Ma was heavy, but not fat; thick with child-bearing and work. She wore a loose Mother Hubbard of gray cloth in which there had once been colored flowers, but the color was washed out now, so that the small flowered pattern was only a little lighter gray than the background. The dress came down to her ankles and he strong, broad, bare feet moved quickly and deftly over the floor. Her thin, steel-gray hair was gathered in a sparse wispy knot at the back of her head. Strong, freckled arms were bare to the elbow and her hands were chubby and delicate, like those of a plump little girl. She looked out into the sunshine. Her full face was not soft; it was controlled, kindly. Her hazel eyes seemed to have experienced all possible tragedy and to have mounted pain and suffering like steps into a high calm and a superhuman understanding. She seemed to know, to accept, to welcome her position, the citadel of the family, the strong place that could not be taken. And since old Tom and the children could not know hurt or fear unless she acknowledged hurt and fear, she had practiced denying them in herself. And since, when a joyful thing happened, they looked to see whether joy was on her, it was her habit to build up laughter out of inadequate materials. But better than joy was calm. Imperturbability could be depended upon. And from her great and humble position in the family she had taken dignity and a clean calm beauty. From her position as healer, her hands had grown sure and cool and quiet; from her position as arbiter she had become as remote and faultless in judgment as a goddess. She seemed to know that if she swayed the family shook and if she ever really deeply wavered or despaired the family would fall, the family will to function would be gone.
John Steinbeck
Well before she became famous — or infamous, depending on where you cast your vote — Loftus's findings on memory distortion were clearly commodifiable. In the 1970s and 1980s she provided assistance to defense attorneys eager to prove to juries that eyewitness accounts are not the same as camcorders. I've helped a lot of people, she says. Some of those people: the Hillside Strangler, the Menendez brothers, Oliver North, Ted Bundy. Ted Bundy? I ask, when she tells this to me. Loftus laughs. This was before we knew he was Bundy. He hadn't been accused of murder yet. How can you be so confident the people you're representing are really innocent? I ask. She doesn't directly answer. She says, In court, I go by the evidence.... Outside of court, I am human and entitled to my human feelings. What, I wonder are her human feelings about the letter from a child-abuse survivor who wrote, Let me tell you what false memory syndrome does to people like me, as if you care. It makes us into liars. False memory syndrome is so much more chic than child abuse.... But there are children who tonight while you sleep are being raped and beaten. These children may never tell because 'no one will believe them.' Plenty of Plenty of people will believe them, says Loftus. Pshaw! She has a raucous laugh and a voice with a bit of wheedle in it. She is strange, I think, a little loose inside. She veers between the professional and the personal with an alarming alacrity, she could easily have been talking about herself.'s Box: Great Psychological Experiments of the Twentieth Century
Lauren Slater