Noll on the Satanic Ritual Abuse Panic of the 1980s

Psychologist Richard Noll has just published an article in Psychiatric Times on the Satanic ritual abuse panic of the 1980s.  As Noll points out in “When Psychiatry Battled the Devil,”In the 1980s thousands of patients insisted that they were recovering childhood memories of physical and sexual abuse during Satanic cult rituals. In addition to the red or black robes of the abusers and other paraphernalia of devil worship familiar to any horror film devotee, these memories often included the ritual sacrificial murder of children, blood-drinking, cannibalism, bestiality, and incest.”

Noll chronicles how major figures in American psychiatry and clinical psychology played a role in what today is acknowledged to have been a moral panic that damaged the reputations and led to the imprisonment of a number of innocent individuals.

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9 thoughts on “Noll on the Satanic Ritual Abuse Panic of the 1980s

  1. Richard Noll says:

    This article seems to have vanished from Psychiatric Times after about 10 days on the website. I have not heard anything directly from my editors, so I will be happy to supply anyone who wishes with a pdf of the published article. You can request one from me at:

  2. felicity4us2 says:

    I read your article. It ‘feels’ like you wrote this in the 90’s. You certainly don’t have any recent sources. Possibly, the Psychiatric Times wonders why you didn’t include even one of the thousands of sources that are not in agreement with your article.

  3. Lew Powell says:

    This is a welcome if painfully belated acknowledgement of psychiatry’s role in the moral panic. Will the social sciences, every bit as culpable, be next? (Yes, I’m talking about you, Susan J. Kelley, Ann Wolbert Burgess, David Finkelhor, etc., etc.)
    I blog about the Little Rascals Day Care case and similar episodes at

  4. Richard Noll says:

    Mirabile dictu! My article was reposted on Psychiatric Times after a 3-month night-sea voyage to the underworld. It contains my originally suggested title and 3 commentaries by Drs. David Spiegel, Richard Kluft and Bennet Braun and my final response:

    I have also posted a pdf of the new article, etc., on

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