Sections you will find in this report:

Section 1: What is Satanic Ritual Abuse?

More and more people -- mostly women -- are being treated for "Ritual Satanic Abuse" (or what has later become the more reasonable-sounding "Ritual Sexual Abuse.") This abuse is usually "discovered" while a woman is undergoing treatment for an eating disorder or chronic depression. It is always "discovered" by therapists who are fundamentalist Christians who believe in a so-called "World-wide Satanic conspiracy" where hundreds of thousands of people around the world engage in ritual murder for the Christian "Satan" god, often eating their victims to destroy the evidence.

Several books have been written about this genre of belief since it has a solid historic precedent. The claims that "Satanic Ritual Abuse" encompasses are equal to claims made in the decades and centuries past for so-called "outgroups" -- groups of individuals which may or may not even exist. Examples of special note are Jews, Gypsies, and the "Illuminati." Every believer has been utterly convinced they've got first-hand knowledge of the conspiracies and actions of these evil groups. Many honestly believe they've suffered under the hands of such outgroups and have been suppressing the memories of such abuse. (See these web pages folders for details concerning False Memory Syndrome.)

Here's where Fundamentalist therapists come in. Over the last three decades the United States has seen the rising phenomena of believers in SRA. So many outrageous claims were made without a shred of evidence to support them that government agencies have been prompted to perform investigations into the allegations and have produced research reports which indicate that SRA is an urban legend. (Ask Fredric Rice for the FBI's report on cult activities in the United States.)

Still the believers continue to believe, merely expanding the conspiracy to include the government agencies (such as the FBI) which find the allegations to be nonsense. Since no one can find any evidence to back-up their beliefs, they seek to manufacture evidence. Therapists who believe honestly enough are implanting false memories into their patients and, since the patient experience strong emotional responses to the suggestive leading therapists employ, they too start believing.

The infamous and most expensive court case in America's history was the McMartin Preschool fiasco. In that case there were allegations of "Satanic Ritual Abuse" levied against the McMartins even though no evidence for any abuse was ever found, leave alone abuse of a violent nature. In that case a mother who believed in the Christian "Satan" god and in the "World-wide Satanic Conspiracy" honestly thought her son had been ritually abuse by the McMartins and she found therapists, other parents, and lawyers who were willing to perpetuate the unfounded beliefs. (HBO even created a pseudo-docudrama depicting the McMartins, with the movie ending with the McMartins caught in the act performing "Satanic" rituals with children. Naturally HBO didn't name the McMartins by name yet the story line was a cut-and-paste from the media depiction's before the trials.)

Many SRA allegations where made about the Branch Davidians at Waco, Texas. Janet Reno is a firm believer in SRA and honestly thought that the Branch Davidians were ritually abusing children in their compound. Even though Child Protective Services had investigated the Davidians and their children routinely due to allegations made by ex-Davidians, Reno widened her SRA conspiracy beliefs to include CPS and dismissed the findings which denied the abuse. Later allegations of illegal weapons and drug manufacturing laboratories were made to try to make the public believe the attack on the Davidians was justified. If Reno didn't honestly believe in SRA, the Davidians would quite probably have been left alone -- as most cults are.

The victims are the patients who are on the receiving end of false memory implantation as well as the families which are destroyed to their core by the process which develops. Usually a daughter starts off by being told her father raped her ritualistically. Her eating disorder or chronic depression are said to be caused by the repression of those memories.

Under the guidance of the Fundamentalist therapist, the patient is led to broaden the scope of the "repressed memories." After the patient starts to honestly believe her father had raped her, she is led to believe that her father brought in others to his house to also rape her. When that belief is firmly implanted, the patient is invited to "visualize" the activities and "make them real." Only by "making these memories real" can the healing process begin.

The implanted memories become ever more bizarre and outrageous.

Even though most patients end up believing memories of being cut, beaten, broken, or forced to give birth to babies (which are then murdered) they find bizarre and outrageous excuses as to why there are no scars on their bodies and why examinations find many who claimed to have given birth a dozen times still have their hymen intact. They are told by their therapist that repressing memories also cause the scars to disappear and that repressing memories of having given birth will cause their physical virginity to "return." They are told of "Body Memories" which are used to pretend that the every-day aches, pains, and itching of life are the results of "Satanic" abuse. Thus every time a believer experiences a headache they acquire vindication of their beliefs.

You can imagine what this does to the family of the patient. In most cases the patient is told to break off all contact with the other members of the family (otherwise the lies the therapist has implanted will be discovered) and to "grow empowered" enough to eventually confront the family, accusing them of what the patient now firmly believes actually happened.

Anyone who suggests that the person is mistaken or that the therapist is engaged in a secret agenda is called a "perp" so that the voice of reason can be dismissed on the grounds that anyone who calls for a sane, rational examination is in on the conspiracy to suppress the truth. SRA self-support groups have formed around the United States and they are places where believers -- every one of them patients of therapists -- get together and vindicate each other's beliefs. Any so-called "invalidating" talk is not permitted and anyone who suggests the memories are implanted are ejected from the group.

All of this happens as the result of the religious beliefs of the therapist. No evidence has ever been found and the aspects of implanting false memories are becoming better understood. So much so in fact that the patients who bother to investigate the validity of the beliefs so implanted in them always find that the therapist has been lying to them -- however good their intentions. Because of the growing awareness, many victims of false memory implantation are starting to sue their previous therapists -- and every one of them have won. There is no defense for the deliberate implanting of memories. While it is true that often the implantation is not malicious, it is still inexcusable to manipulate innocent people to vindicate one's religious beliefs.


Section 2: My personal experiences in this arena

Perhaps two or three years ago a discussion forum was created in the FidoNet echo domain called SRA -- Satanic Ritual Abuse. The echo was advertised as a support forum for victims of SRA. No "perps;" were allowed to participate and "invalidating;" other peoples' claimed experiences were grounds for ejection from the forum.

What I observed was a number of women who honestly believed that they were the victims of SRA. Every one of them suffered from Multiple Personality Disorder -- at least they were diagnosed as such by their therapists. True MPD is quite rare.

People keying-in messages from their computers would become actors, swapping "alternate;" personalities. A woman posting under the name "Becky" would finish the message and then start posting under the name "Samantha" -- one of her "alternates." The personality traits exhibited by the new persona are different than the previous ones with the individual doing her best to appear to actually be the same person but with a new personality. They sought to impress upon each other that they did in fact suffer from MPD. They do this because MPD is touted by their therapists as the result of SRA and if they can pretend they're suffering from MPD their status as victims is validated.

Another phenomena I observed was the competition factor. A women would describe a memory she had "recovered" while watching an old western television show and proclaim with certainty that the new set of abuses thus recovered actually happened. Others would read the story and try to best the violence and abuse by also providing newly "reacquired" memories.

It's a self-reinforcing dynamic going on. One person's "recovered memories" would stampeded the rest into "e;recovering" a new memory to either validate the original claim or to top it. When a participant remains unduly silent, they are prodded to describe the "progress" they've made -- and by "progress" they mean coming-up with a story of SRA to keep up with the rest of the group.

Some of the people in the SRA forum seemed to have been deliberately kept ignorant of their condition by their therapists. One woman who expressed chronic depression didn't know there were drugs available to help curb suicidal emotions. My first participation in the forum was, in fact, in response to this woman. I offered some information on the drugs that are available and the woman told me she was totally unaware that such things were available; her therapist never mentioned them.

Eventually I posted several studies of women who had been subjected to false memory implantation and had discovered that the whole nonsense is an urban legend planted in the Fundamentalist Christian belief that the world will be controlled by "Satan" for a thousand years before the "Jesus" god "returns."

The police reports and court testimony I posted to the forum were called "invalidating" and I was asked to leave. I observed others jump in with government studies and court documents which also conclude the whole lot is nonsense and watched as they, too, were asked to leave for "invalidating."

Another individual eventually asked if she could archive the SRA forum and work-up a book covering the phenomena while observing the group. She was called a "perp" and accused of sending information to the conspiracy.

One of the moderators of the forum was, however, open to information on the phenomena. While she acknowledged the beliefs were largely fabrications, it is her contention that getting believers together to validate each other's beliefs goes a long way toward helping them live normal lives. Sadly the reverse is true. When believers of SRA are taken away from therapists who believe these religious beliefs, the patient always recovers and realize what fools they've been.

I sent a couple of magazines which covered False Memory Syndrome and Ritual Satanic Abuse to the moderator and, I presume, she reviewed them. Hopefully she realizes that the reason there is no evidence for SRA is because it's all fabrication. In response to growing allegations of SRA, David Bloomberg started the FMS forum -- a forum where information about False Memory Syndrome could be distributed. Most of the messages in the forum were of court cases -- both of victims of FMS suing their families at the instigation of their therapists and of victims of FMS suing their previous therapists for implanting the memories which led to the destruction of their families.

I encourage anyone who's suffered at the hands of their therapists in this way to sue them. There is no better way to put an end to one of the 20'th Century's most bizarre psychology blunders.


Section 3: Victims of False Memory Syndrome Strike Back

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Online Main Page
Repressed memory lawsuit is settled
By Meg Jones
of the Journal Sentinel staff
March 4, 1997

Appleton -- A bizarre medical malpractice trial featuring lurid testimony about exorcism, multiple personalities and satanic cults ended Monday with a $2.4 million settlement -- one of the largest in the nation involving repressed memory.

Nadean Cool, 44, sued her former psychiatrist, Kenneth C. Olson, for malpractice after he diagnosed her as suffering from multiple personality disorder that included 126 personalities ranging from children and adults to angels and a duck.

Olson also thought Cool was possessed by the devil and performed an exorcism on her in 1989 at St. Elizabeth Hospital in Appleton, according to testimony.

The trial, which began Feb. 3, abruptly ended Monday morning when attorneys announced the settlement. By agreeing to settle, Olson does not admit liability in the case, said his attorney, David Patton.

In an extended interview Monday, Cool said it was humiliating to spend four days on the witness stand describing weird tales of repressed memories that she said she later learned never happened.

Among the repressed memories that Cool said Olson suggested to her were remembrances of belonging to a satanic cult, eating babies, having sex with animals and being drenched in blood from human sacrifice.

"When I realized what had happened to me, I just told myself I would do whatever it took to hold (Olson) responsible, and to get a measure of my self-respect back, and to claim that part of my life because it almost destroyed me and my family," Cool said.

Of filing the lawsuit, she said: "I knew it was the right thing to do. If that's what it took, I didn't feel ashamed of anything I had done or felt that what I had done was wrong."

Olson, who now practices psychiatry in Bozeman, Mont., was not in court Monday. His secretary in Montana referred all questions to his attorneys.

Patton said Olson was looking forward to testifying this week but decided to settle because "each of us looked at the situation and felt an amicable settlement was warranted."

The settlement was reached, in part, because the trial would have gone on for another five or six weeks at considerable expense, Patton said. Yet Olson's attorneys were prepared to bring in experts to testify about multiple personality disorder, including doctors who agreed with Olson's diagnosis of Cool, Patton said.

"There are two basic perspectives here: whether false memories can be implanted or do they happen naturally," Patton said. "That's the debate that's now raging nationwide."

This wasn't the first time that a former patient has sued Olson. An Outagamie County jury determined in 1995 that he was negligent in the case of an Appleton woman he diagnosed with multiple personality disorder. The jury, which determined he was 65% negligent and the patient was 35% negligent, awarded total damages of $204,000. Patton said the settlement Monday wouldn't affect Olson's private practice.

"He's still a respected psychiatrist."

But Cool said she hoped that Olson would leave psychiatry.

"I would hope in a perfect world that he would re-evaluate what he's doing," Cool said. "I don't want him to hurt anybody else."

Cool added: "No, I don't hate the man. I've tried really hard not to invest myself emotionally in any feeling at all. I have other things to do in my life, and I want to get on with it."

Cool's attorney, William Smoler, said the settlement resolved the first significant case in Wisconsin involving false memories. There have been only a handful of false memory lawsuits elsewhere, notably in Texas and Minnesota, that have had higher settlements, Smoler said.

Smoler said Olson's insurance company, Legion Insurance Co. of Pennsylvania, would pay $400,000 of the settlement and that the Wisconsin Patients Compensation Fund, which handles excess insurance for state physicians, would pick up the rest.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Online Main Page
 Copyright 1997, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
All rights reserved.


Section 4: Hystories: Hysterical Epidemics and Modern Culture

An intriguing study of how emotions trigger bodily sickness
The Daily Telegraph  London

Hystories: Hysterical Epidemics and Modern Culture by Elaine Showalter

TOWARDS the end of her examination of hysteria and the attraction of the irrational, Elaine Showalter asks why so many intelligent people believe bizarre stories. She is referring particularly to tales of satanic abuse, but the question nevertheless informs the whole of her thought-provoking book.

In attempting an answer, she has, in the past, incurred the wrath of all those, and they are legion, who accept the invariable validity of recovered memory, believe that three or four different personalities may inhabit one body, and take as gospel truth children's devil-worship fantasies. She has been, she writes, "booed, hissed, denounced and accused of disloyalty to women".

Yet she is at pains to insist that she is not calling Chronic Fatigue Syndrome "imaginary", only that it is psychologically caused. Its symptoms are as real as any physiological illness. Sufferers from ME are seriously ill, just as sufferers from MS are. But a century after Freud, enormous prejudice still exists against any imputation that one's mind might not be an entirely rational and balanced organ. In spite of our obsession with all things psychological - the popular use of the expression "psychosomatic" is an example - mental infirmity is often still seen as moral weakness. We are apparently unable to acknowledge the mind's ability to convert powerful emotions into bodily sickness.

"Hystory" is the word she proposes to describe her hysterical case histories. Before Charcot and Freud, hysteria was believed to have a uterine cause and therefore denied to the wombless male. But the First World War brought with it an epidemic of something doctors scarcely dared to call male hysteria and dubbed it "shell shock". Men had it too and ever since, in its manifold forms, it has swept the world.

The most compelling part to the detached reader of Professor Showalter's Hystories deals with the epidemics: Chronic Fatigue, Gulf War, Recovered Memory and Multiple Personality Syndromes, and with satanic abuse and alien abduction. It is here that she is most politically incorrect and sticks most courageously to her guns.

On the subject of Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, she comments that the "acronym ME also ironically emphasises the patient's self-absorption"; and she quotes Ian Hacking's shrewd and sensitive assessment of multiple personality as "a new way to be an unhappy person". In the case of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, help from mental health specialists is seldom sought and suggestions that it should be are met with accusations of government cover-ups and world conspiracies against sufferers. Multiple Personality Syndrome, meanwhile, may be in part an iatrogenic disorder, brought about by therapeutic intervention and rewarded by attention.

[People] in this country have had our share of satanic ritual stories, but serious acceptance of kidnapping by little green men is less familiar. In his The Demon-Haunted World Carl Sagan calls it a peculiarly American manifestation - we have ghosts and crop circles - of a preoccupation with the occult. With quiet irony Professor Showalter says that alien abduction seems a little over the top and has formulated what she calls Showalter's Law: "As the hystories get more bizarre, the experts get more impressive." Ufologists dismiss matters inconsistent with material reality as "mysteries", and the old, apparently unanswerable, question is asked: if this isn't happening, what is?

Her considered and level-headed reply is that we must try to understand the psychological dynamics of hysteria. We must realise and accept what the mind can do.


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