Today while visiting a cafe, I came across a copy of the Daily Express newspaper whose headline shouted “Saville was part of a satanic child abuse ring”.
The story was referring to the late Jimmy Saville, who it transpired was a serial paedophile who’s crimes span over 40 years, involving as many as 450 victims, with perhaps more who have yet to come forward.
There is not a question in my mind that given the number of allegations that surfaced after his death which lead to an extensive police and media investigation, that Saville was a dangerous serial abuser who prayed on the vulnerable, mentally ill and those with no voice in wider society such as children in care during the 1970’s.
What did interest me was the newspaper report that he was part of a satanic cult who dressed in robes wore a mask and uttered chants to satan in Latin while abusing his victims.
Stories of satanic child abuse, have existed both in the press and by word of mouth for years, they seem to confirm our worst fear that somewhere there is a group of people who not only abduct children but abuse them as part of devil worship.
But is this true?
Recently I spoke to a colleague who had attended a training course which highlighted the signs of someone being abused, some of the information sounded very helpful when supporting a client who is or was the victim of sexual abuse.
The trainer then went on to tell the delegates that satanic sexual abuse was real, and is perpetrated by an elite group of individuals who hold the highest position of power such as judges, barristers and members of the government, a conspiracy of silence stops us from finding out who they are.
Which is interesting as I was doing a bit of casual research in to the subject and came across the story of Caroline Myers who was found dead at the age of 41, leaving a letter stating she was the victim of Satanic sexual abuse by her parents.
According to an article in the Guardian newspaper, Caroline after she had left home to live in London when she qualified as a nurse had become mentally unwell, and spent some time in a psychiatric hospital.
Her medical records reveal that she had alleged that her father was a high satanic priest and had fathered six children to her; she also stated that she had an implant in her eye which would explode if she talked about satanists.
All of which was proved to be untrue.
When I qualified in 2003 I worked for a mental health charity supporting individuals in recovery in their own homes,*one of my clients, I will call him Bill was a quiet and friendly individual, one day we went to a meeting with his psychiatrist who asked him if he still believed that government official were still following him, Bill replied ‘yes’ and gave numerous examples of seeing men talking on mobile phones outside his house, When the psychiatrist reflected that it might by someone visiting the house next door, Bill became convinced that his psychiatrist was part of the conspiracy too!
A relative of ours phones regularly to say that the people next door are vampires. ‘They live in the wall and have a trap door in the ceiling’ on occasions she has called the police for help.
Last year she spent some time in hospital being assessed, and is still under the care of the psychiatric team and yes still believes that people live in the walls!
Both these individuals present as rational, logical and well quite ‘normal’, which gives therapists a bit of a difficulty,If you are working with a client who in the course of therapy discloses that they have been victims of satanic sexual abuse what do you do?
We want to believe our clients and build a trusting therapeutic relationship however can we collude in fantasy?
It has been known that individuals especially young children who have been abused, disassociate with the event, they try to build an alternative reality in their psych which keeps them safe and conceptualises the event in terms they can understand.
Such clients may conceptualise their abuser as a devil, monster or some other representation, which although is a fantasy may represent the reality of what they have experienced.
Some approaches known as ‘recovered memory therapy” helps clients visit parts of their life history which they have subconsciously repressed.
The psychological world is dived on its effectiveness, as it is the same technique that allows individuals to recount how they have been abducted by aliens.
This has led to the term false memory syndrome, FMS for short, as Kimberley Wade, associate professor of psychology at Warwick University explains;
‘False memories don't even require a therapist. Any trusted source – a book, friend, TV personality – can suggest the possibility of abuse. Your mind might then produce a fragment – an image of something bad happening. What was that? You recall it again. You fill in the details. "Repetition makes it more vivid and familiar," It'll start to feel like a memory."
So do I believe Saville was part of a satanic abuse ring?, well I am afraid not, there is not one shred of evidence that they exist as described, and there have been many investigations over the years with two high profile investigation in Cleveland in the north east of England and the Orkney Islands proving no abuse had taken place.
I keep an open mind but, suspect that massively organised ritual satanic sexual abuse is therapeutic folklore, an urban myth that some therapist’s subscribe to and others like myself remain sceptical of.
*Bills name and story have been slightly altered to protect his identify.
Link to the story in the guardian