Contemporary Hysteria:
The Drama of Righteous Gullibility

Instructor: Gladden Schrock
Bennington College

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TABLE OF CONTENTS


COURSE OVERVIEW

It is increasingly conceded that the greatest period of hysteria and witch-hunting in this country's history is happening now.

We will explore the multiple pathologies converging to make up the current hysterical cultural landscape:

  • The iatrogenics of False Memory Syndrome, Satanic Ritual Abuse allegations, Alien Abductional sex abuse beliefs, and Multiple Personality Disorder diagnoses in skyrocketing numbers;
  • How misandry and victimal Feminism play into the picture; and the politics of abuse and abuse-repression beliefs;
  • Suggestive psychotherapy, & cultural susceptibility to suggestion (a look at narcissism & infantilism come of age);
  • Federal institutionalizing of hysteria through CAPTA, Violence Against Women Act, etc., based on bogus advocacy statistics;
  • Self esteem as presumptive entitlement; Political Correctness; Relativism and other collusive errors of Academe;
  • We will track a thirty-year drift into Self-infatuation, with its predictable loss of empirical bearings & accountable behavior; New-Age hubris & 'new epistemologies' & the decay of legal due process, scientific methodology, & a respect for verifiable objective Reality.

We will examine some of the tens of thousands of cases of current false allegations & imprisonment, including the most salient of the Day-care Scandals. We search for historical perspective, and will follow the 'memory wars' as well as the great body of work generated in the area of Human Suggestibility, searching for clues that might lead one to a respondible comprehension of the whole.

The scope of the course by definition requires much reading in many areas, and an aggressive spirit of inquiry is expected. Each student will select a major-focus topic, upon which a paper will be written before term's end, with a prospectus outlining the projected writing due at mid-term.


SYLLABUS & WEEKLY SCHEDULE

WEEK ONE SUBJECT MATERIAL: BOOKS:
- General introduction to subject, and method of approach. RETURN OF THE FURIES, Underwager
MEMORY WARS, F. Crews
VICTIMS OF MEMORY, Pendergrast
DIAGNOSIS FOR DISASTER (Wassil-Grimm)
REMEMBERING SATAN, L. Wright
WEEK TWO
- False Memory Syndrome phenomena SATAN'S SILENCE, Nathan/Snedeker
SEX ABUSE HYSTERIA, R. Gardner
HARMONY OF ILLUSIONS, A. Young
MULTIPLE IDENTITY & FALSE MEMORIES, Nicholas Spanos
HYSTORIES, E. Showalter
MANUFACTURING VICTIMS, T. Dineen
SATANIC PANIC, J. Victor
WEEK THREE
- Satanic Ritual Abuse
- Multiple Personality Disorder fad
- Alien Abduction Craze
- Facilitated Communication

CONFABULATIONS; & TRUE STORIES OF FALSE MEMORIES, Goldstein/Farmer

VIDEO: DIVIDED MEMORIES (Frontline)

WEEK FOUR HYSTERIA & SUGGESTIBILITY
- The Index of 'Righteous Gullibility"
- MONDALE ACT (CAPTA), & unwitting tenets of generative hysteria
- Current beliefs in Repressed Memories
- 'Recovery Movement' & 12-step collusion
- The APA, & professional culpability

MYTH OF REPRESSED MEMORIES, (E. Loftus)
SUGGESTIONS OF ABUSE, (M. Yapko)
BATTLE FOR THE MIND, Wm. Sargant
MAKING MONSTERS, Ofshe/Watters
PRESUMED GUILTY, M. Yant
CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE 4TH KIND, Bryon
COURAGE TO HEAL, Bass/Davis

NOTE: Four 'layman-writer' books sparked a good deal of current hysteria - MICHELLE REMEMBERS: SIBYL: CHAMELEON: and COURAGE TO HEAL. Also: Works of Rene Frederickson, Lenore Terr, Judith Herman, et al.

WEEK FIVE CULTURAL/HYSTERICAL PERSPECTIVE
- From the Thirties to Now
- The Sixties, & advent of The Self
- New Age; Feminist 'new' epistemology & Scientific Methodology as 'Patriarchal Oppression'
- Political Correctness, & loss of due process
- Academic Contaminations
- The 'Narcissim/dependency/suggestibility' decelension
- Self-narration as source of 'Truth'
- Relativism gone absolute
- P.T. Barnum & Charcot: Public 'freaks' spectacles
TELLING THE TRUTH, L. Cheney
DEMON HAUNTED WORLD, C. Sagan
CONSOLATIONS OF THEOSOPHY, F. Crews (article)
AMERICAN GOTHIC, M. Edmundson (article)
CULTURE OF NARCISSISM, C. Lasch
SURVIVOR PSYCHOLOGY, S. Smith
DICTATORSHIP OF VIRTUE, R. Bernstein
...THE MADNESS OF CROWDS, C. Mackay
NATION OF VICTIMS, C. Sykes
DEMOCRACY ON TRIAL, J. B. Elshtain
WEEK SIX PERSPECTIVE ON PSYCHOTHERAPY
- Art, Science, or Quackery
- Ghouls, fairy tales & fables (their appropriate place in life?)
- American Psychological Association: A Sober Look & the collapse of codes of ethics
- Ubiquitous PTSD: Can 200 thousand therapists be mistaken?
HOUSE OF CARDS, R. Dawes
BEWARE THE TALKING CURE, T. Campbell
BEDLAM, J. Sharkey
A MOST DANGEROUS METHOD, J. Kerr
I'M DYSFUNCTIONAL / YOU'RE DYSFUNCTIONAL, W. Kaminer
MYTH OF MENTAL ILLNESS, T. Szasz
MIND GAMES, R. Baker
SEARCH FOR MEMORY, D. Schacter
WEEK SEVEN CHILD SAVERS: Tradition & Rebirth
- Child Protective Services & the Department of Human Services
- Suggestibility / Interrogation, & righteous prosecution
- Adult projections upon children

WOUNDED INNOCENTS, R. Wexler
JEOPARDY IN THE COURTROOM, Ceci/Bruck
OUT OF CONTROL, B. Scott
REAL WORLD OF CHILD INTERROGATIONS, Underwager
POLITICS OF CHILD ABUSE/AMERICA (Costin et al)
WITCH-CHILDREN, H. Sebald
LONG RANGE EFFECTS OF CHILD AND ADOLESCENT SEXUAL EXPERIENCES, A. Kilpatrick
SEXUALITY: A developmental approach to Problems, Gordon and Schrieder
THE CHILD ABUSE INDUSTRY, M. Pride

VIDEO: INNOCENCE LOST (Frontline)
(The LITTLE RASCALS scandal)

WEEK EIGHT THE SEX ABUSE INDUSTRY
- Hysteria as Big Business
- Tracking the money flow
- "Abuse" as mantra for cottage industry
- Media and publication bonanza
- Recovery 'experts', & Fed Funds: gasoline on the hysterical fire
FIRST DO NO HARM: THE SEXUAL ABUSE INDUSTRY, Felicity Goodyear-Smith
ISSUES IN SEX ABUSE ALLEGATIONS Quarterly
(Index Referencing, all above)
WEEK NINE GENDER WARS
- Current Romance of Victimhood
- Misandry & Androphobia: Passive control
- Equity and/or Gender Feminist Battle
- Feminist studies, & University presses
- Feminist 'epistemology' & impact on due process, accountability, scientific methodology, & rules of evidence
- Self-serving Gender Myths which feed hysteria
WHO STOLE FEMINISM?, C. Hoff-Sommers
MYTH OF MALE POWER, W. Farrell
PROFESSING FEMINISM, D. Patai
GENDER WARS (galley), C. Young
EVIDENCE & INQUIRY, S. Haack
MASCULINE MYSTIQUE, A. Kimbrell
PRINCESS AT THE WINDOW, D. Laframboise
WEEK TEN
- Domestic Violence / Domestic Abuse: Politics and 'advocacy research'
- Violence Against Women Act
- Demonizing, control, victimology, and false allegations
- Federal Funding of Hysteria
FROM DATE TO PUBLIC POLICY, WFN/Simon
LIP SERVICE, K. Fillion
THE MORNING AFTER, K. Roiphe
HETERPHOBIA, D. Patai (article)
FEMINISM UNDER FIRE, E. Klein
MISMEASURE OF WOMAN, C. Tavris
WEEK ELEVEN
- Beyond cyncism & gendered mythologies: Fairness, Equity, and: Equality of Rights, Responsibilities, and Accountability
- New Voices Emerging
WOMAN's WAYS OF KNOWING; & Gilligan's IN A DIFFERENT VOICE
WEEK TWELVE CONCERNED VOICES EVOLVING AT LARGE
- The whole cultural picture Revisited: Cheney, Sagan, Lasch, R. Hughes' CULTURE OF COMPLAINT, & Coetzee's GIVING OFFENSE
WEEK THIRTEEN LIVING SENSIBLY WITHIN THIS WORLD
- Objective/subjective balance
- Due Process: Scientific evidence/inquiry
- Are these the Death-throes of Romantic Psychotherapy?
- Good Faith, Responsible Reflection, and self-responsibility
- Determining what is to be done: politically, socially, personally
THE SIMPLE LIFE, D. Shi
FLIGHT FROM THE CITY, R. Borsodi
THE LONELY CROWD, D. Reisman
WEEK FOURTEEN A HEALTHY & JUST PERSPECTIVE
- The dangers of an 'easy' life, without rites of passage
- Standards of opulent ease, materialistic consummerism, & the fallacy of ever-increasing standard of material living
- The 'Simple Life' tradition within US History; & Self-responsible living...as antidote against hysteria
STAYING PUT, S. Sanders
THE VILLAGERS, R. Critchfield
AND: Emerson and Dewey re: Nature, 'education' and self-responsibility

 


OTHER RESOURCES

  • Bound Collection: WOMEN's FREEDOM NETWORK NEWSLETTERS
  • Complete Collection: FALSE MEMORY SYNDROME FOUNDATION NEWSLETTERS
  • Back Issues of BALANCE (a Canadian co-gender publication)

VIDEOS

  • MAKING MEMORIES (FMSF)
  • DIVIDED MEMORIES I & II (Frontline)
  • INNOCENCE LOST (Frontline)
  • INDICTMENT (McMartin Scandal)
  • Gloria Steinhem's HBO/MPD Film
  • VICTIMS OF MEMORY, M. Pendergrast
  • FORGOTTEN SINS (Ingram/movie)
  • SEARCH FOR SATAN (Frontline)
  • WHEN CHILDREN TESTIFY (Frontline)
  • 5th Estate: Expose of Colin Ross / MPD
  • 20 hrs worth of pop/t.v. coverage of sundry nature