One hundred percent of the people reading this show symptoms of Satanic Ritual Abuse.

Which either means we have a “ritual abuse” pandemic…or that the supposed symptoms are hilariously broad and non-specific. Such a conundrum, I wonder which one it’ll turn out to be?

While we tend to think of the old “ritual abuse” routine as an artifact of the ’80s, there are still ostensible medical professionals drilling for this snake oil well into the 21st century.

In fact it’s surprisingly easy to find a contemporary con. Here’s a list of supposed “ritual abuse indicators” from just 2010, flogged by someone identified as “Dr. Lacter.”

(Some of these appeared recently on a Grey Faction blog, but I was so intrigued I had to learn more, because I’m really sick in ways that Dr. Lacter just can’t diagnose.)


satanic ritual abuse modern

“I knew it: You’ve got Hellmouth.”


Supposed warning signs include:

“A strong sense of social justice and victim advocacy. May seek careers in social services, a strong wounded healer. Political and social crusader. Advocate for animal rights. Loves pets.”

Yes, the most awesome people you know were abused by Satanists, best not to probe that one too closely.

“May be depressed or anxious or have sexual or substance-abuse problems.”

So, just being a Millennial? That adds up.

“Fears, phobias, or nightmares of doctors, hospitals, syringes, blood, vomit, knives, guns, insects, snakes, spiders, jail, drowning, police” or even “fear or nightmares of men, women, and babies.”

Well I am very sensitive about being arrested by gun-wielding blood-spider babies at the hospital. But, you know, once bitten…

“Fears or an attraction to the occult, vampires, astrology, witchcraft.”

That’s right, both fear of AND attraction to witchcraft count as red flags. But you really need to be sitting down for this one:

“Hatred or attraction to Nazis and white supremacy groups.”

Other that Twitter moderators, there are any people on Earth who neither love nor hate Nazis?

Of course some of these do sound pretty serious:

“Threatening or denigrating voices, perceived as coming from inside the head. Dissociated identities, often with hundreds of parts. History of significant suicidality.”

You can see the problem though: Symptoms may include some of the most innocuous things possible, or they may include incredibly flagrant and severe trauma. Well thanks for narrowing it all down, doc.

To say nothing of the pièce de résistance here:

“May be relatively normal and highly functional.”

Well the coast is clear, I don’t know a single person who manifests this behavior.

Who the hell is Dr. Lacter, other than the first draft lead name for an ill-advised Silence Of the Lambs porn parody?

Per the bio I can only assume she wrote herself, Ellen Lacter is “a psychologist who has been profoundly touched by victims of ritual abuse.” 

Milking Lacter’s site yields some, um, interesting ideas about the occult. She writes that Satanism first emerged in the year 9 CE, whereas witchcraft apparently dates back to the year 10,000.

She writes that in Satanism “Satan is viewed as the real god” but also “each man is a god himself,” which is just a bit contrary.

“Satanists tried to enhance Satan’s power for his usurpation of god’s position in 1999–they know this failed,” she adds. Damn Y2K compliance.


satanic ritual abuse modern

“Shit, can we restore him to factory settings?”


Witches “abuse the soul of victims to create enough space to hold witch spirits” and “perceive the battle for dominance between men and women,” which is one draft away from becoming an incel manifesto.

As protection against evil magic, the doctor prescribes that patients “pray a perimeter of protection against everything of witchcraft.” Yeah, I am starting to suspect some ulterior motives behind these E.Lact views.

There are other alleged experts who still hock Satanic Panic humbug. In their 2008 book Ritual Abuse In the 21st Century, Randy and Pam Noblitt attack past  Satanic Panic debunkings:

“Reading the literature, one could easily draw the conclusion that the entire American justice system is no better than the rural south in the days of the Ku Klux Klan. The Salem witch trials are always the touchstone for comparison.” 

It’s an interesting gambit to ridicule the idea that American institutions could have been dangerously biased or incompetent by specifically citing two well-documented periods when they were exactly that. But okay, keep on with that you two crazy kids.

In a different Noblitt nodule from 2000, so-called “child-abuse lecturer” Pamela Sue Perskin assails the 1992 Lanning report by caling Lanning “a well-known skeptic regarding cult allegations.”

Skepticism of course is one of the things that made Lanning notably qualified to write that guide, but it’s very telling that Perskin seems to think it discredits him. 

I think my favorite slip comes in psychotherapist Valerie Sinason’s essay in the 2008 anthology Ritual Abuse & Mind Control:

“How is this different from reports of alien abduction?’ say the clever-clever wags. In the case of alien abduction, we are asked to believe that visitors from outer space have kidnapped someone. It is not believable. In the case of ritual abuse we are asked to believe that people organize for the purpose of torturing children. There would seem to be a significant difference.”

See, the difference is that one thing is “not believable” and another is. Easy!

A clever, clever wag like myself might point out that what Sinason means to say is that one idea is at least slightly more plausible than the other. But that doesn’t amount to evidence for it.

(Psychologist Allison Miller’s 2011 book explains that her patients who thought they’d been abducted by aliens had actually been hypnotized by cults. Good to get that cleared up.)

Now, having fun at the expense of quacks is itself therapeutic. Also very easy and mostly free. It’s the one form of alternative medicine I back without reservation.

But at the same time, patients who show up to these offices are presumably dealing with real issues. Why are we still stumbling around letting them get diagnosed with fake alien abductions and witchcraft?

Possibly we can plead ignorance. But I can’t help but wonder if this is another case of letting the mentally ill fend for themselves because as a society we remain uncomfortable confronting the nature of those problems ourselves.


satanic ritual abuse modern

“Look, this is what happens when I stop self-auditing, take it or leave it.”