Cult Abuse of Children: Witch Hunt or Reality? The following is a (brief, it only seems lo
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
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 priori
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
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
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
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.
Rockwell is also a Ph.D. and is a member of the Oliver Stone
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. Only kidding. 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
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
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 sorry that should be exposit, why man invented cultic
activity: because of birth, which naturally leads to war. A baby
suffers slight anoxia 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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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
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
inductatory reversal of psycho-temporal lobe barthesis, an
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.
I welcome commentary.
E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank