Savile Psychology: ‘Betrayal Blindness’ is Why We Remain Oblivious to the Lies of Our Time

By C. L. Cook
21st Century Wire
Guest Columnist

The current unravelling of the suddenly repellant BBC television presenter, Sir Jimmy Savile’s reputation provides the opportunity for much greater revelations…

Birds of a feather: Child abuser Savile having a bubble with British PM and pal, Ed Heath.

If you’re not in Britain, there’s a chance haven’t followed the Jimmy  case, where Savile’s comic mug adorns practically every front page. Sir Jimmy died late last year, following a six decades-long career in the public eye. Savile began in radio, broadcasting from the famed “pirate radio” ship, Radio Luxembourg in the late 1950’s. From there, Savile went into television, hosting the iconic, ‘Top of the Pops,’ and later the child’s wish fulfillment program, ‘Jim’ll Fix It.’

Children and young adults were the common feature throughout Jimmy Savile’s career, and his personal life. In his off hours, he spent time travelling around to children’s hospitals and care homes, where his charity work garnered millions of pounds for various institutions, and provided him special access to, what we now discover was, an endless supply of victims. Sir Jimmy was a serial paedophile, preying on both boys and girls, (and adults too where he could manage it) to satisfy his sexual perversion.

He was brazen in his abuse, described by a psychologist recently interviewed about the case as following the classic “opportunist” pattern. Offered an apartment at one hospital within the nurses’ residence to accommodate his frequent visits, Savile was often seen coming and going in the late hours, always accompanied by one or more teen-aged girls. Yet no question about either the inappropriateness of this arrangement, or the legal status of his companions was raised. Nurses at one children’s home Savile routinely favoured advised their charges feign sleep to avoid “Good Uncle Jimmy’s” not so good ministrations.

Whether on a visit to an orphanage, hospital, at work, or even at family functions, Jimmy just couldn’t keep his hands to himself. A now infamous clip from one of his programs features the host molesting a teen-aged girl in a crowd of girls, reaching beneath her dress as he signs off another episode of ‘Top of the Pops.’ When that girl attempted to file a complaint, a BBC producer told her: “Get lost!”

As the story grows ever more salacious, a retinue of alleged victims is coming forward, (more than 300 at last count) implicating not only Jimmy Savile but some of the stars who appeared on his program back in the day. Former glam rocker, Gary Glitter, already convicted for child porn, and imprisoned in Vietnam in 2006 for having sex with children, was last week called in for questioning and charged for a years-old alleged attack against a young girl in a BBC studio dressing room; and former comedian, Freddie Starr has too been arrested and charged with a molestation he allegedly perpetrated in Savile’s own dressing room. The revelations paint a picture of Savile and his friends running with impunity a veritable paedophile carnival out of the BBC. And yet, nothing was done over the long years this carried on.

Media men like Thompson now use ‘deniability’ like politicians, in order to protect their lucrative media careers and golden pensions.

Writing for The New York Times, Nicholas Kulish reports the efforts of British freelance journalist, and former executive at BBC competitor, Channel 5, David Elstein to discover why the BBC had cancelled an expose of the rampant criminality allowed to continue so long within the Corporation’s studios. When questioned about the BBC’s decision to shelve the Newsnight expose on Savile, then director-general of the BBC, Mark Thompson denied knowledge of either the accusations against Jimmy Savile of paedophile attacks, or editorial decisions made to drop the expose.

An incredulous Elstein, who formerly worked too at the BBC, said of Thompson’s denials;

“This was in six different newspapers in January and February.” Adding; “The big failing internally, and this is where Mark comes into the picture, is the deliberate incuriosity of the senior executives; there is a culture of avoiding knowledge so as to evade responsibility.”

Mr. Thompson, who has since moved to New York to serve as the chief executive and president of the The New York Times Company, later admitted another reporter had made him aware of Newsnight’s Savile investigation, but only after the report was buried.

Appearing on the Canadian Broadcast Corporation radio program, The Current, psychologist and author of the forthcoming book, ‘Betrayal Blindness,’ Dr. Jennifer Freyd describes a kind of institutional amnesia that takes hold of people who so completely fear losing their sinecures. Freyd’s research began with children betrayed by family members, people essential to the child’s survival, and the repression of memory psychologically necessary for the victim’s existential continuance. In these cases, the need to live trumps the sense of injustice and impropriety done, a sense arguably inherent, in effect short-circuiting danger signals that would otherwise trigger a fight-or-flight response.

Extrapolated to an institutional setting like the BBC, where producers, directors, talent handlers, (and even lowly technicians) may be privvy to rumours, the choice to acknowledge and inform against wrong-doing could jeopardize not only an individual’s career, but could possibly endanger the show employing all her colleagues.

Dr. Freyd outlines a few key points, saying: Often people betrayed personally seem to not remember the betrayal. They don’t acknowledge it, or speak to others of it; as if it’s something, “in the corner of their eye, not something they’re looking directly at.”  Like the proverbially “last to know” spouse being cheated on, denial is refuge.

From their observations at the University of Oregon, Dr. Freyd and her colleagues formulated a theory and conducted studies to understand this apparently willful ignorance, coming up with the concept of “betrayal blindness.” Freyd observes, for a person caught in this dilemma of choosing either to know what is going on, or protecting the relationship, especially where the survival of the victim is, or is believed to be at stake, protecting the relationship will come first.

Of the Savile case she notes:

“Some individuals were presumably aware of what was going on, and made the conscious decision not to deal with it because it would get in the way of their own goals. But, in order for this to stay undercover, the way it did for so many decades, it also requires a lot of good people, who would want to tell the truth, didn’t let themselves fully know what was going on. So, the institution setting is a kind of trust situation, where people need that institution, need it for a number of goals that they have, and by being aware they risk their own comfort within that institution. So, without consciously knowing it, they push the information away; they don’t speak out, they don’t fully know, and thus they collude with the perpetrator and with the individuals who do know and don’t want to talk about it.”

In her essay, ‘Lies in a Time of Threat: Betrayal Blindness and the 2004 U.S. Presidential Election,’ Eileen L. Zurbriggen cites Freyd’s work, applying some of her findings to the electorate, or mass mind. Zurbriggen remarks upon exit polls taken during 2004, where Bush supporters, by a large margin, claim “honesty” to be among their core concerns in choosing a candidate. The release of these polls, at a time when the litany of Bush administration lies leading to the invasion of Iraq were widely known perplexed the researcher. To make some sense of the dissonance, Zurbriggen invokes the Betrayal Trauma Theory, or ‘BTT’.

Most extensively studied were victims of child abuse, where BTT finds memory impairment increases the closer the perpetrator is; that is, if the abuser is a family member, or someone perceived to be existentially integral, the victim suffered correspondingly greater. She argues, because the president embodies a protector figure, specifically amplified in the case of “war time” president, George W. Bush, voters who perceived Bush as their defender were unable to recognize, even after the facts were known, his layers of lies and misrepresentations leading to war and disaster.

According to Zurbriggen, it may not simply be that Bush supporters just didn’t want to know the truth about his mendacity, or were merely too dim-witted to realize it. She offers, they were being taken in by a psychological correlative linking threat perception to an inability to recognize BS. Or, as she puts it, a “blindness to deception.”

With another American election on the near horizon, and Bush era threat mongering an accepted strategy for both camps, it’s important we now remember to be unafraid. If we are to choose between easy and hard truths, let’s leave the road well-travelled and allow courage be our companion. There are real dangers out there to be sure, and we cannot face them properly if habituated through terror into denial.

Zurbriggen offers advice for the necessary separating of lies from truth, saying;

“Political activists have long argued that resistance and social change are most effective when they are collective (rather than individualistic) projects. One reason for this effectiveness may be that taking collective action breaks the feeling of dependence on politicians and the government, leading to many positive outcomes, including an enhanced ability to judge the veracity of governmental pronouncements.”

Yes, there are real monsters, like Sir Jimmy Savile and his perverse crew out there, but they can only do harm when allowed to remain in the shadow of our fears.

Author Chris Cook is managing editor at based in British Columbia, and also radio host of the weekly public affairs program, Gorilla Radio, regarded as one of the best, and long running shows in the alternative media sphere. See more of Chris’s articles here at his Gorilla Radio’s blog.


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2 Responses to “Savile Psychology: ‘Betrayal Blindness’ is Why We Remain Oblivious to the Lies of Our Time”

  1. jrfibonacci Says:

    Betrayal Blindness is a relatively accurately term. We could more simply call this phenomenon “submission.”

    The psychology referenced here is the basic idea of trauma. The experience of panic, which would normally result in flight (and fighting if flight is obstructed), is superseded by the nervous system by what we would call horror, resulting not in a fight or flight, but in freezing. That is trauma.

    We could even say that freezing is a form of flight. It is not a literal flight, but “playing dead,” such as fainting. When the nutritional resources are lacking (including oxygen to the brain) and the material capacity for violence is so overpowered by one or more aggressors, there is no value to attempting to flee. Complacency arises. Submission develops.

    With animal husbandry, this is called “breaking” the horse. It means to subdue.

    In the military, this may be called “shock and awe” tactics. The “blitzkrieg” strategy is designed to be fast and overwhelming. The same general method was used by the US in subduing Japan with atomic bombs and in devastating civilian resistance across Southeast Asia, Central America, and today in the Middle East. Most every army and every nation uses this principle. It is the foundation of demoralizing psychological warfare.

    In public education, when young children are herded together with the cooperation of their parents and guardians, then presented with an adult authority, such as a nun or a coach, the submission of the young herd to the will of the shepherd is the absolute fundamental outcome to the entire classroom procedure (and the same for pre-schools). In churches, we see the same basic pattern but with adults. In some churches there is an obvious, singular leader selected by a patriarchal hierarchy external to the congregation, and, in other churches, there is less structural rigidity. The Arabic word Islam has been translated in to English as “Submission.”

    In courtroom, a member of an elite priesthood conducts rituals to promote “order” in society (submission). With the military support of armies of deputies, the warlord priesthood declares (claims) the existence of tax liabilities, among other things. This is also known as extortion, except extortion is a word invented by that elite priesthood to described the UNAUTHORIZED creation of liability claims OUTSIDE of their ritual method and the hierarchy of their public oath-sworn “secret society.”

    The ritual procedures of courts throughout the world originate from Roman (and earlier) roots and their “secret societies” are ultimately under the authority of the Jesuits and Papacy, which has openly claimed global dominion since 1302. These priesthoods declare what payment methods are accepted for their extortion claims

    When conflicting “priesthoods” within the larger network claim the same jurisdiction, then there are a few possible outcomes: singular dominance or embedded alliance. In the case of the the US Confederacy and the Union, the Union “invaded” the Confederacy (“liberated” it). In the case of the USA and the Federal Reserve, the Federal Reserve took it’s place above the existing structure, so there are city taxes (& courts), then counties, then states, then the national government (such as the U.S. Treasury, led by the Secretary), then the Federal level (the Treasurer of the United States).

    Once, I reported an incident to the Department of Justice naively expecting them to be interested and investigate. Instead, several employees with first-hand knowledge of a particular sequence of events were all replaced and fired. I expected that “blowing the whistle” would result in a loss of my job, but I did not expect that my disloyalty to the unspoken rules of the system would result in job loss for many other people.

    As for “a culture of avoiding knowledge so as to evade responsibility,” that is about evading criminal prosecution and civil penalties. For bureaucrats, there is often an implicit or even explicit “responsibility” to avoid knowledge of certain things and focus on certain other things, including the explicit misrepresentation of information. That is the job of many propagandists and criminal defense lawyers- to effectively mislead.

    The entire apparatus of democratic voting is a structure to marginalize the political will of the masses and to protect the key elements of the political system from public influence. Note that slavery and democracy have often coincided. The idea of individual rights is a propaganda tool. When the Jesuits want something done, they just call up the director of the CIA and get it done- without regard to individual rights.

    I learned the term CYA in the social work field. It stands for “cover your ass.” The idea includes to write reports that reflect the adherence to professional standards (no matter what the actual history), not just to protect one’s own legal status, but also to protect the institution.

    When Oliver North conducted illegal activities many decades ago, he did so with an expectation that, if convicted, he would be pardoned. He was convicted. Then, he was pardoned.

    In other cases, “loose-lipped” bureaucrats are targeted for disloyalty- even framed. When a high-ranking general (like Patton) is deemed disloyal, that may result in re-assignment to irrelevance or assassination from within one’s own hierarchy. Same for Prime Ministers and Presidents, like Lincoln and Kennedy.

    Those who decline to submit may be fired from positions of authority or killed. That is the reality of the Holy Empire of the Catholic Inquisition. Prior to 1302, the claim to global domination was not explicit, but the same basic priesthood had been operating since the empires of Egypt and Babylon. As the technology for naval military supremacy advanced, the Pope in 1302 could begin things that the prior “King of Kings” would have done a thousand years earlier or three thousand years earlier, but did not have the military technology to pursue without resistance from other warlords.

    The purpose of the priesthood is to produce the submission of the “human resources,” to influence them, to regulate them, to govern them, to organize their herds. To further their monopoly, they forbid (with threat of both violence and the psychological warfare of “eternal damnation”) the masses from using the “evil’ methods that they use: lying, stealing, murder, extortion, chemical warfare, nuclear weapons, etc….

    If the UN wants Iran or North Korea not to do something that the elite of the UN do themselves, that is not a betrayal. That is the fulfillment of their oaths.

    Of course, when PUBLICITY about Saville brought disgrace to the Catholic knighthood, they made up a publicity concoction to “expel” him from the knighthood. Of course!

    They control the media and the media tells us what to think about. The media tells us the rules and also tells us who is our legitimate ruler (who has the “divine right” to extort from us and dictate what payment methods are acceptable to discharge the extortion liability claims made by their priesthood).

    As for Bush voters citing “honesty” as their reason, shame is the issue. With “cognitive dissonance,” when I am ashamed of dishonesty and I have already voted for a guy who is clearly dishonest, then I may irrationally dismiss his dishonest (because of my shame about dishonesty), then cite a commitment to honesty as the reason for supporting a candidate that is widely recognized as dishonest. It actually does all make sense.

    Today is election day in the US. It is one of the most popular rituals of the civil religion of the Holy Roman Empire. Voters show their good citizenship and submission by participating in the ritual. Even in places where there is only one candidate and only one office for election, masses of fanatical loyalists convene to cast their ballot to show their support for “the system.”

    Do Zurbrigger and Freyd really not recognize the papal system of global domination? Probably not. They may eagerly submit to it and participate in it’s rituals.

    They may reveal their naivete by saying things like “politics has really gotten nasty in the last 10 days before the election, hasn’t it? Or, in the last 10 months, or last 10 years, or last 10 centuries.

  2. Peter Jennings Says:

    The bbc are not the only ones CYAing…

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