Cult and Ritual Abuse: Its History, Anthropology and Recent Discovery in Contemporary America

Article excerpt

JAMES R. NOBLITT AND PAMELA S. PERSKIN: Cult and Ritual Abuse: Its History, Anthropology and Recent Discovery in Contemporary America. Praeger, Westport, CT & London,1995, 240 pp., $55.00, ISBN 0 275 952814.

Whether or not one believes in MPD and/or Ritual Abuse, this book provides one with what is probably the most comprehensive and reasonable review of the subject that has appeared up to now. The primary author, James Noblitt, provides us with a personal historical review of his experience with MPD. Starting out as an "unbeliever," he provides case histories of patients that led him to believe in the reality of the syndrome and to develop expertise in its therapy. This in itself would make the book of value.

However, even more significant is the manner in which he introduces us to the problem of ritual abuse. Describing himself as a "secular psychologist," and specifically repudiating any belief in Satanism, he describes case after case of sexual abuse of a ritual nature-ritual in the sense that it is surrounded with cultic practices. He documents the similarity of such practices from widely separated parts of the country; and even on an international basis. Because he writes from a non-fundamentalist and non-religious point of view and because he sees ritual abuse in a wider context than Satanism as such, he provides the reader with both important information and a perspective that is clinically helpful. For example, he provides us with certain code words that can bring out deeper alters in susceptible MPD patients who have been ritually programmed. He also discusses Freud's experience with a case of possible ritual abuse in his patient, Emma Eckstein.

The weakest part of the book is the section attempting to deal with the history of occult practices. …