Who are you?
Grey Faction is a campaign of The Satanic Temple dedicated to ending the ongoing Satanic Panic in the mental health field. Our volunteers are from a wide range of backgrounds, including those victimized by bad therapy, mental health professionals, journalists, researchers, and others committed to fighting pseudoscience and conspiracism.
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 therapy which can lead patients to “recover” memories of Satanic ritual abuse, alien abduction, CIA mind control, and reptilian extraterrestrials long after the scientific community has debunked and warned of the dangers of these techniques and the conspiracy theories they fuel. We focus attention on therapeutic malpractice by exposing conspiracy therapists, our term for mental health professionals who subscribe to conspiracy theories of Satanic ritual abuse and practice recovered memory therapy as well as other discredited and dangerous modalities.
Our mission isn’t a matter of criticizing the misguided beliefs of random individuals with a tendency toward paranoid conspiracism; it is a matter of harmful conspiracy theories being propagated to the mentally vulnerable in the context of sanctioned therapeutic care.
We also stand firmly against all forms of reparative or “conversion” therapy.
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. We are emphatically in favor of evidence-based mental health care. 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 However, a therapist must utilize ethical and evidence-based practices rather than debunked, conspiracist, and outdated theories and techniques that cause harm to those who seek help.
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 abuse 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 (or “dissociated”) memories hidden in a patient’s mind. Multiple therapeutic techniques commonly employed during this search can result in the patient “recalling” convincing, detailed false memories, especially when the therapist (unintentionally or otherwise) uses leading questions and prodding to steer the conversation toward their pre-existing beliefs. When the therapist holds odd beliefs, their patients can “recover” memories of events as ridiculous as alien abduction. Methods such as hypnosis, guided imagery, and EMDR may have valid use in other contexts, but when employed by therapists seeking to uncover forgotten memories, the results are often disastrous.
Contrary to established, mainstream science, these proponents allege that traumatic 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 manifesting as anxiety and depression. The most extreme childhood trauma cases, some therapists claim, could even cause the personality to split, in a condition initially called “multiple personality disorder” and later renamed “dissociative identity disorder.”
The purpose of recovered memory therapy is typically to discover the “root cause” of a patient’s psychological symptoms. By digging up supposed “repressed” traumas suffered by the patient, the proponents of recovered memory therapy argue, the true “cause” of their psychological affliction can be discovered. Only then can healing begin, they claim. In reality, patients undergoing this type of therapy typically end up with more severe mental health problems than the symptoms that prompted them to seek therapy in the first place.
What's the harm if some people believe in these practices?
Bad therapy ruins lives. People subjected to illegitimate practices not only fail to obtain the help they need, but they end up worse off. Patients often become disconnected from friends and family, and end up becoming dependent on their therapist. People falsely accused of abuse on the sole basis of recovered memories have been imprisoned, some for decades. These practices ruin lives, destroy families, and cause irreparable damage to communities.
Although recovered memory therapy is deployed for the purpose of uncovering real memories of trauma hidden from a patient’s conscious awareness, there is no evidence that such a mechanism for “repressing” or “dissociating” memories of traumatic events exists. Moreover, research has shown that the methods used in the course of recovered memory therapy can 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. Therefore, even if it is possible for traumatic memories to be buried in the mind (again, there is no evidence for this), it remains true that recovered memory therapy creates false memories and is a dangerous practice.
What’s the relevance today?
The Satanic Panic never really died -- it just went underground, with its recycled conspiracy theories arising from time to time in moments of hysteria such as today’s Pizzagate and QAnon. 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 most of the rest of society (and their profession) has long recognized as debunked.
Our 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 propagate harmful conspiracy theories in the name of therapeutic care.
We are regularly contacted by individuals recently subjected to recovered memory therapy and their therapist’s conspiracy theories who wish to join our fight. Much of what happened during the Satanic Panic of the 80s and 90s continues to occur today.
Are you saying child abuse never occurs?
Absolutely not. We acknowledge 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 we fight 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” 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 multigenerational and internationally ubiquitous.
There are some seriously unwell individuals who have engaged in activities that could arguably be defined as “ritual abuse.” Such cases are rare, and should not be confused with, nor may be used to justify, the bizarre claims of the conspiracy therapists relating to widespread, secretive, worldwide cults engaging in systematic abuses and murders. The conspiracy theory is the only justification for the prevalence of the conspiracy therapists and clinics specializing in cult ritual abuse. Similarly, ritual abuse should not be confused with clerical abuse, the well-documented sexual abuse of children perpetrated by trusted members of recognized religious institutions.
Many conspiracy therapists believe the function of (non-existent) ritual abuse, by virtue of being so bizarre and horrific, is to ensure all memories associated with the abuse(s) are repressed. Some even go so far as to claim that there is a grand unified conspiracy of Satanists, the Illuminati, the CIA, the Freemasons, and others, who utilize ritualistic abuse to install a form of “mind control” in their victims; this “programming” allows these alleged perpetrators to call upon their victims’ “alter personalities” to carry out their dirty work, to include assassinations, human trafficking, child pornography, and the ritual abuse of others. Such beliefs make strange bedfellows of the likes of Alex Jones and David Icke -- and dozens, or perhaps hundreds, of state-licensed mental health professionals.
It is important to note that claims of “ritual abuse” pre-date the Satanic Panic. The notion that minority religious groups commit horrific acts in the context of rituals dates all the way back to the Middle Ages, when Jews were accused of abducting Christian children and using their blood to make matzo. Since then, the blood libel has been consistently recycled and lodged against maligned groups and individuals. In fact, the Satanic Panic and QAnon can be understood as recent, nearly-identical reiterations of the blood libel.
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. Other organizations within the mental health field include Survivorship and SMART, a tortured acronym that somehow stands for “Stop Mind Control and Ritual Abuse Today.” The president of both of these organizations is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor named Neil Brick, who has claimed that he was a brainwashed supersoldier for the Illuminati and assassinated at least one person and was trained to rape and kill “without feeling.”
What does mainstream science say about memory and trauma?
Memory for traumatic events, particularly in those who suffer from PTSD, is generally 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, in general, 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 are positively correlated -- in other words, the more severe the trauma, the less we are able to forget it -- has yet to be overturned, and not for a lack of trying.
Even if this scientific consensus were to be convincingly disputed, the fact would remain that recovered memory therapy can and does 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 (again, there is no evidence for either of these claims), this does not change the fact that recovered memory therapy 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 malpractice.
What about Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD) and Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID)? Is DID real?
Simplistic questions about whether DID is "real" or "fake" miss the mark. Some people experience the symptoms that characterize DID as codified in the DSM. The important question is what causes it.
The connection between Satanic Panic and MPD/DID is undeniable. Far too frequently, patients are diagnosed with DID and told by their therapist that their symptoms of mental illness are rooted in traumatic experiences from their childhood. The therapist and patient then embark on a journey using one or more recovered memory therapy techniques to uncover the forgotten trauma. (Patients who recall childhood trauma prior to entering therapy are often told by their therapist that this never-forgotten trauma was not extreme enough to cause their disorder, so they must go digging for more.) Before long, the patient begins to recover memories of abuse, often starting with realistic abuse scenarios such as being sexually abused by a relative. Over time, the nature of the memories recovered in therapy may become increasingly bizarre, sometimes leading to dubious recollections of Satanic ritual abuse, alien abductions, and/or military mind control experiments. When this occurs, it is often a result of suggestion -- conscious or otherwise -- on the part of the therapist. It is no coincidence that therapists who believe in Satanic Panic narratives inevitably find support for such conspiracy theories in their patients' memories.
The all-too-common scenario described above is an inevitable outcome of the predominance in the dissociative disorders field of the trauma model of DID. According to this model, dissociative disorders like DID develop as a result of trauma. But the reality is that there are probably multiple pathways by which a patient can develop the cluster of symptoms that characterize DID. Factors that likely contribute to the development of DID include irregularities in sleep, fantasy proneness, poor self-regulation, intrusive thoughts, and distress, as well as social and cultural factors. Trauma may also be an important variable, just not the sole causal factor that the trauma model suggests it is. This all-encompassing approach to understanding what causes DID is highly threatening to organizations like the ISSTD, who refuse to acknowledge the myriad shortcomings of the trauma model. If they recognize that DID can occur in the absence of trauma, then it does not make sense for therapists to attempt to recover memories of forgotten abuse during childhood. Moreover, they would have to face the fact that memories recovered during therapy -- including memories of Satanic ritual abuse and military mind control experiments -- are extremely unreliable. All of this is compounded by the fact that many people are incorrectly diagnosed in the first place following inadequate diagnostic interviews conducted by clinicians prone to seeing DID in patients who do not have it. Unfortunately, these patients sometimes develop DID as a result of the therapy that follows.
The trauma model of DID has dominated the field for decades despite being wholly inadequate in explaining what causes DID. This is probably why there are currently no empirically supported treatments for DID. An evidence-based discussion of what causes DID and how to treat it is long overdue.
What should I do if a loved one is harmed by these practices?
We are dedicated to exposing the mental health professionals that utilize pseudoscientific and harmful practices--and the institutions that enable them. We are interested in hearing from individuals who have fallen victim to these practices (or loved ones of those who have) so that we can learn more about this phenomenon and, if warranted, look into the therapist in question.
That said, we are 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.