Grey Faction and the Continuing Hidden Satanic Panic

One of The Satanic Temple’s often under reported campaigns is the Grey Faction, which seeks to combat Satanic Panic era ritual abuse conspiracies that persist under the guise of psychological treatment for a dubious condition known as Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID). Over on The Naked Diner we’ve had TST Co-Founder Lucien Greaves touch on the subject in previous interviews, but for the most part I haven’t done much of a deep dive into the subject yet.

Grey Faction Logo. Image Credit: Courtesy The Satanic Temple
Logo. Image Credit: Courtesy The Satanic Temple’s Grey Faction

Dissociation and The Panic

Much of the controversy surrounding DID stems from how the diagnosis came about and a host of problems surrounding those who seek to treat it. DID is largely based on repressed memory therapy, which is the same kind of pop-psychology technique responsible for things like alien abduction survivor stories. Many DID proponents believe in a vast conspiracy in which shadowy Satanic cults have infiltrated every part of society and engage in ritual abuse.

I’m not making that up or being hyperbolic. The entire test for DID was conceived, at least in part, by a man named Colin Ross whose claim to fame includes having read a lot of declassified Cold War era documents about the MK-Ultra Program, and having tried to claim the JREF Million Dollar Paranormal Challenge by saying he could “emit” electromagnetic beams from his eyes. These diagnostics are propagated by others like Neil Brick, who claims to believe he was subjected to “CIA/Illuminati” mind control programs as a child, compelled to commit murder, and that touching your face is a symptom of mind control programing. These people have conferences to talk about this stuff.

In addition, (because in the long run we all more or less agree that someone has the right to be a crank as long as they’re a harmless crank) the treatment schedules that have been associated with DID over the years are highly problematic at best and highly damaging at worst. This is not a new problem. PBS Frontline reported on horrific stories of misguided treatment practices resulting in shattered lives way back in 1995:

The one Dr. Braun mentioned in the above video is the founder of an organization called the International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation (ISSTD), which to this day hosts an annual conference that therapists can attend and receive continuing education credits for because DID continues to be listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

The Panic Never Stopped, It Hid

In many ways the conspiracy theories that swirled around the 2016 election were a ripple of the conspiracy theories that are rooted in the paranoia of the 80’s and 90’s. We live in an age where skeptics are often frustrated with quack science like homeopathy and the anti-vaccination movement, but interestingly very little attention is paid to this issue because of it’s complexity and the sheer density of the literature surrounding it.

Proponents have become very adept at messaging and using plausibly scientific sounding language to justify their beliefs. For example, the overarching idea behind DID is that it is functionally very similar to borderline personality disorder, except that instead of it being the result of genetic or chemical imbalance it is the result of trauma that was so devastating it causes a mental schism and the creation of an entirely separate personality.

First of all there’s a couple serious questions I have here. Let’s hypothetically say someone has two or more distinct personalities, how does the ‘therapist’ determine which one is the ‘real one’? If the goal of treatment is to unify these disparate personalities why do the ISSTD treatment guidelines state in their own literature that “An average of 2 to 4 personalities/alters are present at diagnosis, with an average of 13 to 15 personalities emerging over the course of treatment”? It certainly sounds to me like the treatment is exacerbating the issue and falls prey to the ‘you’re going to get worse before you get better’ mentality.

None of this is to say that trauma doesn’t exist, and obviously it can be very debilitating. But using the same methods that result in other patently false memories like tales of alien abduction certainly doesn’t seem like an appropriate way to deal with it.

Why Do These Ideas Persist?

To my mind conspiracies like Satanic Ritual Abuse, the Illuminati, alien abductions, and the deep state are all the result of a very real fear of chaos. Humans are pattern seeking creatures; it’s why we see Jesus in grilled cheese, shapes in clouds, and all kinds of things in Cheetos. The idea that there is no real order to anything and that no one is really in control is very unsettling to a great number of people.

Moreover, there is now an entire industry dedicated to perpetuating these conspiracy theories. Treatment for DID gets very expensive very quickly because it involves inpatient services, costly medication regimes, and extended ‘therapy’ sessions. The ISSTD alone, which is just a nonprofit conference organization, brings in (on average based on available disclosure forms) over half a million dollars a year, about half of which appears to go right to ‘management services’.

Make no mistake, there is an entire contingent of mental health professionals who have a vested interest in maintaining the alleged legitimacy of DID diagnoses.

Grey Faction

For the past few years TST’s Grey Faction has attempted to bring attention to the issues surrounding DID diagnoses and ritual abuse claims with methods including protest actions, licensure claims, and awareness campaigns. In a recent post on his Patreon account Lucien Greaves shared an email he sent to one person who will be speaking at this year’s ISSTD conference stating:

“… there is much cause for concern in attaching your reputation to an organization that espouses harmful pseudoscience, bizarre debunked conspiracy theories, and provably harmful ‘therapeutic’ practices.”

I have reached out to Lucien Greaves for comment. Watch this space.

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  • SPR

    It’s very shocking that there isn’t more criticism from the APA community when a affiliate organization of theirs, the ISSTD, is touting conspiracy theories and dubious practices. Which seems to be one of the biggest ethics dilemmas in the professional field of mental health care and psychological studies.