Johanna Michaelsen is (or was) one of the movers and shakers behind the Satanic panic trend that was all the rage among parents, fundies and the delusional in the 80s and early 90s. Indeed, the “former Satanists” who achieved something resembling superstardom in certain religious communities, in particular Lauren Stratford, could hardly have got there without Michaelsen. Michaelsen was herself a former New Ager who, after being reborn, devoted her life to fight all things New Age and all “non-traditional religions,” for all the wrong reasons, and she seems to have cared not one whit about the (utter lack of) plausibility or corroboration with regard to her “ex-Satanist” clients.
Michaelsen has in fact spread a fair share of paranoid bullshit herself about the paranormal, New Age silliness and Halloween herself. She has claimed that school shootings should be blamed on teenagers toying with the occult and rock music (blaming in particular Rammstein for the Columbine massacre), and warned that Satanists are grooming our children for a reign of terror in the immediate future by brainwashing them with Halloween. Her book Like Lambs to the Slaughter is hence a guide for parents, telling them how to prevent the occult from encroaching on their children’s souls, such as warning against letting kids watch The Smurfs. John Beardsley of rapidnet.com liked it, but was critical of Michaelsen’s sometimes acceptance of terminology from psychology and psychiatry, which in Beardsley’s view is unbiblical. You can read a longer expose of Michaelsen and her antics here.
As mentioned, Michaelsen never really rejected her previous New Age beliefs; indeed, she explicitly still claims the stuff she professed early on were correct, only that she had been deceived by Satan into thinking them innocent or even angelic rather than demonic. The stuff in question includes occult practices such as yoga and meditation, as well as influencing others through psi and summoning Jesus and other dead people during sessions.
Michaelsen was a close associate of Hal Lindsey – indeed, Johanna’s younger sister Kim was Hal Lindsey’s third wife. Johanna herself was married to Randolph (Randy) Michaelsen, currently pastor of King’s Harbor Church in Torrance. Lindsey even wrote the foreword for Johanna’s first book, The Beautiful Side of Evil, which “documented” her “occult” experiences and subsequent lapse into fundamentalist Christianity. Due to her background and connections, she was thus well poised to launch her significant contribution to the Satanic panic by mentoring Lauren Stratford. Michaelsen lost some of her clout when she fell out with Lindsey in the early 90s. Stratford, on her side, and after her story was exposed as fake, went on to change her name and start a new career as a fake holocaust survivor. It didn’t really end very well for her.
Diagnosis: Utterly, unhingedly, raving mad. And, exasperatingly, she has demonstrably had a bit of influence. Should make you weep for mankind or something.