ISSTD Exposed: A Culture of Conspiracy

As revealed in a letter from the Board of Directors of the International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation (ISSTD), the organization is seeking to become an American Psychological Association (APA)-approved continuing education (CE) provider. Should the APA grant the application, the ISSTD would have free reign to approve for CE credit presentations their current CE sponsors do not permit, such as those on “mind control.”

As stated in the letter, these restrictions imposed by the ISSTD’s CE sponsor in their effort to uphold the APA’s CE standards were a significant factor in the Board’s unilateral decision to rename the Ritual Abuse, Mind Control, and Organized Abuse (RAMCOA) Special Interest Group — now the “Organized and Extreme Abuse” (OEA) Special Interest Group — without input from group members. Another significant factor: “external detractors” (read: Grey Faction) referencing the RAMCOA Special Interest Group to “discredit” the ISSTD. The name change ignited a controversy evident in ISSTD discussion board threads published by Grey Faction.

But at the same time they’re rebranding to comply with stricter requirements for CE-approved presentations, the ISSTD shows no sign of shedding the rampant conspiracism in their ranks, particularly within the OEA Special Interest Group. Indeed, the letter from the Board of Directors announcing the changes applauds their work, describing the Special Interest Group as “the largest and most active in the ISSTD,” ensuring members that they hold the group “in high regard,” and clarifying that the name change “does not, in any way, affect the kinds of discussions you can have here.” The letter contained no criticism of the group whatsoever.

In short: they’re not abandoning Satanic Panic-era conspiracy theories, only creating the appearance of doing so. Such an organization cannot be relied upon to uphold CE standards; the APA must reject their application.

In discussion board posts and comments, ISSTD members constantly espouse conspiratorial views typically met by other members with uncritical acceptance — never doubt. The following is just a glimpse into the culture of conspiracy at the ISSTD.

  • At least 22 threads mention MKULTRA, overwhelmingly consisting of therapists claiming to have patients victimized by the CIA program which ended almost 50 years ago. They believe the failed mind control experiments continue today.
  • Numerous threads mention “Satanic ritual abuse,” usually abbreviated as “SRA.” Michael Salter, on the Board of Directors of the ISSTD, in one comment refers to “SRA” as an “insider term” that should be avoided when talking to “outsiders.”
  • In a reply to a post about the letter from the ISSTD Board of Directors announcing the OEA Special Interest Group’s name change, Sue Pease Banitt writes that she is “not sure new clinicians coming into ISSTD for Satanic Ritual Abuse cases or MKUltra would even know where to look.” Banitt, who promotes QAnon-aligned conspiracy theories on her website, further stated that “Qanon and the Republicans are not wrong about everything, and they are more correct than Democrats who deny any kind of government sponsored mind control or networked child sex trafficking groups.”
  • A thread by OEA Committee Chair Kate McMaugh seeks help for a client whose perpetrators play a certain song which activates her mind control programming “to bring her back to the group where she is re-abused.”
  • In response to a thread about a client with a cult-created “programmed suicide date,” Valerie Sinason — who once likened Satanic sacrifices to “an Auschwitz in peacetime” — argued that the date being the client’s 33rd birthday had enormous occult significance: “The number 33 has rich occult meaning good and bad. Think of the 33rd level of freemasonry for starters.” Sinason was Chair of RAMCOA at the time of this post. Ellen Lacter also chimed in.
  • Nancy Rivas authored a thread in which she claims that a client of hers from an “MKULTRA family” who “was groomed from infancy to be a sex slave” had an urge to sexually abuse a doll. A reply from Sue Pease Banitt suggests that there is an “obvious issue of programming and parts whose job it may be to abuse other children.” Alison Miller offered her conspiracy-laden input as well.
  • A thread by Sue Richardson requests info on “The Wolves,” an apparently yet-to-be-uncovered cult of ritualistic abusers.
  • A thread by Jason Cleveland reports on a discussion he had with an “SRA” patient in whom he claims to have identified approximately 90 “parts” over 10 months of therapy. The patient allegedly claimed that their master is Lucifer. Alison Miller applauds Cleveland for his work.
  • Tara Tulley claims that Satanic symbols had been burned onto her uterus: “I am a survivor and I had a hysterectomy at the age of 35. I just had some intuition that it needed to be done. It was the right decision because it helped reverse some autoimmune symptoms that were ruining my health. I asked the doctor to take a picture of uterus and there were three symbols burned onto the outside of my uterus that match a representation of Three Lucfarian diety [sic].”

Look through the files yourself and share your findings on Twitter using #ISSTDExposed.

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