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THE SATANIC PANIC

Fear of Satanic cults trickled first through certain types of Christian churches. Then, in 1980, a bestselling book suddenly unleashed a rushing flood of public panic.

Michelle Remembers told a horrifying tale about a woman raised in the quaint west coast city of Victoria, Canada. Over many months of intense therapy (up to six hours per day) Michelle Smith slowly came to suspect that she had been abused as a child by a Satanic cult. This was not something she remembered to begin with. Her claims began with bad dreams. More nightmarish images flashed into her mind during trance-like therapy sessions. Her therapist Lawrence Pazder encouraged her mind to wander and recorded everything she said. Her dream like imaginings often made little sense. Over many months, however, the two slowly wove “many fragmentary sessions” into a story—and then into a scary book (unsuitable for young readers).

Their claims were outrageous. They said Smith’s own mother coldheartedly turned her over to Satanists, saying, “You belong to the Devil.” Supposedly, the cult tormented Smith though months of ghastly rituals. She claimed to have witnessed murders and sacrifices. She said the cult surgically sewed devils’ horns and a long tail onto her body. Smith even claimed that the group literally raised the Devil! Satan appears as a character in the book, emerging from a fire to recite bad poetry. Smith claimed to have physically touched Satan; he supposedly wrapped his tail around her. In the end, her ordeal was ended with personal help from the Virgin Mary.

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Skeptic
24.1
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Michelle E. Ainsworth holds an MA in history. She enjoys
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