder he didn't commit?
In her book, Sins of the Father, Eileen provides some answers to these questions. She describes her childhood as extremely violent. "My father's beatings and the mean way in which he spoke to us were terrifying," Eileen wrote. She remembered that her younger brother George, Jr., told her that he feared their father so much, he kept a baseball bat under his bed for protection. Her mother endured both physical and emotional abuse, and her sister Janice claimed that she was repeatedly sexually abused by their father.
For most of her childhood and adolescence, Eileen denied that her father was abusing her, but after years of therapy, she eventually recalled several specific incidents of abuse. In one particularly disturbing recollection, she remembered being physically and sexually abused by her father in the bathtub when she was five. As Eileen discussed her emerging memories with her therapist, he explained that the human mind is, indeed, capable of burying a painful or traumatic event in the unconscious. When the time is right, the memory will surface; as the memory emerges into consciousness, it will gradually lose its power to hurt. The ability to bring back to consciousness long-buried memories, Eileen learned in therapy, is a crucial step in healing and recovery.
A few weeks after the bathtub memory returned, Eileen recovered another memory of an event that occurred when she was eight or nine years old. She was in a strange house with her father and another man. "I was on something like a table. My father was holding down my left shoulder with one hand, his other hand over my mouth. I saw the face of a black man. I heard laughing. I felt a horrible, searing pain in my lower body, I tried to scream but couldn't because of my father's hand."
For six months, Eileen believed she had been raped by an unknown black man. Only when her mother suggested to her that the rapist might have been a family friend did Eileen's mind begin to reconstruct the scene, changing the assailant from a black man she did not know to a white man she knew very well.
But no matter how these memories were originally pieced together, taken apart, and reassembled, they are emotionally devastating, full of the grief and rage of an adult woman looking back at her childhood and remembering unspeakable tortures suffered at the hands of her own father. The memory most important to Eileen, however, may have been created in her adulthood. Her daughter, Jessica, was two years old. George Franklin came to visit, and Eileen left him alone in the living room with her daughter. When she returned, she found her father holding the child on the coffee table, carefully scrutinizing her sexual organs, pushing the labia open with his finger. I was stunned. What are you doing?' was all I could say."
Certainly her pain was intense. her anxiety overwhelming. For years, she had struggled to make sense of a violent and unhappy childhood that included the senseless murder of her best friend. As an adolescent, she was troubled and depressed, dropping out of high school, experimenting with drugs and prostitution, attempting suicide. In her twenties, she married a controlling and domineering man, and for many years, she endured a loveless marriage. The pattern, it seemed, had established itself, and she could not escape the intolerable and relentless anguish of victimhood.
Her rage and grief sought a focus and an outlet. In therapy, she learned that her symptoms--her recurring fears, the flashing images, the returning memories--were clear indications of post-traumatic stress. She was told that she had every right to her feelings of victimhood, for she was simply repeating the self-destructive patterns laid down in her childhood.
Her therapist's oft-repeated words echoed in her mind: She had every right to feel angry and grief stricken. Only when she accepted her emotions as real and valid would she be free, finally, to express herself, to let go of her childhood hurts, to become her true self.
Given Eileen's rage and grief, perhaps we can begin to understand the culminating scene that took place in her living room, when Jessica was six, years old and suddenly turned to her mother, her expression quizzical. As Eileen remembered the event, she looked into her daughter's eyes and was struck by the child's startling resemblance to eight-year-old Susan Nason. The two girls, one dead for twenty years and the other very much alive, could have been sisters.
One brutal image overlapped another, and in that shocking instant of recognition, flesh began to creep over the skeletal remains, and Susan briefly came back to life.
The adhesive connecting one image to another was supplied by Eileen's guilt, anger, fear, and--perhaps most important--her desperate need to protect her own children. She was not able to protect her best friend--"I could not protect her; I could not stop him. I did not know that it was going to happen"--but as a twenty-nine-year-old mother, she could, at the very least, save her own children.
Was it possible that her mind created this memory in a desperate attempt to control an uncontrollable past and give some meaning to her own troubled life?
In the final two pages of her book, Eileen described the anguish created by the unearthed memory. "I look in the mirror and compare the face I see with photos taken of me before the recollection.... All the joy has left my eyes."
"All the joy has left," but in its place, Eileen has gained a sense of control and power over her father.
And so, perhaps, Eileen's mind created the memory in an attempt to destroy her father's power over her and live the remainder of her life free of fear. With the inventive powers of memory as her weapon, she was able to punish herfather for his cruel, abusive treatment of her family and achieve mastery over her past. But not without cost. For once the floodgates were opened, the terrifying images rushed forth, a nonstop deluge. No safe haven presented itself, no end was in sight. "I want to flee, to lose the memory, but my mind runs as fast as I do. There is nowhere to go that I can leave my mind behind."
Eileen Franklin's "memories" have claimed her, body and soul.