Hospital Wards Off Satanism CHICAGO (AP) - At his parents' home, Mike painted his room bla
Hospital Wards Off Satanism
CHICAGO (AP) - At his parents' home, Mike painted his room black, decorated
it with black candles and an altar, and put up obituaries and Satanic symbols
on the walls.
He began driving recklessly, drinking heavily, experimenting with marijuana
and threatening his parents.
That's when Mike ended up in one of the nation's first treatment programs
aimed at weaning away disturbed teen-agers from Satanism.
``At the time,'' said Michael Weiss, an adolescent psychologist, ``Satanism
seemed to have, for Mike, a lot of answers that he couldn't find elsewhere. It
gave him the sense that he could control all things.
``Now that he can find other ways to feel good and have some sense of
purpose ... he seems increasingly willing to put aside any Satanic
influence,'' said Weiss of Hartgrove Hospital on Chicago's North Side.
Mike - not his real name - is among about a half dozen youths, ranging from
14 to 17, who've received treatment or are undergoing therapy at Hartgrove's
Center for the Treatment of Ritualistic Deviance.
The center, attached to the hospital's adolescent unit, began receiving
patients in October, and referrals are trickling in as its reputation gets
established, Weiss said.
The in-patient treatment program lasts four to eight weeks, and involves
individual as well as group therapy.
Up to six patients can be treated at a time, but the capacity can be
expanded should the need arise, Weiss said.
Most patients are admitted voluntarily based on referrals from mental
health workers, police and parents.
Weiss said it's still too early to determine the success rate.
``We didn't know what to expect ... but I'm pleased with the way things are
right now,'' he said. ``We're certainly finding that we can work with these
kids and their families.''
A similar program exists at Denver's Bethesda PsychHealth.
Hartgrove has received inquiries from hospitals in Texas, Virginia and
Wisconsin interested in starting their own Satanism treatment programs, said
social worker Dale Trahan.
``I definitely see the problem as growing,'' said Trahan, who's been
researching satanic beliefs for three years and was contracted to set up
``The factors that seem to be adding to a growth of the occult don't seem
to be going away - a breakdown in family, an abandonment of traditional
values, resistance towards traditional religious beliefs, and an increasing
number of youths who feel both alienated and powerless over their lives and
``So many kids are feeling like they're ... not going to get their needs
met using traditional means so they're looking for alternatives ... and there
are many destructive alternatives'' such as street gangs, neo-Nazi groups,
drugs and Satanism, Trahan said.
Cynthia Kisser, executive director of the Chicago-based Cult Awareness
Network, said there has been a marked increase in the number of young people
involved in Satanism.
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