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Lawrence Pazder

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Lawrence Pazder
Born(1936-04-30)April 30, 1936
DiedMarch 5, 2004(2004-03-05) (aged 67)
Known forParticipation in the satanic ritual abuse moral panic; co-author of the controversial book Michelle Remembers

Lawrence Pazder (April 30, 1936 – March 5, 2004) was a Canadian psychiatrist and author. Pazder wrote the controversial biography, Michelle Remembers, published in 1980, with his patient (and eventual wife) Michelle Smith, which claimed to detail satanic ritual abuse.[1]


Pazder was born in Edmonton, Alberta, on April 30, 1936,[2] and completed his undergraduate medical training at the University of Alberta in 1961.[2][3][4] He received a diploma in tropical medicine from the University of Liverpool in 1962,[3] practicing medicine in Nigeria from 1962 to 1964.[2][3][5] Pazder returned to Canada in 1964 and completed his psychiatric training at McGill University in 1968.[2][3][4] During his professional career, Pazder worked at two Victoria, British Columbia hospitals in addition to his private psychiatric practice.[3] Pazder saw patients at his private psychiatric practice in Victoria until his sudden and unexpected death of heart failure in March 2004.[2][3]

Pazder considered himself to be a devout Catholic.[3] 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.[2] Pazder also had an interest in African religions and religious ceremonies.[3][5][6]

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.[3] In 1979 after a rejected attempt at annulment, Pazder divorced his first wife[3] and later married his former patient and co-author, Smith.[3][4]

Pazder died in his home of heart failure on March 4, 2004.[2]

Michelle Remembers and satanic ritual abuse[edit]

In 1973 Pazder first started treating a woman named Michelle Smith in his private psychiatric practice in Victoria.[4][7] 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.[3][7] Soon thereafter, Pazder and Smith had a session where Smith allegedly screamed for 25 minutes non-stop and eventually started speaking in the voice of a five-year-old.[4] The book claims that Pazder used hypnosis on Smith to recover memories of alleged satanic ritual abuse, that would have occurred during 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.[8] 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 during a 14-month period.[4][7] 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.[3][7] Pazder and Smith co-authored Michelle Remembers about the chronicles of the therapy sessions and purported recovered memories, using scientifically discredited methods. 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.[4][5][9]

After the publication of Michelle Remembers, Pazder was considered to be an expert for the topic of satanic ritual abuse.[5] With the sudden development of satanic ritual abuse cases during the 1980s (likely due to the publication of Michelle Remembers), Pazder's supposed expertise was requested. In 1984, Pazder acted as a consultant in the McMartin preschool trial.[3][6] Pazder also appeared on the first major news report on Satanism (broadcast on May 16, 1985), by ABC's television series 20/20.[3][10] In the report titled "The Devil Worshippers", Pazder discussed the clues that he felt indicated satanic practices.[10] Pazder also participated in the 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.[3] By 1987 Pazder reported that he was spending a third of his time consulting on satanic ritual abuse cases.[6]

Pazder is credited with coining the term 'ritual abuse' to describe the type abuse that Smith alleged.[5][6] 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 alleged that "the sexual assault has ritualistic meaning and is not for sexual gratification."[11] Pazder claimed that "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".[12][3][4][6][11][13][14]


  1. ^ Nathan, Debbie; Snedeker, Michael (2001). Satan's Silence: Ritual Abuse and the Making of a Modern American Witch Hunt (2nd ed.). Lincoln, Nebraska: iUniverse. pp. 45–46. ISBN 0-595-18955-5.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "Dr. Lawrence Henry Pazder". Times Colonist. March 2004.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q Cuhulain, Kerr (8 July 2002). "Michelle Remembers". Pagan Protection Center. Archived from the original on 25 May 2006. Retrieved 9 June 2006.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h Grescoe, Paul (27 October 1980). "Things That Go Bump in Victoria". Maclean's.
  5. ^ a b c d e de Young, Mary (2004). "The Day Care Ritual Abuse Moral Panic". Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland and Company. pp. 21–25. ISBN 9780786426898. Retrieved 20 October 2008.
  6. ^ a b c d e Nathan, Debbie; Snedeker, Michael (1995). Satan's Silence: Ritual Abuse and the Making of a Modern American Witch Hunt. Basic Books. ISBN 0-87975-809-0.
  7. ^ a b c d 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.
  8. ^ Smith, Michelle (1989). Michelle Remembers. New York: Pocket. ISBN 0-671-69433-2.
  9. ^ Cara, Ed (3 November 2014). "The Most Dangerous Idea in Mental Health". Pacific Standard.
  10. ^ a b "The Devil Worshippers". ABC News 20/20 transcript, show #521. 16 May 1985. pp. 6–7.
  11. ^ a b Lanning, Kenneth V. (1992). "Investigator's guide to allegations of 'ritual' child abuse". FBI.
  12. ^ Bromley, David G.; Richardson, James R.; Best, Joel (1991). The Satanism scare. New York City: A. de Gruyter. ISBN 0-202-30378-0.
  13. ^ Carroll, Robert Todd (6 April 2006). "Satanic Ritual Abuse". The Skeptic's Dictionary.
  14. ^ Yuhas, Alan (3 March 2021). "It's Time to Revisit the Satanic Panic". New York Times.