Some of the most intriguing statements Dr Noll made were news to me. I never realized that I was considered among the nation’s elite psychiatrists. Perhaps such inflated attributions, however ironic and tongue in cheek, enhance the target value of those said to be elite. I have never before heard anyone state that the Goodwin and Hill article and my comments on it were widely understood as validations of rather than simply perspectives on the "satanic panic" and efforts to understand it in a historical context. Nor, since the 1918 influenza epidemic was discussed at length and in depth in at least 3 courses during my medical education, was I aware that it had been forgotten.
Among the most shockingly inaccurate statements made by Dr Noll is his assertion that “psychoanalytic clinicians found asylum among the dissociative disorders and their presumed reactive, trauma-induced origins.” Nothing could be further from the truth. During the period of time Dr Noll purports to study, there were only a handful of psychoanalysts in the dissociative disorders field and the mainstream of psychoanalytic thinking minimized the role of actual trauma as defined in the DSM. Trauma was a central concept, but defined in intrapsychic terms. In the years under discussion, mainstream psychoanalysis remained inclined to treat reports of childhood mistreatment as fantasies, and showed aversion rather than interest toward dissociation. A relevant article taking note of these problems was entitled “Incest. See Incest Fantasy.”9 The author, Simon, noted that the denial of attention to severe trauma was so pervasive in the analytic community that the subject of actual incest was not even included in major psychoanalytic indexes. Hence the title of his article. Of the three discussants of a paper on Holocaust-related trauma, one dismissed the importance of the Holocaust-related trauma, one approached it from a poetic and metaphoric perspective, and only the third considered it important in and of itself.10-14 There have always been a few voices in psychoanalysis concerned with trauma as defined in the DSMs, but even today these colleague remain a minority. Dr Noll’s assertions in connection with psychoanalysis are completely inaccurate.
I am deeply troubled by Dr Noll’s misunderstanding or misrepresentation of the DSM process. He stated that the guardians of the profession quarantined those who participated in DSM-III-R from participation in DSM-IV. This is not true. The procedures for developing new editions of the DSM do not remain unchanged from one edition to the next. Also, DSM work groups are different from advisory committees in function, and the ways in which work groups and committees have related have not been the same in all DSM processes. Among those individuals whom Noll states were excluded from the DSM-IV process were several who in fact remained active participants in advisory committee work for the newer editions. Dr Noll’s gratuitous misstatements are detrimental to the professional reputation of those individuals, who actually continued to be involved. As for myself, far from being banished, I was asked to write a first draft for the text of Dissociative Identity Disorder for DSM-IV. Then others provided input and the Chair, David Spiegel, generated a final draft. While the gist of what I wrote was retained, only 2 sentences emerged unmodified by the process. Dr Noll simply does not have his facts straight. He has drawn and promulgated provocative and unwarranted conclusions. When Dr Spiegel, whom Noll does not mention by name, spoke of wanting to avoid a circus, he was not talking about the process of the DSM revision. He was talking about problematic attitudinal issues both within the profession and among the lay public. The condition’s name was changed with the hope of defusing the polarized debates that surrounded the condition, not because the condition itself had been invalidated in any way.
I found Dr Noll’s comments about my editorship of Dissociation to be somewhat out of contact with reality, but consistent with his rules of exegesis. He makes disparaging remarks about my publishing certain articles, and then makes significant omissions about my publication of others. Yes, I encouraged serious articles on controversial subjects in which no firm resolution had been reached, hoping to promote further scholarly study and interchange. Of course I accepted a special issue on exorcism and possession! The United States is a religious nation, and modern “exorcism light” or “Christian Deliverance” was ascending in popularity. Dissociative individuals were being encouraged to leave therapy, convert to fundamentalist sects, and be cured by exorcistic procedures. That issue of Dissociation took up the risks associated with exorcism, outlined the unfortunate misuses of exorcistic procedures, and demonstrated that their therapeutic power was minimal and that often such procedures were destructive. It was especially important to publish this information because one of the modern pioneers of DID treatment had indeed advocated exorcism-like interventions in the 1970s. Although their use had already been marginalized and largely abandoned, it was crucial to place appropriate warnings in the literature and discourage any return to such procedures. Yet Dr Noll describes my publication of that special issue as an ongoing effort to co-opt the supernatural.
Curiously, Dr Noll neither faults nor compliments me on publishing his contributions or those of George Ganaway. I received a good deal of criticism for publishing them, and strongly defended Drs Noll and Ganaway. Dr Noll is probably unaware of this.
An alternative to Dr Noll’s disparaging remarks/innuendos about my editorship is available. Perhaps he should have accused me of being open-minded and encouraging of various perspectives on issues that were as yet unresolved, but there appears to be no place for such an observation within his curious rules of exegesis.
I remember Dr Noll’s contribution well. In it he stated, “What, then, are we to make of our patients’ recalled childhood experiences of ritualized abuse at the hands of satanists? Some experiences arc undoubtedly true.”15(p253) In view of his blatant endorsement of the reality of satanic ritual abuse in this publication, I find his current approach to this subject matter perplexing.
While Dr Noll accuses me of promoting the colonization of the supernatural, an alternative explanation might be that I have studied the literatures of anthropology and the history of psychiatry to appreciate the wisdom of understanding DID as a secularized expression of possession syndromes. The DSM-5 advisory and work groups made room for pathological (as opposed to culturally sanctioned) possession syndromes under the rubric of DID, embracing the varied expression of such psychopathological manifestations in different cultures. (For DSM-5, the Roman numerals used for earlier editions have been replaced with Arabic numerals.) The psychiatric profession has moved to endorse the cross-cultural perspective I put forward in 1991,16,17 which was based on my reading of the work of Henri Ellenberger,18 the literature of anthropology, and discussions with several anthropologists about observations they made during their field work. What Dr Noll excoriates may be understood, alternatively, as a cross-cultural sensitivity increasingly embraced by our profession.19
The following statements are oversimplified generalizations offered to provide a simple frame for approaching a complex issue. The structure of DID and allied conditions is a cross-culturally distributed pattern of coping with profound psychosocial distress and other overwhelming experiences. The natures of the entities encountered in such conditions are highly influenced by cultural and sub-cultural considerations. Beyond that, once the structure of the condition is established, the creation and nature of particular personalities may be quite sensitive to all manner of external influences, including iatrogenic pressures. In my experience, the particular structure of the personality system and the number of alters created seem more related to the nature and amount of unfortunate experiences and to certain idiosyncratic factors unique to the patient.
By implication, Noll associates the waning of interest in satanic ritual abuse with the demise of the journal Dissociation, and indicates that with its demise, scientific communications about the dissociative disorders effectively had come to an end. In fact, Dissociation came to an end because the International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation wanted more control over its journal. After a rather nasty dispute, it disenfranchised Dissociation and established the Journal of Trauma and Dissociation as its successor. This successor journal continues to publish scientific and clinical contributions in the field of dissociation. Noll’s obituary for the literature on the study and treatment of dissociation is outrageously premature.
It would be more accurate to state that as an avalanche of false memory lawsuits began in the 1990s, many therapists adopted a more defensive stance, became more apprehensive that the exploration of traumatic memories of any sort might land them in court, and felt that the cost-benefit ratio of continuing an ongoing exploration of the SRA issue had become prohibitive. Many abandoned working with dissociative and traumatized patients. A more detailed discussion of the era of the “memory wars” is beyond the scope of this response.
I will close with a few remarks about why the SRA issue was very difficult to dismiss once it began to become a topic of discourse. Dr Noll mentions his youth when he first attended the meetings of the International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation. Indeed, his youth may be an important consideration, and might account for his reduction of the matters that concern him to failures of intellect and moral courage. To follow H. L. Mencken, “For every complex problem there is a simple solution . . . and it is wrong.”20
I have a different perspective. In general, the therapists who struggled with how to understand and address SRA were considerably older than Dr Noll. They were grappling with the challenge of understanding an amazing amount of confusing and unsettling information. I do not fault my colleagues for their courageous efforts to struggle toward understanding complex and confusing matters.
But let me speak for myself, and not presume to speak for others. Contrary to Dr Noll’s assertions, I have never made a secret of my stance. I have shared my perspectives in many professional settings. I grew up under the shadow of the Holocaust, learning more and more about how many nations, including my own, had failed to acknowledge and/or act responsibly in the face of a genocidal disaster. I discovered how those close to the Holocaust were able to rationalize their denials and/or collaborations. Mine is the generation that heard the FBI strenuously deny the existence of organized crime until the very public 1957 Apalachin meeting of Mafia figures came to widespread attention. Then, my generation watched the FBI do an abrupt and embarrassing about face, reversing its longstanding dismissive position. Mine is the generation that had to deal with Vietnam and the American government’s egregious misrepresentation of the reality of the situation there. Further, my generation witnessed its initial denial of the damage done to the young men who served there, and their frequent misdiagnoses as character disordered or psychotic rather than traumatized. My generation watched the estimated frequency of father-daughter incestuous events soar from 1 case per million in 197521 to 1 of 20 biological father-daughter relationships in 1986,22 and the estimated incidence of therapist-patient sexual exploitation from rare to embarrassingly common.23 In addition, my generation witnessed the revelation that prestigious mental health professionals had participated in unethical research on human subjects for covert agencies, research that was very destructive to many subjects.24 Further, as the findings of the Lanning report were becoming known, I was in contact with FBI agents in connection with another matter. I learned that many agents in the field did not believe that the official reports denying many aspects of SRA were honest or accurate.
Faced with these repetitive betrayals of trust and contradictory perspectives from our federal law enforcement agencies, I like many others, could not be comfortable with “authoritative” statements that denied the reality of many aspects of SRA. Strong statements from sources that had undermined their own credibility simply were not convincing—they were just more information to consider. Those who remembered the many dishonesties and betrayals of trust listed above were less likely to accord immediate credibility to a governmental agency’s reporting that organized SRA does not exist. For those who had become aware of the numerous instances of mistreatment that had been denied, rationalized, minimized and otherwise kept secret, it was very difficult to believe that something evil and covert was a priori preposterous.
I have often stated that the vast majority of SRA reports I encountered were not credible, and explained how I arrived at that opinion. In brief, I demonstrated that if the atrocities and grotesque rituals allegedly witnessed by a geographical cluster of patients who were convinced that they had victimized in transgenerational satanic abuse had actually occurred, the county in which they resided would have been depopulated in just over a decade. Their claims simply could not be true. Further, I have expressed my concern that the importance of SRA reports as a derivative expression of more mundane abuses that, if acknowledged, would threaten the attachment needs of these patients, has been sorely underestimated. Many patients found it more tolerable to believe that their abusive families simply did to them what they had experienced when they were young and were carrying on a religious tradition than to believe that they had been mistreated because their abusers wanted to abuse them. This stance both rationalizes their abuse experiences and at least partially exonerates their abusers.25
However, that being said, it is undeniable that satanic elements are employed at times by those who wish to exploit the power of such materials for the purposes of intimidation and/or to pursue nefarious purposes. They are encountered in the context of organized satanic religion, in idiosyncratic religious or quasi-religious beliefs, and in deviant individuals and/or splinter groups of practices that themselves normally do not endorse such beliefs or practices. They are experienced as symptoms of psychotic/delusional mental disorders. Satanic elements remain problematic realities in many situations.
I remain troubled about the matter of transgenerational satanic cults. Any scientist or thinker has had to grapple with how difficult it is to prove that something does not exist. I am comfortable in saying that if such situations exist, they exist at a level of far less frequency than was once suspected. That being said, in the mid-1970s, years before the surge of interest in SRA during the 1980s, I encountered situations that involved reports by non-participant eyewitnesses who were neither dissociative nor traumatized patients. In fact, they were without psychiatric illness. I would be dishonest if I allowed the pressures of those with strong convictions that such groups either do or do not exist to push me to endorse either stance. Holmes cautioned Watson, “It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts.”26 As a corollary, it would be a similar error to follow the model of Procrustes, and cut away facts or stretch or otherwise distort them, discarding them or forcing them to fit a particular model or preconception.
I prefer honest uncertainty to false conviction.
(In the interests of saving space, I have not duplicated most references made by Dr Noll.)
1. Hicks D. Dignity: Its Essential Role in Resolving Conflict. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press; 2011.
2. Greaves G. Multiple personality: 165 years after Mary Reynolds. J Nerv Mental Dis. 1980;168:577-596.
3. Smith M, Pazder L. Michelle Remembers. New York: Congdon & Lattes; 1980.
4. Kluft RP. Treatment of dissociative disorder patients: an overview of discoveries, successes, and failures. Dissociation. 1993;6:87-101.
5. Gleaves D. The sociocognitive model of dissociative identity disorder: a reexamination of the evidence. Psychol Bull. 1996;120:42-59.
6. Kluft R. Iatrogenic creation of new alter personalities. Dissociation. 1989;2:83-91.
7. Brown D, Scheflin A, Hammond DC. Memory, Trauma Treatment, and the Law. New York: Norton; 1998.
8. Kluft R. The confirmation and disconfirmation of memories of abuse in dissociative identity disorder patients: a naturalistic clinical study. Dissociation. 1995;8:253-258.
9. Simon B. “Incest—See Under Oedipus Complex”: the history of an error in psychoanalysis. J Am Psychoanal Assoc. 1992;40:955-988.
10. Kogan I. On being a dead, beloved child. Psychoanal Q. 2003;72:727-766.
11. Brenner C. Commentary on Ilany Kogan’s “On being a dead, beloved child.” Psychoanal Q. 1993;72:767-776.
12. Ferro A. Commentary on Ilany Kogan’s “On being a dead, beloved child.” Psychoanal Q. 2003;72:777-783.
13. Herzog J. Commentary on Ilany Kogan’s “On being a dead, beloved child.” Psychoanal Q. 2003;72:785-796.
14. Kogan I. Response to commentaries. Psychoanal Q. 2003;72:797-803.
15. Noll R. Satanism, UFO abductions, historians and clinicians: those who do not remember the past . . . Dissociation. 1989;2:251-254.
16. Kluft R. Multiple personality disorder. In: Tasman A, Goldfinger S, eds. Annual Review of Psychiatry. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Press; 1991:161-188.
17. Kluft RP. Current issues in dissociative identity disorder. J Pract Psychol Behav Health. 1999;5:3-19.
18. Ellenberger H. The Discovery of the Unconscious. New York: Basic Books; 1970.
19. Lewis-Fernandez R. A cultural critique of the DSM-IV dissociative disorders section. Transcultural Psychiatry. 1998;35:387-400.
20. Mencken HL. John Petrie’s Collection of H. L. Mencken Quotes. 2014. Accessed March 17, 2014.
21. Henderson D. Incest. In: Freedman A, Kaplan H, Sadock B, eds. Comprehensive Textbook of Psychiatry. 2nd ed. Baltimore: Williams and Wilkins; 1975:1532-1538.
22. Russell D. The Secret Trauma: Incest in the Life of Girls and Women. New York: Basic Books; 1986.
23. Gartrell N, Herman J, Olarte S, et al. Psychiatrist-patient sexual contact: results of a national survey. I: prevalence. Am J Psychiatry. 1986;143:1126-1131.
24. Scheflin A, Opton E. The Mind Manipulators: A Non-Fiction Account. New York: Paddington Press; 1978.
25. Kluft R. An overview of the treatment of patients alleging that they have suffered ritualized or sadistic abuse. In: Fraser G, ed. The Dilemma of Ritual Abuse: Cautions and Guidelines for Therapists. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Press; 1997:31-64.
26. Conan Doyle A. Arthur Conan Doyle Quotes. 2014. Accessed March 17, 2014.
Bennett Braun, MD
I am surprised and displeased to have learned about the publication of an article that vilifies and disparages me so extensively only such a short of time before its publication. I would have appreciated having enough advance notice to draft a more suitable and complete response.
Here I will only respond to the things in Dr Noll’s article that relate specifically to me, and leave the task of responding to its other unfortunate inaccuracies and mischaracterizations to others.
I have become accustomed to such slander and misrepresentation, and have been misquoted extensively over the years. Neither the Editors nor the readership of Psychiatric Times would appreciate being treated in this manner.
Remarks taken out of context can be presented in a manner that misrepresents the overall intent of the speaker. I would suggest that the Editors of Psychiatric Times obtain the tapes of the events to which Dr Noll refers and make their own decisions whether or not I have said what I am alleged to have said, and to place what I have said in the context in which my remarks were made. It is regrettable and shameful that such slanderous remarks will be printed by the world’s most read psychiatric publication, and conveyed to colleagues who will not be in a position to question them or judge their accuracy.
Labeling things with a catch-phrase may provide attractive and compelling shortcuts, but they often take on a life of their own that has a questionable connection to reality. Using a term like “Braun’s international conspiracy fantasies” is an attractive catch-phrase which can easily evoke strong emotion and take on a life of its own. Once such things are said, they join the ranks of “things that never were true, but always will be.” I never referred to any international conspiracy, so how can such a notion be labeled as “Braun's international conspiracy fantasy”? The answer is simple—say it loud enough and long enough and it will be remembered, and what never was true will be regarded as the truth by many.
Dr Noll’s paper is far from scientific as it contains many inaccuracies. For example, the first meeting of what is now the International Society for the Study of Trauma & Dissociation had 125 attendees—not the 300 he stated.
To describe serious educational workshops as a “carnival” demeans the workshops, their faculties, and those who attended them. The proposals for every workshop and paper presented at the meetings of this group were evaluated by 3 reviewers. Only the top 10% to 20%, depending on category, of the proposals were actually accepted for presentation.
I did at some point say that I had seen a patient in the Netherlands who reported satanic ritual abuse and that I had heard from others in Europe and Canada who reporting similar things. I never said that satanic ritual abuse was an “international conspiracy structured similar to a system of Communist cells.” I also said that I had seen evidence of transgenerational aspects to the abuse (as is reported in many forms of child abuse), but I very much doubt that I dated it to 2000 years ago.
Dr Noll has a flare for the melodramatic. The 1989 workshop he refers to was taped. I never “screamed” anything. I did say the patient who drew the picture stated that it was of a satanic ritual. I passed on what had been communicated to me.
Dr Noll states that no one on the Dissociative Disorders Committee for DSM-IV had been on the DSM-III-R committee. The implication is that the American Psychiatric Association wanted to get rid of the problematic people who worked on DSM-III-R. Unfortunately for his argument, his statement is historically inaccurate. David Spiegel convened an advisory committee that included some of the people Dr Noll states were excluded, and even invited the participation of scholars who were very skeptical and wanted to eliminate the disorder from the DSM. I commend Dr. Spiegel’s objectivity. I personally have no significant objection to relabeling Multiple Personality Disorder as Dissociative Identity Disorder. The diagnostic criteria and descriptive text basically convey the same meanings as their predecessors.
In my opinion, the major reason the Dissociative Disorders suffered, what has proved to be a temporarily reduced presence in the mental health mainstream, was due to the epidemic of false memory lawsuits, which for several years intimidated therapists and discouraged them from working with this patient population. In response to those lawsuits all too often insurers discouraged fighting these suits and settled them out rather than mount aggressive defenses of their policyholders. Whether this was due to their lack of courage or on the basis of their estimation of the costs of various options is a subject for another time. Unfortunately the results of these tactics often were the ruining of professional reputations and raised insurance rates.
The key lawsuit against me was settled in October 1997. On January 17, 1997, the lead plaintiff testified in her deposition that she had originated all the memories herself. I did not implant any memories, she said. As she said, I only passed on to her what the other patients had reported about her. Unfortunately, the insurance companies settled against my will in October 1997, even though I paid an extra 10% premium to give me the right to refuse settlement.
In the atmosphere that prevailed, so many people in the mental health field, the legal profession, and the insurance industry were intimidated that the path of least resistance seemed preferable to the more expensive option of fighting for justice. Looking back, the articles to which Dr Noll refers had a powerful impact beyond their lasting merit. Within a few years, those who were not intimidated would be able to mount powerful defenses and demonstrate the shortcomings of the articles that at first many regarded as definitive. But that was not the case during the period of time to which Dr Noll refers.
In this communication, I have taken up the attacks Dr Noll made against me. My sympathy goes out to all of the others who were also treated poorly and mischaracterized, and to all of the patients who undoubtedly will be upset and confused, and whose treatments may be undermined or compromised should they come upon Dr Noll’s article without companion publications that refute his many problematic and inaccurate statements and allegations.
Richard Noll, PhD
Psychiatric Times and its editor-in-chief, Dr James Knoll, are to be lauded for reopening a forum for the open exchange of intellectual discourse on the central issue of my historical article: why has the satanic ritual abuse (SRA) moral panic of the 1980s and 1990s been forgotten? It seems that now the time has finally arrived—uncomfortable as it may be—for a discussion of the part that American psychiatry played in this cultural and medical catastrophe.
I am especially gratified that Drs Spiegel, Kluft, and Braun have graciously contributed commentary to my article. As a young man trying to learn his clinical craft from those older and wiser, I learned a great deal from them all. Let me be clear about my esteem for these 3 physicians: within the scientific context of the 1970s to mid-1990s, all 3 men were regarded—and professionally honored—as having made significant contributions to psychiatry. When future historians of American psychiatry write their accounts of the late 20th century, all 3 of these distinguished men will be recognized for their influence in the medicine and popular media of that era. They are all modest men, and as such are naturally reluctant to acknowledge their elite status during those decades. Nonetheless, their stories are pivotal in the history of American psychiatry and they belong to the ages.
History, like clinical work, is an imperfect art. We do our best with the evidence at our disposal to reconstruct the past into a narrative for the purpose of teaching those living in the present. Certain facts cannot be disputed, others can disappear into a cloud of conflicting memories, interpretations or—as in the case of the SRA moral panic—feigned forgetfulness. As a historian of psychiatry I am delighted that Drs Kluft and Braun are open to having their voices added to the historical record. They bring fresh perspectives, insights and new facts to the historians who will certainly be writing about them. At least one book, by journalist Richard Beck, is already in progress. My article was intended as an invitation to open this discussion to professional historians and clinicians. I hope that Drs Kluft and Braun and others publish memoirs of their careers based on their own personal perspectives. I also hope that they grant young historians interviews so that the contextual gaps in the history of American psychiatry in the 1980s and 1990s can be corrected.
Readers of the 3 commentaries on my article may regard them as a bit more emotive than substantive. This quality should not be interpreted by readers as anything more than what it is. We are opening a discussion about sensitive subjects, all of us have feelings, and as humans we sometimes feel hurt.
Dr Braun makes a valid point about my mischaracterization of his vocalizations as screams in a talk he gave in 1990. I claimed this happened during his animated revelation of the satanic themes in the red crayon scribblings so violently made by his patient on a large sketch pad. Whereas I only saw something in that drawing that could have been . . . a muscle spasm? . . . it was clear to me from the wide eyes and parted lips of many in the audience that they were indeed seeing the satanism. I improperly used the words “he screamed” to characterize Dr Braun’s vocalizations, and I do apologize. As a writer trying to convey the power of a memory from 23 years ago, indeed trying also to capture all of the enthusiasm that Dr Braun demonstrated during what many of us in the room felt as the emotional climax of his presentation, simply writing “he said” or “he ejaculated” just would not do. Since even now I cannot think of an appropriate alternative term, I hope, as he is an honored expert on human memory, he will forgive my unintentionally melodramatic mnemonic misstatement. It was a memory of an emotional moment long, long ago. And as cognitive science research on memories teaches us, they are highly prone to distortion and must be challenged if contradictory evidence deems them inaccurate—or blatantly false. This is where historians and clinicians share the same ethical responsibility. Remaining silent is morally unacceptable.
As for the number of persons attending the first proto-ISSMP&D meeting, the source for what I regarded as a minor point in my narrative may have been wrong, and I concede there may have been less than 300 enthusiasts at that prelapsarian conclave. I am sure historians will be hotly debating the true number for decades.
Humans are endlessly surprising creatures. They get mixed up in all sorts of things. As anyone who is old enough to remember Charlie Manson and his Family will agree, the diabolic potential of small group dynamics in isolated environments knows no bounds. My comment in my 1989 letter about the probability of some SRA reports being true was an expression of this reasonable surmise, and nothing more. Ken Lanning of the FBI said in print in 1992 and on camera in the recent New York Times video story on the McMartin day care scandal that he also started off with this same reasonable assumption when he first heard of SRA claims. Philosopher Ian Hacking also expressed such a view in the 1995 book that I cite in my article. But organized Devil-worshipping cults kidnapping, abusing and ritually sacrificing children? Nope. Never. Never for a moment did I believe these stories were true, and just to correct a remark in the comments above, Dr Frank Putnam never did either.
Following standard academic practice, to back up claims in my article I cited sources from what the community of scholars has regarded as reliable historical scholarship about SRA claims and about the role of American psychiatrists in the moral panic. These sources go back almost 25 years, and among the best and most highly regarded are the works of sociologist Mary de Young. Her 1994 article and 2 scholarly books on the moral panic, all cited above, have been regarded as the most scrupulously accurate compilations of the basic facts. Sherril Mulhern, Jeffrey Victor, Robert Hicks, Debbie Nathan, and many others produced a body of scholarship based on primary sources (their own participant observations, transcripts of lectures, audio- and videotapes, etc) some 2 decades ago when these events were fresh. Others who were there, such as Johns Hopkins psychiatrist Paul McHugh in his 2008 book referenced above, have recently contributed new historical evidence about American psychiatry’s role in the SRA moral panic.
If any one of the facts in this large scholarly literature of the past quarter century has truly been maliciously misinterpreted or is incorrect, as is alleged in the commentaries above, I think it is therefore ethically imperative for Drs Braun and Kluft to offer published historical documentation to contradict such a false claim robotically repeated by decades of scholars. But they need to make a case to the public based on historical and scientific evidence, not on polemics. Let’s all hope they do this. I know they have much to teach us.
None of us are getting any younger. For all those who were witnesses or participants, skeptical or otherwise, during the SRA moral panic of the 1980s and 1990s, now is the time to think about how one’s career and reputation is to be reconstructed by future historians. Now is the time for everyone to share their memories.
With the reposting of a modified version of my article, the vigorous commentaries, and my final response, perhaps the veil is lifted on the past and memory may now be allowed to speak. Let us open more doors within our cultural memory palace and let us learn from our mistakes.