Motivations for the Satanic Panic

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“There are no cults that practice satanic ritual abuse (SRA).  Despite accusations of SRA that number in the tens of thousands, not one case has been substantiated.  The phenomenon of ‘recovered memory’ – in which a person experiences horrible abuse over several years, then completely forgets about it but suddenly remembers it with the help of a therapist – is the result of fevered imaginations running amuck.  The existence of satanic cults that practice ritual abuse is an urban myth fueled by societal fears of and fascination with sexuality.

… As a nation, we are obsessed with sex.  Unfortunately we also fear it, and repress our own interest in it, so it must be disguised and made unpleasant or violent to quiet our fears that watching it might arouse us, and to make information about it something a respectable person needs to know.  I feel that this ‘erotophobia,’ fear of erotic pleasure, is beneath as least some of the impulse behind both writing and reading the ‘satanic abuse’ stories …

… When something is labeled as forbidden and dangerous, it is easy to wonder if it could possibly be all that bad.  After all, the people telling us how bad the stuff is must have looked at it, and they seem more or less ok.  Furthermore, the urge to take at least a peek is very strong, particularly if one is raised in a belief system that labels any sexual impulse as very dangerous.  So not only does the reading of satanic child pornography, along with other types of sexual media, become permissible, it becomes almost an obligation to gain information to protect children and society.  I believe that a similar shocked, yet titillated, voyeurism fuels the current pop fascination with sadomasochistic imagery.

… The strongest force behind the satanic ritual and child abuse panic is people who fear, distrust, and want to get rid of any religion other than their own version of conservative Christianity.  Added to this is a major industry that ‘educates’ far right Christians, and any of the general public who get sucked in, regarding the dangers of Satanism, feminism, pornography, the homosexual menace, paganism, the New Age, meditation, sex education in schools, yoga, other world religions and the New World Order.  The Christian far right and their allies are horrified that so many women are leaving the home to go to work, and that divorce is an option.  What better way to convince them to stay home and stay married than to create a panic about daycare and other dangers to children?”

– Sharma Oliver, Claims of Satanic Ritual Abuse Are Unsubstantiated

Development of the ‘Evil’ Self and “Psuedo-Satanism”

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“In a few children, the self-concept of being a bad kid can go to an extreme, such as when children regard themselves as being ‘evil’ people.  This is most likely to happen when children have authoritarian, punitive parents, who use religious threats to humiliate and control them.  Michael Beck, a psychotherapist, has written about his own inner experience of having an ‘evil’ self-concept as a child.

‘I lived in constant dread of committing a mortal sin and dying without being forgiven … Imagine yourself as being in some precarious position … and not knowing quite how you got there.  Unrelieved dread leaves its indelible impression, and since anxiety generalizes, one grows apprehensive that things not evil are indeed evil merely because one becomes anxious about them.

This is a particularly taxing issue during adolescence, when one is constantly preoccupied with sex.  It is a mortal sin to think about sex.  The prescription for handling sexual impulses is suppression.  Since, whatever is suppressed intensifies and seeks expression, one is forced to handle a sticky wicket — so to speak.’

Beck goes on to explain how some people who develop an ‘evil’ self-image can lead themselves to believe that their behavior is being controlled by the Devil.

‘With even more damaged patients who think they are evil, the issue of their ability to deal with anger becomes a priority.  They often turn anger against themselves.  The extreme is the patient who becomes totally or partially identified with evil and feels she or he is either Jesus Christ or the devil, or possibly believes the devil is controlling him or her.’

These observations by Beck that some people have a self-concept of being ‘evil’ provide insight into why some teenage delinquents may be drawn to Satanic beliefs, in order to justify their aggressive behavior.  Adolescents who see themselves as being ‘evil,’ create a psychological environment consistent with their self-concept.  They see the world as they see themselves, a place where malicious evil is more genuine than compassion.

A therapist’s description of a seventeen-year-old girl involved in psuedo-Satanism illustrates the point.

‘Christina was also using satanism to rebel against her parents’ religion.  She did not keep her satanism a secret from her family.  When her mother asked her directly about her satanic beliefs, Christina told her mother that there was nothing good in the world and that was why she liked satanism.’

It is quite likely that a great many psuedo-Satanist teenagers are rebelling from an overly-restrictive, traditional religious family background which emphasizes that the world is an evil place.  The possibility needs to be investigated.”

– Jeffrey S. Victor, The Extent of Satanic Crime is Exaggerated