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Book Review - Out of Darkness

This article is an electronic version of an article originally published in Cultic Studies Journal, 1993, Volume 10, Number 1, pages 98-99. Please keep in mind that the pagination of this electronic reprint differs from that of the bound volume. This fact could affect how you enter bibliographic information in papers that you may write.

Book Review - Out of Darkness: Exploring Satanism and Ritual Abuse. 

Edited by D. K. Sakheim and S. E. Devine. Lexington Books, New York, 1992, 315 pages.**

This book was probably the most difficult and painful book this reviewer ever read. The difficulty was in the traumatizing nature of the subject matter, not the writing style of the 12 authors and the 2 editors who combine their professional expertise to produce an important, well-documented, and readable resource for professionals working with persons who exhibit Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD), Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), or a history of sexual abuse, ritual sexual abuse, or Satanism.

One editor is a clinical psychologist specializing in the treatment of multiple personality, dissociation, and ritual abuse. The other is a nurse who has specialized in childhood trauma. The authors include six clinical psychologists, two psychiatrists, a special agent from the FBI's Behavioral Services Unit, a writer in the area of religious studies, and two parents of ritual abuse survivors. Throughout this volume, the writers maintain a respectful, but healthy, skepticism regarding the phenomena they describe.

The first two chapters present a good overview of satanic religions, their beliefs and practices. A critical analysis of alternative hypotheses used to explain satanic cult activity is presented in chapter 3. Chapters 4 and 9 deal specifically with ritually abused children. A law enforcement perspective on ritual abuse is presented in chapter 5. Chapter 6 provides a good overview of psychological testing used in diagnosis and treatment of ritual abuse. Also included in this book is a poignant montage of the experience of five families who have confronted the phenomenon of ritual abuse. Chapter 8 proposes a useful theoretical model for understanding psychological adaptation to severe trauma. Therapy issues in working with persons reporting ritual abuse or having been exposed to other severe trauma is included in chapters 10 and 11.

Out of Darkness makes a distinct contribution to the emerging literature on satanic ritual abuse. It is multidisciplinary in nature. Each author reports appropriate training and practical experience in the area in which he or she writes. The extensive bibliographical references are well worth the price of the book.

Persons interested in this area might also want to peruse the Fall 1992 issue of the Journal of Psychology and Theology, a special issue entitled "Satanic Ritual Abuse: The Current State of Knowledge." The journal is available from Rosemead School of Psychology, Biola University, 13800 Biola Avenue, La Mirada, CA 90639-0001.

Charles Harvey Miley

Genoa, IL

Cultic Studies Journal, Vol. 10, No. 1, 1993