Home > Psychology, Social Commentary > False Allegations, False Memories and False Remorse: Meredith Maran

False Allegations, False Memories and False Remorse: Meredith Maran

Meredith Maran self-identifies as a journalist, author and feminist. Twenty years ago, she believed she recovered repressed memories of childhood sexual abuse at the hands of her father because—get this—she was having dreams about his hands. She never confronted her father, but instead cut him out of her life and wrote books about it. She now has a new book, My Lie: A True Story of False Memory, in which she recants all of her previous memories and allegations and says she feels ’embarrassed’ by her actions and for the pain she caused her father and the rest of her family. 

Back in the 1980s, Maran states she was swept away by the Salem Witch Trial-esque hysteria of repressed sexual abuse memories spawned by the book, The Courage to Heal (Bass and Davis, 1988). Bass and Davis infamously claimed, “If you think it happened, it happened,” which is a prime example of emotional based reasoning. Feelings are not facts. If an individual doesn’t reality check his or her feelings, it almost always causes problems. Additionally, automatically accepting one’s feelings as facts is at the core of many personality disorders and general hysteria.

Today, Maran claims it was the confluence of the Bass and Davis book, her recently estranged same sex partner’s own dubious memories of childhood molestation and satanic rituals (that Maran believes are also fabrications) and her immersion in observing therapy sessions with incest survivors and interviewing molestors that led her to make such horrific claims against her own father. [*Read more in Salon’s interview: “My Lie:” Why I falsely accused my father. The comments are actually far better than the grapefruits the interviewer lobbed to Ms Maran.]

The interview is pretty much what you might expect; Ms Maran believed she was a hero when she falsely accused her father of molesting her in the most public fashion possible and she believes she’s a hero now for saying, ‘Whoopsy. My bad.‘ It’s unclear if Ms Maran would have reached this realization had she not separated from her former lover who played a large part in inspiring Ms Maran’s false beliefs.

Here’s what I found to be the most disturbing excerpt from Maran’s interview:

In the middle of the book, while you are still deeply in the mind-set of being molested, there’s a notion you agree with that if one innocent man goes to prison, but it stops a hundred molesters, it’s worth it. Do you still agree with that notion?

I’m fairly close to a man still in prison, and really believe he is innocent. I know how he’s suffered. I know he’s 80 years old and in ill health. He’s spent 20 years in prison, for no reason. If every elementary school child is now taught how to protect themselves from sexual abuse — and even more to the point, some father or preschool teacher who feels the urge to molest a child will be inhibited from doing so because they think there are guys still in jail for doing that — but innocent people are in prison, do I have to make that choice? It is a Sophie’s choice kind of thing. Would I allow an innocent man to sit in prison if it meant keeping children safe?

So would you make that choice?

I think so.

No words.

This attitude calls to mind the deliberate false abuse and false violence claims made against men who are torn apart from their children and lose their assets and homes based on nothing more than equally unsubstantiated claims. One wonders if Maran would be okay with that, too.

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  1. February 8, 2014 at 2:57 pm

    I’ve been of the opinion, since the 1980’s, that our family systems have been burnt to the ground and are no longer of value. The act of becoming a male parent is an invitation to disaster. You either get kicked out or accused, sometimes both. The risks so incredibly outweigh the benefits that “the family” is just a broken institution coasting on past greatness.

  2. February 6, 2014 at 2:38 pm

    When I was arrested by the police upon claim by one of my adult daughters (somehow regressive memory) I decided to publish a book about the real facts. Within 14 days of providing a copy to the chief commissioner of police I was advised I was no longer a suspect in the investigation. My wife (not the mother of this daughter) was horrified both by the allegations as well as that I would publish a book, but learned that more than 6 years later it was the best thing I ever could have done. Rather then seeking to hide the allegations I refer to it very often to let people know not to be afraid to challenge false allegations. Not once has a person commented adverse against me since I published my book INSPECTOR-RIKATI® & Fabricated ‘INCEST’ allegations-1st-Ed-DVD. In my book I also urge for a improved system to avoid misconceptions, etc. Because I could prove “facts” it became clear to the police that I couldn’t have been where my daughter claimed I had been as I resided far away. Not every accused can have this kind of evidence to prove they are falsely accused and the system must ensure that any accuser is not allowed to misuse the system being it to try to claim compensation from the government or otherwise. I do view that an accuser must suffer the legal consequences when having fabricated allegations but generally the police will find all kind of excuses to avoid such legal accountability by the accuser. that is why so many false accusations are ongoing! We must protect the victims of abuse but we must also ensure that the system is balanced with proper check and balances to root out false and fabricated allegations to avoid harm to an innocent person. And, where the evidence proves it was a malicious fabricated allegation then the accuser should face a mandatory for at least a 5 years imprisonment.

  3. Stu
    December 3, 2010 at 1:35 am

    I think once it has been established that someone has fabricated an occurence of rape, sexual assault, that person should receive mandatory life in prison with hard labor. I’m being kind here because personally I would hang them, and I’d practically be having an orgasm if I could pull the lever myself. They are worse then murderers. They are the lowest scum ever to walk the earth. I’d have the same rules for people who assist in fabricating evidence. Police, councilers, social workers etc. You make up something in this area….you rot in small concrete cell with no windows for the rest of your life……when your not breaking rocks that is.

  4. Ron
    October 27, 2010 at 5:29 pm

    One of the worst parts of this is despite her retraction many will go to THEIR grave believing this charges are true. Once somebody is given the label “child molester” it can NEVER be fully removed. Even when the charges are proven false.

    My wife & I know an aquantence who has made false charges against her last 3 husbands who were imprisioned on false allegations she made about the husbands & her daughter. She did it to gain advantage in the divorce & take these poor guys to the cleaners. We know her pretty well from a work situation & she is an abusive drunk. In addition the daughter confided to a friend that “mommy made me say those things” All this was presented to the D A’s office but he refused to take action. I don’t know if they just don’t want to admit fault or is afraid if this comes to light he will loose his next election.

    Common sense would say that the D A would have said “we can understand this happening once, maybe even twice, but 3 times? It shows that either
    (1) She is lying & needs to be arrested herself or
    (2) Due to her horrible judgement she has 3 times placed her daughter in terrible danger & her daughter needs to be removed from the home for her own protection.

    I do have faith that eventually the truth will come out. Hopefully before this psycho ruins any more lives. In the meantime if it can be proved do these men have any recourse against her for what she has done?

  5. Cousin Dave
    October 6, 2010 at 8:18 pm

    Hey Dr. T, I’m interested in reading more about the Salem witch trials, but I’ve never found a reference that I really trusted to tell the whole story. Do you know of a good book or Web site that lays it out objectively?

  6. alex
    October 6, 2010 at 4:06 am

    Its sometimes hard to belive how our brain can trick itself with its first class virtual reality, and its a shame that often this can be encouraged or added to by people trying to get the story, conviction etc. and i may be incorrect but wasnt there situations like this during that salem witch trial-esque panic about “satanic ritual abuse”? the brains really an interesting little organ.

    • shrink4men
      October 6, 2010 at 4:05 pm

      Hi Alex,

      Yes, this did happen during the Salem witch trials. The witch trials are about the dangers of mass hysteria, mob rule and taking emotional reasoning at face value rather than looking at the facts. However, this seems to be lost on many as feminist groups co-opted the witch trials to be about misogyny and hatred of women. The facts are:

      1. The Salem witch trials started due to a gaggle of hysterical, attention-seeking teen age girls.
      2. Men were also found guilty and killed; it wasn’t just women. Seven men to be exact (George Jacobs, Sr, George Burroughs, John Willard, John Proctor, Samuel Wardell and Giles Cory) and 13 women.

  7. Nina
    October 4, 2010 at 10:56 pm

    The photo of Meredith Maran seems kind of creepy to me, something about her. I look forward to when another article gets posted and she’s not the first thing I see when I visit this homepage.

    • shrink4men
      October 4, 2010 at 11:14 pm

      Hi Nina,

      I’m working on a new piece and hope to have it done within the next 2 days.

      • Nina
        October 5, 2010 at 10:48 am

        Thanks, Dr. T. No hurry, really, didn’t mean to try and rush you. Whenever it’s ready, whenever it’s the right time, I’ll look forward to what you have to say.

    • jp
      October 5, 2010 at 2:25 am

      She looks like a male Medusa.

      • jp
        October 5, 2010 at 2:26 am


  8. D
    October 1, 2010 at 7:48 am

    I listened recently to an interview with Meredith Moran on NPR about this.

    The episode made me think that something that seems to be lacking nowadays in our culture is contrition.

    We actually do have apologies, which we are terrible at and which we excel at being mealy-mouthed about, but you do from time to time hear people getting an apology right.

    The problem is that there are times when an apology just doesn’t cut it. Certain offenses are so horrible and their damage far reaching that a well meaning person, seeking to do right by the person they’ve wronged, is really called upon to display or carry out an act of contrition.

    I notice that celebrities who make racist statements are expected to do this as a sort of term of rehabilitation, and they typically very promptly do. Apart from that, however, there is scarcely any mention or exposure to this concept. We can do the most damnable things and cheers if we just say “sorry.”

  9. Laura
    September 30, 2010 at 4:44 pm

    Being someone who was sexually abused as a child by a family member, I am mortified by this woman’s actions!

    I went to therapy and did actually confront the person in a civil manner and kept it within the immediate family and a few close cousins and aunts. I didn’t want to tell the whole world or attract any extra attention. It was something I wanted acknowledged and then left in the past.

    One thing that concerned me in therapy was that my therapist suggested he felt I was blocking out abuse situations possibly abuse from others, but I insisted that maybe that’s a gift from my mind to my soul and I only wanted to deal with what I knew through and through had happened. That was respected and after two years of weekly sessions that included assertiveness coaching and overcoming anxiety tools/training, I felt a heck of a lot better. Who wants to be a victim all their life? There’s so many other, better things to be and do.

    It scares me that NPD and BPD can’t be cured (at least not at this time) and that there seems to be an epidemic of it out there.

    I feel for everyone who has come into contact with such people. I know I have and it almost killed me. I hope everyone can benefit from the articles and comments here and be able to better detect the red flags these people raise early on and get them out of your life.

  10. TheGirlInside
    September 30, 2010 at 12:05 am

    It used to be a joke, but I think there is more truth to it than anything~psychology majors choose that field to figure themselves out…

Comment pages
  1. March 6, 2023 at 1:07 pm
  2. January 19, 2011 at 5:23 am
  3. December 2, 2010 at 10:49 am
  4. November 17, 2010 at 2:46 pm

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