False Memory Syndrome: Fact or Fiction?

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posted on Jul, 12 2008 @ 03:21 PM
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There seems to be a lot of confusion and disagreement among scientists and laymen alike regarding the "False Memory Syndrome". I am creating this thread to clear up some of the uncertainty regarding the topic. I myself am undecided as to whether FSM is fact or fiction.

The False Memory Syndrome Foundation (FMSF) has been waging attacks against therapists, hypnotherapists, psychiatrists (the FMSF themselves being composed of professional therapists) saying that "memories" of childhood sexual abuse or even far out subjects such as alien abduction and satanic ritual abuse are invented and created in a collaborative feat of imagination by the therapist and the subject being hypnotized or put into a trance state.

What speaks for the ideas of the FMSF is that the evidence of things reported and "remembered" in trance is scarce.

What speaks against the ideas of the FMSF is that the evidence for the existence of such a syndrome is scarce.

The controversy has been raging since decades, without a solution in sight.

It touches upon the very nature of memory, imagination and the effectiveness or lack of effectiveness of contemporary therapies and hypnosis.

Solving the issue would also cast a new light on subjects that matter to ATS-Visitors (alien abductions, mind control, ritual abuse).

I´d appreciate support from ATS members in piecing together both sides of the controversy so that we can find out just what the hell this is all about.




posted on Jul, 12 2008 @ 03:33 PM
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An interesting side-note is that various societies of Skeptics use FMS to debunk claims of the paranormal although FMS has not been accepted by mainstream science or even the World Health Organization.

In other words: Skeptics (such as "The Skeptics Society") are using unscientific means against what they call "pseudoscience".

Some Info Sources:

False Memory Syndrome

False Memory Syndrome Foundation

Confabulation



posted on Jul, 12 2008 @ 03:47 PM
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One place to begin is the understanding that two different people, observing the same objective events, may very well give two entirely different accounts or interpretations of those events. While specific observations may be shown to be objective and correct, what we choose to focus on, and how we describe our observations, are intrinsically subjective. It is very difficult to be a 'fair witness'.

And that's just what happens during the initial formation of memory. As time passes and we grow, we inevitably change our outlook and perspective -- we become that 'other witness'.

The process of recollection is thus active, not passive. If we do not honestly understand ourselves, and acknowledge and account for the changes in viewpoint between when memory is formed and when it is recalled, there is a risk of inaccurately distorting past events, applying multiple layers of perspective filter in our interpretations.

That's known as confabulation; I believe it is the underlaying cause of the majority of 'false memory syndrome'. However, there are also cases of people claiming memories that objective evidence appears to indicate have been invented 'whole cloth', with no discernible blending of reinterpretation.

I wonder, are these the same phenomena, or different?



posted on Jul, 12 2008 @ 03:49 PM
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I know the power of suggestion and conditioning is very real and can in some cases lead to false "Beliefs" and lapses of memory. I had such an experience myself once, after a minor 5 car pile up I was in. I assumed the 5th (last) car caused the event, even though I say the 4th car cut in in the rear view mirror just before the accident and should have realized they where to blame.



posted on Jul, 12 2008 @ 04:43 PM
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Originally posted by Ian McLean
That's known as confabulation; I believe it is the underlaying cause of the majority of 'false memory syndrome'. However, there are also cases of people claiming memories that objective evidence appears to indicate have been invented 'whole cloth', with no discernible blending of reinterpretation.


I take that to mean (if you had to choose a side) you lean slightly toward the view of the FMSF?



I wonder, are these the same phenomena, or different?


And your answer...?


[edit on 12-7-2008 by Skyfloating]



posted on Jul, 12 2008 @ 06:03 PM
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Originally posted by ReelView
I know the power of suggestion and conditioning is very real and can in some cases lead to false "Beliefs" and lapses of memory. I had such an experience myself once, after a minor 5 car pile up I was in. I assumed the 5th (last) car caused the event, even though I say the 4th car cut in in the rear view mirror just before the accident and should have realized they where to blame.


Im sure it happens. Im just not sure it happens to the extent the FMSF says it does.

They claim that MOST information derived in regression, hypnosis, therapy on childhood memories indicating abuse is false.

Thats why theyve been accused of being party to a cover-up.



posted on Jul, 12 2008 @ 06:13 PM
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Originally posted by Skyfloating
And your answer...?


That both those who would label revealed 'regressed' memories as newfound absolute truth, and those who would lump them all together as 'False Memory Syndrome' are misestimating the power of denial.



[edit on 12-7-2008 by Ian McLean]



posted on Jul, 12 2008 @ 06:19 PM
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Originally posted by Ian McLean

That both those who would label revealed 'regressed' memories as newfound absolute truth, and those who would lump them all together as 'False Memory Syndrome' are misestimating the power of denial.





*sigh*....I suspected you´d take the middle ground. Thats the reason I never get any questions answered, I always take the middle ground.

Maybe the decade long controversy remains a controversy because none of the sides have it right. And - philosophically speaking - maybe thats true of any thesis-antithesis that remains unresolved.

Now we could go on to say that all memories are illusionary in a sense, or all of them are true in some sense which would end the discussion.

Maybe the better question should be: What exactly is being "brought up" during regression-sessions?



posted on Jul, 12 2008 @ 06:29 PM
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i have a tendency to believe that FMS is fact... just because im such a skeptic.. and dont believe there is any alien abductions taking place. Somehow it is a planted memory for some people who just happen to hear about it.. or read about it.. and for some reason there mind seems to run with it.. esp if gone under hypnosis, with a little prodding from the therapist.



posted on Jul, 12 2008 @ 07:34 PM
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Whether or not someone is diagnosed such as being schizophrenic, shouldn't negate the real possibility of an actual traumatic event.

One abduction site I had found eventually asked about mental illness that may be typically used to weed out those in the percentage with false or delusional memories and just ignore them for any follow up interviews as a way to save money?

It would seem that regardless of the source, many here on ATS still expect something closer to actual proof than a good story. Even so, that proof is becoming more elusive as technology has evolved and increased our doubts and somewhat fufilling that old twilight zone theme.

I wonder if we use brain scans, could they show these areas of the brain that may be responsible for such things as confabulation or false memories?

I would suspect that a 'repeated' abductee experiencer would have more vivid memories. I have a vague recall of having gone under hypnosis when I was younger.....I just don't recall what it was for.

For these people to live ordinary lives without any knowledge or interest would seem like a great challenge.

Maybe our biggest skeptics are actually the most successful test subjects and the most deluded?

I would say fact and fiction depending on the source and agenda.

[edit on 12-7-2008 by aleon1018]



posted on Jul, 12 2008 @ 07:45 PM
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Originally posted by Skyfloating
Im sure it happens. Im just not sure it happens to the extent the FMSF says it does.

They claim that MOST information derived in regression, hypnosis, therapy on childhood memories indicating abuse is false.

Thats why theyve been accused of being party to a cover-up.


The problem with the FMSF for me, are the connections to MKUltra and particularly Dr Louis Jolyon West who was receiving CIA funds, in the millions, right up to his death. Not only was he a founder member of the FMSF, he is also clearly linked to a number of events which could suggest that he himself is responsible for 'planting' false memories and this is certainly borne out by the work that he carried out under MKUltra and Operation Artichoke/Mockingbird.



posted on Jul, 12 2008 @ 07:48 PM
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Originally posted by Skyfloating
*sigh*....I suspected you´d take the middle ground.


Ah the mushy ground in the middle of the road... okay, let me step onto the curb:

There is no such thing as 'false memory'. The totality of any particular memory cannot be completely or accurately represented by any known science, or even by the expression of the memory holder. I strongly suspect, in fact, that a complete consistent and finite expression of any memory is impossible.

Expressing memories is subjective; 'repressed' memories are such because the individual has no available context in which to express them, or emotional need to do so. That's not always good -- sometimes context can be avoided or emotional conflicts suppressed and unresolved. But that doesn't always have to do with the memories themselves.

A context and interpretive slant can be provided by another. If it matches what the individual would provide themselves, or what the individual would truly embrace consistent with themselves, the 'recovered' memories are 'true'. If not, they're 'false'. Such judgment is entirely subjective, and distinct from the labels 'correct' and 'incorrect'.

If the context is in conflict with reality, in that determinable and objectively uncontroversial evidence can be presented that directly conflicts with conclusions derived from the particular memory interpretation, then those interpretations are clearly false. In those cases, the person can consider themselves misled.

Those who play-up this 'False Memory Syndrome' obvious have an agenda, not necessarily nefarious. Unfounded subjective accusations can ruin lives. This does not mean that all suppressed and recovered memories are 'false', however.



posted on Jul, 13 2008 @ 03:36 AM
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Originally posted by philjwolf
i have a tendency to believe that FMS is fact... just because im such a skeptic.. and dont believe there is any alien abductions taking place. Somehow it is a planted memory for some people who just happen to hear about it.. or read about it.. and for some reason there mind seems to run with it.. esp if gone under hypnosis, with a little prodding from the therapist.



Maybe. I dont really believe that childhood sexual abuse is as widespread and common as they say it is. Some of it must be invented. Difficult to express without being disrespectful toward real victims.



posted on Jul, 13 2008 @ 03:39 AM
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Originally posted by aleon1018
I would say fact and fiction depending on the source and agenda.


Good approach.

When alien abduction stories told in regression are accompanied by scars on the skin and crop circles on the guys farmland we´re more inclined to believe.



posted on Aug, 31 2008 @ 10:06 PM
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I suspect the answer is quite easy.

The representation of our physical realities are based in electro-physio-chemical reactions.

Based on the nature of the 'fight or flight response', it can be said that there is a base reaction for the human to interpret these various 'physical and minute reactions' to the context of their surroundings.

All memory will be inflected, to an extent, by current physio chemical circumstances. As well, we know(can someone substantiate or refute that please?) that there are three cuases of amnesia:

Hypnosis

Extreme Truama (or 'New Trauma' as I have experienced(interpreted) that repeated traumas still allow for a specific memory signature)

And Alcohol Abuse (or 'Extreme/New Alcohol Abuse).

What hasn't been described in many instances of this argument is the fact that there are levels to these phenomena.

Who is to say that 'Mom' wasn't just an apathetic human? Future remorse of this fact could lead to a latching on of a suggestion of physical abuse.

My experience?

Psychological pain is worse than physical..and the need to grab onto an implicit/indirect support group may just be a powerful motivation to 'modify' past memory.

And you have my explicit expression that I am most interested in objective expression. I dislike the fact that some of my memories can be 'fake'...but I dream alot and find that sometimes in the day, I reacting to a dream moment.

Consider the chemical difference in the dream process and the wake process.

Does anyone think that there is a static difference between the two?

What of the person who took sleeping pills for the first time? The extension of the 'dream/sleep' physiological state will extend into the circadium rythemic release of (seratonin, the 'wake up neurotransmitter)?

So there are going to be less than trustworthy memories.

But Fight and Flight almost never lies. Because it is automatic. Muscle memory is not the same as explicit memory. And the attempts to explain and detail muscle memory are likely where 'false memory syndrome' comes into play.

That is how, in my opinion, that false memories can become. The attempt to detail a 'muscle memory/reaction'.

I submit that to understand this, we should disallow ego in understanding our memories.

To get a bit personal...remember the phrase 'practice makes perfect'.

Tis why I expressed the above as New or Extreme or Repeated Trauma/Alcohol.

After a while, you just get used to things and want to be left alone.

And all of this is based on my own interpretation. There is very little I actually researched, so, with a grain of salt...



posted on Sep, 16 2008 @ 06:53 AM
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KilgoreTrout has touched on a subject that causes me grave concerns about the FMSF.

This 2007 study seems to undermine what the FMSF have been trying to convince us of for years.

Practice Forgetting and Memories Fade

Their study may have clinical implications for those suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome or obsessive-compulsive disorder, Brendan Depue, a doctoral candidate at the University of Colorado, and colleagues reported in the July 13 issue of Science.

And it may also re-ignite the debate over so-called repressed memories, a topic that has been highly controversial in recent years.

The process of suppressing a memory has two stages and is under the control of the prefrontal regions of the brain, the researchers noted.


Remember that repressed memory is pretty much the foundation of all psychotherapies. If it's all a scam, it's one of the best perpetrated in history.

Do a search on some of these names and tell me there aren't vested interests here.


November 1, 1995:

PAMELA FREYD, Ph.D., Executive Director

AARON T. BECK, M.D., D.M.S., University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA

TERENCE W. CAMPBELL, Ph.D., Clinical and Forensic Psychology, Sterling Heights, MI

ROSALIND CARTWRIGHT, Rush Presbyterian St. Lukes Medical Center, Chicago, IL

JEAN CHAPMAN, Ph.D., University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI

LOREN CHAPMAN, Ph.D., University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI

FREDERICK C. CREWS, Ph.D., University of California,

Berkeley, CA

ROBYN M. DAWES, Ph.D., Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA

DAVID F. DINGES, Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania, The

Institute of Pennsylvania Hospital, Philadelphia, PA

HENRY C. ELLIS, Ph.D., University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM

FRED FRANKEL, M.B.Ch.B., D.P.M., Beth Israel Hospital, Harvard

Medical School, Boston, MA

GEORGE K. GANAWAY, M.D., Emory University of Medicine, Atlanta, GA

MARTIN GARDNER, Author, Hendersonville, NC

ROCHEL GELMAN, Ph.D., University of California, Los Angeles, CA

HENRY GLEITMAN, Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA

LILA GLEITMAN, Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA

RICHARD GREEN, M.D., J.D., Charing Cross Hospital, London

DAVID A. HALPERIN, M.D., Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York,

NY

ERNEST HILGARD, Ph.D., Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA

JOHN HOCHMAN, M.D., UCLA Medical School, Los Angeles, CA

DAVID S. HOLMES, Ph.D., University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS

PHILIP S. HOLZMAN, Ph.D., Harvard University, Cambridge, MA

JOHN KIHLSTROM, Ph.D., Yale University, New Haven, CT

HAROLD LIEF, M.D., University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA

ELIZABETH LOFTUS, Ph.D., University of Washington, Seattle, WA

PAUL McHUGH, M.D., Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD

HAROLD MERSKEY, D.M., University of Western Ontario, London,

Canada

ULRIC NEISSER, Ph.D., Emory University, Atlanta, GA

RICHARD OFSHE, Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley, CA

EMILY K ORNE, B.A., University of Pennsyllvania, The Institute

of Pennsylvania Hospital, Philadelphia, PA

MARTIN ORNE, M.D., Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania, The

Institute of Pennsylvania Hospital, Philadelphia, PA

LOREN PANKRATZ, Ph.D., Oregon Health Sciences University,

Portland, OR

CAMPBELL PERRY, Ph.D., Concordia University, Montreal, Canada

MICHAEL A. PERSINGER, Ph.D., Laurentian University, Ontario,

Canada

AUGUST T. PIPER, Jr., M.D., Seattle, WA

HARRISON POPE, Jr., M.D., Harvard Medical School, Cambridge, MA

JAMES RANDI, Author and Magician, Plantation, FL

HENRY L. ROEDIGER, III, Ph.D., Rice University, Houston, TX

CAROLYN SAARI, Ph.D., Loyola University, Chicago, IL

THEODORE SARBIN, Ph.D., University of California, Santa Cruz, CA

THOMAS A. SEBEOK, Ph.D., Indiana Univeristy, Bloomington, IN

LOUISE SHOEMAKER, Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania,

Philadelphia, PA

MARGARET SINGER, Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley, CA

RALPH SLOVENKO, J.D., Ph.D., Wayne State University Law School,

Detroit, MI

DONALD SPENCE, Ph.D., Robert Wood Johnson Medical Center,

Piscataway, NJ

JEFFREY VICTOR, Ph.D., Jamestown Community College, Jamestown, NY

HOLLIDA WAKEFIELD, M.A., Institute of Psychological Therapies,

Northfield, MN

LOUIS JOLYON WEST, M.D., UCLA School of Medicine, Los Angeles, CA.


Aaron T. Beck, M.D, D.M.S. - University of Pennsylvania , Philadelphia

David F. Dinges, Ph.D. - University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia

Fred H. Frankel, MbCHb, DPM - Harvard University Medical School, MA

George K. Ganaway, M.D. - Emory University, Atlanta, GA

Henry Gleitman, Ph.D. - University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia

Lila Gleitman, Ph.D. - University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia

Ernest R. Hilgard, Ph.D., N.A.S. - Stanford University, CA

John Hochman, M.D. - UCLA Medical School, Los Angeles, CA

Philip S. Holzman, Ph.D. - Harvard University, MA

Harold I. Lief, M.D. - University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia

Paul R. McHugh, M.D. - Johns Hopkins University, MD

Ulric Neisser, Ph.D., N.A.S. - Cornell University, NY

Emily Carota Orne - University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia

Harrison Pope, Jr., M.D. - Harvard Medical School, MA

As of 7/02, a minimum of 29% of the advisory board members are employed by universities and hospitals that, according to CIA records, have been involved in covert human experimentation. Other members of the board have been been employed in the past, and there may be other "involved" facilities that we do not have records of.

Of the 14 members who worked at these universities and hospitals as of 7/02, 43% were employed by the University of Pennsylvania and 21% were employed by Harvard University. Pamela Freyd claimed that the University of Pennsylvania and Johns Hopkins were instrumental in the formation of the FMSF. Dr. Paul McHugh's employment at Johns Hopkins is significant, because he may have been instrumental in recruiting that university's initial support in creating the FMSF.
NAFF

None of this is new stuff and I'm sure it has been brought up on the forums many times.


Martin T. Orne, CIA researcher, an original board member of the FMSF. A man who had his fingers in many MK ULTRA pies. Hypno-programming experiments (the elicitation of "anti-social" behaviour, dissolving memory etc...) funded by the CIA while he was at Cornell University.

The infamous Louis Jolyon West another past board member whose CIA career runs all the way back to his inteview with Jack Ruby.

The "Amazing" James Randi, professional debunker and CIA consultant.

Then we have the illustrious founder of the FMSF, Ralph Underwager, a man who just couldn't keep his mouth shut to Dutch paedophile magazine Paidika

Peter and Pamela Freyd (Pamela's name being the only one now mentioned on the FMSF's website) were accused of abuse by their daughter, Jennifer. Peter Freyd was known to tell people that his daughter was brain damaged. I guess she proved him wrong when she went on to become a professor of psychology at the University of Oregon. Pamela sought the intervention of Dr. Harold Lief, a former major in the Army Medical Corps and a member of the faculty of the University of Pennsylvania (He became a member in 1968, when federally funded behavioural modification experiments at Holmesburg Prison were in full swing). Lief and Orne had collaborated in the past in the field of Hypnotic Programming. Needless to say Lief went on to become an advisor to the FMSF.
Link to thread





[edit on 16/9/2008 by Beelzebubba]



posted on Sep, 16 2008 @ 07:36 AM
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On the issue at hand -

I'm not a fan that "false memory syndrome" is becoming a quick write off for people with exceptional stories. I think it's a cop out by an unskilled practicioner, and yes - extremely likely to be abused and overused within todays mainstream psychiatric/psychological community.

But when you look at it from a low income community care providers perspective, it's a heck of a lot easier to dismiss such wild stories as a "syndrome" and just continue pumping the patient full of pills without really having to give any time or attention to indepth psychoanalysis.

I'm a member of such a local community care provider, and their caseload in this area is swamped with people claiming everything under the sun.

Whether or not their claims are valid, I can't say - I haven't met them or seen their casefiles....but one thing is certain - the majority of low end mental health providers are working overtime these days.

I've come to the conclusion that the only good therapy is self therapy.

Hypnotic regression might serve a function in helping to isolate repressed events that might be contributing to psychosis, dysfunction, etc...but unless the patient is really to confront the dark truth of what "may or may not" be down there in the subconcious mind - and put some intensive coping stragegies to it - it's best to let sleeping memories lie.

I can see FMS used loosely for the majority of cases where the patient is unable to deal with the reality of their past.

However, I can also see it being used to discredit actual SRA, abduction, abuse patients who, through their testimony, might name the wrong names or something of a similar nature.

Heavy topic here.



posted on Sep, 16 2008 @ 08:06 AM
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Fascinating read so far.

I'm obviously no expert but I have always had the inclination that a large percentage of "abduction" claims may be as a result of birth memories. You know... poking, prodding, grabby beings with big eyes, bright lights, injections...sounds like child birth to me.



posted on Sep, 16 2008 @ 09:31 AM
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A decade or so ago, I was lucky to work with a Dr. Jerome Swartz (then Symbol Technologies - he's the bar-code scanner technology inventor). He was intensely interested in the phenomenon referred to as 'misremembering' which I believe must be related to the mechanics and processes involved in the FMS theory.

It seems that memory messages can be changed in the process of calling them forth into the conscious mind. Presumably, were such a thing to be confirmed, FMS will have another stumbling block to overcome, because there is a huge difference between the basis of false memories and 'misremembering' which is an involuntary corruption of data communication in the brain.

Unless it is examined n the context of the judgmental process within the mind, false memories is a theory which can be abused as much as it claims false memories are. Interesting counter to the practice of seeking memories which have been theoretically repressed.



posted on Sep, 16 2008 @ 10:03 AM
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Originally posted by GENERAL EYES
I've come to the conclusion that the only good therapy is self therapy.

Exactly right, in my opinion. That doesn't mean anyone has to go it alone.



Originally posted by Maxmars
It seems that memory messages can be changed in the process of calling them forth into the conscious mind.

Yes, I believe that to be the case. The process of recollection itself creates memories. Associating and remembering is an event that becomes part of our memory history. It creates, to some degree, links and associations between 1) the original memory-image that is being recalled, 2) the event of the recollection, 3) the impetus and motivation that instigated the recollection, and 4) the not-necessarily relevant emotional state at the time.

Thus, even though the event of recollection remains a distinct memory, the gestalt of the original memory, and what associations it connects when not remembered in fine detail, is modified and can become skewed.

This is the basis for much modern advertising technique. Create a desired associative state in the viewer (a strongly emotional theme), then 'recall' the target product into that. Even if there's no logical connection, an associative link is formed. If the emotional state is strong enough, the link created from the event of product-recollection becomes bidirectional -- future recollections of the product become 'tinted' with the desired connotations.





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