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Commentary on Borawick v. Shay: Hypnosis, Social Influence, Incestuous Child Abuse, and Satanic Ritual Abuse: The Iatrogenic Creation of Horrific Memories for the Remote Past

Robert A. Karlin, Ph.D.

Rutgers University

 

Martin T. Orne, M.D., Ph.D.
University of Pennsylvania

 

Abstract

Borawick v. Shay involved several issues of broad concern. These are (1) the admissibility of hypnotically influenced memory, (2) iatrogenic contributions to memories of satanic ritual abuse and early incestuous child abuse, (3) the problematic diagnosis of hidden, incestuous child abuse as a causative factor in adult psychopathology, and (4) whether multiple personality disorder, recently renamed dissociative identity disorder, is a defense mechanism of overwhelmed children seeking escape or whether it is, in many cases, a dramatic, adult social role legitimized by certain therapists.

With rare and easily identified exceptions, the authors suggest that hypnotically influenced testimony be excluded per se (i.e., automatically). They also suggest that decade-delayed memo-ries of satanic rituals and of very early incestuous abuse recovered in therapy, hypnosis, or with hypnosis-like pro-cedures are usually iatrogenic fantasies and/or based on postevent information. Next, the authors present a Bayesian statistical analysis indicating that, at a minimum, more than 70% of diagnoses of hidden incestuous abuse are likely to be false positives. Finally, they point out several factors indicating a largely iatrogenic origin to the current epidemic of diagnoses of dissociative identity disorder.

 

Cultic Studies Journal, Vol. 13, No. 1, 1996

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