I was pleased to see in the February 2022 issue of The Psychologist (which confusingly had ‘January’ printed on the cover that dropped at my doorstep) an advert requesting expressions of interest in contributing to a ‘Memory Guidance Task and Finish Group’. It felt a bit like Groundhog Day as a similar advert had gone out around this time in 2019. I discussed the background history and what happened here:
At the time the terms of reference had an incredibly tight time scale which I found disconcerting. This time around they seem more realistic. I am pleased that the guidance will be subject to Society Wide consultation and encourage those familiar with memories of extreme abuse to apply for membership of this important group:
Ashley Conway and David Pilgrim (2022) explained what went on over the years in their Journal of Trauma & Dissociation article ‘The Policy Alignment of the British False Memory Society and the British Psychological Society‘.
In my presentation I referred to the excellent document produced by the BPS Recovered Memory Working Group in 1995 which thoughtfully covered the topic with sensitivity and clarity. I hope that the new document will follow that approach.
They also published an article in May 1995 issue of The Psychologist which outlined results of a survey they conducted with practitioners. 15% of the respondents had encountered disclosures of Satanist Ritual Abuse (SRA) and the vast majority believed those disclosures.
In May 2021 I attended the online conference of the US organisation Survivorship that bravely provides a platform for clinicians who support extreme abuse victims as well as survivors who are prepared to speak about their experiences and their healing.
I subsequently penned an article regarding my presentations across various conferences of the European Society for Trauma and Dissociation (ESTD) for the Summer 2022 issue of the Survivorship Journal (‘For survivors of ritual abuse, mind control and torture, and pro-survivors’) that is issued twice per year and can be downloaded free-of-charge here:
I joined their conference team and a few days ago was honoured to be elected a Board Member of Survivorship. I will be one of the speakers at the next virtual conference – please attend and promote this important event:
I am writing to outline my perspective on the creation of the BPS Memory-Based Evidence task and finish group, and its premature closure in October 2020. My 30+ posters and presentations on related topics as well as other resources can be downloaded from my ResearchGate profile:
I had a life changing moment in May 2012 when I opened an email from an acquaintance who I had spoken to on about a dozen occasions. The last time we had met in September 2010, she told me of travels to Canada, Ireland, Spain, and Morocco while I was giving her and her 1-year-old toddler a lift to an event from her parents’ home in the Kingston Hill area and then back. In the email, she warned me that her father had sexually assaulted her boy and that all authority representatives disbelieved her account of what happened. Instead of ignoring the email I chose to offer support and listened to her story.
Meeting face-to-face I gave developmental feedback on a work personality questionnaire and explored career choices and options. Sitting in on a subsequent session with a Clinical Psychologist I got a quick overview of her family circumstances and abusive childhood. She disclosed that she was abused from birth to age 20. Strangely the court appointed expert did not ask any follow up questions. A specific sexual abuse act performed by the downstairs neighbour at toddler age was described (having been locked out of the upstairs flat by her own father) suggesting organised sexual abuse. Incidents of ‘not seeing’ and ‘not hearing’ were explored which, as I learned some months later from the trauma literature, are typical symptoms of dissociation caused by abuse and neglect by primary carers in early childhood.
A few weeks later the mother disclosed on a support call that she had a baby at 14 that ‘disappeared’. After a few weeks of Internet research, I hit on the topic of Ritual Abuse that seemed highly relevant. A cult that is frequently named in this context states on its website that it does not conduct animal sacrifice rituals but does not have an ethical or moral problem with the idea in principle.
As a PhD qualified psychologist with psychometric expertise, I was greatly concerned with the assessments by four court-appointed experts who all concluded that the mother was ‘delusional’ about the sexual assault and having had a baby as a young teenager.
Furthermore, the first psychiatrist in the presence of another psychiatrist and two social workers, reportedly proclaimed that he knew that the mother’s parents were into ‘devil worship’ and had been outside the family home.
I found documentary proof for one of a dozen ‘stalking’ events and that the half-aunt’s boy had been sexually assaulted as a toddler according to NHS records. The mother described being anally assaulted by her father as a toddler (and disclosed a memory of seeing herself on the passenger seat of a sports car on a family holiday to Spain at the time). That is three toddler rape victims in one family!
Through attendance of trauma course at the Bowlby Centre I started to gain insights into the nature and impact of Child Sexual Abuse (CSA), ritual abuse and torture which frequently result in dissociative disorders (previously known as Multiple Personality Disorder) that are often misdiagnosed as ‘Schizophrenia’ or ‘Borderline Personality Disorder’. To counter the ‘discourse of disbelief’ perpetuated by all authority representative I organised assessments by suitably qualified specialists (half a dozen in the end) who all found no reason to disbelieve her story.
The descriptions of traumatic memories in the writings of Pierre Janet (1917) and Judith Herman (1993) resonated with the disclosures that were made by the mother. I found Alison Miller’s 2012 textbook ‘Healing the Unimaginable: Treating Ritual Abuse and Mind Control’ very helpful which has a 2014 companion book for survivors. Furthermore, ‘Ritual Abuse and Mind Control: The Manipulation of Attachment Needs’ by Epstein, Schwartz & Schwartz (2011) provided powerful survivor accounts that resonated with the private disclosures made to me. As a witness in court, I held up both books stating my believe that these are highly relevant and describe the background that explain what happened. Sarah Scott (2001) provided UK survivor and supporter accounts and alerted me in ‘The Politics and Experience of Ritual Abuse: Beyond Disbelief’ to the nature of the Memory Wars at the end of the last century where emergent cases of extreme abuse were met with a ‘Discourse of Disbelief’ fuelled by the ubiquitous ‘False Memory’ lobby. ‘Forensic Aspects of Dissociative Identity Disorder’ edited by Sachs & Galton (2008) alerted me to the ‘Extreme Abuse Survey’ that quantified extreme abuse and corresponding mental health symptoms. Uncovering Lacter & Lehmann (2008) guidelines to differential diagnosis between Schizophrenia and Ritual Abuse / Mind Control Traumatic Stress was a real breakthrough – this chapter could benefit many mental health professionals and survivors.
As the session I witnessed covered neither the toddler assault nor giving birth to a baby as a young teenager I submitted 6 months into my investigation a ‘Fitness to Practice’ concern about the Clinical Psychologist. I detailed that the boy’s half-aunt, nursery teacher’s friend and godmother were found dead in the 12 months run-up to the sexual assault. I even met up with two HCPC case workers in person, but this submission came to a grinding halt when they demanded the judge’s permission for release of the assessment reports. The owner of the company I was working for tried to pressurise me into withdrawing the HCPC concern I had raised (’Closing Ranks’?). I refused and explained that I had booked annual leave for the forthcoming week in order to provide support by sitting outside a UK Family Court in Cardiff as the mother most probably would lose custody of her son. My HCPC concern failed to meet the HCPC Standard of Acceptance whereas ‘concerns’ raised against whistle blowers (manipulatively designed to stop their research and support for victims, and to deprive advocates of their livelihood) seem to easily meet this standard.
The outcome is largely a foregone conclusion in Family Court cases where allegations of serious abuse crimes are made that are difficult to investigate and prove. Protective parents are routinely labelled delusional or ascribed a personality disorder. If the allegation concerns incestuous abuse ‘Parental Alienation’ is routinely claimed and that the protective parent coached the child to make allegations. What made this case particularly disconcerting was that the mother reportedly had met this judge as a teenager, and they recognised each other. In the secrecy of the Family Court system whitewashing of crime allegations is all too common.
Once I had recordings of suitably qualified mental health expert attesting that they had no reason to disbelief the mother’s account regarding the two index indices, I wrote several times to the line manager of two psychiatrists who as court appointed experts claimed that the mother was delusional. Instead of investigating the shenanigans the NHS entity instigated trouble at my workplace.
In 2013 I got involved in putting together an ‘Extreme Abuse Dossier’ based on the above and including a list of successful UK prosecutions involving ritual abuse elements.
Due to a fluke coincident I managed to get in touch with the father of the godmother of the toddler who had been found dead in the hallway of her burnt out house ‘on top of roof tiles’ with broken legs and arm. From witness statements I inferred that she may have been run over and murdered through arson. Taking advantage of a business trip to Dublin in December 2013 I went to Tipperary to pay my respects to the deceased. Imagine my surprise when I found a drugs bottle in the window frame of the burnt-out bathroom, numerous containers and an odd device with a transformer, metal, and plastic. The foreman of the jury, which returned an open verdict, had claimed that ‘no stone had been left unturned’ – an inversion of reality (as so often in ritual abuse settings).
One month before the house fire the toddler’s nursery teacher’s friend was found dead in a village river. One month later the set of cottages overlooking the scene went up in flames. Four months earlier the half-aunt (whose toddler son had been anally raped according to NHS records) was found dead – ostensibly due to alcoholism.
At the 2014 Copenhagen conference of the European Society for Trauma and Dissociation (ESTD) I presented a paper ‘True Traumas – Top Ten Tips for Case Management’ sharing my experiences to help fellow professionals who encounter extreme abuse cases.
A second reader’s letter was not only rejected for print publication but even purged by the editor from the electronic version of the magazine.
I tried to engage various BPS presidents who seemed genuinely interested and concerned but seemingly were held back by salaried BPS staff. Having secured a role with a more supportive employer, I put myself forward for the BPS Division of Occupational Psychology (DOP) Science & Practice Strategy Group Convener volunteer role in January 2015. I had no idea at the outset what this would involve but found myself becoming a member of the BPS Research Board. Three times a year I attended meetings for 6 years.
In 2015 I presented to 40 peers at The Psychometric Forum about psychometric and forensic issues related to the case, the nature of occult ritual abuse and a few examples of successful prosecutions.
Half a year into the case the Jimmy Savile scandal broke at the end of 2012 – how could he sexually abuse hundreds of children? How could Edward Heath become Prime Minister when there were at least six occasions in the 1960s where he should have been interviewed under caution about alleged sexual abuse acts?
Around that time Colin Batley, a self-styled Satanist high priest, was sentenced for Child Sexual Abuse (CSA). Ian Watkins, the disgraced former singer of ‘The Lost Prophets’, received a lengthy sentence for a sexual assault on a baby. Albert and Carole Hickman were once more sentenced for CSA – the case involved ‘sucking blood’ and testimony of psychologists for the prosecution and for the defence.
At a conference in Norwich, I outlined the case and my efforts (in vain) to get authority representatives to properly investigate matters.
A pivotal moment came when my multi-disciplinary symposium ‘Trauma, Dissociation & Healing’ at the BPS 2017 Annual Conference in Brighton was cancelled 10 days before the event. Why? One of the presenters expressed ‘concerns’ along the line of ‘You cannot be sure that no one in the audience has been abused as a child’ and whipped up half a dozen colleagues in an email chain – instead of simply withdrawing their own contribution. I complained to the BPS CEO about the Senior Manager who had informed me of the cancellation of my symposium (where my 2-page letter was accompanied by 17 posters I presented across various mental health conferences) but was fobbed off.
US Clinical Psychologist Dr Ellen Lacter, who runs the website www.endritualabuse.org, emailed a letter in my support to the BPS President which may well have helped to secure an exploratory meeting where the foundation for the Memory-Based Evidence task and finish group was laid. I highly recommend her website which covers the Extreme Abuse Survey and the difficulties of reporting ritual abuse to authorities.
The Senior Manager I complained about left the BPS in August, the CEO retired in September and another long-standing salaried staff member concerned with policy left by the end of 2017.
Courageous BPS members of the South-West Branch, who were appalled by the removal of my symposium at the Brighton conference, agreed to publish my 2nd reader’s letter that had been ‘spiked’ from the electronic pages of The Psychologist.
In it I build on the disconcerting finding of Prof Jane Ireland (2012) that 2/3 of psychological assessment reports trawled from UK Family Courts were found to be ‘poor’ or ‘very poor’. In a vendetta a few psychologists raised a HCPC Fitness to Practice concern against her which – after 4 long years – was eventually dismissed.
At the end of 2017 I attended the ESTD conference in Bern where I had convened a symposium on assessment bias issues. I also presented a poster detailing some extreme abuse disclosures and excerpts of medical records that made the mother’s pregnancy claim plausible (note the term ‘Breeder Baby’ is used at times to describe a pregnancy that succeeds from incestuous rape in cults). Furthermore, I presented an updated version of the paper I had prepared for the Brighton conference.
In it I outlined half a dozen BPS documents related to CSA including the excellent 1995 work by Morton, Andrews, Bekerian, Davies, Brewin and Morton (1995) Recovered Memories. The Report of the Working Party of The British Psychological Society which covers comprehensively the nature of trauma memories as well as the conditions of coercion and manipulation under which false beliefs can emerge.
Andrews, Morton, Bekerian, Davies, Brewin and Mollon (1995) provided a companion article in the May issue of The Psychologist where they reported results of their survey of Clinical Practitioners which revealed that 15% had encountered ritual abuse disclosure seemingly related to devil worship with the vast majority finding the disclosures credible.
Ost, Wright, Easton, Hope and French (2013) reported that the BPS had the only professional working group that managed to finish an agreed document in the wake of the ‘memory wars’ which is indicative of the difficulty of undertaking such an endeavour. They found that 37.9% of Chartered Clinical Psychologist had encountered at least one case of ritual abuse. They stated: ‘A systematic review of all cases of childhood sexual abuse involving allegations of ritual abuse between 1987 and 1992 found only three cases where the “sexual abuse of children occurred in conjunction with some ritual activities”. Systematic Reviews are a type of review that uses repeatable analytical methods to collect secondary data and analyse it. The realities of the cited review were as follows:
A Professor of Anthropology with no Psychology or Psychiatry credentials and no clinical practice experience with survivors of abuse initiated a government funded investigation of ritual abuse cases.
Exclusive access to police and social services case files was given.
A single researcher rather than a group conducted the study.
There was no peer review process.
The professor did not speak to self-identified adult survivors of ritual abuse.
In the aftermath of this report mentioning ritual abuse became career limiting if not life threatening. As Scott (2001) put it a Discourse of Disbelief was reinforced across public sector agencies and media. With the recent advances in open science, I suggest that all the case materials are suitably redacted and made available for independent study.
In my 2017 ESTD presentation I referenced the 2008/2010 ‘Memory and the Law’ document developed under Prof Martin Conway who chaired the BPS Research Board 2006-2009 and subsequently joined the Advisory Board of the British False Memory Society (BFMS) in 2011. Publication caused an uproar (hint: ‘false’ featured 41 times) so that eventually one sentence got changed in the 2010 edition:
x. A memory expert is a person who is recognised by the memory research community to be a memory researcher.
x. A memory expert is a person who is recognised by the memory research community to possess knowledge relevant to the particular case.
The 2008 definition made ‘False Memory’ researchers eligible and closed the doors to clinical practitioners and academics who deal with a wide range of abuse disclosures and symptoms.
The document failed to mention many relevant publications including the 1995 BPS Recovered Memory report whereas the brief mention of the article in The Psychologist was completely unrepresentative of its content:
‘It is noted that the impact of therapy on trauma memory has been a concern in the arena of the ‘false memory debate’ for recovered memories of childhood sexual abuse. This is separate area and is covered in detail elsewhere by the British Psychological Society (5.2, 5.3 & 5.53).
Prof Martin Conway provides interesting details of how these documents came about in a posting on The Psychologist which is preceded by various reader’s letters concerning the premature closure of the Memory-Based Evidence task and finish group.
Under ‘What Happened Next’ he explains that due to their definition of what constitutes a memory export they had decided not to include the BPS Expert Witness Panel. The wave of protest and the belated change should have woken up BPS research and policy leaders – the logical next step would have been to scrap the report or overhaul it in the light of a wider constituency of experts.
In my 2017 paper I publish excerpts of Appeal Court judgements in 2010, 2011 and 2012 that were highly critical of the expert witness input of Prof Martin Conway. This would be riveting materials for a properly researched article in a Sunday paper! I gather that courts now frequently reject evidence from Prof Martin Conway so how credible are guidelines developed under his leadership? Proper governance at the BPS would have expedited the development of new guidelines with a broader consensus and credible UK based experts. Instead, a 2013 ‘light touch’ review got abandoned and another initiative thereafter got squashed.
I featured in the 2017 paper a case study vignette of the mother’s situation and her MCMI profile – where normal individuals easily become mislabelled as Narcissistic as this tool is poorly constructed and normed on clinical samples. Furthermore, victims of sexual abuse, incest and stalking who answer honestly with respect to their toxic life circumstances will have grossly misleading elevated scores on Paranoid and Thought Disorder. This tool should never be used in forensic settings with members of the public as it has been designed for use in therapy.
Two slides I dedicated to a proper (!) Systematic Review by Andrews & Brewin (2016) for which responses were invited. They had been asked by the editor to write this piece and the title of their rejoinder ‘False Memories and Free Speech: Is Scientific Debate Suppressed?’ says it all. If the authors had submitted their piece as an article, then the multitude of memory research reviewers associated with ‘False Memory’ positions would most probably have ensured rejection of the submission.
I co-authored two posters at EPA conferences covering extreme abuse with many URLs – I noted that 2019 paper had a spike in readership recently as per graph shown above:
I was pleased that in The Psychologist expressions of interest for joining the Memory-Based Evidence task and finish group were requested in January 2020, and in March 2020 for an Independent Review group. I was impressed with the thoroughness of the process and its ambition which was meant to include a public consultation phase. I applied to join the latter group but was rejected (which vindicated my decision not to apply to the former in the first place). As a member of the BPS Research Board, I had the privilege to see the dozen or so names of the appointed members of each group. I was pleased, proud and relieved that this long overdue work would be tackled by such high calibre psychologist.
I started to feel uneasy when a person was appointed as chair who seemingly lacked clinical practice experience and for a decade had worked in a public sector organisation strongly associated with a ‘Discourse of Disbelief’.
I got nervous when I heard from a member of the Independent Review group that its first meeting date had yet again been postponed.
It dawned on me that the Terms of Reference were inadequate (as I feared when I first saw them).
Before the October 2020 Research Board meeting a recommendation was made by two senior BPS officials (who had been members of the group developing the controversial 2008/2010 document) to close the Memory-Based Evidence group as in their view its frame of reference objectives could not be met.
I was surprised by the level of apathy and disinterest at the BPS Research Board. Having voted against this recommendation I had sympathetic conversations with two individuals who at least showed interest in the matter. I stepped down from all BPS volunteer activities in protest and got involved instead at the International Test Commission (ITC) as an elected Council member and at the GEP (a German society dedicated to ethics in Psychiatry) as a Board member.
It is my view that the BPS, like many such organisations world-wide, has failed to adequately inform its members, other professionals, and the public about the nature of sexual abuse trauma and its consequences. The British Psychological Society has a duty to inform its stakeholders about the realities of extreme abuse and its consequences that show up in mental health issues.
The case I am investigating appears to be the tip of the iceberg, or the deepest pit of hellfire. My hypothesis is that three individuals got ‘bumped off’ to pave the way for an ‘unbelievable’ sexual assault staged in South Wales to destroy a survivor of extreme abuse and take control of her off-spring. This ‘Child Smuggling’ (as the mother called it) was seemingly carried out in anticipation that there would be a ready supply of mental health professionals who would obfuscate the assault. I counted three dozen authority representatives who in my view failed to perform their tax-payer funded roles adequately.
Prof Daryl O’Connor’s second 3-year term chairing the Research Board has come to a close. Dr Lisa Morrison Coulthard announced in a tweet that she is joining the NFER. I call on the newly elected BPS President Catherine Carpenter to reactivate the Memory-Based Evidence task and finish group.
Andrews, B. & Brewin, C.R. (2016). Creating Memories for False Autobiographical Events in Childhood: A Systematic Review, Applied Cognitive Psychology, 10.1002/acp.3220 , 31, 1, (2-23).
Andrews, B. & Brewin, C.R. (2016). False Memories and Free Speech: Is Scientific Debate Being Suppressed? Applied Cognitive Psychology, 10.1002/acp.3285, 31, 1, (45-49).
Andrews, B., Morton, J., Bekerian, D.A., Brewin, C.R., Davies, G.M. & Mollon, P. (1995). The recovery of memories in clinical-practice – experiences and beliefs of British Psychological Society practitioners. The Psychologist, 8(5), 209–214.
Becker, T., Karriker, W., Overkamp, B. & Rutz, C. (2008). The Extreme Abuse Surveys: Preliminary findings regarding dissociative identity disorder. In Sachs, A. & Galton, G. (Eds.): Forensic aspects of dissociative identity disorder. London: Karnac Books.
British Psychological Society (2008/2010) Guidelines on Memory and the Law Recommendations from the Scientific Study of Human Memory. Leicester: British Psychological Society.
Epstein, B., Schwartz, J. & Schwartz, R.W. (2011). Ritual Abuse and Mind Control – the Manipulation of Attachment Needs. London: Karnac Books.
Hart, Nijenhuis & Steele (2006). The Haunted Self. Structural Dissociation and the Treatment of Chronic Traumatization. New York: Norton and Company.
Herman, J. (1993). Trauma and Recovery. New York: Basic Books.
Ireland, J. (2012). Evaluating Expert Witness Psychological Reports: Exploring Quality. University of Central Lancashire.
Janet, P. (1917). Psychological Healing. Vol 1. Translated Paul, E & Paul, C. New York: Macmillan Publishing.
Lacter, E. P. & Lehmann, K. (2008). Guidelines to Differential Diagnosis between Schizophrenia and Ritual Abuse / Mind Control Traumatic Stress. In Noblitt, R. & Noblitt, P. P. (Eds): Ritual Abuse in the 21st Century – Psychological, Forensic, Social, and Political Considerations. Bandon, Oregon: Robert D. Reed Publishers.
Miller, A. (2012). HEALING THE UNIMAGINABLE – Treating Ritual Abuse and Mind Control. London: Karnac Books.
Morton, J., Andrews, B, Bekerian, D.A., Brewin, C.R., Davies, G.M. & Mollon, P, (1995) Recovered Memories. The Report of the Working Party of The British Psychological Society. Leicester: BPS.
Ost, J., Wright, D. B., Easton, S., Hope, L. and French, C.C. (2013) Recovered memories, satanic abuse, dissociative identity disorder and false memories in the United Kingdom: A survey of Clinical Psychologists and Hypnotherapists. Psychology, Crime & Law, 19:1, 1-19, DOI: 10.1080/1068316X.2011.598157
Scott, S. (2001). The politics and experience of ritual abuse: Beyond disbelief. Philadelphia, PA: Open University Press.
I noticed a flurry of Conspiracy Theory articles in recent BPS publications. The BPS Research Digest emailed on 23rd August landed the with the Subject line:
‘The appeal of conspiracy theories: they’re more “entertaining” than the truth’
The author elaborates on some fairly interesting studies that show that those high on sensation seeking are more likely to believe in conspiracy theories. The construct is located somewhere between extraversion and openness in Big 5 theory so that the finding is unsurprising. What I find remarkable is how the writer uncritically represents mainstream media narratives with terms like ‘(erroneously) believe’ and ‘which was in reality a tragic accident’. Was she there when things happened? She also writes about an ‘extreme type of misguided belief’ that tallies with what a survivor of extreme abuse personally disclosed to me alongside 100+ memories that involuntarily surfaced around the time when he turned 50. In the medieval age the scientists of the day viewed Galileo Galilei as holding ‘misguided beliefs’. I prefer a phenomenological approach to one that is filtered and steered by vested interests.
When clicking through some of the links occasionally a mention is made of abhorrent government conduct but sadly missing is any mention of MK Ultra experiments sponsored by the CIA. My 2019 poster on the topic has become my most popular download (8000+) on ResearchGate ahead of my mainstream book chapters and presentations.
‘beliefs that other groups are colluding secretly to pursue malevolent goals (the definition of a conspiracy theory)’
Reportedly Jovan in his 2011 book points out important differences between paranoid delusions as defined by the DSM, and actual behaviours and attitudes of conspiracy theory believers.
The term ‘Conspiracy Theorist’ was made popular by the CIA to counter critical thinkers who questioned the official narrative regarding the JFK assassination.
I outline below a few cases where allegations of Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) were treated by UK authority representatives like ‘conspiracy theories’ with the help of unscrupulous ‘experts’ (Psychologists/Psychiatrists) who ascribed ‘delusional disorder’ or other ‘mental illnesses’ to ordinary, law-abiding citizens.
When I encountered an ‘unbelievable’ case in 2012 it took me quite a while to track down a sensible definition of delusion which in a 2014 presentation I contrasted with an alternative definition.
The DSM-V definition (American Psychiatric Association, 2013, p. 819) remains identical to the DSM-III (p. 765) and DSM-IV-TR (p.821):
Delusion – a false belief based on incorrect inference about external reality that is firmly sustained despite what almost everyone beliefs and despite what constitutes incontrovertible and obvious proof or evidence to the contrary.’
A Google Search on 18/01/2014 brought up 154 entries that quote literally this first DSM Delusion definition sentence.
In a 2013 UK court custody case the presiding judge (who had received reports from four Court Appointed Experts) quoted instead ‘Blacks Medical Dictionary’ (Marcovitch, 2010):
‘Delusions – An irrational and usually unshakeable belief peculiar to some individual. They fail to respond to reasonable argument and the delusion is often paranoid in character with a belief that a person or persona is/are persecuting them. The existence of a delusion, of such a nature as to seriously influence conduct, is one of the most important signs in reaching a decision to arrange for the compulsory admission of the patient to hospital for observation. (See Mental Illness).’
A Google Search on 18/01/2014 did not result in a single entry that quotes Black’s Medical Dictionary first definition sentence. Why was such a weak definition used? I underlined for emphasis the key differentiating point in the DSM definition. A similar caveat was also covered in a case report that I commissioned.
‘Psychiatrist and philosopher Karl Jaspers was the first to define the three main criteria for a belief to be considered delusional in his 1913 book General Psychopathology:
• certainty (held with absolute conviction)
• incorrigibility (not changeable by compelling counterargument or proof to the contrary)
• impossibility or falsity of content (implausible, bizarre or patently untrue)
Notably and of particular relevance in this case, however, when a false belief involves a value judgment, it is only considered as a delusion if it is so extreme that it cannot be, or never can be proven, true. For example: for a man to claim that he flew into the sun and flew back home would be considered a delusion, unless he was speaking figuratively. Given my own personal clinical knowledge of the way in which perpetrators of extreme abuse operate, none of the statements Ms _____ has made in relation to her father, her own first pregnancy, being stalked and the alleged sexual assault on her son are impossible and therefore to declare them ‘delusional’ without clear evidence ruling out their possible veracity categorically is a value judgment: the statements under consideration are not ‘patently untrue’, impossible statements, as per Jaspers’ above definition.’
In 2015 I provided further information about the case and its background. I even prepared a ‘Murder Mystery’ quiz based on artefacts I found at the burnt-out house of the toddler’s godmother whose remains had been found in the hallway with broken legs and arm ‘on top of roof tiles’.
In this case a 13-year-old girl with limited vision said she wanted to stop seeing her biological father who had been living separately since she was small. A few months after her mother stopped the contact the daughter confided that she had been abused by associates of her father on contact days. When reporting the abuse, authority representatives threatened to take the daughter into care and shortly afterwards carried out the threat. Authorities claimed the mother was mentally ill and the daughter was forced to spend 5 months in a remote psychiatric facility. Even when it became clear that the daughter showed no psychiatric symptoms, she was forced by authority representatives into ‘foster care’ and even coerced into having a (supervised) contact session with the father where the daughter hid behind the contact supervisor. It is hoped that when the daughter turns 18 in 2022, she can at last be reunited with her mother.
When a boy at age 6 disclosed to his mother CSA by his father, who had lived separately since he was small, he and his mother were believed by authorities. Following a strict process that ascertained that the mother had not unduly influenced the boy, contact with the father was stopped. When the boy at age 7 (after 1 year of safety) disclosed that two other father-son pairs were involved and an ‘old white man’ with a huge country estate (seemingly a ‘Sir’ celebrity Millionaire), he and his mother were disbelieved (the process involved a psychological assessment). If the mother had kept quiet, she could have kept her son save but she ethically felt obliged to report the shenanigans for the sake of the other 2 children with disastrous results as her boy was first taken into foster care and then in a UK family court ruling given to the father.
Many people will remember the news appeal a few years ago when a mother had disappeared with her two sons. Samantha Baldwin self-published a novel a few months ago ‘Everything is Going to Be Okay’ that garnered 4.7 out of 5 stars across 455 reviews on Amazon. It appears to be closely based on her case and actions. As the sons in the book disclosed CSA, contact with the biological father was stopped. However, no proper criminal investigation was conducted e.g. blood samples to test for date rape drugs were not collected in a timely manner and CCTV recordings covering a suspect building where organised abuse was allegedly occurring were not secured. Eventually the presence of date rape drugs was confirmed. The heroine of the book felt reasonably confident that family court proceedings would bar the biological father from further contact. However, as the father’s legal representative launched very aggressive claims (without any proof) that the mother had ostensibly injected the boys to win sole custody, the judge sided with this (conspiracy?) theory on the morning of the final day of the hearing. Realising that by the end of the day she would be stripped of all custody rights the mother left the court, grabbed her sons, and fled to a nearby holiday resort where they remained in hiding for a week until a tip off lead to their discovery. In the book the boys remain in the sole custody of the father.
I recently read on a website that an activist journalist attempted to get a man investigated who he saw stroking the naked back and genitals of an unconscious minor. That man had previously been accused of drugging his sons. Rather than conducting relevant drug tests the local police force charged the journalist with ‘stalking’. The CPS decided to prosecute the journalist, but the jury found him ‘not guilty’. During the trial, the eyewitness statement submitted to police, about the crime witnessed on 6 January 2019, was read out in full. It included this (anonymised):
“Mr X was completely naked, except that he was wearing some sort of … cloak, which fastened around his neck, but which was not wrapped around his body, but rather was open, and so only in contact with his body around his shoulders and behind him (i.e. beneath him, between his body and the sofa).
***** *****, a boy aged about seven or eight, was completely naked.
***** *****’s body was laid flat out across the sofa, his front side down, his upper body across the thighs of Mr X…
***** ***** was motionless and was, as I assumed from his appearance, unconscious.
Mr X was masturbating himself with his right hand, and, with his left hand, he was touching ***** *****’s bare bottom and, from the rear, ***** *****’s genitals.”
The cases above speak to shenanigans in the UK Family Court system where allegations of CSA are seemingly not properly investigated (see Kurz, 2017), and subsequently turned against the protective parent making the allegation.
The question arises to what extent CSA and extreme abuse allegations are behind the North Wales child rescue/kidnapping case where six of the eight accused were found guilty in a very secretive court process and are awaiting sentencing (one was found ‘not guilty’, and Robert Firth was found suffocated in his prison cell):
In the light of the pre-mature closure of the Memory-Based Evidence task and finish group at the British Psychological Society (BPS) I registered a complaint with the Charity Commission the bulk of which I pasted below (for legal reasons I redacted some content and left out the six-page email of the situation I had forwarded).
I would like to register a complaint against the British Psychological Society (BPS).
What is the name of the charity? Include its registration number if it’s registered.British Psychological Society (BPS).
What is your name? Dr Rainer Hermann Kurz
What is your telephone number? Only include this if you would be happy for us to contact you directly – for example, it is not a work environment. 07_______________
What is your role at the charity? If you no longer work for the charity, please tell us when you left. I have been a member since 1990 and active as a volunteer from 2005 to 2020.
Are you a charity employee or a volunteer? Volunteer
What is your concern? Obfuscation of Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) through promotion of a ‘Discourse of Disbelief’ in BPS publications.
What impact does it have on the people the charity helps, its assets, services, staff or reputation? The policies and activities are harming psychology, psychologists, patients and the public.
Have you followed your charity’s complaints procedure or raised it with the charity’s trustees? What was the response? If you have not raised it with your charity, please explain why not. I raised a complaint with the BPS CEO in 2017 which was largely ignored. I raised concerns with various BPS Presidents receiving sympathetic responses from _______________ and _________________ but no progress (e.g. BPS Legal department advised to cancel a planned meeting). Response of ______________ was excellent and lead to the formation of the Memory-Based Evidence task and finish group in January 2020. This group was prematurely terminated ____________________________________________ through a vote of the BPS Research Board _____________________. I was the only ______________________. I believe that the Frame of Reference was set inappropriately and that the Research Board was mis-lead about the nature of the ‘problem’. I understand that the ________________________ working group found that ____________________________ did NOT reflect _________________________. The ________________ seemed to represent the views of ________________________________. This led to ____________________________. Immediately after ____________________ the group was closed!
Have you contacted other organisations, like the police or HMRC? Include reference numbers, the name of who dealt with it, and their response if you have. No.
Do you give permission to us to reveal your identity to the charity’s trustees? Yes.
If you attach evidence to your email, how is it relevant to your concern? I forward an email I sent to ____________________. I attach my presentations at various ESTD Conferences for your orientation:
Copenhagen (2014) – start of my volunteer activism regarding an extreme abuse case I stumbled across
Bern (2017c) – poster featuring disclosure details including ‘cult activity’ and medical record regarding teenager’s unregistered birth at 14 of baby that succeeded from incestuous rape and ‘disappeared’
York (2019) – overview of an extreme abuse case with crime types and locations and extracts of court appointed expert reports with relevant quote: ‘This problematic case lends credence to the concerns raised by England (2012) who found that 2/3 of psychological assessment reports trawled from UK Family Courts were ‘poor’ or ‘very poor’.
All attachments are public domain and can be downloaded from my ResearchGate profile.
I understand that a probe into the BPS is already underway and look forward to be contacted by the allocated case worker.
Dr Rainer H. Kurz
Member of the BPS Committee for Test Standards 2010-2015
Member of the BPS Research Board 2015-2020
PS: Due to the extreme nature of the case and the risk of retaliation as well as persecution I have blind copied half a dozen individuals broadly familiar with the case. I am very satisfied with how I progressed the case and in no way suicidal so that any sudden death should be fully investigated. I am aware of several other UK cases along similar lines that are obfuscated with the aid of psychologists. I pursued all reasonable avenues at the BPS to improve policy and guidelines but was failed by key senior leaders who were instrumental in bringing about the deeply flawed ‘Memory & the Law Guidelines’ (2008) and prematurely terminating the Memory-Based Evidence task and finish group.
What response would you expect from the Charity Commission which is said to have received more than a dozen complaints about the BPS in recent times? I certainly would have expected more than the bland response that I received:
Dear Dr Kurz,
Thank you for your email.
Firstly I wish to clarify we are examining complaints raised against the BPS and have been engaging with the charity, this does not mean a probe or an Inquiry as such.
We note the issues you are complaining about are specific in nature to the BPS and that the last time you made this complaint was in 2017. Given that the nature is specific and relates to an expert area within the psychology field we would not be able to progress this complaint fully for you.
We are aware that the complaints process within the BPS has changed since this date, therefore can we suggest that you reconsider submitting your complaint to them I am sure it would be considered in line with the appropriate complaints framework. If you require a specific contact point within the BPS please let me know.
At the Commission our role is to ensure the decisions a charity makes are reasonable and are within a broad range of decisions that any trustee board can make. Whilst we appreciate some decisions may be unpopular and at the time they may have been communicated to you, we would usually expect that the complainants are notified of an appeals process following the initial complaint.
Given that there has been a large time gap between your initial complaint we would need to be satisfied that the charity has been given the opportunity to address theses complaints and concerns first. if the charity does not apply its framework for those complaints correctly then we may examine the circumstances and offer further advice.
We will be keeping your complaint on file , I hope this response assists you today,
Who thinks that ‘Satanist Ritual Abuse (SRA) is an expert area within the psychology field’? The last mentions of SRA in BPS publications that I found were the excellent 1995 report by the Recovered Memory working group of the BPS and its associated article in the May issue of The Psychologist where survey results put the percentage of clinical psychology practitioners who encountered disclosures of SRA at 15% (see slide), and a 2006 article by the Wright, Ost and French which made passing reference:
‘There were also some case studies of memories for bizarre events (biologically
Ost, Wright, Easton, Hope and French (2011) found that 37.9% of Chartered Clinical Psychologist had encountered at least one case of ritual abuse.
None of the above publications provided any definition or information what SRA involves leaving psychologists, other mental health professionals and society at large uninformed. Hence this does not look like ‘an expert area within the Psychology field’ to me – rather like a ‘black hole’!
Who is aware of the successful prosecutions of self-style Satanist high priest Colin Batley (e.g. abuse, rape and impregnation of a teenager), former pop star singer of The Lost Prophets Ian Watkins (e.g. attempted baby rape; wanting to kill babies), and the second case against Albert and Carole Hickman (e.g. ‘blood sucking’) around 2011/2012 for child sexual abuse crimes committed in the context of Satanist Ritual Abuse?
Most people are aware that the disgraced DJ Jimmy Savile abused hundreds of children and that many police complaints were not dealt with adequately. There are several survivors who claimed that they were abused by Savile in SRA ceremonies along the lines of those featured in Stanley Kubrik’s last film ‘Eyes Wide Shut’.
Where do BPS publications take account of such developments? I could not find anything! Obfuscation?
An informative site lists various successful UK CSA prosecutions with a ritual element that veteran SRA activist Wilfred Wong alerted me to:
CASRA (COALITION AGAINST SATANIST RITUAL ABUSE) WAS SET UP IN BRITAIN IN FEBRUARY 2014 TO INCREASE PUBLIC AWARENESS AND ACTION REGARDING SATANIST RITUAL ABUSE AND TO URGE AND FACILITATE THE AUTHORITIES TO ACT MUCH MORE EFFECTIVELY AND RESPONSIBLY IN INVESTIGATING AND PROSECUTING ALL SUCH CRIMES AND IN SUPPORTING THE VICTIMS OF THESE ILLEGAL ACTIVITIES.
THE ONGOING ATTEMPTS TO CONCEAL SRA IN THE UK FROM THE GENERAL PUBLIC HAVE GONE ON FOR FAR TOO LONG AND HAVE ONLY FUELLED, ENCOURAGED AND FACILITATED THIS HORRIFIC ABUSE OF CHILDREN AND ENABLED IT TO GROW AND SPREAD THROUGHOUT OUR NATION.
NOW IS THE TIME TO PUBLICLY AND EXTENSIVELY EXPOSE SRA FOR WHAT IT IS.
To gain a profound understanding of the global SRA menace I recommend the site of US Clinical Psychologist Dr Ellen Lacter – in particular her articles on the Extreme Abuse Survey (research data!) and on the dangers associated with reporting CSA in ritual abuse settings to authorities:
If you like to know what tends to happen when allegations of SRA are made in UK Family Courts (Hint: ‘Discourse of Disbelieve’) you can read Samantha Baldwin’s (seemingly self-published) 2020 book ‘everything is going to be ok’ which garnered 4.7 out of 5 stars across 437 reviews of her December 2020 book on Amazon.
Remember her case when you next hear about a ‘child rescue/kidnapping’ case involving UK Family Court processes (which will be fairly soon – when the verdicts in the court case currently heard in North Wales against Anke Hill, Wilfred Wong and their surviving co-defendants are out).
Yesterday an upbeat ‘business as usual’ letter arrived inviting me to vote (again!) for the 2021-2022 President. Many BPS members had done exactly this one year ago electing Nigel MacLennan who ran on a manifesto promising change and accountability at the BPS. Following his election Nigel was so enthusiastic and committed that individuals in the ‘BPS Establishment’ complained. In a clandestine process he was found to have breached membership rules and expelled – a decision that was announced with huge media fanfare including a YouTube clip in spite of this prejudicing an impending appeal hearing opportunity.
The past president David Murphy had resigned early in the year citing governance concerns and Hazel McLaughlin cut her tenure short citing family health issues. So, no elected leader at the BPS helm! The BPS Finance Director left under a cloud, the CEO has been on extended leave for many months and Leicester police are investigating a former BPS employee regarding fraud allegations. You can read about this sad state of affairs at the informative BPS Watch site:
Many BPS members are disgruntled. Some are voting with their feet not renewing their membership. I personally decided to stop after 15 years all volunteering activities as the BPS Research Board decided to prematurely close the Memory-Based Evidence (MBE) task and finish group (which had only been convened in January 2020), against the wishes of the group members, in Autumn 2020.
Research Board chair Prof Daryl O’Connor and Dr Lisa Morrison-Coulthard, who recommended closure of the group, were previously members of the group developing the 2008 ‘Memory and the law’ guidelines under the ‘(mis)leadership’ of Prof. Martin Conway who in 2011 joined the academic advisory board of the British False Memory Society (BFMS). They presided over three unsuccessful attempts to produce a more balanced document that incorporates trauma-informed perspectives!
I had the misfortune to encounter Peter Branney in his role as Standing Conference Chair for the 2017 Annual Conference in Brighton. Following an inter-disciplinary symposium ‘Psychological Perspectives on the Assessment of Dyslexia’ in 2016 at the 10th International Conference of the BDA in Oxford I had successfully convened a symposium ‘Trauma, Dissociation & Healing’. In the run up to the event I asked speakers to send me their slides for review. When I then circulated revised slides to the speakers one individual got concerned about the graphic nature of another speaker’s slides featuring toddler abuse and symptoms of extreme abuse. Rather than engaging in a constructive dialogue to further tone down materials or withdrawing from the symposium, the concerned speaker orchestrated behind my back a campaign whipping up half a dozen individuals that ultimately led to Peter Branney cancelling my symposium. What about academic freedom and due process?
The ‘concern’ was that a delegate may be triggered (‘You cannot be sure that no one in the audience has not been sexually abused as a child’). US Clinical Psychologist Dr Ellen Lacter, the globally leading expert practitioner and activist on extreme abuse, kindly sent a letter of support to the BPS President at the time (which helped to bring about the MBE group).
At the ESTD 2017 conference in Bern I provided an overview of the above issues where slide 24 featured the action of Peter Branney who in the election pamphlet states: ‘I offer, in the role of President, to take my small part in constructively and diligently governing the BPS.’
In my view BPS publications and policies have since Summer 1995 been unduly biased towards positions of the ‘False Memory’ lobby which in turn obfuscates child sexual abuse by relentlessly casting doubt on the memory of complainants while suppressing research and criminal evidence concerning extreme abuse.
Prof Jane Ireland (2012) had highlighted that 2/3 of psychological assessment reports trawled from UK Family Courts were ‘poor’ or ‘very poor’. The BPS guidelines developed in response addressed some basic issues but failed to even mention the epidemic of so-called ‘personality disorders’ found in biological parents that – unlike medical diseases – have no scientific test and are essentially social constructions as Prof. Peter Kindermann outlined in his publications. The guidelines also failed to guard against the risk of ‘false positives’ i.e. erroneously concluding that biological parent are ‘delusional’ when they report dastardly child sexual abuse crimes. Courageous members of the BPS South-West Branch published my article on the topic, and I made 30+ conference presentations on the topic including a paper on HCPC failures:
In my view the BPS keeps perpetuating a Discourse of Disbelief regarding child sexual abuse (CSA) and extreme abuse (that cause dissociative symptoms & disorders) continuing a very long tradition in mainstream Psychiatry and Psychology. I received last week a brief reply from the Charity Commission that my submission a few months ago was ‘put on file’ and that I should engage (again!) with the BPS complaints process. I have to say ‘no thanks’ to that. I have no confidence whatsoever in the BPS at present and do not want to end up being harassed by lawyers paid from BPS membership subscriptions, getting expelled from the BPS or sharing the fate of Robert Firth (who as it seems paid dearly for standing up against obfuscation of CSA).
Having volunteered in various roles over 15 years I am sad that it came to this. At the end of 2020 I stepped down from all BPS volunteering roles in protest at the premature closure of the Memory-Based Evidence (MBE) task and finish group that was only started in January 2020.
Below I outline the background to that decision including key elements of the controversies that underpin the ‘Memory Wars’ since the 1990’s.
A helpful colleague recently circulated an article of Prof Ross Cheit, a survivor of Child Sexual Abuse (CSA), concerning the Taus vs Loftus controversy. In short, Corwin & Olafson (1997) presented a case study that involved video recordings of ‘Jane Doe’ at age 6 and 17 regarding allegations of CSA. Loftus & Guyer (2002) tracked down ‘Jane Doe’ and wrote a two-part article in a news stand publication ‘The Skeptical Enquirer’ based on interviews with various family members surrounding Jane (but not Jane herself). Young Jane, at the time a college student, got very upset and commenced litigation under her real name Nicole Taus that stretched over many years. The costs of the law suit lead to her declaring bankruptcy, and termination of her career as an army helicopter pilot. She retrained as a Psychologist and wrote an article of her experience in the same 2014 journal issue.
Please find below authorised links to all related articles in the 2014 Special Issue of the Journal of Interpersonal Violence and the original 1997 article series on the website of ‘The American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children’ (APSAC):
It is helpful to consider this state-of-affairs in the light of the experiences of Dr Ellen Lacter, an experienced Clinical Psychologist based in California, whose website (that I learned a lot from including Extreme Abuse Survey info) was blacklisted by Wikipedia:
Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) allegations are notoriously difficult to investigate especially within families.
In the paragraphs that follow I describe in considerable detail my (unsuccessful) efforts to bring irregularities in a specific case to the attention of relevant authorities. The details of this case are deeply disturbing and may be triggering.
I also outline the steps I have taken as a Chartered Psychologist to tackle inadequacies at the British Psychological Society (BPS). Most of my relevant presentations can be downloaded from my ResearchGate profile https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Rainer-Kurz or can be requested from me. I will finish with a call to action which appears timely as the BPS is going to be investigated by the Charity Commission as per attached article in yesterday’s Telegraph.
I encountered in a private capacity an extreme case in 2012 which I handled to the best of my abilities. A mother alleged to police that a ‘stalker’ sexually assaulted her toddler and disclosed that as a young teenager she delivered a baby that succeeded from incestuous rape and then ‘disappeared’. She disclosed that she was sexually assaulted by her father since she was a toddler up to age 20. Naturally, we all would expect authorities to take such disclosures extremely seriously and fully document her history in video recorded interviews. Unfortunately, instead a series of mental health professionals acting as court appointed experts concluded she was delusional about these two index incidents resulting in the mother’s loss of custody for her son.
As a volunteer I sat in at the final session with a Clinical Psychologist and from then on listened to the mother’s many stories. She described about a dozen ‘stalking’ situations in South Wales which I briefly described in a 2015 presentation.
I found documentary proof in a police report of the most hair-raising incident (that involved the mother and her toddler being intercepted by a police helicopter on a hiking path) so had to take these very seriously. In this paper I covered three extreme abuse cases (all also in South Wales!) which led to successful prosecutions:
Conviction of Ian Watkins, former singer of ‘The Lost Prophets’, for attempted baby rape.
Conviction of Colin Batley for Child Sexual Abuse while running a Satanist cult.
Conviction of Albert and Carole Hickmann for CSA including ‘sucking blood’.
After 100h of active listening I asked the mother to take me to various locations where the alleged offences happened. Outside her former house she spontaneously reported: ‘This is where he drove up the pavement and nearly ran us over’. At last, I was certain that the mother was not delusional about these staking events but the victim of a terrifying ordeal that culminated in an ‘unbelievable’ sexual assault on the toddler. I asked her whether threats were made after the sexual assault and she only nodded knowingly.
She reported that after being thrown out by her parents late one evening she requested emergency help at Kingston-upon-Thames police station. An officer quizzed her about her parents and shared that her father was suspected of pedophilia related offences. He instructed her to delay reporting of any sexual assault on her toddler by several weeks as it would a, be too dangerous to go up against her father on her own and b, that it would jeopardise an undercover investigation designed to ‘nail him for life’. Across four occasions the mother was consistent in her account of the chilling conversation. On several occasions she exclaimed: ‘This officer saved my life’.
Concerns for her own safety are understandable as the officer explored with her three violent deaths of adults, and two disappearances of new-born babies that police reportedly linked to the family member. Furthermore, in the 12 months between the police officer briefing and the alleged assault on the toddler three individuals in the vicinity of the mother were found dead. Within a few weeks the half-aunt had died suddenly (ostensibly due to alcoholism) whose toddler was also sexually assaulted according to court documents and put on the child protection register (note that makes three alleged toddler rape victims within one extended family – with one assault medically proven and that victim’s mother suffering a sudden death in the prime of life). Just after Christmas the toddler’s nursery teacher’s friend was found dead in the South Wales village river. A few weeks later the toddler’s godmother was found dead in her burnt-out house across the Irish Sea.
The accounts of her family background and activities had uncanny parallels with the Fred & Rose West case that also involved incest and murder of a daughter with a comparable headcount of alleged violent deaths.
My top priority was public safety so that I raised concerns with many authority representatives. My second priority was the safety of the toddler who I had reason to believe was ‘smuggled’ into the control of an abuse group. My third priority was to fight the social injustice of the Forced Adoption. I counted three dozen tax-payer funded individuals who failed to perform their duties properly.
Role of Psychologists as Expert Witnesses in Family Court Proceedings
Increasingly I turned my attention to the role of mental health professionals in Family Court proceedings. In 2014 I managed to get a reader’s letter into The Psychologist rebutting a misleading article my Prof Chris French at Goldsmith. I put myself forward to a BPS volunteer role in 2015 that enabled me to join the BPS Research Board. In 2016 I convened an interdisciplinary symposium at the 10th Oxford Dyslexia conference shedding some light on the role of neurodiversity issues in the case. I managed to get another interdisciplinary symposium accepted at the 2017 BPS Annual Conference in Brighton. However, following a highly irregular process my symposium got cancelled by conference chair Peter Branney who shortly afterwards became a Trustee of the BPS.
Courageous psychologists at the BPS South-West Branch published later that year published my article on the role of psychologist as experts in family courts which had started off as a Reader’s Letter to The Psychologist but was not only refused print publication by the Editor Jon Sutton but even ‘purged’ from the electronic commentary section!
At the end of 2017 I presented at the ESTD conference in Bern 3 papers and a poster related to psychological assessment issues. This triggered a third Private Eye article critical of my investigations – Prof Alexis Jay was criticised in the same article for speaking at this conference, so I found myself in good company.
Lost Memories, False Prophets & BPS Guidelines
I presented at the 2017 conference a paper with the above title with five parts:
I Exposing Satanist Ritual Abuse (SRA)
II False Memories Discourse of Disbelief
III British Psychological Society (BPS) Guidelines
IV BPS Publication ‘The Psychologist’
V Media Spin
I briefly outlined six BPS documents.
I was very impressed with ‘Recovered Memories: The Report of the Working Party of the British Psychological Society’ (1995). Its corresponding article in The Psychologist May 1995 issue revealed that across 1083 survey respondents (overall responsive rate: 27%) 13% of respondents worked with clients reporting Satanist Ritual Abuse (SRA) and believed them whereas 15% had clients reporting SRA overall. These two documents can be downloaded alongside an important report by Prof Jane Ireland (2012) critical of the quality of psychologist expert reports in Family Court proceedings from ResearchGate (see ‘Project log’):
I then outlined the controversial Guidelines on Memory and the Law developed under Prof. Martin Conway and first published in 2008. He had made his name as a memory researcher and in 1997 edited a book that featured a cross-section of contributors including Prof. Chris Brewin and Prof. Bernice Andrews who had contributed to the Recovered Memories report.
Prof. Conway joined the BPS Research Board in 2004 and was its chair 2006 to 2009. He secured an ESRC grant and oversaw the development. Members of the Committee included
Dr L. Morrison-Coulthard, Scientific Administrator, BPS
Dr D.B. O’Connor, University of Leeds
Professor E.F. Loftus, University of California, Irvine, USA
Dr C. Loveday, University of Westminster, UK
No member of the Recovered Memory working group was listed as a contributor and the only reference to their work was entirely unrepresentative: ‘It is noted that the impact of therapy on trauma memory has been a concern in the arena of the ‘false memory debate’ for recovered memories of childhood sexual abuse. This is separate area and is covered in detail elsewhere by the British Psychological Society’.
There is no reference to Davies & Dalgleish (2001) ‘Recovered Memories – Seeking the Middle Ground’ and neither to Brown, Scheflin & Hammond (1998), a 2.2.kg tomb with 786 pages I recently received titled: ‘MEMORY, TRAUMA, TREATMENT AND THE LAW – An essential reference on memory for clinicians, researchers, attorneys, and judges.’ Chapter 12 is titled: The False Logic of the False Memory Controversy and the Irrational Element in Scientific Research on Memory.
I wonder what experienced trauma therapists make of the following under the heading ‘3.ii ADULT MEMORY FOR CHILDHOOD; (p.13):
‘Thus, when gauging the accuracy of childhood memories recalled by adults, and by children older than about 10 years, the following rules of thumb are recommended: ■Detailed and well-organised memories dating to events that occurred between 7 to 5 years of age should be viewed with caution. ■Detailed and well-organised memories dating to events that occurred between 5 to 3 years of age should be viewed with considerable caution. ■All memories dating to the age of 3 years and below should be viewed with great caution and should not be accepted as memories without independent corroborating evidence. In general the accuracy of memories dating to below the age of about 7 years cannot be established in the absence of independent corroborating evidence.’
The BPS Expert Witness group was not consulted as Prof. Conway judged that their members did not fit his group’s definition of what constitutes a memory expert. Even with protest from this very important stakeholder group and others it took two years to change just one sentence in the Key Points:
x. A memory expert is a person who is recognised by the memory research community to be a memory researcher.
x. A memory expert is a person who is recognised by the memory research community to possess knowledge relevant to the particular case.
Prof. Martin Conway became a member of the British False Memory Society (BFMS) Academic Advisory Board in 2011. His profile at City University lists numerous professional activities but omits the BFMS role:
At the BPS until recently an international Panel existed featuring Prof. Loftus. Prof. Catherine Loveday has been the Chair of ‘The Psychologist and Digest Editorial Committee’ for almost 6 years. She published many articles with Prof. Martin Conway and is an Affiliative Member of the Memory & Law Centre at City where Prof. Elizabeth F. Loftus is a Visiting Professor:
Kurz (2017) outlined that numerous articles in The Psychologist were by authors with False Memory associations. I also cite Appeal Court judge rulings 2010, 2011 and 2012. Here is an excerpt of what the judges wrote in 2012:
Case No. 2011/04796/C3
Although not now relevant to this appeal we feel we should mention that this is not the first time that Mr Barlow and his instructing solicitors have attempted to overturn a conviction on the basis of Professor Conway’s evidence as to the reliability of childhood memories. His reports are controversial. Only once to our knowledge, in an “unusual” case, has this court accepted his evidence (see R v JH and R v TG  1 Cr App R 10). However, the court was unaware at that time of significant criticisms of Professor Conway’s methodology which have led to the court’s declining to receive his evidence (see R v S  EWCA Crim 1404, R v E  EWCA Crim 1370 and R v H  EWCA Crim 2344). In the light of those decisions, we have our doubts as to whether JH and TG, which was restricted very much to a specific set of facts, would be decided the same way today. Professor Conway may wish to consider amending his CV in which, we note, he mentions only R v JH and r v TG.
Unperturbed by such criticisms Prof Martin Conway in the 10/2014 issue of The Psychologist went on with two co-authors to describe those who do not share their view on memory as ‘the zealots’, ‘the Old Guard’ and ‘the Fantasists’.
I helped to bring about in 2019 a promising exploratory meeting that was held with view to developing an up-to-date BPS document.
In January 2020 expressions of interest applications for the Memory-Based Evidence tasks and finish group closed and in March 2020 for the associated Expert Review Group – which never actually met. Why? Tensions arose between the members of the task and finish group, and BPS leaders. Following a recommendation of the BPS policy unit headed by Dr Lisa Morrison-Coulthard the BPS Research Board voted to close down the MBE group. I voted against the motion and made five recommendations to Prof. Daryl O’Connor who for more than 5 years has been the Chair of the Research Board and is a Trustee of the BPS. Both were members of the original Guideline development team.
You can find a range of Reader’s Letters here where BPS members can add their voice:
Constructive criticisms of BPS shenanigans can be found here:
From the blog:
When retired Clinical Psychology Professor Peter Harvey nudged the BPS about his letter a response was received from the BPS Director of Knowledge and Insight [sic]. This confirmed the fact that the Group has been disbanded and that the reason for this was that “…the standards of evidence for the report and the need for consensus and a convergence of evidence from experimental work and clinical practice, as defined within the Terms of Reference for the group, could not be met.”. In response to my query about informing the wider membership I was told “…To date, we have only received two enquires about this issue, including your enquiry, so we have not disseminated a wider statement to members.”.
If you disagree with the decision to close the MBE group, please email (preferably with cc. or bcc. to firstname.lastname@example.org):
Dr Rainer H. Kurz
Member of the BPS Committee for Test Standards 2010-2015
On 27th February 1991, the Orkney child sexual abuse case kicked off. Jean Rafferty outlines in the preface to her 2019 book FOUL DEEDS WILL RISE:
“A historical scandal forms the background of this book. In 1991 nine children were removed from four families on the suspicion they had been abused in Satanist rituals. The children were taken into care but the parents protested their innocence and gathered huge public support.
Sheriff David Kelbie dismissed the case and decreed that the children should return to their parents, despite the reluctance of some of them to return.
On October 1992 Lord Clyde reported on the case, without making a ruling whether as to the guilt or innocence, of the parents involved. As a result, they cannot claim their innocence has been proved. Nor can anyone claim their guilt has been proven. The Scots verdict of Not Proven is the only possible one in these circumstances., though some of the characters in this book are convinced of their guilt.
This is difficult and controversial subject matter and I tried to follow Ernest Hemingway’s advice on writing: Write hard and clear about what hurts.
The hurt for victims never goes away.”
You can view an atmospheric trailer for the book here:
Jean Rafferty is an award-winning journalist who has written many articles on controversial topics including Satanist Ritual Abuse (SRA). An article on the 25th anniversary and a follow-up article by academic Sarah Nelson can be accessed from the links below:
The raid was organised after social workers questioned members of a family with 15 children, identified at the time as “family W” to protect their privacy, whose father had been jailed for sexually abusing a daughter in 1986 shortly after the family’s arrival in South Ronaldsay, Orkney. Further details can be found here:
The book interweaves child sexual abuse disclosures of various characters with the media situation of journalist ‘Alma’ who had been commissioned to write a story – which got ‘spiked’.
I could recognise many of the abuse elements described including incest, rape and sacrifice in the context of an occult ceremony (orgy) as well as the symptoms such traumas cause. I was particularly touched by the sensitive portrayal of ‘Judith’ – an unregistered birth of a baby girl that ‘Alma’ delivered at age 14. It can be inferred that it succeeded from rape by her stepfather ‘Boo’ who had sexually abused her and taken pornographic pictures of her from an early age. ‘Alma’ tries to believe that ‘Judith’ was given to a loving couple who could not have children.
Unfortunately, it is rather unlikely that a baby that was unregistered at birth would live ‘happy ever after’. In my 2014 poster I included a table of key results of the Extreme Abuse Survey (Becker, Karriker, Overkamp & Rutz, 2008) which featured the disturbing results that across more than 200 professionals working with abuse victims the majority had personally received disclosures of the following ideologically driven crimes:
‘Forced Impregnation’ – 71%
‘Survivors own child murdered by his/her perpetrators’ – 55%
More information on Satanist Ritual Abuse (SRA) in Scotland, Kingston-upon-Thames and elsewhere as well as informative videos on the topic by the courageous activist and advocate Wilfred Wong can be found in earlier posts:
A few years ago, I tweeted for the first time when Michael Gove, who was adopted as a child, suggested that children should be taken into ‘care’ yet more rapidly. On the 4th of Feb I tweeted for the second time replying to some breaking news from the FakeBPSCommentary @psychsocwatchuk Twitter feed.
Karl Sabbagh was hastily removed from the BFMS Scientific and Professional Advisory Board when the BFMS was alerted to his September 2019 conviction for Child Sexual Abuse (CSA). He had been grooming a 14-year-old sending explicit pictures and arranging a meet up in a Dublin hotel. Authorities have done a good job here taking the complainant seriously and seizing technology that evidenced what happened.
Sabbagh is an ardent support of the False Memory lobby even writing a book titled:
Remembering our Childhood: How our memory betrays us.
Without recordings it is much more difficult to convict alleged abusers – especially as the BFMS consistently makes dubious claims about memory that are as bombastic as they are misleading.
I presented on False Memory shenanigans at the ESTD 2017 conference in Bern and the EPA 2017 conference in Florence (my symposium at the 2017 BPS Annual Conference was ‘pulled’ in a highly irregular manner):
Another False Memory advocate got dumped for his links to Paedophilia. In 1993 Ralph Underwager gave an interview to a pro-paedophilia magazine called Paidika: The Journal of Paedophilia, along with his wife, Hollida Wakefield, also a psychologist. The interview caused a huge controversy, and he was forced to resign from the board of the False Memory Foundation in the US, but his wife inexplicably could remain. For further details see:
Who is going to be next to be dumped? Perhaps the advisor who is referred to in a leaked list of a Hampshire Satanist Ritual Abuse (SRA) cult:
“On Advisory Panel of the BFMS. Told by both Pals and another survivor that … is also into SRA”
Or how about Prof Chris French who ever-so-surely proclaimed in The Guardian:
‘Satanic child abuse claims are almost certainly based on false memories’
In the article he falsely claims:
‘In fact, there is a consensus among scientists studying memory that traumatic events are more likely to be remembered than forgotten, often leading to posttraumatic stress disorder.’
He ought to study the Extreme Abuse Survey results with plenty examples, or successful convictions e.g. in Wales (around 2011) of Colin Batley, Ian Watkins as well as of Albert & Carole Hickman for Satanism inspired Child Sexual Abuse (CSA).
Prof Martin Conway is another shady character on the BFMS advisory board. On at least three occasions appeal court judges dismissed his evidence with one ruling even suggesting that he should update his CV where he only stated one (early) case where his testimony was beneficial to his client’s case.
Nevertheless, the British Psychological Society (BPS) gave him in 2019 a Lifetime Achievement Award. How could the Research Board under the leadership of Prof Daryl O’Connor recommend someone who relentlessly pushes a Discourse of Disbelief and seemingly exclusively gives evidence for the defence (just like the US darling of the False Memory lobby Prof Elizabeth Loftus). Why did the BPS Head of Research & Impact Lisa Morrison Coulthard not flag up his controversial status?
Both were members of ‘A Working Party of the Research Board of the British Psychological Society (BPS)’ that produced the utterly inadequate 2008 ‘Guidelines on Memory and the Law’ which are extremely biased towards the False Memory perspective.
Both were central to the decision to close the promising Memory-Based Evidence working group only recruited in January 2020.
You can read thoughtful contributions of Peter Harvey (former Chair Division of Clinical Psychology; former Chief Examiner and Chair of Board of Examiners BPS Qualification in Clinical Psychology) on the BPS Watch blog:
The False Memory lobby continuously undermines complainants who report abuse. One brave self-identified survivor of CSA is Beverli Rhodes who suffered under the control of Peter Rhodes (who she though was her father). Beverly is also a survivor of the 7/7 2005 London bombing which triggered ‘recovery’ of CSA memories.
I very much appreciated ‘The Horse Girl’ as it provides insights into the workings of Child Sexual Abuse gangs in particular the bestiality section, as the case I stumbled across in 2012 reportedly involved such activity, and the section on Johnny Savile, who was seemingly into extreme abuse just like his younger brother Jimmy.
After years of CSA in the UK and South Africa, Beverli Rhodes described what turned out to be her last CSA encounter (aged about 14 or 15 in the 1970s). Here are some excerpts (page 120 onwards):
“One of the worst clients I had the misfortune to be pimped out to was Mr X, a close friend of a major UK singing sensation. Arrangements had been made for me to visit him by the said singing superstar, whose code name was ‘Kitty’.”
“It was my first night spending the night away from home and I was pretty damn nervous. Peter did not know this guy from Adam and anything could have happened.”
“He had taken his clothes off and revealed a well-toned body, which was unusual for me to see. Most of the men who had raped me in the past were horrible balding men with beer bellies and rolls of fat on their thighs.”
Reportedly he had ‘genital warts’!
“While I was on top of him in one of the screwing sessions, the phone rang. He showed me a hand signal to be quiet until he knew who was on the other end of the line. He had been waiting for the call from his best friend ‘Kitty’.”
“I asked where ‘Kitty’ was and Mr X said that he was on a tour somewhere overseas. I was threatened and I was told that, if anyone found out anything, both Peter and I would be in big trouble’.
While the name of the celebrity Mr X is not given in the book, I managed to work out that CSA allegations against this individual span half a century with one victim reporting (around 2018) abuse up to the age of six years (at that time access visits to the estranged father who facilitated the celebrity abuse were terminated).
It certainly spoiled my New Year’s Eve celebrations seeing him croon around midnight.
In 2014 I was an invited panel member at the Association for Business Psychology (ABP) conference presenting on the ‘Crossover between Occupational and Clinical Psychology’. I started with an ‘Ice-Maker’ blaming psychiatry and psychology for the malaise that permitted Jimmy Savile to engage in sordid Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) with hundreds of victims (some as young as 4 years). I went on to compare the well-developed Occupational Testing market with the rudimentary Clinical offering dominated by MMPI (developed through empirical ‘black box’ criterion scoring) and Millon’s awful MCMI – a tool with inferior measurement properties that is entirely inappropriately deployed (as a ‘weapon’?) in family court cases to ‘pathologise’ loving and protective parents to remove custody rights. Feedback from 100+ delegates was positive.
Half a year later I took up the occasion of the forthcoming general election to present a paper ‘Politics and the Psychology of Abuse’ at The Psychometric Forum (TPF). Building on my assessment expertise and a harrowing case study featuring ‘unbelievable’ disclosures I outlined typical features of an Organised Ritual Crime Abuse Network (ORCAN) and successful CSA prosecutions of Ian Watkins, Alberts and Carole Hickmann as well as Colin Batley – all in Wales. The good folks at TPF welcomed my input and published a touching review.
Buoyed by the positive response of my colleagues I put up my hand in January 2015 to volunteer for the ‘Science & Practice Strategy Group Convener’ role at the BPS emphasising in my personal statement that I would like to combat the ‘industrial scale’ and ‘organised nature’ of child sexual abuse – in my view a valid aspect of ‘Industrial/Organizational Psychology’ long overdue for research.
Sitting on the BPS Division of Occupational Psychology (DOP) Committee was a learning-by-doing experience. Three-times a year representing the DOP at the BPS Research Board was daunting – 30 professors and lecturers representing the creme-de-la creme of psychology research. It was interesting to hear about a wide range of topics with the Research Excellence Framework (REF) taking up an extraordinary amount of time.
The current chair of the Research Board joined it in 2004. Shortly afterwards something happened that in my view was inappropriate for a ‘learned society’. Prof Martin Conway, who is on the Advisory Board of the British False Memory Society (BFMS), became chair of the BPS Research Board.
False Memory associations sprung up around 1990 in the wake of the ‘memory wars’ where increasingly allegations of incestuous abuse surfaced – many in organised abuse settings. False Memory adherents, led by their ‘academic darling’ Prof Elizabeth Loftus, tore into survivors and witnesses disclosing CSA claiming that what they recalled were probably ‘false memories’. An ‘industry’ blossomed where a small group of psychologists and psychiatrists would proclaim repeatedly that complainants were suffering from ‘false memories’- even when there was never a DSM entry of that name.
On the other hand, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Dissociative Disorder became entries in the 1980 edition of DSM in the light of the symptoms shown by Vietnam war veterans and domestic abuse victims. In 2018 ICD-11 added Complex PTSD as a diagnostic category – I presented in 2019 a C-PTSD case study at the ESTD conference in Rome which has already garnered 1000+ reads on ResearchGate.
About one hundred years earlier Pierre Janet accurately described the nature of traumatic memories. Shame on psychiatry and psychology for burying his findings and inventing pseudo-scientific narratives and treatments culminating in Electroshock Therapy (ECT – remember ‘One flew over the Cuckoo’s nest’?) and Frontal Lobotomy (also covered in my TPF presentation).
As trauma-informed interventions gathered pace and organised abuse cases were widely discussed in the media (with some successful prosecutions) the False Memory adherents spread their ‘discourse of disbelief’ aided by controversial publications. For example, 40 senior mental health practitioners wrote a protest letter when Anthropology (!) Professor Jean La Fontaine published in 1994 a report, sponsored by then Health Secretary Virginia Bottomley, which was widely read as denying the existence of wide-spread ritual abuse in the UK.
How could the UK’s leading research psychologists, the BPS policy unit and the trustees let someone closely associated with the BFMS become chair of the BPS Research Board? Would you let Dr Marlborough lead research into the dangers of smoking?
To make matters worse nobody stopped Prof Conway from applying for an ESRC research grant and convening a working group drawn from his global false memory adherent network that culminated in the 2008 publication ‘Guidelines on Memory and the Law’ under the BPS banner. The content could just as well have been published by the BFMS as exemplified by its insidious statement ‘A memory expert is a person who is recognised by the memory research community to be a memory researcher‘ – a statement that qualified any ‘false memory’ researcher and disqualified all those clinical practitioners who encounter memory-based disclosures in their daily work. Under pressure this statement was modified in the 2010 edition to ‘… possess knowledge relevant to the particular case ‘.
The current chair of the BPS Research Bord and the current BPS Head of Research & Impact (who was recruited to the BPS in 1995 – just after the valuable publications of the ‘BPS Working Group on Recovered Memory’) were named contributors of the report and were, a dozen years later, pivotal in the decision to disband the Memory-Based Evidence group started only earlier in the year. What about governance?
An advert requesting expressions of interest had been placed in the January 2020 issue of the Psychologist followed shortly afterwards by a call for an Independent Review Group. I applied for the latter but was rejected despite 30 publications (including contributions covering ‘false beliefs’ seemingly inculcated through persuasive coercion by vested interests) on relevant topics since 2014. A retired Professor of Psychology who wrote a whole book about the Savile et al UK abuse cases was also rejected. Membership of the groups appeared sensible. However, I was uneasy that the chairperson appointed had worked for many years in an organisation whose members frequently followed a ‘discourse of disbelief’ (following the La Fontaine doctrine instituted by its leadership) and as an academic is receiving funding from related organisations. What about independence?
In November, the Research Board members were given the recommendation that due to seemingly insurmountable difficulties the group should be closed. Nobody said it would be easy! The IICSA is now on its 4th chair. Where there is a will there is a way. What about leadership – is such evasive conduct going to further the BPS motto ‘excellence in psychology’?
I got the impression that vested interests managed to ‘drop the hot potato’ and furthermore tried to bury it deeply decrying they tried ever-so-hard. I voted against the motion and made a handful of constructive recommendations for moving things forward. Highly qualified members of the group (who I look up to) made their own representations and indicated to me that work may well continue in some form. I will be watching developments with interest, anticipation, and trepidation.
For the time being I want to put as much distance as possible between myself and the BPS research bods. Technically I cannot resign from the BPS Research Board so that instead I informed my colleagues at the BPS DOP Executive that I want to step down from my ‘Science & Practice Strategy Convenor’ role.
Outside the UK the celebrity was named numerous times. Some interesting details in The Sun article:
In 2013 she emailed her allegations to Scotland Yard.
The alleged offence, which happened overseas, was out of their jurisdiction.
Scotland Yard were emailed details of the allegations in 2013, but could not investigate as it took place abroad and out of their jurisdiction
But chiefs agreed to register the case for intelligence purposes and passed her claims to their counterparts abroad.
An official probe was opened by the police force abroad in August 2014, only to be dropped six months later.
But it was disclosed last month that a new prosecutor and investigating officer have been assigned to the case.
A spokesman for the prosecution service said yesterday: “We can confirm that charges were registered in respect of events which are alleged to have occurred in the 1970s.
“The case has been referred to police with a request for further investigation.
“This is with a view to enabling us to make a decision regarding prosecution. The docket will be further considered upon its return from the police.”
A police spokesman said: “This office can confirm an investigation has been conducted regarding a rape case reported during 2014. It is still under investigation.”
And a lawyer in the city where the rape is said to have happened said: “The alleged victim is a credible witness with excellent recall of the facts.
“The key to a successful prosecution is finding witnesses who place the complainant in the star’s suite and who can speak for her childlike demeanour.”
Recently I stumbled across a You Tube video that features disclosures by various women including:
Orna’s Story Aged 14 (Capetown)
Pam’s Story Aged 14 (Minnesota)
The newspaper article appears to relate to Orna, a South African lady, who alleged that a celebrity took advantage of her when she was an innocent teenage fan in the 1970’s. After plying her with Dom Perignon Champagne the celebrity allegedly went on to rape her. A picture is shown showing her with the celebrity in a white bath robe on a hotel balcony. Others who as consenting adults were involved with the celebrity commented on the Modus Operandi. The video clip also features another ‘Sir’ who at times gets referred to as ‘Kitty’. The UK CPS investigated sexual abuse allegations lodged by 9 complainants but did not press charges.
When googling the celebrity, I found it particularly intriguing that he credited Jimmy Saville for getting his career started. Apparently, he was very surprised to hear the sexual abuse allegations against Saville. Why is it that celebrities who are worth tens of Millions hardly ever get charged with child sexual abuse offences let alone get convicted?
Anyhow, if going up against an alleged sexual abuser a complainant is likely to come up against an expert for the defence who will claim that the complainant is suffering from ‘False Memories’. I am wondering what Prof Elizabeth Loftus would make of the rape allegations? She is a well-known Professor of Psychology who dedicated her life to the study of ‘false memories’. She evokes a Marmite response occasionally being picketed by angry trauma therapist but usually awarded a ‘rock star’ like reception at conferences e.g. at the ICP 2016 in Yokohama. I asked her publicly about the possibility of ‘False Innocent Belief Syndrome’ (FIBS) and briefly talked to her in the elevator about the Innocence project. I subsequently presented a poster at the European Psychiatry Association (EPA) conference in Florence that outlines a few key issues about ‘False Memories’ and provides some resource links. The following passage is particularly relevant as the BPS Research Board announced in January 2020 the formation of a ‘Memory-based Evidence’ task & finish group.
Memory Wars & FIBS
Raschke (2008) provides a comprehensive account of the emergence of False Memory advocacy groups and the role of their academic advisors in particular Prof Elizabeth Loftus whose ethics have been widely questioned. In the UK the members of the BFMS Advisory Board (overly) regularly feature in the BPS Magazine ‘The Psychologist’ proffering a drum beat ‘Discourse of Disbelieve’. Prof Martin Conway even led the development of the ‘Memory and Law’ BPS Guidelines. Interestingly a number of Criminal Appeal Court Judges rejected his evidence and even suggested ‘Professor Conway may wish to consider amending his CV’. A tragic consequence of this indiscriminate disbelief (that could be termed ‘False Innocence Belief Syndrome’?) is that legal representatives of individuals who are accused of sexual abuse but proclaim their innocence may commission reports from Prof Martin Conway – yet those reports are probably not admitted as evidence. The travesty of Fire Chief David Tyrant is a stark reminder that each case needs to be looked at with fresh eyes rather than with a dogmatic outlook:
With many criminal court processes there is a considerable risk of falsely convicting someone. As a practicing Buddhist I am against the ‘death sentence’ as I believe in the sanctity of life. If there are good reasons to challenge a conviction, I am all in favour of allowing appeals and initiating renewed investigation. However, the drip-feed of ‘false memory’ claims in all kind of media including academic journals and The Psychologist, the flagship magazine of the British Psychological Society (BPS), are leading to a ‘discourse of disbelief’ where victims frequently are disbelieved and revictimized.
I presented a paper at the European Society Trauma & Dissociation (ESTD) 2017 conference in Bern where I outlined the pronouncements of False Memory associates and how the British Psychological Society (BPS) has frequently provided them all-too-frequently with a platform for their biased views. When I checked the latest issue of The Psychologist I was pleased to see that the ‘International Panel’ of The Psychologist that included Elizabeth Loftus has seemingly disappeared. Progress!
The most (in)famous experiment that Loftus conducted involved an attempt to convince study subjects that they had a ‘lost in the mall’ experience. A small proportion of the subjects apparently agreed with a false memory that was implanted. Ruth A. Blizard and Morgan Shaw are highly critical of this study in their 2019 article ‘Lost-in-the-mall: False memory or false defense?’ the abstract of which I pasted below:
ABSTRACT False Memory Syndrome (FMS) and Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) were developed as defenses for parents accused of child abuse as part of a larger movement to undermine prosecution of child abuse. The lost-in-the-mall study by Dr. Elizabeth Loftus concludes that an entire false memory can be implanted by suggestion. It has since been used to discredit abuse survivors’ testimony by inferring that false memories for childhood abuse can be implanted by psychotherapists. Examination of the research methods and findings of the study shows that no full false memories were actually formed. Similarly, PAS, coined by Richard Gardner, is frequently used in custody cases to discredit children’s testimony by alleging that the protective parent coached them to have false memories of abuse. There is no scientific research demonstrating the existence of PAS, and, in fact, studies on the suggestibility of children show that they cannot easily be persuaded to provide detailed disclosures of abuse.