Saturday, January 9, 2016

Moral Panics; Satanic Abuse, Recovered Memory - and Ireland

The following is (another) extract from the discussion following Luke Gittos article "No Justice in a Year of Moral Crusades" in Spiked magazine (22 December 2015).  We had almost no examples of Satanic Ritual Abuse (SRA) in Ireland and - I think - a good deal less Recovered memory than in the UK or the USA. The one partial exception concerning SRA is significant because the lady in question had spent decades in the UK. We Irish have a tendency to blame all our ills on our British neighbours; in the case of Satanic Abuse we may have been right!

Rory Connor
9 January 2016


In all this child abuse hysteria, we seem to have forgotten the Cleveland scandal of the late 1980s, when Dr Marietta Higgs and Dr Geoffrey Wyatt removed 121 children from their parents on their diagnosis of rape made on the basis of their 'anal dilation' test. Had they not been fanatics like one of the more conspicuous posters on this thread, they might have troubled themselves to try their test on all children: on this basis, every child in the world would have been raped. We have had similar examples in the Orkneys and Rochdale where social workers and medical personnel were quite frankly deranged, and used the most unscrupulous means to get 'evidence' of abuse.
I once accompanied a single father to hospital--his 4-yr-old son had been with us when we stopped off for a pint. The boy fell off a bar stool and got a severe nose bleed. The father was reluctant to take him into the doctor, because he came from a working class home and he knew how he'd be received. The following day it was pretty obvious the boy's nose was broken, so he took him in to see his GP. Quite predictably, he was ordered to report to the nearest hospital, and he phoned me and asked me to go along. As I was the director of a children's charity, he hoped that they would take me word.
In fact it took a long time before I had a chance to say a word. Nurses and doctors fell upon us like vultures, making no attempt to disguise their glee at finding another 'victim'. The poor kid had his anus examined by three separate doctors--if that isn't child abuse, I'd like to know what is.
Fortunately, the registrar was a young German woman who quite clearly didn't think a lot of her colleagues. At last the father and I had a chance to say what happened. I'm glad to say that she didn't find it necessary to contact the landlord of the pub, who also witnessed the accident.
At around the same time, a friend of mine--an Army Officer--and his wife decided not to take their 9-mo-old son to a doctor after he'd got a second-degree burn. Even 'respectable' middle-class people were terrified of abuse allegations.
Long before this, my sister 'recovered' memories of child abuse and caused great distress in our family. She was so convincing that even I started to wonder if there might be something in it--until she made an allegation that could not possibly have occurred.
Of course, neither I nor anyone else has any evidence to prove how prevalent sexual abuse of children may be. This is all the more reason to let the legal system take its course--and to end the scandalous abuse of family courts, where due process is ignored, and reporting banned. When I was running the children's charity, BBC4's Children's Affairs reporter warned me to stay out of the clutches of social workers: she knew what happens when cases are tried in camera.
Courts of law are not infallible, but the only alternative is anarchy.

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      The late cultural historian Richard Webster suggested to me that the reason Ireland had practically no Satanic Ritual Abuse (SRA) cases was the influence of the Catholic Church and its strong opposition to Freudian ideas. The Church opposed Freudianism because of the implications for Catholic doctrines regarding sin, free will and personal responsibility. Richard Webster was an atheist (NOT of the Dawkins persuasion) but he was also a major critic of Freud and and believed that SRA was a logical development of his ideas.
      Based on what Richard Webster suggested, I developed my own theory that false allegations of child murder in Ireland are our equivalent of SRA - except that in OUR case Freudian delusions are replaced by open lying. (I am thinking in particular of the cases where no child died of ANY cause during the period in question). However I don't know enough about Freud and he didn't know enough about Ireland to prove anything of the sort. It could be a useful subject for a law graduate looking for a doctoral thesis!
      Incidentally the 2008 hysteria about child-killing in Jersey was possibly based on the with-hunt in Ireland re the old industrial school at Letterfrack in Co Galway. Letterfrack is as remote a location in my country as the island of Jersey is vis a vis the UK. Also the Jersey policeman largely responsible was born in Derry!

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          My mother was a disciple of the blessed Sigmund, and when I arrived in England in my late 20s I was relieved to find that Freud worship was a decidedly marginal enthusiasm. I never had the patience to read any of his gospels, and regarded advocates of psychoanalysis as narcissistic obsessives. However, I'm not sure how this could have developed into SRA. It's an interesting theory, and I'd be obliged if you could spell it out. I assume this entails something more than an obsessive antipathy to the church.

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              Sorry I can only provide some limited guidance. Richard Webster's website is still maintained by his friends and includes several of his articles on Freud.
              I find the theory behind his thesis difficult to understand. I think he is saying that modern society thought it had dispensed with the concepts of Sin, Evil and the Devil but that Freud was a kind of secular Messiah who brought them back in secular form. One of my difficulties with Webster's THEORY is that he emphasizes that Freud re-established the Christian doctrine of Original Sin. However that doctrine states that evil is a basic - although not dominant - element in human nature and that therefore we are all sinful. I would have thought that this doctrine works AGAINST the modern tendency to see child sex abusers as sub-human vermin. Evil is within us and we are not going to eradicate it by transferring our guilt and demonizing any section of humanity no matter how nasty their behaviour.
              From a pragmatic point of view however, I think that Webster's theory has a lot to be said for it. Ireland is much influenced by American and British culture. Yet we had practically no trace at all of the Satanic Ritual Abuse hysteria. I can think of only one partial exception. That was in relation to the "Dalkey House of Horrors" case, where evidently real allegations of abuse were mixed up with some fantasies - including a hint of SRA.
              Two psychologists today told Dublin County Coroner Dr Kieran Geraghty that they were in no doubt that Cynthia Owen had been raped and gave birth to a baby that had been murdered.
              The inquest heard the 45-year-old told Dr Dawn Henderson that she had been the victim of satanic abuse and also mentioned a paedophile ring, details of which she did not want disclosed at the hearing.
              The lady in question was born in Ireland but spent decades in the UK - which I think is very significant. I suspect that the absence of SRA here (and the lesser role of Recovered Memory compared to the US and UK) is due to the influence of the Catholic Church. OK this does not constitute scientific proof but I still think that it might provide a thesis for a law student to investigate

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