Jennifer Freyd

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Jennifer Freyd
Born (1957-10-16) October 16, 1957 (age 66)
Alma materUniversity of Pennsylvania,
Stanford University
Known forResearch on Betrayal Trauma, DARVO, Institutional Betrayal, and Institutional Courage Edit this at Wikidata

Jennifer Joy Freyd (/frd/; born October 16, 1957, in Providence, Rhode Island[citation needed]) is an American psychologist, researcher, author, educator, and speaker. Freyd is an extensively published scholar who is best known for her theories of betrayal trauma, DARVO, institutional betrayal, and institutional courage.

Freyd is the Founder and President of the Center for Institutional Courage,[1][2] Professor Emerit[3][4] of Psychology at the University of Oregon, Adjunct Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences in the School of Medicine,[5] Faculty Fellow at the Clayman Institute for Gender Research,[6] Affiliated Faculty, Women's Leadership Lab, Stanford University[7] and principal investigator of the Freyd Dynamics Lab.

Freyd is a Member of the Advisory Committee, 2019–2023, for the Action Collaborative on Preventing Sexual Harassment in Higher Education, National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine.[8][9] She is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association, the American Psychological Society, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Since 2005, Freyd has been the editor of the Journal of Trauma & Dissociation.[10][citation needed]

She is also the leader of the Program on Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Sexual Violence at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University.[11][better source needed]

Education and employer[edit]

Freyd attended Friends Select School in Philadelphia and after three years of high school was admitted to the University of Pennsylvania where she received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Anthropology. In 1983 she earned her Ph.D. in Psychology at Stanford University.[12]

Freyd was an assistant professor at Cornell University from 1983 to 1987, until she was hired with tenure as an Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of Oregon in 1987.[13][better source needed] In 1992, Freyd was promoted to full professor at the University of Oregon.[14]

In 2017, Freyd filed suit against the University of Oregon for violating the Equal Pay Act, the Equal Protection Clause, and Title IX during her decades of employment.[15] Freyd's complaint raises important issues regarding the enforcement of federal equality laws in academia, and the pay gap for women in particular.[16] Dozens of women's and civil rights groups have collaborated on amicus briefs, including Equal Rights Advocates, the ACLU Women's Rights Project, the National Women's Law Center, the American Association of University Professors. The case was heard by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.[17] The Ninth Circuit ruled in favor of Freyd's appeal on March 15, 2021, setting important precedent.[18][19]

Research and theory[edit]

In the last two decades, Freyd has researched and written extensively on sexual abuse and memory.[20][21] Freyd's initial empirical discovery of representational momentum[22][23] and shareability led to her further explore the relationship between trauma memories and the element of betrayal. Freyd introduced the following original concepts to the trauma literature: betrayal trauma, DARVO, institutional betrayal, and institutional courage.[24]

Betrayal trauma is defined as a trauma perpetrated by someone whom the victim is close to and reliant upon for support and survival.[25]

DARVO is an acronym used to describe a common strategy of abusers.[26][27] The abuser may: Deny the abuse ever took place, Attack the victim for attempting to hold the abuser accountable; and claim that they, the abuser, are the real victim in the situation, thus Reversing the Victim and Offender.[26]

Institutional betrayal refers to "wrongdoings perpetrated by an institution upon individuals dependent on that institution, including failure to prevent or respond supportively to wrongdoings by individuals (e.g. sexual assault) committed within the context of the institution".[28] It is an extension of betrayal trauma theory. In a 2013 study, Carly P. Smith and Jennifer Freyd documented the psychological harm caused by institutional betrayal.[29]

Freyd introduced the term institutional courage in 2014.[30]

In a September 2019 article in the Journal of Trauma & Dissociation, Freyd and Smidt[31] emphasize the value of education for organizations that are taking steps toward institutional courage. The authors make a distinction between training (which connotes "compliance and a rules-based process") and education, which "is associated with complex understanding, critical thinking, and the acquisition of knowledge based on empirical research and theory development".[31] As it concerns sexual violence (a primary focus of Freyd's research), education is needed to help society understand "major aspects of the frequency, consequences, and dynamics of sexual harassment and assault".[31]

In early 2019, Freyd announced a new research initiative to promote the study of institutional courage.[32] The project supported interdisciplinary research on the interconnected problems of sexual violence, DARVO, and institutional betrayal, as well as ways in which institutional courage can flourish. Freyd described her current research agenda on institutional betrayal and courage[33] and intention to create a nonprofit organization, The Center for Institutional Courage, on a December 2019 episode of the Human Centered podcast.[34] Freyd described the Center for Institutional Courage as “roughly equal parts a research center that can nurture new knowledge generation, and an outreach part that applies that knowledge to the world”.[34] In early 2020, Freyd and her colleagues incorporated the Center for Institutional Courage 501(c)(3), an institution dedicated to scientific research, wide-reaching education, and data-driven action promoting institutional courage.[4] In 2021, the Center for Institutional Courage funded 15 research projects on the topics of institutional courage, institutional betrayal, and DARVO.[4]


Because of her research on sexual assault and institutional betrayal, Freyd was invited to the White House in 2014 to meet with White House advisors on violence against women, as well as New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, to discuss how her research relates to campus sexual violence.[35][36] In June 2017, Freyd was invited again to speak at a meeting of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, where she presented on institutional betrayal and sexual harassment in academia.[37] In an open essay, entitled "Gender Discrimination, Dr. Jennifer Freyd's Lawsuit, & Recommendations for Universities,"[38] the author underscored the far-reaching consequences of gender discrimination against women in higher education.

Freyd's research on sexual violence and institutional betrayal has become increasingly prominent[39] with the rise of the Me Too movement and growing societal awareness of the prevalence of sexual harassment and assault.[40] For example, in an interview with Diane Sawyer in 2017, actress and political activist Ashley Judd referenced DARVO when discussing the Harvey Weinstein sexual abuse allegations.[41]

Freyd has focused on ensuring that survivors do not lose their voice in the process of reporting sexual violence.[42] Freyd asserted that since institutions can perpetrate abuse by (1) ignoring survivors' wishes about how their private information is shared when they decide to disclose, and (2) by emphasizing that survivors' information will be passed along without their consent, she proposed that faculty educate colleagues and students about Title IX, sexual violence, and institutional betrayal, as well as provide resources for disrupting a culture of sexual violence and learning how to be a good listener.[43] Freyd has proposed 10 steps by which institutions (including universities) can make progress toward institutional courage, such as encouraging whistleblowing and carrying out assessments of institutional betrayal through anonymous surveys.[44] The Chronicle of Higher Education has covered the ongoing debate at the University of Oregon[45] and the Association of American Universities (AAU).[46] Dozens of scientists have criticized the AAU's proposed campus climate survey, with Freyd as a key player in the scientific debate.[47][48][49]

In 2021, Freyd argued that academic institutions should cease the use of the gendered honorary titles 'emeritus' and 'emerita' and instead adopt the gender-neutral term 'emerit'.[50] As of early 2022, both the University of Oregon and Oregon State University are considering dropping the gendered titles in favor of 'emerit' or a similar gender-neutral alternative.[51]

Personal life[edit]

Freyd was married to John Quincy "JQ" Johnson III, from 1984 until his death in 2012.[52] Together they have three children.[52]

Around 1990, Freyd severed ties with her parents, stating that a recent therapy had uncovered memories of her father, mathematics professor Peter J. Freyd, abusing her during her childhood.[53] Her parents, Pamela and Peter Freyd, disputed Freyd's claims of sexual assault, and in 1992 co-founded the False Memory Syndrome Foundation, which has been described as a US "advocacy group [...] for people claiming to have been wrongly accused of physical and sexual abuse."[54][55][53] Three years after its founding, it had more than 7,500 members.[53] The foundation was dissolved on December 31, 2019.[56]

Selected publications[edit]


  • Freyd, J. J. (1996). Betrayal Trauma: The Logic of Forgetting Childhood Abuse. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA. ISBN 978-0-674-06805-6..
  • Freyd, J. J.; Anne P. DePrince (2001). Trauma and cognitive science: a meeting of minds, science, and human experience. Haworth Press. ISBN 978-0-7890-1374-3.
  • Freyd, J. J.; Pamela J. Birrell (2013). Blind to Betrayal: Why we fool ourselves we aren't being fooled. Somerset, New Jersey: Wiley. ISBN 9780470604403.

Chapters in books[edit]

Journal articles[edit]


  1. ^ "Center for Institutional Courage". Retrieved February 8, 2022.
  2. ^ "Why Are Colleges So Cowardly?". Retrieved February 8, 2022.
  3. ^ Freyd, Jennifer J. (October 20, 2021). "Full article: Professor Emerit: It is Time to Reject Gendered Titles for Retired Faculty". Journal of Trauma & Dissociation. 22 (5): 479–486. doi:10.1080/15299732.2021.1965962. PMID 34524054. S2CID 237515311.
  4. ^ a b c "Center funds research into 'institutional courage'".
  5. ^ "Jennifer Joy Freyd's Profile".
  6. ^ "Jennifer Freyd". September 15, 2021.
  7. ^ "Affiliated Faculty | Women's Leadership". Retrieved February 8, 2022.
  8. ^ PGA. "AdvisoryCmte". Retrieved December 23, 2019.
  9. ^ "Top secret: U.S. National Academy of Medicine keeps expulsions quiet".
  10. ^ "Journal of Trauma & Dissociation". ISSTD.
  11. ^ "Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Sexual Violence: Individual, Institutional, and Structural Forces". Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University. Retrieved December 23, 2019.
  12. ^ "Oregon psychology professor talks psychology of sexual harassment". The Stanford Daily. Stanford University. April 13, 2018. Retrieved December 25, 2018.
  13. ^ "Jennifer J. Freyd: Abbreviated Vita". Archived from the original on July 6, 2009.
  14. ^ "Freyd v. University of Oregon". Retrieved February 8, 2022.
  15. ^ "A 'most glaring' case of pay inequity at University of Oregon". May 30, 2019.
  16. ^ Middleton, Johnson Johnson Lucas and (October 2, 2019). "Women's and Civil Rights Groups File Briefs Supporting Professor Jennifer Freyd's Equal Pay Act Case | Johnson Johnson Lucas & Middleton". | Johnson Johnson Lucas & Middleton. Retrieved December 23, 2019.
  17. ^ Scalpone, Gina (May 28, 2020). "Appealing on Zoom". Eugene Weekly. Retrieved June 10, 2020.
  18. ^ "Appeals court revives UO professor's suit alleging 'glaring' gender pay gap". March 17, 2021.
  19. ^ "Equal Pay Suits To Evolve Amid Rulings, State Law Changes - Law360". Retrieved February 8, 2022.
  20. ^ "Science of Child Sexual Abuse". Retrieved December 14, 2010.
  21. ^ Hoag, Becky (March 1, 2019). "A look into Dr. Jennifer Freyd's research on sexual violence psychology and institutional betrayal". Daily Emerald.
  22. ^ Freyd, Jennifer J.; Finke, Ronald A. (1984). "Representational momentum". Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition. 10: 126–132. doi:10.1037/0278-7393.10.1.126.
  23. ^ Thornton, Ian M.; Hubbard, Timothy L. (2002). "Representational momentum: New findings, new directions". Visual Cognition. 9 (1–2): 1–7. doi:10.1080/13506280143000430. S2CID 9213080.
  24. ^ "Jennifer Joy Freyd researches sexual violence". Retrieved February 9, 2022.
  25. ^ Freyd, J. J. (1996). Betrayal Trauma: The Logic of forgetting childhood abuse. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
  26. ^ a b Sweetman, Esther (November 7, 2017). "DARVO - Deny, Attack, Reverse Victim and Offender". Restored Relationships. Retrieved June 10, 2020.
  27. ^ Dampier, Cindy (March 7, 2019). "R. Kelly's CBS meltdown has a name, says researcher: 'That's DARVO'". Chicago Tribune. Tribune Publishing. Retrieved June 10, 2020.
  28. ^ "Institutional Betrayal Research Home Page". Retrieved December 23, 2019.
  29. ^ "Dangerous safe havens: institutional betrayal exacerbates sexual trauma" (PDF). Retrieved February 8, 2022.
  30. ^ "OPINION: Official campus statistics for sexual violence mislead". Retrieved January 2, 2020.
  31. ^ a b c Freyd, Jennifer J.; Smidt, Alec M. (October 20, 2019). "So you want to address sexual harassment and assault in your organization? Training is not enough; Education is necessary". Journal of Trauma & Dissociation. 20 (5): 489–494. doi:10.1080/15299732.2019.1663475. ISSN 1529-9732. PMID 31510884.
  32. ^ "Project on Institutional Courage". Jennifer J. Freyd, PhD. Retrieved December 23, 2019.
  33. ^ "Institutional Betrayal Research Home Page". Retrieved January 2, 2020.
  34. ^ a b "Sexual Violence & Institutional Courage - Jennifer Freyd". December 4, 2019. Retrieved December 23, 2019.
  35. ^ "Jennifer Freyd takes part in White House announcement". Around the O. University of Oregon. April 29, 2014. Retrieved December 25, 2018.
  36. ^ Bartlett, Tom (October 14, 2014). "How a Sex-Assault Researcher Persevered Against University Resistance". The Chronicle of Higher Education. ISSN 0009-5982. Retrieved December 25, 2018.
  37. ^ "SH Study 3rd Meeting".
  38. ^ "Open Essay: Gender Discrimination, Dr. Jennifer Freyd's Lawsuit, & University Recommendations". Retrieved February 8, 2022.
  39. ^ Freyd, Jennifer (July 14, 2018). "OPINION: Official campus statistics for sexual violence mislead". Retrieved December 25, 2018.
  40. ^ Coleman, Libby (January 15, 2018). "Will There Be a Backlash to #MeToo?". OZY.
  41. ^ Effron, Lauren (October 27, 2017). "How Ashley Judd fought off Harvey Weinstein's alleged sexual harassment". ABC News. Retrieved December 25, 2018.
  42. ^ Freyd, Jennifer J. (2019). "Compelled Betrayal".
  43. ^ Freyd, Jennifer J. (April 25, 2016). "The Problem with "Required Reporting" Rules for Sexual Violence on Campus". Huffington Post.
  44. ^ Freyd, Jennifer J. "When sexual assault victims speak out, their institutions often betray them". The Conversation. Retrieved December 25, 2018.
  45. ^ Bartlett, Tom (October 14, 2014). "How a Sex-Assault Researcher Persevered Against University Resistance" – via The Chronicle of Higher Education.
  46. ^ Bonine, John E. (November 26, 2014). "Surveys, Secrecy, and Sexual Assault". The Chronicle of Higher Education Blogs: The Conversation. Retrieved December 25, 2018.
  47. ^ "Scientists to AAU member university presidents". University of Oregon. November 1, 2014.
  48. ^ Kingkade, Tyler (September 1, 2015). "A Supergroup Of Academics Is Trying To Stop People Who Profit From Campus Rape". Huffington Post. Retrieved December 25, 2018.
  49. ^ Bartlett, Tom (November 18, 2014). "AAU's Planned Sexual-Assault Survey Draws Backlash From Some Researchers". The Chronicle of Higher Education. ISSN 0009-5982. Retrieved December 25, 2018.
  50. ^ Freyd, Jennifer J. (October 20, 2021). "Professor Emerit: It is Time to Reject Gendered Titles for Retired Faculty". Journal of Trauma & Dissociation. 22 (5): 479–486. doi:10.1080/15299732.2021.1965962. PMID 34524054. S2CID 237515311.
  51. ^ "Push in Oregon for gender-neutral retired faculty titles". Retrieved February 8, 2022.
  52. ^ a b "Stanford Magazine - Obituaries - November/December 2012". Stanford Magazine. November 1, 2012. Archived from the original on June 14, 2013. Retrieved December 25, 2018.
  53. ^ a b c Bor, Jonathan (December 9, 1994). "One family's tragedy spawns national group". Baltimore Sun. Archived from the original on June 20, 2021. ...her daughter, a psychology professor at the University of Oregon, suddenly kicked her parents out of her life, saying she had begun to remember that her father had forced her into sexual contact over 13 years.
  54. ^ Calouf, David L. "A Conversation With Pamela Freyd" (PDF). Treating Abuse Today, Volume 3, Number 3. Retrieved December 24, 2018.
  55. ^ Dallam, SJ (2001). "Crisis or Creation: A Systematic Examination of 'False Memory Syndrome'". Journal of Child Sexual Abuse. 9 (3/4): 9–36. doi:10.1300/J070v09n03_02. PMID 17521989. S2CID 26047059. Archived from the original on October 2, 2020. Retrieved September 16, 2009.
  56. ^ "Survivors Celebrate the End of the False Memory Syndrome Foundation". The Mighty. Retrieved January 2, 2020.