Safety Notice

If you are a survivor, please be careful in reading the information compiled here. It is impossible to give information on ritual abuse, and about people's opinions about ritual abuse, in a way that is not upsetting and/or triggering. Only you know how much is wise to read, and how much information you can absorb at one time.

Ritual Abuse: The Controversy

Selected websites:

False Memory Syndrome Foundation

False Memory Syndrome Facts.

Selected Books

Bjorklund, David F., Ed.  (2000) False-memory creation in children and adults: theory, research, and implications. Lawrence Erlbaum, Mahwah, NJ.
TABLE OF CONTENTS: The History and Zeitgeist of the Repressed-False-Memory Debate: Scientific and Sociological Perspectives on Suggestibility and Childhood Memory - Current Directions in False-Memory Research - The Changing Face of Memory and Self - Discriminating Between Accounts of True and False Events - Fuzzy-Trace Theory and False Memory: Memory Theory in the Courtroom - The Cognitive Neuroscience of Constructive Memory - The Suggestibility of Children’s Testimony - Remembering the Distant Past: Implications of Research on Children’s Memory for the Recovered Memory Debate – False Memory Creation in Children and Adults
NOTE: From the publisher: “Real-world issues surrounding the credibility of memories (particularly memories of traumatic events, such as sexual abuse) reported by both children and adults have been at the center of this debate. Were the adults actually retrieving repressed memories under the careful direction of psychotherapists, or were the memories being “created” by repeated suggestion? Were children telling investigators about events that actually happened, or were the interviewing techniques used to get at unpleasant experiences serving to implant memories that eventually became their own? There is evidence in the psychological research literature to support both sides, and the potential impact on individuals, families, and society as a whole has been profound. This book is an attempt to cut through the undergrowth and get at the truth of the “recovered memory/false-memory creation” puzzle. The contributors review seminal work from their own research programs and provide theory and critical evaluation of existing research that is necessary to translate theory into practice.”
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Brainerd, Charles J. and Reyna, Valerie F. (2005) The science of false memory. Oxford Univ. Press, Oxford, England and NY, NY.
NOTE: From the publisher: “Brainerd and Reyna introduce the volume by considering the progenitors to the modern science of false memory, and noting the remarkable degree to which core themes of contemporary research were anticipated by historical figure such as Binet, Piaget, and Bartlett. They continue with an account of the varied methods that have been used to study false memory both inside and outside of the laboratory. The first part of the volume focuses on the basic science of false memory, revolving around three topics: old and new theoretical ideas that have been used to explain false memory and make predictions about it; research findings and predictions about false memory in normal adults; and research findings and predictions about age-related changes in false memory between early childhood and adulthood. Throughout Part I, Brainerd and Reyna emphasize how current opponent-processes conceptions of false memory act as a unifying influence by integrating predictions and data across disparate forms of false memory.
     The second part focuses on the applied science of false memory, revolving around four topics: the falsifiability of witnesses and suspects memories of crimes, including false confessions by suspects; the falsifiability of eyewitness identifications of suspects; false-memory reports in investigative interviews of child victims and witnesses, particularly in connection with sexual-abuse crimes; false memory in psychotherapy, including recovered memories of childhood abuse, multiple-personality disorders, and recovered memories of previous lives. Although Part II is concerned with applied research, Brainerd and Reyna continue to emphasize the unifying influence of opponent-processes conceptions of false memory. The third part focuses on emerging trends, revolving around three expanding areas of false-memory research: mathematical models, aging effects, and cognitive neuroscience.”
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Brown, Daniel P., Scheflin, Alan W., and Hammond, D, Corydon. (1998) Memory, trauma treatment, and the law. W.W.  Norton, NY, NY.
NOTE: From the publisher: “The authors critically review memory research, trauma treatment, and legal cases pertaining to the false memory controversy. They discuss current memory science and research with both children and adults, pointing out where findings are and are not generalizable to trauma memories recovered in psychotherapy. The main issues in the recovered memory debate are covered, as well as research on emotion and memory, autobiographical memory, flashbulb memory, memory for trauma, and types of suggestions, such as misinformation suggestions, social persuasion, interrogatory suggestions, and brainwashing. Research on the reliability of memories recovered in hypnosis is reviewed and guidelines for using hypnosis with patients reporting no, partial, or full memory of having been sexually abused are outlined. The authors review the development and current practice of phase-oriented trauma treatment and present a standard of care that is effective and ethical. Their exploration of memory in the legal context includes a review of malpractice liability and current malpractice cases for allegedly implanting false memories in therapy, as well as the evolving law around legal actions by people who have recovered memories and around hypnosis and memory recovery.”

Davies, Graham M, and Dalgleish, Tim, Eds. Recovered memories: Seeking the middle ground. John Wiley and Sons, NY, NY.
TABLE OF CONTENTS: Introduction - Socio-Historical Perspective - Recovered Memories: Effects on the Family and Community - Recovered Memories of Abuse: The Effects on the Individual - Recovered Memories: The Legal Dilemmas - The Recovered Memories Controversy - Discovering Fact and Fiction: Case-Based Analyses of Authentic and Fabricated Discovered Memories of Abuse - Is It Possible to Discriminate True from False Memories? Therapeutic Techniques, Therapeutic Contexts and Memory - Recovered Memories in Therapy: Clinicians’ Beliefs and Practices - Establishing Practice-Based Guidelines for Therapists - Psychogenic Amnesias: Functional Memory Loss - Memories of Abuse and Alien Abduction Preview in Questia

De Young, Mary. (2004)  The day care ritual abuse moral panic. McFarland, Jefferson, NC.
TABLE OF CONTENTS: List of Tables - The Devil Goes to Day Care - Signs and Symptoms of Ritual Abuse - Enter the Child Savers - Contrasts and Comparisons Between Symptom Lists - Betwixt and Between - Sample of 22 American Day Care Ritual Abuse Cases - Demonizing Defiant Folk Devils - Open Court vs. Shielded Testimony of Children in the Criminal Trials of 26 Providers - Verdicts and Sentences in Day Care Ritual Abuse Trials - Appeal Decisions in Day Care Ritual Abuse Trials - The Devil Goes Abroad - Sample of European and Australasian Ritual Abuse Cases - Examples of Public Inquiries into International Ritual Abuse Cases - When All Is Said and Done - Brief Summary of Three Ritual Abuse Laws - Morality Plays - Legal Dispositions of 19 Untried Providers - Predictions of Testimonial Abilities vs. Actual Performance of Child Witnesses on Cross Examination in State v  Akiki
NOTE: From the publisher: “This work is a sociologically based analysis of the day care ritual abuse panic in America. It introduces the concept of moral panic and analyzes its relevance to the ritual abuse scare, explores the ideological, political, economic, and professional forces that fomented the panic, discusses the McMartin Preschool case as the incident that brought attention to Satanic menaces and children, and examines the dialect between the various interest groups that stirred up and spread the moral panic and the day care providers accused of ritual abuse. Also covered are the popular culture representations of day care ritual abuse, the diffusion of the scare to areas overseas, the institutionally symbolic and ideologically contradictory social ends of the panic, and the outcomes of the panic in various settings. The book ends with a discussion of moral panic theory and how it needs to be changed for a complex, multi-mediated postmodern culture, and what lessons can be learned from the scare.”
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Eberle, Paul and Eberle, Shirley. (1986) The politics of child abuse. Lyle Stuart, Inc. Secaucus, NJ.
TABLE OF CONTENTS: Child abuse goes public -- McMartin -- The defense doctor: Lee Coleman, M.D. -- The prosecution doctor: Roland Summit, M.D. -- V.O.C.A.L.: Victims of child abuse laws -- Jordan, Minnesota: Children never lie... -- Bakersfield baby snatchers: Where are the bodies? -- Montessori: We need more victims -- Ruby: Only one is still alive -- Sacramento snuff: More Satanic rituals -- Michele -- Bingley -- In conclusion -- Bibliography and references -- Appendix A: The Federal Child Abuse Act -- Appendix B: Notice of motion to disqualify the District Attorney.
NOTE: Examines the functions of child protection agencies, discusses the possibility that children are being manipulated to insure that the court system gets its quota of convictions, and looks at new legislation and courtroom procedures.

Hechler, David. (1988). The battle and the backlash: The child sexual abuse war. Lexington Books: Lexington, MA and Toronto.
NOTE: Explores the evolution of backlash organizations, with reference to many well-known cases of child sexual abuse.

Hedges, Lawrence E. (1994) Remembering, repeating, and working through childhood trauma: The psychodynamics of recovered memories, multiple personality, ritual abuse, incest, molest, and abduction. J. Aronson, Northvale, NJ. TABLE OF CONTENTS: Part I: Taking recovered memories seriously -- Varieties of remembering and forgetting -- Transference and resistance memories -- The fear of breakdown, emptiness, and death -- Part II: Multiple personality reconsidered -- Background and history of multiplicity -- Understanding and working with multiples -- Part III: The dual relationship in psychotherapy -- The problem of duality -- In praise of the dual relationship -- Duality as essential to psychological cure -- Part IV: Psychotic anxieties and the organizing experience -- The organizing transference -- Working through the organizing transference -- The development of a transference psychosis: Sandy -- Countertransference to the organizing experience -- Therapists at risk.
NOTE: From the publisher: “This book discusses what is vital to understand the psychodynamic roots of remembered (childhood) abuse. Drawing on a century of psychoanalytic study of memory and the way it operates in therapy, Hedges clarifies the misunderstandings and misinformation that currently exist in the media and popular press regarding memory and the nature of the psychotherapeutic process. Hedges reviews the many ways in which our memories play tricks on us. He shows how the therapist who in uninformed about the power of transference is likely to collude with the patient’s resistance to transference remembering and thus help the person externalize blame for the experienced trauma onto persons

Hicks, Robert D. (1991) In pursuit of Satan: The police and the occult. Prometheus Books.
NOTE; Surveys the preoccupation of law-enforcement agencies with Satanism and the occult, arguing against the existence of a Satanic conspiracy.

Jenkins, Philip. (1998) Moral panic: Changing concepts of the child molester in modern America. Yale Univ., New Haven, CT.
TABLE OF CONTENTS: Creating Facts - Constructing Sex Crime  - The Age of the Sex Psychopath  - The Sex Psychopath Statutes - The Liberal Era  - The Child Abuse Revolution  - Child Pornography and Pedophile Rings - The Road to Hell: Ritual Abuse and Recovered Memory - Full Circle The Return of the Sexual Predator in the 1990’s - A Cycle of Panic
NOTE: From the publisher: “This timely book traces shifting social responses to adult sexual contacts with children, whether this involves molestation by strangers or incestuous acts by family members. The book explores how and why concern about the sexual offender has fluctuated in North America since the late nineteenth century. Philip Jenkins argues that all concepts of sex offenders and offenses are subject to social, political, and ideological influences and that no particular view of offenders represents an unchanging objective reality. He examines the various groups (including mass media) who have been active in promoting particular constructions of the emerging problem, the impact of public attitudes on judicial and legislative responses to these crimes, and the ways in which demographic change, gender politics, and morality campaigns have shaped public opinion. While not minimizing sexual abuse of children, the book thus places reactions to the problem in a broad political and cultural context.”
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La Fontaine, Jean Sybil. (1997) Speak of the devil: Tales of Satanic abuse in Britain. Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, England and NY, NY.
NOTE: From the publisher: “Allegations of Satanic child abuse became widespread in North America in the 1980s. Shortly afterwards, there were similar reports in Britain of sexual abuse, torture and murder, associated with worship of the Devil. Professor Jean La Fontaine, a senior British anthropologist, conducted a two year research project into these allegations, which found that they were without foundation. Her detailed analysis of a number of specific cases, and an extensive review of the literature, revealed no evidence of devil-worship. She concludes that the child witnesses come to believe that they are describing what actually happened to them, but that adults are manipulating the accusations. She draws parallels with classic instances of witchcraft accusations and witch-hunts in sixteenth and seventeenth-century Europe, and shows that beneath the hysteria there is a social movement, which is fostered by a climate of social and economic insecurity.”
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Loftus, Elizabeth F. and Ketcham, Katherine. (1994) The myth of repressed memory: false memories and allegations of sexual abuse. St. Martin’s Press, NY, NY.
NOTE: From the publisher: “According to many clinical psychologists, when the mind is forced to endure a horrifying experience, it has the ability to bury the entire memory of it so deeply within the unconscious that it can only be recalled in the form of a flashback triggered by a sight, a smell, or a sound. Indeed, therapists and lawyers have created an industry based on treating and litigating the cases of people who suddenly claim to have “recovered” memories of everything from child abuse to murder. This book reveals that despite decades of research, there is absolutely no controlled scientific support for the idea that memories of trauma are routinely banished into the unconscious and then reliably recovered years later. Since it is not actually a legitimate psychological phenomenon, the idea of “recovered memory”—and the movement that has developed alongside it—is thus closer to a dangerous fad or trendy witch hunt.”
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Myers, John E. B. (1994). The backlash: Child protection under fire. Sage Publications, Thousand Oaks, CA.
SUMMARY: Provides a sampling of perspectives that include county CPS administration, state-level CPS administration, Victims of Child Abuse Laws (VOCAL), the experience of backlash in Europe, and a survey of backlash literature.

Nathan, Debbie and Snedeker, Michael. (1995) Satan’s silence: Ritual abuse and the making of a modern American witch hunt. Basic Books: NY, NY.
NOTE: From Google books: “Communities throughout the United States were convulsed in the 1980s and early 1990s by accusations, often without a shred of serious evidence, that respectable men and women in their midst--many of them trusted preschool teachers--secretly gathered in far reaching conspiracies to rape and terrorize children. In this powerful book, Debbie Nathan and Mike Snedeker examine the forces fueling this blind panic.”

Ofshe, Richard and Watters, Evan. (1994) Making monsters: False memories, psychotherapy, and sexual hysteria. Univ. of CA Pres, Berkeley, CA.
TABLE OF CONTENTS: The myths of memory -- Effort after meaning --Symptoms of pseudoscience -- Creation of the abuse narrative -- Investment in belief -- Life with father -- Hypnosis and the creation of pseudomemories -- Two cases of hypnotic story creation -- Reason and darkness: The strange stories of Satanic abuse -- Multiple personality disorder: The creation of a sickness -- Therapy of a High Priestess -- The murder, the witness, and the psychiatrist -- Deaths in the family -- Conclusion: The etiology of recovered memory therapy -- Appendix: Three papers
NOTE: From the publisher:  “In the last decade, reports of incest have exploded into the national consciousness. . . Now the Pulitzer Prize-winning social psychologist Richard Ofshe and Mother Jones writer Ethan Watters demonstrate that these recovered memories can be false, fabricated in the highly charged atmosphere of therapy, usually through questionable techniques such as hypnosis. Ofshe and Watters not only take to task poorly trained therapists - and in many states no real clinical experience is required to practice - they also show how the mental health establishment has actually added to the confusion. Ofshe and Watters trace the problem back to its source - Sigmund Freud - and illuminate how and why the debate about recovered memories will drive psychology in the future. Making Monsters is groundbreaking science with powerful stories. It comes at a time when parents and friends of recovered memory patients, wrongly accused of violent physical and emotional abuse, are banding together, searching for real answers to difficult questions. Timely and controversial, this book exposes a profound social and psychological crisis, and will curb a popular craze that is destroying thousands of families. Its message cannot be ignored.”

Pendergast, Marc. (1995) Victims of memory: Sex abuse accusations and shattered lives. Upper Access: Hinesburg, VT.
TABLE OF CONTENTS: Victims of memory: An overview -- Daughters lost -- How to become a survivor -- The memory maze -- How to believe the unbelievable -- Multiple personalities and Satanic cults -- The therapists -- The survivors -- The accused -- The retractors -- And a little child shall lead them (and be led) -- A brief history: The witch craze, reflex arcs, and Freud’s legacy -- Why now? -- Survivorship as religion: Martyrs, true believers, and gurus -- Conclusions and recommendations -- Epilogue: A letter to Stacey and Christina -- Endnotes -- Bibliography -- Index.
SUMMARY: From the Publisher: “Each year, more than a million Americans are convinced by their therapists that their childhoods were not as happy as they thought - that they harbored repressed memories of horrendous abuse by their parents, other relatives, and even Satanic cults. Their identities are destroyed, their pasts rewritten, and their families are torn apart. Several books have been written about this strange phenomenon, some of them very good, but Pendergrast’s has been consistently acclaimed by reviewers as the most comprehensive, balanced, and readable coverage of the topic. Originally published in 1995, the book was so highly received that a second edition came out just a year later.”
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Richardson, J. T. Best, J. & Bromley, D. G. Eds. (1991) The Satanism scare: Social institutions and social change. Aldine de Gruyter: NY, NY.
TABLE OF CONTENTS: Part I. Introduction -- Satanism as a social problem -- Part II. Anthropological and historical perspectives on Satanism -- The demonology of Satanism: An anthropological view -- The historical Satan -- Satanism: The new cult scare -- Part III. The Satanic threat to children -- Satanism and child molestation: Constructing the ritual abuse scare -- Endangered children and antiSatanist rhetoric -- Satanic cults, Satanic play: Is Dungeons & Dragons a breeding ground for the Devil? -- Part IV. Psychiatry and occult survivors -- Occult survivors: The making of a myth -- Satanism and psychotherapy: A rumor in search of an inquisition -- Part V. Satanism and the law -- The police model of Satanism crime -- Law enforcement and the Satanic crime connection: A survey of cult cops -- Satanism in the courts: From murder to heavy metal -- Part VI. Rumors and news about Satanism -- The dynamics of rumor--Panics about Satanic cults -- Accusations of Satanism and racial tensions in the Matamoros cult murders -- Devil worship in western Montana: A case study in rumor construction -- Cauldrons bubble, Satan’s trouble, but witches are okay: Media constructions of Satanism and witchcraft -- Part VII. The Satanists -- Legend-trips and Satanism: Adolescents’ ostensive traditions as cult activity -- Social construction from within: Satan’s process
NOTE: From the publisher: Although there is growing concern over Satanism as a threat to American life, the topic has received surprisingly little serious attention. Recognizing this, the editors of this volume have selected papers from a wide variety of disciplines, broadly covering contemporary aspects of Satanism from the vantage point of studies in folklore, cults, religion, deviance, rock music, rumor, and the mass media.

Roleff, Tamara L., Ed. (2002) Satanism. Greenhaven Press, Farmington Hills, MI.
NOTE: First three chapters: Satanic ritual abuse of children and intimidation of cult members are real and serious threats to society. Next two chapters: Satanism is a legitimate religion. Last four chapters: claims of ritual abuse are unsubstantiated, Satanists’ role in crime is exaggerated, and societal forces have contributed to what is known as “Satanic panic.

Victor, Jeffrey S. (1993) Satanic panic: The creation of a contemporary legend. Open Court, Peru, IL.
TABLE OF CONTENTS: Rumors, Claims and Allegations and Satanic Cult Crimes - The Evolution of the Satanic Cult Legend - The Social Dynamics of a Rumor-Panic -Rumor-Panics across the Country -Satanic Cult “Survivor” Stories -Satanism and Alleged Threats to Children -Satanism and Teenage Crime -Searching for Satanism in Schools, Books, Music and Games - The Moral Crisis in American Society -The Search for Scapegoat Deviants - The Rhetoric of the Moral Crusade against Satanism - The Organization of the Moral Crusade - The Politics of the Moral Crusade - The Medieval Origins of Modern Demonology - Conclusions The Social Construction of Imaginary Deviance - Bibliography of Resource Books, Articles, and Periodicals - Resource Persons Who May Be Contacted -  Guidelines for Dealing with Satanic Cult Rumors - Descriptions of Satanic Cult Rumor Panics in the Unite States and Canada - Some Satanic Ritual Abuse Cases
NOTE: Satanism is seen as similar to past counter-subversion scares, occurring in response to widespread social, economic, and religious stresses.
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Wright, Lawrence. (1994) Remembering Satan: A tragic case of recovered memory. Knopf, NY, NY.
NOTE: From the publisher: “In 1988 Ericka and Julie Ingram began making a series of accusations of sexual abuse against their father, Paul Ingram, who was a respected deputy sheriff in Olympia, Washington. At first the accusations were confined to molestations in their childhood, but they grew to include torture and rape as recently as the month before. At a time when reported incidents of “recovered memories” had become widespread, these accusations were not unusual. What captured national attention in this case is that, under questioning, Ingram appeared to remember participating in bizarre Satanic rites involving his whole family and other members of the sheriff’s department. Remembering Satan is a lucid, measured, yet absolutely riveting inquest into a case that destroyed a family, engulfed a small town, and captivated an America obsessed by rumors of a Satanic underground.”
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