A doctor helped his patient recall childhood torture by a cult. Their story sparked a global ‘Satanic Panic’

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For a time, they were everywhere – a Canadian psychiatrist and his soft-spoken patient, unassuming harbingers of doom at the hands of the devil. Larry Pazder and Michelle Smith exploded onto talk shows and into headlines after the 1980 publication of the co-written memoir Michelle Remembers, detailing the patient’s “recovered” recollections through therapy about childhood torture inflicted by a Satanic cult.

“Basically, what I remember was a 14-month period of my life at age five where I was given to a group of people whom at first I wasn’t aware of what they were doing, other than, to a child, they were adults doing things that I couldn’t understand and that frightened me,” Ms Smith said in one television interview. “They sacrificed animals and they used fetuses of babies in their ceremonies,” she told a different outlet.

And she warned — perhaps most distressingly — in yet another TV interview: “I think, today, it’s very, very wise to take a good hard look at where you place your children … into whose care you place your child.”

What followed on the heels of the book and the media tour was a hellish hysteria that spread across the world. Stories of recovered memories and vile abuse abounded, many striking eerily similar chords; there was talk of abduction, sacrifice, sexual abuse and, mind-bogglingly, even the use of “baby wax” made from murdered infants.

Arguably most infamous were the 1983 McMartin preschool accusations in California, in which bizarre allegations of physical and sexual abuse — along with witchcraft and supernatural abilities — were levelled against the family operating the facility. Ms Smith and Dr Padzer consulted on the case.

Content retrieved from: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/satanic-panic-film-movie-michelle-smith-memoir-b2300716.html.

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