«City Research Online Original citation: Waterhouse, R.T. (2014). Satanic abuse, false memories, weird beliefs and moral panics. (Unpublished Doctoral ...»
Waterhouse, R.T. (2014). Satanic abuse, false memories, weird beliefs and moral panics.
(Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City University London)
City Research Online
Original citation: Waterhouse, R.T. (2014). Satanic abuse, false memories, weird beliefs and
moral panics. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City University London)
Permanent City Research Online URL: http://openaccess.city.ac.uk/11871/
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Satanic abuse, false memories, weird beliefs and moral panics Anatomy of a 24-year investigation
ROSALIND THERESA WATERHOUSEA thesis submitted in fulfilment of the requirements for the degree
of Doctor of Philosophy:
A critical analysis offered for the PhD by prior publication At City University London Department of Journalism January 2014
VOLUME I: DISSERTATIONContents Acknowledgements
Part 1 – Introduction, contribution to knowledge and summary
1.2 Contribution to knowledge
1.3 Purpose of this PhD
Part 2 – A su a of the o igi s a d sp ead of the “
2.1 Satanic ritual abuse: definitions.
2.2 False memories and multiple personalities
2.3 Satan arrives on the scene
2.4 International spread
Part 3 – My investigations into the myth
3.1 How it happened
3.2 Methodology and conduct of research
3.2.2 Conduct of research
.. I estigati g The Maki g of a “ata i M th
Part 4 – Theoretical interpretations
4.1 How my work relates to the theory and practice of investigative journalism
4.1.1 The role of other journalists in the Satanic panic
4.1.2 Historical context of investigative journalism
4.1.3 What is investigative reporting?
4.1.6 Ethics and investigative techniques
4.2 How my work relates to the academic literature in the field of psychology on false memories and multiple personalities
.. The eo a s
4.2.2 Research reviews: false memory
4.2.3 Recovered memories, multiple personalities, alien abductions and Satanic abuse............ 62
4.3 How my work relates to the academic literature in anomalistic psychology (the study of weird beliefs)
4.4 How my work relates to the academic literature on moral panics
4.4.2 Models of moral panic theory
4.4.3 Satanic ritual abuse and moral panic
Part 5 – Analysis of data evidence or outcomes
Part 6 – Critical appraisal of previous work
6.1 Responses to my work
Appendix 1: Critical appraisals
A Jean La Fontaine
B Mike Hill
Appendix 2: Citations of published journalism
Appendix 3: List of published and broadcast journalism submitted as my body of published work. 110
BBC1 Real Story
e. Book chapter
f. Conference talks
h. Professional memberships
To Jean La Fontaine for her friendship and wisdom over 20 years.
To Mike Hill in New Zealand for sharing his encyclopaedic collection of papers and being my mentor.
To Sarah Churchwell for seeing the potential of my proposal.
To Christie Slade and Howard Tumber for encouragement and support. To Peter Ayton for guidance and approving a budget for books. To George Brock for supporting my sabbatical.
To Jacqui Farrants for her enthusiasm and sharing her review of research on false memories, which gave me a head start.
To Linda Lewis for providing such efficient sabbatical cover and to Melanie McFadyean for constant friendship and support.
To Martin Conway for his encouragement and guidance.
To Paul Anderson for a brilliant edit.
To Lis Howell for brow beating me into embarking on a PhD To Peter Wilby for fostering jou alis to fi d thi gs out.
To Anna McKane for encouraging me to pursue the teaching of investigative journalism.
To Ch is B a of The “o e e s App e ti e fo his continual supply of invaluable information.
In memory of my mother, father and aunt Tess who encouraged me to achieve my potential.
5 Declaration I grant powers of discretion to the university librarian to allow this thesis to be copied in whole or in part without further reference to me. This permission covers only single copies made for study purposes, subject to normal conditions of acknowledgement.
6 Abstract This critical analysis focuses on my investigations over the past almost 24 years into what I term the Satani itual a use th – o Satani pa i – the controversy over recovered versus false memories, and, more recently, the validity of the diagnosis of multiple personality disorder (MPD), now known as dissociative identity disorder (DID). This reflective analysis, written for the PhD by prior publication, explores how my journalism has made an original and significant contribution to knowledge in my own field, investigative journalism, and how it relates to – and has contributed to the literature in several academic disciplines – the psychology of false memories, the anomalistic psychology of weird beliefs, and the sociology of moral panics. I was one of the first researchers internationally to conclude there was no physical, forensic evidence that Satanic abuse existed. My Maki g of a Satani M th featu e, pu lished i the Independent on Sunday in 1990, has been cited in the literature, along with key investigations since. I describe the methodology and conduct of research during my continuing investigations into the origins and spread of the Satani pa i a d related controversies of false memories and multiple personalities. The dissertation itself adds significantly to academic theories and historical accounts of these events from the 1980s until today.
Through a wide reading of the literature I have pieced together a forensic chronology which provides a unique overview of a particular era of striking and peculiar phenomena. On reflection, I conclude that my investigations provide evidence for the concept of moral panics created through an e plosi e a plifi atio of a e dote, so ial a d offi ial o e a out issues su h as hild a use, sp ead lai s- ake s a d a glo alised ass media. Although sporadic claims of Satanic abuse continue I conclude there is still no corroborating evidence.
7Part 1 – Introduction, contribution to knowledge andsummary
1.1 Introduction This dissertation focuses on my investigations over the past almost 24 years (at time of submission) i to hat I te the Satani itual a use th – o Satanic pa i – the controversy over recovered versus false memories, and, most recently, the validity of the diagnosis of multiple personality disorder (MPD), now known as dissociative identity disorder (DID).
The dissertation begins by outlining in brief how my publications have made an original and significant contribution to knowledge and to my particular discipline – investigative journalism – and then relates my journalism to the academic literature in the wider fields of research in the study of recovered and false memories, weird beliefs, and moral panics. I am submitting with it a list of publications and original broadcast material which constitute a coherent body of published work.
My investigations demonstrate how journalism can intersect with several academic disciplines and clinical fields – from the psychology of false memories and weird beliefs to the sociology of moral panics. I argue that my journalism has made a significant contribution to the stock of human knowledge about the bizarre outbreaks of claims, internationally, of Satanic abuse, the interlinked recovered memory movement and, latterly, the controversial diagnosis of multiple personality disorder.
My investigations have been conducted according to a long-established tradition of fact-finding, evidence-based, truth-seeking, public interest investigative journalism, using a methodology which is rigorous and forensic.
In terms of academic research, my journalism has been empirical work, based on wide-ranging investigative research and extensive interviews. On reflection, it demonstrates evidence for and contributes to moral panic theory. Interestingly, I have discovered, the events I originally investigated very clearly illustrate a theory of explosive amplification – when popular stories and official recognition of an apparently new phenomenon coincide (Henningsen, 1980; Ellis, 2000, Hill, 2005, 2012). I discovered the concept of lai s- ake s ith issio a zeal, o i ed ith othe social factors – such as concern about child abuse – and crucially, an increasingly globalised mass media suddenly disseminating the story, could create a moral panic, for an apparent scare, for which there was little or no evidence (deYoung, 2004; Richardson, 1991).
8 My continuing investigation into how the claims started, where, when, by whom, and why, and, over the years, how they spread, is empirical research. My article The Maki g of a Satanic M th (Waterhouse, 1990a) was an original contribution to knowledge at the time and has been cited internationally since.
This dissertation itself adds significantly to academic theories and historical accounts of these events, which occurred mainly from the early 1980s to late 1990s. Through a wide reading of the literature across the academic disciplines, I have pieced together a forensic chronology which I think provides a unique overview of a particular era of striking and peculiar phenomena. The more I researched for the dissertation, the more I could see that the Satanic panic and inter-related psychotherapy fashions of recovered memory therapy and diagnosis of MPD/DID followed a pattern, which can be traced from the historical witch trials to moder da o sessio s ith histo i allegations of hild a use. Afte esea h, I ha e o luded, the te o al pa i – as a concept – is highly appropriate for all these episodes.
Some researchers, most recently the criminologists Bill Thompson and Andy Williams (2013), stridently dispute the existence of moral panics – as a reality – and claim the panic paradigm is a lazy academic fad. I refer more to this later in the section on moral panics.
But to me as a journalist the term moral panic as a theoretical concept is appealing, because it embodies the explosive amplification of public concern, official recognition and media frenzy. At the time of writing I believe it is appropriate to use the term moral panic in a climate which has been created by the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, the Metropolita Poli e s Operation Yew Tree, the changes in policies and guidelines announced by the former and current Director of Public Prosecutions in historical allegations of sexual abuse by celebrities and other high profile people that has followed the exposure of the disc jockey and TV star Jimmy Savile as a serial abuser. In June 2014 the BBC reported that the NSPCC helpline had received 50 more reports of historic abuse against Savile – bringing the total to 500 – after a high court judge announced a £3 million compensation scheme and ordered newspaper adverts to publish the deadline for claims. I will be continuing research into the origins of and evidence for historic allegations of sexual abuse in the post-Savile era. My journalistic investigations into these inter-related phenomena have shared methodological and theoretical foundations based on established theories and practices of investigative journalism. The design and conduct of a long-term journalistic investigation does not have classic academic foundations like a social science survey or a psychological study into human beliefs or behaviour. Practical journalism is not a classic academic discipline. But it does have 9 theoretical underpinnings. And, as explain in the dissertation, my own investigative journalistic methods follow a rigorous tradition of old-fashioned, tried and tested principles, aimed essentially at fi di g thi gs out Pete Wil, pe so al o u i atio, o fi ed e ail No e e, seeking the evidence, coming as I do from the school of truth-seeker (Pilger, 2004; Tofani, 1998;
, athe tha a paig i g u k ake Evans, 1983) and detective (Bernstein and Woodward, 19 (Aucoin, 2007) or e t ilo uist s du Feldstei,. Ho e e, as I efle t o ho jou alis de eloped o e the ou se of the i estigatio s, i o asio al Satanic Pa i series for Private Eye since 2006 – the title comes from a 1993 book by Jeffrey S Victor, Satanic Panic: The Creation of a Contemporary Legend – I can see that pure objectivity has sometimes given way to polemic, as particular stories have ignited my sense of moral outrage (Waterhouse, 2006a, 2006b, 2011, 2013a).