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Karlin, R. Commentary on Borawick v. Shay: Hypnosis, social influence, incestuous child abuse, and satanic ritual abuse: The iatrogenic creation of horrific memories for the remote past.
Cultic Studies Journal, , 13 1 , Borawick v. Shay involved several issues of broad concern. These are 1 the admissibility of hypnotically influenced memory, 2 iatrogenic contributions to memories of satanic ritual abuse and early incestuous child abuse, 3 the problematic diagnosis of hidden, incestuous child abuse as a causative factor in adult psychopathology, and 4 whether multiple personality disorder, recently renamed dissociative identity disorder, is a defense mechanism of overwhelmed children seeking escape or whether it is, in many cases, a dramatic, adult social role legitimized by certain therapists.
With rare and easily identified exceptions, the authors suggest that hypnotically influenced testimony be excluded per se i. Finally, they point out several factors indicating a largely iatrogenic origin to the current epidemic of diagnoses of dissociative identity disorder. In a recent decision the United States Court of Appeals for the Second District sitting on a three judge panel unanimously affirmed the U. District Ruling Borawick v. Shay, that excluded the hypnotically influenced testimony of Joan Borawick, a plaintiff seeking damages for incestuous childhood abuse.
Because Ms. Borawick also alleged abuse by a satanic cult, her case raised a series of issues. Some of these issues involved the multifold dangers of allowing hypnotically influenced memories to be presented as testimony in civil cases. Broader concerns raised by Borawick v. Shay involved 1 iatrogenic contributions to memories of satanic ritual abuse and early incestuous child abuse, 2 the problematic diagnosis of hidden, incestuous child abuse as a causative factor in adult psychopathology based on recent adult memories, and 3 whether multiple personality disorder is a defense mechanism of overwhelmed children seeking escape or whether it is a dramatic adult social role legitimized by certain therapists.
Often using the available facts in Borawick v. Shay as illustrations, this article will examine these issues. When memories of childhood sexual abuse are recovered in therapy and regarded as veridical, the results can be devastating.
For example, in late the world learned that Chicago's Archbishop Joseph Cardinal Bernadin had been accused of sexually abusing Steven Cook when Steven was a teenager.
Cook's "memories" were recovered as an adult in therapy during hypnotic age regression. It is a terrible fact that childhood sexual abuse does occur. Everyone wants its perpetrators punished and its incidence and prevalence decreased. It used to be all too commonplace for instances of childhood abuse, especially incestuous childhood abuse ICA , to be "hushed up" or ignored by families.
Thus, it is understandable why patients and therapists alike may wish to unearth any possible hidden memories of abuse that might be lurking. Further, if one's therapeutic bent is to. However, this view raises a number of scientific and professional questions cf. Further, memory is a reconstructive process Bartlett, Even under ideal circumstances, where alert, attentive, adult observers report what has just occurred, memories can be altered by the way questions are phrased Loftus, As for memories of remote events, we are all aware that memory fades over time, and we become less certain of our memories as they age.
When accurate recall is required, we seek alternate sources of information, if they are available. When they are not available, memory for remote events can be inaccurate. While these debates are not resolved, we will discuss evidence supporting the idea that many memories of abuse recovered after lengthy amnesia are created, not remembered, during therapy, and it is highly likely that the "recovered" incestuous abuse episodes did not occur as historical events.
This is not surprising, as scholars of psychotherapy believe remote memories obtained during therapy are symbolically accurate, not historically accurate. Such memories primarily tell us about a patient's inner, subjective world, and may mislead us about the outer, objective one Spence, , Is it really possible for any form of psychotherapy to create detailed memories of childhood sexual abuse that never occurred?
Do other iatrogenic consequences frequently follow? Unfortunately, the answer to both questions is yes. The following description of recovered memory therapy may indicate how and why. In recovered memory therapy, an individual, more frequently a woman, comes to a therapist with a relatively common complaint e. Associating the presenting symptoms with a possible history of childhood sexual abuse, the therapist seeks to explore whether or not forgotten sexual abuse is a causative factor.
The exploration often involves hypnotic age regression and what has been called "disguised hypnosis" Perry, in the form of relaxation instructions combined with guided imagery and "regression work.
These forms of exploration constitute a strongly suggestive environment in which the patient's recovery is seen as dependent on her remembering childhood sexual abuse, usually at the hands of her father. When images or memories start to emerge, as they often may with vulnerable patients, they are hailed as confirmation of the therapist's hypotheses and the beginning of the patient's recovery. Given this reinforcement, more memories soon emerge and the patient becomes convinced she is an incest survivor.
The therapist may then suggest a meeting at which the angry patient denounces her parents. At such meetings it is usual for parents to be forbidden to respond to their daughter's accusations; instead, their only participation is to listen.
Unless the parents agree to confess their guilt and even support public pronouncements about the now-remembered incestuous abuse, their daughter will almost always sever her ties to them.
Siblings are also contacted, and if they deny abuse, relationships with them may also be severed. Thus, the rest of the family is forced to choose a side or walk a tightrope between accusing and accused family members. At this point, memory has been altered. For many patients the new "memories" are as real and more vivid as other remote memories. Further, having alienated herself from her family, the patient is increasingly dependent on support from the therapist and self-help or therapy groups comprising other people who also have learned they are incest survivors.
Given their shared beliefs, both the therapist and fellow survivors will treat any remaining doubts about the historical reality of the memories as a pathological retreat into "denial. At this point a future-oriented therapist may try to help the patient organize his or her life in the present and encourage looking forward rather than backward Dolan, If not, therapy will focus on additional exploration of traumatic memories.
In this case, the situation may go from bad to worse. The painful nature of this process and the loss of familial support often increases the patient's depression and other symptoms, despite the best efforts of the therapist and support group members.
This may be taken as proof by the patient or therapist that the most horrific memories have yet to be unearthed, and further exploration with hypnosis and hypnosis-like procedures is required. Not surprisingly, even more horrific memories emerge. By this point the therapist and patient may have discovered that the patient has multiple personality disorder 1 although the Borawick case did not involve this. The theory is that multiple personality disorder MPD reflects the patient's inability to withstand awful experiences.
Confronted with the horrors of ICA, in desperation, the patient dissociated and created alternative personalities, or alters, who protect her from her worst memories by keeping them "walled off " Kanovitz, Depending in part on the therapist's views, additional searching may take place that leads to the discovery of satanic ritual abuse. Here again, those with borderline personality disorder are more likely to find they have been ritually abused in childhood.
The patient's continued deterioration or failure to improve at each stage indicates that still worse memories lie ahead, and that further hypnosis and related techniques are required to probe deeper. As Loftus and Ketcham have suggested, the question can become, What can be worse? What can be worse than incestuous pedophilic abuse? Incestuous abuse involving multiple perpetrators, not only the father but also other adults, such as the mother and the father's friends, may be "remembered" as sexually abusing the patient.
The patient may come to see ordinary memories of childhood as a lie, with monsters hiding behind all the masks of caring faces. What could be worse? Being sexually abused during satanic rituals and forced to drink the blood of dead animals. As we will see below, this is one of the events reported by Joan Borawick. By this time the patient has learned that she had to develop a series of alters during childhood to protect herself from being overwhelmed by the horrors inflicted on her.
Unbelievably, it continues. The patient learns that her family is part of a multigenerational satanic cult; her grandparents and great-grandparents were members of the cult, and each generation was subsequently abused.
It is now the patient's turn. What scenario could be worse? The patient may remember being made into a breeder, forced to bear babies who became slaves to the cult or, alternatively, were aborted, after which the patient was forced to eat her own babies.
By this time, members of the patient's family may be remembered as high authorities in the cult, and one of the patient's own alters may also be the high priestess. In vulnerable patients this process of escalating horrific fantasy induction reaches the point of an enduring, confidently-held delusion. The delusion usually lasts at least so long as the therapist, an attorney, or someone else significant to the patient is there to support it.
Remember, most forms of therapy are beneficent; but all too often therapy that centers on recovering memories of childhood abuse is not. Instead it is destructive of both patients and those who otherwise would have been closest to them. Moreover, although this depiction of recovered memory therapy includes extremes, it is by no means a caricature.
Some therapists who treat adult victims of recently recalled ICA do not create an environment of escalating suggestions, but it happens often enough to be frightening cf. For example, a recent case received notoriety when a well-known psychotherapist and authority on MPD was sued by a patient who no longer believed she was a satanic high priestess. This is not an isolated case. Both of the present authors know psychologists and psychiatrists whose practice includes a number of patients who have "learned" or are convinced that their multiple personality disorder occurred as one result of satanic ritual abuse.
Rather than treating such fantasies with benign neglect, their diagnosis and ensuing suggestive treatment serves to consolidate the fantasies into believed-in memories. One approach to better understanding the problems we are discussing is to examine how our courts are dealing with these issues. In a recent decision, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second District sitting on a three judge panel unanimously affirmed the U. District Court ruling Borawick v. Shay, to exclude the testimony of Joan Borawick, a plaintiff seeking damages for incestuous childhood abuse allegedly inflicted by her aunt and uncle, Christine and Morrie Shay.
The plaintiff, who was herself a California attorney, claimed that her aunt inserted a cap pistol and a broomstick in the plaintiff's vagina on two separate occasions during family visits when she was 4 and 7 years old.
In addition, the aunt allegedly involved Ms. Borawick in some type of ritual dancing while both the aunt and child were naked. On another occasion, during these visits, the plaintiff claimed that her uncle placed a dog collar around her neck and committed anal rape.
Satanism, Ritual Abuse, and Multiple Personality Disorder: A Sociohistorical Perspective
Multiple Personality Disorders and Hypnosis. Material on multiple personality disorder is highly controversial within psychology and psychiatry these days. There has been a dramatic increase in the diagnosis of multiple personality disorder, and many clinical specialists think that this is caused by childhood sexual abuse, especially ritual Satanic abuse. The fact that hypnosis is also considered by some as a state of multiple consciousness means that these two phenomena are closely linked. Baker, Robert.