On Monday The Satanic Temple’s (TST) Grey Faction campaign published a bevy of videos to YouTube featuring TST chapters around the country participating in a Destruction Ritual with the stated goal of bringing about the end of the International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation (ISSTD).
Grey Faction is Not a New Campaign
TST has been protesting the ISSTD for several years now. I myself have been on-scene to observe some of these actions, and have conversed at great length about the reasons for Grey Faction’s initiatives very publicly. So, I won’t belabor all that right now. Feel free to check the archives.
The driving force behind all this is Sarah Ponto Rivera (above), the former director of Grey Faction. She has expressed that the goal of this media blitz was to draw attention to the ISSTD during the weekend of their annual conference. This is a conference TST has protested in the past to a moderate effect in the wider media. People who follow TST know those protests happened, but it’s the sort of edge-case thing that very rarely breaks into the mainstream. Sarah (who, full disclosure, I do consider a friend) managed to do something fairly remarkable. She successfully convinced nine (count ‘em nine) Satanic groups spread out across the United States to all do one thing at the same time.
For managerial reasons alone this should be considered an extraordinary achievement. If you’ve ever tried to convince a group of Satanists to do anything, you’d most certainly understand. This was commemorated with a separate quasi-ritualistic video of her own posted to Twitter:
I spent the last day of my 20’s symbolically destroying the @ISSTD as a part of a nationwide satanic ritual which followed @GreyFactionTST’s letter to the @APA regarding the dubiousness of the #ISSTD2019
#ISSTDAC19 #ISSTD #MentalHealthAwareness pic.twitter.com/ed5R3DnBmx
— Sarah Ponto Rivera (@spontorivera) April 2, 2019
Sincerity Matters, a Little
To demonstrate the level of enthusiasm Grey Faction was able to muster to the cause it’s very difficult to decide which video is exemplary. But for pure media savvy and skill I present to you the TST-Chicago’s video. You can check out the rest of them in your own time.
The Twitter Rebellion
Along with the video presentations from (again, nine!) TST chapters, TST engaged in a concerted social media effort to hijack hashtags on twitter that the ISSTD was using to spread their message, thus injecting their protest into the feeds of anyone who felt compelled to follow along. It was rather masterfully executed and over the course of the last three days Grey Faction managed to force ISSTD participants to abandon the use of prominent hashtags like #ISSTDAC2019, #ISSTD19, and #ISSTD2019.
It was, in short, a social media war for ideological territory.
Michael Salter tweets
Michael Salter is an interesting individual. He is the chair of the ISSTD’s “Ritual Abuse, Mind Control, and Organized Abuse” Special Interest Group”. Which seems to me to give him a bit of professional interest in trying to stem the tide of opposition to this particular line of research, but I am not a scientist (more about that in a second). So when he says things like this I find myself, as a mere non-scientist, rather perplexed.
Rich Loewenstein: Iatrogenic and socio-cognitive theories of DID have been disproven by studies finding persistence of DID in non-treated populations, non-clinical populations, and in non-Western countries #ISSTD2019
— Michael Salter (@mike_salter) April 1, 2019
Now again, I cannot state emphatically enough, I am a student of the Humanities and all this science business is something of a sideline for me. But my general impression here is that people who don’t have access to legitimate psychological care sometimes have terrible experiences and make stuff up in their minds so they can continue about their day to day business. That, as a student of the Humanities, doesn’t strike me as particularly odd.
The speaker, Richard Loewenstein, does try to bolster that claim with the all too vogue statistical study though:
Rich Loewenstein: Military psychiatrist Brown (1919) used hypnotherapy to treat soldiers during War War I – “All the severe cases of ‘sell shock’ of the hysterical type which I saw near the firing line in France suffered from loss of memory” #ISSTD2019
— Michael Salter (@mike_salter) April 1, 2019
Before I address the content of this tweet I need to preface it with a reminder. I come from the humanities department.
This is, I feel, an underserved voice in the wider Atheist/Skeptic/Humanist community these days. Far more focus is placed on the sciences where people can argue about the validity of a study, and why it’s an outlier, and problems with a study’s research methodology. That is not my place.
But, before you discount my opinion as that of a mere literature slinging, fantasy-addled word jockey I would remind those of you who prefer the cold-hard rationalism of statistic quoting, data analyzing, number crunchers that so was Christopher Hitchens. I am therefore compelled (while snidely pouring a glass of Johnny Walker Black in your general direction) to give you my opinion whether you want it or not.
I have not read the World War I studies that Mr. Loewenstein references in the above tweet. I have not read any meta-analysis of further studies, nor the efficacy rates of the treatments they claim to analyze.
I have, however, read Mrs. Dalloway, All Quiet on the Western Front, listened to all of Dan Carlin’s excellent contextualization of the World Wars on his Hardcore History Podcast, and more generally been an avid observer of human nature for quite some time.
Are you Sane Enough to Subject Yourself to Trench Warfare?
I am being expected to accept a study by World War I military psychiatrists, whose job was to get people that were sick and tired of being bombed and shot at from saying anything and everything they could think of to avoid going back to that living hell. To deem patients sane enough to go back to a living hell as an authoritative source, that simply will not do.
I am confused. It would seem to me if you say someone is sane enough to willingly go back to trench warfare I would have to question your definition of the word sanity.
So, Humanities Then
Famed Monty Python rhetorician John Cleese once gave a college commencement speech on the virtues of cowardice. This is relevant because he grew up seeing the devastating results of subjecting British soldiers to something like World War II. He aptly, and humourously (spelled with a ‘u’ to give a winking nod to it’s Britishness), illustrated the survival value of cowardice in the face of the utter chaos of something like trench warfare:
“I don’t wish to boast, but I am widely regarded as one of Europe’s Six Leading Cowards. I have been a coward ever since I could run. Cowadice runs in my family. The Duke of Wellington encountered my great great grandfather running full pelt from the field at Waterloo. He was merely anticipating Ambrose Bierce’s definition of a coward as ‘one who in a perilous emergency, thinks with his legs’. But the Duke didn’t know this. ‘Why’, he thundered, ‘are you running away ?’ ‘I am running’, replied my great-great, ‘because I am physically unable to fly’.”
My point here is not one of scientific analysis, but one of humanitarian observation. If you can, for a minute, put yourself in the shoes of a World War I or II soldier convalescing in a field hospital after a particularly traumatizing experience. Whatever injury you sustained in the fog of war happened at a point where mortars were exploding around you, many of the people you relied on to keep you alive died in the process.
So, you find yourself racked with a combination of physical and concussive injuries. You likely have big gaps in your memory because the chaos you were surrounded with was simply too much for your senses to deal with. After all, people sitting perfectly still in an empty room who are told to count basketballs will completely miss the man in a gorilla costume, and you just saw the closest thing you have to a friend this side of the Atlantic ocean get their arm blown off.
Suffice to say, you weren’t being particularly observant as there were far more pressing matters at hand. You are then told that once the shrinks are done with you, you get to go back to the lines and be traumatized all over again.
I think, if I found myself in that situation I would say whatever I could possibly think of to avoid being sent back to active duty. I might feel shame about it later when people were calling me a hero, but needs must.
Mr. Salter, by way of his chosen presenter, is selling this notion that trauma of this sort proves that Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) is not iatrogenic, which is to say it isn’t a diagnosis that is the result of the therapy that seeks to treat it.
However, I must point out that the situation his speaker alludes to is inherently adversarial, which isn’t as far as I’m aware a therapeutic standard. I also feel it’s important to point out that he is plying this line of reasoning on modern day Sydney college students, whose media-driven idea of trauma is having an American Vice-President smell your hair inappropriately at a banquet.
That, however, is an empathetic humanitarian view and we are forced these days to deal in the cold hard facts of diagnosis, statistical data, and fact. So let’s have a look at that.
This Raises Many Questions
Let’s suppose, hypothetically, that this proposed global cabal of underground Devil Worshipers that rips apart families because psychologists uncover (through the same kind of hypnosis “therapy” that causes people to believe they’ve been abducted by aliens) they somehow actually exist.
Is it then the suggestion that the treatment for this is to exacerbate the problem? Because the ISSTD has plainly stated in the past that if someone is diagnosed with DID with two or four personalities you can expect them to have at least a dozen by the time they’re done with them. That doesn’t seem like what I would call ‘treatment’.
Assuming, as has been demonstrated, many of these therapists are devoutly religious and therefore believe in the existence of a ‘soul’ … how do they determine which personality is the proper inhabitant of that soul? What so-called scientific metric are they using for that? It seems to me if someone does, in fact, have multiple, distinct personalities then at some point there would need to be a conclusion which one is the ‘actual’ personality … and that seems like a very dicy proposition akin to asking which conjoined twin is a ‘real person’.
How legitimate is this evidence really? After all, we know that proponents of DID have in the past failed the JERF prize test after successfully demonstrating they can’t shoot microwave beams from their eyes. The conference organizer for another DID conference called SMART claims to be a trained assassin who killed people in Europe that demands people not touch their faces at conferences they attend because it might trigger their programming, and many others who espouse as evidence the anonymous testimony of an online blog which purports to be from a member of the Illuminati who is a middling real estate broker in Texas.
Ah, yes, Colin Ross, member of the #ISSTD ‘Scientific’ Advisory Board. This is the #ISSTD2019‘s idea of a ‘researcher.’ I kid you not – actual picture of Ross doing “science.” pic.twitter.com/MlJD84kYVY
— Bridget Bishop (@MsBridgetBishop) March 30, 2019
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