In 1980, Michelle Smith and Dr Lawrence Pazder published an account of Smith’s time in therapy. What started as treatment for postpartum depression became, instead, a graphic and generally unbelievable account of Smith’s time as a child in a Satanic cult, titled Michelle Remembers.

Michelle Proby Smith and Lawrence Pazder

In 1982 my cousin Laura had a paperback edition of Michelle Remembers that I was obsessed with. Satan, as recorded by Smith and Pazder, spoke in rhymes that terrified me, and there were photos of things like tail-shaped welts and a giant bonfire.

Out of the fire.
A man is born.
And he walks. 
Behind, the path is born.

It burns out the way.
It burns out the way.
Of destruction and decay.

— Satan (as revealed by Michelle Smith in a therapy session)

Fast forward to April of 2018, where I both reacquainted myself with Michelle Remembers and rekindled my obsession — only this time, I was less obsessed with how true it all seemed and did a 180: how did anyone believe anything either of these people said?

Because a lot of people did believe. Pazder became a recognized expert on ritual abuse, and his testimony ended up as part of the record in several cases that alleged severe sexual and physical abuse against children.

Friends who love me a lot soon tired of my obsessive Facebook postings about Michelle Smith, Lawrence Pazder, Satanic Panic, and Satanic memoirs in general. A group text to set up a dinner for the group of us said, at one point, “Mike, you get 2 minutes to get the Satan stuff out of the way.”

So, this blog, where I can write everything I’ve learned, share questions I have, and unspool all my tinfoil thoughts about why this happened, and how it keeps happening.