UK’s Satanic Panic, 25 years on

Earlier this month, in the days leading up to Neelu Berry and Sabine McNeill’s trial, a notice landed in our email about a conference at the London School of Economics, featuring Dr Jean LaFontaine, Britain’s foremost researcher into the topic of ‘Satanic ritual abuse’. Dr LaFontaine is now Professor Emeritus of Social Anthropology at the London School of Economics and a board member of the charity Inform, which aims to promote understanding of lesser-known religions.

She described how she began to investigate the rise of SRA reports in the UK in the late 1980s. Her first introduction was at a conference on witchcraft in Cardiff, where the audience seemed about evenly split between “vicars in collars, and the other half seemed to be child psychiatrists”, Dr LaFontaine said.

At that conference, two senior social workers from Nottingham showed the audience drawings that they said showed that children had been abused by a cult of Satanists. The presenters’ claim was that the Satanists were “sexually abusing the children, sometimes raping them, and occasionally murdering babies, which they ate”.

Dr LaFontaine, who had spent her early years in Africa, found these claims both fascinating and extraordinary, as they echoed witchcraft traditions with which she was already familiar. She began to investigate the UK variety, and quickly found that it was a new phenomenon in this country, having arrived here via North America.

She undertook a study of the phenomenon, noting that by the 1980s the national media had begun to write about secret rituals, murders, and sacrifices, all involving the practice of ‘black magic’. British television and newspapers carried stories linking the sexual abuse of children with cultists; because similar reports had begun to spring up elsewhere, it took on the tone of an international conspiracy.

Assertions began to be made about a wide range of unspeakable activities, but no one had ever seen them occurring. Rituals were supposed to have been performed by people in robes, masks, and other paraphernalia, but no one had ever seen them. Dr LaFontaine said it was assumed that this was because the rituals and those who performed them were protected by ‘important people’, who prevented them being investigated.

Where did the Satanic panic come from?

The genesis of the 1980s Satanic panic can be traced to the 1980 book Michelle Remembers, co-written by a woman named Michelle and her psychiatrist Lawrence Pazder. The story revolves around a lurid and graphic story of child sexual abuse, which supposedly occurred when Michelle was five years old. She told of being raped, kept in a cage, and finally rescued by a vision of the Virgin Mary.

We’ve discussed Michelle Remembers on this blog. Regular commenter Justin Sanity offered a fascinating look at Michelle and her psychiatrist, who would later become her husband, along with some cogent observations about their motivations.

In the wake of this book, some people became particularly possessed by the idea of ritual abuse. They took on the role of campaigners, trying to persuade others to understand that children were not only at risk for domestic child abuse, but also for abuse by cults. ‘Cult specialists’ sprang up in the mental health field, and went about spreading the gospel of SRA, as well as treating those who claimed they’d been abused in a cult context.

The ‘ritual abuse industry’ was under way.

Echoing the resurgence of evangelical Christianity at that time, a large number of these campaigners were evangelicals; others were journalists, while many were social workers. Newspapers seized on SRA and a ‘feeding frenzy’ ensued. The sensationalist content of such stories, which were full of sex, murder, black magic, and so forth, encouraged the reporting of further cases.

Campaigners, journalists, and people who said they were victims spoke at conferences, held seminars, and wrote books, creating cross-contamination—those reporting SRA would often include details that seemed to have come from other sources.

An effect of the Satanic panic was that ‘therapists’ (often unaccredited, and full of missionary zeal) took over the treatment of survivors of child sex abuse. This sometimes resulted in people undergoing years of therapy, spent digging for ‘recovered memories’ of ritual abuse.

Questioned about the lack of physical evidence of any ritual abuse, one therapist said that evidence of baby sacrifices had been destroyed in portable incinerators brought to the ritual sites in the woods by cult members who happened to work in crematoria. These incinerators were supposedly powered by car batteries.

The end of the panic

Dr LaFontaine set about studying 84 cases of alleged ritual abuse in England and Wales, but was unable to find any supporting evidence for the existence of such cults. Despite the absence of any ritual abuse, she found that half the children she studied had in fact suffered sexual abuse, usually in their own homes; many others had suffered physical abuse as well.

In part, Dr LaFontaine attributes belief in ritual abuse to the sense of shock and horror these crimes against children evoked: “How do you explain why people would do that?” Ideas of ritual abuse helped people absorb the fact that children were being mistreated and abused in the worst possible ways.

When Dr LaFontaine’s report on the extent and nature of ritual and organised abuse was released in 1994, the Department of Health removed the terms ‘ritual abuse’ and ‘organised abuse’ from the advice they gave to social workers. In effect, Dr LaFontaine said, this was a recognition that this form of child abuse was no longer considered an issue.

However, a few cases continued to be reported, up to the present day.

These are “mostly historic, but recently the Hampstead case came up”, said Dr LaFontaine, noting that this case is significantly different from others she’d investigated in the past. “Interestingly, the judge had experience of other fantastical abuse cases, so there was no conviction”.

Unlike the heyday of the 1980s satanic panic, the media is no longer interested in reports of SRA; they have other fish to fry, such as the recent rash of allegations of historical abuse by VIPs which has dominated headlines since the death of Jimmy Saville.

In some ways, it’s encouraging to know that Hoaxtead is an outlier, a hangover from a bygone era. It’s never gained real traction in the media, despite best efforts of those who’ve promoted it…and that’s a good thing.

To read more of Dr LaFontaine’s insights, check this link. And for more links to material we’ve published on the topic, click here!


80 thoughts on “UK’s Satanic Panic, 25 years on

  1. Many bent therapists (the rapists) saw gold in them there hills.Where there`s muck there`s brass as the saying goes.Where there`s no muck its easy enough to discreetly spray some shit about the place then offer to clean i it up,for a pretty penny of course.

    “’s much easier to pretend that satanic cults exist than to accept that you are an incompetent perpetrator responsible for untold suffering and injustice and to lose your home and your job and your savings. Hence, the therapists take the easy way out and weakly attempt to defend the myth of satanic ritual abuse. It’s much less painful to promote a myth and destroy someone else’s family than to impoverish your own. Unless, of course, you happen to be the unlucky family that becomes the target of this “therapy.”

    Liked by 2 people

    • We could draw a parallel with the poverty industry. Having grown up in a heavily deprived area and having the good-fortune (and put in the work) to escape it; it’s only too obvious to me that the last thing the ‘ologists’ want is to end poverty in places like my native Easterhouse. – They’re making a bloody good living out of it! It’s in their interests to treat us like creatures in a Petri dish they can poke and prod and examine under the microscope! Their biggest fear is a scheemie with brains evolving from the swamp who won’t play their games!

      Liked by 3 people

  2. I now live in Australia but also have lived and worked in the USA and spent my first 40 years living & working in the UK.
    The UK is quite unique: I’ve found tales of child sex abuse seem to be eagerly lapped up by tabloid readers whereas in the USA & Oz they never receive such prominence or repetitive publishing.

    Of course the US & Oz take the crime of child abuse seriously and act accordingly but a large proportion of UK citizens seem to be fixated on child abuse that must come with sensationalized ‘facts’. Tabloids merely cater to this thirst for perverted and sensational tales.

    It makes you wonder what is going through the minds of those who eagerly lap up this stuff. APD is one- her Facebook timeline is a series of posts of sordid proved crimes or hysterical claims. This seems to reflect a mind filled with bitter darkness & not as she claims, proof she is “fighting child abuse”. She fights nothing from behind her laptop webcam, merely makes endless boasts about herself.

    Fortunately the majority of citizens in those 3 countries are not fixated on horror as it seems, is the most of Europe.
    But the internet which has brought us so many benefits has also exaggerated and increased the influence of these fanatics often with a financial incentive to promote hysteria.

    Liked by 2 people

    • You might find that in the USA it’s more a case of these things being more diffused and therefore if you’re living within circles that are sane, sober and at least relatively successful you will not encounter them.

      I was brought up in a particularly rough area of Glasgow – Easterhouse; look it up. But I’ve not lived in the city for over 30 years. Gaining an education and a career and moving to a relatively expensive middle-class area completely changed my points of reference. And I find myself genuinely bewildered by the content of modern-day tabloids simply because they’re outside my ordinary frame of reference. Seriously – just LOOK at the people who are lapping this up. Crooks, drug-dealers, drug-abusers, the unemployed and unemployable and perverts themselves. As Q… would put (and no Malcolm you fucking benefits-bludging moron, I’m NOT him! LOL! ) it ‘pig-shit-thick wasters the lot of them’.

      “But a large proportion of UK citizens seem to be fixated on child abuse that must come with sensationalized ‘facts’. ”

      That’s because such nonsense seeks to glamourise and ‘traditionalise’ such abuse. Bear in mind that many of these populations ARE quite ‘tribal’. – Frankly they’re idiots and throwbacks lead by deeply dishonest/delusional individuals who have found over generations that developing and promoting some form of mysticism as a means of externalising their will, is a good means of controlling the flock…… ‘The big giant head in the sky spoke to me and said…’ These are old countries. And it is depressing in these supposedly modern times how non-educated and infantilized great swathes of the population remain.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Of course the background you grow up in must affect this.

        I lived in Perth in WA for 2 years where there is a British immigrant population of over 500K. They are mostly working class having made good and once living a good lifestyle with diversions- cheap holidays to Bali. Thailand etc they tend to leave their old prejudices behind. Likewise 90% of Aussies live in large cities and enjoy a good lifestyle whereas the USA & UK the majority live dispersed throughout the country and their views will reflect local beliefs.

        Likewise Ireland has always a sort of doom & gloom attitude (despite the famous Irish comedian Patrick Cullinane)- my Irish granny was similar to my Russian one- lots of doom & gloom from tough backgrounds that affect them their entire lives.

        But Australia (and I guarantee the USA) is no different to the UK- there are huge statistics of child neglect and abuse (quite apart from sexual) with social services overwhelmed. These kids get forgotten by the Satan hunters and taking Hampstead as an example: huge resources have been diverted to chasing shadows fueled by lies.
        Genuine neglected kids are forgotten and that is a crime promoted by these hysterical evangelical witch hunters. A pox on them.

        Liked by 1 person

        • It’s not so much the relative statistics I question Sam; it’s more the nature off the target audience. Being ‘working class’ does not mean stupid; unless stupidity is the culture that you allow to embrace you. To make the move to Australia is a challenging, brave, positive and ‘outward reaching’ step. – It also requires a certain moral ‘merit’ to be successful. – Here in Britain we no longer have even the dark satanic mills to fall back on. Hard work is not necessarily rewarded. And there are great swathes of the population that live in what amounts to another world. – Little wonder they’re regressing to bogey-man fantasises. and that’s what our (mostly failing) tabloid media feeds off.

          Liked by 1 person

          • I think a man who moved from Australia to Britain has done a lot to degrade the discourse in this country. In the eighties, in a very mixed comprehensive school in Lancashire, most of my peers had a reasonable idea of what was happening politically in the country because if you watched TV you inevitably saws the news. With the advent of satellite TV it became possible to seal yourself off from anything but your own narrow interests. In the 2000s I was listening to two teenagers discussing a political poster on the top deck of the bus – they had no idea who the people depicted were (PM and Chancellor – not particularly obscure) and thought it was a new film. Similarly, on last nights “News Night” they interviewed a Labour voter in Burnley who had no idea who Jeremy Corbyn was!

            As you say Joe, being working class has not much to do with it. The working class were always very politically and culturally engaged. My forebears, many of whom did work in dark satanic mills, spent a lot of their spare time reading improving literature, participating in choirs and amateur dramatics. In our time the same people would probably have no opportunity to work and be left to rot in front of the Jeremy Kyle show.

            Liked by 1 person

          • In my memory FS we got to about 1980 then they started dismantling the systems that encouraged and allowed the working classes to improve themselves. Not the least of which was work of a level and type that would actually allow people to sustain themselves and realistically have options for progression.

            Liked by 1 person

    • Good points, Sam. I have wondered this about people like Angie who claim they’re “fighting child abuse” from behind their computer keyboards. Really? In what way are they doing this, other than by whipping up hysteria amongst their small circles of friends?

      “Fighting” anything requires getting off one’s arse, getting out into the world, and investing time and energy in one’s chosen project. I suspect it’s the first step that stands in Angie’s way.


      • She claimed to have seen blood on a church toilet floor, which if it had been true would have been the most important piece of evidence she has ever presented. There was of course no blood, just another of Angie’s lies.

        Liked by 1 person

        • One wonders why she didn’t immediately call the police to come and analyse this drop of blood? It would have been the first actual bit of forensic evidence in the case, and she could dine out on it for years!


          • Yes.Given the complete absence of material evidence to support their rantings this was a most unfortunate oversight and would have been a real shot in the arm.To be fair time was probably knocking on and she didnt want to miss last orders down at the Dog and Whistle.

            Liked by 1 person

        • There was definitely NO BLOOD.

          I was in the Church the exact same date and time as Angela along with a friend of mine.

          She is a LIAR.

          Liked by 1 person

  3. That said, I was extremely disturbed to hear Ian Collins on LBC last night allow a woman called “Julie” to use a conversation about the Pope’s recent comments about “religious war” to introduce details of the Hollie Greig hoax. Not only did Collins allow this to happen but he said he was aware of the case and agreed that there were strong rumours of a major cover up.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I would think Ian Collins is aware of the Hollie hoax. I’d also imagine he is quite aware of the real nature of the cover-up. And I’ll be clear here in pointing out that it’s NOT the cover-up alleged any Anne Greig, Robert Green and others; which is now believed in some circles to have been a smokescreen for other far more routine forms of child sexual abuse and the production/distribution of pornography featuring child rape. .

      As we’ve recently seen with the with Hampstead, the authorities made a pig’s ear of prosecuting individuals in relation to the Hollie hoax. And questions still circulate within the media as to why.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Branda Mcnamara, tried her best to plug Hollie Greig on there a few months ago but was told in no uncertain terms to do one. She was most upset. She seemed to want to start it all up again but not many people were interested. Think she gave up shortly afterwards, but I can’t be sure.

      Liked by 1 person

      • It will depend on the approach taken as to how quickly/politely callers are shut down on the subject. But I doubt if there is anyone working legitimately in the field who is not aware that Green’s version of events is a complete crock. – Brenda comes across a rather lonely and not very bright old lady rather than vicious. She’s got some gob on her though!

        Liked by 1 person

        • Brenda can be nasty, she falls out with people fairly quickly, she was working very closely with Malcom contend Oglevie for quite some time, so she was calling people paedophiles too, she’s given money to certain so called activists and they’ve ripped her off. She used to call Baloney Bruv. Quite a lot, and she gave Ben Fellows money too. She wants everyone to think she’s a poor old lady, but she can be very nasty.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Duly noted…… Ogilvy is about as low as they come. Any friend of his is probably as big a danger to kids as he is himself IMHO.

            Liked by 1 person

      • I know Brenda is a bit thick, but I’m not sure if she actually believes the Hollie Greig case as told by the Mother n Robert Green or not.

        I think she believes what she has been told n heard.

        She greatly admires Bill Maloney…


  4. The Hampstead SRA hoax marks the point how far the SRA narrative has decayed, where the promoters are clowns such as Sabine McNeill and the great SRA champions such as Valerie Sinason have been silent.

    Liked by 1 person

    • My old Dad had a saying… ” Aw brains and nae common sense”. Don’t assume that just because someone has the intelligence to assimilate enough information to complete a degree, or write coherently, that they are any of honest, non-delusional, grounded in reality – or actually intelligent enough to be capable of objective thought.

      Some of the biggest idiots I’ve ever had the misfortune to meet have PhD after their name.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Oh too true.
        Does Sabine have ‘initials’ after her name? I still cannot comprehend her internet theories but I note she now advocates : “Dresden- how a #Firestorm became #Art with #Meaning”

        Her new campaign apparently is : The Killing Fields of Cambodia : How to make Mass Murder revive your interest in Farming”

        Liked by 1 person

    • Obviously the above video is a spoof mocking the remarkable work of journalist,broadcaster and campaigner Christopher Morris. I salute you sir.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. A little light entertainment interlude for your delectation people Here we see Madame Pretentious exposing the inner recesses of her arsehole whilst throwing the credibity she never had under the bus.Strap yourself in, put on the sunnies its time to cruise.

    Liked by 2 people

    • LOL!! I think there ought to be rules about not picking at your face, rolling your eyes, and ducking your head offscreen when the camera is on, as well.


      • McKenzies team of devils are working overtime today.Here we witness material evidence and testimony of Angies partner in shoite Rupert the Twat similarly ensuring his dream of internet stardom hurtle semlessly towards the rocks of obscurity before our very eyes.

        Liked by 2 people

    • I don’t understand why Angela has to speak in French or German.

      The only audience she has are the people here and we all speak English.

      It’s very strange.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I think some of those who actually DO speak those languages established she wasn’t…… She was just talking rubbish; as usual.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I dont know if Angie lit herself from below properly say with her fag lighter and added a few catherine wheels and some other pyrotechnics she could go viral.

        Liked by 1 person

    • I agree, AF…but isn’t it sad, these days, it’s all the dope-smoking, flat earthers who run and run with the stories?
      Dope makes you paranoid if you smoke enough of it. That’ll be why they are paranoid of “possible baby-eaters, maaan” and jump on the satanic-panic bandwagons.

      Most of the promoters of the Hampstead Hoax are dope-smokin’ paranoid people.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Forwarded this script to a forensic laboratory specializing in analytic linguistics in the hope they can assist in its decipherment.

    I have just received the following reply:

    The text is a clear result of leaving a pre pubescent chimpanzie in a room with an internet connection and a keyboard and some psychotropic drugs too.The subject was evidently engaged in attempting masturbation for the first time and the family cat may have been compromised.He will get a hiding when his owner returns home.Regards.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Kevin seems to have an obsession with Cats and showing off his body.

    Sad twonk.

    Should the RSPCA be notified?

    Is the fraggle, anything to do with the Muppets?

    Fraggle rock=COCK??

    Whatever Kev, you seem to have a Bee Under Your Bonnet.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. How old is he?

    He needs to grow up, I’m sure he’s about the same age as Rupe.

    What’s with him bringing his army?

    And where has he been for the last year approx?

    Locked up?

    He’s a fool, fancy writing all that. If he was going to do anything, he’d just do it!

    Kev is an idiot.


  9. So Kevin has an army of soldiers does he? That must make him a General, a general dickhead


  10. Pingback: If Rupert were a ‘real’ journalist… | HOAXTEAD RESEARCH

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