During the 1980s and 1990s, tens of thousands of Americans -- most of them middle-class, 30-something women in big cities, like me -- became convinced that they'd repressed memories of childhood sexual abuse, and then, decades later, recovered those memories in therapy.
In the years leading up to that mass panic, I was working as a feminist journalist, writing exposés of child sexual abuse, trying to convince the world that incest was more than a one-in-a-million occurrence. In the process, I convinced myself that my father had molested me. After five years of incest nightmares and incest workshops and incest therapy, I accused my father, estranging myself and my sons from him for the next eight years.
In the early 1990s the culture flipped, and so did I. Across the country, falsely accused fathers were suing their daughters' incest therapists. Falsely accused molesters were being freed from jail -- and I realized that my accusation was false. I was one of the lucky ones. My father was still alive, and he forgave me.
It's a little embarrassing for a person who's always been thought of as a critical thinker. There's a lot about writing this book and putting it out there that's embarrassing. It's not exactly the most flattering portrait. I think if it were a novel my editor would have rejected it, because the protagonist wasn't sympathetic enough. It really shocked me, I must say, to see how much influence the external had on the internal. That the most intimate emotions and relationships can be so affected by the dominant paradigm.