How Does A Conspiracy Therapist Practice?

Although conspiracy therapists vary in their methods, practices, and beliefs, they almost always incorporate some form of "recovered memory therapy" at their core. The most common pattern of RMT treatment looks similar to this:

  • 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 indicative of trauma. Sometimes the conspiracy 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 can only be 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."
  • The conspiracy therapist may then write books and deliver presentations to other mental health professionals and patients wherein the narratives of “survivors” are awarded a veneer of academic legitimacy by virtue of being accepted by the presenter -- a licensed practitioner.

Commonly, the conspiracy therapist's 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 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 are based in reality.
  • 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.

For first-hand accounts of what it's like to experience these kinds of techniques, please see our interviews with Jeannette Bartha and Roma Hart.