The psychology of Satanic cult involvement : an archetypal object relations perspective.
The meaning of, and motives for, participation in satanic cult organisations was explored using a hermeneutic methodology based on psychoanalytic object relations theory. Fifteen self-professed ex-Satanists, ranging from 19 to 45 years of age, were interviewed using a semi-structured interview format. The transcribed interviews of seven of these participants (six males and one female) were selected for analysis. The interviews and interpretive analyses addressed five main questions: (1) what psychological factors predispose certain individuals to satanic cult involvement; (2) what is the process whereby individuals become satanic cult initiates, and what meaning does this have for them; (3) how do they experience life in the cult; (4) what is the psychological status of demons, and how may we understand the phenomena of demonic possession and invocation; and, (5) what prompts members to leave satanic cults, and how do they experience this process. The interpretive phase comprised three stages. In the first stage, the self and object representations in the subjects' narratives were identified, along with their associated affect links, interpersonal contexts, and fantasies about these interactional contexts. In the second stage, the underlying personality organisations structuring subjects' self and object representations were identified and employed to formulate a comprehensive interpretation of each subject's intrapsychic world, in order to illuminate the influence of this inner world on their cult experience. In the final stage, features common to the individual analyses were integrated into a general psychoanalytic interpretation of subjects' satanic involvement. A model based on a dialogue between object relations theory and analytical psychology was applied to extend the interpretive findings of the data analysis phase. This integrative archetypal object relations perspective was suggested to provide a richer and more encompassing understanding of satanic cult phenomena. The fact that Satanism in South Africa appears to be largely confined to the white sector of the population is located in the socio-historical context of recent political changes in South African society.