Guest Post by The Satanic Temple Co-Founder Lucien Greaves regarding TST’s Grey Faction
An Issue of Ethical Treatment
The most objectionable part of the International Society for the Study of Trauma and Disociation (ISSTD) conference is the fact that mental health professionals can receive Continuing Education Units for attending. It’s one thing when people, out of personal interest or belief, attend conspiracist conferences that discuss bizarre theories related to nefarious secretive global cults allegedly using mind-control to subjugate the Free World, it’s quite another when the attendance of such an event is used to justify a claim of up-to-date literacy in scholarship related to the advancing field of mental health care.
This year, as the most overtly deranged item on the itinerary, the ISSTD’s own Eileen Aveni will be presenting a lecture entitled “The Migration Model: A New Approach to Mind Control Treatment in Ritual Abuse Clients.” The description explains, “Organized perpetrator groups often deliberately create DID [multiple personalities] in the ritually abused client and then install mind control (MC) to train parts to work for them and stay silent. Common MC systems can include Monarch programming, generational satanism, witchcraft groups, and others. Removing MC systems presents major challenges to the therapist and client.”
A Conspiracy Based on Problematic Methods
“Monarch programming” refers to a “trauma-based mind-control” project alleged by conspiracy theorists — with a notable lack of understanding for cognitive science — to be used domestically upon unwitting citizens. According to the narrative, Monarch, an MK-Ultra sub-project, cultivates mind-control subjects from an early age (sometimes beginning in utero) with multiple personalities that will react automatically to certain elaborate “triggers.” Thus, the correct hand signals, color patterns, music, or words can awaken these sleeper Manchurian Candidates to do the sinister bidding of their secretive “handlers” (often alleged to be the Illuminati, Satanists, the CIA, Freemasons, or any combination of these collectively). There are, of course, self-appointed internet Monarch watch dogs who scrutinize popular culture — particularly music videos and Hollywood movies — for the subtle presence of insidious intentional triggers.
Aveni, a Christian psychotherapist who professes a belief in demonic possession, is the current chair of the ISSTD’s “Ritual Abuse/Mind Control Special Interest Group,” where the remaining paranoiacs from the Satanic Panic fringe still exchange lurid supernatural horror stories pieced together primarily from the “recovered memories” of those alleged to hold multiple personalities.
Aveni’s “chair elect” is Alison Miller, a private practice Psychologist who, in a 2017 ISSTD workshop presentation titled “Working Through the Traumatic Memories of Mind-Controlled Clients,” offered advice to therapists “deciding whether and when to pursue memories, dealing with flashbacks, choosing memories to work with, planning memory work, finding alters [alternate personalities] who hide parts of memories, involving all alters who have parts of a memory, dealing with emotions and bodily sensations during memory work, getting the story clear, and cognitive processing of what has been discovered when a memory has been reconstituted.”
This focus upon prodding and digging for hidden memories — aside from suggesting an unconscionably irresponsible adherence to a debunked, harmful, coercive therapeutic technique — belies the claim, often heard from defenders of the controversial Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD) diagnosis (now known as Dissociative Identity Disorder [DID]) within the ISSTD that “recovered memories” are of little or no importance in their treatment of the condition. Also giving the lie to this sometimes-proclaimed disregard for memory “repression” and retrieval is the fact that the conference has no fewer than three scheduled hypnosis training seminars.
The use of hypnosis to draw forth accurate recollections of previously “repressed” or otherwise unremembered “memories” has long fallen into disrepute after “recovered” Satanic Panic tales, abduction-by-extraterrestrials narratives, and past-life regression fables — all held as genuinely believed memories of past events by those who “recalled” them during the course of hypnotic regression — proved beyond any reasonable doubt that the confabulatory can be mistaken for an actual memory during the course of hypnotic memory-mining. In fact, ISSTD founder, Bennett Braun, lost his medical license (but only temporarily and only after a good deal of media-driven outrage) after convincing an MPD-diagnosed client “under hypnosis and on heavy medication” that she “possessed 300 personalities, ate human flesh, and sexually abused her two sons.” The victim of this irrational “treatment,” Patricia Burgus, ultimately became convinced that Braun had coerced her into manufacturing her implausible memories, as well as her overwhelming population of alternate personalities, whereupon she filed a malpractice suit and won a $10.6 million settlement.
Ironically, given the ISSTD’s propagation of MK-Ultra-related mind-control conspiracy theories, actual MK-Ultra research results reveal that the CIA’s research into hypnosis as a mind-control/interrogation tool yielded findings that offer a corrective against the false notion that subjects under hypnosis are at all likely to produce accurate recollections of forgotten or repressed information. A declassified document listed under CIA MORI ID 140401, dated 1 January, 1950 (when MK-Ultra was still known as “Bluebird”), serves as the foundational basis for most ISSTD conspiracy theories surrounding the undeniably ugly covert CIA studies into possible mind-control techniques. In the document, the questions are posed:
1.Can accurate information be obtained from willing or unwilling individuals?
2.Can Agency-personnel (or persons of interest to this agency) be conditioned to prevent any outside power from obtaining information from them by any known means
3.Can we obtain control of the future activities (physical and mental) of any given individual, willing or unwilling by application of SI [Sleep Induction] and H [Hypnotic] techniques
4.Can we prevent any outside power from gaining, control of future activities (physical and mental) of agency personnel by any known means?
In a follow-up, dated October 1966, and labeled MORI ID 18252, the CIA itemized the shortcomings that caused them to ultimately adjudge hypnosis worthless as far as military applications are concerned:
“Disregarding the difficulties of inducing trance, there is still little assurance that a source can be made to act against his own best interests. A hypnotized subject, even when motivated to be cooperative, often distorts, invents memories, fabricates and otherwise contaminates his output. The more anxious he is about the information, the more likely he is to distort, as a means of defending. He is apt to tell the hypnotist what he wants to hear, whether or not it is related to fact.”
Fringe Beliefs and Shady Practices Masquerading as Facts and “Treatment”
Colin Ross, a psychiatrist and eminent expert in the study of Dissociative Identity Disorder, is an outspoken MK-Ultra conspiracy theorist and past president of the ISSTD who will be giving a presentation entitled, The Impact of the ‘memory Wars’ on the Trauma Field and the Isstd: The past and the Present, further emphasizing the conference’s fixation with recovered memories. The term “Memory Wars” refers to the bitter feud over the nature of trauma and recall with Ross and the ISSTD on one side, and empirical science on the other. Ross — himself having been sued for malpractice by former patients who, while under his “care,” claim they were coerced to believe they’d been involved in bizarre Satanic Cult activity, and one of whom was allegedly led to believe that she had birthed an extraterrestrial-human hybrid — will presumably be arguing for recovered memory veracity. One of Ross’s co-presenters is Valerie Sinason, probably the most recognized of Satanic Panic propagators in the UK. As Grey Faction described Sinason in a previous report:
For those not aware, Ms. Sinason caused a scandal in the UK, making outrageous claims related to Satanic cult conspiracies, during the height of the anti-Satanist moral panic. When an official report commissioned by the department of health failed to find any corroborating evidence for any of Sinason’s claims, it was also revealed that “Valerie Sinason and Rob Hale, who were leading critics of the report, had subsequently received £22,000 from the health department to document evidence of ritual abuse from the reported experiences of their patients.” The department of health investigator “accused Ms Sinason of being ‘out of her depth’ and unable to produce any hard evidence for her beliefs. ‘It’s depressing to find someone who has a position at leading London hospitals who is so cut off from what research methodology is, and what rational evidence is.’”
But while all of this is lunacy, it’s important to note that the conference also seems to be prepared to present its fair share of plain nonsense. For example, consider the presentation entitled Engaging and Unfolding Stuckness in Trauma Treatment Using Embodied Mirroring, the description for which reads like an embarrassingly sophomoric attempt at sounding scientific:
“Embodied mirroring is a technique expressly created to capitalize on and unfold stuckness in trauma treatment. It involves the therapist exploiting the brain’s mirror neuron system by consciously, explicitly, and intentionally “taking on” the protective stuck state through somatic mirroring. Through intentional and conscious body-based empathic reflection and psychophysical empathy, the embodied mirroring technique fosters the emergence of an interoceptive felt sense or a conscious somatic countertransference.”
Somewhere between both lunacy and nonsense we have presentations such as “Prenatal, Preverbal, and Preschool Trauma and Subsequent Development of Dissociation.”
Giving the presenters of this topic the benefit of the doubt, let’s assume that by “prenatal trauma” they aren’t referring to emotional trauma, which is a cognitive impossibility for a fetus. Let’s assume the trauma they refer to is organic — in utero physical injury, drug exposure, etc. The first thing worth noting is that the presenters for this topic are not qualified to speak on such issues. None of them are neuro or developmental biologists, and the lead speaker, Frances Waters, is a “Clinical Social Worker” in private practice. Further, the ISSTD has long held that Dissociative Identity Disorder is the product of intense emotional injury, almost always believed to be sexual abuse that has been “dissociated” from conscious recollection. The idea of organic injuries, in utero or otherwise, leading to a “subsequent development of dissociation” would radically overturn that paradigm, and again call into question the wisdom of hypnosis and the assumption of “repression.” So are we actually giving them the benefit of the doubt by assuming that their “prenatal trauma” refers to feelings of betrayal and terror experienced in utero? Either way it’s interpreted, this lecture is certain to be… problematic.
Grey Faction is Digging Deeper
While this write-up is but the result of a cursory perusal of the conference schedule, Grey Faction is currently in the process of digging deeper into the conference’s presenters and their records. One Grey Faction researcher posted some initial surface research to our closed group reporting:
“I am getting prepped to file a bunch of FOIAs, and the first name I googled was “Jean Penczar,” a former LPC who is apparently going to the ISSTD conference, and this came up from 2016: (click “Board Order”).
She treated at least two clients diagnosed with DID. She allowed one to LIVE IN HER SECOND HOME, taking rent from the client at first but then allowing her to live there for free.
It gets worse. She introduced another client with DID to her (huge no-no). Client 2 harassed client 1 and eventually raped client 1 at Penczar’s second home. Penczar did not report any of this to the police.
She had to surrender her license and cannot apply for any kind of license for another 3 years.
Not long after, another post noted:
“Dr. Paul Dell, a presenter at this year’s ISSTD conference, was reprimanded in 1992. ‘[W]hile attempting to bring about an abreaction with Patient A during an inpatient voluntary restraint therapy session at Norfolk Psychiatric Center, Dr. Dell positioned his body on top of Patient A.’”
And, only moments after that:
“They just keep coming. Dr. Laura Brown, a clinical psychologist set to present at the ISSTD, had been the subject of a corrective action in 2002 for an inappropriate relationship with a client, sharing confidential information, and more:”
A Course Forward
Of course, we (Grey Faction) will continue to report upon our findings while we continue desperately to draw attention to the egregious failings of professional mental health oversight that allows an organization like the ISSTD to offer Continuing Education Units, but in the meantime we’d like to announce a late addition to the list of those who will be attending the conference.