Elizabeth Loftus warmed to the idea of memory tampering for the best of reasons. She wanted to help people.
In her official career, as she described it in books, she studied the art of mental manipulation only to dissect, expose, and defeat it. Occasionally, she lent her psychological expertise to lawyers or advertisers for their self-interested purposes. But these purposes weren't hers, so she never turned them into a career.
To embrace memory tampering, she needed a purpose of her own. Something she could believe in and care about. Something that could put her skills to good use.
The story of how Loftus found that purpose—the story of her shadow career—began 30 years ago with a metaphor. "Imagine a world in which people could go to a special kind of psychologist or psychiatrist—a memory doctor—and have their memories modified," she mused in her 1980 book, Memory.