HomeHealthBennett Braun, Psychiatrist Who Fueled ‘Satanic Panic,’ Dies at 83

Bennett Braun, Psychiatrist Who Fueled ‘Satanic Panic,’ Dies at 83

Bennett Braun, a Chicago psychiatrist whose diagnoses of repressed recollections involving horrific abuse by satan worshipers helped to gas what turned often known as the “satanic panic” of the Nineteen Eighties and ’90s, died on March 20 in Lauderhill, Fla., north of Miami. He was 83.

Jane Braun, one in every of his ex-wives, stated the dying, in a hospital, was from issues of a fall. Dr. Braun lived in Butte, Mont., however had been in Lauderhill on trip.

Dr. Braun gained renown within the early Nineteen Eighties as an professional in two of the most well-liked and controversial areas of psychiatric remedy: repressed recollections and a number of character dysfunction, now often known as dissociative identification dysfunction.

He claimed that he might assist sufferers uncover recollections of childhood trauma — the existence of which, he and others stated, have been accountable for the splintering of an individual’s self into many distinct personalities.

He created a unit devoted to dissociative problems at Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Medical Heart in Chicago (now Rush College Medical Heart); turned a continuously quoted professional within the information media; and helped to discovered what’s now the Worldwide Society for the Examine of Trauma and Dissociation, knowledgeable group of over 2,000 members right now.

It was from that sizable platform that Dr. Braun publicized his most explosive findings: that in dozens of instances, his sufferers found recollections of being tortured by satanic cults and, in some instances, of getting participated within the torture themselves.

He was not the one psychiatrist to make such a declare, and his supposed revelations keyed right into a rising nationwide panic.

The Nineteen Eighties noticed a vertiginous rise within the variety of folks, each youngsters and adults, who claimed to have been abused by satan worshipers. It started in 1980 with the e book “Michelle Remembers,” by a Canadian girl who stated she had recovered recollections of formality abuse, and spiked following allegations of abuse at day care facilities in California and North Carolina.

Parts of popular culture, corresponding to heavy steel music and the role-playing recreation Dungeons and Dragons, have been looped in as supposed entry factors for cult exercise.

Such tales have been fodder for in style TV codecs that reveled within the salacious, together with discuss reveals like “Geraldo” and newsmagazines like “Dateline,” which broadcast segments that promoted such claims uncritically.

The psychiatric occupation bore some duty for the rising panic, with revered researchers like Dr. Braun giving it a gloss of authority. He and others ran seminars and distributed analysis papers; they even gave the phenomenon a quasi-medical abbreviation, S.R.A., for satanic ritual abuse.

Dr. Braun’s inpatient unit at Rush turned a magnet for referrals and a warehouse for sufferers, a few of whom he stored medicated and below supervision for years.

Amongst them was a lady from Iowa named Patricia Burgus. After interviewing her, Dr. Braun and his colleague, Roberta Sachs, claimed that she was not solely the sufferer of satanic ritual abuse, however was additionally herself a “excessive priestess” of a cult that had raped, tortured and cannibalized 1000’s of youngsters, together with her two younger sons.

Dr. Braun and Dr. Sachs despatched Mrs. Burgus and her youngsters to a psychological well being facility in Houston, the place they have been held aside for almost three years with minimal contact with the surface world.

By then Mrs. Burgus, closely medicated, had come to imagine the medical doctors, telling them she recalled torches, stay burials and consuming the physique components of as much as 2,000 folks a yr. After her mother and father served her husband meatloaf, she had him get it examined for human tissue. The exams got here again destructive, however Dr. Braun was not satisfied.

Dr. Braun stored different sufferers below comparable circumstances at Rush or elsewhere. He persuaded one girl to have an abortion as a result of, he satisfied her, she was the product of ritualistic incest; he persuaded one other to bear tubal ligation to stop having extra youngsters inside her supposed cult.

The satanic panic started to wane within the early Nineties. A 1992 F.B.I. investigation discovered no proof of coordinated cult exercise in the US, and a 1994 report by the Nationwide Heart on Little one Abuse and Neglect surveyed over 12,000 accusations of satanic ritual abuse and located that not a single one held up below scrutiny.

“The most important factor was the dearth of corroborating proof,” Kenneth Lanning, a retired F.B.I. agent who wrote the 1992 report, stated in a telephone interview. “It’s the form of crime the place proof would have been left behind.”

Many individuals distanced themselves from their earlier enthusiasms; in 1995, Geraldo Rivera apologized for his episode overlaying the falsehood. Nevertheless, even in 1998, “Dateline” ran an episode on NBC claiming to indicate widespread satanic exercise in Mississippi.

Mrs. Burgus sued Rush, Dr. Braun and her insurance coverage firm over claims that he and Dr. Sachs had implanted false recollections in her head. They settled out of courtroom in 1997 for $10.6 million.

“I started so as to add just a few issues up and realized there was no means I might come from somewhat city in Iowa, be consuming 2,000 folks a yr, and no one stated something about it,” Mrs. Burgus informed The Chicago Tribune in 1997.

A yr later Dr. Braun’s unit at Rush was shut down, and the Illinois medical licensing board opened an investigation into his practices. In 1999, he acquired a two-year suspension on his license — although he didn’t admit wrongdoing.

Bennett George Braun was born on Aug. 7, 1940, in Chicago, to Thelma (Gimbel) and Milton Braun, a professor of orthodontics at Loyola College. He graduated from Tulane College with a bachelor’s diploma in psychology in 1963 and earned a grasp’s in the identical topic in 1964. He acquired his medical diploma from the College of Illinois in 1968.

Dr. Braun was married 3 times. His marriages to Renate Deutsch and Mrs. Braun each led to divorce. His third, to Joanne Arriola, led to her dying. He’s survived by 5 youngsters and 5 grandchildren.

After quickly shedding his medical license in Illinois, Dr. Braun moved to Montana, the place he acquired a brand new license in that state and opened a non-public follow.

However in 2019, one in every of his sufferers, Ciara Rehbein, sued him for overprescribing medicine that left her with a everlasting facial tic. She additionally filed a criticism towards the Montana Board of Medical Examiners for permitting him a license, regardless of figuring out his previous.

Dr. Braun misplaced his license to follow medication in Montana in 2020.

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