Psychologising Satan: Contemporary Satanism, Satanic-Abuse Allegations, and the Secularisation of Evil

Woodman, Justin. 1997. Psychologising Satan: Contemporary Satanism, Satanic-Abuse Allegations, and the Secularisation of Evil. Scottish Journal of Religious Studies, 18(2), pp. 129-145. ISSN 0143-8301 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

The notion of the 'Satanic' has been a dominant trope within Western folk­conceptions of evil. The traditional formulation of Satanic evil revolves around a dichotomy between notions of evil as an exterior force - namely Satan - and 'proper' human action as ordained by God. Alternatively, contemporary Western scientific and psychological approaches have attempted to formulate a secular, sociological notion of 'evil', locating it within unconscious, instinctual drives whose repression is necessary to sustain social cohesion. I will examine the interface between modem, secular interpretations of evil and traditional religious conceptions through an analysis of recent Satanic­-abuse allegations, and of the beliefs and practices of modem-day Satanists in order to demonstrate that, whilst adapting to encapsulate contemporary secular concerns, the concept of Satan nevertheless remains an important and potent cultural representation within the Western religious tradition.

Item Type:

Article

Keywords:

Evil, Satan, Satanism, Satanic Abuse Allegations, Secularisation

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Anthropology

Dates:

DateEvent
1997Published

Item ID:

20496

Date Deposited:

25 May 2017 10:03

Last Modified:

16 Jun 2017 13:02

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.

URI:

http://research.gold.ac.uk/id/eprint/20496

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