09.05.98 and 28.10.06

Do psycho-babblers learn anything?

By Marianne Haslev Skånland, Professor, Bergen, Norway


In 1998 the re-trial of Atle Hage took place. He had in 1984 been found guilty of incest against his two children. After serving his sentence, he committed suicide. In 1998, his children, now young adults, succeeded in obtaining a re-trial which exonerated their father.

The Norwegian newspaper VG's coverage of the case of Atle Hage presents to us the psychologist Per Rypdal. He appears in the court verdict of 24 April 1998 as well:

"The psychologist Per Rypdal has given evidence in the re-trial. He has emphasised that in 1984 one had little experience of incest cases and that now – 15 years later – knowledge is far more extensive and better methods have been developed for examining children and adults in such cases."

Well, the same Per Rypdal turned up in the Bjugn case in 1992-93, cf Hans Kringstad's book
Bjugnformelen ("The Bjugn formula"). At that time, 8 years after the case against Atle Hage, Rypdal possessed neither more extensive knowledge nor better methods when he stated that a pedophile ring existed in Bjugn. Nor had he learned more in 1997. That year saw the publication of the book Kan vi forstå? ("Can we understand?"), authored by Rypdal and others who were part of the establishments of professional "aid" who caused the Bjugn case. In their book they rely on the same literature as before. They list the same "signs" of sexual abuse as before – a superstitious detective fantasy which has scourged our society for a long time now. Especially professionals should know better.

By the way, both Rypdal and the foreman of the jury in the Hage case in 1984, Ole Strand (VG 25 April 1998), are wrong when they claim that competence in the form of counter-expertise did not exist earlier. On the contrary, what is new is that professional people with insight, self-criticism, and their feet on solid ground are not being sought and used, nor is their knowledge built on, by our judicial bodies, who have instead let a chorus with a mania for sex-abuse shout down common sense.

The "experts" from the Bjugn case have, both during and after the trial, stubbornly avoided taking to heart for example the facts about methods and knowledge brought as evidence in court by witness for the defence Dr. Astrid Holgerson, a forensic psychologist of long and wide experience. To the extent that such facts find their way to our public, it is still
against the will of the afore-mentioned "experts". Apparently they still persist in holding that the Bjugn children were sex-victims, and they portray their own activity in the case as positive and competent. So what "can they understand" and what have they learned?