Clinical Assessment of Adolescents Involved in Satanism
Clark, Cynthia M., Adolescence
An adolescent who practices Satanism recently said to the author, "I was a throwaway kid. Nobody wanted me and I needed a place to belong. I had a lust for power, and I needed to find a place where my violence was acceptable." This teenager is one of a growing number who feel empty and alienated, and may be searching for an identity and a place to belong. Unfortunately, some adolescents are fulfilling a number of their needs by aligning with deviant subcultures, one of which is Satanism.
Satanism is devil worship, a recognition of Satan as the charismatic being who is honored and exalted by his followers. Satan and his demons are considered to be all-powerful and will extend their power to those who choose them as their supreme deity. It is a religion that advocates violence, hatred, and revenge. In the adolescent culture, many teens learn about Satanism from peers, books, the media, and from heavy metal bands. Most teens initially lack sophistication when practicing Satanism and make it up as they go along (Magic, A Deadly Solution, 1985). Curran (1989) describes Satanism as "a hole in the ground that some adolescents stumble into because they have been wandering desperate, angry and alone . . . and we should wonder less about why the hole was there than why these young people are wandering alone in the dark". Therefore, it is important to understand the needs of adolescents that frequently are met by Satanism.
Adolescent Needs Met by Satanic Involvement
When these psychosocial needs are met, teens' allegiance to the cult is often reinforced, thus making separation much more difficult.
Sense of belonging. Many adolescents who practice Satanism do so out of a need to belong and to address feelings of alienation and detachment from friends, family, and community. Bronfenbrenner (1986) describes social alienation as a serious threat to the successful resolution of an adolescent's identity crisis. Because a sense of belonging is crucial to identity formation, teens struggle to find a place to belong (Levine, 1979). Unfortunately, some young people turn to deviant subcultures. Teenage involvement in Satanism has been termed an immediate antidote for loneliness (Curran, 1989) and a possible solution to alienation and neglect.
Mastery and structure. Adolescents require structure, order, and limits, which Satanism provides. Satanism is based on nine Satanic statements which furnish tangible principles for practice (LaVey, 1969). Since a sense of mastery and efficacy are integral to identity formation and development of a healthy sense of self, an adolescent may derive these from practicing Satanic rituals.
Power and Control. Satanism is purported by its users to be a source of great power, one that offers a "quick fix" to their problems. Some Satanic rituals are performed as a means of deriving that power. Satanists believe that there is power and energy within the souls and bodies of animals and humans which is released through torture and death and subsequently absorbed by the practitioner (America's Best Kept Secret, 1986).
Rebellion.$Adolescent rebellion is considered by many as a normal developmental process and many teenagers experiment with different values and lifestyles. Satanism represents a hostile and extreme form of rebellion. Curran (1989) describes it as an irreverent rebellion against the accepted order which provides a way to escape conformity and the values of the established society. For many adolescents, Satanism is a violent and passionate form of rebellion that is acted out through rituals, incantations, spells, and ceremonies that is most often directed at parents and society.
Curiosity and relief from boredom. Teenagers are fascinated with magic and the supernatural. Often, merely out of curiosity, teenagers will seek to learn about the occult and various forms of magic. Satanism also provides an escape from boredom and conformity since it is a belief system that is radically different from the social mainstream. …