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Mobs, Messiahs, and Markets by Lila Rajiva, Will Bonner

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History of a Hysteria

What on earth had gone haywire in the United States? What allergen could have set off such a rash of insanity? And was there some convenient theory behind it that evoked deep‐rooted archetypes in twentieth‐century minds, much in the way the The Malleus Maleficorum had stirred up the nightmares of sixteenth‐century minds?

There was.

It seems that in 1980, just three years before Judy Johnson made her zoological accusations, a Canadian psychiatrist, Lawrence Pazder, published the book Michelle Remembers. In it, he and his wife, Michelle Smith, charged that she had been abused by Satanists when she was a child. There were the usual sordid experiences but, in this case, the victim had been so traumatized that she had repressed her memory of them until she had had sessions with Pazder's therapy. Pazder was called in as an expert in the McMartin case, and the story was at once taken up by the popular press. Here was the trigger: a pretty 20‐year‐old victimized by horrors too horrible to tell, and a therapist‐cum‐lover who awakens her from her trauma and heals her. There was a princess. Finding the dragon wasn't too hard. Before Michelle Remembers, there had never been a satanic child abuse case in the United States at all. After it, there were to be two decades of nothing but. The entire sordid hysteria was set off by nothing more than a colorful yarn from the modern equivalent of the magic flying carpet—the therapist's couch.

Michelle Smith's story soon began to ...

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