Yesterday we discussed an often-overlooked group which has been victimised by those who promote the myth of “Satanic ritual abuse”: well-meaning, intelligent folk who have been taken in by promoters of SRA. In yesterday’s post we emphasised the ubiquitous training seminars, workshops, and even institutes of higher education which ran rampant in the 1980s and 1990s, during the height of the “satanic panic” of that time.
We’re sad to say, however, that promotion of the SRA myth is not merely a relic of the past. It’s alive and well, and living in some places you might not expect.
It is, one might say, hiding in plain sight.
The UK godmother of SRA
Most of our readers will likely be aware of then-Tavistock Clinic consultant psychotherapist Valerie Sinason, who secured her place as the undisputed godmother of SRA in the UK when she treated a patient named Carol Felstead in five-hour weekly sessions, between October 1992 and May 1993.
According to Mark Pendergrast’s book The Repressed Memory Epidemic: How it Happened and What We Need to Learn from It,
Sinason and her colleague Robert Hale unearthed grotesque memories of abuse from Felstead, then 28, who changed her last name to Myers. The process was ‘tantamount to a form of psychological torture’, as the patient’s brothers, Kevin and Richard Felstead observed in their riveting 2014 book, Justice for Carol“.
Under Sinason’s and Hale’s care, Felstead came to ‘remember’ sacrificial slaughter, rape, infanticide, and ritual murder. She recalled being force-fed urine and feces and being sewn into a dead bull’s stomach to be reborn from it ritually. She claimed to have given birth to six children conceived by cult members, including her father and a brother. The babies were aborted and killed. Apparently no one bothered to examine Felstead to determine that she had never been pregnant. In Chapter 32 of the 1994 book, Treating Survivors of Satanist Abuse, Sinason and Hale wrote about Felstead as ‘Rita’, without her consent.
Ms Felstead would later die under mysterious circumstances. Her family has created an excellent blog which describes what’s known about her experience.
In February 2000, following Jean La Fontaine’s solid debunking of the notion of SRA in the UK,
Valerie Sinason and Rob Hale, who were leading critics of the [La Fontaine] report…subsequently received £22,000 from the health department to document evidence of ritual abuse from the reported experiences of their patients.
Ms Sinason, who is based at the Tavistock clinic in London with Dr Hale, who is also a psychiatrist, said 46 of her patients claimed to have witnessed murder of children or adults during ritual abuse ceremonies that had involved up to 300 people at a time. Some 70% of the reported abuse was carried out by paedophiles and the rest by satanists.
Ms Sinason currently runs the Clinic for Dissociative Studies in Harley Street, but she has strong links with another, seemingly less “niche” organisation—The Bowlby Centre, which describes itself thus:
The Bowlby Centre provides a 4 year part time psychotherapy taught course which is accredited by the United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy. Our influences include classical psychoanalytic thinkers from Freud to Winnicott and challenges to traditional approaches from authors such as Jessica Benjamin, John Bowlby, Ronald Fairbairn and Stephen Mitchell.
Browsing through the Centre’s website, we were intrigued to note events such as “Working with Dissociation in Clinical Practice Using an Attachment Perspective“. A quick glance at the speakers list for this 2014 event:
This is a two-day workshop designed for experienced mental health professionals, who will get to hear their peers discussing the recognition and treatment of SRA and Dissociative Identity Disorder as though they were actually real things. This would be like a teacher attending a workshop, run by experts, on how to expel demons from unruly children. Oh, and did we mention that the price for this workshop ranges from £400 to £540?
Ritual abuse? We wrote the book on it!
On another page of The Bowlby Centre’s website, we noticed that they were promoting a book, published in 2011, titled Ritual Abuse and Mind Control: The Manipulation of Attachment Needs, a book of essays edited by Orit Badouk Epstein, Joseph Schwartz, and Rachel Wingfield Schwartz.
The book’s promotional blurb reads,
People who have survived ritual abuse or mind control experiments have often been silenced, accused of lying, mocked and disbelieved. Clinicians working with survivors often find themselves isolated, facing the same levels of disbelief and denial from other professionals within the mental health field [Ya think?—Ed.]. This report of a conference proceedings presents knowledge and experience from both clinicians and survivors to promote understanding and recovery from organized and ritual abuse, mind control and programming.
The book combines clinical presentations, survivors’ voices, and research material to help address the ways in which we can work clinically with mind control and cult programming from the perspective of relational psychotherapy.
Oh, we almost forgot this bit:
Contributors – Ellen Lacter, Sue Richardson, Rachel Wingfield Schwartz, Valerie Sinason and Orit Badouk Epstein.
Let’s reiterate: The Bowlby Centre teaches people to become psychotherapists, who may then be accredited by the UKCP. In other words, any person you know—a loved one, friend, perhaps even yourself—could find themselves in the care of a person who received their psychotherapy training at an institute which teaches that SRA not only exists, but is a valid subject for prospective mental health care professionals to study, explore, and diagnose.
There’s more—much, much more—to discuss on this subject, but perhaps the most important thing to remember is that the myth of SRA is not merely an artefact from the last satanic panic. It’s a contemporary problem, and one which must be addressed by sane and rational people.