Like other psychiatrists, Dr. Jeannie McCance has explored the darkest corners of the human psyche. Unlike most other psychiatrists, what McCance has found there is the devil himself.

This conclusion has not made her popular with the Utah psychiatric community. But McCance stands firm in her belief that a significant number of people diagnosed as suffering from multiple personality disorder were childhood victims of satanic cult abuse. These people, McCance believes, are literally possessed by demons.It is only recently that the satanic cult connection to child abuse has received any validation at all, she says. The publication last year of "Satan's Underground" - in which author Lauren Stratford details her own abuse at the hands of satanic cults - brought the ugly stories out into the light of TV talk shows.

Stratford was in Salt Lake City on Thursday as part of a professional seminar on ritualistic crime and abuse. Like Stratford, McCance's patients tell horror stories of dismembered bodies, mutilated pets and grotesque sexual abuse.

McCance was first introduced to this netherworld while treating several patients with multiple personality disorder about four years ago. Like some psychiatrists, McCance believes MPD occurs in people who use dissociative states to escape from some brutal reality, such as child abuse.

She had been working with one particular woman for about eight months, using hypnosis to unearth several dozen different personalities. It was then that the woman began having memories, accompanied by vivid auditory and visual hallucinations, of hooded people, black candles, altars and violent acts.

McCance, who was a psychiatric resident at the time, was told by her supervisor to change the woman's diagnosis from MPD to schizophrenia. At a later point, says McCance, she was told that she, too, was schizophrenic.

"I was told not to work with them in this capacity," she remembers. "I was told it would just reinforce their fantasies."

But how could these be fantasies, asks McCance, when a dozen patients she has treated, plus another 10 whose cases she has consulted on, all have very similar memories?

"It's sex, it's drugs, but it's not rock 'n' roll. It's murder and brainwashing," she says.

McCance believes Salt Lake City is a center for satanic cults in United States. Because of "the blindness of the culture," she says, Utah is a fertile ground for underworld activity. "People are not willing to lift up the blanket and look under it."

According to McCance, key walks of life have been infiltrated by satanic cults. "Judges, media people, the police, obstetricians, nursery schools, mortuaries are all involved. . . . Once you get the feel for the number of victims there are, the next question is why aren't we finding out? There must be people who are working in everyday jobs and playing interference."

She says that three of the psychiatrists who were hardest on her when she first began to talk about satanic abuse later found themselves with cult victims as patients. But even though a few psychiatrists have become more open to the notion of satanic abuse, none of them believes, as McCance does, that these patients are possessed by demons.

It is this leap that has caused her the most rejection, she says, by both her colleagues and her patients. And it is this leap that has convinced her to move to Tulsa, Okla.

There, at Oral Roberts' City of Faith Hospital, she will work with other doctors who also believe in the literal struggle between Good and Evil. There she will engage in "spiritual warfare."

"This is not a new story," says McCance about satanic victimization. She points to dark human episodes such as the Holocaust. "Satan is pretty consistent in the way he works."