Jennifer Freyd

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Jennifer J. Freyd (/frd/; born October 16, 1957, in Providence, Rhode Island) is an American psychologist, Professor of Psychology at the University of Oregon,[1] principal investigator of the Freyd Dynamics Lab,[2] and editor of the Journal of Trauma & Dissociation.[3] Freyd is known for her work on Betrayal Trauma Theory (BTT), DARVO, and her current research on campus-based sexual and gender-based violence.[4] She is also known for her previous work in theories of dynamic mental representations[5] and shareability[6] and her discovery of the phenomenon of representational momentum.[7] Freyd has published three books and over 200 articles. She is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association, the American Psychological Society, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.


In 1979, Freyd earned a B.A. in Anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania (Magna Cum Laude), and in 1983 earned a Ph.D. in Psychology at Stanford University.


From 1983 to 1987, she was an assistant professor at Cornell University, and since 1987 has been at the University of Oregon.[8] Since 2005, she has been the editor of the Journal of Trauma & Dissociation.[9] She is also on the Higher Education Advisory Board, Sexual Health Innovations[10]


In the last two decades, Freyd has researched and written extensively on sexual abuse and memory,[11] the ethics of research on trauma,[12] and developed the concept of Betrayal Trauma.[13][14]

In 1997, Freyd proposed that perpetrators of wrongdoing use DARVO in response to being held accountable for their actions[15]. DARVO is an acronym that stands for Deny, Attack, Reverse Victim and Offender and describes how perpetrators deny or minimize their wrongdoing, attack their victims' credibility, and play the victim. Recently, DARVO was referenced by actress and political activist Ashley Judd in an interview with Diane Sawyer.[16]

Freyd's work on institutional betrayal,[17] conducted in collaboration with PhD student Carly P. Smith, has documented that this type of betrayal exacerbates the psychological impact of sexual violence, including increased anxiety, dissociation, and sexual dysfunction.[18] More recent work has pointed to health correlates of institutional betrayal,[19] indicating that institutional betrayal is associated with physical as well as psychological distress, in keeping with Freyd's Betrayal Trauma Theory. Together, Smith and Freyd developed the Institutional Betrayal Questionnaire, now in its second edition, to measure institutional betrayal across a variety of institutional contexts. Their work has been also been applied to judicial settings,[20][21] to explain the harm that may arise from engaging with legal systems in cases of sexual violence.


Freyd's recent writing has focused on campus sexual assault[22] and issues surrounding how colleges and universities handle these events. The Chronicle of Higher Education has covered the ongoing debate at the University of Oregon[23] and the Association of American Universities (AAU).[24] Dozens of scientists have criticized the AAU's proposed campus climate survey, with Freyd as a key player in the scientific debate.[25][26][27]

Because of her research on sexual assault and institutional betrayal, Freyd was twice invited to the White House in 2014 to meet with the White House advisor on violence against women and New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand to discuss her work in relation to campus sexual violence.[28][29] In June 2017, Freyd was an invited speaker at a meeting of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, where she presented on sexual harassment in academia and institutional betrayal.[30]

More recently, in light of the Me Too movement, Freyd has called attention to the role of institutional betrayal in cases of sexual harassment and assault.[31] To aid institutions in combating this form of betrayal, Freyd has identified 10 steps institutions can implement, including encouraging whistleblowing and carrying out assessments of institutional betrayal through anonymous surveys.[32]

Honors and awards[edit]

Awards and honors received by Freyd include the Association for Women in Psychology's 1997 Distinguished Publication Award, the Presidential Young Investigator Award from the National Science Foundation, and twice the Pierre Janet Award from the International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation.[33] Freyd has also been named a John Simon Guggenheim Fellow, an Erskine Fellow at The University of Canterbury in New Zealand, and a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. In 2011, Freyd won the Award for Outstanding Service to the Field of Trauma Psychology from Division 56 (Trauma Psychology] of the American Psychological Association,[34] as well as the Distinguished Achievement Award from the International Society of the Study of Trauma & Dissociation. In 2015, Freyd won the William Friedrich Memorial Child Sexual Abuse Research Award from the Institute on Violence, Abuse, & Trauma. In 2016, she won the Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Society of the Study of Trauma & Dissociation.[35]

Personal life[edit]

Freyd was married to John Quincy "JQ" Johnson III, from 1984 until his death in 2012. Together they have three children.[36]

As an adult in the early 1990s, Freyd privately accused her father, Peter J. Freyd, of abusing her during her childhood. Her parents co-founded the False Memory Syndrome Foundation to dispute Freyd's claims and the claims of others who they allege may have recovered false memories of childhood abuse in therapy.[37]

Selected publications[edit]


  • Freyd, J. J. (1996). Betrayal Trauma: The Logic of Forgetting Childhood Abuse. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA. ISBN 0-674-06805-X.
  • Freyd, J. J.; Anne P. DePrince (2001). Trauma and cognitive science: a meeting of minds, science, and human experience. Haworth Press. ISBN 0-7890-1374-6.
  • Freyd, J. J.; Pamela J. Birrell (2013). Blind to Betrayal: Why we fool ourselves we aren't being fooled. Wiley, Somerset NJ.[38]

Chapters in books[edit]

  • Freyd, J. J.; Quina, K. (2000), "Feminist ethics in the practice of science: The contested memory controversy as an example", in Brabeck, M., Practicing Feminist Ethics in Psychology, Washington, D.C: American Psychological Association, pp. 101–124, ISBN 978-1-55798-623-8 Pdf.
  • Freyd, J. J. (2002), "Memory and dimensions of trauma: Terror may be 'all-too-well remembered' and betrayal buried", in Conte, J.R., Critical Issues in Child Sexual Abuse: Historical, Legal, and Psychological Perspectives, Thousand Oaks, California: [Sage Publications], pp. 139–173, ISBN 978-0761909125 Pdf.

Journal articles[edit]

  • Freyd, J. J. (1994). "Betrayal trauma: Traumatic amnesia as an adaptive response to childhood abuse". Ethics & Behavior. 4: 307–329. doi:10.1207/s15327019eb0404_1. Pdf.
  • Freyd, J. J. (1997). "Violations of power, adaptive blindness, and betrayal trauma theory". Feminism and Psychology. 7: 22–32. doi:10.1177/0959353597071004. Pdf.
  • Freyd, J. J. (1998). "Science in the memory debate". Ethics & Behavior. 8: 101–113. doi:10.1207/s15327019eb0802_1. Pdf.
  • Freyd, J. J.; DePrince, A. P.; Zurbriggen, E. L. (2001). "Self-reported memory for abuse depends upon victim-perpetrator relationship". Journal of Trauma & Dissociation. 2: 5–17. doi:10.1300/j229v02n03_02. Pdf.
  • Freyd, J.J.; Putnam, F.W.; Lyon, T.D.; Becker-Blease, K.A.; Cheit, R.E.; Siegel, N.B.; Pezdek, K. (2005). "The science of child sexual abuse". Science. 308: 501. doi:10.1126/science.1108066. Pdf.
  • Freyd, J. J. (2012). "A plea to university researchers". Journal of Trauma & Dissociation. 13: 497–508. doi:10.1080/15299732.2012.708613. Pdf.
  • Freyd, J. J. (2013). "Preventing betrayal". Journal of Trauma & Dissociation. 14: 495–500. doi:10.1080/15299732.2013.824945. Pdf.
  • Freyd, J. J. (2015). "Proposal for a National Institute on Sexual Violence". Journal of Trauma & Dissociation. 16: 497–499. doi:10.1080/15299732.2015.1069170. Pdf.
  • Freyd, J. J. (2017). "Attributes, behaviors, or experiences? Lessons from research on trauma regarding gender differences". Journal of Trauma & Dissociation. 18: 645–648. doi:10.1080/15299732.2017.1358687. Pdf.


  1. ^ "Jennifer J. Freyd". Faculty home page at University of Oregon. Retrieved March 8, 2014.
  2. ^ "Dynamics Lab".
  3. ^ "Journal of Trauma & Dissociation". Routledge Taylor & Francis Group.
  4. ^ "Jennifer J. Freyd".
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  6. ^, Retrieved March 8, 2014.
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  8. ^ "Jennifer J. Freyd: Abbreviated Vita". Archived from the original on July 6, 2009.
  9. ^ "JTD home page".
  10. ^ "Callisto: Tech to combat sexual assault".
  11. ^ "Science of Child Sexual Abuse". Retrieved 2010-12-14.
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  13. ^ "Definition of Betrayal Trauma Theory". Retrieved 2010-12-14.
  14. ^ Slater, Lauren; Jessica Henderson Daniel; Amy Elizabeth Banks (2003). The complete guide to mental health for women. Beacon Press. ISBN 0-8070-2925-4.
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  17. ^ "Institutional Betrayal". Retrieved 2014-03-27.
  18. ^ Smith, C. P.; Freyd, J.J. (2013). "Dangerous safe havens: Institutional Betrayal exacerbates traumatic aftermath of sexual assault". Journal of Traumatic Stress. 26: 119–124. doi:10.1002/jts.21778.
  19. ^ Smith, C. P. (2014), "Unawareness and Expression of Interpersonal and Institutional Betrayal", Unawareness and Expression of Interpersonal and Institutional Betrayal, The Western Psychological Association, Portland, Oregon
  20. ^ Smith, C. P.; Gómez, J. M.; Freyd, J. J. (2014). "The Psychology of Judicial Betrayal". Roger Williams Law Review. 19: 451–475.
  21. ^ "Institutional betrayal exacerbates the negative psychological effects of sexual trauma" (pdf). Retrieved May 6, 2014.
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  33. ^ Freyd, JJ; DePrince AP (2001). Trauma and cognitive science: a meeting of minds, science, and human experience. Haworth Press. p. xii. ISBN 0-7890-1374-6.
  34. ^ [1]
  35. ^ "Abbreviated Vita: Jennifer J. Freyd".
  36. ^ "Stanford Magazine - Article".
  37. ^ Dallam, SJ (2001). "Crisis or Creation: A Systematic Examination of 'False Memory Syndrome'". Journal of Child Sexual Abuse. Haworth Press. 9 (3/4): 9–36. doi:10.1300/J070v09n03_02. PMID 17521989.
  38. ^ "Blind to Betrayal: Why we fool ourselves we aren't being fooled". ISBN 9780470604403.

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