Adele Johansen vs Norge: A mother fighting for her child

ADELE JOHANSEN VS NORWAY: A MOTHER FIGHTING FOR HER CHILD 1

By Lennart Sjöberg, professor

 

Lennart Sjöberg, is a professor at the Center for Risk Research at the Stockholm School of Economics. He is the scientific leader of the Foundation for Forensic Psychology  (Stiftelsen för Forensisk Psykologi)

This article is published here with the kind consent of the author.

 

 

This is a description of a Norwegian adoption case. A woman, Adele Johansen, gave birth to a daughter in 1989, but the child was placed in a foster home against her will. The basis for that decision was alleged mental illness in Adele, but that allegation was proven untrue and retracted already in 1991. Yet, the authorities were unwilling to let Adele have her child back. Adele appealed in the Norwegian courts to no avail, and later in the

European Court
for Human Rights, where she was, after a long wait of six years, partly supported. Yet, Norwegian authorities ignored that decision; it led to no concrete changes for Adele and her daughter. The child still lives with the foster parents who have been given the right to adopt her, against the wish of the two “biological” parents. Psychologists’ assessments have throughout been of major importance in the case, and they have largely been based on Attachment Theory. In the present paper, the scientific basis for these assessments is challenged and current empirical research on Attachment Theory is shown to have yielded only very weak results. The case illustrates many problems in the forensic application of clinical dynamic psychology.

 

Introduction

In December, 1989, Norwegian citizen Adele Johansen gave birth to her second child, a healthy and sound little girl, who was given the name Signe Malene. At that point in her life, Adele had had a rowdy past. She had left her parents at the age of 15 after a history of conflict with her father, and had only primary education. She had given birth to a son when she was very young, in spite of strong recommendations and pressure by authorities to have an abortion. She had then lived with a man who, charming at first, had turned to physical abuse of her and her son. He was a drug peddler and heavy drinker, but Adele never developed any drug or alcohol habit. Adele contributed to the book “Pappirdukker”2 (Johansen & Brodin, 1991) where she described her relationship, the abuse she and her child had been subjected to, and her fight to be allowed to keep her son. That fight she won, but the one regarding her daughter was lost.

After several years in an abusive relationship, Adele pulled herself together and sought help from social authorities in Bergen, where she lived at the time. She was now pregnant again and determined to have her second child. However, the authorities refused to help her to get an apartment which she felt she needed in order to break away from her destructive relationship, and instead they offered her psychotherapy.3)  She refused therapy, and felt very badly treated. Thus began a story of escalating conflict between her and the authorities. The story is still going on, and Adele has paid by much suffering, so have her daughter and the daughter’s foster parents. The tax-payers of Norway have footed the bill which probably by now, after 12 years, amounts to at least 10 million NOK. 4) I now briefly summarize the events of the case.

 

The process

A few concrete accusations were made against Adele. In the months before the birth of

Signe Malene, Adele tested positive for marijuana at one time. This has later been explained as the result of passive smoking at a party where several others smoked marijuana. There may also have been some irregularities in her medical check-ups of pregnancy, but that is a moot point which has not been proven and seems to be false. A third aspect of greater importance was the moves that the social authorities were making to have her son removed from her care and placed in a foster family. Adele - and the son - strongly resisted these attempts, and her relation to the authorities was severely damaged.

 

Thus was the situation when she had given birth to Signe Malene. The child was placed in temporary care after 2 days, against the wish of Adele, and she was then allowed to see the child only for 2 hours per week during a few months. A permanent foster placement was then made, again against Adele’s wish. Two psychologists wrote assessment of her fitness as a parent. 5). The one commissioned by the social authorities wrote a very negative assessment, and claimed that she was mentally unstable and badly adjusted, shown among other things by her negative attitude to the social authorities. This assessment was contradicted by another psychologist, commissioned by Adele herself, who saw her as fit to be a parent and her present tensions as due to the life conditions she was exposed to. The authorities chose to ignore that view and embraced the interpretation of Adele’s problems as being caused by deeply rooted personality problems which could only be mitigated by many years of intense psychotherapy.

After about a year, however, Adele had made a very good new start in her life. She had started living with the man who was the father of her son, and was in good shape socially and emotionally. Psychologists, at this point, found her fit to be a parent and they realized that the previous assessment of her had been misleading, since she did not, after all, have profound and severe psychological problems. Yet, the child had now become attached to the foster parents, argued the psychologists, and moving her to Adele would constitute a severe trauma to the child that Adele could not be expected to be able to deal with, especially since she did not have trust in the authorities and the psychological competence that they represented.

 

This was in 1991. The process was then dead-locked for 10 years. Adele appealed the decisions by the authorities but her appeal was rejected, on the basis of psychological assessments. Adele also appealed to the European Human Rights Court in 1990, had her case accepted in 1993 and a final sentence in 1996 which supported her in her most important claim. The Court decided that her rights as a parent must be respected and the child returned to her. The Court found that a child should not be taken from a parent against her will unless the parent was clearly unfit, and there was no longer an argument against Adele in that regard. However, Norwegian authorities did nothing to adhere to that sentence, in spite of Norway’s formal agreement to honour the Court’s decisions. 5). On the contrary, they sided with the foster parents who wanted to adopt the child. These decisions were always backed up by psychologists commissioned by the courts or the authorities. The psychologists gave varied assessment and arguments on the case, but they invariably ended up in support of the official policy.

 

The Oslo District and Appeals Courts decided, in 2000 and 2001, to award the foster parents the right to adopt the child. This was in spite of them having separated. The argument was based on attachment theory, and also on the wishes of the girl herself, who stated she wanted to stay with her foster parents. Adele was also denied visiting rights on the basis that she would cause emotional problems if she were to see the child, or if the child were to visit her and her new family in Denmark. The final sentence of the Appeals Court stated that a new appeal by Adele to Strasbourg would at any rate take so long time to process that the child would be an adult before a decision could be expected. The Appeals Court apparently felt that they had no obligation to adhere to the principles embraced by the European Court.

 

The fact that the legal system takes such a long time to respond to the appeals made by the parent - and the present case may be extreme but it does illustrate a common tendency - works systematically to make the authorities’ decision become harder and harder to change.

 

Attachment theory fits very well in this context since it lends itself to the “scientific” support of the increasing rigidity of the situation. Let us look a little closer at the methods and theory applied by the psychologists and which have consistently backed up the policy of depriving her of her rights as a parent.

 

Psychology applied?

A major condition for a process such as the present one is clearly the existence of licensed clinical psychologists. It is taken for granted that they, having completed several years of academic training and practice and having achieved official licensing, do represent a high scientific standard beyond the insights of lay persons. It should be noted that the courts consistently listened to clinical psychologists with practical experience. And also that they listened to their own experts, not those commissioned by Adele, however much they might have had in the way of scientific and practical experience.

These facts call for some reflection. First, why “clinical”? Clinical psychology is about mental illness and adjustment problems, and none of the parties involved has been said to have such problems - disregarding the initial assessment of Adele which was retracted at an early stage. Clinical experience and constructs may not be the best basis for the assessment of normal people. In addition, why only “practical” psychologists? Research experience and qualifications seems not to have been in much demand when the authorities made their decisions. Yet, such qualifications may contribute important pieces of information, e.g. with regard to the validity of the theory and assessment methods used. And finally, why not accept the adversarial nature of the situation in full, and listen to experts from all sides? The courts tended, apparently, to subscribe to the somewhat simplistic view that psychologists commissioned by them or the authorities were impartial and objective, while those commissioned by the plaintiff were just saying what she paid them to say, to put it bluntly.

 

Yet, it takes very little reflection to realize that the problem of bias is a general one, not limited to one group of experts.

 

Another possibility is that clinical psychology is considered to be about concrete individual cases and therefore the area of choice in forensic applications. It is true that case study material is more prevalent in clinical psychology than in other areas of psychology, such as social or cognitive psychology, and also that clinical psychology has a more holistic thrust. However, if this is true it is so more from historical coincidence than anything else. Surely, cognitive assessments can be made in an idiosyncratic way, and so can social psychological analyses. There seems to be considerable confusion as to the feasibility of applying general psychological principles to individual cases. Yet, doing so is no different from applying any kind of general scientific knowledge to individual cases and this is surely done all the time in, say, the practice of medicine or engineering. It would be, to put it bluntly, ridiculous for an MD to argue in court that he or she would not talk about a specific case or individual, only give a lecture on general principles derived from medical science. 6 ). What comes through very clearly in the case of Adele is that psychology is put to rhetorical use, and that psychology as such was not really an important factor in detached and objective assessment. This may be unavoidable. The danger is that rational decisions and the protection of human rights are sacrificed in order to implement and hold up decisions made on quite different grounds, grounds that can never be defended openly. Reflection on this danger could hopefully contribute towards mitigating the risk, however.

 

Much importance is given by the courts and authorities to clinical experience. Apart from the question of just how relevant it is, when normal people are assessed, there is also the question of whether we learn at all from experience. This question may sound paradoxical, but research has found that years of experience in psychology or psychiatry have few effects beyond boosting confidence. In other words, an illusion of skill is created, not skill itself. The effects of training and experience that have been documented seem to be modest and occur very early in training (Garb, 1998). Expertise in general is like this, with a few exceptions that need not bother us here (Shanteau, 1992).

 

Dynamic psychology, and attachment theory is part of that field, is very useful in social and forensic practice, for several reasons that need not have anything to do with its validity, which has been challenged severely in many current publications. Let us look at the reasons for its usefulness in forensic and administrative settings.

 

First, dynamic psychology uses esoteric language and builds upon an extensive, and loosely organized body of literature. This strategy helps toward deterring “lay persons” from questioning it - it simply demands so much time and effort to learn what it is all about, and even more to realize its many weaknesses and learn about the critical analyses that have been published by Grünbaum (Grünbaum, 1993), Crews (Crews, 1995, 1996, 1998), Scharnberg (Scharnberg, 1993a, 1993b) and many others. Freud is a towering giant whose contemporary function is to legitimize the whole enterprise, and his work is well known and held in high regard by many intellectuals, as well as by a group of psychologists and psychiatrists. This is so in spite of the lack of any evidence whatever that psychoanalytic therapy has the unique healing effects that Freud claimed for it in some of his writings, and that few contemporary psychologists practice psychoanalysis in the way prescribed by him.

 

Second, dynamic psychology is based on notions about psychopathology, hence biased towards construing how things can go wrong rather than how they can go right. Psychologists have, one generation after the other, been surprised to discover that people adjust on their own and that what looks like disastrous conditions may not have disastrous psychological consequences (Luthar, Cicchetti, & Becker, 2000; Masten, 2001). In addition, serious adjustment problems or very destructive behavior cannot always be explained with life experiences, but can easily be construed in that manner with the help of psychodynamic concepts. This kind of thinking has permeated culture and is repeatedly the theme of movies and novels, hence gaining general credibility 7) .

 

Third, dynamic psychology embraces the notion that people can, and should, be assessed by means of intuitive, holistic, judgment - at times aided by projective tests. In a Swedish TV program a few years ago a case was shown where a father was hunted by the authorities who wanted to take his sons into custody for transfer to a foster home. No clear reason was given for the decision by the social workers, who were ultimately responsible, but in the end, reference was made, in Swedish, to “tyst kunskap” (tacit knowledge). There was a “feeling” that something was wrong in the family, and this feeling had grown to become a conviction.

 

Feelings like these are common and can have any number of causes, and are the basis of the popular term “person chemistry” (Sjöberg & Tollgerdt-Andersson, 1985). We all have our likes and dislikes, a fact which must of course be accepted, but those subjective reactions become very problematic when used by those in power, and against us. Dynamic psychology offers a neat way of justifying our indulgence in such subjectivistic thinking. Holism is an untenable (Ruscio, 2002) but popular position. The welfare state is rightly concerned with the psychological well-being of its people. However, when that reasonable notion is put into practice, many problems arise. How should psychological well-being be assessed and how can it be assured? Clinical dynamic psychology has offered its services to put the notion into practice. The results are very mixed, to say the least. Dynamic psychology is much too fragile a basis for decisions with enormously important consequences, in particular if such decisions become more or less irreversible.

 

The role of theory

Psychological theory is being applied widely in society, not least in the courts. This may sound good, since theory is held in high regard. Yet, theory has at least two dark sides. First, using a theory of questionable validity is highly risky. Second, use of a theory tends to create a premature closure and restricted information collection, and hence may lead to very misleading recommendations and conclusions.

 

Skinner wrote a classical article where he argued that theories of learning are not necessary (Skinner, 1950). He may have gone too far, but he had a good point. Theories are not necessarily good, neither in practical work nor in research. The very notion of hypothesis testing is questionable, yet seldom questioned. Theory and hypothesis driven work is held in high esteem. It is debatable just how good hypothesis testing is for finding truth about things psychological. In a very famous murder case in Sweden, two doctors had their licences revoked after having been accused of murdering a prostitute, and cutting up her body (Lindeberg, 1999). Many aspects of that case are illustrative, but here only one will be mentioned: the hypothesis driven police investigation. At a very early point, search for a perpetrator was concentrated on one person alone. Other, seeming relevant, possibilities were ignored. And of course, success in a police investigation becomes less and less likely as time passes by after a crime. Nobody was convicted of that particular murder (if it was a murder). The assassination of Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme is likewise still unsolved, in spite of enormous resources having spent on police investigations. In this case, a whole first year was wasted on a flimsy and arbitrary initial guess that the perpetrators were Kurdish terrorists. No evidence for that was ever found, except of the most speculative and far fetched kind.

 

Catching a liar is a third case in point. People have a very hard time to do so, in spite of the common conviction to the opposite effect (Vrij, 2000). Those who succeed seem to be the ones who keep an open mind, as long as possible, and thus manage to avoid both types of error: to accuse somebody of lies while she tells the truth and to believe in a liar. It is clearly very difficult for courts to catch liars, and judges, prosecutors and police officers all subscribe to folk psychology notions about lying, which have been shown repeatedly, in empirical research, to be erroneous (Granhag & Strömwall, in press).

 

The case of Adele was highly theory driven, in particular with frequent references to Attachment Theory (Bowlby, 1969, 1973). But the validity of the theory is quite questionable (Atkinson et al., 2000; Belsky & Cassidy, 1995) {Schneider, 2001 #5479}. A summary statement about the current scientific status of the theory was made by Thompson {Thompson, 1998 #5482}:

“Attachment theorists believe that attachment security begins relationally and shapes a variety of personality processes and representations of self and others. Although this formulation is useful as a broad outline, there is little consensus about what these internal constituents of attachment security are, how early they form, how long they remain dependent on continuing sensitive care, how they change with development, and how multiple attachments are incorporated within these internal processes. (p. 47)

 

In another article, Thompson {Thompson, 1999 #5511} writes:

“.. even when the outcome domains that are most directly pertinent to attachment formulations are considered, current research yields few reliable, long-term consequences of attachment security in infancy that would justify the classic theoretical portrayals of mother-infant attachment as a prototype of later love relationships, or the current formulations of attachment as a foundation for later adaptation.” (p. 280).

 

There is by now very extensive research on Attachment Theory and the results point to a possible, but quite weak, explanatory power of the theory. Many other factors than those based on the theory need to be taken into account. The courts and authorities were systematically misled by in the present case by psychologists who ignored, or did not know about, the scientific criticisms of the theory. The courts should have listened not only to practicing psychologists but also to researchers qualified to assess the scientific value of this theory and possibly also of other theories and methods applied by psychologists in the case.

 

Attachment theory seems to have contributed towards ignoring other aspects beyond the attachment bonds to the care takers. The very knowledge that one has a biological family different from the care takers is no simple thing to deal with. Culture has many dimensions of great importance beyond attachment bonds to the immediate family.

 

Can research on the effects of interventions be of any help?

In Adele’s case, the crucial questions were concerned with the well-being of the child. How do children fare when adopted or placed in foster homes? There is empirical research on such matters, but mostly from the USA. Some Swedish investigations can also be mentioned, but there are no extensive Norwegian studies, as far as I know.

 

There are important limitations to the applicability of such research. First, legal, social and economic conditions are very different in the USA and Scandinavia. Adoption and foster home care may, in reality, mean very different things in different societies. Second, this is a kind of research which can never establish any certain conclusions as to cause and effect.

 

There are always many alternative explanations to any one finding. Statistical control of some of these alternatives is useful but can only very partially rule them out. Current behavioral research is also, in spite of many years of cogent criticism (Schmidt, 1996), dominated by hypothesis testing and the determination of statistical “significance”. Such work involves the establishment of non-random patterns of data, but it is very easy to find non-random patterns when large samples are used. Even minuscule and practically and theoretically unimportant patterns can be documented as non-random.

 

With these reservations, let us look at some of the empirical findings. Research on adopted children versus those staying in their original families has shown two things (Brodzinsky & Schechter, 1990; Brodzinsky, Smith, & Brodzinsky, 1998; Miller, Fan, Christensen, Grotevant, & van Dulmen, 2000). First, there are small but consistent average differences in favor of those children who stay with their original family. Second, there is an extreme group of adopted children who develop adjustment problems and who are later seen in the mental health care system, where adoption cases are over represented. Research on foster home care is less extensive but points to even greater problems for these children. However, foster home care is a different thing in the USA than in the present Norwegian case. Foster home care tends to be short, and children may switch foster families frequently.

 

The present case is quite different from the typical adoption-foster home care conditions in important respects. There was no problem situation in the original family which affected the child, since she was taken from her mother immediately after birth. And while she stayed for a decade in foster home care, it was the same stable home for most of the time, and the foster parents had planned to adopt her from the very beginning. A later complication was the break-up of the foster family, which may have been an important destabilizing factor. Be that as it may, general cross-sectional research on adoption and foster home care seems to be of marginal relevance to the case, at best. This is true also for Swedish research, some of which has been cited selectively in the case. For example, Bohman and co-workers reported that adopted children had improved adjustment at the age of 15, but were maladjusted on the average, at the age of 25 years (Bohman & Sigvardsson, 1980; Bohman & von Knorring, 1979). The Norwegian authorities cited the first result and ignored the second. A fair assessment would have been to say that results were unclear, or inconsistent, but more important, the present case really has so many important unique properties that averages from large groups tell very little.

 

What can be learned from the present case for the forensic practice of psychology?

The profession of psychologists has risen in Scandinavia during the last 40 years, in close relationship to the expansion of the social authorities. There is a well-meaning “big brother” state in Sweden and Norway, built on the values and world views of the Social Democrats who have been in power in both countries for very long periods of time8 , and authorities now rely on psychologists to guide them in decisions regarding the well-being of people, and especially of children. Some of these cases are non-controversial, as when a mother is severely addicted to drugs and earns her income from prostitution, but many cases are more fuzzy and very difficult decisions must be made.

 

Adele’s case was misjudged from the beginning. She clearly was the victim of an abusive man, and had for a long time been unable to break loose from him. This was a threatening situation also for her son. She needed help, and asked for help in the form of a new home, but such help was denied. Rather, steps were taken to place her son in a new family and she herself was offered psychotherapy. It is not known on what basis these decisions were made, but somewhat later a psychologist entered the picture and delivered what amounted to a justification of the strategy espoused by the authorities, now also towards the new child.

 

The first lesson to learn from the case is this:

Avoid making irreversible decisions in very important matters on the basis of a psychological assessment. The decision in Adele’s case was not formally irreversible, and the thrust of the law was in fact that parents and children should have help to make it possible for them to live together, but for each passing week, and month, and year, the decision became more and more difficult to change. The fact that there were two different psychological assessments of Adele, and that they did not agree, should also have made the authorities cautious. Granted, one of these assessments had been commissioned by Adele herself, and hence was perhaps not fully credible, but it takes little sophistication to realize that psychologists who work for authorities may be affected, maybe unconsciously at times, by a wish to serve the hand who feeds them. Clinical assessment in forensic practice is full of uncertainties, unfortunately often hidden under a surface of great confidence displayed by the responsible psychologist (Sjöberg, 1998-99, 2000-01).

 

The second lesson is to be aware of the common tendency to make too far reaching conclusions about personality, especially on the basis of negative scenarios which are very easy to construct. Someone with a background like Adele’s invites “psychologizing” - but while some people do suffer from severe adjustment handicaps, they are relatively few. The clinical psychologist or psychiatrist gains his or her experience in an environment dominated by such clients, and the tendency to generalize to normally adjusted people is at times only too strong. Research on resilience and hardiness has, since the beginning of the 1980's, led to the conclusion that many people do quite well in spite of very taxing surroundings, and that we, as we grow older, indeed also tend to grow wiser. The base rate fallacy, well document in judgement research (Kahneman, Slovic, & Tversky, 1982), lures us to make much too confident conclusions about unusual states and processes, such as severe mental illness. We have also a tendency to remember only too well the few cases when such conclusions turned out to have been called for, perhaps with disastrous consequences.

 

The serious uncertainties of psychological theory and methods are ignored and forgotten somewhere along the road. Psychologists construct scenarios and interpretations, and it is a well known tendency that we believe in such scenarios once we have constructed them ourselves (Tversky & Kahneman, 1982). Courts use similar thinking, and, finding that psychologists reinforce their pre-conceived views, they tend to stick to them with even more conviction.

 

Attachment theory was very important in the present case, and it seems to have permeated much of current practical work in clinical child psychology. Yet, contemporary surveys of empirical work on the theory show that its validity is severely limited and that some of its central tenets simply do not gain any empirical backing, such as the notion of critical periods in development or the importance and irreversibility of attachment to a few people (Belsky & Cassidy, 1995).

 

Theory is held in high regard in psychology and other behavioral and social sciences - in my view, much too high (Sjöberg, 1999). Theory is a pillar of science, but it is neither necessary nor sufficient for sound scientific applications. It may well be sufficient to use a combination of principles gained from reading research findings, own experience and common sense - and the general cultural inheritance we profit from in reading good books, or seeing well conceived movies or plays. These are all social constructions but that does not mean they are all equally good or that anything goes. Too fast steps have been taken towards theoretical speculations, and too much belief has been invested in them. Attachment theory is a good example (Cassidy & Shaver, 1999). It yields scientific credibility to what are often highly speculative interpretations, which are then accepted by courts and authorities as if they were the truth. But psychological theory is never the truth, only a set of possible start-ups for further development.

 

The third lesson to be learned is therefore to trust more in common sense, established general empirical principles and received cultural knowledge - let psychological and psychiatric theory remain as the darling of Academia but let it rest when it comes to the life and death matters of justice.

 

Adele was an outcast in society, a marginal person caught up in a quagmire of drug abuse, crime and physical abuse. Her behavior was still defiant and she had, and has, a strong will and strong sense of independence. What to make of such a person? The risk of stigmatization is great. People who deviate, and especially if they also behave in a provocative way, may be deprived of their rights (Goffman, 1963), they become stigmatized. No matter how right they are, they never seem to win in their fight against authorities. Their very persistence creates further problems, since they - often quite correctly - point to real injustice which has been done to them and their families.

 

The fourth lesson is to avoid stigmatizing people, even if they criticize us.

 

Finally, a comment should be made on the use of psychology by judges. In Adele’s latest trial, in the Oslo Appeals Court, one of the judges argued that the child had developed attachment to the CPA authority. Nobody else argued that, to my knowledge. Attachment to an authority? The most interesting thing about this argument is that the judge apparently felt free to speculate wildly about matters psychological. Instruments for such speculation are provided by dynamic theory.

 

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Vrij, A. (2000). Detecting lies and deceit. New York: Wiley.

 

Notes

1 . This is a summary of a more extensive and detailed conference report (in Swedish) on the case, which can be downloaded from http://www.dynam-it.com/forpsyk/, presented in a conference at the Department of Psychology, University of Trondheim, Norway, in November, 2001. The present article concentrates on the general forensic psychology aspects of the case, and the many intricate legal problems are deleted or treated only scantily. I am grateful for comments on this work by professor David Brodzinsky, Rutgers University, professor Ann Frodi, Linköping University, attorney Georg Kvande, Oslo, Dr. Michael Lamb, National Institutes of Health, assistant professor Monica Martinussen, Tromsø University, professor Paul E. Meehl, University of Minnesota, professor Marianne Skånland, Bergen University , and docent Bo Vinnerljung, Department of Social Work, Sweden. Their points of view have been of great value, but of course I am alone responsible for the contents of the present paper.

2 . In English “Paper dolls”.

3 . This offer could, by itself, be an example of an important topic to analyse. Adele’s problems were interpreted as residing in herself, and not amenable to a solution by external means, e.g. economic support to find housing. The authorities’ strategy reminds me of how employees at the public housing agency in Stockholm, unable to help people to get the needed housing, turn to “talk cures”. Psychology is thus used to hide problems which cannot be solved without important re-allocations of economic resources in society, or changed legislation and the use of a market economy for housing.

4 . This is a rough estimate, of course, and is based on an estimate of the money paid to the foster parents over time, but more importantly, the costs of all the investigations and court trials that have been called for in the case.

5. Among the many legal subtleties of the case is the argument that the European Court is in principle superordinate to Norwegian courts and authorities, and that its decisions have a binding effect. However, obviously this is not the interpretation made in practice in Norway in the present case. Sweden has, like Norway, several times lost cases in the European Court but there are few signs that Swedish practice is being affected by such court cases. There have also been settlements where Sweden has avoided losing a case by paying small sums of money to parents. The situation is similar in Norway.

6 . This discussion is limited to those kinds of applications. Dynamic psychology was construed with different applications in focus, in clinical practice, and the present discussion is not necessarily relevant with regard to them.

7  Hitchcock was one of the first to exploit this possibility in a very skilful and persuasive manner, followed in the 1990's by scores of Hollywood tales of serial killers who had been subjected to sexual abuse in their childhoods. It seems likely that these cleverly made up stories create beliefs, in the public, that such things do happen in real life and that the explanations for them are psychodynamic and developmental.

8 . In Sweden, later Nobel laureates Alva and Gunnar Myrdal launched the social engineering movement in the 1930's. In cold and technological language, they discussed how to get better “population material” (Myrdal & Myrdal, 1934) in a very famous book called “Crisis in the population question” (my translation). The thrust of the first half of the 20 th century in Sweden following that book was sterilization, often compulsory and involving tens of thousands of cases, later replaced by enforced foster home placements. A few of these thousands of cases have surfaced in the

European Court
, and a few became known through German mass media reports, in the 1980's, on the “Kinder Gulag” in Sweden. A very interesting such case is the case of Alexander Aminoff (Wolff, 1986).

 

 

Adele Johansen v. Norway

 

Adele Johansen vs Norway: A mother fighting for her child.
By Lennart Sjöberg
(pdf)

 

The Liz Edner Case

 

The Helena Lufuma Case

 

Destroying the Family: Swedish style

 

A family flees from the Welfare State

 

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