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The Case of Gloria Steinem and Bennett Braun: Feminism, New Age, and Satanism


Author(s): Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Publication (Outlet/Website): In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

Publication Date (yyyy/mm/dd): 2018/06/01


Professor Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi examines Gloria Steinem and a lesser examined aspect of life for her. As a member public intelligentsia for decades, Steinem has several parts of life less examined than others. Beit-Hallahmi takes a closer look at the aspect of Steinem’s life around feminism, the New Age, psychiatry, and Satanism.

Keywords: Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi, Bennett Braun, Feminism, Gloria Steinem, New Age, Satanism.

The Case of Gloria Steinem and Bennett Braun: Feminism, New Age, and Satanism[1],[2],[3]

Gloria Steinem (1934-) has long been celebrated as one of the world’s leading feminists, and so seems to have always been in the public eye, with every aspect of her life scrutinized.  A look at a less examined chapter in her life finds that in addition to her many efforts on behalf of women, she managed to find the time and the energy to become involved in the craziest episode in the history of modern psychiatry, which actually victimized thousands of women.

In the 1980s, there was a three-pronged epidemic that shook up psychotherapy in the English-speaking world. This affair started with the dubious idea of recovering “repressed” memories. Trauma is something you cannot shake off, but over the past 50 years, some self-described trauma experts have claimed that many trauma survivors have lost their memories to dissociation or repression. The step was the more dubious idea that the phenomenon of multiple personality is widespread, but unrecognized.

Dissociative phenomena include such things as loss of memory (amnesia), or temporary loss of identity. In extreme cases, individuals have been described as suffering from identity fragmentation, or multiple personality. For 100 years, dissociative disorders, if at all real, were considered extremely rare. Following a wave of claims about memories of sexual abuse, recovered during psychotherapy, there was a meteoric rise in the number of individuals diagnosed with multiple personality disorder (MPD).  Whereas before 1980 the number of cases in the literature was under 100, by 1995 there were tens of thousands of such cases. The number of reported personalities in one body skyrocketed and the record was 4,500. Ninety-five percent of the cases were diagnosed in North America, and 95% of them were women.

In tandem, the International Society for the Study of Multiple Personality and Dissociation (ISSMPD) was founded in 1984  by the psychiatrist Bennet Braun. Braun attracted a number of mental health professionals and a movement was formed. Soon dissociation was not only a movement, but a cause.

The ISSMPD was responsible for the next stage of the epidemic. The assumption was that MPD was the result of a massive childhood trauma. In 1988, Bennet Braun connected MPD with Satanic Ritual Abuse (SRA).  Leaders of ISSMPD started educating the public about an underground intergenerational network of Satanists, responsible for killing thousands of children every year. Children born into Satanic families witnessed their siblings, or other children, being sacrificed, and were subject to other forms of abuse. The resulting trauma led to dissociation and MPD.  The therapists who were telling the world about dissociation, trauma, and Satanism were supposedly relying on evidence from clients who, during intensive treatment, recovered memories of childhood abuse. Braun and his colleagues suggested that the uncovered connections, which had been neglected or overlooked, between childhood trauma, repressed and recovered,  MPD and SRA, was a major breakthrough in the history of psychiatry.

In 1989 Braun’s partner, the psychiatrist Richard Kluft, expressed concern about a “hidden holocaust” perpetuated by Satanic cults. (Kluft remains a believer and in 2014 he stated “I remain troubled about the matter of transgenerational satanic cults”).

How is Gloria Steinem tied to these events?

She met Bennet Braun in Chicago in 1986, while on a journalistic assignment, and became an instant admirer and disciple. Her attachment to Braun energized her involvement in the cause. The record shows that Steinem was not just an observer who commented on cultural developments, but an active member of the dissociation movement.

At the ISSMP&D 1990 conference there were already some skeptical voices about Satanism claims. There were two psychiatrists who were concerned about the reputation of the ISSMP&D  being harmed by Satanism stories. There were also two speakers who told the audience that stories about Satanists were delusional nonsense. Richard Noll, a clinical psychologist, was one of them.  Following his talk, he was approached by Gloria Steinem, who suggested some materials he should read which would help him change his view of Satanism stories.

If you are aware of any Satanists who are engaged in murdering children and adults as part of their rituals, you should report it to the nearest police station. Braun, Steinem, and their allies claimed to have uncovered an international secret religion, with a membership of hundreds of thousands, devoted to killing thousands of helpless victims,   but never turned to the police. If such a secret organization exists, this should be brought to the attention of all world governments, and not just your local police.

Steinem thanked Bennet Braun in   Revolution From Within (1993). In the 1994 meeting of the ISSMP&D,  he received an award from Steinem, for his services to women. In 1993, Ms magazine, a feminist flagship,   published a cover story titled  “Surviving the Unbelievable: A First-Person Account of Cult Ritual Abuse,” which claimed to be a first-person true account by a woman who grew up in a Satanic family that sacrificed babies and practiced cannibalism.  The Ms. Cover also proclaimed “Believe it! Cult Ritual Abuse Exists! One Woman’s Story.”

Steinem’s writings reflect her commitment to the dissociation movement. In her self-help book, Revolution From Within (1992),  Steinem addressed specifically the reality of repressed memories, and multiple personalities.

Here is some of what she wrote: “Perhaps, the memory has been pushed out of our consciousness completely. But those images and feelings remain alive in our unconscious-and they can be uncovered. Even abuse so longterm and severe that a child survived only by dissociating from it while it was happening still leaves markers above its burial ground. (p. 72)

There are telltale signs of such buried trauma . . . fear of expressing anger at all; substantial childhood periods of which you have no memory of emotions or events . . . depression. . . severe eating disorders . . . Trust these clues-there is statistical as well as personal evidence that the conditions they point to are widespread.

Perhaps a third of the children in the United States have been subjected to sexual and other kinds of severe abuse or neglect. . . . Frequently, such memories are so painful that they don’t surface fully until years after the events occurred. The more extreme and erratic these events, the younger we were when we experienced them, and the more dependent we were on the people who inflicted them, the more repressed they are likely to be”. (pp. 162-163).

This is actually Freud’s theory of the etiology of hysteria, which he presented to the world in the late 1890s. According to Sigmund Freud and Josef Breuer, the problem in hysteria was not repression but incomplete repression.  Steinem, who has compared Freud to Hitler, doesn’t realize that she has become a Freudian.

Things get curioser and curioser as we read on. Revolution from Within  contains a bizarre section which praises MPD  as increasing individual potential and talents:

“Suppose, for instance, that after an internal process measurable in milliseconds and based only on your own desire and the needs of the situation at hand, you could:

– change your brain’s right- or left-hemisphere dominance to the opposite side — and back again — regardless of your biological sex or cultural gender;

– change handwriting and personal signature for different roles or needs, and also write skillfully and perform other tasks with your nondominant hand;

— raise or lower your pulse rate, blood pressure, temperature, level of oxygen need, and thresholds of pain and pleasure;

— eliminate an allergic reaction to an environmental factor that is healthy or inevitable, or create an allergic reaction to a factor you want to avoid;

— reenter and reexperience your mind’s stored memories of the past as if they were happening in the present;

— call up your body’s somatic memory of everything that has happened to it with such clarity that “ghosts” of past wounds and bruises reappear on your skin in minutes, and then slowly disappear as you leave the memory;

— activate visions of a past or future state of health so powerful that they can speed the healing of current wounds, measurably strengthen the immune system, and give you access at any time to the superhuman abilities usually reserved for emergencies;

— adjust your eyesight to nearsighted, farsighted, or normal, depending on your task, with such physical impact on the eye’s curvature that an optometrist examining you would write you an entirely different lens prescription;

–change voice depth and timbre, mannerisms, grammar, accent, facial muscle patterns, body language, physical style, and even darken the color of your eyes — so totally that an unwitting observer would assume you to be of a different ethnicity, age, race, class, or gender from one moment to the next;

— change your response to medication — or achieve that medication’s result without taking it — and thus have all the benefits of a tranquilizer, sleeping pill, “upper”, or anesthetic, but none of the side effects;

— heighten or lessen sexual desire, and widen or narrow the range of those people for whom you feel it;

— adjust your body’s response to lunar and diurnal cycles;

— become maximally effective and “tuned in” to various challenges — work, parenting, dancing, a back rub, your own creativity, a friend’s need, your immediate problem, a future dream — by summoning up that part of yourself that contains exactly the appropriate sensitivities and strengths;

— bring into one true self the strengths of all the selves you have ever been in every setting and situation from infancy to now.

All of these abilities have been demonstrated — and verified through a wide variety of double-blind tests, brain scanning, and other objective techniques  — in people who have what is called “multiple personality disorder,” or MPD…Thus, by adulthood, one person may comprise as many as a dozen completely different personalities…What we haven’t even begun to consider, however, is what would happen if the rest of us could acquire for positive reasons the abilities these accidental prophets have learned for negative ones. If such extraordinary abilities can be summoned to help survive the worst of human situations, they are also there to create the best. What if we could harness this unbelievable potential of body and mind?

Clearly, the list of human abilities with which this discussion of MPD began is only a hint of the real possibilities. People in different alters can change every body movement, perfect a musical or linguistic talent that is concealed to the host personality, have two or even three menstrual cycles in the same body and handle social and physical tasks of which they literally do not think themselves capable. We need to face one fact squarely. What the future could hold, and what each of us could become, is limited mainly by what we believe.” (Steinem,  1992, 316-319)

In this delusional paragraphs above, Steinem tells us not only that women with MPD can have ”two or even three menstrual cycles in the same body”, but also develop unimaginable abilities, including having all the benefits of “a tranquilizer, sleeping pill, “upper”, or anesthetic”, without taking them.  In this insane portrayal, MPD is no longer a pathology, but the royal road to humanity’s future. So now the pathology of multiple personality has become a gift, making individuals into “accidental prophets”, in an incredible display of  New Age psychobabble. This utopian nonsense is just as ridiculous as the stories about parents sacrificing their children to Satan. It is not the only bizarre claim in the book, which is really a New Age product worthy of   Oprah Winfrey, with the usual advice on “spirituality” and meditation.

Revolution From Within: A Book of Self-Esteem, has been sold by the millions and is still selling. Not a word has been changed since 1993, and we can assume that Steinem still holds the same views on repression and multiple personality. Most accounts of her life you may run into do not mention her commitment to Bennet Braun and the dissociation movement.  In 2015, Steinem published an autobiography  (My life on the road), which is obviously selective and unreliable, as such works are.  It does not mention her involvement with Braun, but the book ends with an About the Author section, and there we find the following sentence: “In 1993, her concern with child abuse led her to co-produce an Emmy Award-winning   TV documentary  for HBO, Multiple Personalities: The search for Deadly Memories.” Steinem was indeed co-producer and co-narrator  (with Michael Mierendorf)  of this HBO film.

As the twenty-first century began, the epidemic seemed to fade. There were precipitous declines in the frequency of reports about recovered memories, multiple personalities, or Satanists at work. If all these phenomena are real, how can we explain such a decline in their prevalence?  If repressed memories  (sometimes recovered),  multiple personality, and Satanists were so prevalent as once claimed, how could they so completely disappear? The end of the dissociation epidemic is especially puzzling. One reason might be the large sums of money, in the tens of millions,  paid out by insurance companies to former MPD psychotherapy clients, who went to court to pursue their therapists.

Bennet  Braun, the person most identified with the dissociation cause, was the target of some of the best-known legal cases. Elizabeth Gale entered therapy with Braun in 1986 for mild depression and then was made to believe that she had MPD, and was active in an intergenerational satanic cult. She was also made to believe that she had bred babies for the Satanists,  who were sacrificed after birth. With the approval of Bennett Braun, she went through a tubal ligation at age 31,  so that she would no longer harm children. In  2004, Bennett Braun and his colleague, the psychologist Roberta Sachs, paid Elizabeth Gale $7.5 million to settle her claim that they persuaded her into believing she needed to be sterilized so she would have any more babies to be sacrificed to Satan. In reality, Elizabeth Gale never gave birth to any babies, and never will. Another judgment against Braun was for $10.5 million.

Scores of other court cases made it clear that the stories about Satanist rituals were invented by therapists and fed (often forcefully) to their clients. In 2001, the American Psychiatric Association expelled Bennet Braun from membership, “after Dr. Braun was found to have provided incompetent medical treatments unsupported by usual standards of practice; violated ethical boundaries with the patient, including inappropriate sexual behavior and exploitation; and seriously breached patient confidentiality with the media”.

It is easy to conclude that the story is about the damage inflicted by deluded or delusional professionals. Another view is that the whole operation was cynical producing of lavish profits. This is how Ewing Werlein, Jr., United States District Judge for the Southern District of Texas, described the actions of MPD-SRA  therapists  in 1999: “These Defendants diagnosed and/or treated  various of these patients as members and/or victims of clandestine “Satanic cults” that committed horrendous crimes (e.g., murder, rape, cannibalism, etc.) upon their own members and their children. The evidence consistently revealed, however, that while these Defendants in different ways regularly encouraged their patients to divulge tales of such brutal crimes, which thereby perpetuated their insurance-paid “treatments,” Defendants never reported any of these supposed crimes to the police for investigation”. There was indeed a Satanic conspiracy, perpetrated and perpetuated by mental health professionals. The facility in Texas that judge Werlein was discussing happened to be the location where the 1993  film on multiple personality, that Steinem was so proud of, had been produced.

Child abuse is real, sexual abuse is real, incest is real, MPD may be real in some rare cases. Claims about Satanic rituals are different, because they are delusions, without any basis in reality.  It is not a matter of opinions or judgment. If you believe in an underground religion worshipping Satan, without one shred of evidence ever been found, then something is terribly wrong with your reality testing. Letting you treat troubled individuals demonstrates severe negligence.

Of course, the problem was not about any individual professional. It was that of psychotherapy as a cultural institution with no clear standards. Gloria Steinem was not a care-giver, but she aided and abetted the credentialed professionals who inflicted unimaginable suffering on many thousands of parents and children. Some may suggest an application of the sincerity test. Steinem was not going to profit, and was sincere in her concern for victimized women. She failed to realize that these women were victimized not by any Satanists, but by Dr. Braun and his partners. As a major public opinion leader, political activist,  and an icon of feminism, it is sad to realize that she could be so gullible and unthinking.  Our wish to help those suffering abuse should not extinguish a basic level of critical thinking.

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Professor, Psychology, University of Haifa.

[2] Ph.D., Clinical Psychology, Michigan State University.

[3]Individual Publication Date: June 1, 2018 at; Full Issue Publication Date: September 1, 2018 at


In-Sight Publishing by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Based on a work at


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