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My Lie: A True Story of False Memory
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My Lie: A True Story of False Memory

3.23 of 5 stars 3.23  ·  rating details  ·  139 ratings  ·  29 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 Meredit
Hardcover, 260 pages
Published September 20th 2010 by Jossey-Bass (first published 2010)
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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
Fred Moramarco
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: The "recovered memory" movement, which memory expert Elizabeth Loftus calls "th ...more
Jess Scott
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
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.
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
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.
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
Mary Kenyon
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.
Ryan Holiday
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
Eliza Genang
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.
Audacia Ray
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
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
Rita Bourke
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
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
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
Paula Gallagher
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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
Daniel DeLappe
Nothing new added to the subject. Was interesting to see her thought process from I was abused to hey maybe I wasn't. Not enough depth on any part of this subject. I would not recommend this book.
Nov 02, 2010 Susan rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2010
Picked this up on a whim at The Strand bookstore in NYC. Good read, recommended for those who like memoirs of this sort.
Libby Stott
A gripping read! Could have addressed emotional incest in much more depth, but overall--good job!!
Tragic and true. A brave memoir of the author's experience and the effects on her family.
This is an easy read. I finished it in a few days. This may sound strange, but it is humorous.
Really made me think about memory and the things I perceive as being true. Great book.
Not fun to read, but worth it.
Karolis Steponavicius
Karolis Steponavicius marked it as to-read
Mar 17, 2015
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Meredith Maran ( is the best-selling author of nine books of nonfiction, and an award-winning journalist who writes for magazines and newspapers including Salon, Vibe, Family Circle, More, Health, Parenting, Mother Jones, the San Francisco Chronicle, and the San Jose Mercury-News. She is currently slaving over her first novel, A Theory of Small Earthquakes."
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Why We Write: 20 Acclaimed Authors on How and Why They Do What They Do A Theory of Small Earthquakes Class Dismissed: A Year in the Life of an American High School, A Glimpse into the Heart of a Nation What It's Like to Live Now Notes from an Incomplete Revolution: Real Life Since Feminism

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