From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - View original article
Debbie Nathan (born 1950) is an American feminist journalist and writer, with a focus on cultural and criminal justice issues concerning abuse of children, particularly accusations of satanic ritual abuse in schools and childcare institutions. She also writes about immigration, focusing on women and on dynamics between immigration and sexuality. Nathan's writing has won a number of awards. She appears in the 2003 Oscar-nominated film Capturing the Friedmans. She has been affiliated with the National Center for Reason and Justice, which among other things provides support to persons who may have been wrongly accused of sexual abuse.
Nathan was born in 1950 into a Jewish family in Houston, Texas. She received her B.A. from Temple University in 1972, after first attending Shimer College, a very small Great Books college in Illinois. She went on to receive a master's degree in linguistics from the University of Texas El Paso.
Nathan taught English as a second language at Brooklyn College, then moved to Chicago in 1980, where she began her journalism career at the Chicago Reader. She returned to El Paso in 1984 to work for the El Paso Times, then became a freelance journalist. In 1998 she took a job writing for the San Antonio Current, then moved to New York City in 2000.
Satan's Silence, a 1995 work which Nathan co-authored with Michael Snedeker, examined and "debunked" the wave of satanic ritual abuse allegations that took place beginning in the 1980s. Victor Navasky described the book as the "definitive study" of the subject, and a CounterPunch columnist credited the book as having "exposed and virtually stopped the so-called satanic cult child sex panic". Paul Okami's review of the book in The Journal of Sex Research noted that the book "is not . . . a scientific work", and he had some criticisms of its organization and what Okami saw as misapplication of certain social-science concepts and an overreliance in some parts of the book on feminist and leftist economic theory; nevertheless, Okami judged the book to be "essential reading . . . for its devastating journalistic portrait" and "for its more general analysis of proximate mechanisms by which our society can become vulnerable to patent collective madness."
Pornography, published in 2007, is written as a concise "guidebook" on the subject of pornography. A Canadian reviewer described the writing as "frank and cool", and made note of Nathan's assertion that no connection has been established between the use of pornography and criminal behavior, as well as her focus on the "connection between porn and shame" to define pornography.
Nathan's 2011 book, Sybil Exposed, takes on the case of the famous psychiatric patient known as "Sybil", whose supposed multiple personality disorder was the subject of a 1973 bestselling book and two motion pictures. Among other things, Nathan discovered that Sybil's psychiatrist was aware of (but apparently ignored) the fact that she suffered from pernicious anemia, the symptoms of which would include most of the patient's complaints. Nathan's book received a starred review in Publishers Weekly, which called it a "startling exposé". Carol Tavris, reviewing the book for The Wall Street Journal, commented that "Nathan's indefatigable detective work in Sybil Exposed has produced a major contribution to the history of psychiatric fads and the social manufacture of mental disorders. This is the book that should be a made-for-TV movie."