The Brutal Misery That Haunts Sad Ruth

This is the story of a young woman tormented by the terrible events of her childhood. She called the Echo Action Line when we launched our campaign against child abuse – Can You Hear Our Children Weeping? It was a desperate plea for help. That help came from Mike Whitenburgh, a psychoanalyst.


Marianna Brand-Whitenburgh and Michael Whitenburgh say “The methods and techniques contained in this story are still valid today and form the basis of our unique global workshops with modern day slants.”



Original story 26th & 27th June 1985 by (Jenny Palmer) – Moira Martingale and reproduced by permission of the Liverpool Post and Echo, Old Hall Street, Liverpool, United Kingdom and author Moira Martingale.
Original drawings by Linda Saavedra.


 Ruth’s Story

This is the story of a young woman tormented by the terrible events of her childhood. She called the Echo Action Line when we launched our campaign against child abuse – Can You Hear Our Children Weeping? It was a desperate plea for help. That help came from Mike Whitenburgh, a psychoanalyst

– Jenny Palmer, Liverpool Echo

The Brutal Misery That Haunts Sad Ruth

Releasing the painful memories

It all started with Sigmund Freud’s theory and method of psychoanalysis. He compared the mind to an iceberg, with the smaller part – the part “above the water” being the conscious part, and the larger, unseen part, being the unconscious (or subconscious)

In the unconscious, Freud believed, were all the urges, passions and repressed ideas and feelings which without us being aware of it control our thoughts and deeds.

If someone experiences a trauma in childhood, it will be repressed – locked away in the subconscious – because it is too painful to recollect.

But people cannot make their painful memories disappear quite so easily.  Although they may seem to have forgotten them, a childhood trauma may manifest itself in peculiar ways in an adult, often producing depression, anxieties and many other- sometimes bizarre psychological problems.

This is where a psychoanalyst like Mike Whitenburgh comes in.

Under psychoanalysis, often using hypnosis, Mike ‘digs around’ – to use his own phrase – to try and uncover the deep-seated cause of a patient’s anxieties or neuroses, and then to try and release the trauma which is trapped in his or her subconscious.

Only by such release will the person be able to make a new start.

“I know I’m a last resort,” says Mike Whitenburgh. “Sometimes people even come to me after trying faith healers.”

“They try their own doctors first, and then the specialists, then they try the ‘alternatives’ such as faith healing. Then they h up at my doorstep expecting me to say, ‘I can’t help you.’

“The medical profession is seen as being there to provide an intellectual answer, but they can’t say anything except “Go home and pull yourself together. Grow up.”

“Grow up” is important. You are physically talking to a little child.”

The first mayor objective in psychoanalysis is to get rid of the ‘rational’ mind.

People tend to intellectualise their problems, which is why traumas lie buried beneath a heap of adult logic.

Taking a shovel to a heap and tossing aside the logic is the only way to the core of the trouble- and this means regression to childhood.

Ruth Continued…….

  “Mike went through the paces-the valley, the golden room. I knew it by now. I got here before him. Then it was the tunnel, the bloody tunnel again! All of a sudden I started feeling frightened again and the pains began.”

“At first it was blank, Mike kept saying, “Come on, what can you see?” I was waiting in the tunnel then suddenly I could see flashes. It was a woman’s head. Her head was tilted to the one side. Her face was white. Her eyes were open.”

I didn’t know who she was. In my mind my mother was darker than me, but the woman had a white face.

 “Then I saw a man on top of her. I was trying to see, but it was like fighting through a wind. I felt I had to break through, but I didn’t want to.”

“I thought they were making love, but I didn’t want to tell Mike that. I was getting worked up. I kept seeing the woman’s face, staring at me.

Mike kept saying, “What is the man doing to her?” Then I realised they were fully clothed. I was relieved. They weren’t making love. I wasn’t peeping at my parents making love.

“I started to feel frightened. I felt I was going to explode”.

Ruth is re-living the scene again, her voice tight with emotion. “She is lying on the floor and he is sitting on her legs. Her face is very white and her head is tilted to one side, looking at me. I started to feel frightened. I felt I was going to explode. Then I saw her hair was black. She had a sari on. They were both young.” Her eyes filled with tears. “She was just looking at me.”

“Then I realised I said, “She’s not moving. She’s lying on the floor, but he man is moving.” I know I am there watching these things.

“Then I see my mother’s body covered in a white sheet for the funeral. They are bringing her body from the mortuary to the next room. I can see her feet. They haven’t covered her feet properly.”

“Me and my brother are told to pour water on my mother’s face. It’s tradition; John goes first because he is the eldest boy. I go next.”

“I just take a drop of water, but as I walk to the slab the sheet is off her face. I can see her face, and she isn’t dead! She has her head tilted to one side but her eyes are wide open and she is smiling at me. She’s not dead.”

“I ran out of the room screaming, she was supposed to be dead, but her eyes are wide open!”

The room is thick with silence. At this stage in the therapy sessions, Ruth sat up, crying: “Oh my God!”

 “Then I saw her face again, eyes wide open, head tilted to one side, looking at me, the man on top of her. I could see myself; the back of me. I am standing in the doorway, in the darkness. Then all of a sudden my throat muscles began tightening up.”

Mike asked: “What are you doing?”

“I am doing nothing. Just standing there, doing nothing, watching the woman looking at me. The man doesn’t know I’m there. There’s a pain in my neck. I’m screaming very loud. . . my throat’s hurting but nobody hears me.”

“I’m screaming because the man is hurting her. He has got his hands stretched out towards her head. He is hurting her. I just want him to stop. Oh my god! It was my mother . . . And he has killed her!”

I can find nothing to say to Ruth. What can you say to someone who, as an infant of seven, has witnessed such a terrifying scene and then repressed it for 22 years?

“Why didn’t the neighbours come?” she pleads. “Why didn’t John get out of bed?”

She looked agonised. “How do you live with the fact that your father is a murderer and he is still alive?”

She sighs and explodes bitterly: “All these years I have thought I was a dirty little girl who let her father mess about with her.

 “All these years I have had to put up with people being nasty to me, and the only crime I ever did was to see my mother being murdered. I have been living with someone else’s guilt and I have been punished for it. “

“All these years thinking I must be evil; how can I live, knowing that he is still alive? He cheated me of my childhood; perhaps he cheated me of my innocence. He is so evil.”

When the therapy session was over, Ruth had to fight the urge to get revenge. Now several weeks later, she is having more positive feelings.

“I haven’t lost my faith in the future yet and I feel at ease with myself in many ways.”  She hopes that one day she will fall in love and marry again.

“This therapy has made me respect myself. I know I am a good person.” Any man who gets me is going to be lucky. I have seen much pain, but I have always been able to give a lot of love to other people.”


 Ruth today: Is the follow-up and will be published soon. In 2015 this true life story will be 30 years old and today Ruth – a grandmother and New Mind Woman will share what has happened since. Did she confront her father? Did she visit Singapore to confront relatives with the facts? Has she found love?


Thank You Ruth… Because of your bravery and inspiration we are able to continue our work in making
New Mind Women – New World Within
Marianna Brandt-Whitenburgh
Michael Whitenburgh


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