Uppsala University Burns a Book on Recovered Memories

Uppsala University Burns a Book on Recovered Memories


By Max Scharnberg, Associate professor

Psychology researcher Max Scharnberg has his PhD in Education. He has taught the Psychology of Lies at Stockholm School of Economics, and Social Work at Örebro University. He has been an expert in more than 25 incest cases. He has, for a number of years, examined psychoanalysis and Sigmund Freud's work.
Max Scharnberg has, in several books, criticised psycho-analysts' conclusions and he believes that their methods
, as well as poor evidence evaluation, have led to innocent people being convicted in court, in many cases.

This article is published here with the kind consent of the author.


It must be a unique occurrence that a university burns one of its own research reports, for no other reason than the fact that its content is incompatible with the views of one particular professor. Nevertheless, in May 2009 Uppsala University made the decision to burn all copies of Max Scharnberg’s book Textual Analysis of a Recovered Memory Trial Assisted by Computer Search for Keywords, which had been published two months earlier. The issue at stake was whether researchers should be permitted to arrive at results that contradict Professor Eva Lundgren’s primary claims. So it may be natural to begin with listing these claims. First, each male is as inclined to use physical violence against females as any other male; not even chronic alcohol addicts are different. Second, ritual child murders are frequent in Sweden. Third, memories of child murders are valid, even if they emerge during recovered memory therapy and even if they were completely unknown to the patient before the therapy. Fourth, the trial that is in Sweden known as the Södertälje case has an excellent evidential power concerning the reality of the child murders.


The reason why professor Lundgren does not report those murders she knows about to the police is that she thinks that the police is somehow allied with the murderers.


Many feminists admire Lundgren. But many others consider her a heavy burden to feminism.


The context of the book burning decision is as follows.


In 2005 Uppsala University and professor Eva Lundgren were under heavy attack by a number of scholars. One of the scholars was Stig Strömholm, who was the rector of this university from 1989 to 1997. The scholars claimed that the quality of Lundgren’s earlier research was too meagre to justify that she was appointed to be a professor. They also attacked her research after the appointment as not being scientific at all.


It was pointed out that she had not made different interviews of the same persons over many years. Instead she had “recycled” each interview, and after each recycling she had obtained quite different things. One religious man felt that he was “God’s tool” when he beat his wife. But not until after the last recycling did Lundgren attribute to him that he had got an erection during these punishment scenes, although she had certainly asked him about the same thing from the very beginning.


Anyway, in 2005 Uppsala University appointed two professors to examine Lundgren’s research. It was not their task to decide if her research was good or bad, but only if it contained deliberate distortion or fabrication of facts.


They agreed throughout most of the investigation and jointly signed the same text, except that they decided to write separate formulations of their final conclusions. Here is a selection of what one of them wrote:


“A serious problem is that we have not got access to the sources [= the interviews] we have asked for. … The empirical studies are few, and Lundgren recycles again and again a few edited interviews as empirical examples that normalisation is a general phenomenon in relations involving violence. … A necessary precondition for being in a position to decide whether a researcher has fabricated the data is that the sources are available. As can be seen from our study Lundgren has not handed out her source data. For that reason it is impossible to make a decision as regards this question. … Summing up, our scrutiny has revealed a number of serious problems in Lundgren’s research. There are empirical assertions that are not backed by any empirical basis, ambiguities as regards selection and number of persons interviewed, absence of alternative interpretations, assertions that are contradicted by her own data, generalisations based on too small ground. To me, this means that the trustworthiness of Lundgren’s research must be questioned.”


I think that the final conclusion of the other scrutiniser is even harder, except for one detail. He states that he dislikes that this kind of assessment of a researcher is made at all.


However, the case got a noticeable epilogue. Lundgren requested damages because her research had been examined. A settlement was negotiated, according to which she got damages of 100 000 SwCr, together with one extra teacher at her institution for six months. – She must have had strong feministic support in order to obtain damages of that size.


I knew that Lundgren is a pseudo-scientist. But I did not know the details of the conflict. In particular I was ignorant of the epilogue.


Neither had it occurred to me that someone at the department which had handled my applications to the Council of Science throughout 25 years, would have the conscience to destroy important scientific research results and important methodological innovations, just for the purpose of saving Lundgren’s reputation.


One of Lundgren’s best proofs of ritual child murders is the legal Södertälje case, so called after the town 31 km south of Stockholm in which the main persons lived. A 15-year-old girl, here called “Elvira”, accused both her parents of having sexually abused herself and her one-year-younger sister “Ingrid” since they were 6. The parents had also hired out both daughters as prostitutes at ordinary sex clubs, likewise since they were 6. In addition, the parents were members of a Satanist sect concerned with ritual murders of children. Elvira had followed her father to Poland where they had bought children that would be murdered in Stockholm. Moreover, the murder sect held under-age girls in cages and made them pregnant. They cut out the foetuses while the girls were still alive, and ate them. Among the murderers Elvira pointed out a judge at the court of appeal in Stockholm, and his daughter. The daughter had been Elvira’s closest friend since preschool. But their friendship ended abruptly when Elvira accused her of murder.


Elvira also pointed out the places in the wood where the bones of the slaughtered children had been buried. Unfortunately, highly competent experts from KTH Royal Institute of Technology could prove that no one had dug at these places since the ice age (this is their own expression).


The police drove Elvira around in Stockholm in the hope that she would recognise the murder places and the sex clubs. She pointed out Odengatan 104 as a murder place. But this is a quite normal house with ordinary apartments. At Danderydsgatan 20 she recognised the entrance of one of the sex clubs. But behind the entrance there was a bicycle cellar.


None of the parents were tried for the murders. But both were convicted of sexual abuse and pimping activity. The father got the maximum punishment for these crimes, and the mother half as much.


The Södertälje trial is probably the largest recovered memory case ever handled by a Swedish court. There are 40 police interrogations of Elvira, and 28 are video-recorded dialogue interrogations which have been written out word-by-word by the police. It goes without saying that it is impossible for human beings to perceive and evaluate such gigantic amounts of information. And it is frightening when judges believe that they can do so by listening through 60 hours of videos one single time.


Being aware of my own limitation, I took help of a computer. I scanned all information into one immense document of 245 000 words. In this document I could speedily find all instances of any particular event. Who was the first to tell this or that event? At what time did another person not yet know about it? Etc.


Among my many interesting results four are so fundamental that I have called them cardinal results. They will be presented first.


(1) Elvira’s foster mother knows literally everything Elvira had experienced weeks or months before Elvira knows it herself. One pattern will occur again and again. The foster mother calls the police and tells what Elvira had (allegedly) told her on the preceding evening under much crying and shaking. But when Elvira sees her psychotherapist two days later, and when she is interrogated by the police three days later, she has no idea of having ever experienced such things.

                   The foster mother’s “precognition” proves that she is deliberately lying about what Elvira had told her. But it also proves that she is the one who fabricated all the abuse and murder stories, and who indoctrinated them into Elvira.


(2) When I try to count the events it seems that Elvira had experienced around 250 acts of sexual intercourse. However, Elvira has only supplied concrete descriptions of 12 assaults. This number would not have been important, if it had not been tied up with another circumstance: Elvira claims that Ingrid was an eyewitness of 11 of the 12 concretely described assaults. At 7 assaults there were additional eyewitnesses. Thus, the mother’s lover had raped Elvira in Ingrid’s presence, and had raped Ingrid in Elvira’s presence. And at a sex club she had seen Ingrid being raped.


On one occasion Elvira was watching Ingrid painting her father’s anus with nail polish. But she also recounts a subsequent conversation in which Ingrid had said that Elvira’s recollection was erroneous: it was Elvira who painted the father’s anus while Ingrid was merely an onlooker. Anyway, Elvira states that this recollection emerged soon after she had painted the Ken doll between his legs with nail polish during a psychotherapeutic session.


The Lucia day (13th December) is a great festival in Sweden. We are not told what year the following event happened. But both girls awakened their parents with coffee and ginger bread, singing “Santa Lucia”. Ingrid was Lucia with a crown of burning candles on her head, while Elvira was here maid.

But instead of being grateful for this nicety, the parents caught hold of one daughter each, so that all china and ginger bread fell to the floor. In the double bed next to each other the father performed normal intercourse on Ingrid, while the mother performed lesbian intercourse on Elvira.


Not only Ingrid but all “eyewitnesses” deny that they have seen, participated in, or performed any indecent act. And the mother’s lover was never prosecuted.

                   One or both parents participated in a total of five trials; two in the district court and three in the court of appeal. The last team of five judges of the court of appeal deemed it proved beyond reasonable doubt that the Lucia assault had taken place in the form recounted by Elvira. – But since the judges knew that Ingrid denied this event, they must have applied a kind of surrealistic logic for cutting away Ingrid from the Lucia assault but nevertheless convicting the father of his contribution to the same rape.


(3) During the three months preceding the first police interrogation various people arranged four group meetings. The father was not asked to attend any of them. But Elvira unambiguously said at all four meetings that she had no memory of any sexual assault. She repeated this during the first police interrogation. But there she added that she was absolutely sure that no abuse had occurred during the last 5½ years (viz. after the movement to a villa). This is particularly significant because the father was exclusively convicted of assaults during this period. Her psychotherapist also confirms that she told neither any recollections nor any “images” until after the first police interrogation.

                      Furthermore, in the first four police interrogations, comprising about six hours in toto, there is no trace of any of those crimes for which the father was convicted a few weeks later.


(4) Both in a police interrogation and in the last trial by the court of appeal the mother recounted that the father and Elvira would sometimes go into her room and close the door. When they came out Elvira had a strange facial expression as if the father had been angry. This recount is correctly described on p. 22 in the judgement. Since the mother is deaf, she would not be able to hear it if the father had given Elvira a thorough scolding.

                   However, when the five judges justify the verdict and the sentence on pp. 42 and 44 in the very same judgement, they have false recollections of what the mother told the police, and what she said in front of them, and even of their own account in the very same judgement. The words in bold types are omitted, and Elvira’s “strange facial expression” is taken to prove that the couple had sexual intercourse. The judges go on to state that since the father did not attempt to conceal the assaults from the mother, the number of intercourses must have been considerable.

                   But the true fact is that Elvira has never accused her father of sexual assaults in her room at such times when other family members were at home and awake. She cannot even recall that they have ever been together there without any criminal activity being performed. Neither can the father recall it. He said that if it had happened, they might have watched TV or listened to music. The door might have been closed to prevent the family’s dog from dropping hairs over the entire house.


Twenty-seven judges have made verdicts in this case. None of them has detected any of my four cardinal facts. Nor did any of them perceive any need to ask Ingrid about those events in which she had allegedly participated.


What is presented above are only my four cardinal results. I obtained enough results to fill a book of 205 pages, with the title Textual Analysis of a Recovered Memory Trial Assisted by Computer Search for Keywords. In early March 2009 this book was published in the series Uppsala Studies in Education. It was also sent out on Internet for free down-loading.


However, a few weeks later it was withdrawn, and on 5:e May lecturer Lennart Wikander at the department of education decided that the entire edition should be burnt. He demanded me to return all copies I still had. – Due to unplanned and purely accidental circumstances I had saved 40 % of the edition from destruction.


Wikander took one further step that could be perceived as a joke. I was ordered to get back all those copies I had sent to researchers in more than 15 countries in three continents.


Wikander had filled two A4 pages with justifications for the book burning. All justifications are about purely formal errors, which I am supposed to have made.


Now, I have previously published five volumes in the acta-series, and among all of them I have committed the very same “errors” which Wikander has listed. There is no more than one thing I have done in a different way this time. And if it is considered an error, it is a trifling error. It could be argued, in addition, that Wikander would not have invented so many false justifications, if he had really thought that the single real error could justify the destruction of very important research results.


In Sweden a large debate on the book burning arose. Apart from very few personal friends of Eva Lundgren no one believed Wikander’s claim that the book burning was exclusively motivated by some formal errors. All understood directly that Eva Lundgren was at stake, and that my research had ripped open the embarrassing conflict of 2005.


Lundgren’s description of the Södertälje case is found in a book published in Norwegian in 1994. Its title means “Let the little children come to me”. The girl is given the pseudonym “Mathilde”. Lundgren’s own account is now and then interrupted by brief excerpts from interviews of Elvira and by Elvira’s drawings of the murder places. All the girl’s statements are taken at face value. Lundgren has not even checked whether Elvira had told the same thing to her and to the police (which she definitely had not). Moreover, Lundgren and Elvira’s foster mother are friends and share the same belief systems.


In other words, Scharnberg’s book had landed in a wasps’ nest. The proofs that Elvira’s narratives were neither experienced nor invented by herself but indoctrinated by her foster mother, deprived Lundgren of her strongest proof of ritual child murders in Sweden. The sequence of events also revealed how far the university was willing to go. A book that was the outcome of full-time labour during more than three years, and which presented important scientific results and significant methodological innovations, had to be destroyed in order to conceal the pseudo-scientific nature of Lundgren’s so-called research.


The decision to burn Scharnberg’s book could also be conceived of as a signal to other scholars: Do not publish results that may throw doubt on recovered memory therapy or on other ideas of Eva Lundgren.


Stockholm, 5 October 2009.

Textual Analysis of a Recovered Memory Trial Assisted by Computer Search for Keywords
Max Scharnberg

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