Law and Human Behavior

, Volume 20, Issue 1, pp 1–34

An analysis of ritualistic and religion-related child abuse allegations


    • Department of PsychologyUniversity of Illinois at Chicago
  • Philip R. Shaver
    • University of California
  • Gail S. Goodman
    • University of California

DOI: 10.1007/BF01499130

Cite this article as:
Bottoms, B.L., Shaver, P.R. & Goodman, G.S. Law Hum Behav (1996) 20: 1. doi:10.1007/BF01499130


A stratified random sample survey of clinical members of the American Psychological Association was conducted to determine the number and nature of cases involving alleged ritualistic and religion-related child abuse, whether reported directly by children or retrospectively by adults. Results indicated that only a minority of clinical psychologists have encountered ritual cases, but of those, the vast majority believe their clients' claims. Even so, the purported evidence for the allegations, especially in cases reported by adults claining to have suffered the abuse during childhood, is questionable. Most clients who allege ritual abuse are diagnosed as having multiple personality disorder or post-traumatic stress disorder, two increasingly popular, but controversial, psychological diagnoses.Clinical and legal implications are discussed and a future research agenda is urged.

Copyright information

© American Psychology-Law Society/Division 41 of the American Psychological Association 1996