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

Bennett Braun, a Chicago psychiatrist whose diagnoses of repressed memories involving horrific abuse by devil worshipers helped to fuel what became known as the “satanic panic” of the 1980s and ’90s, died on March 20 in Lauderhill, Fla., north of Miami. He was 83.

Jane Braun, one of his ex-wives, said the death, in a hospital, was from complications of a fall. Dr. Braun lived in Butte, Mont., but had been in Lauderhill on vacation.

Dr. Braun gained renown in the early 1980s as an expert in two of the most popular and controversial areas of psychiatric treatment: repressed memories and multiple personality disorder, now known as dissociative identity disorder.

He claimed that he could help patients uncover memories of childhood trauma — the existence of which, he and others said, were responsible for the splintering of a person’s self into many distinct personalities.

He created a unit dedicated to dissociative disorders at Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Medical Center in Chicago (now Rush University Medical Center); became a frequently quoted expert in the news media; and helped to found what is now the International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation, a professional organization of over 2,000 members today.

It was from that sizable platform that Dr. Braun publicized his most explosive findings: that in dozens of cases, his patients discovered memories of being tortured by satanic cults and, in some cases, of having participated in the torture themselves.

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