Podcasts/Sacred Tension-Uncrucifying SexMASTERED6en8j
Uncrucifying_SexMASTERED6en8j SUMMARY KEYWORDS satanists, porn, people, satanist, satanism, sexual, satanic, sexuality, feel, pornography, exists, research, sex, tst, treating, person, finding, values, identity, masturbating SPEAKERS Eric Sprinkle, Stephen Bradford Long, Matt Langston
Matt Langston 00:00 You're listening to a rock candy podcast. Hey guys, my name is Matt Langston. I am a music producer, a mix engineer and an avid unicorn enthusiast and I would like to invite you over to my podcast Eleventyseven live on eleventy life we get to talk to your favorite artists, producers and creators about what makes them tick. We take deep dives into where they get their juiciest inspirations from and how they keep from being cynical about all of it. We even get to pull back the curtain on my band eleventy seven and share some fun insider tips and tricks for our fellow bandmates and creators out there. So be sure to check out eleventy life right here on the rock candy Podcast Network and wherever you get your favorite shows.
Stephen Bradford Long 01:14 This is sacred tension, the podcast about the discipline of asking questions. My name is Steven Bradford long and we are here on the rock candy Podcast Network. For more shows like this one go to rock candy recordings.com. All right, first things first, the show is only possible with the support of my patrons. I have taken a considerable financial cut as has everyone else right now in this fucking plague that is destroying the economy. So I have taken a considerable cut, I am no longer teaching yoga. And I have reduced my hours and essential worker to reduce my exposure to the public. So that means that I am relying on my patrons now more than ever. But with that said, I also need you to understand that I need you to take care of yourself first and foremost and take care of your family and those you love. And so if you do not have the financial margin to give right now, don't worry, I completely understand. If you do after first and foremost taking care of your own needs. If you do have a little bit leftover, and you love this show, then do please consider becoming a patron by going to patreon.com forward slash Steven Bradford long. For $1 A month or $5 a month you get extra content every week, my house of heretics podcast and the occasional meditation on a tarot card or a blog post. So if that interests you, then do please become a patron. I need your help massively. So this week, I have to thank Nicole, Adam, Bill, Jenny, Richard J. Halina, William and Lucy vor. Thank you so much. You are my personal lords and saviors. I couldn't do this without you. And for those of you who are unable to give, there are other ways to support this show. One of the best ways is to just subscribe. If you aren't subscribed already, go ahead and subscribe that tells our digital overlords that this show is worth recommending to others, it really helps this show reach more people. Also go ahead and leave a five star review. That really helps a lot, especially on Apple podcasts. And another way to support this show is to go to the satanic temple.tv. They are a sponsor of this show. And you can use my promo code at checkout sacred tension all caps, no space to get one month free. They have all kinds of interesting content. They have lectures, they have live streams, they have interviews, they have documentaries, they also have some kinky stuff on there as well if you're into that. And so they have all kinds of interesting content if you are interested in Satan or Satan adjacent or new religious movements, and kind of some transgressive media. We have a lot of it on the satanic temple.tv. So definitely go check that out. All right. Well, with all of that out of the way, I am delighted to welcome Eric Sprinkle to the show. Eric. Hello.
Eric Sprinkle 04:22 Hello. Thanks for having me.
Stephen Bradford Long 04:23 Yeah. So you have most of what I know about you is that you have a badass Twitter feed. So, but you are a tell us who you are. Tell us who you are and what you do.
Eric Sprinkle 04:37 Sure, well outside of Twitter. I am an Associate Professor of Clinical Psychology at Minnesota State University Mankato. I'm also the co director of the sexuality studies program there. So I teach a lot of sexual health classes to undergrads and grad students able to conduct all my research kind of focused on sexuality or what it has been Over the past year, the only time that I did deviate from just focusing on sexuality within my research was last year and my Satanism and stigma studies. And that's one thing that I feel very fortunate to be able to do at an institution like Minnesota State is that my research agenda is largely up to me. We're not expected I mean, university would like but we're not expected to attract like million dollar NIH grants to fund research. I'm not going to be able to get a million dollar grant to study Satanists in their in their sexuality and experiences a stigma. So maybe someday, though, maybe someday. Maybe I'm laying some groundwork that that'll show a need for this to be grant funded. But yeah, I'm able to conduct the kind of research that I want to and then the past year, year and a half, I've been focused on Satanists and Satanism.
Stephen Bradford Long 05:54 That's awesome. Now, are you yourself a Satanist?
Eric Sprinkle 05:58 I would say the best label for me would be de facto Satanists. Okay. LaVey mentioned that at some point, essentially, those who act as if they are a Satanists, but they may not have that label affixed to themselves, like self identified. Sure. Like on paper, everything like lines up like, oh, yeah, obviously, this person isn't Satanists. But that term itself. And this is interesting, because this is actually part of my research of looking at self identified Satanists and I've often wondered, would I even take my own survey if somebody was recruiting for a study that just was looking for self identified Satanists? And kind of on the fence with them? Certainly a satanic atheists. But the label Satanist, I don't know if it's just because the concept of religion, even a non theistic religion just doesn't have much of a function in my life. Sure. But yeah, I mean, I have no problem with being labeled by others as a Satanist. I absolutely don't take that as any type of offensive I view that as a badge of honor, usually when it is bestowed upon me like that. But I think de facto Satanists would be the closest in terms of self identifying
Stephen Bradford Long 07:13 Awesome, yeah. And I've seen you interacting a lot with people in the satanic community. I know Greg Stevens did an interview with you for his Patreon. Yeah. And I have really, really enjoyed a lot of the stuff you're doing both in Satanism, and in sexuality, and sexual health. And both of those I think, are really important. But I just have to ask, in regards to the sexual component, do you ever get like, really awkward conversations from strangers? Like, hey, I have a problem. You know, I feel really guilty about shoving hamsters into my butthole all the time. You know, this is a fetish I have, how do I deal with this? Like, do you get those conversations?
Eric Sprinkle 08:04 Yeah, all the time.
Stephen Bradford Long 08:05 Okay. And how do you deal with that?
Eric Sprinkle 08:09 I avoid the public as much as possible, even pre pandemic. So those kinds of like real life experiences are limited to like if I attend a wedding or something, I usually give this as an example, because it's a common occurrence, like a wedding reception, and at a table where I don't know too many people, especially if I just know, who's getting married. And then, you know, the obvious first question usually is, you know, what do you do? And I decided that moment of like, how much I want to disclose specifics about my job, if I don't feel like getting into anything, I'll just say, professor and leave it at that. But occasionally, I do say that I'm a professor of clinical psych and sexual health. And then one of two things happen either that shuts down the conversation pretty quickly, which is good, that's fine. If they're comfortable with that. We don't have to talk further and pretend to be friends. But the other side of that is it's definitely piques their interest. And then it's like, We're best friends or I'm their personal counselor, and then they start disclosing personal things. That's like, we just met like 30 seconds. Oh, no, this is really appropriate. And I, I try as much as I can to like empathize with that. Because clearly, if they're that eager to talk about their deepest sexual desires, or their sexual questions, or what their spouse may or may not be doing, obviously, they don't have too many outlets where they can talk about that. So I tried to, like empathize with Oh, clearly this person needs to talk about these things with somebody. But more recently, I get that a lot on social media as people just DM me and most times, I don't even look at my DMs but occasionally I do scroll through that. And it will just be like, hey, is this normal? Or is this like just a simple one sentence of like, Am I masturbating too much? And then other times people write like a thesis on their whole sexual history and want to know if they're okay. And I'm like, I don't know if this is like, when what world is this like appropriate to like, seek out the stranger and like start therapy? Feels like therapy.
Stephen Bradford Long 10:16 It's like the clinical psych equivalent of unsolicited dick pics.
Eric Sprinkle 10:20 Yes, absolutely. Okay now, either it's like hate messages in my DMs or the the equivalent of the unsolicited dick pic, which is, tell me I'm okay.
Stephen Bradford Long 10:32 So so what? So So does it all come down to tell me I'm okay. Like telling me I'm not some kind of freak? Is that generally what it comes down to?
Eric Sprinkle 10:41 It seems to be that way. Yeah, that people just have understandably a lot of like sexual ignorance and sexual anxiety about their desires. And they're just looking for some type of validation.
Stephen Bradford Long 10:53 Yeah, so let's talk about that the sexual ignorance thing. And you you have on your website, a section called on crucifying sex. What does that mean?
Eric Sprinkle 11:05 Well, for me, this was started as a writing project, I didn't know if it was going to be a blog. I'm turning it more into a book proposal now. And so I think I just have like two posts up there, which are like more introductory kind of stuff. And I stopped focusing more on how to structure and in book format. But for me, this is recognizing that for those who grew up in Christian households, which typically my target audience has, whether they're current atheists, or Satanists, or some kind of pagan, that they grew up in a Christian household, and even if they didn't, we live in a in a Christian culture, despite promises of separation of church and state, that doesn't exist, and we're inundated by Christian sexual values. And they Christianity has dictated what is and isn't okay, when it comes to sex. And it's completely arbitrary. It's archaic, and it's very oppressive. And so the whole purpose of UNHCR crucifying sex is recognizing that Christian sexual values aren't universal sexual values. And so we can create our own if we don't adhere to Christianity's rigid morality and value system that we can create our own value system. And specifically, I look at secular sexual values, which primarily focused around consent, sexual knowledge and bodily autonomy.
Stephen Bradford Long 12:32 How does the So so how do the negative and toxic aspects of Christian sexuality manifest themselves just as as someone who sees this on a regular basis and works with people who are working through this, what are the most common ways that toxic Christian sexuality manifests itself?
Eric Sprinkle 12:51 Well, the big three emotions would be sexual guilt, shame and embarrassment. So that's the feeling. And then whether that's about a person's identity or about their sexual expression, then then that can manifest in various different ways in terms of impeding sexual functioning and sexual satisfaction and pleasure. Maybe engaging and structuring relationships in a way that does not fit with one's like true identity or ideal sexual expression. So let's say compulsory, monogamy, alright, Christian sexual value, one man, one woman, monogamous, Married for life. Well, that's great for a lot of people, but it doesn't fit for everybody. And so if you feel that you have to fit into that mold in order to be accepted in order to be healthy or happy and satisfied, well, you're not going to be because that structure that compulsory, monogamy is just an arbitrary structure. It's not It's neither good nor bad. It's just one structure that exists that can fit for a lot of people. But if we try to force ourselves into that system in which it's incongruent, with actually our identities, or values or our expressions, then we're just going to set ourselves up for a life of dissatisfaction, displeasure, and a lot of kind of stigma management around recognizing that this isn't right for us, but I can't really talk about it because I don't want to be shamed by family, by friends, by my community, because I want to do something a little bit different, but that's going to be frowned upon.
Stephen Bradford Long 14:26 So you mentioned the three main emotions say those one more time, guilt, shame and embarrassment. So in this context, what's the difference between shame and guilt when it comes to sexuality? Yeah, the
Eric Sprinkle 14:39 big thing is like feeling guilt is more behavioral. And that I'd say like masturbation guilt, someone just masturbated. And that difference of experience and emotions and perceptions and attitudes, pre orgasm versus post orgasm, pre orgasm you're justifying it. Yes, I want to do this post egg orgasm, start and continue. feel some guilt or regret. So that's just feeling guilty about what you did. Because it doesn't align with what you wanted to do, largely because it's incongruent with some value system that you're trying to adhere to. Whereas shame is more an internalized, more kind of global experience internally of saying, I'm a bad person, because I masturbate. So not that it's a little bit more in depth and just guilt that said, Oh, I did a bad thing. Shame is I'm a bad person.
Stephen Bradford Long 15:33 So basically, what I'm okay. So, guilt is I did a bad thing, where as shame is, I am a bad person, because I did this thing or I am this thing I am gay, or I am trans or I am non monogamous, or what have you. So, so I can imagine that this is an epidemic, you know, people, people struggling because we do live with a lot of sexual shame, just culturally. And I feel like a lot of people are processing this, what in your experience, are the steps that it takes to to be free from that shame and guilt?
Eric Sprinkle 16:29 Yeah, so three things I generally look for as to help individuals kind of get to a point of on crucifying sex to kind of get past this Christian indoctrination of what is right and wrong relating to sexuality, to things that people can do on their own would just be exposed and trying to find sex positive secular, at least non sex negative Christian resources online, or books that, that profess sex positivity in a way that they haven't heard before. And so that's what I tried to do with my social media is just like, provide the counter arguments to what we're bombarded with every day of validating sexual identities and expressions, here's new ways to think about it, you do you, it's your body do as you please, that kind of stuff. So just exposing yourself to different educational resources and messages that do align with your value system. Also, finding communities in which you do feel validated, and affirmed and supported, whether online or in real life. So you just don't feel alone, because you're not alone. The most a typical and unconventional things that I've heard that are that people are into, there's a whole sub genre of pornography that caters just to that very unique interest. So there's, you're certainly not alone, as much as it may feel like you are at some times. So finding like minded individuals, those who share your values, your identities, your your expressions, and interests can be super valuable in getting that support and validation and affirmation that you need. And then beyond that, because that's just kind of self help kind of stuff. A lot of this is so deeply ingrained, and almost like on a cellular level, that therapy, or some type of counseling is warranted to really explore the negative emotions that have been the result of being bombarded with pretty oppressive Christian sexual values for their entire life.
Stephen Bradford Long 18:31 So you just mentioned pornography, and I feel like on the internet, and maybe this is less the case now. There's kind of this raging debate in a secular way, if I'm reading it correctly, over the the positives and negatives of pornography. So there's, for example, there's a lot of concern about the there's a lot of concern about pornography, impairing sexual function, and I'm not sure if I under fully understand that argument. So there's, there's still a lot of angst about pornography, Even in secular settings. And so and then you have groups like nofap. And, and you have these, these settings where, where guys especially are committing themselves to not watching pornography to, to not masturbating. And because they feel like it is impairing their function in some way, either sexually or more broadly. So what what's your take on that the pros and cons of, of pornography?
Eric Sprinkle 19:45 Yeah, so I think it's very easy to scapegoat porn for all of society society's ills. And that's been the case since since like the 60s and 70s or even before where we viewed any time I had a social problem and try to point our finger at some type of easy scapegoat. And a lot of times it is media, whether it's you know, heavy metal metal, like, you know, Black Sabbath, and Judas priests in the 70s, and 80s, being responsible for turning kids into the occult, or getting them into the occult or being responsible for suicide, absolute, Marilyn Manson in the late 90s, early 2000s, with school shootings. And now, too, with with pornography, of pointing our finger at that as to, that's why people are having erectile difficulties. That's why people aren't able to have in real life relationships, intimate relationships with others, that porn is impairing our abilities to do this, that we're becoming addicted to it, and that we're just being accustomed to what we see in pixels, and it doesn't generalize into the real world. And so we need to distance ourselves or outright just ban porn. That's 99% ideological, the research going back to the 70s on pornography, and up to today, the current porn researchers, it is such a complex and convoluted body of literature and the academic literature of porn effects. And it's marked by so many different methodological problems, primarily focusing on that this belief that all porn is the same. And it's going to impact all viewers in the same way. And so early research, and unfortunately, it still happens a little bit today, too, that I see in a study that looks at porn effects is that they're not even defining the type of porn that is under investigation. So more modern research that is sensitive to that is very much aware that there is a lot of diversity in the type of porn content. There's a lot of diversity among porn users. So we can't make these broad generalizations of all porn is bad, or all porn is good. For everybody that views it. Some studies have shown negative effects. Some suggest studies have shown positive effects. And a lot of studies have haven't shown like any effect on the individual just doesn't change their attitudes and behaviors in any way. So more from a clinical perspective, I think is where the conversations about porn use and its effects should take place. Because that's going to be on the individual level. So how is porn impacting this one person? Are and it's not necessarily like, porn is bad, or porn is good. It's the person's relationship with that, how are they interpreting what they are seeing? How is it impacting their life. And just because it is impacting their life doesn't necessarily mean that porn is necessarily in and of itself the culprit, someone can say that I'm out of control with my porn use, just because they watch porn once a month. And to them that feels like it's out of control, because they didn't want to do it. And that's where I really like Josh Grubbs, is research. He's a professor at Bowling Green State University. He's really focused on this idea of porn addiction or sex addiction as a mechanism of moral incongruence. And that those who identify as porn or sex addicts, they do so because their porn or sexual behavior is incongruent with their values, primarily Christian sexual values. And so if you have a value system that says you should not be looking at porn, but you do anyways, you're going to feel distress over that, and you maybe label yourself as an addict, or as somebody who watches porn and masturbating daily, but that's not in congruent with their sexual values, therefore, there's no distress, therefore, there's no impact in their life. They're not going to label themselves as an addict, and nor would they be assessed as one by a clinician.
Stephen Bradford Long 23:52 That's really fascinating. So basically, what I'm hearing you say is that whether someone's self diagnosis as an addict, or self identifies as an addict is kind of entirely dependent on their moral worldview. And so say, a Christian. You know, a conservative Christian will say, I have an addiction to porn, and he watches it, or they watch it or she watches it once a week, or once a month. So, so it's entirely about our own moral, moral outlook on life and an incongruence between those things.
Eric Sprinkle 24:31 Right. Um, that's when I used to do clinical work full time about that's been a decade now. We would see that a lot. I worked at the Center for Sexual Health at the University of Minnesota Medical School, and we would have a lot of patients coming in self identifying as a sex addict or they're calling their partner a sex addict. So treat me I need help or treat my partner they're a sex addicts. And so they're already coming into therapy with their own on diagnosis, so to speak, you meet them. Sex addiction isn't an actual diagnosis. But they were coming in with this idea that they have a problem. And this is what it's called. And now after assessing them, it really you uncover that they don't necessarily have an addiction. It's not even a compulsivity. It's just that they were using porn secretly, and they got caught. And now there's those emotions that are coming up the guilt, the shame, embarrassment, and then when you factor in other emotions that can exist within relationships of like insecurities, and boundary violations and violations of trust, then, yeah, you have a lot to treat there. But you're treating the violations of trust and the boundary violations, you're treating the guilt and the shame and the embarrassment. It's less about the porn. It's more about the secrecy that porn existed in, in that relationship. And so fast forward to more recent research with like Josh Grubbs, as I mentioned, that he's just providing some academic language and some theories as to what we were actually seeing clinically, like a decade ago, and it is about this moral in congruence between behaviors and values.
Stephen Bradford Long 26:07 So the topic of sex addiction, so for example, there are support groups, like there's a 12 step group called Sex Addicts Anonymous, I think, and there's, and so there's kind of this cultural acceptance and awareness of a sex addict. Right? Does that? Does? Does sex addiction exist? Is it even so? What is it? Is it real? Does it even exist? Or are they just people with high sex drives?
Eric Sprinkle 26:36 Right? So, with this debate, I always like to start, so it doesn't seem like I'm coming down on one side or the other, as if we ask the question more broadly of can sex sexual behavior become problematic for an individual? I think we all can agree that it can. Now the bait really gets into, well, what is causing it to be a problem? What do we call it when it becomes a problem? And then how do we treat it? Dr. Nicole Krauss, she's a neuroscientist, who does a lot of porn studies, research just released a blog post on Medium just yesterday or the day before on this topic, and why it's so important that language matters in the clinical world. Because if we call something a sex addiction, we're automatically viewing the behavior within an addiction model. And so that's going to guide treatment. And treatment for addictions would be focused on abstinence, and these 12 Step programs, right? There's harm reduction, stuff like that. And I certainly support all harm reduction, I mean, for substance related addictions, or substance related use disorders. But that's largely the the sex addict kind of model that sex is the problem, you need to learn how to, like, rein that in or even abstain from it. Whereas if we view it as a compulsion, or a symptom of an anxiety disorder or a symptom of ADHD, then we're not treating the sex, per se, we're treating the underlying thing that's driving the behavior. And so we're treating anxiety disorders, we're treating impulsive Impulse control disorders, or compulsive disorders, if we're viewing it as just moral incongruence. And we're labeling it as like, sexual behavior and congruence or you know, that's not a diagnosis, but whatever we want to call it, then that would guide the behavior, or the treatment rather, to focus more on how can we make behaviors and values more congruent? So let's explore your values are your values actually aligned with your ideal and authentic self? Sometimes it is, but a lot of times, it's just the value system that's placed on us. And we haven't thought critically about it. So we need to recalibrate our our values, since we are violating our values, so to speak, maybe that should tell us something that our value system really isn't part of our authentic self anymore. And then that becomes more of like a sub clinical kind of treatment, because there's no diagnosis actually. And especially if it's a relational issue where one partner doesn't like porn, the other does, then that says couples counseling is not diagnostic.
Stephen Bradford Long 29:14 Yeah, that makes complete sense. And so it really has to be taken at like a person by person basis.
Eric Sprinkle 29:22 I think so I think you know, we do the best we can with research in this area. But for me, the the applied aspect of the research, the implications always has to go down to the individual level, because we can't make these, these sweeping generalizations of this is what sex addiction is, this is how it impacts everybody who may be labeled as that it really comes down to this manifests in so many different ways that I've seen clinically, that we need to look at it on an individual level to see what's the mechanism behind why they may be struggling with their sexuality or their sexual behavior, and then go from there.
Stephen Bradford Long 30:00 So this might be kind of beyond the scope of, of your research and expertise, but I'm really fascinated by conspiracy theories and how they often play on fears of sexual abuse, especially against children. And, and I'm just curious what your take is on that, you know, as someone who studies sex and sexuality, you know, I think of Q anon and and frazzle drip and pizza gate and like the fear of the sexual terror, you know, it's kind of this, this, this, this painting of sexual monsters as the ultimate degeneracy. And that often includes pedophilia and cannibalism, and I don't know, what's your take on that? What are your thoughts? I
Eric Sprinkle 30:50 mean, I get sucked into these kind of conspiracy theories. Because I can easily be a poster child for them. I mean, with the satanic imagery, and Xavier. Yeah, so it's occasionally I'll see the q&a and people will kind of put their crosshairs in my direction. They're trying to put little pieces together like Dude, it's like, all in my bio, of like, I'm not hiding anything. Yes, I'm a sex educator of objects autonomous in my bio, like, there's no secret society going on.
Stephen Bradford Long 31:21 There's they're starting to. They're starting to write articles about me now. And yeah, thank you. Yeah. And thank you so much. i It's an honor, I guess. And it's so hilarious. And you know, I released an article and a podcast about the satanic abortion ritual that TST just did. And, and the response has just been so hilarious, like, they're finally admitting that they sacrificed. They're actually admitting it now. Anyway, go on.
Eric Sprinkle 31:50 Well, yeah, I mean, that's the funny thing, like, right, because I saw some criticism of TST is abortion ritual of like, oh, this is just going to fuel the Satanic Panic and like, people who are that opposed to abortion think it's a satanic right, anyways? And they think say, Yes, ie just non Christians or Christians who aren't their type of Christians are engaging in cannibalism and child sacrifice and satanic worship. So there's, there's nothing that we can do on the atheist and Satanists side that's going to, you know, change the minds of those kind of radicals on the right, so we might as well do what we need to do. That's, that's best and most authentic for us, because they're gonna freak out regardless. But kind of back to this, the paranoia of child sex abuse, you know, and like tying into like child sex trafficking to is that, obviously, Child Sexual Abuse exists, and, but how they are viewing it, in terms of how abuse occurs, is so off point. And same thing with the trafficking thinking that just your run of the mill, suburban family, going to Whole Foods and traffickers are snatching up your children, when they distract you by like putting a zip tie on the side mirror of your car, you're distracted by that they steal your children and sell them into child sex. Doesn't happen, right? What happens is like what are the actual risk factors of child sexual exploitation, and at least with the within the trafficking discourse, its poverty, poverty is going to be a huge predictor of exploitation of children and adults, as well. And we all know too that who's going to be the most likely person to perpetrate child sexual abuse against a child, it would be someone within their family, or at least someone that they know pretty well. And there's some trust there, right? It's not this stranger other right, so we're still falling into these traps of like stranger danger, the scary guy in the alley, the scary guy in the van, right, who are going around abducting children, there are those like psychopaths or status, whatever you want to call them that are out there. But they are such such a minority, that the focus should be on actually the root causes of child sex abuse and what's happening within the homes. So that's always so interesting to me when you have like a q&a and supporter he's so invested and trying to put all these pieces together this deep state, you know, conspiracy of child sex abuse be like, Why don't you do that at your next family gathering your next family reunion during the holidays, because more than likely, there's a, you know, a sexual offender within that group, as opposed to trying to find some Soros funded kind of pedophile that's existing out there in the elite, deep state. And so that's just kind of what irks me so much is that it's a diversion much like kind of focusing so much on negative porn effects, like let's look at what's actually going on here. And so at the child sex abuse, conspiracies within Q anon focus on child sex abuse where that actually happens. It's happening in your home. It's not happening that simply Deep State cover up.
Stephen Bradford Long 35:15 Yeah. So is there some kind of I don't mean to over psychoanalyze, but but kind of a level of projection. Like, I definitely feel like the Satanic Panic of the 80s. And 90s was kind of a projection, you know, like, put let's, let's project the evil out there in a way that we don't have to look at the evil in our own homes. And I know that I'm using evil in kind of any centralizing way, the abuse, the abuse that is happening in our own homes and our own communities, in our own churches in the Catholic Church, in our own parishes in our own congregations. Is there an element do you feel of that here? Like it's always so much more comfortable to to pray to confront an imaginary evil rather than confront real life abuse, which happens among people we know and trust, right?
Eric Sprinkle 36:17 Yeah, yeah, absolutely. I mean, if it's not project projection, and certainly denialism Yeah, that you're in denial that this can occur within your own house that this occurs, that the perpetrators are people that you know, that you trust, that would never think, you know, the cliche interview after a serial killer gets arrested, and they interview the neighbor of like, I had no idea they were just so quiet, right. So just, you know, we can't necessarily pick up all signs of abusive behavior, and others, but we have to at least acknowledge that that possibility exists. And that possibility is much more probable than this conspiracy theory of you trying to connect all these dots that don't necessarily connect in some kind of deep state Cobble. Yeah. And so I think it is just the challenge of one being uncomfortable with sexuality to have these conversations openly and honestly, that it has to be part of like this grand, like satanic scheme for us to even like begin to start talking about sexuality, as opposed to sit down with, you know, your brother, if you have children, and your brother, who's you know, your children's uncle is being inappropriate around your children to the point where you have to start, like policing your children's behavior, or what they're wearing, because Uncle Steve's coming over, right? Well, let's have a conversation with Uncle Steve. He's the problem, not what your children are doing or what they're wearing. And so we need to confront our own relatives, when we're seeing problematic and inappropriate behaviors, even if it's just comments that this is unacceptable, that we have to recognize that this exists when within our families, and we need to be able to talk about it, we need to be able to confront it. And we just largely lack the skills to be able to do that, because I'm not denying that that is isn't difficult. But I think it's much easier to think that the only type of child abuse that exists in the world is from these elaborate kind of conspiracies.
Stephen Bradford Long 38:17 And it's so much scarier and so much harder. And if I you know, I think it feels out of control for people. And so I sometimes wonder if, if these conspiracy theories are really an attempt to regain a sense of control over over a perceived threat? You know,
Eric Sprinkle 38:34 yeah, I could see that I could also see that kind of, in a world view of like a just world a fair world, that in order for injustice is to occur, there has to be something very grand and scale to allow that to have happened, right. So I view this too, with like, 911 conspiracies, right, that the it was all planned out by our government, that there are bombs in the buildings to bring down those, you know, the World Trade Center, things like that. And I think that's easy to get into kind of that type of thinking. Because the alternative is we have this massive attack, right in the United States, one that we haven't seen before to this scale, and it was carried out just by 19 random people with box cutters, like there has to be something bigger here to make sense out of this amount of destruction. It can't be that simple of an explanation. So similarly, looking at child sex abuse, it can't be as simple as just a relative doing this. This is such a horrific behavior and a horrific crime that it has its roots have to be like spread out throughout the the elite cobble who's controlling all of this. That's the only way to kind of make sense out of it to just not justify it but understand how quote unquote evil exists, that it has to be from this evil operation, and not just simply that one person He doesn't know how to behave appropriately.
Stephen Bradford Long 40:02 That's really interesting. So I'd like to pivot to your work on Satanism. So So what was the research that you were conducting on on Satanists?
Eric Sprinkle 40:16 Yeah. So last year, we did a study that looked at self identified satanist experiences with stigma and stigma management, and their mental health. And not necessarily a follow up study. But a separate study from that that's still ongoing for a couple more weeks now is looking at Satanism and sexuality and kind of looking at moral incongruence or congruence that we were talking about earlier of what are Satanic sexual values, or at least values among specific or individual Satanists? And how does that line up with their actual sexual attitudes and behaviors, expecting much more moral congruence within Satanists? And what we see among Christians? So those that first study on Satanism and stigma, I made those two kind of brief overview lecture videos for tst. TV, just kind of showing that like the data that we have on atheists, that Satanists do experience, stigma and discrimination, they worry about being treated differently because of their identity as a Satanist. And what kind of impact does that have on their mental health? Primarily, we're focusing on measuring depression, and depressive symptoms, and more of an applied kind of therapeutic way of is it important for a Satanist? Who is seeking therapy, for whatever reason, that the therapist also be a Satanist, that they've had experience working with other Satanists patience, or they're at least have some cultural humility when working with Satanists and not making assumptions.
Stephen Bradford Long 41:54 What were your findings with that?
Eric Sprinkle 41:57 With a stigma studies, we were finding similar to the atheist research that the more a person identifies as a Satanists, the more stigma management that they essentially have to engage in that they are worried about how others are going to be treating them. We did find that being low in kind of satanic camaraderie. So we measured strength of sexual Satanists identity in three ways, one, we just looked at, like how central is being a Satanist into your overall sense of self. And we looked at kind of intergroup relations of like, how much do you feel like other Satanists are kind of, quote unquote, your people? So feeling kind of that camaraderie? And then we also looked at in group an effect, meaning, how comfortable are you with the fact that you are a Satanist? And so we found not surprisingly, when you think about it, but in the within the body of literature within counseling, this is a pretty interesting finding, that those who have strong in-group ties so they feel like they found kind of like, quote, their people within Satanism, because they themselves are a Satanists that predicts lower depressive symptoms than those who feel less close or less connected. And why that's such an interesting finding. I mean, obviously, that makes that makes sense. Like that makes intuitive sense. So you had this community that could be a protective factor against depressive symptoms. But when we look at how therapists could potentially treat Satanists, as patients in a negative way, in a biased way, that if a therapist learns that their patient is a Satanist, and also is presenting with depression in therapy, their bias may say, like, oh, well, you're depressed because you're involved in Satanism, or your Satanism is causing you to be depressed or your depression is causing you to be a Satanist, something like that. And so the treatment goal would then don't be a Satanist anymore, you need to like disaffiliate, because this is unhealthy for you. Our research shows just quite the opposite, that if you have a sickness patient who's depressed, I would want to explore Well, what's your connections with other Satanists? Kind of like what I was saying earlier about combating sex negativity in our culture, of finding like minded individuals, finding your community to meet those social needs to get support, support and validation and affirmation. And so this approach would have therapists then, recognizing that Satanism and involvement within a satanic community could actually help their depressive symptoms to alleviate them, as opposed to like, No, you need to get rid of this because this is inherently unhealthy for you.
Stephen Bradford Long 44:50 That's fascinating. Because what I hear in that is what I hear implicit in that is the depth to which Satanism can be part of someone's identity in a way that I feel like maybe a lot of people and therapists wouldn't appreciate, because it's like, oh, this is this is just an arbitrary thing that you chose. You know, it's kind of tied up in the why Satan question? Well, why did he choose Satan as if it were a as if it were an arbitrary choice as if it didn't come with this whole personal history? Of resonating with that almost like it was chosen for you? Is what it feels like, for me at least. And so I don't know, it's it's interesting to hear that. Because because it for me that confirms no, this isn't arbitrary. This is something very deep for a lot of people.
Eric Sprinkle 45:53 Yeah, absolutely. It's not arbitrary. It's certainly not trivial. You know, I was intentional as a researcher not to be kind of a satanic gatekeeper of who's like a true satanist that can take my study, or survey and who can't I just pointed out or just made the criteria simple of do identify as a sickness and are you 18 or over, and then you can take it. So more than likely, given the diversity within satanist identities. We haven't looked closely at this at this part of the data yet, but more likely, there's going to be individuals in there who are low on strength of satanist identity. So it's not as central to their their core sense of self, it may just be reactionary. In that they use it just kind of for like shock value, or if it's more of just kind of an aesthetic more for observing eyes as opposed to their authentic self. I'm sure the those individuals exist. But I'm guessing the vast majority of our sample that Satanism is more of a core component of who they are. And it's not just a showy, superficial kind of component like it exists, even if, and for a lot of our participants. It exists even if they're not telling anybody that they are a Satanists.
Stephen Bradford Long 47:18 Yeah, they're Satanists, even if they are alone in their basement with their cat. Exactly. Yeah. Yeah. You know, it's, that's really interesting, because, you know, I feel like I people, people are always like, so why didn't you just become a Buddhist? Why didn't you just become a Unitarian Universalist? Or, or, you know, and I, and there's a certain and what I tell them as you're going about this way more logically than I am, like, you're you're going about, you know, it's like if I wanted to, to very, like deliberately choose my religious identity to be to have the broadest appeal. I would be the I would be a milk toast Episcopalian. You know? It, it doesn't. And so it's like, this isn't something that I rationally chose. It's a love affair. You know, GK Chesterton talks about he, GK Chesterton says, Let your religion be less of a theory and more of a love affair. And, and I feel like my religion is all love affair. And so I'm in this, this awkward position of just constantly trying to articulate the way it's like, no, this wasn't a con, or it this wasn't a a rational choice. On my part, it was something that just fell into my life. It is like, Yes, this is me. This is this is who I am. This is who I am. This is who I've always been, and then having to explain to people, no, this isn't arbitrary. And, and I feel like what I'm hearing in your research is that it kind of confirms that in a way.
Eric Sprinkle 49:07 It does. And research prior to mind to confirms that as well that most Satanists did grow up in Christian households. And they weren't, like proselytized or recruited into Satanism. They found it, they discovered it, and it fit. Yes, the goodness of fit of just stumbling upon it, whether you read the Satanic Bible, and in high school or saw something online. Now with TST that'd be like, Oh, this is me. Right? And then the, the conscious part of that is, how much do I want to like lean into this and kind of have this as part of my identity versus not and even if you don't, that it's still who you are, and kind of that kind of making a full circle here to my Introduction of like a de facto Satanists, like on paper, seeing either like Church of Satan or TST, or independent Satanists groups like, yeah, that fits me, me living authentically is living satanically, so to speak, I don't try to do that. I don't wake up in the morning, how can I be a good Satanist? today? It's just me, how can I be authentic? And that's just labeled as being satanic. So the conscious decision for me in this case would be how, how important is that label? For my core sense of self, it doesn't change my behavior doesn't change my attitudes, perceptions, anything like that. It's just an identity at that point, and how important is that identity? For me,
Stephen Bradford Long 50:47 that's really interesting. And it makes me think of my history and Christianity, because I feel like, you know, I, so I'm a preacher's kid, both of my parents are preachers actually. And then, you know, I've kind of made a rule that I don't talk about my family on the internet, because they didn't sign up to be talked about. So I don't so I, you know, I respect their boundaries, but and then I kind of grew up in the Christian world, and I was very much part of the push for, for accepting home, homosexuality and trans people in the church, in the Anglican Church, and the Catholic Church, you know, I was writing quite a bit about that I was kind of an activist when it comes to that, but But looking back, I realized, and maybe this is just a post hoc, you know, explanation for, for a lot of the discomfort I felt. There was, there was always just this, this struggle of feeling like Chris, Christianity was who I was, you know, there, there was always this struggle with is, is Christ, the symbol that, aesthetically, philosophically, culturally, represents who I am. And there was always kind of a little gap there, there was always kind of this disconnect. And this, this management of this personal management of fitting myself into that, right, you know, and I know people who have been Christians forever, and it is who they are. But But realizing, looking back that I was just always struggling with Christianity being who I was. And then Satanism came along, and I was like, this, is it. This, this is where I am, this is who I've always been. Yeah, so I'm totally relating to, I'm totally relating to everything that you're saying. One, one final question that I'm interested in hearing, kind of going back to the back back to the study of sexuality. What got you into that in the first place? What made you interested in, in studying human sexuality?
Eric Sprinkle 53:09 Um, I think the first, the first thing that I can kind of point to as yes, this is, this is like, my career trajectory now, was just an undergraduate class, and human sexuality. It was just I was a psych major, it was an elective. And this was at University of Cincinnati. And it was one of the most popular classes as the sexual health classes tend to tend to be. So isn't it like a large lecture halls like 500 other students, and kind of the arrogance kind of going into that class as however old I was, like 19, or 20? At the time of yeah, this was just going to be an easy a right, it's sacks, how much is there to know, we had those couple of lectures in high school. So what more is there, and just realizing there, that there is a lot more there. And everything that I was taught in high school or believed or tried to make sense out of on my own, just observing the sexual world was largely inaccurate, or just an outright like, myth or lie. And so recognizing it just kind of opened my eyes about, like, the diversity of sexuality and everything that we think we know, but we don't. I just looked at that professor, unlike I need to have this job too. And originally, I was interested in doing it just clinically, not an academia and which I did pursue for a little bit and I am still a licensed psychologist and sex therapist. I just don't practice. So academia is a better fit for me. But yeah, that was kind of the the origin story of it. About 20 years ago, now just taking a undergraduate sexuality class and realizing how much we don't No as a culture, and how much I want that to change.
Stephen Bradford Long 55:03 Very cool. Yeah, that's awesome. And well, I think that we're coming to the end of our time, but this has been an awesome conversation and you're welcome back anytime.
Eric Sprinkle 55:12 I appreciate that. Yeah, I've
Stephen Bradford Long 55:13 had fun. Yeah. So for people who want to find your work, where can they do that?
Eric Sprinkle 55:18 For the public, I'm mainly on social media, Twitter and Instagram at Dr. Sprinkle. I do have a website, Dr. sprinkle.com. That just really kind of sits there. It's more of a placeholder. I kind of forget to have it. So primarily, social media. And then also one thing that I will mention just as another website plug that I'm involved in is the secular therapy project. If you if you are a Satanist but have secular values and would want a secular therapist, I'm the director for that organizations and nonprofit. They have an online directory at secular therapy.org where you can find secular therapists in your area.
Stephen Bradford Long 55:58 That's fantastic. Awesome. All right. Well, that is it for this show. As always, the music is by the jelly rocks and 11 D seven you can find them on iTunes Spotify or wherever you listen to music The artwork is by Rama Krishna Das and this show is made possible by patrons to join their number go to patreon.com forward slash Steven Bradford long and there will be a link in the show notes. This show is written produced and edited by me Steven Bradford long and as a production of rock candy and as always Hail Satan and thanks for listening
56:52 laugh and we cry too. We run out of booze The same is true. Time sighs life is turning into work rinse, repeat. untangle what we've learned in
57:41 wedding rings in doubt dots you. The same way and I feel you cuz you feel like oh, you've been my truth. Every plan ever made us change?