Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Where the Witch-hunters are: Satanic Panic and mental health malpractice

By Douglas Mesner and Sarah Ponto Rivera

“I have met many demons, devils, evil characters, representatives of Satan, and Satan himself in my MPD [Multiple Personality Disorder] work.” -- Colin Ross, MD, 1994 Past President, International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation (ISSTD)

“I remain troubled about the matter of transgenerational satanic cults.” -- Richard Kluft, MD, 2014 Past President, ISSTD

It is with an ironic sense of disdain that we can now look back upon the day-care sex-abuse hysteria of the 80s and 90s, with its imaginary conspiracy of pedophilic Satanic cult activity, and remark that one of its primary instigators was a devout Catholic. A foundational text for the “Satanic Panic”, as it came to be called, was co-authored by the pious psychiatrist Lawrence Pazder who, with his client-turned-wife, Michelle Smith, wrote of Smith’s alleged early ritual abuse at the hands of a secret Devil-worshipping society. Michelle Remembers (1980), billed as a true story and humored as such within the talk-show circuit of the time, was a ludicrous supernatural horror story in which both Christ and Satan made dramatic guest appearances. The senseless, confabulatory ramblings upon which the “facts” of the book were constructed, were gleaned from hypnotic regression sessions, in which Pazder claimed Smith had recalled horrific events that had previously been “repressed” deep within her unconscious mind.

It doesn’t take any lofty credentials in psychology to whiff some air of projection in Catholic claims, that yet persist, against their imaginary enemy’s loathsome proclivities. And while the Satanic Panic witch-hunt extended well beyond the Catholic Church, and beyond political boundaries -- even at times finding its paranoid claims prosecuted, without credible evidence, in the hallowed halls of secular “justice” -- one can still easily sense that same guilty projection in all of the twisted, grotesquely detailed child abuse fantasies of that era. In passionate tones of moral outrage, self-appointed occult crime authorities and Ritual Abuse experts gathered at informational meetings and conferences to revel in sadistic child abuse tales, similar in transparent latency to angered pulpit-pounding outcry against the “homosexual agenda”.