How Science Created Our Panic About Satanic Cults

GABRIELE NEGRI is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Satanists Blame Psychology For Satanic Panic

If you lived in the 1970s and 1980s you may remember the fear of Satanism. Music records were played backward to attempt to prove they were about allegiance to the devil, serial killers were seen as influenced by evil, and Tom Hanks even played a college kid turned into a cold-blooded killer by a Dungeons and Dragons Game.

But the most terrifying myth was that of satanic ritual cults. People talked about how they were subjected to violence and abuse as teens or being victim to a growing band of Satanists trying to destroy all Christians.

The problem was that it was not true. Most of the “victims” were manipulated by a now discredited technique called “recovery memory therapy.” The belief is individuals that have had terribly tragic memories repress and forget them. Through hypnotherapy, they are able to “recover” these memories. The problem is most of the time people can be manipulated to create false memories through suggestion. When people have tragedy they don’t repress memories, they actually have a hard time forgetting them.

This caused many people to give false accusations of abuse from Satanist parents. Christian Evangelicals picked up on this as a sign of the growing “end times” and used this to help push their own agenda. This time period was called the “Satanic Panic.”

Satanists in Chicago are protesting that this type of therapy is being promoted at the International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation. Even though the scientific community has completely written off recovery memory therapy, The Satanic Temple argues that the ISSTD are still focusing on it as a legitimate technique.

The ISSTD has not issued a response to the protestors.

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