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My Lie: A True Story of False Memory

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3.26  ·  Rating Details ·  184 Ratings  ·  35 Reviews
Meredith Maran lived a daughter's nightmare: she accused her father of sexual abuse, then realized, nearly too late, that he was innocent. During the 1980s and 1990s, tens of thousands of Americans became convinced that they had repressed memories of childhood sexual abuse, and then, decades later, recovered those memories in therapy.

Journalist, mother, and daughter Meredi
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Hardcover, 260 pages
Published September 20th 2010 by Jossey-Bass (first published 2010)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Bernadette
May 30, 2011 Bernadette rated it it was ok
Right now I think I'm too angry with the author to write a review. Just read an interview with her, published after she wrote the book about destroying people's lives. Ms. Maran still believes that it is okay for one innocent man to sit in prison if it means that 100 guilty men are there. What? If you're interested in reading about False Memory Syndrome as it relates to sexual abuse, I'd recommend Remembering Satan by Lawrence Wright instead.

I've excerpted an interview with Ms. Maran from Salon.
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Ryan Holiday
Jul 05, 2012 Ryan Holiday rated it really liked it
This is a very sensitive book on a very sensitive topic: that most recovered memories are not true. But the author approaches it with an empathy and self-awareness that I did not anticipate. I've said before that one of the things I respect most is when a person turns over a long-held belief. The flip side of that is that we often react vindictively toward the people who held the belief we once did, we lose our sense of understanding of them during our metamorphosis. Moran resists that temptatio ...more
Aeseyman
Dec 11, 2013 Aeseyman rated it liked it
Meredith Maran is scrupulously honest and thorough in examining how she came to accuse her father of molesting her, change her mind, and then apologize, not only to him, but to her entire family. She documents the rise of the societal hysteria that persuaded many women and parents of toddlers of widespread incest, sexual abuse and satanic cults in the late 80's and its eventual waning. But she is right that it is NOT over and many families torn asunder continue to live with the fallout.

I agree w
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Fred Moramarco
Feb 10, 2011 Fred Moramarco rated it really liked it
Meredith Maran has written an important book primarily dealing with the mass hysteria that occurred in this country between the mid 1980's when the McMartin pre-school trial dominated America's attention and 1993, when Lawrence Wright published his startling and nationally therapeutic essay, "Remembering Satan" in The New Yorker, (later published as a book of the same title: http://www.amazon.com/Remembering-Sat...). The "recovered memory" movement, which memory expert Elizabeth Loftus calls "th ...more
Deb
Feb 28, 2017 Deb rated it it was ok
This book is okay as far as narrative goes, but also sad and disturbing. Some wrongs are hard to make right, maybe even impossible. It's good the author tries to repair the damage she causes to her family through her selfish actions. False accusations are terrible and destructive. It makes me grateful I don't have her regrets and helps me consider the effects of my own parents and parenting. I'm glad to know neurology is uncovering more about how memories and how the mind work. Self deception is ...more
Jess Scott
Oct 09, 2010 Jess Scott rated it it was amazing
I enjoyed the narrative, confessional style of the writing. It was not written in a "sensational" way to leverage on "shock value," just with a flow of honesty and precision with analyzing the events of this "true story of false memory" (as the subtitle states).

I thoroughly enjoyed the journalistic touch to the book, such as the media clippings in between the main text, and the fierce investigation for the facts (justified according to the criteria of the time being perpetuated as the truth, suc
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Andrea
Oct 15, 2010 Andrea rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoirs
Journalist Maran, the type of person to be easily swept away by her passions and emotions, got so caught up in the feminist-driven child sex abuse scandals of the 1980s that she came to falsely believe that she was molested by her father. After 10 years of tortuously tearing her family apart because of this belief, she finally concluded that her so-called "memories" never, in fact, happened.

This is a fascinating look into the concept of recovered memory ~ whether such a thing even exists, and if
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Allison Dunlap
May 16, 2016 Allison Dunlap rated it it was amazing
This book was at times repugnant but also intensely riveting for me. It's the true story of a journalist caught up in the fever of the times when so many were making claims against parents, teachers and pre-school workers of incest and satanic ritual abuse. Her "proof" was repressed memories manifested in her dreams and facilitated by her therapist during her post-divorce therapy. The damage and estranged relationships she inflicts by this claim on her whole family seems irreparable. Years later ...more
Emily
Jun 23, 2015 Emily rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, memoirs
Meredith Maran made a terrible mistake in a time of mass hysteria and had the bravery to share her story in My Lie. I really enjoyed reading this and was able to get through it in just a day. It is a readable documentation of the incest/molestation/Satanic cult paranoia of the mid to late 80's and the regret that followed for the author and for many others caught up in the storm. At the conclusion of the book nothing is particularly black and white, and I appreciated that - many people are victi ...more
Meg
Sep 30, 2010 Meg rated it it was amazing
I can't remember the last time I stayed up far too late into the night for a book of non-fiction, but My Lie had me doing just that. From the title, I expected an intimate tell-all memoir, and I did get that. But I found it a surprisingly - and refreshingly - measured and balanced one. Part of what made this revelatory story so compelling was the mix of personal story with societal examination. Yes, there are children who were abused. But there are also families that were torn apart by 'memories ...more
Karen Ebert
Jan 28, 2016 Karen Ebert rated it really liked it
I wanted to read this book to learn how someone could spread such awfulness that the rest of the family knows is not true. While my personal experience does not deal with sexual abuse, it was very similar in its path to Meredith's. The people that we surround ourselves with seem to have so much influence over our subconscious. My experience has not come to resolution or making amends, but it gave me hope to read how Meredith eventually came to the truth. The section of her making amends with her ...more
Kdevoli
Mar 07, 2011 Kdevoli rated it really liked it
This is a thought-provoking memoir. The author found herself caught up in the hysteria of the 1980's where false statistics were being bandied about, telling us that most women had been victims of incest and sexual abuse in our families whether we remembered it or not - the era of the McMartin preschool trial, and hosts of other less-publicized cases of satanic ritual abuse. This author jumps on that bandwagon and convinces herself she was also abused by her (seemingly benevolent) father. Turns ...more
Rita Welty Bourke
Jun 07, 2011 Rita Welty Bourke rated it liked it
This book is the story of a woman who accused her father of sexual abuse, and later came to the realization that she lied. It is also a long-overdue examination of the McMartin Preschool molestation case of the 1980s, the women’s movement of the 1980s and 1990s, and the phenomenon of “repressed memory.” Maran is an expert at weaving her own story into the “climate” of the time. She has the rare ability to both examine and ultimately to understand how she was influenced and shaped by these variou ...more
Eileen Anderson
Jun 05, 2016 Eileen Anderson rated it liked it
TW: Subject matter is "false" memory--I guess that's obvious



I picked up this book because I have been making an effort to expose myself to things I might disagree with. I didn't expect to agree with the book and there are many things in it that I didn't. However, I do believe the author's unpleasant story of how she got caught up in the times and some peer pressure and came to believe her father molested then came to believe he didn't.

I think child sexual abuse within the family is an enormous
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Audacia Ray
Jul 07, 2010 Audacia Ray rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir, read-in-2011
Deeply fascinating account of the author's obsession with incest and her false accusations pointed at her father. Really interesting stuff about memory, and I love all the conversations toward the end of the book with her family and friends about this period of time in their lives.

I liked the way that she wove her personal narrative with the mania of childhood sexual abuse scandals in the 80s, it really made me connect with the complexity of the issue. However, I really really hated the excerpts
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Alice
Nov 07, 2012 Alice rated it liked it
This was a well-told, interesting story. As a child of the early 1990s, it sheds a lot of light on what was going on in society then. As a student of psychology, it gives the sociological background to the rash of false memories from that time period. The only criticism that I have is that this book is not quite anything: not quite journalism, not fully memoir, not quite social-science-y enough to study from. It's a bit of a mish-mash, which makes for interesting reading, perhaps, but not necess ...more
Crystal Lachman
Jun 07, 2016 Crystal Lachman rated it liked it
I read this book in two days. It disturbed me, but I worked through some things. My understanding at the end of the book was that the author does not believe in repressed memories. I sent the author several points where I was confused or would have liked to know more. I also wrote to her about the dangers of people doubting themselves and their memories. Some can become suicidal or self-injurous when they don't honor their truth. While I had some problems with this book, the author's response wa ...more
Carmen
Feb 14, 2013 Carmen rated it liked it
This is a sad, disturbing story. The same kind of hysteria went through my town in the early 90's, and I remember how many lives were ruined as a result. Very few charges stuck, and many families were irreparably damaged.

I find it almost unbelievable that so many intelligent, educated people followed the pied piper on this one. I think the blame lies mostly with the therapists who encouraged their patients to "find" memories of sexual abuse. Shame on them. And shame on all who knowingly lied an
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Paula Gallagher
Apr 14, 2011 Paula Gallagher rated it it was ok
Meh. "I accused my emotionally distant, disconnected father of molesting me, but LOOK! it was the thing to do back then. It's completely understandable." I've enjoyed Maran's writing in the past, but this was missing something. I did not like the way she incorporated articles related to molestation and recovered memory in gray boxes dropped into her narration. It was disruptive to the flow of the story.
Brooke
I grabbed this on a whim because the concept of false memory is kind of a fascinating one. However, I should have realized that the content would probably be disturbing enough that I wouldn't want to read it - and that was definitely the case. The author kind of annoyed me and as I got more into the book, it just got progressively more disturbing so I bailed.
Lisa
Nov 09, 2010 Lisa rated it really liked it
Chilling & brave ... a good reminder of a dark time in the country's recent past, when thousands of sane, intelligent, ordinary Americans got swept up in what can only be described as a mass psychosis. Seeing how the media's bias towards sensationalism over accuracy can have such a profound impact on so many should be a cautionary tale for us all.
Jillian
Nov 08, 2010 Jillian rated it did not like it
I gave up on this book 20 pages to the end. I would say this author needs to go to therapy to work through her problems, but I think too much therapy is what caused them in the first place, that coupled with zero perspective, little education and a victim/electra complex.

Interesting book, but I couldn't stand the author by the end of it.
Jessica
Nov 02, 2010 Jessica rated it liked it
The subject was fascinating, but the writing fell short. I felt like the author was seeking validation/forgiveness for what happened without taking any personal responsibility. Glad I read it, just to learn about an event in US history I knew nothing about.
Todd
Jul 26, 2012 Todd rated it liked it
This book is about a false memory, recovered by psychiatrists. This was very common in the late 80s/early 90's and a lot of people got hurt. It is a fascinating personal narrative, but at the same time the author just drives me crazy. Sometimes you just want to slap her!
Susan
Aug 28, 2011 Susan rated it it was ok
This would have been an interesting article. But as a book it's way too padded with excerpts from other people's articles, and the excerpts don't even make much sense. The whole subject is horrifying and upsetting, but I think needed to be explored more thoughtfully.
Mary Kenyon
Mar 19, 2014 Mary Kenyon rated it really liked it
I wanted to see how a very intelligent woman could come to believe in a truth that was a lie, and Maran does a good job in sharing her own experience with false memory. Unlike some other reviewers, I actually liked the sidebar information and thought it added to the credibility.
angie
Oct 04, 2010 angie rated it it was ok
i started this and couldn't finish it. the story seemed interesting and i'm sure a lot of people will like it but for whatever reason, i just couldn't get into it but may be willing to try it again at a later date
Marni
Nov 29, 2012 Marni rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir-biography
This is an easy read. I finished it in a few days. This may sound strange, but it is humorous.
Eliza Genang
Jan 31, 2015 Eliza Genang rated it it was amazing
The author has done well to contextualise her personal memoir within the history of the repressed memory wars of the 80s and 90s. Fascinating, thoughtful, clever, well put together.
Sarah
Dec 10, 2010 Sarah rated it liked it
Not fun to read, but worth it.
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MEREDITH MARAN is the author of more than a dozen nonfiction books, including Why We Write About Ourselves, Why We Write, and My Lie; and the acclaimed 2012 novel, A Theory of Small Earthquakes. She's a book critic and essayist for newspapers and magazines including the Los Angeles Times, the Boston Globe, the Chicago Tribune, The Los Angeles Review of Books, and Salon.com. The recipient of fellow ...more
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