A Conspiracy Therapist is a mental health professional who transfers their own beliefs in bizarre and unsubstantiated phenomena to their patients through creating false memories or reinforcing existing delusions. As a group, they commonly:
- Distort and deny the widely accepted mainstream research that indicates their theories on memory are unsupported or contradict the best available studies;
- Treat patients with methods proven to be capable of producing false memories, generally without informed consent;
- Promote conspiracy narratives that lack reliably sourced corroborative evidence;
- Insist that any skepticism directed at their beliefs constitutes an attack on victims; denial of all forms of abuse; or an attempt to protect perpetrators;
- Provide a veneer of respectability by publishing in fringe outlets and peer-reviewing each other's work.
These therapists often incorporate additional forms of pseudoscience, discredited therapies, and controversial diagnoses, while generally overlooking or minimizing the very real problems that caused the patient to seek treatment in the first place. They practice at all levels, from social workers to psychiatrists, and in all branches of the mental health profession. Many specialize in the treatment of trauma, dissociative disorders, and depression. Their motivations are largely unknowable, and irrelevant. Even if their intentions are good, the effect of their actions on vulnerable patients and their families can be devastating.
Although conspiracy therapists vary in their methods, practices, and beliefs, a common pattern to their treatment is:
- Informing the client that their symptoms fit a pattern common to victims of a particular kind of abuse. Generally the supposed identifiers are extremely vague or common to the human experience.
- Asking leading questions of the patient about whether they might also have been a victim, without the client first suggesting the idea or revealing any memory of trauma. Even if the client denies the possibility of abuse, they're told that their initial denial is also evidence of abuse.
- Twisting the standards of evidence, such as claiming that dreams, physical sensations, emotions, doodles, and other occurrences are valid "proof" of trauma. Sometimes the therapist goes as far as stating that the lack of a memory of abuse is proof that abuse occurred.
- Placing the patient in a suggestible state - most often hypnosis, medication, sodium amytal interviews, and guided imagery - while continuing to lead and prod the patient toward their chosen theory.
- Declaring the patient's accounts during these mind-altering sessions to be accurate memories of trauma, usually involving childhood sexual abuse, that had been "repressed" into the unconscious for years, and returned to the conscious mind through therapy. Repressed memories, they argue, are not subject to the normal processes of remembering, forgetting, and confabulating like other memories, and should be accepted as true and accurate - no matter how illogical or downright impossible.
- Relabeling patients who accept these new memories as real accounts of past occurrences as "survivors."
Commonly, the therapist's conspiracy beliefs result in additional recommendations that isolate clients from their existing support systems, under the guise of keeping them safe from imaginary "perpetrator groups" such as the Illuminati, Satanic cults, and CIA mind control handlers. Examples include:
- Telling the survivor that that family members are involved in the conspiracy and either committed the abuse or turned them over to the abusers.
- Warning that anyone among their friends and family might be an undercover member of the group intent on harming them now that they've recovered their memories.
- Advising patients either to be constantly alert for signs someone close will betray them, or to detach entirely from friends and family, especially those who don't believe the recovered memories.
- Encouraging survivors to read confirming materials written by other believers.
- Cautioning that the perpetrators have thoroughly infiltrated other authority groups, such as the police, media, government, and especially organizations devoted to challenging conspiracy narratives. These "perpetrators in high places" are often invoked to explain away the lack of physical evidence for alleged crimes.
- Organizing group therapy sessions populated by fellow survivors that serve to further reinforce the validity of the new memories.
Does this narrative sound, well, crazy? We don't blame you for thinking so. To help introduce you to this world and view the evidence for yourself, we've assembled a list of people who operate in the bizarre alternate realities described above. We've selected a range of players, from conspiracy therapists to other professionals who support them, from those who began practicing during the early days of the Satanic Panic, through the younger generations who've followed their lead. Most are actively in practice, writing books and articles, and giving lectures, right now.