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 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 delusional 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 However, a therapist must utilize ethical and evidence-based practices rather than debunked, conspiracist, and outdated theories and techniques that cause harm to those who seek help.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 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 (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 and guided imagery 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 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 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 presenting psychological symptoms, such as anxiety or depression. 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 the rest of society 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 as has been noted by many child welfare and anti-human trafficking organizations.
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 indisputable sexual abuse of children perpetrated by trusted members of recognized religious institutions.
Many conspiracy therapists believe the non-existent ritual abuse, by virtue of being so bizarre and horrific, serves the function of ensuring all memories associated with the event(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 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, who 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 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)?
We do not believe people diagnosed with DID are “faking” their symptoms; we believe people really do suffer from symptoms of mental illness akin to the diagnostic criteria for DID as spelled out in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). However, we are skeptical that people really can have multiple personalities -- one of the diagnostic criteria in the DSM-5 -- in an objective sense. One reason for our skepticism is an apparent lack of amnesia between alters. Thus it is important to note that the DSM is not a finalized document, but a representation of a constantly-evolving consensus; unsurprisingly, the DSM has contained numerous mistakes throughout the years -- as its authors readily acknowledge -- and it would be foolish to conclude that its current version is flawless.
Although we are not entirely aligned with the DSM on DID, we believe everyone who experiences symptoms of mental illness -- including those diagnosed with DID -- should have access to effective, ethical, and evidence-based mental health treatment. It is also important to consider that there is significant overlap between DID and other forms of mental illness (such as borderline personality disorder) and many people that have been diagnosed with DID learned they were misdiagnosed upon obtaining a second opinion. Additionally, many professionals have presented arguments that presentations of MPD/DID can be, and often are, a result of “blatant iatrogenesis” - that is, a result of MPD/DID-oriented coercive or suggestive therapy.
We should also acknowledge the undeniable link between DID and the Satanic ritual abuse conspiracy theory. In a major sense, there would be no Satanic Panic without DID; those diagnosed as having been victimized by Satanic cults are almost invariably diagnosed with DID. Moreover, many DID “experts” are firm believers in Satanic ritual abuse.
The modern tide of academic writing on MPD/DID began 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/DID has been a 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 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 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 “alter personalities” of the earlier writing.
Thus, there is a range of interpretation as to what DID even is within the segment of the mental health community that entertains its legitimacy as a traumagenic disorder in the first place. There is also sometimes a troubling gap in the way it is discussed in public-facing venues vs. within the “trauma community.” [code word 1: pseudoscience] 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. We reiterate: everyone who experiences symptoms of mental illness deserves access to safe and effective treatment no matter their diagnosis.
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.