IPT Book Reviews

Title: Satan's Children: Case Studies in Multiple Personality   Neutral Review
Author: Robert S. Mayer
Publisher: G. P. Putnam's Sons 1991

G. P. Putnam's Sons
200 Madison Avenue
New York, NY
$21 .95


This short book is divided into 19 chapters, covering 267 pages.  It consists of case histories of cases of Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD) from the author's therapeutic experience.  Dr. Mayer is a psychoanalyst, teacher, and speaker and is the founder of the Association for the Study of Dissociative Disorders.  He writes that in the course of his work with MPD patients, he discovered an increase in adult patients reporting memories of ritual abuse by organized groups that practiced satanism.  The case histories contain the details of the alleged abuse which came out in therapy, along with Dr. Mayer's reflections on the cases.  The alleged abuse includes accounts of killing and eating babies, forcing women to become pregnant so that they can be used as breeders, robed figures dancing and chanting, multiple rapes, placing children in coffins with dismembered bodies, drugging, whipping, burning, stabbing, and branding children, forcing children to eat eyeballs, and sewing children into the stomach of a cow.  He describes the way these cults indoctrinate their members to preserve secrecy and talks of how the terror and savagery resulted in the development of MPD.  One of the patients had 500 different personalities.


Dr. Mayer cannot account for the finding that most MPD cases are young white women who know something about Christianity and are familiar with the current publicity about ritual child abuse.  All victims in the book reported physical torture and the females reported rape and forced murder and cannibalism of their own children.  However, no bodies were ever found, even though one victim reported five pregnancies through various cults.

Dr. Mayer did not challenge the stories told to him.  There is no evidence of any psychological testing or assessment of the patients in the case histories and there was no effort made to independently validate the patients' claims.  Hypnosis was used to help recover the memories.  Dr. Mayer notes that the patients believed the ritual abuse happened to them, whether it happened in reality or not.  He reports that he began to believe after talking to other experts and victims.

Although Dr. Mayer appears warm, caring, and humane toward his patients, there is no critical discussion of the wisdom of using hypnosis and leading questions with MPD.  In the epilogue, Dr. Mayer states that he still does not know if all of the stories were true and he briefly discusses the professional controversy and skepticism concerning ritualist satanic abuse.  He concludes that although he does not believe there is a nationwide network of satanists that reaches into the highest levels of government and culture he does not have a problem believing that some people have been abused by people who practice satanism.  With the patients described in this book, he became convinced that their memories were of actual experiences too unbearable for the conscious mind to acknowledge.

Reviewed by LeRoy Schultz, Professor of Social Work, West Virginia University.

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