Interview with psychologist Nerida Saunders, 2 February 2015, by Shane Nagle
Is it your professional opinion that Fiona Rae Barnett is sane?
It is my professional opinion that Fiona Rae Barnett is sane. Fiona is also highly intelligent and has insights that are far beyond those of the average citizen. Her ability to think issues and events through and make sense of the bigger picture and where people are coming from is uncanny.
Have you recognised any contradictions in Fiona’s story and memories since you have been consulting with her?
I have questioned Fiona again and again about different incidents she has reported. I have gone back to previous incidents that unravelled at earlier times in therapy and again and again her stories have been consistent. Occasionally there may be a name slip up but then she corrects it. This really makes her story more genuine and believable as far as I am concerned. No there have not been contradictions.
In addition to her cognitive assessment presented via the QEEG tests, what is your opinion as to Fiona’s level of intelligence?
Fiona possesses a robust cognitive profile that is highly adaptive. Her cognition was assessed utilising the IntegNeuro and elevated scores were seen across the spectrum. To further support this she has a fast alpha peak of 11hz as noted in her QEEG indicating high intelligence.
Would you describe Fiona Barnett as being gifted in any way?
Fiona is certainly gifted in many ways. She is a brilliant writer, researcher and thinker. He memory recall is astounding and her ability to put facts and incidents together to solve or resolve is phenomenal. She is artistic and apparently musical. She could be a brilliant teacher and a brilliant lawyer. I just hope she is arguing my case if that is ever necessary.
What do you understand about people who are gifted in some way?
Gifted people can present in many different ways. They are often highly sensitive, easily bored by the mundane aspects of life, and often brutally honest to the point of being socially questionable. They have an intensity in energy, imagination, intellect, sensitivity and emotion. They are a particularly vulnerable group, often rejected by peers due to their different tastes in life, interests etc. Different IQ levels also present with different needs, interests and sensitivities.
Is it possible that, after all this time as her therapist, Fiona’s demeanour and character have beguiled you into believing her story when in fact it is not true?
Certainly this is possible but I do not believe it is the case. I am an experienced therapist with years of work in the area of trauma. I am aware that with repeated trauma that incidents can blur. What is striking about Fiona is the clarity of recollection, her consistency, and her intimate knowledge of different people involved. Her story has also be collaborated by another Victims of Crime client.
What is your opinion regarding the level of the public’s knowledge of the existence of Ritual Sexual Child Abuse in Australia?
The public knowledge of RSA is almost non existent in Australia as far as I am aware. Knowledge would be limited to abusers and abusees and people like myself working in the area. The recent publicity brought about by the Royal Commission into Sexual Abuse has certainly done a lot to increase awareness of some of what has been going on and perhaps has unwittingly prepared the public for what will come next.
And how might that level of awareness affect our attempts to share Fiona’s story to the public?
See above. You will get people who are shocked, who don’t want to believe and who don’t want to be shaken from their cosy perches and who will object the most. You will get others who will not be surprised at all. It will certainly cause a sensation.
Is there anything else you have noticed about Fiona’s character which testifies to her as being a credible witness to her version of her life’s story?
When I first met Fiona she was full on. She was often loud, confronting, and intrusive. I could tell her mood from when she first walked in the door. She could be provocative, angry, sweet, intelligent, suspicious, and just the normal Fiona. Over time these aspects of her personality gradually started to integrate, but did so completely on the day before Antony Kidman’s death. Since this day, Fiona has consistently been Fiona. An intelligent, vibrant, articulate human being.
Her integration was extraordinary and very humbling to witness. Her husband was also present per my request. She has been one of the most courageous people I have met in my career. She has pushed and pushed me to get through what she knew was sitting there under the surface doing push ups. I have witnessed her physically flip and move in ways that one would not deem possible. I have seen her vibrate from head to toe as she relived the horror of electrocution. I have heard her groan and scream from the depths of something so evil and foul that has been done to her as she re-experienced the traumas, through a process called EMDR. What was amazing is that after the experience the impact of that particular recall diminished in emotional intensity. No one could act this out.
Her family have also stood by her and are to be commended for their love and their belief in her. A testament to Fiona herself.