Professor Jean La Fontaine who headed the governments' official inquiry into SRA explains how the Satanic Ritual Abuse Panic was created and why the myth won't go away


Geoffrey Dickens: Babies Sacrificed to The Devil
It is over 20 years since the rash of allegations that rituals of devil worship, including the sexual abuse of children, the sacrifice, and (sometimes) eating, of animals, children and even babies as well as other extreme acts of depravity were being conducted across the U.K
.

In 1994 I reported to the Department of Health that in the 84 cases in England and Wales that were the basis of my research, I could find no supporting evidence for the existence of such a satanic cult.

The allegations have not stopped however, although they no longer get the publicity they used to have as, officially, satanic or ritual abuse no longer exists. It is not mentioned in guidance to social workers on the subject of abuse of children.

However, a particularly unpleasant case of false SRA accusations that occurred in Hampstead in 2014 has recently been widely reported in the press (covered in the BFMS newsletter in Sept.2015).

Hampstead SRA Case: Children Brainwashed into telling tales of SRA

The persistence of these allegations into the twenty-first century repeats the questions that I thought I had answered at the end of the twentieth!  These are,

(1) How is it that ‘victims’ can tell stories of gruesome experiences that they never had?

(2) How is it that adults, many of them sensible, educated people, believe these stories?


These two questions are also raised by the cases of so-called ‘historic abuse’.
The answers are interrelated though I shall try and deal with them separately here.

Believe the Children

Prof.. La Fontaine's Expertise

The value of Prof. Jean La Fontaine's academic research over the emotional advocacy which has come from the 'believers' side is that Professor Fontaine was the only academic to have full access to the case notes of every social work department involved in every claimed case of Satanic Abuse during the 1990 hysteria. 

Unlike campaigning therapists and social workers who had partial information on SOME cases, only La Fontaine, by government decree, had access to ALL cases and therefore her research is the most complete, the most informed and the most accurate of any independent commentator on the SRA myth.

Report Well received

Prof. La Fontaine's official report The Extent and Nature of Organised and Ritual Abuse got a good reception. We have compiled a montage of rare historic cuttings as a backdrop to several key  interviews on the BBC in our latest SAFFUTUBE presentation here Included in this are interviews with Joan Coleman, of RAINS and the Health Minister Virginia Bottomley.

Saffutubejoancoleman

One of the best- known organisations promoting the allegation that children were being abused by worshippers of the devil in the late twentieth century was Believe the Children  [Ed: Believe The Children started as a pressure group by parents who believed their children had been satanically abused in the infamous McMartin Pre-School SRA allegations in the U.S. in the mid 1980s but after the longest running trials in US history, were found to have no substance whatsoever. Whilst the trials and allegations were ongoing it influenced all SRA accusations in the U.S. and the embryonic growth of SRA ideas in the U.K. ].

The title Believe the Children referred to the myth that it was young children who had told of the satanic abuse.  It was supported by the firm belief, almost dogma, that such children do not lie and therefore that what they disclosed about the existence of satanic or ritual abuse was indubitably the truth.

However, the stories that were publicised as what young victims told social workers, foster parents and other sympathetic adults in claimed U.K. cases were actually nothing of the sort. They were what adults said the children told them and, as I was able to show, there were various reasons why this was not what the children said.
 
Most children are quite quick to pick up what adults want from them, although a four year old boy in one case suffered 33 questions about ghosts before he began to talk about the ghosts at his home.

Some children were particularly adept at fulfilling the prejudices of adults and it was noticeable that in any case that involved several children, there were only one or two who were the main source of the authorities’ alleged information. In some cases, these children told the others or ‘explained’ to the less sensitive what had allegedly happened. Others incorporated bits of films and other television material that they had seen and remembered and one slightly older girl, when pressed for details said in astonishment: “But I was in my dream”, clearly indicating what she was using as an account of what had happened to her.
 

In most cases there was pressure on the children to respond to requests to “tell”. When they did not, it was generally thought by their inquisitors that the devil-worshippers had prevented them from doing so, using magical procedures such as spiders on the wall or “trigger words” which, when spoken, silenced the children.

I need only refer briefly to the effect of mistakes in transcriptions of interviews that altered what was said. In one case these errors were carefully elucidated by a consultant who checked their accuracy, finding over and over again that mistakes in transcribing altered what the children actually said. The report might record ‘No’ as an answer when a video recording showed a child responding ‘Yes’ or vice versa.

Using leading questions, the alleged stories of other children’s alleged stories and promises of rewards were other means by which counterfeit responses were obtained. The results usually reflected and confirmed the adults’ preconceptions.


There are some recognisable parallels with cases of recovered memories.

Kenny MacDonald Believing NickFirst, note the parallel with the popular dogma that ‘victims’ should always be believed.  Det. Supt. Kenny McDonald, the investigator of allegations of ‘historic’ child abuse in Dolphin Square, an experienced police officer, recently pronounced the alleged victim’s claims as credible and true BEFORE any investigations had been concluded. [Ed His pronouncement was later castigated by his superiors and he was moved off the case: see http://saff.nfshost.com/panoramavip.htm for full background] 

Well-known therapists such as Valerie Sinason, have insisted that therapists must discard the previous understanding that a patient’s story is true for the teller, though not necessarily for the hearer, and convince themselves of the reality of the patient’s account. This approach, while no Portrait of Valerie Sinasondoubt easing the strain for victims who try to recount what happened, risks serious miscarriages of justice. Belief in sincerity is not the same as a conclusion, based on good evidence, that the truth has been uncovered.

 A second parallel can be drawn between the vulnerable children who were pressured by the authorities to ‘tell’ everything they had suffered and the vulnerable men and women, sometimes disturbed, often depressed, who felt pressure from the counsellor, psychotherapist or analyst to search their memories for what the questioner ‘knew’ must be there. The silence of the children and the blankness of patients’ memories were both taken to mean the existence of serious trauma and/or the ability of the perpetrators to control what their victims were able to say. Very few of those who believed in the existence of satanic cults were prepared to believe that silence meant that there was nothing to say.

"Very few of those who believed in the existence of satanic cults were prepared to believe that silence meant that there was nothing to say."
 Teenager Natalie telling her made up storyHowever not all children were young and vulnerable in this way. The teenagers who figured in some cases resembled the adults in some cases of historic abuse in that they were active participants in the creation of the stories of what they had suffered. Here again it was pressure to tell that encouraged the expounding of horrific stories of what they had seen and had suffered themselves. As one near-teenager explained:

“ You lot are into these things and the police and social workers wanted to hear them so I thought I had to say something and I went from there”.

Teenagers, like ‘survivors’ of ritual abuse, have many opportunities to learn from each other and from printed materials what is expected. Some of them chose the people to listen who showed a disposition to believe everything that was said. The lengthy sessions with these confidants, with social workers or therapists were occasions when the ‘story’, whether of ‘satanic’ or ‘historic’ abuse was put together. [Ed: See news cutting in rightmost panel for classic example of this co-authoring by believers and 'victims' of Satanic Abuse stories]

Apart from the dogma that victims must be believed where did the pressure to ‘tell’ come from?

Maureen Davies. Sectarian influence in the SRA mythThere are several elements that make up the deep convictions which caused it. In half the cases I studied the children had suffered sexual abuse, usually in their homes, and in many of those cases and in some others they had been badly mistreated as well. As one campaigner put it:
‘It was hard to believe that [ordinary] people could be capable of such evil’.
For evangelical Christians an explanation was provided by the perpetrators’ alleged allegiance to the devil and this explanation was accepted by the irreligious who did not themselves believe in Satan. The argument that the cult members may believe in him was seen to be sufficient.

Equally, it is important to stress that the alleged sexual abuse of the teenagers concerned was far less well established. For example when one of them had an abortion, the identity of the father was never mentioned and in other cases the girls’ accounts were clearly fabrications.

All encompassing sexual abuse symptoms - Satanic Indicators

  Another idea, drawn from what has been said to be a misreading of Freud, asserted that most, if not all psychological illness or damage, came from earlier traumas caused by sexual abuse. [Ed: Freud claimed that most 'complexes' resulted from the repression of unacceptable sexual desires, not that complexes were created by sexual abuse ]

List of Satanic Indicators‘ Experts’ in the diagnosis of trauma in children circulated lists of the ‘indicators’ that pointed to the greatest trauma: ritual abuse. Many of these 'ritual abuse indicators', such as bed-wetting were common symptoms of psychological disturbance and therefore, not surprisingly, occurred in the children taken into care.

These were used to ‘prove’ the validity of the ‘indicators’. The use of indicators to identify the children who had suffered ritual abuse made lengthy, unproductive and distressing interviews with the children themselves less necessary and they rapidly became commonplace.

 A very important part played in causing the pressure to tell was the conviction that only by ‘recovering’ the memory or recounting the experience could healing from the trauma begin. (1)

A foster-mother recorded in her notes when the children she fostered “really needed to talk”. The pressure put on ‘victims’ was justified as it was for their own good. Of course it also contributed to the chances of identifying the perpetrator but what was largely concentrated on was not the identity of the guilty but the detail of what happened.

Expert Sinason says Devil Cults Slay 100The authority of experts who spoke at conferences and on television, and who constructed lists of ‘indicators’ of satanic abuse were taken as guaranteeing the validity of their views. Such people claimed to possess knowledge of which those who listened were ignorant.

They reminded their listeners that when it was discovered that children might be abused and even killed by their parents many people refused to believe that it was so. But time showed that they were wrong not to accept what was shown to be the truth; similarly they said, time would show the existence of satanic abuse, (2)

It is the presence of crusaders seeking to convert others to their belief which  underlies both satanic abuse and false memories. Listeners were asked to believe what they were told, not to accept conclusions based on evidence.

The cases, whether of recent satanic abuse or recovered memories of it, reveal vulnerable victims under pressure to construct stories that will both authenticate their status as victims and heal them in the telling.

  Jean La Fontaine is emerita Professor of Social Anthropology at the London School of Economics, and a past President of the Royal Anthropological Institute. She is the author of a report to the Department of Health, The Extent and Nature of Organised and Ritual Abuse: Research Findings, and Speak of the Devil: Tales of Satanic Abuse in contemporary England (Cambridge University Press: 1998).



(1) Ed: This belief, was also perhaps corrupted from a misunderstanding of Freud's theory of analysis. Freud maintained that an emptying of the contents of the conscious mind during analysis could result in morally unacceptable repressed ideas from the unconscious floating to the surface in a more acceptable guise.  Note that these were not 'memories' but repressions; such as a desire to have sex with one's mother [ Oedipus complex ] or father [ Electra Complex ]. ]

(2) [Ed 27years later, despite a world-wide hunt by tens of thousands of believers there has not been one proven case of Satanic Ritual Child Abuse conforming to the predictions of believers].


This article was first published in November 2015 by the BFMS website

Copyright 2015  http://bfms.org.uk/jean-la-fontaine-on-satanic-ritual-abuse-panic/

BFMS Website:  The Website of the British False Memory Society http://bfms.org.uk/

Ends:

Valerie Sinason: Time for Hysteria To Stop

Have you read La Fontaine's SRA report or are you a victim of the conspiracy to obscure the truth which has destroyed the lives of thousands?

Has there been a tacit conspiracy of omission attenuating distribution and availability of The government's official report by Prof. La Fontaine "The Extent and Nature of Organised and Ritual Abuse: Research Findings" ?   

The SAFF believe that the difficulty in obtaining it has lead to the perpetuation of the lies and the damage the myth has done to society over the intervening 21 years since its publication.

No evidence of SRA - ReportAlthough heralded nationally at the time and covered at length in most national and local newspapers, as well as on radio and TV, it is now almost impossible to obtain.

 It cannot easily be found in a search of the HMSO website.
It cannot be found in a search of the new TSO website and it is not readily found in as search of the government catalogue of publications or the British Library.
Though we did find mention of it in the National Library of Scotland!  

 The owner of the Sorcerer's Apprentice bookshop (which was firebombed by fundamentalists over the Cook Report's discredited claims) tells us that even when it was first published HMSO seemed to put hurdles in front of every purchase of it.

The Sorcerers' Apprentice Bookshop has been in business for 40 years and stocked 20,000 books on its shelves so was used to regularly ordering rare treatises from publishers across the world.   He says: "Never did we  have as much trouble as when we tried to order "The Extent and Nature of Organised and Ritual Abuse: Research Findings
".

First HMSO imposed a minimum order value. Then would not invoice.  They demanded pre-payment but would not accept an order unless on one of their pro-forma invoices; which had to be requested. Sometimes that pro-forma would never arrive. Eventually, after dozens of attempts, even though it was crucial to the bookshop owners own history, he had to give up.  He says over the years that people regularly ask him for copies of the report but he cannot help them and directs them to HMSO, though HMSO doesn't actually deal with the public.  These people presumably have also tried elsewhere and failed to get a copy of it.

Occasionally a second hand copy might pop up on Amazon.com but citizens will find it exceedingly difficult to obtain a vital public document to breach the SRA myth and this difficulty has played into the hands of the pro-SRA lobby which appears to be able to get feminist publishers, radical social work publishers and left-wing publishers to print and distribute their pro-SRA propaganda by the cartload.  Was there a conspiracy to hide this crucial information - or is it just another example of the stupidity of government bureaucracy and the small-mindedness of HMSO?

Extent and Nature of Organised and Ritual AbuseTo help you obtain a copy new or second hand here are the details and ISBN courtesy of the National Library of Scotland:


Title: The Extent And Nature of Organised and Ritual Abuse,
Subtitle: Research Findings
Author:  Prof. Jean La Fontaine
Corporate Author: Great Britain, Department of Health
Publisher  H.M.S.O
Date published: 1994
Place:  London
ISBN: 0113217978, 9780113217977

Meanwhile you can read a précis review of it from
http://www.religioustolerance.org/ra_rep01.htm

Speak of the Devil, Jean La FontaineOr even better, obtain Prof La Fontaine's own detailed hard cover  book

"SPEAK OF THE DEVIL"  
written shortly after her government report and encapsulating all the essential research she completed
on the SRA issue but did not have space to discuss in the official report, coupled with an overview of the witch-hunt mentality and its social implications.

SPEAK OF THE DEVIL:
TALES OF SATANIC ABUSE IN CONTEMPORARY
ENGLAND
by J.S. La Fontaine.
Cambridge University Press,
1998. 224pp.

ISBN-10: 0521629349
ISBN-13: 978-0521629348

This excellent book was purchased and distributed widely therefore can be obtained second hand relatively easily on the web. Amazon had a dozen copies available last time we looked.

To whet your appetite here's a link to a partial review of it:
 http://www.academia.edu/239737/Speak_Of_The_Devil_by_Jean_La_Fontaine




Valerie Sinason: Time for Hysteria To Stop

Valerie Sinason's 'Devil Report' is Invalid on standard research grounds

Professor La Fontaine has sent the SAFF these pertinent extracts from a formal letter she has written to Bruce Clark of the DoH department which authorised Sinason's 'research' into Satanic Ritual Abuse

' 1. The only valid reason for repeating a piece of work is that there is evidence that renders its conclusions suspect. There is no mention of such evidence and it seems unlikely that there was any because the proposed research by Valerie Sinason and Dr Hale did not propose to use comparable data. Moreover my report, The Extent and Nature of Organised and Ritual Abuse, ( ISBN 0113217978 HMSO 1994 ) was extensively reviewed by the Research Department's peer review requirement. "Complaints" about conclusions are not evidence about the work, merely about the views of the complainers, and should not be considered in themselves as reasons for funding further research.'

'Funding; - A better explanation is due..'

'2. Ms Sinason's research is presented as though it were funded by the DoH in the normal way. It was not. It was not funded by the Research Section of the DoH (a fact that you omit to mention), there was no peer review of the proposal and neither of the applicants had research experience. I was told by Dr Hale in the summer of 1998 that the research report to the DoH was nearly finished. Now you deny you have it but refrain from mentioning that this means it is nearly 2 years overdue. What has happened? Given that public money has been involved I think a better explanation than was offered is due.

'Professor Jean La Fontaine, emeritus professor of anthropology, LSE



BANNED DOCTOR VOWS TO CONTINUE WAR ON SATANISM

In Satan's Name


Dr Jim Phillips is a deluded believer in Satanic Ritual Abuse. His interference in the proper treatment of mentally ill patients created many of the 'victims' of SRA who acted as the foundation of the myth for those who wanted to persuade you it was real.

Jim Phillips was featured in award winning documentary maker  Antony Thomas's  1993 film  "In Satan's Name" (click on Jim's photo above to see a SAFFutube excerpt of his interview with Jim)

An article reproduced below from the Birmingham Post reveals how many of the early SRA 'victims' were worked up from a pool of mentally ill people who needed proper help but got sucked into the SRA controversy and were indoctrinated with SRA motifs and ideas.

When the Police tell us that there have been 500 calls and cases  of abuse following  a  TV appeal on the issue it is people of this ilk, with unsubstantiated and mostly imagined cases,  who often ring in and in the process distort reaction to the claims.

BANNED DOCTOR VOWS TO CONTINUE WAR ON SATANISM

A Birmingham doctor who claims Satanism is rife in Britain has vowed to carry on treating patients despite a General Medical Council ban.

Dr Jim Phillips who runs a controversial project for victims of child sex abuse, plans to move his clinic to Hertfordshire to make new start.

The GP was suspended from practice by the GMC last Thursday, days before the screening of a television documentary in which he claimed one in ten Britons was a Satanist.

Dr Phillips alleges at least one member of the Royal Family and a former prime minister are active devil-worshippers, along with half the Conservative Party, Cabinet members and 20 percent of the police force.

Yesterday Dr Phillips said:

"There is one great big conspiracy of corruption against me but I am not going to be beaten.


 "Members of my group here are dedicated to the work I do and several have promised to move south with me."

The doctor, who lives in a one-room flat above his surgery in Bristol Road South, Northfield, set up the Jupiter Trust in 1989 to treat adult victims of sexual and satanic ritual abuse.

 His clientele is largely made up of vulnerable young runaways with histories of severe mental illness, crime and drug addiction.

 Most joined the therapy programme after visiting his NHS surgery.

 Multiple Personality Disorder diagnoses 100 people in one Body

 Dr Phillips claims his patients are all suffering from multiple personality disorder, a condition unrecognised by medical authorities in Britain. He believes the trauma of abuse causes separate identities to be created within an individual, with up to 100 different personalities in a severely disturbed  patient.

 Through group counselling and hypnotherapy sessions, he claims patients can gradually cast off their adverse identities to be left with their 'virgin' unspoiled self.

He alleges at least half a dozen schizophrenic and psychopathic patients of the 350 who have passed through his clinic have been cured.

 The doctor admits many of his patients do not realise they have been sexually or physically abused until he tells them.

30 Minute Questionnaire Finds SRA from Dreams

 He claims h
e can make the diagnosis within 30 minutes by studying their responses to two questionnaires and asking them about the contents of their dreams.

 References to fire, water, crucifixes and witchcraft indicate the patient may have fallen prey to Satanic abuse.

The more ticks a patient places on a questionnaire about their emotions the more seriously Dr Phillips says they have been abused.

Patients Do Not Remember Abuse Before Phillips Diagnoses It.

"Some patients are shocked when I tell them they have been abused as children, but they come to realise my diagnosis is correct" he said "

Anyone With a Mental Illness Has Been Abused

"If my theory is right, anyone with mental illness has suffered abuse as a child."

Dr Phillips underwent psychiatric treatment himself after attempting suicide twice in the last year.

He funds the Jupiter Trust himself making no charge for therapy, and says he is close to bankruptcy.


 He plans to appeal against his suspension. A locum is currently running his 1400 patient NHS surgery.

Source: Birmingham Post, 18 July 1993


Undoubtedly Jim Phillips' is a sad case and he obviously has his own inner demons to tackle.

He is as much a victim of the SRA myth as  are his patients
.

W
e have great sympathy for his personal predicament but it is not acceptable for a general practitioner who does not specialise in psychiatry to be encouraged to use his authoritarian position to interfere with the proper psychiatric treatment of  patients by indoctrinating them with ideas and fantasies about Satanic Ritual Abuse of which they were previously oblivious and over which they have no defence.

This locks them into  being a statistical commodity to be exploited by therapists on the make to  'prove' the existence of SRA to the police and government. Because  SRA is a myth it leaves these patients in an incurable position.

The government and the police should now get a firm grip on this phenomenon which has corrupted and tainted child protection for the past 25 years.  These people need help, not another witch-hunt.




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