He Intrapsychic Domain

Professor Cheit, whose case of recovered memories has stimulated the debate over the intrapsychic source of everyday behavior, thoughts, and emotions.

r. Ross Cheit is a professor of political science and public policy at Brown University. In 1992, he received a phone call from his sister , saying that his nephew had joined a boys' choir, just as Professor Cheit had done when he was a boy. Instead of being happy at the news that his nephew was following in his footsteps, Professor Cheit was strangely unhappy . Over the next few weeks, Professor Cheit became increasingly depressed and irritable and began to have marital dif fi culties. He did not connect any of his troubles to the phone call from his sister .

Shortly thereafter, Professor Cheit recalled a memory of a man he had not seen or thought about for 25 years. The man he remembered was William Farmer. Mr. Farmer had been the administrator of the San Francisco Boys Chorus summer camp, which Professor Cheit had attended between the ages of 10 and 13. Professor Cheit was now 38, and for the first time in 25 years he was recalling ho Mr. Farmer would come into his cabin at night, sit on his bed, and begin stroking his chest and then his stomach, and then reach into his pajamas.

Intent on gathering objective information about his abuse, Professor Cheit hired a private investigator. The director of the boys' chorus at the time Professor Cheit was there, Madi Bacon, now 87 years old, was located in Berkeley . When Professor Cheit first talked to her and mentioned Farmer s name, she spontaneously remarked how she had almost had to fire Farmer for "hobnobbing" with the boys For the first time, Professor Cheit felt that his memory of being molested wa authentic. Moreover, after talking with Madi Bacon, he realized that he might not have been the only young boy abused by Farmer .

Professor Cheit, whose case of recovered memories has stimulated the debate over the intrapsychic source of everyday behavior, thoughts, and emotions.

Using chorus records, Professor Cheit located dozens of the 1 18 boys who had been at camp with him 25 years earlier . In contacting them, he soon found that others had been molested by Mr . Farmer but had kept quiet. A professor at a university in Michigan, a librarian in the Midwest, and a homeless man living in San Francisco— all had allegedly been abused by Mr . Farmer. The camp nurse at the time recalled catching Mr. Farmer in bed with a sick child in the camp infirmar . The nurse claims to have reported the incident to the camp director , Madi Bacon, who took no action. Professor Cheit obtained documentation that, on at least four occasions, the camp director was informed of molestation of the boys by staf f members but took no steps to address the problem.

Now more sure than ever that his memory of abuse was authentic, Professor Cheit wanted to talk directly with Mr . Farmer, who was finally located in the tiny town o Scio, Oregon. Professor Cheit phoned him. Mr . Farmer had no trouble remembering Professor Cheit as one of the boys in summer camp 25 years earlier . "What can I do for you?" Farmer inquired. "Y ou can tell me whether you have any remorse for what you did to me and the other boys at summer camp," replied Professor Cheit. With a tape recorder running, Professor Cheit kept Mr . Farmer on the phone for nearly an hour. Mr. Farmer admitted molesting Professor Cheit in his cabin at night, he acknowledged that the camp director had known of the abuse but had allowed him to stay on at the camp, admitted that he had since lost other jobs for molesting children, and conceded that he knew the acts he had committed with children were criminal.

On August 19, 1993, Professor Cheit and his parents filed a lawsuit against the Sa Francisco Boys Chorus, char ging that the chorus had "negligently or intentionally" allowed staff members to molest children in its care. Lawyers for the chorus at firs denied the charges. Professor Cheit's lawsuit asked the boys chorus to meet three conditions: to apologize, thereby admitting guilt; to institute protective measures for current campers; and to pay $450,000 to Professor Cheit as financial compensation. During the litigation Professor Cheit produced five corroborating witnesses and the tape-recorded admissio from Mr. Farmer himself. Just over a year later , the lawsuit was settled. The boys chorus agreed to apologize to Professor Cheit, to put safeguards in place to protect present chorus members from possible molestation, and to pay Professor Cheit $35,000. Professor Cheit is currently writing a book on the law and politics of childhood sexual abuse.

Professor Cheit was fortunate in that the state of California had just changed its statute of limitations laws, allowing for criminal char ges of child abuse to be file anytime within three years of the time that the alleged victim remembered the abuse, with independent corroboration. On July 12, 1994, Mr . Farmer was arrested at his home, then in Texas, and extradited to Plumas County, California, the site of the boys chorus camp. According to the county district attorney , Mr. Farmer was charged with six counts of child molestation involving three boys, including Professor Cheit, in 1967 and 1968. Mr. Farmer was char ged with committing crimes over a quarter of a century earlier. He pleaded not guilty. The details of this fascinating case are discussed in several books, including Chu (1998) and Schachter (1997).

Is it possible that a person can for get something as traumatic as sexual abuse? Can a forgotten memory lie dormant for years, only to be aroused later by an event, such as a chance phone call? Once aroused, can such a memory cause a person to start having difficulties, such as feelings of depression and irritabilit , without his or her knowing the cause of those dif ficulties? Some psychologists believe that people sometime are unaware of the reasons for their own problematic behaviors. When treating a person for a psychological problem, some therapists believe that the cause of the problem resides in the person's unconscious, the part of the mind outside the person' s immediate awareness. They contend that a memory of a past traumatic event can be completely forgotten yet nevertheless cause a psychological problem years later (Bass & Davis, 1988). This reasoning has led many states, such as California, to place the statute of limitations on child abuse at three years from when the abuse is remembered by the person. Furthermore, such therapists believe that, if they can help make this unconscious memory conscious—that is, if they can help the patient recall a for gotten traumatic memory—they can put the patient on the road to recovery (Baker , 1992).

This perspective on the causes and cures of psychological problems has its origin in a theory of personality developed by Sigmund Freud (1856- 1939), commonly called psychoanalysis. In this chapter , we will examine the basic elements of classical psychoanalytic theory and will explore some of the empirical studies conducted to test certain aspects of the theory . We will consider the scientific evidence for th repression of childhood memories, for the concept of unconscious motivation, and for other aspects of psychoanalytic theory. Whereas many of Freud's ideas have not stood the test of time, other ideas are still with us and are topics of contemporary research. Because this theory is so much the result of one person' s thinking, let's first look a a brief biographical sketch of Freud.

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  • dina
    What is personality intrapsychic domain?
    4 years ago

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