Satanic panic Quotes


Frosh (2002) has suggested that therapeutic spaces provide children and adults with the rare opportunity to articulate experiences that are otherwise excluded from the dominant symbolic order. However, since the 1990s, post-modern and post-structural theory has often been deployed in ways that attempt to ‘manage’ from; afar the perturbing disclosures of abuse and trauma that arise in therapeutic spaces (Frosh 2002). Nowhere is this clearer than in relation to organised abuse, where the testimony of girls and women has been deconstructed as symptoms of cultural hysteria (Showalter 1997) and the colonisation of women’s minds by therapeutic discourse (Hacking 1995). However, behind words and discourse, ‘a real world and real lives do exist, howsoever we interpret, construct and recycle accounts of these by a variety of symbolic means’ (Stanley 1993: 214).
Summit (1994: 5) once described organised abuse as a ‘subject of smoke and mirrors’, observing the ways in which it has persistently defied conceptualisation or explanation.
Explanations for serious or sadistic child sex offending have typically rested on psychiatric concepts of ‘paedophilia’ or particular psychological categories that have limited utility for the study of the cultures of sexual abuse that emerge in the families or institutions in which organised abuse takes pace. For those clinicians and researchers who take organised abuse seriously, their reliance upon individualistic rather than sociological explanations for child sexual abuse has left them unable to explain the emergence of coordinated, and often sadistic, multi—perpetrator sexual abuse in a range of contexts around the world.

In her book claiming that allegations of ritualistic abuse are mostly confabulations, La Fontaine’s (1998) comparison of social workers to ‘nazis’ shows the depth of feeling evident amongst many sceptics. However, this raises an important question: Why did academics and journalists feel so strongly about allegations of ritualistic abuse, to the point of pervasively misrepresenting the available evidence and treating women disclosing ritualistic abuse, and those workers who support them, with barely concealed contempt? It is of course true that there are fringe practitioners in the field of organised abuse, just as there are fringe practitioners in many other health-related fields. However, the contrast between the measured tone of the majority of therapists and social workers writing on ritualistic abuse, and the over-blown sensationalism of their critics, could not be starker. Indeed, Scott (2001) notes with irony that the writings of those who claimed that ‘satanic ritual abuse’ is a ‘moral panic’ had many of the features of a moral panic: scapegoating therapists, social workers and sexual abuse victims whilst warning of an impending social catastrophe brought on by an epidemic of false allegations of sexual abuse. It is perhaps unsurprising that social movements for people accused of sexual abuse would engage in such hyperbole, but why did this rhetoric find so many champions in academia and the media?

I find it disturbing that one anthropologist's readings of transcripts are being listened to more seriously than 40 senior health service clinicians.
[Referring to Jean La Fontaine's 1994 research paper for the DOH]

Treating Abuse Today (Tat), 3(4), pp. 26-33
Freyd: You were also looking for some operational criteria for false memory syndrome: what a clinician could look for or test for, and so on. I spoke with several of our scientific advisory board members and I have some information for you that isn't really in writing at this point but I think it's a direction you want us to go in. So if I can read some of these notes . . .
TAT: Please do.
Freyd: One would look for false memory syndrome:
1. If a patient reports having been sexually abused by a parent, relative or someone in very early childhood, but then claims that she or he had complete amnesia about it for a decade or more;
2. If the patient attributes his or her current reason for being in therapy to delayed-memories. And this is where one would want to look for evidence suggesting that the abuse did not occur as demonstrated by a list of things, including firm, confident denials by the alleged perpetrators;
3. If there is denial by the entire family;
4. In the absence of evidence of familial disturbances or psychiatric illnesses. For example, if there's no evidence that the perpetrator had alcohol dependency or bipolar disorder or tendencies to pedophilia;
5. If some of the accusations are preposterous or impossible or they contain impossible or implausible elements such as a person being made pregnant prior to menarche, being forced to engage in sex with animals, or participating in the ritual killing of animals, and;
6. In the absence of evidence of distress surrounding the putative abuse. That is, despite alleged abuse going from age two to 27 or from three to 16, the child displayed normal social and academic functioning and that there was no evidence of any kind of psychopathology.
Are these the kind of things you were asking for?
TAT: Yeah, it's a little bit more specific. I take issue with several, but at least it gives us more of a sense of what you all mean when you say "false memory syndrome."
Freyd: Right. Well, you know I think that things are moving in that direction since that seems to be what people are requesting. Nobody's denying that people are abused and there's no one denying that someone who was abused a decade ago or two decades ago probably would not have talked about it to anybody. I think I mentioned to you that somebody who works in this office had that very experience of having been abused when she was a young teenager-not extremely abused, but made very uncomfortable by an uncle who was older-and she dealt with it for about three days at the time and then it got pushed to the back of her mind and she completely forgot about it until she was in therapy.
TAT: There you go. That's how dissociation works!
Freyd: That's how it worked. And after this came up and she had discussed and dealt with it in therapy, she could again put it to one side and go on with her life. Certainly confronting her uncle and doing all these other things was not a part of what she had to do. Interestingly, though, at the same time, she has a daughter who went into therapy and came up with memories of having been abused by her parents. This daughter ran away and is cutoff from the family-hasn't spoken to anyone for three years. And there has never been any meeting between the therapist and the whole family to try to find out what was involved.
TAT: If we take the first example -- that of her own abuse -- and follow the criteria you gave, we would have a very strong disbelief in the truth of what she told.

Blaming therapy, social work and other caring professions for the confabulation of testimony of 'satanic ritual abuse' legitimated a programme of political and social action designed to contest the gains made by the women's movement and the child protection movement. In efforts to characterise social workers and therapists as hysterical zealots, 'satanic ritual abuse' was, quite literally, 'made fun of': it became the subject of scorn and ridicule as interest groups sought to discredit testimony of sexual abuse as a whole. The groundswell of support that such efforts gained amongst journalists, academics and the public suggests that the pleasures of disbelief found resonance far beyond the confines of social movements for people accused of sexual abuse. These pleasures were legitimised by a pseudo-scientific vocabulary of 'false memories' and 'moral panic' but as Daly (1999:219-20) points out 'the ultimate goal of ideology is to present itself in neutral, value-free terms as the very horizon of objectivity and to dismiss challenges to its order as the "merely ideological"'.
The media spotlight has moved on and social movements for people accused of sexual abuse have lost considerable momentum. However, their rhetoric continues to reverberate throughout the echo chamber of online and 'old' media. Intimations of collusion between feminists and Christians in the concoction of 'satanic ritual abuse' continue to mobilise 'progressive' as well as 'conservative' sympathies for men accused of serious sexual offences and against the needs of victimised women and children.
This chapter argues that, underlying the invocation of often contradictory rationalising tropes (ranging from calls for more scientific 'objectivity' in sexual abuse investigations to emotional descriptions of 'happy families' rent asunder by false allegations) is a collective and largely unarticulated pleasure; the catharthic release of sentiments and views about children and women that had otherwise become shameful in the aftermath of second wave feminism. It seems that, behind the veneer of public concern about child sexual abuse, traditional views about the incredibility of women's and children's testimony persist. 'Satanic ritual abuse has served as a lens through which these views have been rearticulated and reasserted at the very time that evidence of widespread and serious child sexual abuse has been consolidating. p60

There are a range of useful and illuminating analyses of the media construction of organised abuse as it became front-page news in the 1980s and 1990s (Kitzinger 2004, Atmore 1997, Kelly 1998), but this book is focused on organised abuse as a criminal practice; as well as a discursive object of study, debate and disagreement. These two dimensions of this topic are inextricably linked because precisely where and how organised abuse is reported to take place is an important determinant of how it is understood.
Prior to the 1980s, the predominant view of the police, psychiatrists and other authoritative professionals was that organised abuse occurred primarily outside the family where it was committed by extra-familial ‘paedophiles’. This conceptualisation; of organised abuse has received enduring community support to the present day, where concerns over children’s safety is often framed in terms of their vulnerability to manipulation by ‘paedophiles’ and ‘sex rings’. This view dovetails more generally with the medico-legal and media construction of the ‘paedophile as an external threat to the sanctity of the family and community (Cowburn and Dominelli 2001) but it is confounded by evidence that organised abuse and other forms of serious sexual abuse often originates in the home or in institutions, such as schools and churches, where adults have socially legitimate authority over children.

As mandatory reporting laws and community awareness drove an increase its child protection investigations throughout the 1980s, some children began to disclose premeditated, sadistic and organised abuse by their parents, relatives and other caregivers such as priests and teachers (Hechler 1988). Adults in psychotherapy described similar experiences. The dichotomies that had previously associated organised abuse with the dangerous, external ‘Other’ had been breached, and the incendiary debate that followed is an illustration of the depth of the collective desire to see them restored. Campbell (1988) noted the paradox that, whilst journalists and politicians often demand that the authorities respond more decisively in response to a ‘crisis’ of sexual abuse, the action that is taken is then subsequently construed as a ‘crisis’. There has been a particularly pronounced tendency of the public reception to allegations of organised abuse. The removal of children from their parents due to disclosures of organised abuse, the provision of mental health care to survivors of organised abuse, police investigations of allegations of organised abuse and the prosecution of alleged perpetrators of organised abuse have all generated their own controversies.
These were disagreements that were cloaked in the vocabulary of science and objectivity but nonetheless were played out in sensationalised fashion on primetime television, glossy news magazines and populist books, drawing textual analysis. The role of therapy and social work in the construction of testimony of abuse and trauma. in particular, has come under sustained postmodern attack. Frosh (2002) has suggested that therapeutic spaces provide children and adults with the rare opportunity to articulate experiences that are otherwise excluded from the dominant symbolic order. However, since the 1990s, post-modern and post-structural theory has often been deployed in ways that attempt to ‘manage’ from; afar the perturbing disclosures of abuse and trauma that arise in therapeutic spaces (Frosh 2002). Nowhere is this clearer than in relation to organised abuse, where the testimony of girls and women has been deconstructed as symptoms of cultural hysteria (Showalter 1997) and the colonisation of women’s minds by therapeutic discourse (Hacking 1995). However, behind words and discourse, ‘a real world and real lives do exist, howsoever we interpret, construct and recycle accounts of these by a variety of symbolic means’ (Stanley 1993: 214).
Summit (1994: 5) once described organised abuse as a ‘subject of smoke and mirrors’, observing the ways in which it has persistently defied conceptualisation or explanation.

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