The Course of a Lawsuit as an Annilihation of Truth and Justice

Salih Murat Paker

December 13, 2020


I am writing this piece in the aftermath of a lawsuit, the duration of which felt like a lifetime and has taken a lot out of me. It took us one and a half years to find out about the Court of Appeals’ verdict on the case.[1] The Court of Appeals, reaching a very bizarre decision, rectified the lower District Court’s decision by reducing and suspending the sentence. In short, I was issued a citation for a minor episode of harassment and given a suspended sentence, meaning that neither jail time nor a fine were imposed on me.

I find it genuinely difficult to think, talk or write about this matter. That is why I can only bring myself to write about it now, three months after the ruling by the Court of Appeals was announced. Being accused of “sexual assault” by a former therapy client was already a painful blow and devastating for me considering that I have always been on the side of trauma survivors and the oppressed, both in my professional and political life. But my non-acquittal and the lynching by the social media mob added further insult to my injury. I am so heartbroken by both my own experience and the suffering/worrying I caused my loved ones that I find it painfully hard to put the situation into words. No matter how much damage they may have caused, my accuser is a former therapy client, and thus, it is impossible for me to lay the bare facts out in the open. On the other hand, because I have been subjected to the annihilation of truth and justice, there are certain things I feel I am obliged to talk about, regardless of how challenging it may be to find the right balance.

Even though there was substantial remission and suspension in the Court of Appeals’ decision, some people took my non-acquittal as proof of my guilt (that I had, indeed, committed the alleged “sexual assault”). The truth is, if the decision by the Court of Appeals has proven anything, it is that the Court does not believe the allegations brought against me. But the decision is a bizarre one and the whole process has been even more so. To better explain this unusual turn of events, I will try to emphasize some basic facts. I will do that in three chapters. In the first chapter, I will discuss the basic outline of the lawsuit. The second chapter will cover the basic details about the process. In the last chapter, I will share some of my observations and comments based on the scientific literature on the subject.


1. Turkish Medical Association (TMA) Ethics Committee stated, “there is no evidence of sexual harassment/assault”

The Istanbul Chamber of Medicine Ethics Board, which holds a similar case file to that of the courts, investigated the same complaint for one and a half years, listened to both parties firsthand, and decided on April 10, 2018, that there was no evidence of sexual harassment/assault. The Turkish Medical Association (TMA) High Ethics Board, who reviewed the case under the objections brought forward, ratified the decision on October 9, 2019 (three years after the investigation started).

2. There is absolutely no evidence present in the case file

I will go into some further detail in the second chapter, but I want to note that the case file includes many expert reports and opinions, most of which support my standing. The file includes three separate reports[2] disputing the scientific validity of the report submitted by the plaintiff as so-called “evidence”. There is absolutely no evidence present in the case file. All that exists is a statement and its many variations. According to worldwide scientific research, a significant percentage of sexual assault allegations turn out to be false. The research shows that, next to lies and manipulation, there may be several different reasons behind false sexual assault allegations. In some cases, particularly in a relationship as complex and intense as psychotherapy, the client may sincerely believe in the authenticity of their otherwise false allegations.

3. Turkish Criminal Law defines “sexual assault” in three degrees:

  1. Harassment: the mildest degree. Short, temporary, mild, non-repetitive sexual behaviors which include touching the body without consent.   a prison sentence of 2 – 5 years.
  2. Simple sexual assault: Non-consensual sexual behaviors short of sexual intercourse, much more significant and persistent.  a prison sentence of 5 – 10 years.
  3. Major sexual assault: Rape or simple sexual assaults accompanied by various aggravated motives such as undue influence.  a prison sentence of 12+ years.

4. The decision by the Court of Appeals proves that the Court does not believe the allegations made by the plaintiff

In the lawsuit, the plaintiff originally claimed sexual assault of the third-degree; the District Court decided to try the case on second-degree assault and reduced the sentence down to 50 months. The Court of Appeals went further, and decided on a first-degree harassment, reducing the sentence to 20 months, and suspending it (that is, if I did not commit a premeditated crime within those 20 months, which ends in October 2021, the sentence will be nullified). Furthermore, there were no sanctions or fines imposed upon me. Thus, unlike some people’s claims, this latest decision in no way indicates that “the allegations made were proven and it is not a matter of dispute anymore”. On the contrary, the decision given by the Court of Appeals proves that the Court does not believe in the allegations made by the plaintiff.  If the Court had believed in the allegations, they would not classify the deed as a case of mild harassment. But again, if the Court of Appeals did not believe in the allegations made by the plaintiff, I should have been acquitted, which bizarrely, was not the case. That is because there is more to the truth.  

5. Post-truth judicial system in Turkey

I do not think there is much to say about the judicial system in Turkey.[3] Currently, there are two directly determining factors: 1) Whether the defendant is perceived as likeable or unlikeable by the government, and 2) How and to what degree the lawsuit in question is covered in (social) media. We all know that what affects judicial decisions directly and is asserted as “the truth” in the Turkey of the post-truth age, in most cases, is the interaction between the government’s preferences and the tumult in (social) media. I have long been an open critic of the government (and the dominant political culture in general) and thus, it is no surprise that I am not perceived as likeable by the government.[4] I have also been negatively attacked in (social) media for similar reasons by certain people. Therefore, I think it is fair to say that my innocence has no bearing under the current judicial system.

With someone like me, the Court of Appeals could have approved the District Court’s decision (could have even aggravated it) relentlessly and face no consequences at all. But instead, the Court, in complete disagreement with the plaintiff’s allegations, decided to reduce and suspend the sentence. In a more sensible world, where a modicum of rules was effectual, I would easily be acquitted, but the Court of Appeals’ decision indicates that they have pursued some sort of balance and arrived at a middle-of-the-road solution. 


6. Background

The incident happened after 194 therapy sessions conducted between me, as a therapist with 30 years of experience, and a female client with whom I had been working for the past five years in regular 45-minute therapy sessions. During those five years, I referred her twice to a psychiatrist and once to a family therapist. In their testimony during the trial, the psychiatrist who evaluated the client stated that the client does seem to have the personality structure necessary to make up such allegations and they are in agreement with the therapist about the client’s diagnosis: due to multiple major traumas experienced in the past, the client is diagnosed with personality and mood disorders. Her psychiatric treatment and therapy are both progressing along that line. Due to certain risky experiences in her past, she had undergone medical treatment with a different psychiatrist two years before becoming my client.  

7. The incident

The incident happened during a session (2015 mid-November) in the aftermath of the Ankara central train station bombings on October 10, 2015.[5] The client was in a state of emotional, cognitive, and physical inhibition. She was withdrawn, showing intense anxiety symptoms such as difficulty in breathing, not answering my questions, listening to my suggestions, or making any eye contact throughout the session. I was worried about the possibility of a psychological emergency, so towards the end of the session, I rose from my chair and touched her shoulder lightly and told her to relax and be calm. Her response, probably due to intense anxiety, despair, and possibly (as was our main theme in the therapy), the triggering of her multiple traumatic past experiences, was to unexpectedly throw her arms tightly around me. I was not sure how to react to this unexpected situation, but as she was trembling and breathing heavily, I tried to calm her down with soothing words, focusing on her breathing, and trying to get her to relax without pushing her away. After a minute or two, although the client had calmed down considerably, she was not willing to let me go. It was up to me to end it, so I went back to my chair and asked her to talk about what had happened just then. Thereupon she, visibly offended, stormed out of the session in extreme anger.  As far as I am concerned, there has been absolutely no sexual inclination from either side. This was simply a case of my psychologically vulnerable client who was shattered and anxious, on the verge of a breakdown, showing an intense need for consolation in an inappropriate way, and me, avoiding a harsh rejection, trying to soothe and comfort her for a brief period before putting an end to the situation, which resulted in a resentful and angry response from her.

In the statement the client presented to the Court (which I found out about 10 months later) she claims that during a session in which she was feeling particularly down, I called her over, hugged her, tried to kiss her, and even prevented her from leaving a few times. She allegedly felt a sexual desire from my side and realized that I could go further, at which point she claims that she left the session. There are a few witnesses who corroborate her story and say “yes, that is what she told us about the incident afterwards.”[6]

Immediately after this session, I mentioned the incident to the therapist working in the next room. After a few days, I spoke about it with another therapist colleague with whom I consult professionally. Both of these two colleagues were witnesses in the court. 


12. (Sexual) violence against women is one of Turkey’s major problems

In Turkey, like in most countries around the world, violence (physical, psychological, sexual, and economic) against disadvantaged groups and thus towards women, is one of the most crucial problems. The oldest and the most deep-rooted reason for violence against women is the patriarchal construction of social relations. I have always contributed strongly towards the fight against violence, and I will continue to do so.[7] It is definitely the women’s movement of Turkey that bears the weight of this struggle. It should be considered as the most energetic and colorful social movement of recent years.

13. Women’s statements are foundational for what?

One of the most prevalent principles in combating violence against women is the principle of “women’s statements are foundational.” For most of the people who take this matter seriously, what this principle means is “women’s allegations should be taken seriously, they should not be hushed up, they should be investigated properly, and legal action should be taken.” But for a relatively tiny but more radical and dogmatic segment of this movement, this principle has morphed into “we should believe whatever women attest to without questioning it and the male perpetrator must be reprimanded by any means, either legally or extra-legally.” When you pose the same question to more informed people of this segment, they will say “women’s allegations are the basis of the investigation, but not the verdict” but they will also immediately add: “The male suspect bears the burden of proving his innocence in the face of sexual harassment/abuse allegations.” And just like that, we land back on square one. In most cases “proving your innocence beyond any doubt” against such allegations is almost impossible. When innocence is not clearly proven, the women’s statement inevitably becomes the verdict. These interpretations and practices reverse universal principles of law, such as “presumption of innocence” (every person accused is innocent until proven guilty; the accuser has to bear the burden of proof) and “in dubio pro reo” (“when in doubt, rule for the accused”). In sexual harassment/abuse cases, the accused party starts the process not as a suspect/innocent but as “guilty” and has to try to prove that they are, in fact, innocent.[8]

14. Can there be a false sexual harassment/assault allegation?

The principle of accepting women’s allegations as foundational undoubtedly emerged as a reaction against hundred/thousands of years of sexual harassment/abuse allegations not being taken seriously by the dominant patriarchal social order. Just like the patriarchal mindset’s biased handling of cases of sexual harassment/abuse allegations with incredulity towards women, we now have a segment of society who, instead, lend predisposed credence to these allegations. This belief is based upon the reasoning that, since it is very difficult for women to make a sexual harassment/abuse allegation, as they risk jeopardizing many aspects of their lives by doing so, false sexual harassment/assault allegations are not really a thing. This line of reasoning may be true for most eras, cultures, and individuals but, unfortunately, it is not a simple black and white matter.  It is a lot more complicated than that.

According to various scientific research studies, the majority of sexual assaults are not reported to the police, and depending on the research study, 2% to 90% of those that are reported cases are classified as unfounded.[9] No research study reports the percentage of false allegations at 0%. The fact that the ratios are too high to be deemed negligible, amplifies the sensitivity of these situations. In fact, this matter has become so serious in the West that there are now specialized clinics and programs for men who are exposed to false sexual harassment/assault claims.[10] Being the subject of false sexual harassment/assault allegations may cause devastating and traumatic impacts at every level.[11]

The literature states various factors for reasons of false sexual allegations: as a cover-up for one’s own blame when one needs to get oneself out of trouble, anger-revenge, the need for attention and sympathy, mental disorders (borderline, anti-social, histrionic personality disorders, psychotic disorder, drug intoxication), guilt-remorse, lying for personal or material gain, misinterpretation, false memory, being misled by other experts, and gender politics. The findings of the research confirm that, in most cases, there are multiple motives for filing a false allegation, and in 10-35% of the cases, the motivation could not be determined, or the accuser could not name a definite reason for filing a false allegation.[12]

Patients with borderline personality disorder are the group with the highest number of false sexual harassment allegations against therapists.[13] It has further been reported that false allegations have been going up in the field of psychotherapy in particular.[14] Some reasons behind false allegations of sexual harassment against therapists are lying, revenge, mental disorders, recovered memories, guiding suggestions from another therapist, escape from undesirable treatments, and material gain.[15] I will not go into details here, but most of these factors above were pertinent in the lawsuit in question.

As scientific studies suggest, saying “there may be false sexual harassment/assault allegations” does not change the fact that the vast majority of sexual harassment/assault allegations are real and a very dire problem. But the statement shields us from overgeneralizations. It highlights the importance of preserving the presumption of innocence and the dangers of a lynching atmosphere. Claiming otherwise is the essentialist approach[16] which has no counterpart in real life. Therefore, in the long haul, if it is really our intention to help the real sexual harassment/assault survivors, we cannot be confined to blanket approaches and give up on the pursuit of truth and justice. We cannot let blanket statements create new victims, because if we do, the movement will lose its credibility in the long run. It will rot and will not be able to provide help for the real survivors.

15. The reconstructive nature of human memory

Prof. Elizabeth Loftus, one of the world’s foremost experts on how human memory works in general, examined the movement of “recovered memories”[17] and has written the most competent work on the subject.[18] Loftus emphasized that human memory does not work like a camera or video camera. It always has a reconstructive quality and, unless there is further evidence, memories that are thought to be recalled cannot be trusted. The human memory system is highly influenced by emotional states and thus, by always reconstructing what had happened, it perceives, stores, and remembers selectively (subjectively). As Loftus has demonstrated with her numerous scientific experiments, when human memory recalls past events, those memories may surface either close to or far from reality alike. The person may also remember, with absolute conviction, events that never happened as if they had, in fact, happened. There are cases within psychotherapy studies which are based on the movement of “recovered memories” where false memories of abuse can be “planted” in patients’ memories under the improper guidance of therapists, and after a while, these patients start to strongly believe in these implanted memories and act accordingly. 

In addition, it has been reported that statements by borderline personality disorder patients indicating they had been sexually abused as a child, or later, cannot be trusted, unless there is further evidence, for they may tend to skew what had happened due to their emotional problems.[19]

Despite its lofty aim to help the female survivors of childhood sexual abuse, the “recovered memories” movement, due to its ideological blindness and the mass hysteria it has provoked, has created thousands of new (this time male) survivors. It also caused further harm, rather than benefit, to true female survivors of sexual abuse, by creating an air of doubt. Therefore, what we are discussing cannot be squeezed into blindly believing or disbelieving, nor can it be left to its own devices in the cultural climate that we are in. 

16. Therapists are among the occupational groups most frequently exposed to false sexual harassment/assault allegations

Hedges, who specializes in sexual harassment allegations against psychotherapists,[20] states that patients who have been exposed to severe traumatic experiences in early childhood develop very primitive (or organizing) transferences[21] during psychotherapy, that they are terrified of forming an attachment to their therapist, and when the possibility of attachment or intimacy occurs, they try to eliminate that possibility by unconsciously reconstructing their memories of abuse or harm from their childhood as if the therapist was their perpetrator. That is why they blame the therapist with immense animosity and avoid further therapy. Hedges, after examining hundreds of therapists, found this to be the transference mechanism that takes place behind the false accusations of sexual misconduct. One of the most important points Hedges emphasizes is that, in such cases, patients strongly believe that their therapist has really abused them, and their statement may seem very convincing to their audience

17. “The great persecutors are recruited from the martyrs not quite beheaded”[22]: Totalitarianism, fanaticism, and lynching

It is very gratifying that more people in society are gradually becoming more sensitive when it comes to sexual harassment/abuse. Showing sympathy towards people who are the survivors, or claim to be survivors, of abuse, supporting them, demanding that investigations and trials are conducted properly, and monitoring these trials, are all very crucial. We can either do this with rightminded rationalism or with fanaticism which is quite totalitarian/authoritarian.[23] As I have mentioned before, we know that most of the people who are sensitive to this matter stay away from fanaticism, but a certain group of people surrender to it and try to aggressively suppress right-minded people with different opinions. This is a secret that everyone is aware of but afraid to talk about. They fear for being lynched. 

A well-organized operation was carried out to influence the Court through the press and social media just before the last hearing in the District Court. I was lynched. After the Court reached its verdict, one of the people who actively participated in this lynching campaign tweeted, “We had spoken with the judge, and she had said she would do her best about it,” but deleted the tweet a few minutes later. Another one had the audacity to actually say, “I don’t care if he is guilty or not, what matters is that a man is convicted of sexual harassment against a woman.” A client with whom I held therapy sessions for ten years, a woman carrying heavy sexual traumas from her childhood and who is now an adult, was in tears and full of anger while she was reading what she wrote about the incident.  I am pasting a small part of it with her permission: “Those who claim that they are defending my rights are actually violating my human rights; they are declaring my therapist, someone who is striving to relieve me of my past sexual abuses, a sexual harasser, and they are trying to take him away from me.” These three quotes essentially sum up the situation perfectly. 

However, this totalitarian/fanatic point of view is not interested in seeking authentic truth and justice for every individual case. It just wants to eliminate the general and conceptual injustice. It is not really critical that truth in some individual cases is bent, and some innocent people are wrongly condemned, all for the sake of this general cause. Under this mindset, the harm inflicted on people like me can be called the same thing as when states kill civilians in war: collateral damage, that is, nothing more than a nuisance that should both be ignored for the sake of pursuing the truly great and divine war!


This process has taught me a lot. It taught me that having status, work, and a profession in life are not the things that really matter. What is important is the people around you who embrace you. Everyone thinks they already know this, but it takes personal experience to really understand it. I am grateful to everyone, especially my true friends and family, who ventured to support me despite the risks of being tarnished and attacked during the process. Special thanks to my esteemed lawyers who carried a huge part of the burden. I would also like to thank hundreds of friends, students, former clients who made me feel loved and were considerate enough to ask how I was doing although they did so discreetly due to the psychological terror they may have been exposed to. Finally, and I cannot emphasize this enough, but I would like to express my gratitude to my clients who continued their therapy relationship with me despite everything that was going on. I was able to take a breath and shield myself from the toxic environment around me, thanks to all those beautiful people.

 Throughout my life, I emphasized the importance of equality, justice, and law to replace vengeance and blind faith. Millions of people’s lives have been negatively affected by vengeance and blind faith in this country. Mine is just a drop in the ocean. Many people have suffered much greater injustices than me. Let us hope and strive so that equality, truth, justice, and law become prominent in the face of all the injustice.

[1] On January 17, 2019, I was sentenced by the District Court. The Court of Appeals reached a verdict on February 27, 2020, but we learnt about it at the beginning of September 2020 when the verdict was submitted to UYAP (abb. for International Web of Jurisdiction Information System in Turkish). I have not received the official notice yet.

[2] Of these three reports, one was provided by a three-person committee of forensic medicine and psychiatry professors, one was prepared by a professor of forensic medicine, and one was supplied by a professor of clinical psychology. Each report is based on the entire case file but focuses on different stages of the case/the investigation, yet they all emphasize the forensic problems persistent in the report the plaintiff has produced. Additionally in the case file existed two other testimonies by two psychiatrists supporting my standing. One of these psychiatrists was the one who treated the client medically twice during the therapy process; and the other psychiatrist had also seen the client for reporting purposes.

[3] This New York Times article gives an idea of the tragic status of the judicial system in Turkey:

[4] I have been an ardent critic of Turkey’s authoritarian regime. I have published two books (2007 & 2016) and dozens of articles criticizing government policies and the dominant political culture in Turkey. Because of these publications and activities, especially around the “taboo” topics of “Armenian Genocide and Kurdish problem in Turkey, I have been targeted by the Turkish pro-government, Islamist/nationalist press many times. For instance, in 2016, I, along with over a thousand other academics, was charged with “terrorist propaganda” after signing a “peace petition” calling for a political and peaceful solution for the Kurdish problem in Turkey. Despite efforts by the District Courts to sentence and silence the academics’ criticisms, we were acquitted by Turkey’s Constitutional Court in 2019. See, e.g., ; .

To read my defense in that trial:

My two books:

Paker, M. (2007). Psiko-politik Yüzleşmeler [Psycho-political Confrontations]. Istanbul: Birikim Press.

Paker, M. (2016). Türkiye Debelenirken: Psiko-politik Yüzleşmeler [Turkey Floundering: Psycho-political Confrontations]. Istanbul: Istanbul Bilgi University Press.

More information about my work and publications:

[5] On October 10, 2015, in Ankara, the capital city of Turkey, two bombs were detonated outside Ankara Central railway station. With a death toll of 109 civilians, the attack was the deadliest terror attack in modern Turkish history. Another 500 people were injured.

[6] On January 17, 2019, after I had been sentenced by the District Court and the incident had started to appear in the media, we were contacted by someone who told us that they were one of the first people the client had spoken to after the incident. They said that the client had told them quite a different story compared to what was in the media, that she had merely mentioned a calming hug, and that they were shocked to see how it was presented in the media. We asked them to write down everything they knew and stand as a witness in the Court of Appeals. They wrote down their full testimony and sent it to us, agreeing to appear as a witness in the Court of Appeals. A few days later, however, we were notified that they had rescinded their testimony in fear of the “lynch-thirsty mob” who could make their life miserable. This is a common tendency with the hidden façade of social media lynch mob. It is obvious that the client was negatively affected by that particular session and, without delving into it too much, I can confidently say that, due to the complexity of her past traumas, what happened between us had triggered her resentments, anger, and animosities, which she was transferring to me.  However, even though she had told a much milder version of the incident, with no “sexual assault” angle, to at least one person, by the time she obtained a report and opened the lawsuit, her statements had grown more embellished with newly added elements, probably aided by some external “expert” support.

[7] For instance: M. Paker (March 1, 2005).

M. Paker – N. Düzel (April 3, 2006).

[8] We should pay attention to the parallels between reversing these universal principles of law in this context and in the context of the political lawsuits we come across in Turkey. In these lawsuits in which thousands of dissident politicians and intellectuals are tried, allegations, this time not by women but by the state/government/president, are regarded as foundational for the verdict. The state decides who the guilty are and what crimes they have committed in advance. The accused wear themselves out to prove their innocence but during the trials they “cannot prove their innocence” because the “evidence” and “convictions” are produced in a way that satisfy the end: silencing the dissidents. It is futile to question which of these two case categories which disregard the principle of presumption of innocence, influenced the other. Even though they are on different planes of existence, their way of thinking is almost identical.  One influences the other and, in the end, they basically serve the same function. When you abolish a basic principle such as the presumption of innocence, you pave the way for its destruction in all arenas.  

[9] O’Neal, E.N., Spohn, C., Tellis, K., White, C. (2014). The truth behind the lies: The complex motivations for false allegations of sexual assault. Women & Criminal Justice, 24:324-340. 

This article reviews different research done on this topic. Even if we put aside the research that came up with the 90% rate, numbers from the remaining research still fluctuate between 2% and 50%. When we take all the allegations that are reported to the police/law enforcement under consideration, we may say that the likelihood of false sexual allegations is between 10 to 20%. The sexual assault in question in these studies is rape, in which the probability of finding physical evidence is high. In sexual harassment/assault allegations where there is no possibility of finding physical evidence, the percentage of false allegations may be higher. 

[10] For centers in the USA: ; for centers in Canada

[11] To give an opinion: K. Borisenko (February 12, 2020) Forbes.

Movies: The Hunt (2012, Denmark), When They See Us (2019, USA).

Series: Netflix, Criminal United Kingdom, Season 2, Episode 2.

[12] De Zutter, A.W.E.A., Horselenberg, R., van Koppen, P.J. (2018). Motives for Filing a False Allegation of Rape. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 47:457-464.

O’Donohue, W. and Bowers, A.H. (2006). Pathways to false allegations of sexual harassment. Journal of Investigative Psychology and Offender Profiling, 3:47-74.

O’Neal, E.N., Spohn, C., Tellis, K., White, C., (2014). The truth behind the lies: The complex motivations for false allegations of sexual assault. Women & Criminal Justice, 24:324-340.

[13] Gutheil, T.G. (1989). Borderline personality disorder, boundary violations and patient-therapist sex: medicolegal pitfalls. American Journal of Psychiatry, 146[5]: 597-602.

[14] Gutheil, T.G. (1992). Approaches to forensic assessment of false claims of sexual misconduct by therapists. Bulletin of American Academy of Psychiatry Law, 20(3):289-296.

[15] Williams, M.H. (2000). Victimized by “victims”: A taxonomy of antecedents of false complaints against psychotherapists. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 31[1]:75-81.

[16] Essentialism is a way of thinking based on the assumption that social groups (or other things) have a certain essence that is defined as either good or bad and considered to be unchanging to a large extent. As a consequence, it is far from historicity and its approach towards the diversity of life is reductionist. All discriminatory ideologies (nationalism, racism, sexism, homophobia, etc.) are based on some form of essentialism. We consider ourselves good/right and the others bad/wrong. Those who abuse the principle of “women’s statements are foundational” in order to dissolve the presumption of innocence in one way or another, suffer from essentialism as they are effectively alluding that “women do not make mistakes, there is no such possibility.” Yet, if such a good/right essence existed, there would be no disagreements among women, and all their statements would fit together. No woman or man (or any member of a social identity group) can be absolutely good or evil simply as a virtue of that identity. 

[17] At this point it would be useful to briefly mention a psychotherapy-centered social movement that started in the USA in the 1980s, spread around the world, but then died out in the late 1990s as its baselessness and social damage were demonstrated. According to this movement which was called “recovered memories”, a large portion of (perhaps the majority) of adult women have been exposed to sexual abuse (incest) within the family (particularly by their fathers, grandfathers, brothers, and other male relatives) in their childhood and they suppress these memories causing them to experience a variety of psychological problems throughout their lives. In order to heal, these memories should be recovered (remembered) during psychotherapy, the perpetrators must be confronted and punished accordingly. This psychotherapy approach which became popular in the USA in the early 1980s, was derived from psychoanalysis and, in a relatively short time, caused thousands of adult women to accuse their fathers of sexual abuse against them when they were children, led to breakups within the families, instigated lawsuits that lasted for years, generated new victims and psychological problems, and caused many suicides. 15-20 years later, the vast majority of these claims were found to be unfounded, and the movement faded out of the picture. This result, of course, does not mean that incest or sexual abuse in general is not a serious social problem in the USA or in other countries. But it does show that the cultural climate constructed by social movements may be very convenient for generating false accusations. 

[18] Loftus, E. and Ketcham, K. (1994). They Myth of Repressed Memory: False Memories and Allegations of Sexual Abuse. New York: St. Martin’s Griffin.

[19] Paris, J. (1995). Memories of Abuse in Borderline Patients: True or False? Harvard Review of Psychiatry, 3.

[20] Hedges, L.E. (2002). False accusations: Genesis and prevention. American Journal of Psychotherapy. 56(4): 494-507.

[21] In psychoanalysis and psychoanalytic (psychodynamic) psychotherapies derived from it, it is acknowledged that the vast majority of psychological experiences are unconscious (outside the scope of awareness) and that early childhood experiences have fundamental importance in personality structure and psychological problems. When utilizing the transference and countertransference mechanisms that develop during therapeutic relationships, the aim is for the patient to get into contact with their unconscious inner world in a more intimate and authentic fashion. In this way, it is assumed that the patient will have a less problematic and more authentic relationship with themselves, other people, and the world in general and their psychological problems will diminish. Psychoanalytic therapy has widespread use, particularly in treatment of people with personality and relationship problems. One of the key concepts in psychoanalytic therapy is the concept of transference. It is assumed that the patient unconsciously transfers their unconscious emotional reactions and relational patterns originating in their past, especially early childhood, experiences, and personality structures, to the therapist throughout the therapy. Understanding and interpreting these transference mechanisms during the course of therapy constitutes an important part of the therapeutic work. Along with transference, the therapist’s emotional reactions towards their patient are examined under the concept of countertransference and it is thought that this can provide valuable information regarding the therapy process. 

Various types of transference have been identified, depending on the patient’s personality, psychopathology, and therapy relationship. While some types of transference play a facilitating and intensifying role in the therapy process, transference types that carry intensely aggressive and sexual loadings can make the therapy process very difficult, and even, in some extreme cases, make it impossible to carry on with the therapy. 

Gabbard, G. O. (2004). Long-term Psychodynamic Psychotherapy: A Basic Text. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Publishing, Inc.

[22] E.M. Cioran (2021). A Short History of Decay. New York: Arcade Publishing. [Original work in French was published in 1949].

[23] Fanaticism can be defined as a state of extreme attachment to a cause, be it political or religious, or to a subject, be it sports or hobbies, without being able to put distance between the person and the object of the attachment, accompanied with obsessive enthusiasm, excitement, and disregard for general social norms.

Also see: Mete Tunçay, Murat Paker (Interview) (March 22, 2008). Fanatizm ilkelliktir [Fanaticism is primitive].  Cogito, Winter 2008.