Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Who are you?

Grey Faction consists of a worldwide network of volunteers from a wide range of backgrounds, including mental health professionals, journalists, researchers, and others committed to fighting pseudoscience. Our members include victims of conspiracy therapists -- mental health professionals whose bizarre beliefs are transferred to their patient during therapy.

What exactly does Grey Faction stand for?

Grey Faction is dedicated to opposing the use of harmful practices in the mental health field, especially recovered memory therapies which are responsible for patients continuing to “recover” memories of Satanic ritual abuse, alien abduction, CIA mind control, and reptilian extraterrestrials long after the scientific community has warned of the dangers of these techniques. We focus attention on these risks by exposing  conspiracy therapists.

This mission isn’t a matter of criticizing the misguided beliefs of unorganized individuals with a tendency toward paranoid conspiracism: this is a matter of delusional conspiracy theories being propagated to the mentally vulnerable in the context of sanctioned therapeutic care.

We also stand firmly against reparative, or “conversion” therapies.

We oppose the use of these harmful therapies because they are dangerous for the patient, their family, their community, and society at large.

Are you anti-therapy?

Absolutely not. Everyone could benefit from therapy at some point in their life. In fact, just about everyone could benefit from therapy at any point in their life. However, this is contingent upon the therapist utilizing ethical and evidence-based practices rather than debunked, conspiracist, and outdated theories and techniques that cause harm to those who seek help.

As should be clear, our focus is primarily on how mental health treatments affect patients. We view patients being “treated” by conspiracy therapists as victims in need of legitimate mental health care. We feel nothing but compassion for victims of real traumas and false memories alike, as well as for all individuals suffering from symptoms of mental illness.

What is recovered memory therapy? Why do you oppose it? 

Recovered memory therapy is any attempt by a therapist to retrieve allegedly repressed memories hidden in the patient’s subconscious. Multiple therapeutic techniques commonly employed during this search can result in the patient’s mind producing convincing, detailed false memories, especially when the therapist (unintentionally or otherwise) steers the conversation toward their preferred narrative. When the therapist holds odd beliefs, their patients can “recover” memories of events as ridiculous as alien abduction. Methods such as hypnosis and guided imagery may have valid use in other contexts, but when employed by therapists seeking repressed memories, the results can be disastrous.

Contrary to established, mainstream science, these proponents allege that repressed memories are not subject to the ordinary processes of remembering, forgetting, and alteration over time. Instead, these memories are believed to remain crystal clear -- locked in the sufferer’s subconscious -- while still producing anxiety and depression in the conscious mind. The most extreme childhood trauma cases, some therapists claim, could even cause the personality to splinter, and shards of personalities could be repressed too, in a condition initially called “Multiple Personality Disorder” and later renamed “Dissociative Identity Disorder.”

The purpose of recovered memory therapies is typically to discover the “root cause” of a patient’s presenting psychological symptoms, such as anxiety or depression. By digging up supposed “repressed” traumas suffered by the patient, the proponents of recovered memory therapies argue, the true “cause” of their psychological affliction can be discovered. Only then can healing begin, they claim.

What's the harm if some people believe in these practices?

Although recovered memory therapies are deployed for the purpose of uncovering real memories of trauma repressed from a patient’s conscious awareness, there exists no evidence that such a mechanism exists. Moreover, research has shown that the methods used in the course of recovered memory therapy can unintentionally create false memories in the patient. In other words, these practices can -- and have -- resulted in false allegations of horrendous crimes, including sexual abuse, torturous Satanic rituals, infant sacrifice, and cannibalism.

What’s the relevance today?

The Satanic Panic never really died -- it just went underground. In fact, many licensed mental health professionals who helped ignite the Satanic Panic in the 1980s remain prominent figures on the fringe of the mental health field today. Many of them continue to promote the same conspiracy theories that the rest of society has long recognized as debunked.

A Grey Faction investigation revealed how Satanic cult conspiracy fears, aided by licensed mental health professionals, helped inspire a mother to kill her own 8-year-old son, for which she was sentenced to 18 years in prison in 2015. Mental health care consumers and the public at large deserve better than to have licensed professionals propagating harmful conspiracy theories in the name of therapeutic care.

Are you saying child abuse never occurs?

Grey Faction acknowledges the grim reality of child sexual abuse, as well as the deep and long-lasting psychological impact it can have on its victims. Our aim is to ensure that such victims find themselves in the care of competent professionals whose practice is rooted in scientific, evidence-based methodology.

It is a common ploy of the conspiracy therapist to insist that any skepticism directed toward their ludicrous claims constitutes denial of sexual abuse in general, or is indicative of an “agenda” to protect perpetrators. In reality, it is out of concern for victims of abuse that Grey Faction fights against conspiracist delusions being imposed upon them during therapy.

It is important to note that this dispute regarding the legitimacy of claims regarding a Satanic cult conspiracy and/or the legitimacy of recovered memory therapies can in no way be contextualized as a dispute between defenders of victims’ rights and those who deny that abuse takes place. The critical examination of claims related to Satanic ritual abuse or other highly implausible narratives is remarkably different from casting doubt upon the stories of victims of horrific abuses that happen all too often in the real world. Indeed, pursuing imaginary cults distracts from efforts to isolate and prosecute real perpetrators.

What about ritual abuse?

Because society at large looks back on the Satanic Panic with regret and shame, many who continue to propagate the debunked conspiracy theory have dropped the reference to the devil from the phrase “Satanic ritual abuse.”

“Ritual abuse,” in this context, should be understood as organized abuse perpetrated by religious groups, or nebulous “others” or outsiders, as part of a ritual. These groups are usually believed to be widespread and multigenerational.

There are some sick-minded individuals in the world, and some have likely engaged in activities that could arguably be defined as “ritual abuse.” This should not be confused with, nor may be used to justify, the bizarre claims of the conspiracy therapist relating to ubiquitous, secretive, worldwide cults engaging in systematic abuses and murders. Similarly, ritual abuse should not be confused with clerical abuse, the indisputable sexual abuse of children perpetrated by trusted community members of recognized religious institutions.

Many conspiracy therapists believe the ritual abuse, by virtue of being so bizarre and horrific, serves the function of ensuring all memories associated with the event(s) are repressed. Such beliefs make strange bedfellows of the likes of Alex Jones and David Icke -- and dozens of state-licensed mental health professionals.

Who is promoting these techniques and conspiracy therapies?

The nucleus of this network of licensed mental health professionals who continue to propagate conspiracy theories is the International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation (ISSTD). The ISSTD holds conferences and seminars throughout the year, attendees of which may receive American Psychological Association (APA)-approved continuing education units -- required for licensure renewal -- for listening to speakers spread pseudoscience and conspiracism.

What does mainstream science say about memory and trauma?

Memory for traumatic events, particularly in those who suffer from PTSD, is intrusive and persistent. From flashbacks to nightmares to sensory triggers, PTSD patients might wish they could forget -- or repress -- memories of the traumatic events that cause them so much suffering. Moreover, the more severe the trauma, the more severe the symptoms.

Yet not all traumatic events result in PTSD. And in response to the same trauma, some people may develop PTSD and some may not. Those who do not develop PTSD may forget that the traumatic event occurred for days, weeks, or even years at a time. This is normal forgetting followed by spontaneous recall -- not repression.

Those who believe that a trauma can be so severe that one represses all memory for the event have presented no convincing evidence to support their position. The scientific consensus that trauma severity and memory for the trauma share a positive linear relationship -- in other words, the more severe the trauma, the less we are able to forget it -- has yet to be overturned.

Even if this scientific consensus were to be convincingly disputed, the fact would remain that recovered memory therapies can instill false memories. In other words, if it were discovered that people can repress memories of trauma -- as distinguished from normal forgetting -- and later recover them, this does not change the fact that recovered memory therapies can result in the implantation of dangerous and harmful false memories. Therefore, if our scientific understanding of trauma and memory evolves to accommodate the potential for memories of severe trauma to be repressed -- and we believe this to be profoundly unlikely given the current body of  evidence -- recovered memory therapies will remain, in our opinion, a form of psychiatric malpractice.

What about Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD) and Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID)?

The modern tide of academic writing on MPD begins around 1980, and the 1980s saw a wealth of literature presenting the condition in very simplistic terms. Therein a case is made that even a single traumatic event in childhood could be so damaging to the psyche so as to fracture it into pieces, or “alters,” that are literal personalities within the individual. These personalities were reported to have their own life histories and accompanying memories, proclivities, tastes, allergies, and even eye colors. Memory, in particular, has been regarded as central to the condition ever since DSM-III R (1987), and memory recovery and processing was, and remains, the central component of treatment.

Due to the catastrophic fallout from the Satanic Panic, MPD has been the subject of controversy within the mental health community as well as in popular circles. Accordingly, the academic literature on MPD has evolved over the last three decades. Some of this was little more than obfuscation intended to stem the tide of push-back (e.g. renaming to MPD to DID to retain parity with a more circumspect DSM-IV in 1994). Some of the evolution, however, represents genuine nuance in part of the community. In developmental models of DID, for example, the condition is seen as a sort of coping mechanism for traumatic episodes that are part of an extended pattern of both trauma and love and support. In effect, an “alter state” here might not be so dissimilar from a sort of more durable “thousand yard stare” common in battle-induced PTSD cases. It would be a stretch to call this sort of state even a metaphorical personality. Even if it had some behavioral components (rocking back and forth, etc.) that were unique to it, it is a very far cry from the literal “alters” of the earlier writing.

Thus, there is a range of interpretation as to what DID even is within the relatively small segment of the mental health community that entertains its legitimacy as a traumagenic disorder in the first place. There is also sometimes a troubling dichotomy in the way it is discussed in public-facing venues vs. within the “trauma community.” One encounters eyebrow-raising statements made at ISSTD conferences by individuals that would be difficult to recognize from their relatively respectable academic writing, for example.

This is an intolerable situation for a supposedly professional community. Foundational ambiguity of this magnitude, an unwillingness by some practitioners to talk openly about their real views, and the pervasive use of a clearly dangerous treatment method mean that patients currently diagnosed with DID should be treated by qualified professionals outside this circle.

What should I do if a loved one is harmed by these practices?

Grey Faction is dedicated to exposing the mental health professionals that utilize pseudoscientific and harmful practices -- and the state licensing boards and other organizations that enable them. We are interested in hearing from individuals with loved ones or who have themselves fallen victim to these practices as a means of spreading awareness of the ongoing conspiracy culture within corners of the mental health field, and/or to look into the therapist allegedly engaging in these practices.

That said, Grey Faction is not equipped to offer hands-on support to individuals who are currently falling victim to abusive therapy. However, if you get in contact with us, we may be able to point you in the right direction.

 

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