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Johns, M. (1998). Treating Survivors of Satanist Abuse. Edited by Valerie Sinason. London: Routledge 1994. Pp. 320. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 79:1255-1258.

(1998). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 79:1255-1258

Treating Survivors of Satanist Abuse. Edited by Valerie Sinason. London: Routledge 1994. Pp. 320

Review by:
Marcus Johns

In 1910 when Ernest Jones wrote his classic, On the Nightmare (London: Hogarth Press, 1931), he showed how vivid were the dreams that his patients suffered and how the dreamers would wake from sleep convinced that they had been the victims of satanic figures that had assaulted and stimulated them in terrifying ways. These dreams were disturbing for the educated and accepted as evidence of satanic visitation by the less sophisticated. Jones convincingly showed how the figures appearing in nightmares, such as devils, witches, werewolves, vampires, succubi and incubi, were all products of unconscious phantasies. These figures and fantasies could readily be projected into the external world and be believed in as if they existed in reality. Nightmares were seen as the product of the conflicting unconscious desires breaking through the repression barrier in an undisguised form. The resulting intense anxiety and physiological responses seemed to confirm to the dreamers their perception of having been assaulted during the night. There is no doubt about the case that he made and of his intentions to rescue humanity from superstition, repression, persecution and cruelty. However, nowhere in his book does he raise clearly the possibility that some individuals may have had actual experiences of abuse that would have confirmed and increased their unconscious fears, thus making it difficult for them to distinguish between internal and external realities.

Jones makes no direct reference to the possibility of actual abuse, though he does refer to the lascivious excitement of the prosecutors who stripped the young women in witch trials and also quotes a story from Hieronymus.

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