For those seeking to understand the background to the present frenzied preoccupation with child abuse in contemporary Great Britain, there are some books that you should read.
The first is by Professor Philip Jenkins: “Intimate Enemies: Moral Panics in Contemporary Great Britain” (Aldine de Gruyter, 1992). He discusses, inter alia, Chris Fay of NAYPIC, the attempt to smear Leon Brittan, and the maverick MP Geoffrey Dickens, who all feature in the current conspiracy theory milieu.
Dickens (who died in 1995) was a moral entrepreneur and campaigner on many causes, once informing an astonished House of Commons that “witchcraft is sweeping the country”. In 2013, Tom Watson MP got Home Secretary Theresa May to launch an official hunt for Dickens’ missing dossier, which Dickens said he gave Leon Brittan back in 1984. This missing dossier has never emerged: possibly because it was consigned to a waste paper basket.
The second is Professor Jean La Fontaine’s “Speak of the Devil: Tales of Satanic Abuse in Contemporary England” (CUP, 1998). The UK Government called her in, to counter extreme claims that Satanic Ritual Abuse (SRA) was prevalent in the United Kingdom. As I have told you (blogs passim), no less a person than the President of the Association of Child Abuse Lawyers now promotes this pernicious myth. So, please read the Professor’s authoritative debunking of it.
As I previously posted, there is also the brilliant study by Richard Webster, which reads like a thriller, called “The Secret of Bryn Estyn: The Making of a Modern Witch Hunt” (Orwell Press, 2005). This looks at the genesis of the scandal that led to the Waterhouse Inquiry.
Finally, there is the tragic – and chilling – story of the late Carol Myers, told by her brothers Kevin and Richard Felstead in “The True Story of Carol Felstead: The Creation of a Satanic Myth in the United Kingdom” (2014):
Carol was hypnotised, sedated and brainwashed. Her childhood memories were eradicated and her mind was reordered. Carol was assigned a new identity, separated from her family, and a myth was created which helped stoke the entire Satanic Abuse panic in the United Kingdom.
Don’t forget that in 2015 a High Court judge ruled that to instil such false beliefs into a vulnerable person is a form of torture.
There are some other books that are worth reading, about therapy and memory science. I will post about them in a later blog.