Empowerment

* Detailed instructions for making comments are in “News Items.”

* I’m looking for people who have been used as breeders in a cult setting to submit prose or poetry for an anthology I hope to put together. Even if you have not been abused this way, could you spread the word and tell all your survivor friends and therapists or pastors you know who work with survivors about the project? They can write me at rahome@ra-info.org for more information. Thank you so much!

 

Here is something I wrote in 2011. It has, I think, a different tone to it than my present day writing because I was writing for the Survivorship newsletter. I had a connection with a piece of paper; the readers were only an abstraction to me. That’s because there was absolutely no feedback, so I couldn’t tell how I was being received.

With the blog though, the readers are very real. I know some through the comments and others I know from reading their blogs or from other contexts. I feel the sense of connection comes through in my writing, which seems less stilted and warmer. Also, I try not to give advice, because, with feedback, I’ve learned it usually falls flat.

I’ll make a few comments at the end of the piece.

 

Empowerment

“I was musing on how people get from being passive little wimps to assertive movers and shakers of the world. At first it looked like magic to me, but as I turned it over in my mind I could see that it was likely that the process was quite down to earth, even a bit dull.

“Only two things are needed: doing something you are afraid of for the first time, and then practicing what you just did. It’s just like learning to ride a bicycle. At least that’s how I get from can’t to can – maybe others do it differently.

“Not so long ago I was very shy. I tried to fade into the wallpaper to avoid drawing attention to myself. I thought I had nothing to say, nothing that others would want to hear. But when I realized I had been subjected to Satanic ritual abuse, I knew I had to speak, like it or not. (Of course, most people didn’t want to hear about it, but that’s a different story.)

“The first time I spoke up, it was excruciating. I was sure I was going to die of fear. My heart was racing very, very fast and I was sweating all over and stammering. The second time I was sure it was going to feel just like the first time, and it did. However, I was pretty certain I would live. If there was any other difference, it was so small that I couldn’t perceive it.

“I kept speaking about ritual abuse. I practiced and practiced, and eventually my voice stopped shaking and I sounded strong and confident. I spoke to fellow survivors, to friends, to family, to dentists, to taxi drivers. I spoke one to one and in groups. I even spoke at the United Nations! I went from “I can’t, I’m going to die” to “of course I can.”

“I’d like to invite all of you to challenge your “I can’t” thinking. Pick one little thing you would like to be able to do and do it just once, as an experiment, and see what happens. If it’s not totally terrible, consider practicing the new behavior. After a while, you, too, will feel strong, confident, and empowered. It feels great, and you did it all yourself!”

 

Riding a bicycle – gotta share this with you-all. My mother was pretty out of it as far as raising children went. The year I graduated from high school, she decided I was too old for summer camp and signed me up for a bicycle tour in France. Lovely idea – except I didn’t know how to ride a bicycle. I had never been given one. I didn’t protest (protesting was not safe in my family) and so off I went with no idea how I would manage.

Luckily, the trip started with a home stay with a French family. They were appalled that I didn’t know how to ride a bike, and lent me one. Their son taught me to ride. On cobblestone streets, no less. In two weeks I could ride, sort of.

So, covered in bandaids, I made the trip. I don’t remember having a map, but somehow I managed to follow the directions. I was usually riding alone because I was so slow. but they always kindly saved some dinner for me. Actually, I liked riding alone because nobody could see how inept I was, I could stop and rest whenever I wanted, I could walk up hills without being ashamed, and I could give the beautiful countryside my full attention.

Looking back at my teenaged self, I am proud of myself and feel strong and empowered. Of course I was still living by cult and family rules back then, so pleasure in any accomplishment was out of the question. I felt inferior to the other kids, ashamed and stupid. I was sure they were laughing at me. I arrived late for dinner with my tail between my legs. I wish I could have arrived with a broad smile, bragging about my amazing accomplishment.

I’m glad I found this bit of writing because I had forgotten how much courage it took to talk about ritual abuse. I was breaking a cardinal cult rule and risking being punished by the cult and being called crazy and being ostracized by others. The cult left me alone, thank goodness, but many people ended the conversation as soon as they could and made sure they didn’t have to talk to me again. It took courage, despite losing friend after friend, to keep on talking and risk losing still another person.

It also took courage to accept feeling connected and valued and respected and believed, because, except for my children, I had not experienced that in my fifty-odd years. I had found a family, a community of people like me. It takes courage to risk being connected because, having never before taken that leap of faith, it is a totally new feeling. The unknown is always frightening for me, probably because I don’t know the rules of this new game and have no idea how to navigate within the unfamiliar parameters.. At the time I didn’t feel brave – I just felt compelled, as if had no choice. In retrospect, I am proud of myself and feel strong and empowered.

Upcoming Holidays

June
6/17 Fathers’ Day
6/21 Summer Solstice
6/23 Midsummer’s Eve
6/23 St John’s Eve
6/28 Full moon
July
7/4 Fourth of July/US Independence Day
7/25 St. James’ Day/Festival of the Horned God
7/27 Full Moon
August
8/1 S N Lammas/Lughnasadh
8/26 S Full moon

Dates important to Neo-Nazi groups
6/6 D-Day: invasion of France in WW2
7/29 N Hitler proclaimed leader of the Nazi party
(Some groups also mark Candlemas, Beltane, Lamas, Halloween, solstices, equinoxes, and full moons.)

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I Wish I Had Kept an RA Journal

* Detailed instructions for making comments are in “News Items.”
* Looking for people who have been used as breeders in a cult setting for submissions for an anthology I hope to put together. Even if you have not been abused this way, could you spread the word and tell all your survivor friends and supportive therapists or pastors about the project? They can write me at rahome@ra-info.org for more information. Thank you so much!

I Wish I Had Kept an RA Journal

The other day I came across a piece of paper. It was writing dating from sometime between 1994 and 1996, a time when many memories were surfacing. I have no recollection of writing it.

I’ve never been good at journaling. I start one, do a few pages, put it aside and forget about it. Then when I need to write something down I either start a new journal or grab any old piece of paper. Since there is no central place I keep all these writings, I cannot go back and look something up.

Many people have the organizational skills to keep their writing together, and maybe even date it or – wow! – index it. I wish I were that way, but I’m not, and never will be. I did make a small step toward organization and made a “locator book” where I write where I have put things. Now I have only one thing to lose instead of dozens…as long as I remember to use the book!

That piece of paper upset me and has been on my mind ever since I found it about two weeks before Beltane. Even though it’s important, I wasn’t ready to pursue it back in the ’90’s. I was so overwhelmed then, and I pursued the things that were pursuing me and taking over my life. I can’t fault myself: I think I made the right choice.

But now I am more stable and less often in relentless flashbacks. So I have the luxury of pursuing it now.

I have wondered for a long time why I am so fragmented. I learned that fragments were used in one of the experimental programming systems that were implanted in me. But I couldn’t have become fragmented then: I didn’t start being used for MC experimentation until I was six. And if fragmentation had been induced at that age, there would have been a trace, a memory, a longing for a less fragmented state. I never experienced any loss or yearning.

I don’t have trouble accepting that I was pretty well dissociated before the age of six because I remember what it felt like to be dissociated back then. Early photos show the vacant stare of a dissociated child. Before the age of about a year and a half I looked like a regular baby; my face was expressive and my body seemed to move freely.

Although I remember being dissociated, I don’t remember being multiple, in the classic sense, with inner parts with separate personalities and histories and places within my mind. I remember thinking just the way I think now and I remember freezing and going blank just the way I do now.

In the writing that I discovered, I was dialoguing with a two-year-old boy, a baby still. He did not know what happened to him, but he knew it hurt. I asked if somebody did know, and he pointed to another two-year-old boy whose body was covered with intersecting black lines. He reminded me of a picture puzzle. This boy could not talk. He understood me and nodded or shook his head to communicate. Since he couldn’t tell me what had happened. he pointed to another boy.

This one was in pieces, tiny pieces. The boy with the marks tried to reassemble him. He could only find pieces that fit for one little finger. That is where the writing stopped.

What it signals to me is heart-breaking. I feel that I was electroshocked when I was two and that was what caused the fragmentation. Recently I asked a survivor half my age what a feather symbolized, as I have doodled feathers on and off since childhood, and she told me it meant electroshock. I felt validated.

I had no words at the time to describe to anybody, even  myself, what had happened, and no way to make myself whole again. But fragments could be assembled to make a small part of me, and that is how I have always experienced myself. Small groups of fragments come together to write a blog entry or feed the cats and then dissolve, waiting safely someplace until needed again.

I’ve also always had some confusion about my gender. I know I am a woman, and I don’t feel like a man in a woman’s body. There are times, however, especially when I first wake up, when I am surprised to find that I am a woman. I remembered abuse when I was five that explained the confusion to my satisfaction. Looking at the writing, though, it seems to me that messing with my beliefs about my gender started around the age of two. Why? I have no idea, at least consciously

It just now occurred to me that the first little boy I spoke with is, indeed an alter. He took me forward in time to the moment when he felt the electroshock and then to when he was fragmented and no longer himself.  It shows me I was once unfragmented but have forgotten what that felt like. although I do have a couple of memories from before the age of two. Was I multiple then? I don’t know.

Every answer brings up more questions. I know that this process will continue for the rest of my life. Each time I get an answer, with its accompanying questions, I know myself a little better. I know for sure that there will not be enough time to answer all the questions raised, and so I shall never completely know my past. Some days that makes me sad and angry, other days I think I know all too much about my past, and that too makes me sad and angry.

 

Upcoming Holidays
May
5/28 Memorial Day
5/29 Full moon
June
6/17 Fathers’ Day
6/21 Summer Solstice
6/23 Midsummer’s Eve
6/23 St John’s Eve
6/28 Full moon
July
7/4 Fourth of July/US Independence Day
7/25 St. James’ Day/Festival of the Horned God
7/27 Full Moon

Dates important to Neo-Nazi groups
6/6 D-Day: invasion of France in WW2
7/29 Hitler proclaimed leader of the Nazi party
(Some groups also mark Candlemas, Beltane, Lamas, Halloween, solstices, equinoxes, and full moons.)

Sigmund Freud Believed his Patients at First

* Detailed instructions for making comments are in “News Items.”
* Looking for people who have been used as breeders in a cult setting for submissions for an anthology I hope to put together. Even if you have not been abused this way, could you spread the word and tell all your survivor friends and supportive therapists or pastors about the project? They can write me at rahome@ra-info.org for more information. Thank you so much!

Sigmund Freud Believed his Patients at First

My two main sources for the information in this post are:
“Freud and the Seduction Theory: A challenge to the foundations of psychoanalysis:” Jeffrey M, Masson, The Atlantic Magazine, February 1984. 
https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/1984/02/freud-and-the-seduction-theory/376313/
and
“Assault on Truth: Freud’s Suppression of the Seduction Theory.” Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson, 1984.
https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Jeffrey_Moussaieff_Masson_The_Assault_on_Truth?id=jDkkSLkjdJ8C

I have wanted to write this post for a long time but I postponed it for the day when I could research it properly, with all the footnotes in place. Finally, I have admitted that day is unlikely to come, so decided to write a less-than-perfect post and get it off my mind.

It’s the sad story of Sigmund Freud and his best friend and colleague, Wilhelm Fliess. It’s also the sad story of the difficulty in breaking through denial about child sexual abuse, both individually and societally.

Freud’s wrote to Fleiss for over ten years. His letters have been preserved, but all of Fleiss’s letters to Freud have been destroyed. These letters show Freud’s thinking during the 1890’s when he was developing the “seduction theory” and how he later came to disbelieve his hypothesis and decided that his patients had been fantasizing sexual abuse by their fathers because they really wished to displace their mothers and have their fathers all to themselves sexually.

Wilhelm Fleiss was a medical doctor and a nose and throat specialist. He held the controversial theory that masturbation caused neurotic symptoms and that there was a link between the nose and the genitals. Thus if the nose was cauterized or operated on, the urge to masturbate would subside and the symptoms would disappear.

Freud, a neuropsychologist, held the equally if not more controversial belief that the stories his patients were telling him were true and that they had been sexually abused in childhood, usually by their fathers. He called this the “seduction theory,” meaning that the adult had seduced (or assaulted) the child, not that the child had seduced the adult. He stated that he believed them because of the emotions they showed while recounting the assaults and by the fact that their symptoms got better after they talked about their childhoods.

Freud also believed Fleiss’s theory. How he could believe both at once is beyond me, but he did.

Many of those letters were about a patient they shared, Emma Eckstein. I’m going to skip over that, except to say the Fliess persuaded Freud to let him operate on her nose, and he botched the operation and she almost bled to death. He never admitted his mistake, and Freud came to believe that Emma’s hemorrhage was a symptom of her neurosis, not an error on Fleiss’s part, thus remaining loyal to his friend.

Not long after this, Freud repudiated his original belief that his patients had been sexually abused in childhood. Here is part of the letter he wrote Fleiss describing his change of heart:

“And now I want to confide in you immediately the great secret of something that in the past few months has gradually dawned on me. I no longer believe in my neurotica [theory of the neuroses]. This is probably not intelligible without an explanation; after all, you yourself found what I was able to tell you credible. So I will begin historically [and tell you] from where the reasons for disbelief came. The continual disappointment in my efforts to bring any analysis to a real conclusion; the running away of people who for a period of time had been most gripped [by analysis]; the absence of the complete successes on which I had counted; the possibility of explaining to myself the partial successes in other ways, in the usual fashion – this was the first group. Then the surprise that, in all cases, the father, not excluding my own, had to be accused of being perverse – the realization of the unexpected frequency of hysteria, with precisely the same conditions prevailing in each, whereas surely such widespread perversions against children are not very probable.”

This sounds to me much like the arguments of the False Memory Syndrome Foundation proponents. The patients’ accounts are too similar, the accusations too bizarre, it must be fantasies and lies. These women come from good families and incest is exceedingly rare, perhaps one in a million families.

What really grips my attention, though, is Freud’s stating, “… in all cases, the father, not excluding my own, had to be accused of being perverse…” How many people have said, “not me – I had a happy childhood.” “Not my family.” “Not my father.” And later, “Oh shit, it did happen to me.”

Freud went on to say,

“What would you say, by the way, if I told you that my brand-new theory of the early etiology of hysteria was already well known and had been published a hundred times over, though several centuries ago?. . . But why did the devil who took possession of the poor things invariably abuse them sexually and in a loathsome manner? Why are their confessions under torture so like the communications made by my patients in psychological treatment?”

He is talking about the Inquisition. My guess is that he believed that the women accused of being witches stated they were sexually assaulted by the devil, not by their fathers. And yet, he says that their accounts are very similar to what he heard from his patients.

He continues:

“Imagine, I obtained a scene about the circumcision of a girl. The cutting off of a piece of the labia minora (which is still shorter today), sucking up the blood, following which the child was given a piece of the skin to eat.

“I dream, therefore, of a primeval devil religion whose rites are carried on secretly, and I understand the harsh therapy of the witches’ judges.”

And here I say to myself, “Aha! Others have said that this is the first time that ritual abuse survivors have broken through their denial and spoken publicly. And yet I have long thought that the first wave of public acknowledgment of Satanic ritual abuse was during the Inquisition.” Here is Freud disagreeing with me, yet agreeing in almost the same breath. For he says that his patients were fantasizing, and yet one had a deformed labia, evidence that the abuse she described was true, and this makes him fantasize about a primitive devil religion.

There is more to this story, though.

Fleiss had children, and one of them, Robert, became an analyst. He, like Freud, believed his patients. Unlike Freud, he did not recant. In 1959 he published “Erogeneity and Libido: Addenda to the theory of Psychosexual Development of the Human.” In a footnote he wrote:

“In the first volume of his [Freud’s] biography Jones gives a description of my father that enables the psychiatric reader to make his own diagnosis. Some of these readers, perhaps defending themselves against acknowledging the above mentioned incidence [incest] in their own families, may therefore be tempted to dismiss what I have observed as a form of projection. For their benefit: following Freud’s advise to the analyst to re-enter analysis, I have clarified the picture of my father in two expert and thorough analyses, the last in middle age with Ruth Mack Brunswick: and I have had an extended conversation with Freud himself about his onetime friend.”

The description Jones gave of Wilheim Fleiss suggested he was a child molester, and Robert Freud hints in this passage that he was abused by his father. This would have happened about the time that Freud stopped believing his patients. If what I surmise is true, we have two close friends, one who is incesting his son and one who was incested by his father, but is still amnesic for that part of his childhood. Very interesting.

I’ll end with something that does not call for interpretation or conjecture. When Freud was talking about incest, he was rejected by his colleagues and others who read his papers. Sixty years later, Robert Fleiss was also rejected for believing his clients. In the 1980’s, when Jeffrey Masson edited Freud’s letters and included material on Freud’s belief in child sexual abuse, he too was rejected. (Believing that he had been pushed out of the field, he wrote books about animals and became an animal activist.) And to this time, many therapists who work with survivors of extreme child abuse are rejected.

We have come a long way, but the road to acceptance is still long and lonely.

 

 

Upcoming Holidays
May

5/13 Mothers’ Day
5/28 Memorial Day
5/29 Full moon
June
6/17 Fathers’ Day
6/21 Summer Solstice
6/23 Midsummer’s Eve
6/23 St John’s Eve
6/28 Full moon
July
7/4 Fourth of July/US Independence Day
7/25 St. James’ Day/Festival of the Horned God
7/27 Full Moon

Dates important to Neo-Nazi groups
6/6 D-Day: invasion of France in WW2
7/29 Hitler proclaimed leader of the Nazi party
(Some groups also mark Candlemas, Beltane, Lamas, Halloween, solstices, equinoxes, and full moons.)