Sex Abuse Hysteria: Salem Witch Trials Revisited Hardcover – 1 Oct 1990
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Gardner has written quite a book in only 150 pages. Read this book and gain the upper hand. There are three people in life, those who make things happen, those who watch things happen, and then there are those who wonder "what happened?" In understanding Gardner's Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) theory, the reader gets a sense of enmity to ancillary professionals who obsess with their own "credentialling" and crave a "license" to do harm.
Gardner, as physician, psychoanalyst, child psychiatrist, and prolific author wrote more than 50 books, 25 journal articles, including one discussing religious cults who seize children and brainwash them from their parents, with steps toward child separation from the cult programmer. Gardner also invented a child's game in which players learn logical reasoning, with children clapping and shouting in delight. This game was named one of the top 100 games by Games magazine.
In Sex Abuse Hysteria: Salem Witch Trials Revisited, Gardner discusses the root causes of a nationwide scandal. Any sane person is aware of the mass hysteria of media hype and vengeance of child custody disputes. Constitutional safeguards are ignored as some are found guilty and sentenced for sex crimes that they didn't commit. In many cases the driving force has been a legitimizing of social workers who have long languished in custodial capacities and charitable routines. Polymorphous perversity, a term used by Freud and is considered normal behavior in children, is discussed along with sex-abuse prevention programs and psychodynamics that derive from parental interaction. "Validation" and the psychodynamics of false accusations takes the reader down the slippery slope of witness credibility.
Gardner devised the Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) in which the child becomes alienated from a parent when the other parent claims sexual, physical, or emotional abuse. PAS, with 8 primary signs and symptoms, evolved when Gardner noticed an increasing number of children expressing strong objections over a parent for no apparent reason. Not surprisingly, parental alienation of the child has been called "the most incidious form of child abuse." PAS has proven a highly effective tool in custody battles/divorces, and only with acute denial could anyone question its existence. And yet the politics of jealousy has created some noteworthy infighting within the psychiatric profession in terms of PAS acceptance, as syndrome. But the public gets used to knee-jerk reactions in a profession that seems to be constantly re-inventing itself. It is clear that while medicine generally is based on clinical observation, and not formal research, credence is given to syndrome theory as a means of expressing the otherwise unattainable.
It is unfortunate that at the height of his career, Gardner's debilitating illness--Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy--caused him to overdose, awaken, and use a knife to end his life. After three foot surgeries, and with RSD presenting sharp, out-of-control, leg pain, it was over for a brilliant psychoanalyst and child psychiatrist who left a legacy that contributes greatly to the courtroom drama that can spare innocent lives in moments of heated emotion.
Gardner’s logic was not only circular, but it was supported by other highly problematic views. He felt that pedophilia was not particularly harmful to children, the real problem was society’s attitude that it is terrible. He asserted that prosecuting cases of pedophilia was a turn on court officials and that judges may give stiff sentences to deal with their own projected pedophilic impulses." Gardner wrote that pedophilia has been considered the norm by the vast majority of individuals in the history of the world."Gardner, R.A. (1992). True and False Accusations of Child Sex Abuse . Cresskill, NJ: Creative Therapeutics. (p. 592-3) Similarly, "intrafamilial pedophilia (that is, incest) is widespread and ... is probably an ancient tradition" Gardner, R.A. (1991). Sex Abuse Hysteria: Salem Witch Trials Revisited . Cresskill, NJ: Creative Therapeutics. (p. 119) "It is because our society overreacts to it [pedophilia] that children suffer."Gardner1992 pp. 594-5) "The Draconian punishments meted out to pedophiles .go far beyond what I consider to be the gravity of the crime." (Gardner 1991 p. 118) Gardner 1991)."There is no question that abuse cases are "turn ons" for the wide variety of individuals involved in them, the accuser(s), the prosecutors, the lawyers, the judges , the evaluators.... Everyone is getting their 'jollies, ."Gardner, 1991 p. 31). He also had no problem with the idea of beating children. In an interview Gardner said that if a child tells her mother she was sexually abused by the father that the mother should respond she does not believe it, that she will beat the child for saying it, and she should never speak that way again about her father. (Waller, G. (Producer). (2001). Small Justice: Little Justice in America’ Family Courts [Motion Picture]. United States: Intermedia Inc.) Despite the bizarre beliefs and circular logic that lay at the heart of the concept that rejection of a parent is usually the result of the other parent, and despite its rejection when called PAS, it has re arisen like the phoenix now called Parental Alienation.
Gardner makes definitive statements about pedophilia which seem very unlikely to be true. He provides no basis for his pronouncements and it seems extremely unlikely that he has done the research necessary to make the statements. In my experience people generally are disgusted by both pedophilia and incest. Moreover, has been designated as a pathologic condition in DSM. Most important of all, research has shown alteration in brain functioning of pedophiliacs from normal controls (Jorge Ponseti, 2012 et al Assessment of Pedophilia Using Hemodynamic Brain Response to Sexual Stimuli Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2012;69(2):187-194). Gardner’s assertion that pedophilia and other perversions are helpful to the species seems highly unlikely. Incest leads to high rates of poorly functioning individuals and pedophilia risks by psychologically and physically harming children making them less desirable mates, less fertile, and poorer parents able to raise children to adulthood. One can only speculate about why a psychoanalyst would make such forceful and sweeping statements contradicting standard beliefs, without providing research to support it and for which there are strong reasons to believe the opposite. Sex Abuse Hysteria: Salem Witch Trials Revisited
In the media and in the courts the accused are vilified before they have a fair hearing. Gardner takes a in depth view to understanding the complexity of the evolution of sexual identity.
He does not state that all situations are invalid, he address the small percentage that the tragic plight of this small group- the falsely accused- that this book is devoted.
The subject matter is intense and some of the matter can be very titillating but the point is valid. We should give everyone a fair shake and examine the cultural and social contributions to these perceptions.
In the second part of the book, Gardner does an extensive review of the similarities of the Salem Witch Trials in 1692 and the present child sex abuse hysteria.
Gardner killed himself, which I think was far too passive a death for someone who caused such evil to continue.
Do not buy this book unless you wish to propagate the terror and misinformation that Gardner started. Unfortunately, 'Gardinites', as supporters of Gardner are called continue to spread his lies to the highest courts and social circles. Too many children have been lost to this monster's vile influence on Judges and lawyers.
I gave this book one star because there was no lower rating.