Monday, 25 September 2006

A City Possessed.

From A City Possessed - The Christchurch Civic Creche Case by Lynley Hood:
So there they were, approaching the end of the decade, three separate social movements -- feminism, religious conservatism and the child protection movement -- each seething with mutual hostility, frustrated ambitions and unrealised potential, and the about to discover an exciting new cause: child sexual abuse.

The upsurge of interest in child sexual abuse had its origins in feminist scholarship. Nothing annoyed '70s feminists more than having their arguments dismissed as the work of hysterical woman. Hysterical! they protested. Who says we're hysterical? The answer was: Sigmund Freud.

When they re-examined the work of Freud, feminist scholars discovered that, between 1895 and 1897, the father of modern psychoanalysis believed that sexual abuse in early childhood was the root cause of the mental disorders he observed in his adult patients. Then, in 1897, he changed his mind. In An Autobiographical Study (1925) he wrote:

'Under the influence of the technical procedure which I used at that time, the majority of my patients reproduced from their childhood scenes in which they were sexually seduced by some grown-up person. With female patients the part of seducer was almost always assigned to their father. I believed these stories.... however, I was at last obliged to recognise that these scenes of seduction had never taken place, and that they were only fantasies which my patients had made up or which I myself had perhaps forced on them.'

By claiming that Freud had got it right the first time, feminist scholars were able to discount the notion that women were inherently hysterical, reinforce the notion that men were inherently depraved and extend the theory of male oppression to include, along with the victimisation of women, the victimisation of children.

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