Satanic Panic History Lessons Continue At BBC and IO9

PIC: AussieGall (CC)

PIC: AussieGall (CC)

A growing number of influential publications have offered their own takes on the 1980s Satanic Panic since the March 21st publication of our history of our own (“Mazes, Monsters, Charlatans, Satan and Suicide: A Short History of the Satanic Panic“). It’s been amazing to see the Panic become the topic du jour, especially at large, popular websites like IO9 and the BBC. All I can say is that there must be something in the air besides pollen and the sweet, minty fresh smell of chemtrails for so many sites to tackle the same, relatively obscure topic in such a short amount of time! Whatever signal is in the air, clearly we’re all receiving it loud and clear. Must be one of those “Hundredth Monkey” things. Good that more people are hearing about the panic, no matter where they hear it from, but cheers to you, Disinfonauts, for getting the story here first.

I’m very pleased to share with you a piece from the BBC, but chances are that if you’re anywhere near the internet you’ve already seen it. Our own piece received some mentions here and there – Neatorama, a couple of small blogs – but the BBC has an enviable media footprint, and the story is spreading far and wide. Even more so than IO9’s piece, which was released a few days after our story (Check out IO9’s “How We Won The War On Dungeons & Dragons“.)

Via The BBC:

“The great 1980s Dungeons & Dragons panic”

In 1979, 16-year-old child prodigy James Dallas Egbert III disappeared from his room at Michigan State University. A private investigator, William Dear, was hired by James’s parents to find their son. Despite apparently knowing little about roleplaying games, Dear believed that D&D was the cause of Egbert’s disappearance.

In truth, Egbert suffered from, among other things, depression and drug addiction, and had gone into hiding – in the utility tunnels under the university – during an episode of self-harm. The well-publicised episode – referred to as the Steam Tunnel Incident – prompted a number of works of fiction, including the novel Mazes and Monsters and 1982 Tom Hanks film of the same name.

Egbert later died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound in 1980. Despite the evidence regarding his mental health problems, some activists believed Egbert’s suicide was caused by D&D.

In 1982, high school student Irving Lee Pulling died after shooting himself in the chest. Despite an article in the Washington Post at the time commenting “how [Pulling] had trouble ‘fitting in'”, mother Patricia Pulling believed her son’s suicide was caused by him playing D&D.

Again, it was clear that more complex psychological factors were at play. Victoria Rockecharlie, a classmate of Irving Pulling, commented that “he had a lot of problems anyway that weren’t associated with the game”.

At first, Patricia Pulling attempted to sue her son’s high school principal, claiming the curse placed upon her son’s character during a game run by the principal was real. She also sued TSR Inc, the publishers of D&D. Despite the court dismissing these cases, Pulling continued her campaign by forming Bothered About Dungeons and Dragons (BADD) in 1983.

Read the rest of the piece at The BBC…

7 Comments on "Satanic Panic History Lessons Continue At BBC and IO9"

  1. Wrenja Czaczkes | Apr 11, 2014 at 4:13 pm |

    Honestly I think it has more to do with the number of instances related to occult/religious crimes in the news lately. There has been talk in a lot of forums about the quiet rumblings of a new satanic panic occurring and the weird situations that have happened lately only bolster it. If only as a last screech before the death of some of the more hardcore religious communities. We have yet to see if any new wave of satanic panic will occur but we’re currently at a place in history where it could go either way which, be it knowingly or not, would be the source of interest in this topic from my perspective.

  2. BuzzCoastin | Apr 11, 2014 at 4:24 pm |

    the human mind needs a reason, a cause for an effect
    so it siezes upon a reason that seems reasonable to it
    there is no one reason, no one cause
    effects are always apparent prior to discovering a cause

  3. Thurlow Weed | Apr 11, 2014 at 8:29 pm |

    Amazingly enough, I’m not worried.

  4. Adam's Shadow | Apr 11, 2014 at 9:45 pm |

    My personal fascination with this topic is mostly due to my fascination with religious fundamentalism. I find it both hilarious and just really, really interesting how some people (of varying beliefs) live in existential fear of the most ridiculous shit: Harry Potter, Dungeons and Dragons, Lady Gaga/Beyonce/black magic Illuminati pedophiles. I used to play D&D, for fuck’s sake, and I never received any magic powers or became demonically possessed. That only started to happen much later, when I would spend weekends in a self-hypnotic trance induced by sleep deprivation and body mortification.

    • “That only started to happen much later, when I would spend weekends in a self-hypnotic trance induced by sleep deprivation and body mortification.”


  5. Echar Lailoken | Apr 11, 2014 at 10:17 pm |

    It’s easier to blame a game, music, or whatever else that holds the youth’s attention than to take an honest look at why the youth are not interested. If only the church leaders would adapt and encourage, instead of shaming and blaming. I am certain their foolish actions have pushed away more of the flock than any other adversary real or imagined could have deceived into the darkness.

  6. Quite a few mental health professionals have begun to speak up about therapeutic malpractice, and its role in the original incarnation of the Satanic Panic. I’m so glad this subject is starting to get the attention it deserves, and not a second too soon, because we could well be on the verge of another “Satan” hysteria. Check out Amazon for recently written Satanic Ritual Abuse (SRA) “memoirs”, and Google “Mental Health Malpractice Cover-up Doug Mesner” for an article about some recent lawsuits against a mental health treatment center where patients are known to leave treatment with newly-recovered (false) memories of having been tortured by Satanists. Google “When Psychiatry Battled the Devil John Nardo” and read about the recent brouhaha with the Psychiatric Times, who first published — and then retracted — the article, after getting bombarded with complaints from some of the current (licensed, still practicing) purveyors of this SRA conspiracy. This problem still exists, it still affects individuals and destroys families, and somehow has managed to remain just under the radar of public perception.

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