Iatrogenically Induced Personality Disorder and Ritual Abuse Memories in a 1-Year-Old Child
Accompanying this article is the transcript of the
testimony of a 10-year-old girl. This testimony was given in connection
with one of the most bizarre satanic ritual abuse cases I have ever
handled. The case has an extensive history and some introduction to the
chronology of events is essential to understanding the impact of the child's
In January, 1990, the Does were an intact, functioning family. The
family members were:
||Caucasian, mid 30s, 4 years of college, self-employed carpenter,
annual income of approximately $65,000, first marriage.
||Caucasian, mid 30s, high school education, part-time cashier in the
local supermarket, second marriage.
||Seven and one-half years old, extremely intelligent (IQ measured at
135-142), attending advanced placement classes, no apparent
problems. Her transcript follows. She was 10 years old at
time of her testimony.
||Four years old, normal IQ, no apparent problems.
||Male child from Mother's first marriage, 13 years old, normal IQ, no
In January, 1990, following the father's diagnosis of Attention Deficit
Disorder (ADD), the mother was also diagnosed as probable ADD. The
diagnosis was made by the family doctor who is a self-described Christian
practitioner who also leads a religious study group. Both the mother and
father were members of this group. During the first four months after her
diagnosis of ADD, the mother was medicated at various times with Prozac,
Ritalin, and Norpramin. Dramatic behavior changes were noted during these
four months including increasing nervousness, shortness of breath, inability to
sleep, weight loss of 70 pounds, and commencement of smoking cigarettes
(previously this woman had been a complete nonsmoker).
At the end of four months, the mother was hospitalized after experiencing
suicidal ideation. The admission summary indicates significantly impaired
ability to concentrate and impaired memory for recent events.
Additionally, she had been experiencing recent paranoid feelings. She was
discharged four days later with a diagnosis of Major Depression, Single
Episode. The discharge diagnosis indicates a great deal of anger directed
at her father who died approximately nine years previously. She was
described as having improved judgment and receded paranoid ideation. She
was willing to see a psychologist for follow-up therapy and a psychiatrist who
would administer antidepressant medication.
Upon discharge, the mother began therapy with a licensed clinical social
worker on a referral from her family doctor. In May, 1990, she began work
on The Courage to Heal ()()
She also received a book entitled, I Know I Am Hurting that was described
by her therapist as a book with themes of spirituality and child abuse.
By November, 1990 the mother was hospitalized for her second psychiatric
admission. The admission summary indicates that over the prior seven
months of therapy, the mother had continued to uncover tremendous amounts of the
grizzly details of her past. She was experiencing body memories, feelings,
and flashbacks. She described extreme emotional, physical, and sexual
abuse by her maternal grandfather and his friend between the ages of 2 and
5. She was described as extremely religious for the past 2 to 3 years
indicating that the Lord had been helping her in a battle between good and evil.
During this psychiatric hospitalization, the mother was given a sodium amytal
interview and was engaged in art therapy. This hospitalization lasted 65
days. During this hospitalization, psychotic episodes are noted in the
medical record and by the end of her hospital stay, the mother had memories of
satanic ritual abuse beginning the day she came home from the hospital after
birth until age 13. The abusers now included her grandfather, his friend,
and her maternal grandmother. Her memories centered around the killing of
babies, cannibalism, and forced rape by "countless people." By
the end of her hospitalization, the mother was beginning to suspect that her own
mother was also involved in the satanic activities and was contemplating divorce
from her husband. Her discharge diagnosis on Axis 1 was Post-traumatic
Stress Disorder, Chronic with Depression and Satanic Cult Abuse. On Axis
2, she was diagnosed with Dissociative Disorder Depersonalization.
Following her discharge, she continued in therapy with the same clinical
social worker. Her third psychiatric hospitalization occurred in October,
1991. This was a two-day hospitalization and the mother left after one day
at her request. She was now reporting memories of her own mother being
involved in satanic abuse and her father being involved in Neo-Nazi activities,
including snatching of Jews off the street and their subsequent murder and
disposal in gas chambers and ovens.
In December, 1991, both daughters were hospitalized following an incident in
which the mother was attempting an exorcism of demons. This
hospitalization lasted 38 days. By the conclusion of the hospital stay,
both children, but most especially the oldest, were reporting "alter"
personalities along with ritual sexual abuse by their maternal grandmother and
mother. They also reported being "triggered" by their
grandmother and mother. Their lather was described as being drugged during
One week before the children's discharge, the mother was hospitalized for the
fourth time. This was a 45-day hospitalization and was the first
hospitalization that did not involve staff members who believed in ritual
abuse. A psychological evaluation during this hospitalization indicated
that the mother exhibited major psychopathology with acute emotional
instability. Her thinking was described as affect-laden with faulty
reasoning that was obvious in the interview. She was described as having
an active delusional process with sufficient pathology to support a thought
disorder pathognomonic of a schizophrenic decompensation. Her test
responses were described as bizarre with turmoil linked to active delusional
processes exhibiting perverse aggression along with strong indications of sexual
arousal towards children. The evaluation noted that sexual violation
appeared to excite her and was linked to her psychotic processes.
A second evaluation obtained from an outside source indicated that the mother
was a profoundly disturbed schizophrenic or schizo-affected woman who functioned
reasonably well until approximately two years ago when she came under the
influence of therapists who "assisted her" in organizing her
delusional thinking in the areas of sexual abuse and satanism. This
outside consultation recommended that there be a careful review of any
therapeutic input that was directly or indirectly reinforcing the mother's
delusional preoccupations with satanism, cults, multiple personalities, and
"triggering concepts." This report also notes that the previous
therapy resulted in iatrogenic complications in the management of a severely
impaired, thought-disordered, profoundly disturbed schizoaffective woman.
During this hospitalization, the mother described how she taught her oldest
daughter to use hand signals in identifying internal "parts."
She also described games she played with this daughter which gave her the
information about the abuse by the maternal grandmother. The hospital
concluded that the mother has trained her daughter unconsciously due to her need
to justify her actions in cutting off her family. The hospital noted that
there was great secondary gain and an excuse for everything that had gone wrong
in mother's life if she could blame someone else. By the conclusion of
this hospital stay, the mother had identified 13 persons as having abused her in
the past, including ritual abuse by hospital staff alleged to have occurred
during her second hospitalization.
Child Protective Services now became involved and filed a petition alleging
that the mother had abused her children. She was allowed supervised
visitation with her daughters with the visitations supervised by the
father. Upon her hospital discharge the mother completely disagreed with
her diagnosis. She was described as extremely angry and sarcastic and
indicating that she has not been appropriately treated. She was further
described as hysterical and extremely resistant to any further therapeutic
After her discharge, the mother continued the supervised visits with her
children and was allowed to move back into the home after approximately one
month. The children had also been discharged from their hospital stay with
identical diagnoses of anxiety, depression, Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, and
Dissociative Disorder. The children continued in therapy with the same
professionals who treated them during their hospital stay.
On May 17, 1992, the father was admitted for his first psychiatric
hospitalization at the insistence of the mother. She demanded his
hospitalization to determine the extent, if any, of his involvement in ritual
cult activity. At the time of his admission, the father was beginning to
express belief in the satanic cult involvement of his wife's family. The
impressions on admission indicated recurrent Major Depression, Avoidant
Personality Disorder with Passive-Aggressive features. During the course
of his hospital stay, the father underwent hypnotherapy sessions and one sodium
amytal interview by hospital staff who believed in the reality of ritual
abuse. But he became increasingly skeptical during his hospital stay and
by the end of his stay rejected the concept of ritual abuse and felt manipulated
by his therapist.
While in the hospital, the children continued to live with mother and by the
time the father is discharged on July 10, 1992, both children had developed
stories of satanic ritual sexual abuse at the hands of their father. The
oldest daughter, especially, began developing memories of satanic ritual abuse
by her grandmother but now instead of her mother participating, she identified
the participant as her father. Upon the father's discharge, his own
therapist became the therapist for his oldest daughter and has continued to see
Upon his hospital discharge, the father was identified as a sexual abuser of
his children and orders were entered in Juvenile Court prohibiting contact by
him or any of his family members with the children. The exact wording of
the Order is "No family member other than the children's mother shall have
contact with the children, the children are not to have contact with the other
members." Child Protective Services was completely convinced of the
reality of satanic ritual abuse and consulted with the mother's therapist and
other satanic ritual abuse experts to formulate treatment plans.
During this period, the mother also consulted regularly with Chicago police
officer Robert J. Simandl. Simandl is the "cult cop" who claims to be
an expert on satanic ritual abuse and who works with so-called satanic cult
Court-ordered visitation between the children and their father was eventually
ordered beginning October, 1992. However, while the father began regular
visitation with his youngest daughter, his oldest daughter has refused to see
him. She expresses great fear of both her father and grandmother.
In January, 1993, I had Dr. Underwager present testimony challenging this
process. The judge then ordered the family members to be seen by a
court-appointed psychologist who indicated the children were at serious risk
with their mother and that continued placement in her home was
detrimental. The children therefore have remained in a third-party foster
home pending resolution of the Juvenile Court proceedings. The
court-appointed psychologist indicated to the Court that this family has been
the victim of incompetent mental health services.
The transcript that follows is the examination of
the oldest daughter in connection with pending court proceedings. The
examination was conducted in the Judge's chambers with only counsel present.
In reviewing the transcript, note the style and direction of the
questioning. In questioning young children, it is important to attempt to
have them talk as much as possible. Effective questioning is not generally
used in traditional cross-examination.
Bravos is an attorney at 600 West Roosevelt Road, Wheaton,
Illinois 60187. [Back]