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Eynon, T. (1994). Treating survivors of satanist abuse. Edited by Valerie Sinason. Routledge. £37.50 (hardback), £14.99 (paperback). Pp. xii + 320.. Psychoanal. Psychother., 8(3):297-298.

(1994). Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy, 8(3):297-298

Treating survivors of satanist abuse. Edited by Valerie Sinason. Routledge. £37.50 (hardback), £14.99 (paperback). Pp. xii + 320.

Review by:
Terri Eynon

Reviewing this book after the publication of the LaFontaine report (1994) is to review a book about a problem which, officially, does not exist. This is the very issue this publication set out to address, seeing societal blindness to ‘satanist’ abuse as a defensive procedure. As such, the book has, in parts, an exhortative tone, suggesting that the reader will be entering a ‘war-time atrocity zone in peace-time England’ and that not to believe all that is written here is to be a part of the problem.

The authors, rightly, wish to bring to our attention the horrific violence and degradation suffered by some people who are sexually abused, and to show how some abusers will use ‘magic’ and ritual to terrify them into compliance and silence. They remind us that these bizarre memories may not be phantasy, and that we should not continue in Freud's original error.

The book consists of thirty-four chapters, some of which, because of their shortness, have a feel of superficiality and incompleteness, which does not do justice either to the complexity of the subject being addressed, or the skills of authors. As is a frequent problem with multi-author texts there is a lack of internal consistency. This is a serious flaw, where the terms ‘sadistic’, ‘ritual’, ‘satanist’ and ‘organised’ are used by the different authors in overlapping but often subtly differing ways.

Another weakness is the disturbing ignorance of modern pagan practices, as shown by statements such as ‘much witchcraft is a celebration of the anti-Christ’ (p. 142). I felt that there should have been more than the one reference to Jung, a major influence on modern paganism, in a text dealing with ‘satanism’. One does not have to deny the reality of the abusive experience by a consideration of the archetypal nature of the material being presented. One author, who admits that her sources are almost exclusively her patients, promotes the idea that a satanic cult, including high-ranking members of society, exists to promote satanist abuse.

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