Cult Abuse of Children: Witch Hunt or Reality

The following is a (brief, it only seems long) review of the Spring, 1994 issue of the Journal of Psychohistory, vol. 24, #4, published by the Association of Psychohistory, Inc. (starting page 373) A general glib review, article by article, to be followed by a better one when the library allows me to check this current issue out.

This is a special issue entitled, Cult Abuse of Children: Witch Hunt or Reality?

The first article is by Dr. David Lotto, a psychiatrist in Pittsfield Maryland, On Witches and Witch Hunts: Ritual and Satanic Cult Abuse.

Dr. Lotto's article was surprising, in that it was skeptical and followed arguments very much in line with Victor's recent Satanic Panic. Therefore, I won't detail his arguments, except to note that they would familiar to most skeptics, but he did say: "I would like to start with the hypothesis that the vast majority of RCA (ritual cult abuse) and SRA (satanic cult abuse) reports are substantially false;" he also says that is difficult to "sort out the false from the true; if the events described are implausible, bizarre, and have no external corroboration, in short if they are unbelievable, then they probably didn't happen."

Although the Journal does not say so explicitly, it is apparent that the text of Lotto's article was distributed to the authors of the remaining articles as they freely mention his paper. This be will important to keep in mind later.

Roland Summit, The Dirty Tunnels of McMartin. A nasty attack on those dirty rotten skeptics who attack believers ad hominemly. He especially dislikes Lotto and his ilk for not believing. The gist of his article, that details why he thinks the teachers at McMartin are guilty, can be summarized: just because the children made most things up, the didn't make the abuse up and they very probably didn't make up the rest either. So there.

Robert B. McFarland & Grace Lockerbie: Difficulties in Treating Ritually Abused Children. These authors accept a priory that RCA exists, therefore it is difficult to treat "survivors." It begins with the open-minded statement, "We both believe cult abuse exists because of what several patients of ours have told us, patients who were uninfluenced by any suggestions by the therapist during treatment." But they give no evidence for this statement.

They continue, "We believe cult abuse of children is in fact widespread." They point out a major influence on them was Martin Katchen's Out of Darkness. Wanting to be sure the reader understands the therapist isn't influencing memory they emphasize, in their telling of case studies, patients "spontaneously recall" satanic abuse. They state emphatically they believe there is "organized devil worship."

My favorite article was by Matt Johnson: Fear and Power: From Naivety to a Believer in Cult Abuse. A heart-warming story of a therapist who knew "nothing" about RCA or SRA before a patient with MPD was referred to him.

His well-balanced article begins with, "satanic cults do exist, leaders control and maintain power via fear-producing mechanisms, and that quality intrapsychic therapy can be perceived as a threat to the power and control of cult leaders." Having read this you will now understand why, after beginning to see the above mentioned patient, he began receiving anonymous phone calls at all hours of the night and that his daughter began receiving faxes with "satanic symbols" on them. In fact, the phone calls became so frequent that he began awakening hourly in anticipation of the dreaded ring "thus interrupting 3rd and 4th stages of sleep essential to (his) mental and physical well being."


Further research should examine why the Evil One has picked these particular sleep stages and not, say, the 1st, or even 2nd.

Then, not to resemble any sort of paranoia, Matt began to see "the appearance of strange men wanting to enter my home" and odd men on his lawn. This was enough to send him to the books where he researched the satanic phenomena and gathered that his harassment correlated with "satanic cult holidays." But he gives no evidence.

He began to see patients and wondered if they had suffered from SRA/RCA? Lo! Some had previously unnoticed body scars, etc., etc., so therefore and ipso facto, Satanism exists. This man, I see I forgot to mention, is a Ph.D. I only mention it now as motivation for all those struggling graduate students out there (like myself) who may not always feel they are bright enough to earn such a monumental degree.

Robert B. Rockwell: "One Psychiatrist's view of satanic ritual abuse." This one also assume that SRA/RCA exists from the get go. And like Matt above he too warns about the power network of Satanists, noting that "Survivors have alters (as in other personalities) that are trained to kill themselves if they discover information about the cult is being told." No proof offered.

He defends himself: "I do not believe that I am lightly gullible, as Lotto suggests (Note: Lotto did suggest an amount of gullibility that believers may suffer from), but I suspect that these reports will only be told to therapists who have an emphatic respect and belief in what these patients testingly reveal." (emphasis mine). Then why not test them? Thus I conclude from his (and the others) article is that any sort of testing would be, at the minimum, rude. And did you notice? We see here the same thing some proponents of ESP, etc. have been saying all along! Paranormal powers cannot exist when there is a skeptic around, and so it seems, neither can Satanic abuse!

He conspiratorially says cults have been noted "to include psychiatrists, psychologists, physicians and therapists, lawyers and judges. Survivors are legitimately paranoid."

We are informed that Satanists speak a devilish language called "Enochian." No proof, alas. But said backwards this read Nigh Cone. Think about that.

He begins to get nasty: "The 'False Memory Syndrome' is a sham invented by pedophiles and sexual abusers for the media." The founders of the False Memory Syndrome Foundation (FMSF) Underwager and Wakefield are exposed as pedophiles, the evidence being that writings (or merely quotations, he is not clear) of these two have appeared in a European magazine dedicated to pedophilia. He may be right on this, I don't know.

He calls Lotto's point of view "narrow." Which means he did see the only skeptical article before he even wrote his.

Rockwell admits that there is a network of "cult" therapists, not to inflame rumor, but as "a need to understand." He is also fond of the microwave oven stories and notes that this sort of thing is frequent.

Ah, I have almost forgotten. The CIA knows about all this as a result of their definitively creating a "Manchurian Candidate" and are mixed up with the Red Man himself and his evil earthen minions. Conspiracy anyone?

Rockwell is also a Ph.D. and is a member of the Oliver Stone fan club.

Sandra L. Bloom: Hearing the Survivor's Voice: Sundering the Wall of Denial.

See if you can follow along with me with Bloom's logic. The holocaust existed. People denied (at the time even) the Holocaust. Every survivor draws creatures with the color red in them. Therefore Socrates is a man. No, that's not it: therefore Satanism exists.

She points out that the FMSF has an annual budget of $600,000.00! Therefore they're up to no good.

Jean M. Goodwin: "Credibility problems in sadistic abuse." Note: That says "sadistic" not "satanic." Several tales of real-life sadistic abuse, which are truly abhorrent. Skirts completely around the Satanism issue except to note that where there's smoke there must be Victor's book Satanic Panic. Victor himself uses this metaphor in his explanations. A great book.

Robert McFarland: The Children of God. Details, briefly, the cult mentioned in the title and the fact they did evil. Therefore it's also likely that true Satanism exists.

A brief note by Charles W. Solarides gushing about how wonderful and brave deMause (the journals' editor) is for bringing all this nastiness to our attention.

Ira Brenner: A Twentieth-Century Demonologic Neurosis? A semi-skeptical note. Gives an example of rumor to satanic panic in his very own hospital, but does not come down strongly on either side.

The man himself, Lloyd deMause: Why Cults Terrorize and Kill Children. The skeptical and open-minded title of his ending article really tells it all; but it is "unlikely that the surge of cult memories could all be made up by patients or implanted by therapists," because "therapists are a timid group" (emphasis original).

He is also against skepticism noting that we "see where the well-orchestrated flood of 'witch-hunt' accusations was originating: from the molesters themselves." He also claims that people involved with the FMSF are pedophiles. The "logic" here is that you deny that Satanism exists you must be either a dupe or a communist yourself. Oops, make that Satanist.

Alert for Chicagoans. He says that right this very day that the group "Believe The Children" is organizing a conference there. PO BOX 26-8562, Chicago, IL 60626. It's this weekend.

DeMause says he asked many psychotherapists to contribute papers to this issue but most declined citing fear: "phone threats, dead cats on doorsteps, burning crosses on lawns." Not that any of this stuff happened, but it could have. The mind boggles at the possibilities.

DeMause is not silent on the historical nature of SRA/RCA — oh no. "I believe cultic activity began with early man in the Paleolithic. Not only do children's footprints appear in early caves (actually tunnels, exactly like those beneath McMartin), but pictures of shamans and other Paleolithic men with erections, showing that the rituals performed there were sexually exciting" (parenthesis original). He also says the artifacts found in early caves were masturbation and penetration devices. Those naughty cave men. Of course, we should now be concerned about the effect that the new movie "The Flintstones" will have on our youngsters.

Did I mention he offers no evidence? The remaining two pages drivel on, I'm sorry that should be ex-posit, why man invented cultic activity: because of birth, which naturally leads to war. A baby suffers slight anorexia when being born, therefore we strangle kids in cultic ceremonies. Babies are also bloody, so we should cover ourselves in blood, etc., etc., etc.

Posted 10 Jun 1994 by Matt Briggs. His comments follow:
Who are these so-called psychohistorians? They have organizations, linked to New York, all over the country. It seems they base their beliefs on psychoanalysis: several papers mention Freud and Jung in an approving manner.

Curiously, the book Handbook of Psychohistory is missing from our library. This is what happens when you try to expose Lucifer. Skeptics can sleep easily, as the Ultimate Liar only deals with believers, so say our resident psychohistorians.

I terribly sorry about the tone of the review. I honestly tried to be serious, but God help me, I can't do it. Shall I ponderously drag out old arguments we are all familiar with? "Where's their proof!" Shall I pummel their flimsy logic with sentences like "Furthermore, Flummel (1972) and Strackermore et. al. (1742) show, that by the anti-causal introductory reversal of psycho-temporal lobe barthesis, an anti-cataleptic sertient." No, I leave that to my betters.

Instead, we will let them speak for themselves, for my mere words would not do them justice and would not be half as funny.

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