We have seen in previous sections of the present study how the efforts of The Satanic Temple to decry “psychiatric abuse” closely parallel those efforts of the Church of Scientology to do the same (3.2.2). We have further seen how The Satanic Temple pays homage to the cult known as the Process Church of the Final Judgement, an offshoot of Scientology which embraced fascist politics and whose belief system was also heavily steeped in anti-psychiatry views (Chapter 5). We have also seen how the backlash to feminist psychiatric social workers incorporated patterns of thought characteristic of a Red Scare into its construction of “moral panic” and “witch-hunt” narratives, this being the basis for the notion of a so-called “Satanic Panic of the 1980s and 1990s” (Chapter 6). We have not, however, finished unpacking the anti-psychiatry tradition’s roots in Red Scare McCarthyism and antisemitism. Let us therefore proceed to make known the truth about the genuine basis of this entire school of cultish pseudoscience (i.e., the Scientologist-Processor-Satanic anti-psychiatry tradition).
Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, who was himself a would-be psychiatrist, published Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health in 1950. It was widely recognized as pseudoscience and rejected by the medical community, causing Hubbard to claim in 1955, that “nearly all the backlash in society against […] Scientology has a common source—the psychiatrist-psychologist-psychoanalyst clique,” (Ortega).
Also in 1955, the Church of Scientology published a pamphlet called Brain-Washing: A Synthesis of the Russian Textbook of Psychopolitics. Authorship of the pamphlet was falsely attributed to Lavrenti Beria, the Soviet politician best known as chief of secret police under Stalin. Beria, who was also a serial rapist, is often (falsely) described by antisemitic and neo-Nazi sources as having been a Jew (Jewornotjew.com). (This can easily be confirmed by introducing the phrase “Lavrenti Beria Jewish” to a search engine on the Internet). The true author of the book is rumored to have been L. Ron Hubbard himself, although a neo-Nazi named Kenneth Goff (1909–1972) “constantly claimed that he was the one who [had] compiled” the booklet, which combines twin themes of anti-psychiatry and anti-communist paranoia (Introvigne, “L. Ron Hubbard, Kenneth Goff, and the ‘Brain-Washing Manual’ of 1955”). Like The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion before it, which was claimed to have been based on the minutes of a meeting of Zionist Jewish leaders, Brain-Washing was an obvious fabrication purporting to reveal the existence of a vast conspiracy straight from the horse’s mouth.
In “Chapter XI: The Use of Psychopolitics in Spreading Communism,” the author of Brain-Washing claims:
“[I]n the United States [the Soviets] have been able to alter the works of William James [the 19th century ‘Father of American psychology’], and others, into a more acceptable pattern, and to place the tenets of Karl Marx, […] and the data of Dialectic Materialism into the textbooks of psychology, to such a degree that anyone thoroughly studying psychology becomes at once a candidate to accept the reasonableness of Communism. […] Constant pressure in the legislatures of the United States can bring about legislation to the effect that every student attending a high school or university must have classes in psychology.”
In accusing the entire fields of psychology and psychiatry of being secret fronts for Communist “subjugation” of society, Brain-Washing blamed a Red conspiracy for side-lining the real “science of mental health,” L. Ron Hubbard’s “Dianetics.” The author of Brain-Washing continues:
“Mental health organizations must carefully delete from their ranks anyone actually proficient in the handling or treatment of mental health. Thus must be excluded […] trained Dianeticists.”
The arguments found in Brain-Washing about the special susceptibility of women and children to succumbing to mental illness induced or created by psychiatrists (under the pretext of treating it) were echoed by Ralph Underwager thirty years later and are still repeated today in The Satanic Temple’s “Grey Faction” rhetoric about psychiatrists “infantiliz[ing] women” (3.2.2). According to Brain-Washing:
“By the use of various drugs, it is, in this modern age, and well within the realm of psychopolitical reality, entirely too easy to bring about a state of severe neurosis or insanity in the wife or children[.]”
The plausibility of Brain-Washing’s conspiracist theorizing about Communism’s covert control of psychiatry relied on antisemitic prejudice no less than The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion did, for two reasons. Firstly, the mythical “Judeo-Bolshevik” folk devil was already well established in the popular imagination by the time Brain-Washing appeared. According to a survey conducted by the American Jewish Committee, 21% of Americans in 1948 thought that “most Jews are Communists,” over half linked Jews to Soviet espionage, and Jews were disproportionately the targets of McCarthy’s witch-hunt (Bush). Secondly, there was, in addition to the “Judeo-Bolshevik” folk devil, a common perception that psychiatry, psychology, and especially psychoanalysis (mainly due to its association with Sigmund Freud) were “Jewish science.” The implications of Brain-Washing are clear; psychiatry was not only a secret weapon of Communism, but also of Judaism.
This conspiracy theory is still promoted by the far-right today. The author of an article promoting fear-mongering over ADHD medication titled “Psychiatry is a Jewish-Communist Weapon Against White People,” published on a fringe white supremacist website, claims, “Psychiatry is a Jewish creation. It has no foundation in science whatsoever, being the most fraudulent part of the entire Jewish medical establishment,” (Sinead). A variation on this conspiracy theory (less explicit in its antisemitism to accommodate mainstream sensibilities) is pushed by groups like the National Rifle Association (NRA), whose president attempted to pin the blame for the sinister trend of mass shootings in American schools on ADHD medication (3.2.2). It should also be remembered that Satanic Temple co-founder Cevin Soling’s 2009 documentary film The War on Kids features an extended anti-psychiatry segment and that Soling has presented the same anti-psychiatry arguments on national television, where he claimed that behavior associated with ADD/ADHD and “other psychological issues” is “essentially normal” (ibid.).
By virtue of being the first major source to disseminate the myth of “Communist mind control,” the Church of Scientology’s publication of Brain-Washing: A Synthesis of the Russian Textbook on Psychopolitics in 1955 must be considered as a likely source of inspiration for the plot of the novel The Manchurian Candidate by Richard Condon, published in 1959 and adapted into a film starring Frank Sinatra in 1962, with an additional remake starring Denzel Washington in 2004. In the 1962 film, the titular character, Raymond Shaw, is the step-son of a buffoonish United States senator modeled after Joe McCarthy, the rabidly anti-Communist Wisconsin senator who was at the forefront of the 1950s Red Scare. Towards the beginning of the film, Shaw, a soldier in the Korean War, is captured and brainwashed by a group of North Korean, Soviet, and Chinese officers who turn him into a mind controlled assassin who can be ordered to kill and then have no memory of having done so.
Ralph Underwager’s allegations that radical Marxist feminists had in the 1980s infiltrated the fields of psychiatry and social work and were using “Red Chinese brainwashing” and “Communist thought reform techniques” to manipulate children’s minds because they were “jealous” of “men […] say[ing] that maleness can include the intimacy and closeness of [‘male bonding’] and [‘paedophile sex’]” (3.1; 6.1), which form the basis upon which today’s mainstream narratives of “the Satanic Panic of the 1980s and 1990s” incorporate claims about “coercive and suggestive interrogation” (Romano), display an obvious indebtedness to both the Church of Scientology’s Brain-Washing and Condon’s Manchurian Candidate. These works, produced in the conditions of the 1950s Red Scare, introduced the ideas which form the foundation for the “Satanic Panic” narrative.
Interestingly, in the 1962 film edition of The Manchurian Candidate, there is a suggestion that McCarthyism was in fact a Communist plot to discredit anti-communism. The character Senator John Yerkes Iselin, an obvious stand-in for Senator Joseph McCarthy, is portrayed as a pawn in the hands of his wife, Mrs. Eleanor Shaw Iselin, who serves as the “handler” for her son Raymond Shaw after the latter is brainwashed by the Communists, the implication being that McCarthy himself also had Communist “handlers.” Although this idea—that the Red Scare was orchestrated by the Communists themselves in order to neutralize anti-communism—is absurd, we may nevertheless observe an uncanny correspondence between fiction and reality in that the “Satanic Panic” narrative as it is propagated by groups like “Grey Faction” today can be said, for all intents and purposes, to be a Satanic plot to discredit and neutralize anti-Satanism. In the following section of this chapter, it will be shown that there is solid ground upon which to infer that not all of those who were involved in the construction of the “moral panic” narrative approached the scene as apparent “skeptics.” Ostensibly “anti-Satanist” figures such as Ted Gunderson, a “retired” FBI agent with close ties to the “black magic”-based psychological warfare techniques detailed in declassified COINTELPRO memos, were at the forefront of movement to frame “Satanic Ritual Abuse™” in impossibilist terms, linking it to fascism and antisemitism and posing as “experts” in order to generally misdirect those whose desire was to take part in social movements in solidarity with survivors of sexual abuse.
OR RETURN TO TABLE OF CONTENTS (Anatomy of a Crypto-Fascist Sect: The Unauthorized Guide to “The Satanic Temple”)