Satanism as a response to abuse: the dynamics and treatment of satanic involvement in male youths

Adolescence. 1992 Winter;27(108):855-72.


Male youths from abusive family environments may be particularly vulnerable to recruitment into satanic cults. Families that are abusive, devalue or invalidate the abused child's feelings, blame the child for the family's problems, and view the world in rigidly moralistic terms create environments in which the youths are likely to identify with the aggressor and label themselves as evil. These youths, who may have poor social skills and feelings of anger, low self-esteem, self-blame, depression, powerlessness, and isolation as a result of the abuse, may use satanic involvement as a means of legitimizing their experience and differentiating from a negatively enmeshed and/or abusive family system. In this paper, the etiological factors and treatment approaches of ten hospitalized boys who had voluntarily involved themselves in repeated group satanic activities during their adolescence are described, and two case illustrations are given. Recommendations for understanding and treating such cases are provided.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Antisocial Personality Disorder / psychology
  • Antisocial Personality Disorder / therapy
  • Ceremonial Behavior*
  • Child
  • Child Abuse / psychology*
  • Child Abuse / therapy
  • Child Abuse, Sexual / psychology*
  • Child Abuse, Sexual / therapy
  • Child of Impaired Parents / psychology
  • Delusions / psychology
  • Delusions / therapy
  • Family Therapy
  • Homicide / psychology
  • Hospitalization*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Parent-Child Relations
  • Personality Development
  • Psychotherapy*
  • Rejection, Psychology
  • Religion and Psychology*
  • Social Conformity*
  • Social Identification
  • Suicide / psychology
  • Therapeutic Community