Oct. 22, 2012

In the Dark Ages of social science – the 1980s, give or take a few years — unfounded concepts were treated as received truth: satanic ritual abuse (later recast as sadistic ritual abuse), multiple personality disorder (later, dissociative identity disorder), repressed memory syndrome.

I’ve found no better example of the era’s overreaching ignorance than the chart at right.

On what possible grounds did California clinical psychologist Catherine Gould determine that satanic ritual abuse was indicated by a child’s “Refusal to eat red or brown food” or “Fear of closets and small spaces” or “Preoccupation with cleanliness”? Did this crazy quilt of symptoms come to her in a hallucination.

Regardless, Gould’s list, widely photocopied, contributed to parental panics at day cares across the country. After all, she was “a licensed psychologist specializing in the diagnosis and treatment of adult and child victims of ritual abuse”!

So just how reliable an authority was Catherine Gould? Well, it was she who first claimed the Los Angeles County Ritual Abuse Task Force was being poisoned with diazinon.

Later, according to the Associated Press, “She said her blurred vision and failed memory weren’t psychosomatic, but she admitted she never visited a doctor to be tested for the pesticide.”

Eating Problems
Refusal to eat red or brown food
Fear that food is poisoned
Bingeing, gorging, vomiting, anorexia

Problems Associated with Doctors
Fear of doctors
Fear of injections, blood tests
Fear of removing clothes

Toiletting/Bathroom Problems
Bathroom avoidance, toileting accidents
Preoccupation with cleanliness
Preoccupation with urine and feces
Ingestion of urine and feces

Family Problems
Fear of death of parents, siblings, pets
Separation anxiety
Avoidance of physical contact
Threatens or attacks parents, siblings

Sexual Problems
Age-inappropriate sexual knowledge
Fear of touch
Excessive masturbation
Sexually provocative behavior
Vaginal or anal pain
Relaxed anal sphincter,enlarged vaginal opening
Venereal disease

Emotional Problems
Rapid mood swings
Resistance to authority
Hyperactivity, poor attention span
Poor self-esteem
Regression and babyish speech
Flat affect
Nightmares, night terrors
Learning disorders

Problems Associated with Confinement
Fear of closets and small spaces
Fear of being tied up, ties up others

Problems Associated with Colors
Fear of colors red and black
Preoccupation with color black

Problems Associated with Death
Fear of dying, preoccupation with death
Play and Peer Problems
Destroys toys
Death, mutilation, confinement themes in play
Inability to engage in fantasy play

Problems Associated with Supernatural
Fear of ghosts, monsters, witches, devils
Preoccupation with wands, spirits, magic potions, curses, crucifixes
Odd songs and chants
Preoccupation with occult symbols
Fear of attending church

Other Fears and Strange Beliefs
Imaginary friends
Fear of police, strangers, bad people
Fear of violent films
Fear of aggressive animals
Fear of cemeteries, mortuaries, churches
Fear of something foreign inside body, e.g. bomb, devil’s heart

Downloaded Oct. 22, 2012 from http://www.prism.gatech.edu/~kquach6/common.html