35 Slices
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Chapter Four: Cross-Temporal and Cross-Cultural Perspectives on Dissociative Disorders of Identity

Valerie Sinason Karnac Books ePub

Eli Somer

I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. (Ellie Wiesel: Nobel acceptance speech, 10 December, 1986)

I first planned to write this chapter as a purely academic project aimed at reviewing culturally divergent manifestations of altered states of consciousness and identity that I saw as pertinent to dissociative identity disorder (DID). I knew, then, that the book was planned to include a first-person account of DID and that my chapter would be part of its scientific backdrop. However, when I read the memoir I realised not only the courage of the writer but also the atmosphere of secrecy, silencing, and scepticism that surround the experiences of victims of child abuse in general and ritual abuse in particular.

For a long time, an atmosphere of doubt and delegitimisation has haunted survivors, their therapists, and scholars of dissociation. Memories of childhood abuse, rooted in serious crimes, have been labeled false by the accused families, therapists have been charged with implanting false memories, and scholars have been attacked for propagating scientifically unfounded concepts, false diagnoses, and harmful therapies.

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Medium 9781855751224

CHAPTER TWO. “Children are liars aren’t they?”— an exploration of denial processes in child abuse

Valerie Sinason Karnac Books ePub

Arnon Bentovim

In this chapter, Arnon Bentovim looks at social denial, denial and the court system, denial concerning abuse of very young children, and denial in perpetrators. He provides a clinical and research overview.

At a recent meeting, a distinguished barrister repeated in conversation the often heard remark—”Children are liars aren’t they?” This was said forcefully, with a sense of anger and blame. Our response was a retort, with equal vehemence, that adults were far more competent and skilful liars than children ever could be. The barrister’s response was to state that the effect of children’s lies could be absolutely devastating to those against whom untruths were levelled. Male teachers had lost their jobs and lives had been ruined as a result. Although we felt inclined to say that adults’ lies had led to the destruction of civilizations, we hesitated to enter the dialectic.

Instead, we said that perhaps it was a question of who was assessing the child’s statement in terms of judging whether statemerits were true or false. This led into an interesting discussion about the problems of current approaches to police investigation. Because it is now accepted that children do speak the truth, in an allegation of abuse this leads to a serious investigation. To investigate a complaint without interference requires that, for example, a teacher or a residential worker has to be suspended, a parent has to be asked to leave the home, or a child has to be removed from a home. The process in itself, it could be argued, could set in train extremely destructive consequences, and what was required was a different approach to the assessment, more open and balanced.

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CHAPTER SIX. “What if I should die?”

Valerie Sinason Karnac Books ePub

Jennifer Johns

In this chapter, Jennifer Johns describes the terrible physical countertransference impact on an analyst listening to a patient talk of systemic savage abuse in childhood. This raises the complex issue of truth in the consulting-room.

A psychoanalyst, not young or inexperienced and to the best of her knowledge in perfect health, was sitting very still and listening to an extremely distressed patient speaking with great difficulty, of memories implying savage, perverse, and systematic many-layered cruelty in childhood.

During the story, the analyst suddenly developed pain in her own chest. The pain was central, and gradually became severe enough to make her seriously anxious about herself and to prevent her ordinary concentration on what was happening in the session. She began to try to recollect old fragments of her training in medicine as the pain spread upwards into her jaw, and she became more and more frightened that she was having a heart attack. She tried to reassure herself that the pain, though acute, was not typically cardiac, and intellectually she tried to make sense of it in the naive hope that, once made sense of, it would go away. Unable to listen to or concentrate on her patient, she told herself that it was probably indigestion, or not in fact real, and chided herself for failing her patient at such a vital moment. She told herself that she must pull herself together and return to her concentration on the patient and the session, and that until the pain went down her left arm she would not interrupt the session. However, she was very frightened.

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CHAPTER SEVEN. False memory syndrome movements: the origins and the promoters

Valerie Sinason Karnac Books ePub

Marjorie Orr

In this chapter, Marjorie Orr focuses on a few of the complex facts in the lives of some of the key figures in the international false memory societies. This throws light on the origins of the movement and explains some of the ethical difficulties involved.

To begin at the beginning. The man credited with having coined the term “false memory syndrome” is an American, Dr Ralph Underwager, who was one of the co-founders of the False Memory Syndrome Foundation (FMSF), along with his wife, Hollida Wakefield, and Pamela and Peter Freyd, in March 1992 in Philadelphia. In 1993, Underwager gave an interview, with his wife, to a Dutch paedophile magazine, Paedika (Geraci, 1993). In the article, Paedika reported him as saying that paedophilia could be seen as a responsible choice and that having sex with children could be seen as “part of God’s will”. He has said that he was not misquoted by the magazine, which is a self-styled journal of paedophilia and prints articles such as “Man-Boy Sexual Relationships in Cross-Cultural Perspective”, “A Crush on My Girl Scout Leader”, “ The World Is Bursting with Adults so I Am Always Pleased to See a Little Girl”, and “The Hysteria over Child Pornography and Paedophilia”. However, he does say that when the quotes are used that they are out of context and that he is against child abuse.

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CHAPTER FIVE. False memory syndrome

Valerie Sinason Karnac Books ePub

Susie Orbach

In this chapter, Susie Orbach shows the part that feminism played in the understanding of the extent of abuse against women and children. She examines the processes of personal denial in the consulting-room, as well as societal denial and the role of the media.

In the spring of 1993, I wrote a piece in my Guardian column raising concerns about the take-up in the media of the so-called false memory syndrome. I expressed my surprise and concern that so many column inches were being devoted to a discussion of parents claiming to be unjustly accused by their children rather than to what I considered the more serious problem of the sexual violation of children.

I argued that—as Jeffrey Masson (1984), Judith Herman Lewis (Herman, 1981, 1992), and others have argued—psychoanalysis has a complex and reasonably dishonourable history in relation to the acceptance of the veracity of reports of childhood sexual abuse. Since Freud abandoned the seduction theory in the late 1890s and transferred his understanding of the accounts of his patients’ childhood memories of sexual encounters with parents to the realm of internal phantasy, psychotherapy and its allied fields have tended to overlook both the existence and the real trauma of sexual abuse.

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