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Older siblings always seem a little weird


It's always a surprise when we find out some variety of nonsense we thought was long gone turns out to still be with us, like astrology, "channeling," or interest in a Full House reunion show. Add "Satanic Ritual Abuse" to that pile of idiocy that simply won't go away: We thought it was a wholly debunked artifact of the 1980s, but apparently there are still a few "therapists" out there who are dedicated to "helping survivors" of the nonexistent bands of Satanists who have supposedly traumatized millions with all the baby sacrifice and stuff. In reality-land, people figured out fairly quickly that, no, there wasn't a nationwide network of Satanists forcing daycare kids to witness babies being fed to sharks. The complete lack of missing babies was one of the tip-offs, there.

And yet here we are in 2016, with some quacks still in full Satanic Panic mode, organizing conferences warning about the clear and present dangers of "Satanic Abuse." Problem is, according to the rationalist wacktivists of the Satanic Temple (who aren't really "Satanists" so much as anti-theocracy advocates), the "therapists" seem to be the ones who are desperately in need of help. And perhaps having their licensure revoked, please.

We won't go down the entire rabbit hole here, but the Satanic Temple's "Grey Faction" -- which "is dedicated to combating pseudoscience and witch-hunting conspiracism with rational inquiry" -- has posted a petition at Change.org asking the Massachusetts Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation to investigate a counselor named Neil Brick, whose practice appears to be built around treating victims of supposed "Ritual Abuse."

Brick runs any number of websites, and is the head of something called ‘Survivorship’, a supposed resource for "survivors of ritual abuse, mind control and torture, and pro-survivors," which isn't even grammatical, let alone grounded in medical science. Brick also runs another "organization" called "Stop Mind-control And Ritual Abuse Today" -- S.M.A.R.T., get it? -- and runs conferences where some seriously weird advice is given. For instance, you shouldn't trust your spouse, since they may actually be an agent of the mind-control conspiracy. The petition asks Massachusetts authorities to investigate a number of "potentially dangerous" and "radically paranoid, unsubstantiated, delusional beliefs" pushed by Brick:

  • Neil Brick claims to believe that he was brainwashed to be an assassin for the Illuminati/Freemasons.
  • Neil Brick claims that, as part of his brainwashing by the Illuminati/Masonic conspiracy, he was programmed to rape and kill “without feeling.”
  • Neil Brick claims that he once murdered a man in an unreported incident in Europe.
  • Neil Brick holds regular conferences wherein his delusional beliefs are propagated to Mental Health consumers by him and his co-conspiracists.
  • At a very recent conference (May 2016), Neil Brick expressed concern that attendees could “trigger” mind-control programming by touching their faces. Neil Brick imposed a prohibition against face-touching and asked that people sit on their hands. (Keep in mind, this is a man who claims that his own mind-control programming impels him to rape and kill. The implication is clear.)
  • Neil Brick continues to propagate debunked and disregarded narratives of concealed occult crimes from the height of the “Satanic Panic.”
  • Neil Brick demonstrates a complete lack of understanding regarding cognitive/behavioral development, claiming to believe that Masons and/or Satanic cults torture fetuses so as to begin mind-controlling them at the earliest possible stage.

The petition includes video taken at that May 2016 conference, showing Brick warning about the face-touching, repeatedly:

He seems.... not so nice. We're not sure we'd want to be talking to someone like this about our issues.

Here the story starts going well beyond just laughable pseudoscience and tips over into the outright gruesome. Ellen Lacter, a licensed psychologist in California and an admirer of Brick's "work," appears to have provided counseling services to a severely disturbed woman who killed her autistic 8-year-old son in 2010, believing him to be the victim of ongoing Satanic abuse. Here's the short version:

In that case, a deranged mother, convinced that her 8-year-old son was destined to suffer endlessly at the hands of a hidden Satanic criminal network, killed the child after retaining Ellen Lacter’s counseling services. Lacter openly espouses panicked narratives of secretive mind-control cults engaged in sinister world domination schemes. Grey Faction, feeling it more-than-reasonable to suspect that the mother might have (at the very least) been less inclined to kill her child if she had retained a responsible, rational mental health professional, rather than a clearly delusional paranoiac like Ellen Lacter, issued a petition to the California Board of Psychology, requesting that Ellen Lacter’s mental state be evaluated and her licensure reconsidered. At this writing, the Grey Faction complaint is under review.

We took a look at Ellen Lacter's website, "End Ritual Abuse," and it reads a lot more like something produced by Alex Jones than by the American Psychological Association. It's full of stuff about "government-sponsored mind control experimentation on children" and helpful explanations of "the Differences Between Satanism and Witchcraft." That's vital information: you wouldn't want to get your mind-controlling abusers mixed up.

So, yes, it looks like there are some very disturbed folks out there. Unfortunately, some of them may be sitting behind desks, with framed diplomas and counseling licenses on the wall. That can't be good. We are not a lawyer or a mental health professional, but this stuff looks hinky as hell to us.

[io9 / Salon / Change.org / Patheos / RawStory / Grey Faction]

Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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