Obituary photo, Lawrence "Larry" Pazder
April 30, 1936|
|Died||March 5, 2004
Victoria, British Columbia
|Known for||Participation in the satanic ritual abuse moral panic; co-author of the discredited book Michelle Remembers|
Lawrence "Larry" Pazder (April 30, 1936 – March 5, 2004) was a Canadian psychiatrist and author. Pazder is known for his discredited biography, Michelle Remembers, published in 1980, which he co-wrote with his patient (and eventual wife) Michelle Smith, and for his involvement in satanic ritual abuse coverage.
Pazder was born in Edmonton, Alberta, on April 30, 1936, and completed his undergraduate medical training at the University of Alberta in 1961. He went on to receive a diploma in tropical medicine from the University of Liverpool in 1962, practicing medicine in Nigeria from 1962 to 1964. Pazder returned to Canada in 1964 and completed his psychiatric training at McGill University in 1968. During his professional career, Pazder worked at two Victoria, British Columbia hospitals in addition to his private psychiatric practice. Pazder saw patients at his private psychiatric practice in Victoria up until his sudden and unexpected death of a heart attack in March 2004.
Pazder considered himself to be a devout Catholic. As part of his church activities Pazder founded the Anawim Companions Society in Victoria to provide a day home for people in need as a result of poverty. Pazder also had an interest in African religions and religious ceremonies.
Pazder and his first wife Marylyn had four children together and were married for many years until he developed a relationship with his patient Michelle Smith. Court documents filed in the divorce proceedings indicated that between March 1977 and June 1979 Pazder disappeared with Smith (co-author of Michelle Remembers) for lengthy periods of time. In 1979 after a rejected attempt at annulment, Pazder divorced his first wife and later married his former patient and co-author, Smith.
Michelle Remembers and satanic ritual abuse
In 1973 Pazder first started treating a woman named Michelle Smith at his private psychiatric practice in Victoria. In 1976 when Pazder was treating Smith for depression (related to her having had a miscarriage), Smith confided she felt that she had something important to tell him, but could not remember what it was. Shortly thereafter, Pazder and Smith had a session where Smith screamed for 25 minutes non-stop and eventually started speaking in the voice of a five-year-old. Pazder eventually used hypnosis to help Smith recover memories of alleged satanic ritual abuse that allegedly occurred in 1954 and 1955 when Smith was five years old at the hands of her mother (Virginia Proby) and others, whom Smith alleges were members of a Satanic cult in Victoria. As Pazder believed he was on the verge of uncovering a vast satanic conspiracy, he eventually would spend many hours at a time treating Smith over a 14-month period. So convinced of the problem of satanic ritual abuse, Pazder and Smith travelled to the Vatican in 1978 to alert the Catholic church about the previously unknown dangers to children posed by Satanic cults worldwide. The chronicles of Pazder's therapy with Smith and the subsequent memories she recovered were detailed in the book that they co-authored Michelle Remembers. Michelle Remembers was the first published survivor account of alleged satanic ritual abuse and was a publishing success earning Pazder and Smith a $100,000 hard-cover advance and $242,000 for paperback rights.
After the publication of Michelle Remembers, Pazder was considered to be an expert in the area of satanic ritual abuse. With the sudden emergence of satanic ritual abuse cases in the 1980s (likely due to the publication of Michelle Remembers), Pazder's expertise was called upon. In 1984, Pazder acted as a consultant in the McMartin preschool trial. Pazder also appeared on the first major news report on Satanism (broadcast on May 16, 1985), by ABC’s 20/20. In the report titled "The Devil Worshippers", Pazder discussed the clues that he felt indicated satanic practices. Pazder also took part in first national seminar at which law enforcement were introduced to the satanic ritual abuse of children (in Fort Collins, Colorado, on September 9–12, 1986). Subsequently Pazder was part of the CCIN (Cult Crime Impact Network) and lectured to police agencies about satanic ritual abuse during the late 1980s along with other speakers such as Mike Warnke. By 1987 Pazder reported that he was spending a third of his time consulting on satanic ritual abuse cases. By September 1990, Pazder had been consulted “in more than 1,000 ‘ritual abuse’ cases”.
Pazder is credited with coining the term 'ritual abuse' to describe the type abuse that Smith alleged. At a professional conference in Richmond, Virginia in 1987, Pazder defined ritual abuse of children as "repeated physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual assaults combined with a systematic use of symbols and secret ceremonies designed to turn a child against itself, family, society and God." Pazder noted that "the sexual assault has ritualistic meaning and is not for sexual gratification." Pazder described the perceived satanic problem as "The pure group of ‘orthodox satanists’ is never seen or identified in public, yet it is this group of invisible satanists who plant the seeds and encourage all the more visible satanic groups."
Further investigations into the allegations made in Michelle Remembers found no evidence to support them. Pazder himself stated in a 1990 interview with The Mail on Sunday newspaper, that whether the events described in Michelle Remembers actually occurred was less important than Smith believing that they occurred.
- "Dr. Lawrence Henry Pazder". Obituaries Today. March 2004.
- Cuhulain, Kerr (July 8, 2002). "Michelle Remembers". Pagan Protection Center.
- Paul Grescoe (October 27, 1980). "Things That Go Bump in Victoria". Maclean's.
- de Young, M (2004). "The Day Care Ritual Abuse Moral Panic". McFarland and Co. pp. 21–25. Retrieved 2008-10-20.
- Nathan, Debbie; Snedeker, M. (1995). Satan's Silence: Ritual Abuse and the Making of a Modern American Witch Hunt. Basic Books. ISBN 0-87975-809-0.
- Wenegrat, Brant (2001). Theater of disorder: patients, doctors, and the construction of illness. Oxford [Oxfordshire]: Oxford University Press. pp. 190–192. ISBN 0-19-514087-7.
- Smith, Michelle (1989). Michelle Remembers. New York: Pocket. ISBN 0-671-69433-2.
- Denna Allen; Janet Midwinter (September 30, 1990). "Michelle Remembers: The Debunking of a Myth". The Mail on Sunday.
- "The Devil Worshippers". ABC News 20/20 transcript, show #521. May 16, 1985. pp. 6–7.
- Lanning, KV (1992). "1992 FBI Report -- Satanic Ritual Abuse". Rick A. Ross Institute.
- Bromley, David G.; Richardson, James R.; Best, Joel (1991). The Satanism scare. New York: A. de Gruyter. ISBN 0-202-30378-0.
- Carroll, Robert Todd (April 6, 2006). "Satanic Ritual Abuse". The Skeptic's Dictionary.