One of the reasons there was a “Satanic Panic” scare in the 1980s and early 1990s — resulting in innocent people going to jail over alleged “ritual abuse” involving children — was because some therapists claimed that children had repressed memories of their molestation. By coercing children into “recovering” those memories of incidents that never occurred (a.k.a gaslighting them), therapists convinced juries to lock away innocent adults accused of being tools of Satan.
Over the weekend, the International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation held its annual conference in Chicago, and some of the sessions they held were advocating the same kinds of pseudoscience used in the 1980s to fuel the Satanic Panic.
That’s why members of The Satanic Temple’s Grey Faction were outside the Palmer House Hilton on Saturday, where the event was being held, to protest the harmful practices pushed by the ISSTD.
Today’s protest action is intended to draw awareness to the issues surrounding pseudoscience Recovered Memory Therapy, Dissociative Identity Disorder, and the hazards of an insular therapeutic community self-policing against harmful practices against their own economic interests.
Self-described as a “non-profit, professional association” that promotes “clinically effective, empirically based resources” for Mental Health professions, the ISSTD’s professional and scientific facade does not conceal their continued history of using therapy to promote debunked and discredited notions of international conspiracy. Dissociative Identity Disorder treatments, which many ISSTD members and presenters continue to be proponents of, disproportionately impacts the lives of women by exploiting the inherent power imbalance of the doctor-patient relationship. The ISSTD’s professional and scientific facade does not conceal their continued history of propagating conspiracy theories of organized Satanic abuse in therapy.
As Religion Dispatches noted two years ago when Grey Faction also protested the group’s conference, patients have been traumatized by the ISSTD’s practices:
Some [patients] even came to believe that their minds harbored repressed “cult programming” and that they could be a danger to their own children when this programming was triggered. In 1995, a former patient sued Bennett Braun MD, a founder and former president of ISSTD, claiming that he’d convinced her that she’d engaged in Satanic rituals, cannibalism, and infanticide. She received a $10.6 million dollar settlement. In 1999 Illinois state officials issued a temporary suspension of his medical license, yet he remains in practice in another state.
Earlier this year The Grey Faction drew attention to a disturbing case of a woman who killed her autistic child in to order to “save” him from further abuse at the hands of Satanic cults. Gigi Jordan had been trying to communicate with her nonverbal son using a discredited technique called “facilitated communication.”
The Grey Faction blames Ellen Lacter, a psychologist affiliated with the ISSTD and S.M.A.R.T. [Stop Mind Control and Ritual Abuse Today], who they claim encouraged Jordan’s paranoia.
The protests draw attention to an otherwise invisible group promoting very harmful and discredited techniques. More power to the Satanists for trying to make sure other patients don’t have to suffer the same way as these victims.
It’s too bad the members of ISSTD don’t have the same level of concern for people or respect for science.