Alison Miller, PhD, Registered Psychologist (retired)
Since I live in the Pacific Northwest, my “all-day” webinar began at 6 a.m., when Professor Warwick Middleton, from Australia, began his presentation at midnight, Australian time. As I sat bleary-eyed in front of my computer, Warwick kickstarted the day, with his talk: A Life Sentence: How the Study of Ongoing Incest During Adulthood Informs us About the Nature of Organised Abuse. This informative talk was amply illustrated by pictures of news reports of convicted abusers from all over the world, demonstrating links between ongoing incestuous families and organized abuser networks.
We truly are an international group, and so too, unfortunately, are the organized groups of abusers of children. I found it reassuring to know that thanks to the internet, law enforcement is now able to detect the organized groups whose survivors we RAMCOA (ritual abuse/mind control/organized abuse) therapists have been treating since before the false memory advocates began diverting us from the reality we have seen in our clients. Although it’s also thanks to the internet that these abuses are so widespread.
Next was UK’s Sue Richardson’s wonderful presentation: Clinical Supervision of Work with RAMCOA: An Attachment-Based Perspective. Throughout her presentation I felt she was talking to me; it was as if I were her supervisee, as she explained how this incredibly challenging client population dysregulate our own attachment systems and plunge us into emotional chaos. Supervision can provide that secure base from which we can receive enough support to allow us to venture out into the world of organized evil which our clients open up to us. I have also supervised and consulted to a number of therapists. Sue reassured me that I was on the right track, and helped me realize how important it is that those with expertise in our field learn to be supervisors. If you weren’t present at Sue’s webinar, make sure you register to watch it later (and her handouts are available online); it will help you even if you don’t treat RAMCOA survivors, and whether you are an experienced trauma therapist or a newbie. It will also make you aware of the importance of the peer supervision provided in the ISSTD’s online discussions, especially our RAMCOA special interest group.
After the “lunch break” (which happened at 9:15 a.m. my time), Dr. Rich Loewenstein of Sheppard-Pratt presented on mind control transference in his talk entitled: Negative Therapeutic Reaction and Stuck Cases: Mind Control Transference in the Treatment of Dissociative Identity Disorder.
Over a short period of time, he covered a great many client behaviors which indicate a client is regarding a therapist as trying to control his or her mind, a situation which is exacerbated if the client has already been abused by a therapist. I recognized pretty well all the behaviors as ones I’d encountered with my RAMCOA survivor clients. I’m happy that this senior consultant recognizes that organized abuser groups are real and often pursue their victims into adulthood, even though I think he underestimates how much they torture adult survivors and coerce them into beliefs and behaviors deliberately designed to undermine therapeutic relationships. These organized abuser groups recognize therapy as a danger to their security, so they target the therapeutic relationship in their training of their victims. I have written extensively about these issues.¹
We don’t often see RAMCOA survivors when they are children, since most child victims are abused and controlled by family members as well as other members of the organized group. For our last presentation Dr. Joyanna Silberg presented her work with a large cohort of children (from previously healthy families) who had been abducted on a regular basis from a badly secured school in Jerusalem in her presentation: Symptoms and Treatment Considerations for a Group of 70 Children Abused in a Presumed Child Pornography Ring. It amazed me how she was able to think up instant appropriate interventions for any abused child’s presenting problem. All child therapists can learn from her presentation about indicators of organized abuse and about doing the work with kids and families.
This was a very informative day (or perhaps ‘night’ for some!), and I thank the ISSTD for allowing RAMCOA to receive the amount of education exposure which it deserves. The large size of our SIG indicates the importance of understanding these abuses and their survivors, and indeed many therapists who are not (yet) SIG members have also seen such clients and could benefit from the SIG and from such presentations. Now we need a course on RAMCOA work as part of the Professional Training Program!
For more information on the RAMCOA SIG contact our Chair: Associate Professor Michael Salter at: Michael.Salter@westernsydney.edu.au
To purchase the webinar recordings, click here. Please note that you will need to sign in to the ISSTD website in order to access the member discounted webinar recordings.
¹ Miller, A. (2012). Dialogue with the higher-ups. Pp. 111-132 in Vogt, R. & Vogt, I. (Eds.) Perpetrator Introjects: Psychotherapeutic Diagnostics and Treatment Models. Kroning: Asanger Verlag.
Miller, A. (2014). Becoming Yourself: Overcoming Mind Control and Ritual Abuse. London: Karnac. Chapters 6 to 8.