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Curiouser and Curiouser

December 22nd, 2010

Meredith Maran

Meredith Maran, author of a new book called My Lie: A True Story of False Memory, was quoted in an interview last month saying:

In the writing of the book, for example, I was going back-and-forth between the warring sides. I spoke at length with both Pam and Peter Freyd, who are the founders of the False Memory Syndrome Foundation, and I also spoke at length with their daughter with whom they are estranged [**]. So I would listen to Jennifer Freyd tell me her version of what had happened in her family, and I would listen to Pam and Peter — Pam, in most cases — tell me what she believed. And they were opposite. It was challenging, but it was the point of the book to sit with the reality that each presented to me, and make peace with that myself.

The footnote is an editorial explanation about the founders of the False Memory Syndrome Foundation, Pamela and Peter Freyd. But the passage, as explained in an earlier post, raised doubts about Ms. Maran’s veracity. Several days after raising those questions, the following “correction” was added to the interview:

[** Correction: either due to a conversational mis-step on the part of the interviewee, or my own misinterpretation of the audio I was transcribing, “spoke at length with” needs to be corrected to convey that Mrs. Maran’s dialog with Jennifer Freyd was not spoken, but conducted by email. As Maran elaborated to me in a recent email: “she and I emailed, and I read everything I could find about her family history but, as stated in my book, she refused to be quoted about her family history.”]

A few days ago, a more complete correction replaced the first “correction” (the highlighting added below shows the changes):

[** Correction: either due to a conversational mis-step on the part of the interviewee, or my own misinterpretation of the audio I was transcribing, “spoke at length with” needs to be corrected to convey that Mrs. Maran’s dialog with Jennifer Freyd was not spoken, but conducted by email. As Maran elaborated to me in a recent email: “she and I emailed about research matters, and I read everything I could find about her family history but, as stated in my book, she refused to discuss her family history.”]

Now that the record is clear, several questions remain: Why did Ms. Maran tell the interviewer an elaborate story about listening to Dr. Freyd talk about her family, when no such thing ever happened? Why did Ms. Maran “correct” herself in such a half-hearted way, leaving the misleading impression that Dr. Freyd had discussed her family with Ms. Maran off the record, when, as Ms. Maran now acknowledges, that also never happened? Finally, what do these misrepresentations of recent events indicate about Ms. Maran’s overall veracity?

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