This Thing Called Repression
The first criminal trial involving recovered memory -- the George Franklin murder case -- was about to begin in October 1990. Twenty years earlier, an intense police investigation had not found a shred of evidence tying George Franklin to the murder of eight- year-old Susan Nason. Yet a jury would find him guilty, solely on the basis of the memories his daughter had massively repressed for those twenty years, then recovered in lurid detail.
Eileen Franklin Lipsker, a red-haired Southern California mother of four, had been in her suburban family room, her five-year-old daughter, Jessica, sitting at her feet, drawing, when the memories first came.
Now. Now. Mother's and child's eyes met . . . at exactly that moment, Eileen Lipsker remembered something. She remembered it as a picture. She could see her redheaded friend Susan Nason looking up, twisting her head, and trying to catch her eye . . . She remembered Susan, just four days short of her ninth birthday, sensing George Franklin's attack and putting up her right hand to stave him off. Thwack! Eileen could hear the sound, a sound like a baseball bat swatting an egg -- the worst sound of her life. "No!" she yelled inside her head. "I have to make this memory stop." Another thwack. And then quiet. Blood. Blood everywhere on Susan's head.
Recovered memories such as Eileen's were a new phenomenon. They were a new experience for the two expert witnesses in the Franklin case, Dr. Lenore Terr, a psychiatrist and nationally respected child trauma expert in San Francisco, and Dr. Elizabeth Loftus, a University of Washington research psychologist who was famous for having in-