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.
Ian Florence in the September edition of The Psychologist interviews Jovan Byford, a senior lecturer in psychology at the Open University:
It quotes the following definition:
‘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.
They are illustrations of the world-wide difficulty of tackling organised CSA as outlined by US Clinical Psychologist Dr Ellen Lacter:
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):
Kurz, R. H. (2014). Crossover of Occupational & Clinical Psychology: Opportunities and Risks. Panel presentation at the Association for Business Psychology (ABP) Conference in Reading.
Kurz, R. H. (2015). Politics and the Psychology of Abuse and Cover-up. Presentation at ‘The Psychometric Forum’ in London.
Kurz, R. H. (2017). The Role of Psychologists as Expert Witnesses in Family Courts. BPS South-West Review (Winter Edition, Pages 14-17).
Kurz, R. H. (2019). BLUEBIRD & MK ULTRA CIA MIND CONTROL EXPERIMENTS: HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES BY PSYCHIATRISTS AND PSYCHOLOGISTS. Poster at the 27th European Congress of Psychiatry of the EPA in Warsaw.