RITUAL ABUSE AND MIND CONTROL
The Manipulation of Attachment Needs
Edited by Orit Badouk Epstein, Joseph Schwartz,and Rachel Wingfield Schwartz
Thanks and appreciation to the Conference organizing group:Natasha Roffe, Briony Mason, Elizabeth London, and Orit Badouk Epstein, for the skill, passion, and generosity they brought to producing this pioneering conference. It was a remarkable experience to work in the context of so much warmth, courage, and solidarity,never undermined by the traumatic nature of the material we were working on together.
A very special thank you needs to go to Valerie Sinason and the Clinic for Dissociative Studies, who jointly hosted the conference.Without Valerie, no psychotherapy conference on this subject would ever have been held.
Many thanks to the Executive of The Bowlby Centre, who had the integrity and political strength to back a conference on this issue and to associate the Centre’s name publicly with the treatment of ritual abuse survivors.
Our heartfelt thanks also go to Oliver Rathbone for his willingness to publish a book which is not only ground-breaking, but also controversial, and for his continuing commitment to giving a voice to writers in the fields of attachment and trauma.
Last, and most importantly, we would like to acknowledge the survivors of ritual abuse and mind control who have refused to be silenced and whose capacity to fight back in the face of extreme torture teaches every one of us what we need to understand about the human spirit—that love is stronger than hate. We dedicate this book to them.
- Rachel Wingfield Schwartz
ABOUT THE EDITORS AND CONTRIBUTORS
Anonymous is a survivor of organized ritual abuse, torture, and mind control, and a writer, campaigner, international speaker, and trainer specializing in psychosis and trauma.
Orit Badouk Epstein is an attachment-based psychoanalytic psychotherapist and supervisor who trained at The Bowlby Centre, London where she is a member of the executive committee. Sheruns a private practice in North London and is one of the trustees of the Paracelsus Trust at the Clinic for Dissociative Studies. Orit has an interest in, and experience of, working with clients who have suffered from extensive trauma and abuse, including ritual abuse, sexual abuse, violence, and emotional abuse. Orit has published articles in the Attachment Journal and is on the editorial board of the ESTD news letter. She is committed to campaigns to counteract the denial and disbelief around Ritual Abuse. Email:email@example.com
Ellen Lacter has been a clinical psychologist in California, USA for the past twenty-three years, and has specialized in the treatment of dissociative disorders and ritual abuse and mind control trauma in both children and adults for the past twelve years. She has a number of published chapters in edited books on the subject of ritual abuse and mind control. She is programme co-ordinator for thePlay Therapy Certificate Program at University of California SanDiego-Extension. She is also an activist on behalf of victims of ritual abuse and mind control, and maintains a website to educate the public and mental health community on these subjects: http://www.endritualabuse.org/
Sue Richardson is a member of The Bowlby Centre with over thirty years’ experience in the helping professions. Her personal and professional attachment networks are in the northeast of England, from where she provides training, consultation, and supervision for those working with complex trauma and dissociation. Sue is a member of the European Society for Trauma and Dissociation(ESTD) and the International Society for the Study of Dissociation(ISSTD), and a founder member of their UK networks. She belongs to the training faculty of ISSTD and is the Training Co-ordinator forESTD UK. She is the co-editor and co-author of two books and a number of published papers concerning child abuse trauma, attachment, and dissociation. firstname.lastname@example.org
Joseph Schwartz is a training therapist and supervisor at the Bowlby Centre. His books include Cassandra’s Daughter: A History of Psychoanalysis in Europe and America (Penguin & Karnac). He is the author of numerous papers on clinical practice, the history of psychoanalysis, and the role of genetics in mental distress. email@example.com
Valerie Sinason is a poet, writer, child and adult psychoanalytic psychotherapist, and adult psychoanalyst. She is Director of the Clinic for Dissociative Studies, Honorary Consultant Psycho-therapist for Cape Town Child Guidance Clinic, and President of the Institute for Psychotherapy and Disability. She has been a Consultant at the Tavistock and Portman Clinics until 1998, when she left to start the Clinic for Dissociative Studies. She has also been a Consultant Research Psychotherapist at St George’s Hospital Medical School. She specializes in trauma, disability, abuse, and dissociation. In 1994, she published Treating Survivors of Satanist Abuse (Routledge) as a result of a Department of Health funded clinical piece of research carried out at the Portman Clinic. Her most recent book, Attachment, Trauma and Multiplicity (Routledge), is coming out in a revised edition next year. firstname.lastname@example.org
Rachel Wingfield Schwartz is a UKCP Registered Psychotherapist and was the Chair of the Bowlby Centre 2002–2009 (formerly Centre for Attachment-based Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy), where she is also a training supervisor and teacher. Rachel has a wide range of clinical experience in a variety of settings, including schools and prisons, and specializes in working with survivors of trauma and abuse, including sexual abuse, rape, domestic violence, war, state terror, and ritual and cult abuse. Rachel has been working with ritual abuse survivors since 1993 and is passionately committed to ending the disbelief and silence surrounding this issue. Rachel is also a psychotherapist with the Clinic for Dissociative Studies.email@example.com
Twenty years ago I first heard Valerie Sinason describe her work with victims of ritual abuse. The cost to her was enormous. She could scarcely believe any of things she was told, the tortures and the horrifying involvement of trusted pillars of the community—doctors, lawyers, police. It was Rosemary’s Baby in spades. Valerie was terrified.
I did know from Valerie’s work with mental handicap the kinds of abuse that can be perpetuated by those in power over the vulnerable, including the continuous reports of abuse perpetrated in old age homes, in the Catholic Church, and in the cellars of madmen like Josef Fritzl. But ritual abuse seemed a step too far.
I felt myself rebelling at the words satanic abuse. What? In this day and age people believe in Satan? Surely not. But, actually, horrifying as it was, I had little trouble seeing ritual abuse more sim-ply as organized abuse. After all, in the USA, people organize themselves into lynching parties, the kind of terror that had never been far away during my time in Mississippi. I was further helped by one survivor saying, “Satanic abuse, Schmatanic abuse. What is going on here is tortur
Abu Ghraib, the Maze Prison in Northern Ireland, the School of the Americas in Fort Benning, Georgia, where Latin American police forces are trained in the techniques of torture: we are surrounded by examples of torture. Dr Sheila Cassidy testified eloquently to the torture she endured at the hands of Chilean police during the coup against Allende (Cassidy, 1977). Bobby Sands starved himself to death in protest at torture at the Maze Prison in Northern Ireland. John Schlapobursky has turned his torture at the hands of the South African police into lifelong work with trauma survivors here in London.
The images of torture at Abu Ghraib prison by the US army will stay etched in our minds for many years (see The Abu Ghraib Prison Photos, Google Images). So why shouldn’t rogue elements in our communities, often, indeed, pillars of our communities, organize themselves into rings to do with children what they please,including torture and mind control to prevent the torture from being disclosed?
In the present case of the torture of children, where are the techniques learnt that are so necessary to keep the victims silenced? The CIA’s MKUltra documents (thousands of papers and articles on which are listed on Google and can be found at Declassified MK-Ultra Project Documents) on mind control are discussed by Ellen Lacter in her fine chapter. The question asked by MKUltra experimenters was: “Can we get control of an individual to the point where he will do our bidding against his will and even against such fundamental laws of nature as self-preservation?” (MKULTRA,1952). The experiments are hair-raising. You can see a fictional representation of the techniques used in the last of the Bourne films,The Bourne Ultimatum. Director Paul Greengrass has done his homework to show the use of torture (waterboarding) to create manipulatable, altered self-states. Remember, fiction tells us stories that are valuable and true. We do have non-fiction sources to back this up.Ellen Lacter, in this volume, documents the gory details of torture-based mind control.
We are fully aware that ritual abuse is an extremely controversial subject with a particularly aggressive and vociferous opposition.The crude, sadistic satires in Private Eye (Anon, 2010) are the least of it. The substance of the attacks on the reality of organized abuse and torture of children always reduce to that old chestnut—it is unscientific. “Give us proof,” say the naysayers. “How is this different from reports of alien abduction?” say the clever-clever wags of Private Eye.
Indeed. How is it different? In the case of alien abduction, we are asked to believe that visitors to this planet from outer space have kidnapped someone, taken them away, and brought them back. It is not believable. In the case of ritual abuse, we are asked to believe that people can organize themselves into groups for the purpose of torturing children. There would seem to be a significant difference here in what we are asked to believe.
But we are dealing with belief systems. Belief systems resist change, sometimes vociferously and aggressively. Consider, for example, Holocaust deniers. This extreme form of anti-Semitism believes that the Holocaust is a Jewish propaganda coup. “. . . historians have a blindness when it comes to the Holocaust because like Tay-Sachs disease it is a Jewish disease which causes blindness”(Irving, 1986).
What is the belief system behind the aggressive vociferous denials of ritual abuse torture? I believe that this is a refusal/incapacity to see/entertain just how brutal our social system has been and is. Check out the nineteenth-century images of child labour (Google Images: Child labour, nineteenth-century Britain). Until recently, our culture has always brutalized its children (DeMause,1995). But in my experience, no amount of evidence can defeat a belief system. No matter what evidence is offered, there will always be vociferous and aggressive denial of the reality of ritual abuse torture or, as history of psychoanalysis shows, the reality of childhood sexual abuse, full stop. The case of Holocaust deniers is just one extreme example of aggressive denial.
Readers picking up this book will want to evaluate the evidence for themselves. In this effort they may well be deterred by the argument that the evidence is not objective or, in the argument’s more abusive form, the evidence is unscientific.
What does “unscientific” really mean?
When evidence is labelled “unscientific”, it means it is not to be trusted. And vice versa. To be scientific means to be trusted, as in the advertising trope, “It is a scientific fact that . . .” What is the adjective “scientific” doing in there? What, really, after all, is a “scientific” fact? A fact is a fact. Or, as my father used to say, “Facts are stubborn things.” (And, mind you, facts are socially constructed by human labour (Fleck, 1979).)
Psychoanalysis has suffered the accusation of being “unscientific” from its very beginnings (Schwartz, 1999). In recent years, the Berkeley literary critic Frederick Crews has renewed the assault on the talking cure in verbose, unreadable articles in the New YorkReview of Books (Crews, 1990), inevitably concluding, because nothing else really persuades, that psychoanalysis fails because it is unscientific. The chorus was joined by philosopher of science, Adolf Grunbaum (1985), who played both ends against the middle: to the philosophers he professed specialist knowledge of psychoanalysis;to the psychoanalysts he professed specialist knowledge of science,particularly physics. Neither was true (Schwartz, 1995a,b, 1996a,b,2000).
The problem that mental health clinicians always face is that we deal with human subjectivity in a culture that is deeply invested in denying the importance of human subjectivity. Freud’s great invention of the analytic hour allows us to explore, with our clients, their inner worlds. Can such a subjective instrument be trusted? Not by very many. It is so dangerously close to women’s intuition. So-called objectivity is the name of the game in our culture. Nevertheless, 100 years of clinical practice have shown psychoanalysis and psychotherapy not only to be effective, but to yield real under-standings of the dynamics of human relationships, particularly the reality of transference–countertransference re-enactments now reformulated by our neuroscientists as right brain to right brain communication (Schore, 1999).
I think there is danger that the politics of ritual abuse and mind control, particularly the involvement of our State apparatus in its development and practice, can deflect us from proper concern with survivors. This book is a report from a powerful, moving conference where, for the first time, a safe enough space had been created for survivors and therapists to come together to discuss the pain and difficulties of recovering from the torture of ritual abuse and mind control. This book is a tribute to those victims who have had the courage to come forward and tell us what they have had to survive. It has taken courage because we, as potential witnesses, can become hostile and rejecting in hearing about crimes of this nature. Each case is a mini-Holocaust of torture. Like the Nazis, the perpetrators of these crimes are enemies of the human race. All of us who are hearing about what has happened for the first time need to lis-ten. Ritual abuse and mind control is happening. This volume lets survivors and therapists speak for themselves.
What has changed in twenty years?
This subject is not easy. Indeed, this is a historic conference.It is an act of disobedience, of speaking out, of political, personal, and clinical ethics and advocacy. It comes from a crucial link between the Bowlby Centre, the Clinic for Dissociative Studies, and the Paracelsus Trust, which I started to aid clinic clients at the instigation of Pearl King, one of its benefactors. Nowit is its own separate entity, which has the benefit of Pat Frankish as Chair, and Kate White, Orit Badouk Epstein, Deborah Briggs,Richard and Xenia Bowlby, Michael Curtis, and Brett Kahr as trustees. All agreed that this conference had an important educational aim.
It is the seminal work of John Bowlby and the relational approach to trauma that has offered the best way forward for many of us, together with a willingness to stand up and be counted. Indeed, just as John Bowlby recognized and acknowledged dissociative identity disorder (DID) and separation anxieties, his son, Sir Richard Bowlby, has continued to hold the torch, supporting unpopular and outcast areas of society and the mind.
Rachel Wingfield Schwartz and I were involved together with survivors who had been ritually abused over twenty years ago. It is also important that the Clinic for Dissociative Studies speaks up about this, as we have been very clear that the aetiology for DID that we witness in the consulting room comes largely, in our practice, from ritual organized crime.
For some people, some known and others invisible, coming to this conference has been an act of unbelievable heroism, of telling,of witnessing, of knowing. There will have been punishments for coming, for listening, for speaking. Some have not come, feeling that by staying away they have saved particular speakers and friends from being hurt. Others have come to stand between their protectors and the cult.
Last night, like many people here, I received e-mails and phone calls from different countries imploring me not to speak, as I would be killed. It was survivors who wrote, for whom the cruelest manipulation of attachment needs is exactly this: abusing someone’s capacity for love and concern.
It is perhaps the cruelest lie and trick to make a child or vulnerable adult feel that expressing care for someone else could lead to his or her death.
Survivors in the audience have shown so clearly, and with great protection for us, the listeners, something of what they have gone through—the dilemmas and choices given to Trish and Ellen sharply showed the techniques of how this was done in the flower game. (There are many other programmes with flower games, too. No system in any survivor is identical.)
No wonder the so-called “easy” choices of the ordinary non-abuse world are so unbearable. What dress shall I buy? Which food shall I buy? Any choice is linked with danger and death. Everything comes from tests, and all tests are lethal.
So, what is different over twenty years? I will start with what is the same.
What has not changed in twenty years The law: duress and ritual crime
I have the permission of a brave survivor, a professional called Lisa, to state this. Lisa went to the police to speak of all the crimes she had been forced to commit from earliest childhood to her late thirties, as well as all the crimes of which she had been the victim.The litany was familiar to all of us in this work (Hale & Sinason,1994). Murder, fake murder, necrophilia, bestiality, abortion, cannibalism, oral, anal, and vaginal abuse, drinking blood, semen, and urine, eating feces and non-food substances, drugs, pornography,and so on. If every survivor spoke out, then slowly the awareness might spread of what people were forced to do.
The Detective Inspector she bravely spoke to was very sympathetic and said the judge and jury would make some remission of sentence, he was sure, but as there was no plea bargaining in this country, and no law on duress, she could face a custodial sentence of some twelve years.
Until we join together to ask for a law on duress, many survivors will be left with an unbearable and unfair guilt their abusers have projected into them, aided and abetted by a non-understanding legal system.
Also, we have do not have ritual crime as a separate categoryof criminal offence. This means that accounts of spiders, snakes, masks, and unusual costumes do not count as evidence, unlike in Idaho, in the USA. Making children and adults eat non-food sub-stances is also not a crime, so checking a stomach for insects, etc., would not be done.
Reality remains the problem.
Outside of the “Adam” case (the poor Nigerian child whose mutilated body was found in the Thames), the subject is still not bearable. The “Adam” case was somehow bearable for racist reasons: he was a black child from “over there”, not one of “ours”. However, the use of white British middle-class and upper-class women, men,and children is still invisible.
The cruel treatment of the Baby Ps and Victoria Climbies who carry on living and do not obtain the peace of dying is just as intolerable to face as it ever was.
The pool of practitioners has not enlarged adequately. However, we have been a rather stable group, and thank heavens for Dr Joan Coleman, still working as hard as ever in her seventh decade. Joan Coleman provided me with a sanity check when I had my first British case over twenty years ago, and I will never forget entering her warm, containing RAINS meeting and knowing I could say what I had been told and would be believed.
Indeed, the experience mental health practitioners go through when describing this work to skeptical colleagues provides us with a shadow of what survivors feel.
Yes, there are more referrals, and more people are aware of ritual abuse, but we remain an amnesic alter-personality representing unwanted reality! While DID at least has a neuroscientific “cachet”to sweeten the pill of reality, attitudes to ritual abuse, especially within our particular British culture, do not change.
MPs, journalists, and police cannot take this much further, as they fear for their popularity. Here was the difference between a former British DCI, Chris Healey, at a past RAINS conference and Colonel Kobus Jonker, who, at that time, had formed the OccultSquad in South Africa. While DCI Chris Healey warned that British police were not prepared to hear this, and someone from the CID should be asked for, with the preface that this was a difficult subject, Kobus instantly put up slides of ritual mutilation and pointed to evidence and its meaning.
Obedience, hierarchy, and professionals fearing for their jobs
One client angrily commented, when I spoke of democracy vs. her cult loyalty, that nearly all the professionals she had met had just blindly obeyed their seniors whatever their true thoughts about appropriate treatment or action.
She was, of course, right. When faced with a senior practitionerwho is sceptical, the most highly skilled people give up their brain!
So what is different?
In the late 1980s and early 1990s, almost everyone we saw said heor she was a survivor of Satanist abuse. Satanism, like Pagan andother belief systems, is totally legal now, and we have the firstserving Satanist naval officers as well as Pagan police officers. Onlya small number of members of any particular religion activelyabuse. However, later referrals included Luciferians, those from Paganism, Wicca, Voodoo, Black Witchcraft, Black Dianetics, Gnostic Luciferianism, Illuminati, Military Mind Control, MKUltra, and Bluebird. Gradually, too, we saw victims of abuse within mainstream religions, abuse by mullahs, priests, vicars, and rabbis. Of even more concern were those whose systems can include all ofthis: a devoted Catholic alter, an abusing Satanist one, a Celtic one, a Kabbala one, an Egyptian one . . . None would want to know eachother. The innate phobia between them is then enlarged by their opposing belief systems.
The change through a personal journey: publish and be saved
Without a new social paradigm, the change that happens is more the personal journey of the survivor and the therapist. There is evidenceof the social change that has happened by the number of survivors present here today. And once survivors do all the talking and writing, we will truly have the paradigm shift that happened once the Women’s Movement took on domestic abuse and child abuse.
It was, therefore, very good to hear from the Conference that ninety-year-old Betty’s memoirs were shortly going to be published, and that Wanda Marriker’s book, Morning Come Quickly, had appeared in the USA. Art therapist Ami Woods here works with a well-known artist, or, rather, group of artists in one body who happen to have DID, called Kim Noble, and we also have the cross-stitch work by Jane James.
So publish and be saved.
Randy Noblitt, Pamela Perskin Noblitt (Noblitt & Perskin Noblitt,2008), Ellen Lacter, Alison Miller, Jean Riseman, and Carole Rutz, all from the USA, help us.
In the meantime, the clinician’s moral and personal journey is acrucial one. It took me a year to talk about ritual abuse, and when I handed the manuscript of Treating Survivors of Satanist Abuse to Edwina Welham at Routledge, I slept properly and no longer feared being killed, as I had done. I also felt enormous gratitude to my agent, Sara Menguc, for being willing to handle such a topic when she had hoped for me to write a book on family problems that affected everyone, based on my Guardian column!
If it took me a year to talk about ritual abuse because initially I felt silenced, it took me ten years to talk about mind control. It was thanks to colleagues Adah Sachs and Graeme Galton, who asked me to write about an incident that had haunted me for their book(Sachs & Galton, 2008), which led me through. I had been terrifiedof moving from ritual abuse to writing about mind control, buttheir gentle pressure released me. Ten years . . .
Art and creativity aid us all in this work, so I will end with a poem I wrote about it.
Treating Satanist abuse survivors
In the garden a green breath rises and rises
I am sitting by the window
On the table your fax sends murder down the line
In the hospital a woman asks for drugs
A child is dying through her mouth
Neither of them can speak
In the morgue the dead child is calling for her mother
As we write the scars on her head close like red zips
In the wood dead dog hairs grow flesh
Whimper, then howl for a kennel
We put these things together
Together we find a voice.
Appendix: Calendar abuse—the significance of ritual dates.Prepared for the Bowlby Centre and Clinic for DissociativeStudies Conference on Ritual Abuse, 23–24 September 2009by Valerie Sinason with David Leevers
“The fault, dear Brutus, lies in ourselves, not our stars”(Shakespeare)
As our human species crossed the known continents, we took withus our awareness of day and night, light and dark, sky and earth, sea, river, rain, floods, monsoons, mountains, thunder and light-ning, wind. We took with us our awareness of other living crea-tures, birds, fish, animals, and insects. Looking up at the skies, wedrew the constellations of stars and ascribed particular meanings tosun and moon. Like frightened children trying to turn dots on anight-time wall into a friendly shape, we have needed to ascribemeaning and myth to planets and stars.
This is not to deny the possibility of many kinds of meaningsthat are currently beyond our skills and comprehension, but topoint to the psychological need to defend against such hugeunknowns.
Faced with mortality, time, and the Cosmos, we needed beliefsystems to sustain us; some were harsh, to mirror the social orgeographical environment, others offered hope and love. Themovement of peoples across the earth, dispersals and disposses-sions, the growth of art and writing, led to an import and export ofdeities. Winning a war truly did mean gods and goddesses were onthe side of the victors, and vanquished peoples took up the deitiesof the victors.
History is the voice of the winner. However, the vanquished canbe heard in other ways. In the history of religious dates across theworld we can see the old vanquished gods and goddesses peepingthrough the days that earlier were theirs but which were later trans-posed to their victorious descendants. We cannot even be sure thatour earliest recorded history is the earliest. Where did the Sumeriandeities come from?
However, what is repressed can break through. For example, the25th of December, ascribed to the birth of Jesus, is the birthday ofthe Sun and, therefore, the most obvious date for Tammuz, the rein-carnation of the Sun God. Tammuz was a Babylonian and Sumeriangod, and the tenth month of the Hebrew Calendar is named forhim.
Yule, the Winter Solstice on the 21st December, was moved bythe Roman Catholic Church to the 25th of December, which wasalso the Roman Saturnalia festival, a time for drinking and feasting.Druids at this period saw the mistletoe as representing sexuality,and mistletoe, as with other ancient “props” was absorbed also. Thesame processes, as you will see, affect other key dates in theseasonal calendar.
The Edict of Milan=
Although our multicultural British society means that we are meet-ing those who have been hurt through a variety of belief systems,the majority still have links with the Judeo-Christian heritage.Indeed, Christianity is currently still the world’s largest religion. Asa result of this, there is one major historical event that I considercrucial to consider.
For a belief system to gain a huge following it requires to belinked with a national identity. It was the conversion of EmperorConstantine of Rome that was to transform the chances of Chris-tianity, which had previously been the religion of a persecutedminority. Constantine had declared that he would convert to theHigh God of Christianity if he won a particular battle, which he did.A year later he offered an edict that was remarkable in its tolerance.In 313 AD he announced “that it was proper that the Christians andall others should have liberty to follow that mode of religion whichto each of them appeared best”. He considered Rome would bene-fit from the prayers of all its different citizens and belief systems.No religion was illegal.
However, just a few years later, non-Christian belief systems losttheir imperial support and funding, and the oppressor’s former reli-gion was now the victim, and finally designated the “pagan”. Des-pite the current recognition of many of the belief systems that exist,the most ancient, that pre-date the major religions, have continuedto be demonized or disavowed. Such rigid exclusion can be as dam-aging as complacent inclusion (witness the current religious traumain Ireland) in making it easier for abusive practices to flourish.
Finally, ritual and ceremony are powerful processes and eventsthat can enrich our lives and aid us at moments of greatest vulner-ability or happiness: for example, births, deaths, and marriages.They are an intrinsic part of human existence and attachment. Thefocus of this text is concerned only with the tragedy that occurswhere ritual and ceremony is used abusively.
How to use this
When children and adults made their brave way to speaking ofabuse within religious or cult systems in the 1980s, they showed, through their verbal and non-verbal responses, that certain dates held enormous terror for them. Some, living with a supportivefriend or partner, were able to disclose something about these dates.Many others had been taught for years, under the greatest threatsof torture and punishment, to be silent. It soon emerged in treat-ment that they could face only too readily the threats to themselves.However, worst of all, their own loving capacity to attach was beingabused. Those who terrified them were threatening to hurt anyonethey disclosed to.
“Are you sure you are all right?” was the most commonquestion asked of any therapist, counsellor, or friend after a disclosure.
After further years of work, survivors were able to let us knowthat there were some areas of terror where, if we named the un-nameable, they would be free to express more. In a project on ritualabuse based at the Tavistock and Portman NHS Clinics in the early1990s, Dr Robert Hale and myself found the majority of people whocame to us were in particular states of terror on the 31st of October.By looking into the history and meanings of that date, we were ableto provide some small easing of the pain being carried.
While the Internet is filled with details of all kinds of occultpractices and all kinds of calendars, there is no substitute for a rela-tionship in which a little trust might dare slowly to develop. Just asno two children in the same family have had exactly the sameparents, no two children or adults hurt within any particular reli-gion or cult experience it in exactly the same way.
To our amazement, some people can move forward withoutflashbacks into a new life of light and love, while others continue tobe hurt anew with each ritual date. Some people carry post traumaresponses to a few dates in the year, while for others, their wholelife consists of being a slave to the calendar, with no respite, andwith therapy as the only witness.
Where someone has been profoundly hurt in the context ofa belief system, they can find all belief systems frightening andtriggering and this calendar will carry a major health warning.For others, who have managed to have a secure attachment to abelief or a person, it can be of interest to see how key basic themes ofhuman predicaments appear and reappear in different beliefsystems.
In other words, there is nothing prescriptive in this calendar. Itis not a manual. It is not an exhaustive list of triggering times.Nothing can be a shortcut away from the painful shared task ofbearing witness. However, I have a hope that it might help someunderstand why “calendar abuse” is one of the most lethal kinds ofabuse (Sinason, 1994).
When I began working with survivors of ritual abuse, I foundthat their abuse was often linked to the Christian concept of Satan.Since then I and other therapists at the Clinic for DissociativeStudies, the Bowlby Centre, and elsewhere, have worked withsurvivors of abuse within the world’s greatest mainstream reli-gions, let alone sects and cults. Unerringly, we found that men andwomen from all over the UK, who did not know each other, wereall falling ill, or being attacked, or suffering flashbacks on the samedates.
They show us, yet again, how our human hopes to understandthe great unknown are beset with all the cruelties and unworked-through trauma of our species as well as the hope for somethingbetter.
Survivors of ritual abuse of any kind come from all socialclasses, all religious backgrounds, all racial groups, all ages, and alllevels of education. While dissociative defences can allow someto continue with an apparently normal life with their pain invis-ible except to those who know them, others are profoundly visible,with the toll of flashbacks and problems with regulation ofmood.
While there are survivors who come forward and write accountsof what has happened in their life in order to help others, many ofthese are, understandably, anonymous. There are also survivor-professionals who write from their professional context and needthe freedom to not have to disclose their lived experience. While theclimate continues to be unsafe, although more understanding thantwenty years ago, there is more impetus for therapists and others tospeak the unwanted message to the rest of society.
This is especially true when the subject is about belief. Speakingabout hurt within a religious context can evoke fears of being seenas illiberal and intolerant. There is also the deep fear of threatscoming from fundamentalists of all belief systems, let alone mem-bers of groups who hurt others. I consider it helpful to make clear that I am not talking aboutany religion per se, only the human representation of it. I am partic-ularly talking about attachment patterns. Those with a secureattachment to their religion (as to their family, nationality, place ofwork) are able to speak confidently about the positives and nega-tives of their experiences. It is those with a disorganized attachmentwho will fight to the death for the honour of a maltreating parent,deity, or religious representatives. As one wise religious leader toldme, “It is a sin of pride to think you have to fight for God’shonour—you are implying He does not have the power to stand upfor Himself.”
Towards a definition of spiritual abuse
Spiritual abuse is the enforcement of a position of power, leader-ship or attachment in which total unquestioning obedience inthought, word or action is demanded of a child, adolescent or adultunder threat of punishment in this life and in an afterlife for them-selves, their families, helpers or others.
In this abuse, there is no room for the individual to be allowed theirown relationship with the divine as the abusers claim they are theonly link. [Sinason & Aduale, “Safeguarding London’s Children”Conference, June 2008]
Towards a definition of ritual abuse
A significant amount of all abuse involves ritualistic behaviour,such as a specific date, time, position and repeated sequence ofactions. Ritual Abuse, however, is the involvement of children, whocannot give consent, in physical, psychological, emotional, sexualand spiritual abuse which claim to relate the abuse to beliefs andsettings of a religious, magical or supernatural kind. Total unques-tioning obedience in thought, word or action is demanded of sucha child, adolescent or adult under threat of punishment in this lifeand in an afterlife for themselves, their families, helpers or others.[Sinason & Aduale, “Safeguarding London’s Children” Conference,2008]
Ritual as defence against fear of mortality
“Who turns and stands there lingering—that’s how we live always
[Rainer Maria Rilke, 8th elegy, p. 153]
Freud considered that there were four unbearable factors for ourspecies:
we are not the masters of the universe, we are descended from apes, we are not masters of our unconscious, and we are not immortal.
Copernicus and Galileo discovered that the earth was not thecentre of the universe. This rocked the Western Church. Our secondmost impossible subject is that of our own ancestry. We descendfrom other animals. Our longing to see our births and lives ashaving special meaning over and beyond that of other living beingscan stir up the need to invest extra significance in our positionamong other animals and other species. This may not have beensuch a problem to pre-Judeo-Christian culture, where there wereanimal, bird, and location Gods.
A third wound is that we are not masters of our unconsciousand can be taken unawares in all kinds of ways by our own inter-nal processes.
The fourth, and perhaps most important, difficulty lies incoming to terms with our own mortality. Time, mortality, and thecosmos are key areas that both thrill and terrify us. Religions andother belief systems try to offer us ways of making sense of themeaning of our existence and our place in the universe.
Where there is secure attachment, towards family, friends, orbelief system, there is a greater capacity to be protected from thepersuasion of abusive religions and cults and to benefit and beenriched by loving ones. Where there is insecure attachment, or,especially, a disorganized attachment, there is greater need orvulnerability to shape a universe where everything is accounted forand ordered as either the master or as the slave.
In trying to make sense of changes of seasons, day turning intonight, thunder and lightning, volcanoes, tidal waves, the position ofthe planets, the nightly death of the sun and monthly coming of themoon, it is not surprising that almost every belief system strugglesto find a reason for birth and death, sacrifice and hope, and that themeaning of “sacrifice” becomes literal, not just symbolic. Fear ofsexuality, body fluids, what comes out of a woman’s body, a wishto control procreation and primitive responses to the newborn babybecome transformed into rules and punishments. Attachmentneeds are denied by turning them into rigid and hurtful rituals,rather than transforming creative ones. Guilt about surviving whenothers die leads to the need for more blood sacrifice, which slowly,in safer countries, transforms into symbolic sacrifice.
It is not, therefore, surprising that responses to particular datescan be frightening to survivors of abuse by mainstream, minor, andfringe religions, as well as to survivors of cult abuse, which areoften the abusive leftovers from earlier primitive mainstream reli-gions.
Sadly, beyond all this, we know through Milgram’s obedienceexperiments that even the more securely attached individuals,when faced with the group power of unreason and cruelty, give into living and behaving in a barbarous way.
Time and calendars and repetition compulsion
September, the time for starting school in the UK and the northernhemisphere. Autumn days. Many adults can remember on suchdays the excitement of a new pencil-case, exercise books, coveringa text book, excitement as well as anxiety at starting school. Otherswho were bullied and terrorized in school remember the seasonwith dread. Our memories are evoked by dates and seasons.Sometimes “calendar abuse” hurts more than other abuse becausejust a time or day of the week can trigger flashbacks and horrificmemories without another human being even needing to be there.
From earliest human experience, the seasons have made a hugeimpact on our psyches as well as night and day, sun, moon, stars,wind, rain, thunder, and lightning. To deal with the impossibility oftime, all human cultures have needed to create a calendar that links our species with deities. Where there is a deity standing for love,these dates can bring joy and celebration. Where the deities aregods or goddesses of punishment or hatred, the dates can bringpain and terror. Sometimes a date can be a mixture. Most beliefsystems include ideas of the death of a god and rebirth, sky godsand underground gods, twins and murder/sacrifice linked to theseasons, the stars and planets, and the sun and moon, the transienceof the individual vs. the permanence of the heavens.
Our established religions, in their early days, were highly intel-ligent in trying to woo public interest by keeping alive seasonaldates already linked to older religions but giving them anothername! So, looking into the meaning of dates that can be triggeringprovides a multicultural theological and historical lesson in culturalarchaeology.
It is very hard to consider that a date that has precious meaning,whether spiritually or emotionally, to one individual, can meansuch abject terror for another. We need to try to preserve our ownpleasure in certain dates while understanding the pain they cancause others.
In addition to the key universal yearly dates, such as the newmoons, full moons, solstices, equinoxes, etc., different cults and reli-gious groups also have other dates that are special. Personal birth-days, family birthdays, deaths, and wedding anniversaries areincluded. Even the clinician’s, partner’s, or friend’s birthday aresignificant. Should a personal date fall on a ritual/religious date,there is even greater impact. Should a personal or religious date fallat a weekend then there is even more time dedicated to it.
Many belief systems also have an attraction to numerology—themagic meaning of numbers. Humans have found different ways ofcounting to try to control time and the uncertainty of life and haveascribed different religious and mystical values to the existence ofcertain numbers. This means that, in addition to key festival times,other dates have particular numerical meaning, including thesurvivor’s age on their birthday. There are 650,000 references tonumerology on the Internet, and interest in birth signs and horo-scopes is part of this.
Numbers are also linked to different ages of development whichhave religious meaning in different belief systems: for example,baptism, barmitzvah, marriage to Christ or Satan.
A birthday that also falls on an occult date (which is planned insome generational families by inducing birth) therefore has adouble meaning, and if it also falls on a Friday, Saturday, or Sundayin a given year it has even greater impact.
Calendars, years, and months
The current occult calendar consists of four periods of thir-teen weeks each. Thirteen is the number that signifies rebellionin the Judeo-Christian tradition as there were thirteen at the LastSupper. We can now see why Friday the 13th is seen as so doublyunlucky. Should Friday 13th also be a full moon or another occultdate, it triggers even more fear. The superstition around the num-ber thirteen goes back farther. In Norse mythology there werethirteen present at a banquet in Valhalla when Balder (son ofOdin) was slain, which led to the downfall of the gods. Fridaythe 13th will happen between one and three times in any givenyear.
Twenty-eight was a special number linked to the menstrualcycle. Alistair Crowley saw twenty-eight as the number of theBeast, Bahimiron. Twenty-eight also means power for Cabbalists.Numbers divisible by three also are given extra meaning—withRevelations saying 666 is the name of the Beast.
The Kabbalah has a whole system of meanings linked to numbers.
Numbers have also been necessary to control the way the move-ment of our planet is measured.
The Maya tracked a fault in the solar year in which they counted365 days per year. Because they could not use fractions, the “quar-ter” day left over every year caused their calendar to drift withregard to the actual solar year. The 365-day year contained monthsthat were also given names.
The Sumerian Calendar, sixth century BC noted Mercury, Venus,Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn, as well as sun and moon, and synchro-nized a lunar calendar of twelve lunar months a year with an extramonth inserted every four years. The early Egyptians and Greekscopied this.
The Babylonian Calendar and the Jewish Calendar followed a lunarmonth (Genesis 1:14) and special offerings were given on the day ofthe new moon.
The Islamic Calendar, the lunar calendar used by Muslims, datesfrom 622 AD (the year of the Hegira); the beginning of the Muslimyear retrogresses through the solar year, completing the cycle everythirty-two years. The Islamic (Muslim) year begins with Muharram.All Islamic dates are subject to sighting of the moon; an event thatmay be one day earlier or later than the date listed.
The Celtic Year was a solar year, marked by four major bonfirefeasts a year dedicated to the sun.
Hindu Calendar. The year is divided into twelve lunar months,but, because of the shortfall, it becomes lunisolar. The solar year isdivided into twelve lunar months in accordance with the successiveentrances of the sun into the signs of the zodiac, the months vary-ing in length from twenty-nine to thirty-two days.
Jewish Calendar (Judaism): the calendar used by Jews dates from3761 BC (the assumed date of the creation of the world); a lunar yearof 354 days is adjusted to the solar year by periodic leap years.
Gregorian Calendar: the solar calendar now in general use in theUK and used by Christians in the West was introduced by GregoryXIII in 1582 to correct an error in the Julian calendar by suppress-ing ten days, making 5 October be called 15 October, and providingthat only centenary years divisible by 400 should be leap years; itwas adopted by Great Britain and the American colonies in 1752.
Buddhist Calendar. Apart from the Japanese, most Buddhists usethe Lunar calendar. The most significant celebration happens everyMay on the night of the full moon, when Buddhist all over theworld celebrate the birth, enlightenment, and death of the Buddhaover 2500 years ago. It has become known as Buddha Day.
Pagan Calendar. By the third century the term Pagan, or “Pag-anus”, was used to mean all those who were not Christians. Slowly,it took on a more disparate meaning and the term is now often seenas an umbrella term that covers many belief systems such as Druids(who have their own calendar), followers of Asatru, who adhere tothe ancient, pre-Christian Norse religion, Wiccans, who follow pre-Celtic beliefs, and those who follow the religions of ancient Rome,Greece, or Egypt.
Contemporary Satanism, as espoused by Anton La Vey, wascreated on 1st May 1966 through the San Fransisco Church of Satan.As with many religious leaders, he chose an auspicious date onwhich to launch his church. He has considered that the highest holday in Satanism is the date of one’s own birthday, in direct contrastto religions that deify “an anthropomorphic form of their ownimage” instead of seeing themselves as a god, as in Christianity(Ecclesiastes 7:1) where “ the day of death [is better] than the dayof one’s birth”. Satanism is a legal belief system in the UK.
Shintoism, Jainism, Bahai, Luciferianism, Chinese traditionalreligion, African religions, and all the branches of Christianity allhave dates in common.
Christianity is the largest world religion (including all its sub-sects and branches) and Scientology is the smallest among the reli-gions that are counted in national statistics.
When does a ceremony begin? According to the Eastern OrthodoxChurch calendar, the day begins after evening vespers at sunset andconcludes with vespers on the following day. For this reason, theobservance of all Eastern Orthodox holy days and Jewish holy daysbegins at sunset on the evening before the holy day.
Do not assume that because someone has been triggered by onedate that they will be by all the ritual dates, as each abusing groupbehaves differently and prioritizes different dates. Only thesurvivor knows at what time the bad dates are most relevant andwhich dates these are.
Days of the week
For some survivors, a day has significance only if a ceremonyhappens to fall on it. For others, days of the week have a mysticalmeaning regardless of the week or month it is linked to. We can beso used to measuring our time in days and months that we losesight of the fact that the names provide understanding of deepmeanings.
Sunday is the first day of the week. From prehistoric times to theclose of the fifth century of the Christian era, the worship of thesun was dominant. Sunday celebrates the sun god, Ra, Helios,Apollo, Ogmios, Mithrias, the sun goddess, Phoebe. In the year 321,Constantine the Great ruled that the first day of the week, “the venerable day of the sun”, should be a day of rest. The Christianconcept of resting on the Sunday was borrowed.
Monday is the day of the moon goddess.
Tuesday is the third day of the week. Tiw’s day is derived fromTyr of Tir, the God of honourable war, the wrestler and the son ofOdin, the Norse god of war, and Frigga, the earth mother.
Wednesday comes from the Scandinavian Woden (Odin), chiefgod of Norse mythology, who was often called the All Father andis linked to the Roman Dies Mercurii.
Thursday comes from Thor, the God of strength and thunder,who is the counterpart of Jupiter, or Jove. Thor is the only god whocannot cross from earth to heaven upon the rainbow, for he is soheavy and powerful that the gods fear it will break under hisweight. It was said that whenever Thor threw his hammer, the noiseof thunder was heard through the heavens.
Friday is derived from the Germanic Frigga, the name of theNorse God Odin’s wife. Frigga is considered to be the mother of all,and the goddess who presides over marriage. The name meansloving or beloved. The corresponding Latin name is Dies Veneris, aday dedicated to Venus, the goddess of love. Any Friday that fallson the thirteenth day of the month has a ritual meaning. Friday isthe unluckiest day of the week for many Christians, who believethat Christ was crucified on this day.
Saturday is corresponding to the Roman Dies Saturni, or day ofSaturn, the Roman god of agriculture. Saturday is also representedby Loki, the Norse god of tricks and chaos. Saturn is also linked tothe Greek God Cronus, who devoured his children.
For Jews, the Sabbath and day of rest is Saturday.
It is worth noting the similarity of the names of days with SunDay, Moon Day, Mars Day, Mercury Day, Jupiter’s Day, Venus’sDay, Saturn’s Day.
January comes from Janus, the two-headed God of doorways: themonth was named by Pompilus, the second king of Rome ca 700 BC.February is the Roman festival of purification that was held on the 15th of that month.
March/Martius was the original beginning of the year and thetime for the resumption of war. Mars is the Roman god of war. Heis identified with the Greek god Ares.
April comes from Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love andbeauty. She is identified with the Roman goddess Venus. Called Aprilis, from aperire, “to open”, possibly because it is the month inwhich the buds begin to open.
May is derived from Maia (meaning “the great one”), the Italiangoddess of spring, the daughter of Faunus, and wife of Vulcan.
June comes from Juno, the principle goddess of the RomanPantheon. She is the goddess of marriage and the well-being ofwomen. She is the wife and sister of Jupiter. She is identified withthe Greek goddess Hera. However, the name might also come fromiuniores (young men, juniors) as opposed to maiores (grown men,majors) for May, the two months being dedicated to young and oldmen.
July: Julius Caesar reformed the Roman calendar (hence, theJulian calendar) in 46 BC. In the process, he renamed this monthafter himself.
August. Augustus Caesar clarified and completed the calendarreform of Julius Caesar. In the process, he also renamed this monthafter himself.
September, Latin for the seventh month, had thirty days untilNuma, when it had twenty-nine days, until Julius, when it revertedto being thirty days long.
October, meaning eighth month, has always had thirty-one days.
Novembris, meaning ninth month, had thirty days until Numa,when it had twenty-nine days, until Julius, when it reverted tobeing thirty days long.
December had thirty days until Numa, when it had twenty-ninedays, until Julius, when it became thirty-one days long
Numa Pompilius, the second king of Rome ca 700 BC, added thetwo months Januarius and Februarius. He also changed the numberof days in several months to be odd, a lucky number. After Febru-arius, there was occasionally an additional month of Intercalaris“intercalendar”. This is the origin of the leap-year day being inFebruary. In 46 BC, Julius Caesar reformed the Roman calendar(hence, the Julian calendar) changing the number of days in manymonths and removing Intercalaris.
Dates that change: Easter and moons
While most ritual dates stay the same, dates based on the lunarcalendar change each year and therefore need special attention.
Ash Wednesday, Easter
The dates of Easter weekend, Easter Sunday, Good Friday, AshWednesday, Ascension, Pentecost, Corpus Christi, first Sunday ofAdvent, Full Moons, and New Moons all change.
No new moons or full moons are shown in the monthly calen-dar provided, as they vary.
All phases of the moon have meaning, from new moon, firstquarter, waxing gibbous, full moon, waning gibbous, last quarter.
The second new moon is called the Black Moon. Blue Moon isthe second full moon to occur in a single calendar month. Two newmoons and two full moons in one calendar month is seen to havemore power.
The interval between full moons is about 29.5 days, while theaverage length of a month is 30.5 days. This makes it very unlikelythat any given month will contain two full moons.
Eclipses also have meaning.
The quarter moon represents the moon goddess Diana, andLucifer, the morning star. If we consider that the planet namedVenus is sometimes called the morning star and sometimes theevening star and that the same name was given to Lucifer, we cansee the way the emblems of different belief systems join together.
Table 1 shows some of the names given to the moon accordingto the month.
The seasons and weather
It is worth noting that while Western world beliefs have fourseasons, there are other cultures that have or have had threeseasons. For example, in Ancient Egypt, there was Akhet, the inun-dation (June–September), Peret (October–February), the GrowingSeason, and Shemu (March–May), the Harvesting Season.
Thunder, lightning, storm winds, and rain all have differentmeaning and different deities attached to them.
(see PDF for better rendered version)
Table 1. Names of the moon according to month January Old MoonFebruary Wolf Moon
March Lenten Moon
April Egg Moon
May Milk Moon
June Flower Moon
July Hay MoonAugust Grain Moon
September Corn Moon
December Oak Moon
Wolf MoonSnow Moon
Pink MoonFlower Moon
Moon after Yule, Ice MoonHunger Moon, Storm Moon,Candles Moon
Crow Moon, Crust Moon,Sugar Moon, Sap Moon,Chaste Moon
Sprouting Grass Moon, FishMoon, Seed Moon, Waking MoonCorn Planting Moon, Corn Moon,Hare’s Moon
Honey Moon, Rose Moon,
Hot Moon, Planting MoonThunder Moon, Mead Moon
Red Moon, Green Corn Moon,Lightning Moon, Dog Moon
Corn Moon, Barley Moon
Travel Moon, Dying Grass Moon,Blood Moon
Frost Moon, Snow Moon
Frost Moon, Long Night’s Moon,Moon Before Yule
The significant dates per month
New Year’s Day. A Druid (spirit) feast day (light fires on hilltops).
Shivaratri (night of Shiva creator/destroyer).
Kore gives birth/manifestation of divinity. Kore, Demeter,and Persephone make up the triple goddess.
Epiphany. This refers to celebration over the manifestationof the divinity of Jesus, as shown by the visit of the threeMagi.
7: Eastern Orthodox Christmas.
7: St Winebald Day. Winebald was a successful Saxon missionary who founded the Benedictine Order and was the brother and son of saints.
12: Birth of both Rosenburg and Goering, Nazi leaders in the Second World War.
13: Satanic New Year.
15–16: Skillfest, the feast day of St Henry of Coquet Island, a Danewho settled here in the twelfth century, noted for hispsychic perceptions.
17: Feast of Fools (Old Twelfth Night)/satanic and demonrevels.
18: Old Epiphany.
18–22: Dream Festival (Pleiades). 20: St Agnes’ Eve. 20–27: Grand climax (blood rituals). St Agnes, the patron saint of
virgins, was martyred at the age of twelve or thirteen forbeing a Christian. On this day in Rome, the Pope blessestwo lambs. Young virgins can have visions of delight onsuch a night. In the Satanic calendar, it is the conjuration ofTelal, a warrior demon
30: Hitler named Chancellor of Germany
1–3: Mysteries of Persephone, Groundhog Day, Groundhog’sDay. The popular “Punxsutawney Phil” groundhog comesout of his burrow to divine the next few weeks of weather.If he sees his shadow, there is a prediction that there will besix more weeks of bad weather until Spring finally arrives;if he does not see his shadow, the next seven weeks beforeSpring will be good weather. This pagan tradition featuresboth the numbers “6” and “7”, which, when added, equals“13”. Groundhog’s Day (Imbolg) represents the EarthMother in some systems. As the Earth goddess sleepsinside the earth during the winter season, so does thegroundhog. They represent rebirth and renewal.
The name “groundhog” was substituted for the Satanic nameof the holiday, Imbolg, a night requiring human sacrifice.
2: Candlemas (Imbolc/Imbolg). This date is halfway betweenwinter and spring solstices and means “with milk” for bothgoats and cows. Brigid’s Day (2 February) was the Chris-tianized version of Brigid or Bride, the great Celtic Mothergoddess. The Irish called it Imbolc, and it celebrates thetriple goddess. It is also called Candlemas, as candles areblessed on that day.
9: (Starts evening of 8 February.) Tu B’Shevat (Jewish celebra-tion of spring)
13: Friday the 13th.
14: Valentine’s Day is a pagan festival that encourages love and physical lust. It is celebrated precisely thirteen days afterImbolg, thus imprinting upon it the number “13”, Satan’snumber of extreme rebellion. Most people view this daynow as the day to honour your wife or lover.
Cupid, the son of Venus, is really Tammuz, son of Semiramis.Venus, daughter of Jupiter, is really Semiramis herself.Jupiter is the head deity, a sun god. Nimrod, Semiramis’shusband, is considered a sun god in the Babylonian Mys-teries.
The name of this month comes from the Roman goddessFebrua and St Febronia (from Febris, the fever of love). She isthe patroness of the passion of love. Her orgiastic rites arecelebrated on 14 February—still observed as St Valentine’sDay—when, in Roman times, young men would draw billetsnaming their female partners. This is a time of clear visioninto other worlds, expressed by festivals of purification.
St Valentine was not mentioned until 496 AD and there is still doubt about his origins.
14: Fertility rituals.
15: Lupercalia (she-wolf mother of Romulus and Remus:honouring of Pan).
16: Presidents’ Day (a federal holiday in the USA).
21–22: Feralia/Terminalia (Roman All Souls’/boundary day).
25: Walpurgis. Saint Walpurga herself was a niece of Saint Boniface and said to be a daughter of the Saxon prince,Saint Richard. Together with her brothers she travelled toGermany, where she became a nun. Her feast day is com-memorated on 1st May.
28: Hearthday, the day of Vesta, the matriarchal Roman god-dess, who kept a perpetual fire on hearth and altar.
Easter varies each year between March and April. It is cele-brated on the first Sunday after the first new moon after Ostara.This date celebrates the return of Semiramis into her reincarnatedform of the Spring Goddess. The equivalent of Good Friday, “EasterFriday”, has historically been timed to be the third full moon fromthe start of the year. Since the marrying of pagan Easter to Jesus’resurrection, Good Friday is permanently fixed on the Friday priorto Easter.
Within some abusive branches of Satanism and Luciferianism,some children aged 3–5 are reborn through a cow corpse, or some-times goats. There are also mock crucifixions.
Easter is steeped in the Babylonian Mysteries, The Babyloniangoddess, Ishtar, is the one for whom Easter is named. She wasSemiramis, wife of Nimrod, and the real founder of the BabylonianMysteries. After Nimrod died, Semiramis created the legend that hewas really her divine son born to her in a virgin birth. She is consid-ered to be the co-founder of all occult religions, along with Nimrod.Babylon: Ishtar (Easter), also called the Moon Goddess.
Catholics: Virgin Mary (Queen of Heaven) She links with theIndian Indrana, the ancient Jewish Ashtoreth, the SumerianInnanna, the Greek Aphrodite and Ceres, the Egyptian Isis, and theEtruscan Nutria.
The Babylonians celebrated the day as the return of Ishtar(Easter), the goddess of Spring. This day celebrated the rebirth, orreincarnation, of Nature and the goddess of Nature. According toBabylonian legend, a huge egg fell from heaven, landing in theEuphrates River. The goddess Ishtar (Easter) broke out of this egg.Later, the feature of an egg nesting was introduced, a nest where theegg could incubate until hatched. A “wicker” or reed basket wasconceived in which to place the Ishtar egg.
The Easter Egg Hunt was conceived because, if anyone foundher egg while she was being “reborn”, she would bestow a blessingupon that lucky person. Because this was a joyous Spring festival,eggs were coloured with bright Spring colours. The goddess’s totem, the Moon-hare, would lay eggs for goodchildren to eat. Eostre’s hare was the shape that Celts imagined onthe surface of the full moon Thus, “Easter”—Eostre, or Ishtar—wasa goddess of fertility. Since the rabbit is a creature that procreatesquickly, it symbolized the sexual act; the egg symbolized “birth”and “renewal”. Together, the Easter Bunny and the Easter Eggsymbolize the sex act and its offspring, Semiramis and Tammuz.
Easter offerings are derived from the tradition where the priestsand priestesses would bring offerings to the temples for Easter.They brought freshly cut spring flowers and sweets to place on thealtar of the god they worshipped. They would also bake hot crossbuns, decorating them with crosses symbolizing the cross of Wotan,or another god. The first instance of hot cross buns can be tracedback to about 1,500 BC, to Cecrops, the founder of Athens. In OldTestament celebrations in Israel, women angered God because theybaked this type of cakes to offer them in worship to the Queen ofHeaven (Jeremiah 17:17–18).
Another popular Easter offering was freshly made or purchasedclothes. The priests would wear their best clothes, while the VestalVirgins would wear newly made white dresses. They would alsowear headgear, like bonnets, while many would adorn themselvesin garlands of spring flowers. They would carry wicker basketsfilled with foods and candies to offer to the gods and goddesses.
Easter sunrise services were originated by the priest serving theBabylonian Ishtar to symbolically hasten the reincarnation ofIshtar/Easter.
Lent has been accepted by the Roman Catholic Church. How-ever, it is a commemoration of Tammuz’s death. He was killed bya wild boar when he was forty years old. Lent was commemoratedfor exactly forty days prior to the celebration of Ishtar/Esotre andother goddesses.
1: St Eichstadt. Conjuring of Ninkharsag, Queen of Demons,and Ninkaszi, Horned Queen of Demons, drinking ofblood.
2: Dionysian revels.
9: Festival of Ishtar (Astarte, Aphrodite, Venus).
15: Ides of March: rites of Cybele and Attis (begins twelve day death and resurrection ritual). Cybele was a Phyrigianmother goddess who fell in love with the mortal, Attis. Inher jealousy, when he fell in love with another mortal, shedrove him mad so that he castrated and killed himself.Zeus helped her to resurrect him.
16: Montsegur Day. In remembrance of the persecution of theCathars.
17: St Patrick’s Day.
18: Sheila-na-gig (Sheelah’s Day, Sheelahis Day, Celtic creatress): Jacques De Molay Day (Knights Templar).
20–22: Pelusia, invocation of Isis (Hindi), Holi/TubulustrumRoman purification/Shab-i-barat. Night of Forgiveness (Islam), Homage to the God of death.
21: Spring Equinox. Children dedicated to Satan or Tiamet.
21–22: Goddess Ostara (Ishtar, also spelled, Eostre), for whom “Easter” is named. Easter is the first Sunday after the firstnew moon after Ostara.
Eostre is mentioned in Beowulf, possibly identified withKali. Red Easter eggs are placed on graves in Russia toassist rebirth.
21–24: Feast of the Beast/Bride of Satan/Feast of Priapus/Festivalof Isis).
31–1 April: Vertmass, feast of green, linked with Green George, thegoddess’s consort who was the Green King of the wood-land, or the fool of love.
1: April Fools Day: precisely thirteen weeks since New Year’sDay.
6: Palm Sunday.
8: Day of the Masters.
9: Maundy Thursday. This commemorates the Last Supper of Jesus with the Apostles and falls on the Thursday before Easter.
12: Hitler’s birthday (alternate).
19: This is the first day of the thirteen-day Satanic ritual relating to fire, the fire god, Baal, or Molech/Nimrod (the Sun God), also known as the Roman god, Saturn (Satan/Devil).This day is a major human sacrifice day, demanding firesacrifice with an emphasis on children. This day is one ofthe most important sacrifice days in Satanist abuse groups.
19: Anniversary of the day in 1943 when, after trapping the lastJewish resistance fighters in Warsaw in a storm drain andholding them there for several days, Nazi storm troopersbegan to pour fire into each end of the drain, using flame-throwers. They continued pouring the fire into the drainuntil all fighters were dead.
20: Hitler’s birthday.
20: Queen’s Day (Netherlands).
21–1: May: Grand Climax/Da Meur/preparation for Beltane.
22–29: Preparation for sacrifice in some abusive Satanic sects (third week of April).
23: St George’s Day/England’s national day.
26–1 May: Corpus de Baahl
30: Walpurgisnacht (May Eve). This is the day before May Day, when, in German occult tradition, a major festival takesplace. Very cleverly, Christianity took over the date andnamed it Walpurgisnacht after a Christian Nun, Walburga,who was born in the UK in the eighth century but ran anenlightened nunnery in Germany. She had two religiousbrothers, St Willibald and St Winebald, who had set up themonasteries there. Her remains were transferred toEichstatt on May Day, which is how St Eichadat’s Day, MayDay, and Beltane became linked.
30: Anniversary of Hitler’s death. This tradition was strongenough that Adolf Hitler decided to kill himself on April 30at 3:30p.m., thus creating a “333” and placing his suicidesacrifice within the Beltane time frame.
30–5 May: Grand Climax/Da Meur/Beltane
1: May Day. Beltane Fire Festival. Major Celtic festival.
This is the Greatest Sabbat, and is marked by fertility rites in openfields. Seminal fluid is mixed with dirt and insects and inserted intothe vagina of a virgin. If conception occurs, the children are children of Tiamet and Dur (Indur). Great bonfires are lit on the Eve ofBeltane, 30 April, in order to welcome the Earth goddess. Partici-pants hope to gain favour with this goddess so she will bless theirfamilies with procreative fertility. Since fertility is being asked of theEarth goddess, the Maypole is the phallic symbol and the circulardance around the pole forms the circle that is symbolic of the femalesex organ. Four six-foot alternating red and white ribbons wereconnected to the pole; the men would dance counterclockwise,while the ladies danced clockwise. The union of the intertwiningred and white ribbons symbolized the act of copulation.
For the Celts it marked the beginning of summer and the needto protect cattle from disease. For some, the great bonfires in Irelandwere to protect cattle from witchcraft. In the past, this date was alsodedicated to Mari, Mother Sea, as late as 1678 in Ireland.
9–13: Lumeria (three days Roman All Souls).
11: Mother’s Day.
21–24: Rituals to mock the Ascension of Jesus to heaven, Ascension Day.
29–5 June: (Starts evening of 28 May.) Shavuot.29–30: Memory Day dedicated to Joan of Arc.31: Pentecost (Whitsunday).
1: Republic Day (Ireland)
3: Eastern Orthodox Ascension Day
6: D-Day (allied troops’invasion of France in the Second World War).
21: Summer Solstice. Can be marked by torture, rape, and sacrifice of traitors, sacrifice and consumption of an infant.21: Father’s Day.
23: Midsummer’s Eve/St John’s Eve Fire Festival.
24: Lighting the midwinter bonfires in New Zealand.
1: Satanic and demon revels. Blood sacrifice.4: Independence Day in the USA.
14: Bastille Day in France.
17–23: Sacrifice of first-born males, communion given with their flesh and blood.
19–20: Sunfest. The title and meaning of Helios was later given to St Elias.
23: Beginning of Dog Days, linked to Sirius, the Dog Star, Sothis, star of Set.
25: St James’ Day/Festival of the horned god.
26: Parents’ Day.
30: (Starts evening of 29th.) N Tish B’Av.
1: Lammas/Lughnasadh (31st July, too). Lammas may be acorruption of “loaf mass”, the celebration of the corn har-vest. Lammas is midway between the summer solstice andthe autumnal equinox. The wheel of the year is seen to shiftfrom growing time to harvest time.
3: Satanic and demon revels.
12–13: Diana’s day: the Roman name for the triple goddess,
goddess of the moon and the three moon phases. Christians
turned it into the Assumption of the Virgin Mary.
15: Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
24: Mania (opening of nether world gate).
24–27: Fundus Mundi (a three day late-harvest festival).
26: Preparation for Feast of the Beast, or marriage to Satan.
Fasting and anointing.
28: Feast of Nephthys (wife of Set, goddess of death).
Marriage to the Beast (Satan)
Feast of the Beast, marriage of virgins to Satan.Grandparents’ Day
(Starts evening of 18th.) Rosh Hashanah.
Midnight Host, vows and hierarchy fasting for previousweek. Personal blood sacrifice from tip of fingers/paw ofpet, etc., hands planted in the ground for power.
21: Autumn/Fall Equinox, Mahon. From this date throughHalloween, occultists believe the veil separating the earthlydimension from the demonic realm gets progressively thin-ner, with the thinnest night being 31 October; this thinningof the separating veil makes it easier for the demonic realmto enter the earthly dimension. Thus, on Halloween, evilspirits, ghosts, witches, hobgoblins, black cats, fairies, anddemons of all sorts were believed to be running amokacross the land. They had to be back in their spiritualdimension before midnight, Halloween, for the separatingveil would then get thicker.
Jewish New Year period of Purification, Rosh Hashanah(date varies) and Yom Kippur (date varies), Day of Atone-ment.
23–30: Birthday celebration of Shri Krishna.23: Mysteries of Eleusis.
28: (Starts evening of 27th) Yom Kippur.
2: Last day of Mysteries of Eleusis.
2: Durga Puja (Kali).
3–11: (Starts evening of 2nd.) Sukkot, Shmini Atzeret/Simchat Torah.
5: Opening of Mundus Cereris.
10: Dashara (Kali’s victory over Mahishasura).
12: Dia de la Raza (Mexico).
12/20: Hitler’s half birthday.
13: Backwards date re Halloween;13 as reverse of 31.16: Death of Rosenburg.
17–18: Yom Kippur.
19: Death of Goering.
20/23: Hitler’s half birthday.
22–29: Preparation for All Hallows’ Eve.
31: Halloween/Samhain/All Hallows Eve/ Hallowmas/All
Souls’ Day, Halloween.
Preparation for the Isia (ring of six: Isis, Hathor, Nepthys,Horus, Thoth, Anubis). Resurrection of Osiris.
Start of the Celtic new year, the “dark” half of the year.
All Hallows Eve, as designated by the Catholic Church. This date isthe Illuminati’s highest day. Historically, Halloween is the deadliestceremony dedicated to the Celtic Lord of the Dead, also symbolizedby the horned god and the stag god. The Druids celebratedSamhain as a three-day fire festival, building huge bonfires, thoughtto ward off demons that roamed around; additionally, the firesprovided the means by which the required human sacrifice wouldbe presented to the sun god. In enormous wicker baskets, thepriests caged both human and animal sacrifices, which they thenlowered into the flames. The priests would carefully watch themanner in which the victim died in order to predict whether thefuture held good or evil.
Trick or Treat is over 2,000 years old. People put food offeringsoutside their homes so the wandering evil spirits would consumethem on their way back to the netherworld. Failure to “treat” theseevil spirits might result in a curse.
The American version of Halloween came from Ireland. Thepotato famine in 1840 brought thousands of immigrants to the USA.With them came the artefacts of their own folk beliefs and customs:goblins, Jack-o’-lanterns, bonfires, apples, nuts, and tricks. InIreland on 31 October, peasants went from house to house to receiveofferings to their Druid god, Muck Olla. This procession stopped ateach house to warn the farmer that if he did not provide an offer-ing, misfortune might befall him and his crops.
Frightening costumes. People clothed themselves in the mosthideous and terrifying costumes. Huge bonfires were linked toSatan’s domain. These bonfires provided the means by whichthe priests sacrificed the human and animal sacrifices so crucialto Halloween. When the last fires died out, people would raceeach other down the hills shouting, “The Devil gets the last onedown”.
Apple games. Apples have long been a token of love and fertil-ity. At Halloween parties, people bobbed for apples in tubs of water.If a boy came up with an apple between his teeth, he was assuredof the love of his girl.
Apple seeds were also used to tell fortunes. Peeling an apple inone long piece was supposed to tell a young girl about her future.Owls, bats, cats, and toads are an essential part of Halloween, andwere known as “the witch’s familiars”. A divining familiar wasperceived as the species of animal whose shape Satan would assume to aid the witch in divining the future. Other “familiarspirit” shapes include hens, geese, small dogs, rats, butterflies,wasps, crickets, and snails. Celts often hollowed out a turnip andcarved a face on it to fool demons. They carried such lanterns tolight their way in the dark and to ward off evil spirits. While theturnip continues to be popular in Europe today, the pumpkin hasreplaced it in America. “Jack” is a nickname for “John”, which is acommon slang word meaning “man”. Jack-O-Lanterns literallymeans “man with a lantern”.
There are many different legends involving Satan and Jack-o’-Lanterns.
1: Satanist High Holy Day (related to Halloween) All Saint’sDay, (feast for the saints with no nameday of their own).The Isia: six days of ritual drama commemorating Isissearching for the pieces of Osiris, feast of the netherworlds,parting of the astral veil, resurrection of Osiris.
2: All Soul’s Day (feast in honour of the dead), Day of theDead (Santeria), Day of the Dead, El Dia De Los Muertos.
4: Satanic revels.
7: Rebirth of Osiris.
21–22: Musemass. The Christian church created this day for St
Cecilia, goddess of music, who prayed to stay a virgin.
5: Sinterklaas (Holland).
6: St Nicholas’s Day.
12–19: Jewish winter festival of Light, Chanukah, start of the
Winter Solstice, animal sacrifice and live burial of victims to
celebrate the dark time.12–13: St. Lucia’s Day.
21: St Thomas Day. Yule. Winter Solstice, fire.
21: Feast Day, orgies.
22: Yule/Winter Solstice.
24: Christmas Eve/Satanic and demon revels/Da Meur/Grand High Climax.
The Saxon name was Mondranect, the night of mothering.The day is dedicated to the birth of the sun and the goddessAstarte. The following night is celebration of the mother asSea Mother.
25: Christmas Day, ascribed to the birth of Jesus, is the birth-day of the Sun and Tammuz, the reincarnation of the sungod. Yule, the Winter Solstice of 21st December was movedby the Roman Catholic Church to 25th December. 25thDecember was also the Roman Saturnalia festival, a timefor drinking and feasting. Druids also saw the mistletoe asrepresenting sexuality at this period.
The winter solstice occurs on 21st December, and this is one of thehighest pagan/Celtic holidays, since the “New Year” begins afterthis date for the cult. Special ceremonies are planned to ensure thecoming of a new year filled with power, and the return of the sun’slengthening days. In some cults, children are abused by cultmembers dressed as Santa (anagram for Satan).
Since the sun was experienced as having reversed itself and wasnow rising in the sky, pagans believed this was a sign that thehuman sacrifices carried out in Samhain (Halloween) had beenaccepted by the gods. We continue to connect with these ancientbeliefs through some of our Christmas songs.
Christmas Tree: The sacred tree of the winter god; Druidsbelieved the spirit of their gods resided in the tree. Most ancientpagans knew the tree represented Nimrod reincarnated intoTammuz. Pagans also looked upon the tree as a phallic symbol.
Star: pentagram or pentalpha, the five-pointed star, the tripletriangle. This is a powerful symbol of Satan, second only to thehexagram. The star is the sacred symbol of Nimrod,
Candles represent the sun god’s newly born fire. Pagans theworld over love to use candles in their rituals and ceremonies.
Mistletoe is the sacred plant of the Druids, symbolizing paganblessings of fertility; thus, kissing under the mistletoe is the firststep in the reproductive cycle. Witches also use the white berries inpotions.
Wreaths are circular, and they represent the female sexualorgans. Wreaths are associated with fertility and the “circle of life”.Santa Claus: “Santa” is an anagram for “Satan”. In the New Age, the god “Sanat Kamura” is an anagram for “Satan”.
Reindeer are horned animals representing the “horned god” orthe “stag god” of pagan religion. Santa’s traditional number of rein-deer in his team is eight; in Satanic gematria, eight is the number of“new beginnings”, or the cycle of reincarnation. The Illuminativiews the number “eight” as a symbol of their New World Order.
Green and red are the traditional colours of the season, as theyare the traditional pagan colours of winter and seen by somegroups to be key Satanist colours; red is the colour of blood.
26: Boxing Day (UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand). BoxingDay is a day the higher classes gave gifts to the lowerclasses. Before or on 25th December, people of similar classwould exchange gifts to celebrate the Christmas season.Gifts were not exchanged with the lower class until the nextday, called Boxing Day. It is also known as St Stephen’s Day.Sometimes gifts were put in a box, and breaking the box, orsomething like a Piggy Bank, would happen. Church usedcollection boxes to distribute money to the poor on this day.
26: St Stephen’s Day (Scotland).
26–2 January: Hanukkah, Jewish Feast of Lights, Rededication of the Temple.
31: New Year’s Eve.
The eight key dates
Yule/Winter SolsticeImbolc/Brigid’s Day/CandlemasOstara/Spring
Midsummer/Alban HefinLughnasadh/LammasMabonAutumn EquinoxSamhain/Halloween
Other triggers 22 December 2 February 21 March 1 May
21 June 1 August 21 September 31 October
Birthdays come from the Assyro-Babylonian system and werelinked to human sacrifice. Dying on a birthday is part of the “neat”way there is an attempt to control nature and time.
This calendar is an aid to looking at triggers linked to beliefsystems. There are, however, many other triggers linked to aspectsof abuse, including, colours, jewels, clothes, eating, drinking, wash-ing, sleeping, having sex, pregnancy and childbirth, blood, loudvoices, hospitals, illness, reading, watching films, hearing sirens. Infact, given the enormous number of trigger some people havefaced, it is remarkable that they can function in any way.
The Babylonian deity Marduk was associated with Mars.
Bel/Baal was the name under which nations were introduced toMarduk.
Marduk/Nimrod has the serpent as his key symbol.
The worship of Nimrod and Semiramis is the key source of paganreligions.
Marduk led the rebellion of gods against Tiamat.
Mother and child, Semiramis and Tammuz, become Isis and Osiris,Venus and Adonis, Madonna and child.
Tammuz became incorporated into Satan.
Beel-Zebub, Lord of the Flies, also means motion and travel in thatthe fly was restless and darted about.
Ashtar, queen of heaven, kept “male” priestesses known as herfaithful “dogs”.
Casting the first stone
As the stones weepScrubbing at their bloodstainsOn the village Square
I am asking the Elders
I am asking the “faithful”Whose God-face liesClenched in their fistsLike a missile
– Valerie Sinason
All recorded history shows an existence of religious beliefs, dates,and ceremonies. All belief systems have themes of birth, death,sacrifice, and rebirth in common. While there has been a progres-sion in more democratic countries to moving from actual sacrificeto symbolic sacrifice, from blood to wine, there are fundamentalistbelief systems and cults that perpetuate primitive modes of func-tioning. Of course, in times of war, even the most morally advancednations revert to primitive modes of functioning.
The written tenets of most world religions, or rather, the all-too-human cultures they are embedded in, include approval for actionsthat are against twenty-first century law and basic child protectionprocedures. However, the slow progression to deities of lovingattachment has allowed progress. Those who are frozen into theliteral word are like the emotional part in a DID system, con-demned to a perpetual darkness of shame, pain, and punishment,where a deity of light and love does not appear.
We must note that Satanism is now a legal belief system recog-nized by the British Government, and most Satanists would nothurt anyone and are often refugees from hell-based branches ofChristianity from which they need a defence.
We also need to note that people in cultures without a deity ordeities hurt others, and people with deities hurt others. We are aprimitive species passing on our trauma. No single belief is thecause of ritual pain.
However, fascism plus religion carries an extra terror, as it givesa sense of hopelessness and slavery even after death.
The use and perversion of religions and other beliefs for thepurpose of hurting children and adults is something that we allneed to be watchful over.
With thanks to the BBC multifaith calendar, which provides datesfor Bahai, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jain, Jewish, Muslim, Pagan,Rastafari, Shinto, Sikh, Zorostrian, and to Wikopedia, Survivor-ship.org, Ritual Abuse Dates, and to the survivors from all overthe world who have helped me with this by sending in informa-tion.
The dates and information provided in this booklet come fromsurvivors all over the world. Where information has been providedfrom the Internet a source is given.
This calendar is a work in progress and we welcome furtheradditions.
Hale, R., & Sinason, V. (1994). Internal and external reality: establishingparameters. In: V. Sinason (Ed.), Treating Survivors of Satanist Abuse(pp. 274–284). London: Routledge.
Noblitt, R., & Perskin Noblitt, P. (2008). Ritual Abuse in the 21st Century.Bandon, OR: Robert D. Reed.
Sinason, V. (Ed.) (1994). Treating Survivors of Satanist Abuse (pp. 274–284). London: Routledge.
Sinason, V. (2008). From social conditioning to mind control. In:A. Sachs & G. Galton (Eds.), Forensic Aspects of Dissociative IdentityDisorder (pp. 167–185). London: Karnac.
“An evil cradling”? Cult practicesand the manipulation ofattachment needs in ritual abuse
Rachel Wingfield Schwartz
In his remarkable autobiographical account of his years held asa hostage in Beirut, Brian Keenan describes his captivity and hisrelationship to his captors as “an evil cradling”:
My days passed in a slow, gentle delirium; like the comfort andreassurance that a child must feel as its mother rocks and sings ita lullaby. I looked wildly at a dead insect in my cell, hanging inits cocoon. I felt a strange contentment. I felt no desire to leavethis place. I found myself thinking with the shadows of panic risingin me that I was not ready to leave, that I did not want to leave.I began to dread my freedom, if it should come. [Keenan, 1993,p. 73]
In this account, Keenan enables us to begin to understand thatbeing enfolded, cradled in this cocoon of captivity, evil though itmay be, begins to present a kind of safety for the captive, the alter-native to which-escape—seems to threaten only terror and theunknown. The survivors of ritual abuse and mind control that wewill talk about over the course of this Conference grew up withinan evil cradling; within families and cults who set out to make itimpossible for them to ever escape; impossible for them to ever break the psychological bonds with their abusers, bonds carefullywelded within a cocoon of torture and programming.
I was reminded, by Keenan’s words, of a client of mine, a ritualabuse survivor who described her relationship with her mother—one of the main perpetrators of her abuse. She told me:
I would sit for hours, often, just staring at her face or preferablystroking her arm or feeling her stroke mine. I got such a sense ofsecurity just being able to stare at her and feel her body next tomine. The rest of the world went away. Like we were in a bubbletogether. Even in to my twenties I would still sit on her knee, andI would still scream and shout sometimes if she left the room. It’syears since I’ve seen her, but I still wake up crying for my mummyin the night. Part of me is desperate just to have the comfort oftouching her again. She always told me I would never be able tolive without her and even now I sometimes think she might beright.
The theme of this book is the manipulation of attachment needs.I think this is a key to understanding the traumatic experience ofpeople ritually abused in cults. I want to write from the perspectiveof being an attachment-based therapist and explore some of what Ihave learnt over the years from survivors about the use and abuseof the attachment system by perpetrators within ritual abuse. I alsowant to think about what survivors need relationally frompsychotherapy if recovery is to be possible, and what it means totry to build a new working model of attachment in therapy whensomeone has a history of that need for attachment being sodistorted and manipulated. To address these issues, I am going tofocus on my work over a period of eight years with a young womanI am going to call Jodi, who was a survivor of ritual abuse and mindcontrol.
Jodi was referred to me by a colleague, who assured me she wouldnot be a long-term client and did not have severe trauma in herhistory. She had a life crisis she needed to talk over with someone.That was all. Her brother had recently been diagnosed with schizophrenia and she was feeling very concerned and distressed abouthim. She needed someone to talk to. However, I have found, asmany of you may have, too, that once you have started workingclinically around ritual abuse it tends to find you wherever you go.
Jodi arrived punctually for her first session, and was immedi-ately charming. She had found the journey easy, she loved thehouse, she was so grateful to me for seeing her. She told me she wastwenty-four years old, a drama student at a prestigious school, andshe still lived with her family—her parents, and her youngerbrother, who was Jodi’s main focus in this session. As Jodi talkedabout her brother’s recent breakdown, and began to describe thepanic she had been experiencing, I found myself starting to feelmore and more anxious. Jodi was talking calmly, but I became awarethat the feelings were intensifying; I was not so much anxious anymore, but terrified. I could feel myself starting to hyperventilate. Fora brief moment, I wondered if I was safe with her, or if she was aboutto attack me. The body countertransference hit me so rapidly and sopowerfully I was literally struggling for breath, and struggling evenharder to regulate myself. I needed to slow myself down enough tobegin to unravel what was happening.
I said to Jodi, “As you were talking, I started feeling terribleanxiety in my body. Then I felt terrified and was struggling tobreathe. I think you were letting me know how frightened you are.Is that right?”
She looked at me silently, and after a little while, nodded.
The feelings in my body started to recede, my breathing calmeddown and so did the feelings of terror. Jodi, on the other hand,began to struggle. She tried to continue talking about her brother,but she could not focus, could not breathe properly, and wasmoving agitatedly in her chair. I could feel she could not bear to sitwith me in the room for another minute and abruptly I got out ofmy chair, saying I was going to get her a glass of water, and left theroom. I was puzzled about this; I had never done this in the mid-dle of a session with a client before, but I also felt absolutely certainthat it was the right thing to do, that she could not have copedwith my presence any longer. When I returned, she was calmer,but different. She could not look at me, spoke in a gentle, haltingvoice, and tried to explain that she had been having trouble recently“losing herself”; as she described it, the fear would come, and then she would have no sense of where she was, or what washappening.
Although I was not sure what was triggering these feelings offear, I had no doubt that I was sitting with an extremely terrorizedyoung woman and my feelings also left me wondering if she hadexperienced violence. These were feelings I was familiar with whenworking with people who were severely traumatized.
Jodi decided she would commit to undertaking therapy, andarranged to see me twice weekly, although, over the eight years ofour work together, she was to increase to four times weekly ses-sions. The early months were dominated by continuing intenseshifts in states, the room drenched in fear, a sense of immanentviolence pervading the sessions, with intermittent periods of usboth being drawn in to calm, hypnotic, trance-like states. Jodi spokein these sessions about her great concern and attachment to herbrother. Jodi felt his vulnerability acutely and cited him as a keyreason why she had not been able to leave home, despite beingoffered student accommodation at her drama school. Jodi alsospoke in these sessions about her relationship with her mother.“We’re joined,” she said, “if she dies, I die. We’re one person.”When Jodi spoke about her mother, I would feel an intense sense ofsuffocation, alongside the depth of her ambivalence: of her desper-ately needing to be with her mother, to be in constant phone contactwhen she was away at school for the day, coupled with a rage anda desire to attack her mother.
In attachment terms, Jodi was presenting with classic featuresof disorganized/disorientated infants. She moved in and out ofseemingly contradictory states, both in sessions and in relation toher mother. Longing for contact could be followed by becomingfrozen or frightened when the contact became available. Beingwith Jodi was being with the ongoing, terrible experience of frightwithout solution; the terror was palpable, the strategies for manag-ing it never anything more than a temporary escape into dissocia-tion.
She felt to me like an occupied person, her mind and body colo-nized by violent and terrifying others from whom it was only possi-ble to escape through dissociative trance states. These states grewmore dominant as we continued the work, and Jodi would “tranceout”, as she called it, in sessions, lying on the couch drifting between associations, in a dream-like state, and often talking to mein a child’s voice.
A pattern began to emerge between us that whenever Jodi tooka step towards trusting me, she would follow up in the next sessionwith an attack. This happened when there were reminders that wewere becoming attached: for example, a break, or a missed session,or a feeling of connection.
We both survived Jodi’s attacks. And I felt for Jodi an emergingsense of “going on being”. I was careful to attune and respond toher levels of distress and fear, without coming any closer than thatJodi could bear.
It took this period of becoming “secure enough” in the relation-ship with me, and in the world, before Jodi was able to talk to medirectly about the abuse in her family or about the ritual abuse. Shebegan by talking to me about her father. He had sexually abusedher from as far back as she could remember. He still sometimescame to her room at night to have sex with her. Jodi found herselfunable to say no. At times Jodi could not find words to tell me whather father had done to her: in a child’s voice she would start to tryto speak, crying quietly, and would then make a scribbling move-ment with her hand as though to say, I need a pen, I need to writethis. When she did write, it would just be words: rape, penis,mouth, bleeding. We sat together with tears in our eyes as shepassed me a drawing of a child with a kitchen implement beingpushed into her bottom and then later a knife. Jodi and I sharedtogether this feeling of grief and sorrow for her child self, for howterrified she still was as she began to speak out about this. Therewas a feeling of deep closeness and connection in the session, andat the end Jodi smiled shakily and said thank you.
I had expected that there might be a backlash after this session,but had not anticipated the extent of it.
Jodi arrived at the next session and told me she had come to saygoodbye, she could not come to therapy any more. She said she hadalso informed her drama school that she would not be coming back.She needed to get a job and get on her with her life. She had no ideawhy she had said the things she did last week—her father wouldnever abuse her. She was a liar. She was wasting my time.
As Jodi spoke I was aware of another part of her being present:it was as though I could hear that part of her crying and crying, in terrible pain and despair. I responded to that part of Jodi. “Jodi, Ican feel someone inside crying and crying as though they will neverbe able to stop. That person’s heart is broken. I think we need togive her chance to speak.”
Jodi shook her head, but I saw her eyes begin to fill with tears.“I can’t tell you, I can’t tell you,” she said. For fifteen minutes wesat in silence, with tears pouring down Jodi’s face, breathing slowlytogether. At one point, I broke the silence and said, “It’s OK, justtake your time. I’ll be here for you, whatever it is.” “I can’t tell youbecause it’s to do with you,” she said. “It will hurt you.” After moresilence, and several attempts, Jodi was able to tell me that she hadseen my cat in the garden on the way in to the session. She said sheknew that if she came to see me again, she would have to kill mycat. She had an image in her head, of my cat split open, her insidestaken out and displayed next to her. In the image, the blood was allover Jodi’s hands. “I can smell the blood,” she kept saying, “I cansmell it and taste it in my mouth.” As she said this, she went whiteand began to look nauseous. I could feel myself starting to feel faintin response, the vomit rising in my throat, and I was not certain Iwould be able to stop myself throwing up in the room. Jodi beat meto it, rushing out of her seat to the bathroom, saying, “I’m going tobe sick.” She arrived back in the room after being sick, pale anddazed. I asked her, “Jodi, when you were young, did you have anypets?” She nodded. “I had a rabbit. Then I had a kitten. And later apet dog.” What happened to them? She looked at me. “I don’tknow.” “Perhaps someone inside knows,” I suggested. “Why don’tyou ask?” She closed her eyes and when she opened them again, asmall but lively voice said to me, “I know what happened to Jas-mine, our rabbit. She was mine.” I recognized this little one: I hadmet her before, and she had been a big help to Jodi and me in thetherapy so far. “Hello Josie,” I said. “Would you be able to tell meabout Jasmine?” Josie told me that Jasmine was Jodi’s pet when shewas four years old, and that she had been given to Jodi by hergrandmother as a special present. Josie looked after Jasmine andwould play with her in the garden for hours. Then, one evening,she had arrived home from school and her mother had been cook-ing dinner. Jodi had asked what was for dinner but had been toldto be quiet and to wash her hands ready for the meal. As Jodi hadher first bites of the stew her mother had cooked, her father began to laugh. “Jasmine won’t be playing with you much now,” he hadsaid. At first, Jodi has refused to believe it. She had shouted at herfather, told him he was lying. She ran down to the hutch and foundJasmine missing. Her mother insisted she come back to the table.“You are going to finish every last mouthful on that plate,” hermother had told her. Jodi sat there for hours, trying to swallowthrough her tears and through rising vomit. When she did notfinish her plate before going to bed she was forced to eat the stewcold for breakfast the next morning.
I felt in shock as she told me this story, struggling to imaginehow a child could bear this. But Josie said brightly, “But that wasn’tso bad. It wasn’t as bad as when we had to kill the kitten.” A fewyears later, at the age of seven, Jodi had been allowed to keep akitten, which had turned up as a stray in their garden. Jodi said thekitten was her best friend. When she wanted to escape her father’sabuse and her mother’s rages, she would hide in the garden shedwith Kitty, playing or just falling asleep with Kitty curled up besideher or in her lap. One afternoon, her mother found her asleep inthere with Kitty and told her to bring the cat into the house. Shesaid that Jodi had been a bad girl. She had been telling lies. That hermother knew she had been thinking bad thoughts about her family:that she was angry with them, that she hated them. She said thatKitty would have to be punished: Jodi had been so bad, that shehad caused Kitty to have to be hurt. Jodi had a choice. Either hermother would kill Kitty slowly, or Jodi could kill her quickly so thatshe would not feel too much pain. Jodi sobbed and begged hermother to hurt her instead of Kitty. But her mother said no: whenJodi was bad, it was the things that she cared about that would bepunished. That was what happened if you were bad inside, andyou loved something or someone. As Jodi’s mother began to slowlytorture Kitty, Jodi did break down and agree to kill Kitty. She sat inmy consulting room as an adult, with tears pouring down her face,and said, “It broke my heart. It was like part of me died inside. Inever felt the same again. I knew that I was bad deep down andthat my badness would take everything and everyone away fromme that I cared about.”
We were able to understand from this why Jodi had been soafraid that our closeness in the previous session, and her disclosureof her father’s abuse, would mean that she would have to hurt me in some way and why this had become focused on my cat. Overtime, these fears were to re-emerge many times, and often precipi-tated a memory of being made to believe, programmed to believe,that if she grew attached to anyone other than specific cultmembers, she would lose them, and also that she would put themand herself in danger.
After this, Jodi and I had a period of intense closeness. At times,the intimacy in the sessions felt almost exhilarating. Warm, lovingfeelings were often present as she shyly shared her successes atdrama school and allowed more and more of her people inside tocome and meet me and spend time with me. Again, we were to facea backlash. Jodi came into the session one day and told me coldlythat she was sick of my yucky, sickly, nicey-nice ways. That sheknew what I was up to, and she knew what I was really after. I wassick and a pervert, just like everyone else. I was only pretending tocare about her. I asked her where this had come from: she insistedit had not come from anywhere, she was just making sure I knewthat I could not mess her about or play games with her. This wenton for several sessions, as I tried to understand where this hadcome from and endeavoured to find out if anyone else in the systemknew what had happened. Eventually, with much shame, an adultin her system explained that her family and “they”—she did notspecify who “they” were at this stage—had told her that I was onlybeing nice to her to get her to have sex with me, that in the end,everybody wanted something, and that was clearly what I wanted.
She told me that she had believed this because some peopleinside, particularly the children, did not understand about sex.They did not understand that there were relationships where twopeople were not supposed to have sex. This led to her describing tome how father would take her to see men as a child, his friends orother family members, and tell her to have sex with them.“Sometimes they paid him.” It then also enabled her to tell me moreabout her relationship with her mother.
Jodi and her mother had often slept in the same bed since Jodiwas a child and this had stopped only recently, at Jodi’s instigation.“She taught me how to give her orgasms when I was just little. Sheused to get me to look at porn sometimes too, to show me what todo. It made me feel special to her. Like we had a special relation-ship that no one could ever break into. She always told me that we were joined and that she could read my mind. She would do gamesand experiments with me to prove she could read it. She told me Ibelonged to her, I was part of her, that the two of us would betogether in the afterlife, too. That there would never be anyone elsein my life who could know me and love me like she did, because Ihad come from inside her and I belonged inside her.”
As we talked more about Jodi’s mother and her hold over Jodi,it became clear that her mother had been able to manipulate Jodi’sterrible fear of not being in proximity to her, of needing her pres-ence, alongside Jodi’s enormous sense of loyalty to her mother.Jodi’s attachment to her mother had been fused with training—training which was really torture—which taught Jodi to believe thather mother had power over her life and death and controlled herinternal world. This training had also heightened Jodi’s attachmentto her mother.
Jodi recalled incidents from early in her childhood, in which hermother would put her in life and death situations and then seem-ingly rescue her from them, just in time. On one occasion, hermother had locked her in a trunk and shut her in the cellar where,she said, no one would hear Jodi if she screamed. In the trunk withJodi, she put insects, including maggots, of which Jodi was partic-ularly frightened. Jodi remembers the panic and the terror, the feel-ings of suffocation and the certainty she would die. Gradually, shesaid, she gave up—just found herself drifting in a dissociated space,aware she could barely breathe any longer. At that point, in Jodi’smemory, her mother opened the trunk and pulled her out, sobbing,asking Jodi how she had ended up being locked in trunk, tellingJodi she loved her desperately and no matter where Jodi got lost,she would always find her. However bad things got for Jodi, shewould always save her.
In Trauma and Recovery, Judith Herman describes the process of“pair bonding” between victim and perpetrator. She explains,
This is the traumatic bonding that occurs in hostages and survivorsof abuse who come to view their captors as saviours. . . . Therepeated experience of terror and reprieve, especially within theisolated context of a love relationship, may result in a feeling ofintense, almost worshipful dependence upon an all-powerfulgodlike authority. Some victims speak of entering a kind of exclu-sive, almost delusional world, embracing the grandiose belief system of the perpetrator and voluntarily suppressing their owndoubts as a proof of loyalty and submission. Similar experiences areregularly reported by people who have been inducted into totali-tarian religious cults. [1992, p. 92]
We see here that Satanist cults are able to manipulate these psychicsusceptibilities as a result of bonding through extreme trauma, anddraw the victim in to wider submission and loyalty to the group’sbelief system.
Our attachment system is most activated when we are in danger,and the intensity of being rescued from these near-death experi-ences reinforced the desperate clinging nature of Jodi’s attachmentto her mother. She literally believed that her continued survivaldepended on proximity to her mother, and that leaving home, leav-ing her, would mean death. Jodi described how her mother hadreinforced this childhood magical thinking through drawing Jodi into a supernatural belief system, a form of witchcraft through whichher mother was able to make Jodi believe that shat she had claimedher soul and that terrible death and eternal torment would result ifshe tried to leave her mother. “She possessed my soul through aspell. The punishment would be eternal if I left her.”
At this stage, Jodi began to talk more about the involvement ofthe wider cult in her life. She started to paint in sessions when shecould not find words for what had happened to her at the hands ofother cult members, and with the involvement of her parents. Thisset of paintings and drawings brought a new atmosphere to theroom—chilling, sinister, full of terror and sadism. There were paint-ings of Jodi’s mother gagging her, holding a knife to her feet, threat-ening to cut them off, pictures of blood, axes, knives, scissors,blindfolds, electroshocks, being hung upside down, strangled, andhaving her stomach cut open. As Jodi free-associated on this, shewas able to communicate with the people inside who had drawnthe pictures, and through them we learned more about the pro-grammes of torture she had gone through to enforce her loyalty tothe cult. During this period, in my notes I wrote, “nausea, blood,semen, vomit, sweat: the room reeks of them. Like it’s pouringdown the walls”.
From early in her childhood, Jodi had been encouraged to makeparticular friendships with adults or other children in the cult. These were carefully fostered, as with her earlier relationships with herpets, with the clear intention of demonstrating to Jodi that the culthad control over the making and breaking of her attachment bonds.Jodi described how, from an early age, her attachments to other chil-dren were used to manipulate her into doing things for the cult thatshe otherwise resisted doing. She had memories of being forced towatch one of her friends being abused, and being told that unlessshe carried out an act she shrank from, such as killing an animal, orabusing another child, the abuse of her friend would continue, orthey would be tortured. At times, she would be told that unless shetortured her friend, they would be killed. Having seen these peoplekill, Jodi said she absolutely believed they would make good theirthreats. She believed them capable of anything. Jodi’s most painfulmemories at this time involved her younger brother, who was nowschizophrenic. Jodi said, “He was littler than me, and I was alwaysso frightened for him—he never seemed to do things right, he wasalways getting punished. They used to make me hurt him—theywould say, ‘we’re going to cut out his guts unless you hurt him orunless you abuse him’. Sometimes I refused, but then they wouldtorture him and make me watch and I would beg them to stop. ThenI had to do what they told me. Every time I look at him now, I knowit’s my fault that he’s so ill, that he keeps breaking down. I shouldhave found a way to protect him or to get him out of there. I wasolder than him, he depended on me.”
Unsurprisingly, Jodi’s relationship with me created enormousconflict inside her. I was seen as a threatening force. Some peopleinside feared I was luring Jodi in to a trap, but more people felt Iwas dangerous because I was threatening her attachment to hermother. There were particular people inside who had been createdby her mother and by the cult, who believed it was their role toensure Jodi’s loyalty to her mother at all costs: these were pro-grammed alters, who tried desperately to sabotage Jodi’s relation-ship with me. Others inside felt that even if she survived separatingfrom her mother, internally she would be alone forever. Only theothers in the cult could understand her, would not reject her fordoing the things she had done. They knew she was special andpowerful, and also would not be disgusted by her.
All cults instil these feelings in their members, but it is particu-larly effective in ritual abuse, because the sense of being other and separate is brought about through breaking the very boundariesand taboos of what it means to be human. Cannibalism, drinkingblood, eating and drinking faeces and urine, committing incest andmurder—these acts contravene what anthropologists woulddescribe to us as the boundaries that cultures use to define beinghuman and being a member of human society. Jodi did not only feelshe was different from other people, but that she would not evenbe included or accepted as a member of human society. This meantthat the cult became the only society of which she could be part.
None the less, through our regular sessions and her experienceof being attuned to, Jodi was beginning to feel as if she might beable to belong to another world, to this world. The work we haddone to help her regulate her core self functions was enabling herto participate in life at college. Talking about her mother’s abuse ofher enabled Jodi to begin to separate from her mother. She was alsoworking part-time to achieve some financial independence for thefirst time. She was making friends and she was doing well in herclasses. She rarely lost time now, and this gave her a sense of beingpart of the world that she had never had before.
What was not clear to us was how safe Jodi was from cult abusein the present. The fact that Jodi was not losing much time seemedhopeful. But we began to receive communications from the othersinside that she still was not safe. For the first time, Jodi announcedthat she was going to leave home. The next phase of the therapywas a battle for Jodi to make this happen.
In November, after months of tumultuous sessions and sadisticattacks on me and the therapy, Jodi moved out. Internally, she wasthen immediately flooded by persecutory cult voices: lying to her,seductive, tormenting her constantly, telling her she had to bepunished. Jodi was making threats to go back, and saying she couldnot break contact.
As Judith Herman describes,
the sense that the perpetrator is still present, even after liberation,signifies a major constellation in the victim’s relational world. Theenforced relationship during captivity, becomes part of the victim’sinner life. . . . In the case of sexual, domestic and religious cult pris-oners, this continued relationship may take a more ambivalentform: the victim may continue to fear her former captor and to expect that he will eventually hunt her down, but she may also feelempty, confused and worthless without him. [1992, p. 91]
It felt as if Jodi was stuck at this point forever. It was only possiblefor a shift to occur through an enactment in the transference–coun-tertransference relationship. I was by this point feeling devoured,what Valerie Sinason calls the cannibalistic countertransference;Jodi’s persecution and abuse in the sessions and constant pushingof boundaries between sessions were making me feel bullied, con-trolled, and victimized. I realized that I had to liberate myself fromJodi’s internal abusers: that anything else would lock us into a sado-masochistic re-enactment, a home from home for Jodi where rela-tionships were again as they were in the cult, only this time I wasthe victim. I told Jodi I felt unable to continue the work unless thebullying stopped and the constant attacks on me and the therapystopped; I found my subjectivity, and stood up to her persecutors.She knew I meant it. Having experienced me doing this enabled Jodito do it, too. She broke contact with her family and the cult.
This was then followed by changes as a result of a new strategyinside to co-operate and negotiate—the abusers were no longer incontrol inside or out.
The atmosphere in the sessions was often one of excitement,intimacy, and intense emotion. This raised Jodi’s fear of sexualityand an intense fear of loving me. Having love in her life at all feltlike an acceptance that she deserved love, which, in turn, meantthat she was ceasing to receive the punishment she felt sherequired; it was betraying her loyalty to the cult and to her mother,and, more significantly, betraying those she had been involved inabusing or killing.
Jodi reached the point where she knew inside herself that shehad to try to work through the guilt and self-hate about being madeto be a perpetrator. When Jodi had reached puberty, as with allfemale ritual abuse survivors, she was forced to kill her baby, whosebirth had been prematurely induced by the cult doctor. Did Jodiremember being pregnant? She described holding the baby in herarms for a few moments after the birth, just before the killing. As athirteen-year-old, powerless to prevent the killing, she made abargain with herself. She and the baby would stay frozen in themoment forever. Although she could not save her baby, in order to deal with her remorse she swore to herself that she would love thechild forever and never share that love with anyone else or feel itagain: in that way, she could make the baby’s short life have ameaning. This meant that in therapy she fought and battled againstthe growing loving feelings for me, and repeatedly attacked therelationship, as it felt like a profound betrayal and abandonment ofher baby.
Becoming conscious of this horrific event enabled Jodi toconnect with the person inside, frozen in time, still holding thebaby. A great deal of negotiation and communication went oninside, until it was agreed internally that it was time to let the babyinside be taken to heaven to be with God. We planned carefully forthe session in which this was to happen. Jodi brought some flowersfor the baby, and some bulbs for us to plant outside, to mark herloss. Inside, some of her people came and put their arms around theJodi who was still holding the baby. They gently held her, whilethey took the baby from her. Tears were pouring down Jodi’s face.“It’s time now,” she said. They took the baby to a bridge, whichpassed outside of the system, into another world outside of her. Jodicarefully laid the baby on a hillside filled with flowers on the otherside of the bridge. Then the little group said goodbye, and walkedback together over the bridge, holding up the part of her that hadbeen frozen but who was now collapsing under the weight of thetears, the pain of knowing that her baby was gone, and this losscould never be undone.
This proved to be a turning point for Jodi in allowing herself toaccept that the past happened and can never be changed. She hasto live in the present, however much pain there has been. It wastime for a life outside the cult.
There was, however, one final and fundamental conflict aroundattachment still to be faced. Jodi was finally able to let her deadbaby go, but her brother was very much alive. He was still living athome, and Jodi did not know the extent of his continued involve-ment with the cult. As her brother’s birthday approached, wenoticed a dramatic deterioration in Jodi’s state. She began damag-ing the relationships and people in her life and things that matteredto her again. She even lost some time again, coming to and findingshe had cut herself. She dreamed about a birthday cake and wewere able to make the connection with her brother. As Jodi began to face her profound feelings of survivor guilt, for being able toleave when he could not, at times she felt despair. It began to feelthat we were stuck again: she could not believe that it would everbe all right for her to have her freedom and her life, knowing thatshe had left him behind. She felt that doing this would mean thatthe cult was right: she was not human, inside she was just selfish,and she had proved it time and again when she harmed others tosave herself.
She began to feel drawn back to contacting the family. Perhapsshe could prove that she did care about someone else more thanherself. In desperation, I reviewed my learning about survivor guiltand read everything I could lay my hands on to try to understandwhat might help Jodi. What did feel clear to me was that sheneeded some sense of not being alone with this, of belonging to acommunity of other trauma survivors who could assure her that itdid not rob her of humanity to live and move on. She also neededto find a way to understand that although she wanted to save herbrother, she could not. Only he could find his way out, and thatmight never happen.
In my reading, I came across Brian Keenan’s An Evil Cradling,with which I started this paper. During his four years in captivity,Brian Keenan was held in a cell with journalist John McCarthy. Herecognized that it was this relationship with John that enabled himto survive and to hold on to his sanity.
He feels he owes his life to John, and vice versa. Then the daycomes when he is told he is going to be released. This means leav-ing John behind. He is left with the dilemma of refusing his free-dom, or staying behind in captivity with John. Keenan describes hisinternal battle over this, and his eventual realization that to chooseto remain in captivity would be a betrayal of his relationship withJohn and would diminish what they had fought for together.
I remember every moment of my time alone, my time with Johnand with those other captives. And I remember how we first met,our relationship, the kinds of needs I had of John and he of me. Andhow we sought always to give and take, always thinking of theother. And as I review it all, all that wonder, I see his face stare inmine. I had watched this man grow. And I know that if in my defi-ance I walk back in to that room and have myself chained, refusing to go home, I will have diminished our relationship. I cannot dothis. I know that in going free I will free him. I know that the deepbond our captivity has given us will be shattered if I return. Ourrespect for each other demands of each that we take our freedomwhen it comes. [1993, p. 292]
When Jodi read these words, something began to release inside her.She could understand why Brian Keenan had made the choice thathe had. She did not feel he was a bad person for leaving Johnbehind. She wept many tears, and wrote her brother long letters shecould never send, but she resolved in herself that she had to find away to say goodbye to him. She visited a park they had played inas children and read out loud Brian Keenan’s words and a poemshe had written to say goodbye to her brother. She brought me thepoem afterwards and asked me to keep it. “You know, in a way noone else could, what it means to me to leave him. You know I lovedhim. Despite everything they did to try to stop me from believing Iwas capable of loving anyone. You know I am capable of love. Youknow this because you know I feel love for you.”
Jodi was right. They were not able to destroy her capacity tolove, or her connection to it. They manipulated her need for attach-ment, but, ultimately, it was her ability to attach and her ability tobuild a new working model of attachment that enabled her toescape them. Through our relationship, Jodi has internalized asense of being loveable, of being able to relate, of being able to func-tion in this world. We worked together for eight years; five yearshas passed since then. Jodi now has a well-paid, successful job intheatre, friendships, and a loving long-term relationship with apartner. I want to finish with a quote from a letter I received fromJodi after her therapy ended.
We’re finding it a challenge to become part of normal life nowoutside of the cult: no therapy, and without constant emergencies,adrenaline, urgency. But I’m also aware I’m ready for civilian life.I’m being demobbed. Sometimes the fighters from the past getworried they won’t be wanted anymore or needed. A bit like aMad-Eye Moody in Harry Potter: a bit OTT, too suspicious, spot-ting dark wizards everywhere. But he’s also someone who seesunpleasant truths that other people would rather not see. So he’simportant, and those people in me are important. They’ve been through so much. They deserve to be part of my life in thisworld now.
I think of you often, and I know you will be there for me if I needyou. I have such strong feelings of love for people I’m close to:every time I’m glad to see someone, or I hug someone, or I makelove with my partner, I know somewhere deep inside that Isurvived what they did to me. I don’t treat people the way they did.I would never make that choice. It makes me feel whole.
And you know, often now, I can actually FEEL that it’s all me, andall of me is here, us together. And it’s my life now, no one else’s.All the supernatural stuff is gone, and rain is just rain and not acid;and lightening is just a natural phenomenon and not an attack orelectric shock torture. And I am me. In real time.
Herman, J. (1992). Trauma and Recovery. New York: Basic Books.Keenan, B. (1993). An Evil Cradling. London: Vintage.
CHAPTER THREE – Torture-based Mind Control Psychological Mechanisms and Psychotherapeutic Approaches to Overcoming Mind Control
Ellen P. Lacter
“Can we get control of an individual to the point where hewill do our bidding against his will and even against suchfundamental laws of nature such as self-preservation?”
(CIA Document, Project ARTICHOKE, MORI ID 144686, 1952)
My goal in this chapter is to analyse through established psychological principles how torture-based mind control programming is installed and exerts continued control over victims.
It is painfully humbling to study mind control. The secrets ofhow it “works” are buried deeply in the minds of survivors whosemental registration of the process was originally impaired bytorture, drugs, smoke and mirrors, and dissociative processes, bothdefensive and effected by abuser manipulation, and whose capac-ity to later recall and reveal this trauma is limited by terror, abusersubterfuge, and the capacity of the therapist to bear witness to such calculated abuse. Further complicating this study is the variation inmethods and forms of mind control reported by survivors.
I will present patterns I have observed for further exploration.My primary data is my work with survivor clients, depth inter-views of other survivors, including many psychologist-survivors,interviews with colleagues treating survivors, and written accountsby survivors, most of whom I have interviewed and found credible.I am particularly indebted to Dr Hans Ulrich Gresch, Germanpsychologist, cold war mind control survivor, and author of a bookon mind control (Gresch, 2010), for his generous correspondencewith me on his experiences as a victim and his insights into mindcontrol as a scholar.
Working definition of torture-based mind control
I define torture-based mind control as the systematic application of(1) acute torture, including pain, terror, drugs, electroshock, sensorydeprivation, oxygen deprivation, cold, heat, spinning, brain stimu-lation, and near-death, and (2), conditioning, including coercivehypnosis, directives, illusions (staged tricks, film, stories), spiritualthreats, manipulation of attachment needs, and classical, operant,and fear conditioning, to coerce victims to form altered mentalstates, including (a) hyper-attentive blank slate (tabula rasa) mentalstates that arise spontaneously in response to perceived threat tophysical survival, and are completely attuned to external stimuli,ready to do whatever is needed to survive; (b) self-states that spon-taneously form in response to threat to psychic survival, that is,levels of mental anguish that exceed the tolerance of all previouslyexisting ego states, and that are mentally registered apart (dis-sociated) from previously existing ego-states; (c) ego-states thatdevelop more gradually through conditioning, all three of whichare subjected to “programmer” strategies to define, control, and“install” within them perceptions, beliefs, fear, pain, directives,information, triggers, and behaviours, to force victims to do, feel,think, and perceive things for the purposes of the programmer,including execution of acts that violate the victims’ volition, princi-ples, and instinct for self-preservation, and to cause ego-states thatusually have executive control of mental functions (the host, front, or apparently normal personality) to have no conscious memory forthe torture, conditioning, programming, controlled ego-states, orexecuted programmed behaviours. (Note: In the field of “torture-based mind-control”, this term is generally synonymous with“torture-based” or “trauma-based”, followed by “mind controlprogramming” or “programming”.)
My proposed definition refers to both self-states and ego-states.Self-state is the broader term, including self-states that have minimalsense of self or self-agency, such as torture-induced fragmentaryself-states that register pain and terror internally, largely separatefrom higher cognitive processing and with a bare sense of “me”.Ego-state refers to a self-state with significant self-identification andself-agency, often referred to as an alter, dissociated identity or person-ality in the literature on dissociative identity disorder (DID).
The term “host” refers to the ego-state that is usually experi-enced as “me”, that usually spends the most time in executivecontrol of mental functions and behaviour, and that is more awareof benign circumstances than past or present trauma. Some indi-viduals have more than one host or “front” ego-state. In the litera-ture on dissociative disorders, the term “host” is also often referredto as the apparently normal personality (ANP) (van der Hart,Nijenhuis, & Steele, 2006).
The term “executive control” refers to the implementation ofmental functions, otherwise known as “executive functions”, thatenable goal-directed thought and behaviour, including self-aware-ness, motivation, volition, initiation, planning, purposive action,and self-regulation, which relies on monitoring, shifting, inhibiting,and self-correcting, functions primarily attributed to the frontallobes, specifically the prefrontal cortex (Lezak, 1995).
Torture-based mind control is practised by individuals andgroups who seek to maximally control and exploit others, particu-larly children. Included are practitioners of abusive religious rituals(e.g., Satanism and abusive witchcraft), organized crimes againstchildren (child pornography, prostitution, and trafficking), andgroups with political, military, and espionage agendas.
Survivors commonly report torture using electroshock, spin-ning, isolation, confinement (cages, coffins, etc.), sexual abuse, beat-ings (especially to the head), hanging or pulling with ropes andchains, suffocation, drowning, being held over fire, blinding or flashing light, forced ingestion of blood, urine, faeces, flesh, etc.,hunger, thirst, sleep deprivation, sensory deprivation, submersionin ice water, drugs to induce paralysis, pain, confusion, amnesia,etc., application of snakes, spiders, maggots, rats, etc., and beingforced to perform or witness abuse, torture and sacrifice of peopleand animals.
Mind Control Phenomena Reported by Survivors
Survivor accounts are the primary source material on torture-basedmind control. Critics say this is untrustworthy data. However,torture is criminal internationally, and its effects cannot be directlystudied.
Clinicians assess the reliability of survivor accounts based onnarrative coherence, goodness of fit between symptoms andreported history, diagnosis of a trauma disorder, differential diag-nosis (Lacter & Lehman, 2008), and from multiple sources of corrob-oration from other survivors.
I have reviewed three lengthy written narratives about torture-based mind control:
- Svali (pseudonym): How the cult programs people (1996);
- Trish Fotheringham: Patterns in mind-control: a first personaccount (2008) (Fotheringham reports not having read any other survivor accounts when she wrote her chapter);
- Anonymous survivor: Kabbalah-training (provided by a therapist colleague, 2008).
Although these three accounts are very different, each includesabuser aptitude testing of newborns, training infants to dissociate,bonding infants to trainers, destroying all sources of comfort, tor-ture to induce blank-slate self-states (Fotheringham described thisin interviews, not in her chapter), developing and categorizing self-states by colour, spinning torture, all-seeing eyes, suicide program-ming, programming using illusions such as film, and stageddramas to create internal landscapes (or inner worlds).
Some of the strongest corroborative evidence for mind control isa 2007 internet survey in which 1471 people from at least forty countries responded as survivors to the Extreme Abuse Survey (EAS)(Becker, Karriker, Overkamp, & Rutz, 2007).
The following list of reported mind control phenomena incor-porates a sampling of the EAS findings.
- Torture to induce the formation of receptive/programmabledissociated self-states. Of 1012 EAS respondents who repliedto the item: “My perpetrator(s) deliberately created/pro-grammed dissociative states of mind (such as alters, personal-ities, ego-states) in me,” 640 (63%) said “Yes.”
- Torture to influence the host with no conscious awareness. Thehost experiences unexplained behavioural compulsions toperform particular behaviours, and programmed self-statestake executive control to follow programmed directives, unbe-known to the host.
- The perception of “structures”, that is, mental representationsof objects, usually inanimate, in the body or internal landscapein the mind. Often-reported structures include buildings,walls, containers, grids, computers, and devices of torture.Structures often serve organizational purposes for program-mers, such as containing groups of self-states that serve partic-ular functions, storing files of information, serving as barriers(walls, caps, seals) to separate groups of self-states, and hidingdeeper levels of programming and structures. Dissociated self-states perceive themselves as trapped behind, within, orattached to structures, often reliving the pain, suffocation, elec-troshock, etc., used to “install” the structure.
- Perceived explosive devices, electroshock wires and devices,and vials capable of releasing toxins and drugs, in the body ofspecific self-states, or in the internal landscape, to controlbehaviour.
- Perceived internal monitoring devices to watch or “read” andtransmit thoughts, e.g., all-seeing eyes, microphones, andmicrochips.
- The perception of internal programmers, abusers, demons, andhuman spirits, to watch and control the victim. Of 996 EASrespondents who replied to the item: “Perpetrators have on atleast one occasion made me believe that external entities/spirits/demons had taken over my body,” 530 (53%) said “Yes.”
- Novel torture and near-death torture, including anoxia,brachycardia, and cardiac arrest due to suffocation, electrocu-tion, freezing, drowning, etc., to induce tabula rasa program-mable states to form. Of 1109 EAS respondents who replied tothe item: “Near drowning experience caused by perpetrators,”565 (51%) said “Yes.”
- Torture, especially electroshock, to “anchor” (set deeply)programming in the unconscious mind. Of 1119 EAS respon-dents who replied to the item: “My memories of extreme abuseinclude electroshock” 558 (50%) said “Yes.”
- Programming beginning in the first two, three, or four years oflife serving as a foundation for later programming. Of 975 EASrespondents who replied to the item: “I was subjected togovernment-sponsored mind control experimentation at birththrough 2 years,” 139 (14%) said “Yes.”
- Programming to punish the victim when any self-state threat-ens to disobey abuser directives, especially to never rememberor disclose their abuse, including flooding the victim withanxiety, pain, spinning or drugged sensations, illness, self-harm, and suicidality. Some survivors develop an awarenessthat these experiences are not their own reactions, but originatein programming. Of 997 EAS respondents who replied to theitem: “I have experienced self-destruct programming installedin the event I began to remember the programming”, 565(57%%) said “Yes.”
- Self-states programmed to perform particular roles, such assoldier, courier, assassin, cult leader, etc., and skills, such asspeaking a foreign language, flying an aircraft, remote-view-ing, and sexual behaviour. On the EAS, 175 respondentsreported mind control programming through which they weretrained to become assassins and 203 respondents reportedmind control programming designed to develop psychic abili-ties.
- Self-states programmed as tape-recorders and computers tostore information.
- Self-states programmed to report in to handlers by phone andto assure ongoing abuser-contact.
- Anti-therapy programming causing victims to feel “stuck”,unable to speak, hear, or remain awake, to create chaos, to be acutely suicidal, and to disbelieve all memories. Of 1097 EASrespondents who replied to the item about having suicidalthoughts immediately before traumatic memories surface, 737(68%) said “Yes.”
- Programmed stimuli, for example, hand signals, words, tele-phone rings or tones, that trigger self-states to experience fearor to perform behaviours unbeknown to the host.
- Programme codes to access self-states, to install, reset or acti-vate programmes, to turn on back-up (fail-safe) programmes,to erase (remove) programmes, to “set off” explosive devicesand to release toxins. Of 967 EAS respondents who replied tothe item: “One or more of my alters had access codes”, 332(34%) said “Yes.”
Clinical Observations of Mind Control Phenomena in Victims
I have observed the following indicators of torture-based mindcontrol:
- Clients suddenly switch, in response to internal or externalcues, to automaton-like self-states, with stiff posture, glazed-over eyes, inability to hear or respond, then begin to walk ordrive to a phone or destination, with full amnesia in the hostfor the time in that state. Of 963 EAS respondents who repliedto the item: “I have (or have had) at least one robot alter”, 270(28%) said “Yes.”
- Four clients reported the identical code to “remove” the samekind of programme, including about ten characters (detailsomitted for security and confidentiality) with the same prefixor suffix with spelling variations. This code is not in books oron the internet. These people lived in distant regions. I alsoobserved individuals report very slight variations of a code foranother kind of programme.
- Proper removal codes “disappear” a structure; slightly incorrectcodes fail. I have witnessed clients experience enormous reliefwhen a proper removal code caused a structure to “vanish”.
- Identical abuser names and titles, not in books or the internet,reported by geographically distant survivors.
- I have observed injuries, such as large scars, electroshockburns, and dislocated limbs that I believe were not self-inflicted, and that were consistent with reported programmingtorture.
- When clients recall and work to resolve torture-based mindcontrol, they regularly experience acute fear, suicidality, urgesto self-harm, dizziness, sleepiness, feeling drugged, jerking asif being electro-shocked, urges to stop therapy, and robotic-likestatements of “I must have made it all up,” or “I want to gohome” (meaning to return to the abusers).
- Strong fear and startle responses to the phone ringing andextreme sensitivity to indoor lights.
- Great consistency in reports of programming over time.Present recollections match rediscovered journal-writing, art,sand trays, etc., from as many as ten years earlier.
- Clients experience marked symptom relief as programming ismade conscious and resolved.
In 1953, Allen Dulles, then director of the USA Central IntelligenceAgency (CIA), named Dr Sidney Gottlieb to direct the CIA’sMKULTRA programme, which included experiments conductedby psychiatrists to create amnesia, new dissociated identities, newmemories, and responses to hypnotic access codes. In 1972, then-CIA director Richard Helms and Gottlieb ordered the destruction ofall MKULTRA records. A clerical error spared seven boxes, contain-ing 1738 documents, over 17,000 pages. This archive was declassi-fied through a Freedom of Information Act Request in 1977, thoughthe names of most people, universities, and hospitals are redacted.The CIA assigned each document a number preceded by “MORI”,for “Management of Officially Released Information”, the CIA’sautomated electronic system at the time of document release. Thesedocuments, to be referenced throughout this chapter, are accessibleon the Internet (see: http://abuse-of-power.org/modules/content/index.php?id=31). The United States Senate held a hearing expos-ing the abuses of MKULTRA, entitled “Project MKULTRA, theCIA’s program of research into behavioral modification” (1977).
Of 1000 EAS respondents who replied to the item: “Secretgovernment-sponsored mind control experiments were performedon me as a child”, 257 (26%) said “Yes,” and 219 of those 257remembered seeing perpetrators wearing white doctors’ coats. Of451 respondents to the Professional Extreme Abuse Survey,seventy-one professional helpers from at least six countriesreported work with survivors reporting government mind controlexperimentation.
Psychological mechanisms underlyingprogramme installation and function
What psychological capacities and mechanisms do programmersmanipulate to effect mind control?
The dissociative disorders field has established that DID is asso-ciated with chronic, intense, early abuse, often involving a combi-nation of physical, sexual, and emotional abuse, frequently inclu-ding profound neglect, family violence, and a generally chaotichome environment (Chu, Frey, Ganzel, & Matthews, 1999; Draijer &Langeland, 1999; Ogawa, Sroufe, Weinfield, Carlson, & Egeland,1997; Putnam, 1997; Pynoos, Steinberg, & Goenjian, 1996; Ross,1995; van der Kolk, McFarlane, & Weisaeth, 1996). However, res-ponses to acute torture are very different from responses to chronictrauma.
It is also well known that amnestic barriers separate the experi-ence of trauma-bearing self-states, also known as “emotional parts”(EPs), from the awareness of the host (ANP) (Nijenhuis & den Boer,2007). But how does this inform us on how programmed self-statescan effect specific emotional and behavioural responses in thehost in mind control victims? Furthermore, what psychologicalmechanisms allow programmers to “install” directives, codes,structures, harm-producing devices, internal programmers, malev-olent entities, and files of information in their victims? How can themind accurately register such complex information during mentalstates impeded by torture? How can programming be achieved inthe first few years of life? Might torture somehow enhance themind–brain’s capacity to encode information and store it in pristineform?
Incorporating current knowledge on trauma and dissociation, Iwill explore some of the psychological processes that begin toanswer these questions. Some of these mechanisms are wellevidenced and some are more theoretical and hypothetical.
Dissociation: use of torture to induceand exploit dissociative processes
A synthesis of survivor accounts suggests that the central psycho-logical mechanism that permits mind control programming to beeffected is that extreme torture can force a victim’s psyche to formnew, readily programmable self-states, separated from the frontpersonality by programmed amnestic barriers, that can be exploitedto “hold” and “hide” directives, skills, and information. The condi-tions that appear to most reliably yield new programmable statesare (1) application of torture in the preschool years or to alreadydissociation-prone individuals, and (2) application of forms oftorture that victims have not yet learned to endure, such as novelor extremely prolonged torture.
Some of these self-states are developed into ego states that havethe capacity for executive functions, often beginning with theassignment of a name and specific function, followed by extensiveconditioning to (1) develop desired skills, (2) learn cues to accessand control the ego state, and (3) develop barriers to keep allmemory of this abuse from the host. Other induced dissociativestates are used for more internal functions, such as holding pain,terror, information, and representations of structures to servepurposes in the inner world.
Is this the stuff of science fiction? Historical and psychologicalevidence demonstrate otherwise.
USA mind control projects
Declassified CIA documents provide a historical record of MK-ULTRA projects that manipulated amnestic and dissociative states.MORI 017395 states that Subproject 136 (1961) would use drugsand hypnosis to induce and control dissociative states, including multiple personality disorder, and would use “psychologicaltricks”, reward, punishment, and electroshock to control behaviour,including that of children.
MORI 090527 (1951) http://abuse-of-power.org/modules/content/index.php?id=31http://michael-robinett.com/declass/c000.htm details an experiment that successfullyplaced two girls in “very deep trance”, and used post-hypnoticcoded words to make them carry and activate a bomb, followed byinstructions for absolute amnesia.
Gresch (personal communication, 2010) reports that he andother children were programmed to be suicide bombers in the 1960sin what was probably a NATO project (including the CIA) todefend West Germany against the Warsaw Pact with tacticalnuclear weapons, including portable “Special Atomic DemolitionMunitions” (never actually deployed). Gresch reports that the chil-dren were programmed to lie in wait in foxholes, ready to detonatethese “mini-nukes” against Soviet tanks that were to be manoeu-vred into “killing zones”.
MORI 190713 (1955), “Hypnotism and Covert Operations”,discusses placing the “conscious mind in a state of suspendedanimation” to make subjects “have amnesia both for the fact ofhaving been hypnotized and the origin of whatever new idea orimpetus to action has been implanted in his unconscious mind”.
In an article in the Providence Evening Bulletin of 13 May 1968,George Estabrook, described as a former consultant for the FBI andCIA, is quoted as stating, “the key to creating an effective spy orassassin rests in splitting a man’s personality, or creating multiper-sonality” (Ross, 2000, p. 162).
Psychiatrist H. C. Tien developed electrolytic or electricity/love therapy (ELT) in the early 1970s (Tien, 1974). Tien discoveredthat torture, particularly electroshock, combined with directives,can “erase” a patient’s original identity, beliefs, and name, andreplace these with an identity, beliefs, and name chosen by the“therapist”, congruent with the process of torture-based mindcontrol.
In the 1950s, Ewen Cameron, MD, of Allan Memorial Institute atMcGill University in Montreal “treated” non-consenting patients,most probably diagnosed with schizophrenia, in what inarguablyamounted to torture. Between 1957 and 1960, MKULTRA fundedthis research (Weinstein, 1988).
Cameron’s treatment had two phases. In the “depatterning”phase, for fifteen to thirty days (sixty-five days in some cases),patients were administered massive doses of LSD and electroshock,usually combined with prolonged, drug-induced sleep, to ulti-mately induce a “tabula rasa” state and “complete amnesia” forone’s life (Cleghorn, 1990; Marks, 1979; McGonigle, 1999). The“psychic driving” phase followed, sixteen hours a day for severalweeks. Patients were forced to listen to endless loop taped descrip-tions of their painful past and inadequacies, sometimes accompa-nied by shocking their legs to intensify the negative effect, followedby, for two to five weeks, listening to tapes describing how theywanted to get well and the behaviours to facilitate this, such asbecoming self-assertive (an interesting irony) (Marks, 1979).
Harvey Weinstein (1988), psychiatrist and son of a victim, aptlydescribes Cameron’s work as “a wholesale attempt to erase mindsand reprogramme” subjects (p. 147), assisted by MKULTRA.
In both Cameron’s “treatment” and in mind control, torture,primarily electroshock, is applied to induce a tabula rasa state,followed by attempts to develop a brand-new persona.
Use of electricity to modify soldiers’behaviour in the First World War
Electroshock was used by military psychiatry to eradicateunwanted behaviour in soldiers since at least the First World War.The goal was to override soldiers’ “weakness”, such as “hystericalpseudo-paralysis”, to get them back to the front (Fassin, Rechtman,& Gomme). Noteworthy were French neurologist, Clovis Vincent,who “boasted of regularly obtaining rapid results after what hetermed a ‘merciless struggle’ between the patient and doctor” (ibid.,p. 48), and German physician Fritz Kaufmann; his “Kaufmann cure” involved application of powerful alternating currents toparalysed limbs (Rejali, 2009, p. 136).
Austrian psychiatrist Wilhelm Neutra (1920), treated soldierswith “fiercely painful faradic [electric] currents” in 1914, andclaimed that over 100 psychiatrists applied these methods since thebeginning of the Great War.
Neutra reasoned that war hysteria is a subconscious conflictbetween the instinct of self-preservation and patriotism or morale.He believed that if hysterical behaviour becomes associated withpain produced by the electroshock, the subconscious is going tosearch for a better solution.
The same basic psychological mechanism is used in much mindcontrol. The dissociated fear of torture is greater than the fear ofexecuting the self-endangering behaviour desired by the program-mer.
Although we may never have evidence of torture-based mindcontrol directly evolving from military electroshock treatments, Ibelieve the likelihood is high.
Ivan Pavlov is most famous for his discovery of classical condition-ing based on research with dogs. Pavlov presented a warning signal(the conditioned stimulus), such as a bell, and shortly after (e.g.,five seconds), gave the dogs an unconditioned stimulus (such asfood). The warning signal then produces a conditioned reflex, suchas “food excitation” (e.g., salivation).
Lesser-known is that Pavlov also used electroshock as a warn-ing stimulus. We now understand this as a form of fear condition-ing, the basis for kinds of mind control that rely on victim responsesof fear and pain to programmed external and internal cues (dis-cussed later).
Still less known is that Pavlov also studied the effects of over-whelming stress on the dogs’ prior conditioning (Pavlov, 1941;Sargant, 1957).
In the Leningrad flood of 1924, water seeped under the labora-tory door and Pavlov’s dogs nearly drowned, swimming in “terrorwith heads at the tops of their cages” (Sargant, 1957, p. 17). Many lost all prior conditioning. Pavlov described the dogs as dissociat-ing cortical and subcortical mental activity, and being in a state ofhypnosis, similar to some human “mental disease”. Pavlovsurmised that in severe trauma, “the brain might be wiped almostclean, at least temporarily, of all the conditioned behavior patternsrecently implanted in it” (Sargant, 1957, pp. 16–17). With months ofpatient work, Pavlov reconditioned most dogs. Then he let a trickleof water run under the laboratory door and the dogs all panickedand were re-traumatized, again losing all prior learning.
Pavlov’s observations parallel survivors’ reports of tabula rasastates forming in mind-control torture: all prior learning is lost,“wiped clean”, and a trauma trigger reactivates the trauma state.
British psychiatrist William Sargant is probably best known for hiswork on “acute war neurosis” (“battle fatigue”, “shell shock”) withSecond World War soldiers (1957). In addition, he directly studiedthe effects of overwhelming stress on humans, as Pavlov did withdogs.
Sargant compared “war neuroses” to Pavlov’s “experimentalneuroses” in dogs. He observed stress-induced “states of greatlyincreased suggestibility” in combat soldiers (ibid., pp. 24–46), aswell as in people who had undergone prolonged emotional andphysiological stress in sudden religious conversion and political/ideological brainwashing.
Sargant claimed that the immediate effect of severe stress inhumans and animals is “usually to impair judgement and increasesuggestibility” (ibid., p. 82). He imposed severe stress on patients sothat “some of the new abnormal patterns may disperse, and thehealthier ones can return or be implanted afresh in the brain”, muchlike Cameron. Sargant also applied similar stressors, includingstates of fear and anger, insulin shock, electroshock, and prolongeddrug-induced sleep, up to fourteen or fifteen days, in a “sleep treat-ment ward” (Freeman, 1987).
Sargant and Cameron both had espionage ties, Sargant to BritishSecret Intelligence (Sargant, 1957), Cameron to the CIA (Thomas,1989, p. 208, 1998). Sargant and Cameron had met several times (Thomas, 1998) and may have been friends (Collins, 1988, p. 42).Sargant had also met with Gottlieb, director of MKULTRA (Thomas,1998).
Snapping and cult indoctrination as dissociative processes
Conway and Siegelman, in Snapping: America’s Epidemic of SuddenPersonality Change (2005) explain that ceremonial rituals for cultindoctrination, including repetitive chanting, meditation, sugges-tion, sometimes food and sleep deprivation and infliction of pain,finally result in a “snap”:
an experience that is unmistakably traumatic . . . Sudden changecomes in a moment of intense experience . . . an unforeseen breakin the continuity of awareness that may leave them detached, with-drawn, disoriented—and utterly confused. The experience itselfmay produce hallucinations or delusions or render the personextremely vulnerable to suggestion . . . [p. 5]
This experience conforms to mind control survivor reports thatextreme abuse, isolation, sleep and food deprivation, sensory andideological bombardment, and fear-inducing illusions, suddenlyinduce the formation of a suggestible mental state that are receptiveto new ideologies.
The ancient Greek initiation ritual into the “Greater Mysteries”incorporated elements of sentencing the initiate to death, amnesia-producing drugs, rebirth, and renaming to erase prior memory andinduce receptiveness to the formation of a new identity (Graves, inSargant, 1957, pp. 194–195).
Ritual abuse survivors describe the same steps in rebirth, initia-tion, and marriage rituals: terror, pain, helplessness, and fear ofdemonic forces, followed by methods to induce amnesia, includingdrugs, followed by “rebirth” as a member of the group, provisionof a new name, a ceremony to marry the “convert” to the group’sdeity, and a formal claim or announcement of belonging to thegroup.
Historical accounts of cult indoctrination, Tien, Cameron,Pavlov, Sargant, and First World War electroshock “treatment” of soldiers, and MKULTRA documents citing knowledge of inducingand manipulating amnestic and dissociative states, all supportsurvivor accounts of overwhelming stress inducing the suddenformation of suggestible mental states. Our current knowledge ofdissociative processes helps to tie this all together.
Torture in early childhood to inducea dissociation-prone psyche
Torture-based mind control, by most survivor reports, begins beforefour years of age, usually by age two, to make the psyche dissocia-tion-prone and to serve as a foundation for later programming.
Young children have a greater capacity to enter trance statesthan older children and adults, allowing for dissociative, self-hypnotic responses to overwhelming stimuli (Putnam, 1997).Peterson (1991) explains,
Developmentally natural dissociative activities in tandem withprimitive defense mechanisms may lead a child to block off painfulmemories using a dissociative process . . . Without a person’conscious volition, a pattern of protective dissociations may beginto develop, creating newly established and increasingly distinctparts of self, encapsulated in time, and memory segments that areunavailable to the rest of that person’s consciousness. [p. 153]
Fotheringham (2008) explains that a “pattern of protective disso-ciations” was natural for her:
“I,” the primary person . . . was not aware of these alternate identi-ties or their pieces of “my” life. It seemed natural for life to bebroken into chunks . . . so “lost time” went unnoticed. Since conti-nuity was unknown, there was no sense of discontinuity . . . mybrain’s way of coping with difficulties was “wired in”—simplycreate another alter! [p. 499]
Putnam (1997) views DID as a developmental failure to integratethe discrete, state-dependent, aspects of self that are normal inyoung children into a cohesive sense of self. Support for this view isfound in Blinder’s (2007) review of the research and neurobiology on the development of an autobiographical self. Blinder concludesthat prior to four years of age, a child’s sense of self is moredisjointed than cohesive, and that an autobiographical self emergesat around four years of age as a function of the child’s “abilityto hold in mind multiple representations of the world simul-taneously”.
Gresch believes that programmers understand that the person-ality lacks cohesion in early childhood, and that they begin abusingvictims very early, “to hamper any real personality development toreplace it with a subhuman structure, to be used like a program-mable robot” (personal communication, 2009).
After the fourth birthday, a relatively coherent sense of self helpsprotect against formation of fully separate self-states.
Once a “pattern of protective dissociations” has developed,programmers can use torture to induce new dissociative self-statesto form, then “build” the behavioural repertoire of these self-states through conditioning, training, hypnotic suggestion, etc.Dissociation-proneness keeps these self-states maximally segre-gated from each other. Even in adolescence and adulthood, newself-states can be induced to form in dissociation-prone individuals,a capacity exploited by programmers.
Dissociative responses to chronic and acute trauma
What allows suggestible, malleable, self-states to form in responseto severe stress? Much of this can be understood by distinguishingthe nature of dissociative responses to chronic, lower-intensitytrauma from responses to acute, higher-intensity trauma.
In response to chronic, lower-intensity trauma and shame-evoking trauma, self-states are likely to form and remain dissoci-ated largely as a function of an active mental effort of the relativelynon-traumatized self to shield itself from awareness of painful orunacceptable memories, thoughts, feelings and motives.
This is the mechanism of self-state formation emphasized byDell (2009). Dell contends that dissociated self-states are formed by“dissociation-potentiated repression”, the defensive use of repres-sion in individuals with substantial self-hypnotic or dissociativeability.
Thus, such dissociative self-states are born, in large part, by anact of self-agency, are more cortical than subcortical, and have theactive organizing purpose of coping with the trauma that precipi-tated their formation. These trauma-bearing self-states are alsolikely to remain dissociated from the relatively non-traumatizedself by way of an ongoing mental defensive effort to disown theunacceptable. Some of these self-states “hold” knowledge oftrauma that is intolerable to the host. Some are skilled at managingphysical pain. Some may defensively identify with abusers andreject the self. Some may be internal self-helpers (ISHs).
Having formed to protect the self, I believe that these ego statesare somewhat less susceptible to mind control, and, in some cases,successfully elude detection by the abusers.
In contrast, in response to acute and higher-intensity trauma,the victim is likely to react more reflexively and instinctually. Theseresponses probably largely derive from subcortical mechanismsthat activate very quickly in response to perceived threat to physi-cal or psychic survival, vs. purposeful, slower, cortically mediatedmental activity (LeDoux, 1996). Some of these responses involvehyper-arousal, including fight/rage, flight/panic, and sympatheticnervous system arousal. Some involve hypo-arousal, includingimmobilization/freezing, passive submission, numbing, derealiza-tion, depersonalization, impaired attention and cognition, andlowered heart rate, breath rate, and muscle tone. These states aremore a function of intense emotional and physiological statestaking precedence over cognitive coping strategies as the traumaoccurs, than the psyche’s efforts to extrude intolerable knowledgefrom awareness (van der Kolk, McFarlane, & Weisaeth, 1996).
A third response to high-intensity trauma, perhaps only a reac-tion to perceived immediate threat to life, combines elements ofhypo- and hyper-arousal. This state is characterized by sudden andsurprising calm, absence of fear or pain regardless of the extent ofinjury, intensely focused attention, sensory hyper-acuity, mentalquickness, and an expanded sense of time (Dell, 2009; Heim, 1892).
Mind control survivors report that self-states formed in res-ponse to high-intensity trauma arise spontaneously due to a breakin self-agency, and are mentally registered apart from the other self-states from their inception. Accordingly, they remain dissociatedfrom the host with less mental effort than self-states formed defensively. They intently focus on accommodating their abusers. Someremain internally “fixed in space and time”, reliving the pain andterror that provoked their formation (van der Hart, Nijenhuis, &Steele, 2006). Some perceive the pain and terror of the trauma theyendured as “normal”, the only reality they know.
The model of “structural dissociation of the personality” ofSteele, van der Hart, and Nijenhuis (2009) is close to what I believeoccurs when self-states form in response to high-intensity, acutetrauma, such as torture. Their model emphasizes that traumaticmaterial is registered differently and apart from benign experience,as it occurs. They contend that an ongoing integrative deficit resultsin a structural dissociation of the personality, and only secondarilyis this division a result of a psychological defence. They posit thatwhen individuals experience aversive stimuli, such as a majorthreat, mental and behavioural “action tendencies” are activated toavoid or escape the threat. Such experience is registered in “emo-tional parts” of the personality, a separate psychobiological systemthan that employed to approach attractive stimuli and adapt todaily life, the “apparently normal parts of the personality”. If over-whelming trauma occurs to a child, or if a primary attachmentfigure is frightening, this hinders the otherwise normal develop-mental progression towards integration of the two psychobiologi-cal systems. The host’s phobic avoidance of traumatic memory heldin emotional parts maintains the division, which probably involvesa preconscious mental effort, a psychological defence.
States formed in response to high-intensity trauma are morerudimentary than self-states formed with less intense trauma. Somehave a limited sense of “me-ness”. Many are only “fragments”.Both can develop an increased sense of self over time. For example,self-states formed in response to a particular kind of abuse tend totake executive control whenever that abuse is reapplied, and canhave an autobiographical self within those episodes, includingexperiencing themselves as the age of the body at the last episodeof that abuse.
Programmers use rudimentary self-states to construct personaeto perform desired functions. Gresch (personal communication,2008) explains that a young child’s immediate response to torture isto enter a survival-driven state of hypnotic heightened attentive-ness and suggestibility that is ultra-receptive to learning. Thus primed, this state may be exploited in limited ways, such as “frag-ments” trained to obey commands or perform circumscribedbehaviours to avoid punishment. Or, this state may be further aug-mented through a long-term “torture-hypno-conditioning process”,to carry out more complex executive functions. Terror controls thistype of self-state long-term, in that it is stuck, “unable to leave thetorture chamber in its own mind”.
In many cases, survivors discover self-states that appear moti-vated to serve their own needs, to later discover that programmersdeliberately orchestrated their organizing purpose. For example,some ego-states see themselves as powerful or believe themselvesto be “chosen” for some honoured position, but they are amnesticfor the early, severe abuse, that forced their formation and keptthem controlled. Genuinely human needs motivate such parts, butthey are not born of psychological defence; they are deliberatelyinduced to form, then conditioned and manipulated.
I believe that practitioners of torture-based mind control havea depth understanding of all of these kinds of dissociative states,calculatingly induce some types to form, limit some to holdingpain and terror, condition some to perform executive functions ofmore complexity, manipulate “self-created” ego states to the degreethat they can, all to exploit the unique properties of each to thefullest.
Torture to induce formation of self-states
Mind control survivors report that their abusers understand wellthat torture induces a dissociation-prone psyche to form newprogrammable self-states, and calculatedly torture victims for thispurpose.
Carol Rutz, mind control survivor and author of A NationBetrayed (2001), believes that existing self-states tend to “come up”in sequence from older to younger, to distribute the burden oftorture being applied, until finally a defenceless baby appears, lesscapable of using the mind to cope, and more programmable(personal communication, 2009).
Many survivors claim that sophisticated abusers recognize thata new self-state has arisen when the child no longer reacts with terror or pain to the torture. This new state is immediately namedand given directives. Abusers may also “install” the perception ofentities and structures. These messages, entities, and structuresbecome paired with pain and terror in the new trauma-bound state,which has no cognitive capacity to process or reject any of thisinput. This all remains dissociated from the host.
In this vignette, Rutz and her two-year-old self-state, “LittleGirl”, recount programming at age four, designed to form a newself-state, “Samantha”. After administering a “truth drug”, thedoctor says:
“Come forth little one—I need to know your name!”“Little girl.”
Then the doctor says, “Who else?”
He knows we’s lyin so he makes our body jump and hurt real bad.We got lectricity going through us.
“Shadow, our name is shadow.”
Now they want to know who Shadow is.
Shadow gotted made at Grandfathers’ before we came here[describes ritual that induced the formation of Shadow].
Now they knows all our names. If ya knows our names—ya gotpower and control. They says theys gonna give us special numbers.Later Dr No, the lady Doctor says, “We are gonna help you, littlegirl, not to have any more pain. You don’t have to feel it everagain.”
“They’s gonna make Samantha come . . .”
(Intense electro-shock was delivered in order to allow my mind todissociate and create Samantha who would never feel pain. In thefuture, whenever I was put through a tortuous painful experience,Samantha would automatically be the alter who took over the bodyand she would hide the memory and the pain from the rest of thesystem . . .).
“Back, just let the memories go back”
That be what the doctor tellin us alright. [Rutz, 2001, pp. 17–18]
In 2009, I asked Carol Rutz to help me understand how Samanthacould both “never feel pain”, yet “hide the memory and pain fromthe rest of the system”. She explained,
“Samantha” took the pain and hid it from the rest of the system. Soshe really did feel pain, even though the lie [by the abusers] wasthat she would not. So, she “complied” and consciously believedshe did not feel pain, but she did hold the pain, less consciously.The rest of the system did not feel pain. “Little Girl” certainlybelieved Samantha did not feel pain, and that was importantbecause she was one of the main presenting alters. Whenever a situ-ation occurred where pain was administered the alter, Samanthacame out and encapsulated the pain.
“Blank slate” programmable mental states
Many survivors report that in response to prolonged, especiallynovel, torture, victims suddenly stop resisting and enter a paradoxi-cally calm, pain-free, highly receptive and programmable mentalstate. They describe a psychophysiological mental state, not a statewith a sense of identity. An anonymous survivor (2008) describedthis as “kind of like a memory stick for a computer. Not a frag-ment—just an object waiting to be written on.”
Fotheringham (2008) explains that novel torture reliably elicitssuch states:
Do a new form of torture. If it is a familiar form of torture, it willjust default to the one who is programmed to take that . . . A newpart forms . . . totally linked to self-defense and self-protection . . .constantly looking outward to know what to do to stay safe . . .
Gresch (personal communication, 2008) describes this process:
To evoke a “blank slate”, the torture must proceed until the victimstops resisting, beyond any feigned compliance, beyond the pointof genuine obedience and submission, until the victim finallysurrenders all personal intention, and then the programmers pusheven further, and achieve their goal, the blank slate state . . . Thevictim is calm and receptive. This is the physiological reaction totorture if applied in the right way . . . Your last chance for survival depends on receptiveness to everything the situation commands ofyou . . . The victim reaches a state in which it is extremelysuggestible, in an extremely hypnotic state, ready to accept every-thing . . . They can implant a so-called “personality”, actually ascript of personality, in this highly receptive ultra-learning state.
Gresch explained (personal communication, 2009) how this newlyformed state does not experience pain or terror, yet is ultimatelycontrolled by pain and terror in the moment and long-term:
This new state does not register in consciousness the painful torturethat precipitated its formation, yet less conscious pain and terrorcontinually fuel its receptivity and hyper-attention. Though disso-ciated states segregate this experience as it occurs, it is registered tosome degree as a whole in the mind/brain. The programmed infor-mation is preserved intact, with little deterioration over time,largely through an associational neural network connecting it to thepreceding pain and terror.
Dell (2009), in a recent synopsis of the literature on “peri-traumatic dissociation”, provides support for survivor accounts oftabula rasa states forming in response to life-threatening trauma.He explains that in response to perceived threat to life, people auto-matically enter a state of “absence of pain, absence of fear, a calmstate of mind, a slowing of time, accelerated thought, clear think-ing, heightened sensory perception, and a heightened ability toexecute motor skills with precision and confidence” (p. 762). Delldescribes this response as “situation-specific”, “task-oriented”, andlasting “only as long as that life-threatening situation lasts” (p. 761).He calls this “evolution-prepared dissociation”, in that “perceptionis immediately adjusted and instantly tuned to the most survival-relevant aspects of the environment” (p. 760). Such a mental statewould make torture victims highly receptive to programming.
Support for this phenomenon is found in the work of AlbertHeim, who documented the experience of survivors of near-fatalfalls in 1892. Heim found that 95% of fall victims experienced amental state of “heightened sensory and ideational activity, andwithout anxiety or pain” (p. 135), the same mental state describedby torture-based mind control survivors. Heim said of his ownnear-fatal fall, “my thoughts and ideas were coherent and very clear, and in no way susceptible, as are dreams, to obliteration”(p. 134). Heim noted that hearing was the last sense to be lost. Theability to hear in near-death situations and enhanced memoryacuity would both facilitate the objectives of mind control.
Psychological impact of naming new self-states
Assignment of names to self-states is central to mind control, as itwas to Tien’s electrolytic love therapy. Abusers quickly assignnames to define new self-states, such as “Evil”, or “Lolita”. Self-states tend to perceive themselves as belonging to whomevernamed them. If the programmer delays in assigning a name, andthe self-state can name, it may be able to elude the trainer. Namesallow programmers to call self-states forward. Survivors oftenguard the names of self-states to prevent their being summoned.
Gresch (personal communication, 2009) explains, “The art ofmind control is the art of controlling attention”. Names are a meansfor programmers to manipulate this attention. He explains,
Names combined with code phrases trigger the execution ofprogrammed mental mechanisms, that is, thoughts, emotion, andbehavior, in compliance with programmer instructions, fueled byfear conditioning. For example, if somebody says “I am your god,Peter Munk, one two three”, a programmed self-state based on amodified prototype of “Peter Munk,” a character in WilhelmHauff’s fairy tale, “Das kalte Herz,”  will be activated. PeterMunk is unemotional, obedient, lacking in self-awareness, andmotivated to avoid torture. This alter has been torture-hypno-conditioned to execute a number of mental actions, including (1) toactivate Hugo, an other alter, to take the pain if Munk is tortured,(2) to report any access to the programmer, and (3) should anyintention to resist programming enter the conscious mind, theimage of a “pillar of power” will appear, the words will be heardin a threatening manner in the inner ear, the mind will be floodedwith depression, and the conscious mind will feel a compulsion toonce again be obedient to relieve the depression.
Gresch explained how this programming involving the “pillar ofpower” was effected:
The “pillar of power” was a magical object in the inner world of the“alter”, Peter Munk, which symbolized the concentrated power ofthe perpetrators. Peter Munk was instructed to imagine the pillar ofpower with his inner eye. He was then told to image that he wastrying to pass the pillar of power, and to give a sign with his handwhen he was about to do this. When he gave the sign, he was elec-tro-shocked through an electrode fastened to his penis. Theprogrammer commanded, “You shouldn’t try to betray me. Look! Inow allow you to recognize that we have attached measuringsensors to your head. We have recorded the brain waves when youare trying to pass the pillar of power. We know what you aredoing”. It doesn’t matter whether the perpetrators really were ableto manage this. What counts was that Peter Munk believed it.
What neurobiological mechanisms account for the formation ofhighly programmable self-states and mental states in response totorture? Stephen Porges’ Polyvagal Theory (1995, 1999) providessome clues.
The vagus nerve is the longest of ten cranial nerves and is criti-cal in responding to threat. Porges specifies two distinct branches ofthe vagus nerve in mammals: (1) The smart vagus, the phylogeneti-cally newer, ventral branch, and (2) The vegetative vagus, the phylo-genetically older, dorsal branch.
In response to threat, the smart (ventral) vagus first deploys theparasympathetic nervous system (PNS), activates socially affiliativebehaviour with the same species, that is, help-seeking, and main-tains relative calm. If this cannot effectively manage the threat, itshifts its strategy to fight or flight, mediated by the sympathetic ner-vous system (SNS). If fight or flight cannot adequately cope with thestressor, the vegetative (dorsal) vagus activates, inhibiting the heartvia the PNS, yielding a “shut-down” of behaviour, tonic immobility,freezing, death-feigning, or submission to the threat. This reptil-ian/amphibian response may be considered a dissociative response(Beauchaine, Gatzke-Kopp, & Mead, 2007), perhaps similar to“evolution-prepared dissociation” as described by Dell (2009).
I corresponded with Porges in 2008 to determine whether thedorsal vagal responses of submission or paralysis may relate to mental states induced to form under torture, and whether suchstates might be receptive to encoding information, that is, beingprogrammed. Porges explained that “a physiological state, in part,mediated by the dorsal vagal complex might promote dissociativestates”. Porges also said that he believes that dorsal vagal states aremediated, in part, by oxytocin, a hormone important in pair bond-ing and social memory, and that this might yield strong bonds tothe perpetrator (an other critical element in programming). He saidthat dorsal vagal states might facilitate one-trial learning, a rapid,relatively indelible conditioned response, closely connected to fearconditioning. He said that learning in this dorsal vagal state “maybe disconnected from the experience and this may form the basis ofa different personality structure”. He was careful to add that thesehypotheses, and how they relate to states of calmness, remain to betested.
Thus, the dorsal vagal threat response may contribute to a calm,receptive state, perhaps similar to Dell’s “evolution-prepared disso-ciation” (2009), that may be highly receptive to encoding informa-tion via one-trial learning and to bonding to the abuser, andinformation encoded in such states may become stored in a “differ-ent personality structure”, all responses advantageous for mindcontrol.
Introjection of abusers and programmers
Most clinicians in the dissociative disorders field agree that internalrepresentations of abusers are commonplace in DID, and that theseare usually self-states who have taken on the demeanour of fright-ening abusers. Psychological mechanisms that drive the formationof “abuser self-states” include many variants of identification withthe aggressor. Their “masks” often conceal young, trauma-bearingstates. Many mind control survivors also report discovering self-states who were programmed to take on abuser characteristics inorder to control other self-states.
Many survivors also perceive within them internalized pro-grammers, witchcraft spirits, and entities that are not self-states atall. These are experienced as “foreign bodies” installed in mindcontrol.
I believe that programmers often intentionally “install” repre-sentations of themselves in mind-control torture. Gresch (personalcommunication, 2009) explains,
The victim must execute the orders of the programmers when theyare not present. So they try to “implant” themselves into the mindof the victim . . . Through torture, the perpetrators switch off thecritical mind of the victim . . . All of the torture-enhanced facultiesare exclusively fixed to the commands of the programmer, just likein hypnosis. This is much more than obeying—it is introjecting theperpetrators . . . The generic abuser maltreats the victim to satisfyhis needs. But the mind controller uses torture and pain to trans-form the psyche of the victim.
Above, Carol Rutz described the torture-driven formation of“Samantha”. The next day, Rutz explains that, using drugs andhypnosis, Gottlieb created twin self-states specifically for govern-ment mind control: “Baby”, who was told it lived in “Neverland”,and “Guy” to live in “Shadowland” (Rutz, personal communica-tion, 2009). Then Gottlieb commanded, “The genie appears whenNeverland is opened. Remember, I am your master and I am thegenie” (Rutz, 2001, p. 19). Although survival-driven attachmentneeds are at play here, I believe that the internalization of thisGottlieb–genie must be understood as a foreign body, a psycholog-ical introject, not a self-state.
Many survivors also describe rituals in which witchcraft abusers“placed” parts of their “spirits” inside of them, usually in specificself-states, through the transfer of body fluids and substances.“Attached spirits” are perceived to internally repeat the controllingmessages first spoken in rituals, such as, “You belong to me”, “Youwill obey me”, etc. Commonly, such abusers also “attach” theirdeities to strengthen the spirits’ effects. Affected self-states may alsoperceive that the abusers captured parts of their own spirit to holdcaptive within themselves.
Even if the host views such “transfers” as impossible, self-statesformed and indoctrinated in the “theology” of these abusers gener-ally perceive them as very real, and the impact is devastating, asthey feel inhabited by these “attached” entities.
Many survivors report that programmers ultimately seek to installmind control beneath the level of all self-states in what theirprogrammers called the “unconscious mind”.
The CIA document MORI 190713, “Hypnotism and covert oper-ations” (1955) explains that an “operator” can use hypnosis to placethe “conscious mind” in a state of “suspended animation” to “reachand affect the unconscious mind directly”, to “successfully” “trans-plant ideas and motives”, that are felt to be one’s “own free will”,with post-hypnotic amnesia for the hypnosis. This documentexplains the powerful compulsion to follow hypnotically placeddictates:
Let us suppose that a good hypnotic subject has entered the deepeststage of hypnosis. If the operator then suggests, “After I awakenyou, you will have no recollection of what has occurred. Further-more, exactly 1 hour after you are awakened you will go to the near-est telephone and dial (any number). To whomever answers youwill say (any message),” in all likelihood the subject will do just that. . . If the subject after awakening remembers or is told that he hasbeen given a post-hypnotic suggestion, what it is, and when it willbecome operative, he still will experience the greatest difficulty inresisting it. Almost the only way in which he can obtain release froman almost intolerable feeling of discomfort is to carry out the post-hypnotic suggestion as given him; or, alternatively, have the sug-gestion removed under hypnosis. For what has been created is verysimilar to, if not identical with a compulsion neurosis. [ibid., p. 8]
Survivors report that the unconscious mind is accessed inlengthy near-death torture by a complete breach of self-agency afterall self-states have been taxed beyond endurance, before the victimcan create another self-state, before the victim loses physicalconsciousness, or occasionally in the moments between two pre-existing states taking executive control. One psychologist-survivorexplained (2009): “When you have an alter, you are fortified. Youare motivated to protect the self. The space in between alters iswhen they can get to the unconscious mind.”
Survivors report that, once accessed, the mind is “laid bare” andrecords information with no ability to process, question, or rejectinput. It has no self-awareness, no emotion, no ability to act on its own behalf. It “believes”, or, more accurately, “takes in whole”,what it is told or shown. This is when programmers reportedly“install” much foundational programming, especially structures toorganize the system of self-states.
Survivors report that structures are installed using commandsand illusions. A child, having previously been shown a model of abuilding, may be told, “The building we showed you is in yourmind”. The programmer may project a grid on a child’s chest, thencommand, “The grid is in your chest”, “Go inside the grid”. Theprogrammer might put a button on a child’s navel and commandthat the button detonates a bomb if the child ever remembers. Thesecommands and illusions become paired with the torture appliedimmediately before and after. Steve Oglevie, mind control consul-tant (personal communication, 1996 to 2006), explains that thiscauses the structures, illusions, and commands to be perceived tobe as real as the torture itself. Schwartz (2000), in a chapter largelydevoted to mind control in his book, Dialogues with Forgotten Voices,explains:
[T]he power of all statements made during and immediately afterabusive episodes while the victim is in an altered state will beenhanced by the absence of an operative critical consciousness(Conway, 1994) and by the indelible connection with intense fear,intolerable anxiety, or mind-shattering dread. [p. 318]
Because programming “installed” in the unconscious mind wasnever consciously registered in any self-state, it is usually more“deeply buried”.
Blank-slate mental states and the “unconscious mind” are simi-lar, but not identical. Victims report that programmers use theunconscious mind as a writable memory chip to store information,and use blank-slate mental states to develop self-states that can takeexecutive control to serve abuser functions.
Massive memory storage
MKULTRA was interested in the use of hypnosis for enhancedmemory storage and retrieval. MORI 190713 (1955) states:
Post-hypnotic suggestions . . . have been known to endure foryears. The image that comes to mind is a blackboard on which amessage will endure until erased or blurred by time. [p. 9]
. . . a hypnotized person can recall past events with astonishingclarity and detail, in many cases when he does not realize with hisconscious mind that he “remembers”. [p. 19]
. . . One’s memory for detail under such conditions appears to beboundless. [p. 21]
Enhanced memory capacity is critical to much mind control, includ-ing memory for lengthy codes, secret information storage,enhanced skills, etc. Can human memory be enhanced to thisdegree?
Many survivors report that intelligent infants are selected formind control programmes. And many survivors report havingeidetic recall.
Many survivors also report training for acute memory andsensory skills, including being punished, often with electroshock,for failing to remember, failing to discriminate between similarstimuli, and failing to perceive low-grade stimuli. MORI 017395(1961) http://abuse-of-power.org/modules/content/index.php?id=31http://michael-robinett.com/declass/c000.htm states,
Learning studies will be instituted in which the subject will berewarded or punished for his overall performance and reinforcedin various ways – by being told whether he was right, by being toldwhat the target was, with electroshock etc. [p. 6]
Gresch (personal communication, 2009) explains,
Like many victims, I was “programmed” with the tape recordermetaphor. I was trained to remember complex semantic informa-tion . . . If I failed, I was tortured . . . Application of torture causesthe programmed information, programmed “post-hypnotic” cuesto retrieve the information, and the pain and terror of the torture tobe paired together and subconsciously isolated in ultra-long-termmemory .
The capacity of the mind for vast information storage is sup-ported by cases of hypermnesia and “hyperthymestic syndrome”(Parker, Cahill, & McGaugh, 2006; Tammet, 2007).
I believe that programmers have learned to combine torture-based conditioning and the use of high-intellect victims to accessand exploit a capacity for hypermnesia that may exist in manypeople.
Programming the host
Survivors report that extensive programming is done to develop afront/host personality who behaves “normally” and is amnestic forthe abuse and the existence of programmed self-states.
In “successful” programming, the host is shell-like, lackingmuch sense of self. It functions like a chameleon, adapting to thedemands of each setting. Clinically, it suffers alexithymia, dereal-ization, and depersonalization.
Survivors with shell-like hosts may be more likely to have hadfoundational programming in infancy. This often includes a divi-sion in the psyche between (1) the “normal” side, amnestic for theabuse, often associated with the daytime and right side of the body,and (2) the side entrenched in the abuse, often associated with thenight-time and the left side of the body.
In some survivors, the host has some substance, depth, andemotional range. It is more of an agent of self motivated by genuineneeds, curiosity, etc. In this case, dissociative barriers between thehost and programmed parts may have formed largely throughdefensive processes, rather than exclusively by programmer design.Although such hosts are usually initially amnestic for their tortureand relatively traumatophobic, they are usually more motivated toapproach trauma material than shell-like hosts.
The interface of programmed self-states and the host
Two main mechanisms appear to control the interface betweenprogrammed self-states and the host: (1) specialized programmedself-states control “switching” of executive control betweenprogrammed self-states and the host, and (2) the pain and terror ofprogrammed self-states flood the personality system when the hostor other self-states violate programming (see next section).
Pierre Janet’s famous case of Lucie illustrates this first mecha-nism. Janet hypnotized Lucie to carry out post-hypnotic sugges-tions. Lucie executed these, but forgot doing so immediatelyafterwards. Lucie was also amnestic for being hypnotized. Incontrast, Adrienne, Lucie’s second “hypnotic personality”, recalledeverything that happened while Lucie was hypnotized, andclaimed that she executed the post-hypnotic suggestions withoutLucie’s knowledge (Dell, 2009, pp. 715–716).
In successful mind-control, the host functions much like Lucie.The host is unaware of programmed parts or the directives theyexecute, but key programmed parts are aware of the host andlargely control it, as did Adrienne.
Gresch (personal communication, 2009) explains that hiscontrollers relied on three mechanisms: (1) a front façade, unawareof the abuse and other self-states, (2) a system of obedient roboticself-states, and (3) isolation of the “kernel”, the essence of his orig-inal self, which the programmers knew they could not extinguish,so must isolate. Obedience by all self-states was ensured by PeterMunk, “the mediator”, who believed that his controllers monitoredhis brain waves and would detect any intention to disobey. If resis-tance to any directive entered consciousness, programmed partswould re-experience their torture, pain would flood into conscious-ness, and the “front” would feel compelled to perform as directed.
Unconscious implicit memory for trauma and fear conditioning
Torture-based mind control relies on the capacity to induce victimsto re-experience their torture should they violate programme direc-tives, while ensuring that the host remains amnestic for the sourceof his/her distress. Well-established psychological mechanismsexplain how this “works”.
LeDoux (1996, 2007) provides extensive neurological and psy-chological evidence for two long-term memory systems: (1) anexplicit memory system that is more conscious, cognitive, andverbal, and (2) an implicit memory system that is more uncon-scious, emotional, and non-verbal. LeDoux’s research reveals thatimplicit, unconscious memory of pain and fear “may represent anindelible form of learning” (p. 204). In post-trauma responses, “stimuli associated with the danger or trauma become learnedtriggers that unleash emotional reactions in us” (LeDoux, 1996,p. 150). LeDoux calls this form of classical conditioning “fear condi-tioning”.
Fear conditioning appears to be fundamental to how torture-based mind control “works”
LeDoux’s research shows that emotional information is largelysubcortically mediated by the amygdala in responses engineeredfor survival—fast, largely automatic, and unconscious. In contrast,cortical responding is slower, conscious, and allows for mental flex-ibility, decision-making, and execution of one’s will in choosinghow to respond.
LeDoux (1996) explains that much emotional learning, espe-cially fear conditioning, “operates independently of conscious-ness—it is part of what we called the emotional unconscious”(p. 128). The largely unconscious “emotional system” more stronglyaffects the conscious cognitive system than vice versa. Thus,“people normally do all sorts of things for reasons they are notconsciously aware of (because the behavior is produced by brainsystems that operate unconsciously)” (p. 33); “. . . we are often inthe dark about why we feel the way we do” (pp. 52–53).
Survivors report that programmers intentionally use torture anddrugs to attempt to block victims’ capacity for conscious cognitiveprocessing. They then fear-condition trauma-bound self-states.Then, fear-conditioned responses are automatically executed out-side of conscious, cognitive awareness.
Van der Hart, Nijenhuis, and Steele’s (2006) theory of structuraldissociation dovetails neatly with LeDoux’s model of fear condi-tioning. In their model, EPs have a very limited sense of self, largelyrestricted to re-experiencing trauma. They store amygdala-medi-ated emotional and sensorimotor memories of terror and perceivedthreat, and are often fixated in past trauma with little awareness ofpassage of time.
Both models help us understand torture-based mind control,which relies on storage of memory for noxious emotional andsomatic states in the subconscious implicit memory system oftrauma-bearing EPs, and leakage of these implicit memories intothe consciously experienced emotions, sensations, thoughts, impul-ses, and behaviours of ANP(s). When programming is working “well”, ANPs remain “in the dark” about the derivation of thesenoxious responses in the torture-conditioning of EPs.
Conditioned “triggers”, such as an abuser’s voice, hand signals,etc., induce uncontrolled fear and pain in the ANP. Similarly, fail-ure to perform in ways that avoided pain and terror by the EP, suchas compliance with directives, induces a powerful need in the ANPto perform the conditioned behaviour.
It is clearly advantageous for programmers to “place” fear-driven programming in the largely unconscious amygdala and tobypass the conscious, will-based cortex. Accordingly, program-mers maximally fear-condition the amygdala-bound implicitmemory system, largely within trauma-bearing EPs, to induce auto-matic responding, and maximally block cortical cognitive process-ing to attempt to eradicate critical thinking and assertion of freewill.
Operant conditioning, that is, the use of reward and punishment toincrease or decrease behaviours, is a mainstay of mind-controltorture, usually applied to condition the behaviour of specific self-states.
In this example of programming of almost unfathomablecruelty, Gresch (personal communication, 2008) provides an exam-ple of punishment with a twist—by proxy. Another victim is killedto train his “mediator” personality to properly allocate memories,to remember what the abusers want him to remember and to forgetwhat they want him to forget:
The flower game: Forget me and forget-me-not: A perpetratorconfronts the child with a list of common words like cow, flower,chair, or so. Every word is connected with “forget me” or “forget-me-not”. The list becomes longer and longer. The child is punishedif he/she remembers or forgets the wrong words. Then the day ofthe big test comes. Target child is not tested, but another, expend-able child. The test is staged as a ritual, maybe a Satanic ritual.When the tested child makes a mistake, the master of ceremonieskills this expendable child with a knife in front of the eyes of thetarget child.
MKULTRA drug experimentation on unwitting subjects is exten-sively documented (Ross, 2000; Scheflin & Opton, 1978; Thomas,1989; Weinstein, 1988) including extensive evidence of testing drugeffects on suggestibility, hypnotic states, psychophysiological stressresponses, amnesia, and as truth serums for interrogation (e.g.,MORI 017441, 144686, 190713).
Mind control survivors report extensive use of drugs to inducesedation, immobility, trance, and suggestibility, to induce dysphoricstates (anxiety, nausea, pain) to punish resistance, to induce forma-tion of self-states, and to bring victims to near-death, to block theformation of memories, and to create amnesia. Drugs that inducepleasure are used to reward compliance: “Sometimes they give youdrugs that let you experience hell, sometimes they give you heroin”(Gresch, 2009).
Many survivors recall programming to make them perceive thepresence of vials of mind-altering substances in their bodies thatwill be released into their bloodstream or brain if they violate pro-gramme injunctions. Particular self-states are often programmed toremain fixed in sedated or hallucinatory drugged states, and pro-grammed to take executive control when victims begin to remem-ber, or risk disclosing, their abuse. These form the basis of muchanti-therapy programming.
The impact of electroshock
Electroshock may be the most common form of torture reported bymind control survivors. It appears to have two primary uses, toproduce amnesia and to induce pain. MORI ID 146342 (1951)reveals:
[a psychiatrist . . . a fully cleared Agency consultant] . . . stated thatusing this machine [Reiter] as an electroshock device with theconvulsive treatment, he felt that he could guarantee amnesia forcertain periods of time and . . . for any knowledge of use of theconvulsive shock.
[The doctor] stated that . . . lower current . . . produced in the indi-vidual excruciating pain and . . . the individual would be quite willing to give information if threatened with the use of thismachine.
Electroshock to the head sufficient to cause loss of consciousnessand motor convulsions results in retrograde amnesia for the shockand preceding ten minutes (Shorter & Healy, 2007). None the less,there is evidence that the fear associated with the shock remains(Fox, 1993), as in fear conditioning. It follows that shock mightcause programming to be registered fairly indelibly, albeit uncon-sciously.
Tien and Cameron used electroshock to respectively “erase” and“depattern” the mind. Post-electroshock, both found the mind morereceptive to suggestion, consistent with survivor reports.
Many survivors report extensive use of electroshock to condi-tion behaviour and to induce new self-states to form, often to theirgenitals and extremities. Gresch (2009, personal communication)states,
I was tortured with electricity most of the time. Most survivors willprobably report electric torture at the genitals . . . The perpetratorhas a hand gear with which he can lead electricity to the penis orvagina of his victim.
Shock level is easily modulated. Threats to increase shock, promisesto stop, etc., ensure compliance. It is easily classically conditioned toneutral stimuli that can be used as triggers. An electrician explains,
The mental portion of shock is so intense . . . My cell phone vibratesand I get a fear reaction. It contracts the whole body. I can’t thinkof any other form of torture that would give a torturer any morecontrol.
Coercive hypnosis and manipulation of the imagination
Survivors report that hypnosis is the basis of much mind-control.MKULTRA documents provide extensive evidence of CIA interestin covert, coercive hypnosis (1) to block conscious processing andinduce amnesia, (2) to induce dissociative states, (3) to make indi-viduals execute “unethical actions”, combined with drugs, after electroshock, during sleep, with auditory and visual stimuli, andafter physical duress such as forced wakeful states, and (4) to createpost-hypnotic assassins (MORI ID 144686, 017395, 017441, 190691,190713). Estabrooks, one of the MKULTRA doctors, “publiclyacknowledged the building of Manchurian Candidates” (Ross,2000, p. 159).
Research has shown that one type of highly responsive hypnoticsubject, the “amnesia-prone” individual, is likely to have beenabused as a child and to have dissociative symptoms (Barber, 2000).
Mind control survivors are dissociation-prone, amnesia-prone,and fear-conditioned to submit to their trainers. Receptiveness tohypnosis “involves the intentional evocation of a special state char-acterized by focused attention” (Putnam & Carlson, 2002). Sur-vivors are primed for states of intense, narrow attention to environ-mental cues to ensure survival. A psychologist-survivor (2008)explains, “Fear focuses attention intensely, and survival informa-tion is encoded deeply.”
Rutz (2003) explains that her programming was eventuallyaccomplished with hypnosis alone:
All the programming that was done to me by the CIA andIlluminati was trauma-based using things like electroshock,sensory deprivation, and drugs. Later the trauma wasn’t necessary,only hypnosis accomplished with implanted triggers and occa-sional tune-ups . . .
Rutz reports that Gottlieb, her programmer, also induced new self-states, “Baby” and “Guy”, to form through hypnotic commandsunaccompanied by torture.
Preschool children often make little distinction between realityand fantasy, actual events and pretend play. Programming begun inearly childhood exploits their magical thinking and high hypnotiz-ability. Programmers know that fantastic perceptions and beliefs“implanted” in the first four years of life will “stick”, especially if“installed” in self-states dissociated from the host. Effects areenhanced by dependence on the programmer, “attaching” ominousentities, models, hallucinogens, and use of film.
This vignette illustrates the suggestibility of a frightened youngchild. Until she remembered this event, she was paralysed by thesight of maggots:
[T]here was beating and rape at the [abusers’ house] that generallyended with the body having to clean up the rotten fruit [withmaggots]. There was the same basic message . . . every time. Theytold her the maggots were the first sign they knew the body wastalking. They [abusers] would send that to the body. It was the firstwarning . . . “The truth of speaking out carries on the wings of theflies”. Then, the flies would bring back the warning . . . They said,“Flies are not of nature; they are witnesses to death, that’s whatcreates the maggots, to eat the dead body.”
Survivor Lynn Schirmer (2008, personal communication)explains use of story characters to develop self-states:
Elements of the Wizard of Oz movie were used in programming,especially the bit (in my case) about having no brain. Generally thiswas used to remind major alters inside of their limitations, that theycan’t access certain parts or memories, and calls up programmingthat induces a hazy air-headed feeling. They actually played thelittle Tin man song in the lab room.
Much programming relies on illusions and films, often com-bined with torture and drugs to increase suggestibility. Programmergoals in staging these events include making self-states perceive (1)that their abusers have magical power, usually over life and death;(2) that a harmful object or entity was installed; (3) that the victimwas tortured, as in the film/drama; (4) that the victim behaved as inthe film, for example, sexual films to build sexual alters, concentra-tion camp films to form prisoner or torturer alters; (5) that otherswere killed due to victim disobedience; (6) that the victim harmedor killed others; (7) that personalities have died; (8) that the victimhas powers of astral travel and psychic assassination.
Many survivors report being drugged, strapped to an elec-troshock device, and forced to watch a film that shows a child withsimilar features strapped to the same device. Victims believe theyare watching themselves. One survivor described a camera point-ing at her to further cement the illusion. Terror and helplessness arecompounded because no movement or vocalization effects the“self” in the film.
Many survivors who initially believed they were tortured inNazi concentration camps later realized that these memories wereblack and white and that a number flashed at the beginning of the memory. They then realized that they were forced to watch aSecond World War Nazi film.
In her Kabalah-Training Document, this anonymous survivordescribes her programmers’ tricks:
The perpetrators believe that when the eyelids are closed the lightthat is seen through them confuses the mind making it unable totell the difference between reality and fantasy. You can tell themthey have been abducted by aliens and tell them what they areseeing in the alien ship. You can tell them that they have hadsurgery, and that a device for keeping track of them is hiddenunder their scalp. You can tell them that the eye of Lucifer has beenplaced in their stomachs to keep an eye on them . . . As long as asmall cut or scar of some kind is done at the same time, they willbelieve the eye of Lucifer has been placed in their stomachs to keepan eye on them, and they will believe it forever.
Survivor Patricia Baird Clark (2001) describes use of models andhypnosis to install her inner world:
. . . a child may be . . . shown a castle . . . She spends several days inthe castle going through painful, terrifying rituals in many of therooms. She is forced to memorize the castle’s entire layout. Therewill be a small replica of the castle much like an architectural model. . . Once this has been memorized, she is subjected to magicsurgery. A tiny replica of the castle is shown to the child and she istold that it is being placed inside. The castle is now “within” . . . Inthis person’s inner world she can now walk through the rooms andthis castle has become as real to her in the spiritual dimension as ithad been in the physical world.
In subsequent rituals . . . the alters formed will be assigned to livein various rooms. These rooms are guarded by demons and boobytraps are placed in strategic places so there is no escape . . . Thesecastles have cold, dark dungeons filled with rats and snakes alongwith torture rooms . . .
Manipulation of attachment needs
Fear-driven attachment to one’s abusers is endemic to severe abuse.Van der Kolk (1989) explains, “. . . children in particular, seek increased attachment in the face of external danger . . . When thereis no access to ordinary sources of comfort, people may turn towardtheir tormentors” (p. 396).
In extreme abuse, appeasing the abuser subverts all self-advo-cacy. Schwartz (2000) explains, “The shocking absence of any angerat the perpetrators is entrenched and stays intact, as thoughprolonged immersion in sadistic abuse and extreme trauma bond-ing have almost completely reversed the self-protection system ofthe survivor” (p. 314).
Most mind control survivors recall their programmers develop-ing bonds with key ego states beginning in the first few years of lifeas long-term tools of control, often designating themselves as“Daddy” or “Mummy” of particular ego states. Carol Rutz recallsSidney Gottlieb telling her new alter, “Baby”,
“I am you mammer and your papper. You love only me, and I amthe only one who loves you. I feed you and hold you, and you aremine alone” . . . Our baby part grew to love and depend on “DaddySid” as her only source of love and nourishment. From that dayforward, a deep bonding took place . . . No matter what experimenthe was to make me a part of, I would love and remain loyal to theman who my baby alter considered sole supplier of the basics oflife, food, and love. [Rutz, 2001, p. 19]
A psychologist-survivor (2009) explains the readiness of newlyformed states to bond to abusers:
The newly formed tabula-rasa state will naturally attach to theabuser. This is a survival-based physiologically driven bondingresponse. If the abuser says; “You are Samantha, I am your Daddy,I love you, you belong to me, you will come when I call,” this istaken in uncritically.
Consistent with object relations and attachment theory, Greschbelieves that identity develops within significant relationships. Forself-states induced to form within torture, the significant other isthe programmer. Accordingly, it defines itself by the interactionswithin that moulding process, whether that be stories, hypnotism,torture-based conditioning, etc. By design, it has no motives of itsown, except to avoid torture through complete submission to theabuser.
“Good cop–bad cop” and intermittent reinforcement are alsoused to build bonds. Children “excuse” and dissociate massiveamounts of abuse to earn a pittance of highly “conditional” love.Svali explains,
[T]he child is left alone, for . . . hours, to an entire day as the childgrows older. If the child begs the adult to stay, and not leave, orscreams, the child is beaten . . . The trainer will then “rescue” thechild, feed and give it something to drink and bond with the childas their “saviour”. 
Svali (ibid.) explains that her abusers conditioned babies to associatenurturing and attention with night-time and rituals, and abandon-ment with daytime, a time of no rituals, so that the infant “eventu-ally will associate cult gatherings with feelings of security”.
Bonds of romantic love are also exploited, including ritualmarriages between ego states and key abusers. Two children aresometimes married to exploit each child for long-term control ofboth. Such “weddings” often include exchange of bodily fluids to“attach” the spirits of each child to the other.
Programmers understand that genuine loving bonds are a greatthreat to ongoing control. The need for love may override the fearof torture, helping victims break free. So, sophisticated abusers seekto extinguish all hope for love. Protectors may be impersonated, ordrugged and brought to events, to make them appear as abusers.
Set-ups are used to destroy trust in law enforcement and childprotection. One victim was made to believe that fire sirens meantthat her abusers were watching. Police sirens played during abuse,and abusers in police uniforms, further cement fear. Many abusergroups include actual police officers.
Psychotherapy may be the greatest threat to programming.Many survivors report that when they begin therapy, their abusersintensify their programming to reinforce “Don’t remember–Don’ttell” programming and to bolster “reporter” self-states to monitorany threats to programme integrity.
Exploitation of defensive identification with the aggressor
Mind control victims are essentially hostages, dependent on theirabusers for their lives. Accordingly, ego states usually form who deny their own needs and identify with their abusers (Frankel &O’Hearn, 1996). Such ego-states may align with ideologies of theirabusers (Stockholm Syndrome), including “national security” andspiritual ideologies, and often terrorize other self-states internally.
Programmers build on these defensive and survival responses,with characteristic pre-meditation, to serve their own ends.
Svali (1996) explains,
Many trainers will put themselves in the person, over the internalprogrammers or trainers . . . The survivor may be horrified to finda representative of one of their worst perpetrators inside, but thiswas a survival mechanism . . . The survivor may mimic accents,mannerisms, even claim the perpetrator’s life history as theirown.
Ritual abuse and mind control victims are usually forced toharm others as soon as physically able. Toddlers are made to “kill”animals, even if their hands must be forced. “Claims” or namesdesignating them as “Murderer”, “Evil”, etc., “cement” these beliefsin targeted self-states.
No-win double-binds force victims to believe they freely“chose” to abuse others. Survivor Lois Einhorn, PhD (2006),explains,
I continually face “choices” as my parents ask me unanswerablequestions: “Do you want to be hit or hit your sister?” “Do you wantto have darts thrown at your front or throw them at your sister’sfront?” “Do you want to have a wire hanger put in you or do thisto an animal?” . . . Through being hit with a switch, we play, “Howhigh can we make my little tushi jump?” My father, mother, andsister each take turns and keep score. If my sister loses, she is hitfurther. [p. 4]
Rage is manipulated to form abuser alters. Many survivorsreport being subjected to days-long torture to induce rage-filledparts to form, who are then trained as soldiers or warriors. Svali(1996) explains:
. . . The child is severely beaten, for a long period of time, by thetrainer, then told to hit the other child in the room, or they will bebeaten further. If the child refuses, it is punished severely, the other child is punished as well, then the child is told to punish the otherchild. If the child continues to refuse, or cries, or tries to hit thetrainer instead, they will continue to be beaten severely, and told tohit the other child, to direct its anger at the other child. This step isrepeated until the child finally complies . . . The child will be taughtthat this is the acceptable outlet for the aggressive impulses andrage that are created by the brutality the child is constantly beingexposed to.
Many abuser groups falsely promise key ego states that if theyare loyal and obedient, they will eventually attain positions ofpower and reduced abuse. Most survivors have ego states whobelieve they were “chosen” for priest and priestess positions. Theseego states are often amnestic for much of their early abuse, and onlylater realize that positions of power in their abuser group are onlyearned by “being able to take more pain” than other members.
Many abuser groups ultimately seek to develop individualswho consciously choose to be abusers. In the following description,Kernberg (1994) explains that the antisocial personality develops ina world of sadistic persecutors. This accurately depicts the world ofmind control victims:
The antisocial personality proper may be conceived as a charactero-logic structure so dominated by hatred that primitive, split-offidealizations are no longer possible, the world is populated exclu-sively by hated, hateful, sadistic persecutors, and to triumph in sucha terrifying world can only occur by becoming oneself a hatefulpersecutor as the only alternative to destruction and suicide. [p. 701]
Svali (1996) explains that her abusers subjected children to“betrayal programming” to squelch all loving bonds and to createa world limited to “hated, hateful, sadistic persecutors” to yield anantisocial psychic structure, a “willing” persecutor. Young childrenwere given “saviours”, only to have these adults later betray them.Children were given so-called “twins” with whom to develop closebonds, only to be later forced to hurt or kill that “twin”.
Schwartz (2000) explains that addiction to power is the outcomein such sub-cultures:
Those who have not been personally exposed to those extremesmay be unable fully to appreciate the compelling, corrupting, degenerative spiral of extreme power obsessions. History hasshown that once an individual or group becomes inflated withpower (Hitler, Idi Amin, Pol Pot, the Duvaliers, Stalin, to name afew), a pattern of extravagant sadism, wanton cruelty, and irra-tional and ultimately self-destructive binges of exhibitionisticviolence leads to eventual explosion or collapse. History has yet toreveal that these same diabolical dynamics are at work outside thecontext of war and politics—in perpetrator groups inflicting theirpower on children worldwide in the form of unimaginable abuse.[p. 319]
Manipulation of “free will” and “the spirit”
The concepts of “free will” and “the spirit” diverge from the moretraditional psychological concepts discussed thus far. However,many mind-control survivors report that the will and spirit werethe most sought-after prizes of their abusers.
Gresch (personal communication, 2009) explains that program-mers go to great lengths to get victims to submit to their will:
The goal of mind control is total obedience. But, the absolute sover-eign of the inner world is the individual. A human being can’t betotally obedient unless he or she has decided to be. So the torturermust make his victim believe that total obedience is the best choice. . . An artfully tailored system of mechanisms subconsciously linksevery idea to resist with the experience of annihilating torture.
Victims of espionage-based mind control describe most of theirprogrammers as strict behaviourists and brain scientists who exclu-sively seek control of the mind and will.
Abusive cults also seek to control the spirit. This survivorrecounts use of drugs, hypnosis, formal “claims” and “attach-ments” to “trap” her spirit: “He drugged me. He said that he putmy heart [spirit] in a chest with a lock. He put his heart over myheart, and said, ‘Your heart is mine, my heart is yours, I hold thekey to your heart.”
Survivors of both espionage and ritual groups commonly report“anti-God” programming. Faith in a loving God provides hope andsupport, both threats to mind control. Programmers mix torture and illusion to induce fear of God. Some victims report electroshockby the “hand of God”. Many victims are programmed to invert allJudeo-Christian terms, to reverse “God” and “Satan”, love andhate, and all prayers. Victims commonly experience aversions toGod, religion, and houses of worship. In sophisticated witchcraftabuse, a full half of the self-state system may reject God as a threat.
Both technological and spiritual programmers manipulatevictims into defining themselves as shameful, evil, and unworthy ofbelonging anywhere but in the abuser group. Fotheringham (2008)explains that her abusers’ Catch-22 set-ups left her with “soul-dead-ening shame”:
At age 5, the death and dissection of a kitten was proof of the blacksoldier alter being able to “stomach the job,” and at 6, a test prov-ing “family loyalty” forced a choice for the dark blue alter betweenletting my little brother get hurt or letting our pet rabbit suffer anddie . . . [A]ny capitulation in such double-bind situations left mewith crippling, soul-deadening shame, guilt, powerlessness andhelplessness, especially in the presence of people with authority or“good, decent people.” [p. 507]
This psychologist-survivor (2009) describes the Machiavelliantactics used to make her feel aligned with the devil:
They put me in a wooden casket and buried me . . . I heard thesound of shovels full of dirt hitting the top of the casket in arhythm. Then I heard nothing. It was pitch-black dark. It was hardto breathe because there was dust in the air. Then, it goes blank. Ibelieve I passed out from terror, lack of air, and believing I wasdead . . . Then, I heard a sound and it was faint, then louder, thenfinally a shovel hitting the casket . . . I was yanked out by the sameperson who buried me. He said that people do not come back fromthe dead unless they make a deal with the devil, and he laughed ina sneering way. Then he said I had a choice. He said, “Get back inthe casket, or do X.” This happened many times. The things I hadto do to stay out of the casket were horrible, including sexual actsusing animal parts, and hurting other people and animals. If Iwould not do as he said or get in the casket willingly, he wouldforce me into the casket with spiders. When I came out, he said thatI was not bitten because spiders do not bite people with bad blood.If I did the abuse he ordered, he said, “Look what you did, you are just like us, you are as evil as us, if you ever tell anyone, they willknow you are as evil as us.”
The “soul-deadening shame” of recalling the harm done toothers is the point where many survivors abandon their healingjourneys, a trap intentionally set by programmers. Schwartz (2000)explains that in victims who were made to harm others, “Iden-tifying with abusers’ ideologies and motivations not only sustainsattachment [to abusers], but allows victims to endure excruciating,otherwise intolerable guilt and shame” (p. 299). Defensive dissoci-ation of the excruciating pain of facing that one harmed anotherhuman being may be the greatest driving force behind the compul-sion to repeat evil in general.
Psychotherapeutic approaches to overcoming mind control
In my experience, the process of discovering and overcomingprogramming is facilitated by having as much knowledge of pro-gramming as possible, means of working with survivors to obtaininformation about their programming, methods to effect deep innerchange such that the programming is no longer effective, and stabi-lization and containment strategies to support the survivor duringthese processes.
I believe that most people need the support of another person tobecome conscious of, and to overcome, programming. This isnormally a therapist, but is sometimes a clergyperson, friend, orsignificant other. For some survivor-therapists, it is a colleague. Butrarely can a survivor look at programming trauma alone, even withestablished psychotherapeutic tools and a strong spiritual base. It isusually too painful, frightening, and disorientating to face withoutan external anchor for support.
“Don’t remember”, “Don’t tell”, and anti-therapy programming
Based on my work with clients and my interviews with othersurvivors, I have come to believe that programmers put as much,or greater, effort into “cover-up” programming to try to keep their victims from developing conscious awareness of their program-ming as they put into the agenda-driven programming itself. When“Don’t remember” and “Don’t tell” programming are overcome,the rest of the programming is much more easily made consciousand overcome.
Thus, when “Don’t remember” and “Don’t tell” programmingare “activated”, this not a time-wasting obstacle, but a primaryproblem requiring resolution. Working through this programmingcan be understood as an opportunity to analyse the resistance.Thompson (2004) explains, “[A]nalysts who ‘analyze’ the resistanceendeavor to turn the tables on it by making the resistance, notmerely an artifact of the treatment, but the focus of it” (p. 130).
When working with survivors of mind control, what wenormally think of as “resistance” is compounded by the fact that itwas deliberately “installed” and is “fuelled” by dissociated self-states who perceive their abuse as ongoing. By abuser design, thedeterminants of this resistance are less consciously available. But,the source of this resistance is the very programming we seek toresolve.
It is important not to “blame the survivor” for these “blocks”.High motivation is necessary to resolve programming, but isusually not enough alone.
Many well-meaning clergy make the mistake of believing thatfree will, deep spiritual faith, and asking God to reveal the truthshould be enough to discover and resolve all programming. Butprogrammers understand the power of faith and programme theirvictims against God. Even deeply religious survivors often strugglewith aversive reactions to the word “God”, prayer, etc., based inunconscious anti-God programming. For some survivors, choosingan atypical word to refer to God reduces the effects of such pro-gramming. For others, more creative circumventions are required.
In ritual abuse groups low in programming sophistication,“don’t remember” programming may be the most severe, deeplyburied trauma. A victim of such a group was attempting to workthrough a ritual when she saw flashes of coloured light. In explor-ing the meaning of the lights, she recalled, “You tell, you die.” Shediscovered that as a small child, she had begun to tell an aunt of herabuse. Her abusers took her to more advanced programmers tosilence her. These programmers electroshocked her repeatedly, each time saying, “You tell, you die.” Once this became conscious, shewas able to change these words to “I choose to live”. With supportand guidance for each step, she was able to ask her spiritual sourceto go into the programming room, push the abusers away fromherself, destroy the electroshock equipment, pick up the self-statesformed by this trauma, and bring them to an inner healing placeshe had already created. Thereafter, the only “blocks” while work-ing through the rituals were perceived “spiritual attachments” fromrituals.
Gresch (personal communication, 2009), explains that one of hisself-states was programmed to prevent any progress in psychother-apy:
One of my “alters” was trained to behave properly in psychothera-peutic situations. I was conditioned to refrain from psychotherapy,but the perpetrators know that no programming is perfect. So theyteach their slaves how to be a very, very compliant, and sometimesa resistant client who gives his or her therapist the feeling of healingand progress where there really is none. Be sure that whenever in apsychotherapeutic situation, alters appear and execute theirprograms. If the survivor is not recalling and defying the abuse andprogramming, then the perpetrators are holding the reins.
Many survivors are also programmed against the use of hypno-sis by anyone but their programmers and handlers, since hypnosisis an effective means of obtaining information from the unconsciousmind and in overcoming programming. Hypnosis is also a basictool in programming and, therefore, very frightening to manysurvivors. Many therapists have learned to never use formal hyp-nosis or the term, “hypnosis”, when working with mind controlsurvivors. However, this does not limit the therapy process in thatsurvivors of mind control are generally adept at narrowing andintensifying the focus of their attention, as in hypnosis, and readilyuse imagery of their own volition.
Knowledge of programming
I believe that therapists working with survivors of mind controlmust be students of programming. The more we understand, the more we recognize signs of various kinds of programming, and themore easily we can formulate the right questions to help our clientsdiscover their programming. When we demonstrate some level ofcomfort in asking about programming and working with it, webegin to earn the trust of dissociated self-states.
I believe that complete “neutrality” and use of only open-endedquestions has a high risk of promoting many “false negatives” inritually abused and programmed clients. I have observed thatneutral questions, such as, “and then what happened?”, often leaveclients too alone in their fear, causing much trauma to remain disso-ciated, often indefinitely. Focused questions allow for more mater-ial to come forward. For example, asking, “Was anyone elseinvolved?”, lets survivors know we are open to hearing of multi-perpetrator abuse. Asking, “Was it perceived that anything wasattached in that abuse?”, lets survivors know we are open to workwith perceived spiritual aspects of the abuse. Asking whetheranything was done to intentionally control the mind opens thesubject of mind control.
Proponents of “false memory syndrome” will argue that weshould not formulate questions based on prior knowledge, that thisinfluences our clients to produce false memories. I agree there is arisk of generating confusion and acquiescence if therapists askquestions that assume the unstated. However, questions that aretoo general often fail to communicate that the therapist under-stands enough to help.
For example, if a client recalls torture in a concentration camp,questions about whether the memory is in colour or black andwhite may reveal that the memory involved viewing an old film.One survivor recalled that Satan revived a dead animal. Whenasked about the position of the body and what the body was wear-ing, she recalled being strapped in a chair rigged for torture andwearing a helmet with virtual reality goggles.
A more complex example is sophisticated electroshock pro-gramming. One or more coloured wires might be attached to thechest, head, genitals, extremities, etc. Programmed self-states mayperceive that they are wired together and that they can only bedetached from the electroshock device by cutting the wires in aparticular order, turning down the electricity in specified incre-ments, removing attached explosive devices, etc. If done out of order, programmed self-states might perceive the explosive devicesat the end of the wires to detonate. Informed questions can help aclient feel safe enough to remember this kind of programming: forexample, “Where are the wires connected to [each alter]?”, “Howmany wires are connected to [each location]?”, “What are thecolours of those wires?”, “Is there anything at the end of thatwire?”, “Do any wires connect one [alter] to another?”, “Is thereanything more we need to know about the wires?” In contrast, thereliability of the information might be weakened and fear may beinduced by asking, “Is there an explosive device at the end of thatwire?”
Informed questions are also helpful in working through abusiverituals. Significant information may be learned by asking whodressed the child and how. Witchcraft abusers often place jewellery,painted words, body substances, etc., on victims to “attach” them-selves. It may help to ask who brought the child to the event, whowas there, if artefacts were used and their significance, etc. Sinceabusers often compete for spiritual dominance of victims, it is oftenrevealing to ask, “Did anyone else do anything to harm the childbefore or after this event?” If such questions are not asked,survivors will sometimes work through a ritual without discover-ing and resolving the most adverse and controlling elements.
The more we know about programming, the more skilfully wecan also side-step programmed self-destruction, health, and mentalhealth consequences. The host may be determined to defy all suchprogramming. However, the entire programmed purpose of someself-states is to trigger punishment programming, and these func-tions are executed independently of the host.
For example, complex programmes have “failsafes”, such asbombs, booby-traps, back-ups, and re-sets. Programmes may benetworked to activate multiple programmes if there is interferencewith any one programme. Sophisticated programmers installremoval procedures, including codes, so they can remove, replace,and redo programmes. Removal of such programmes requires acautious, methodical approach. If the programmer said a specificremoval code must be used, the affected self-states often perceivethat only that exact code can erase that programme. To these self-states, the programmer may be perceived as God. Generally, toremove such programming, the exact code must be found, the programmed removal steps followed, and each element undonewithin the reality of the programmed self-states.
I will not minimize the difficulty of researching programming.“Don’t remember” programming makes reliable information hardto come by. And there are so many kinds of programmes, it is adaunting task. Additionally, there is much misinformation, as wellas probably deliberate disinformation, on the Internet.
None the less, we can learn much from survivors’ writtenaccounts and from consultation with survivors and colleagues.Information about specific forms of programming is often too sensi-tive for large Internet forums. There is a risk that specific case exam-ples can get back to a client’s abusers and that those abusers mayretaliate against that client for “telling”. Inexperienced therapistsmay disclose too much detail to clients, resulting in fear, confusion,or negative programming consequences. Generally, therapistsworking with mind control survivors “play our cards close to ourchests” so that we do not help programmers outpace us with theirstrategies. As one survivor told me, “You are part of the experi-ment.”
It has been my experience that almost all survivors of ritual abuseand mind control benefit from the use of a formal process to“protect the space” prior to depth therapy work to overcome pro-gramming.
I tell my clients that when they are in my office, it is a place dedi-cated solely to their healing, and that both they and I have the rightand the power to assert our will to protect the sanctity of this placefrom anyone or anything that might intend otherwise.
Most clients benefit from the use of a formal declaration orprayer for this purpose. For many non-religious clients, their decla-ration is simply a setting of an intention. It may begin with, “By mywill”, “I declare”, etc. Religious clients may do the same, or pray to,or in the name of, their spiritual source.
Before depth work, I ask my clients if they want to say theirdeclaration/prayer or have me say it. Almost always, they choosefor me to say it. The effect is very calming and focusing.
This sample declaration is by an atheist:
All energies and entities that are not part of our true self must leaveimmediately to at least 50 feet away from all sides of this place. Thisis my place to heal. No entry of any kind is permitted for anyreason. Nothing can be seen, heard, or felt in any way by any entitynot a part of our self. I do not permit any thoughts, distortions,manipulations, videos, pictures, fears, sickness, pain, or other feel-ings to enter. This is my place of healing. All entities must comply.
Using this declaration, material could be discovered and processedthat was previously blocked. When, none the less, the work becameblocked, reasserting the declaration unblocked it.
This prayer/declaration is by a survivor with a broad-based, vs.specifically religious, faith in God:
In God’s Divine Light and Love, I command any parts not truly mycreation that do not serve the truth and light of the Creator to leavenow, never to return. I bless them and send them back to theirsource and their family.
Clients who discover victimization by witchcraft cults oftendeclare or pray protection against the kinds of spiritual attack usedby such abusers, including refusing parts of their abusers’ spirits,their demons, curses, hexes, vexes, threats, closing portals, andturning back astral pathways. Victims of such cults often sense thatparticular “forms of evil” are being sent as we begin a session, andoccasionally within the work. This is usually more easily managedthan a “block” based in prior spiritual programming, which usuallymust be made conscious and resolved. Most clients find that theyneed only, in prayer or declaration, refuse to allow each form of per-ceived attack. This generally “clears” the way for the work toproceed and reduces any perceived interference later in the session.
Making programming conscious
Programming works when it remains intact and undisturbed indissociated self-states and in the unconscious mind. Conversely,programming is disabled when it becomes conscious and is thendefied or changed.
I use the term “defiance” to refer to the assertion of one’s willagainst doing or believing as one’s abusers and programmersdirected, trained, conditioned, hypno-suggested, claimed, etc. I use“change” to refer to making modifications in the unconscious mind,inner world, or self-states. The survivor may relocate a self-statefrom a site of torture to a healing place in the inner world. Pro-grammed directives and claims can be changed to self-affirmingstatements, as in the survivor who replaced, “You tell, you die”,with “I choose to live”. Toxins, explosive substances, and drugs canbe removed in prayer by a spiritual source or “beamed out” as perStar Trek. Programme removal codes can “erase” programmedstructures from the internal landscape. Programme reset codes canbe changed to impossible stimuli, for example, a one-inch tall babygiraffe with peppermint breath whistling Dixie. Perceived malevo-lent human spirits and entities can be expelled by assertion of willor prayer. Once these modifications are made in the inner world,they tend to “stick” and do not require ongoing conscious effort.What programmers initially established in the inner world throughtorture, illusion, and hypno-suggestion, the survivor now re-sculptsin ways that serve the self.
Another necessary quality is the desire, perhaps the decision, toface the past trauma. The significance of this decision is eloquentlyshared here by Rutz (2003). I share this with many clients:
In those early days as the bits and pieces of my life were expressedon the pages of my journal I was afraid all of the time—24–7. I wasflooded with memories, flashbacks, and nightmares. Fear was mynumber one major obstacle to overcome before any real work couldbe done. I was afraid of remembering and I was afraid not toremember. I was afraid the cult would somehow know I was talk-ing and send someone to exterminate me. I was afraid the memo-ries were really true. I was afraid I was a liar and for some reasonmaking it all up. I eventually came to accept and know that nomatter what; I had already lived through the worst. Remembering,understanding, feeling and incorporating those experiences was thepathway I walked to slowly integrate my alters.
Fear consumed me until I finally let go and allowed the details ofmy life to flow from my mind to the paper and then in therapythrough my mouth. I found that letting my alters finally have avoice and speak the truth was the only way through the fear. My alters found painting and drawing to be a perfect expression forgetting scenes recorded—peoples [sic] faces, places, buildings, cere-monies. I never knew what was going to be painted or drawn, I justgave my alters free reign. Years later when I actually was able tomatch real people and places with these, the validation was over-whelmingly powerful and helped me to understand what trulyhappened to me.
“Who” works in therapy to overcome programming?
The work of becoming conscious of programming, defying andchanging it, is accomplished in a highly focused mental state. Theintense affect associated with discovering this trauma must beeither tolerated, distanced from defensively, symbolically con-tained, or regulated with intense cognitive focus, as LeDoux (1996)suggests, “getting the cortex to control the amygdala”. At the closeof the session, the survivor is usually both physically and mentallyexhausted.
“Who” in the self-state system needs to do this work? Who cantolerate it?
For many years, I thought that the host must be the ego state towork with in therapy to discover and resolve programming. Thiswas based on work with a number of survivors with strong hostswho embodied much “true self” and who functioned somewhat asa hub for the entire self-state system.
However, in some cases, the host functions more as a superficialshell, like a chameleon adapting to each setting, or as a pro-grammed façade, than as “true self” acting on its own behalf. Thiskind of host is inadequately connected to the survivor’s needs andhistory, and lacks the emotional forbearance to face the abuse.However, as other ego-states successfully address programming, aninitially weak host often becomes more “real”, “full”, and able totolerate painful and frightening memories.
Relatively developed ego states with a significant sense of selfthat extends beyond the torture they endured, and who seek thehighest good for the whole self, can sometimes engage in therapyto work through programming. In some cases, these are “hard”,“tough”, rebellious ego states, not aligned with the aggressor, but true advocates for the self. Their detachment from vulnerableemotions is a tool that often helps them confront memories oftorture.
Sometimes, ego states originally heavily programmed forsystem oversight functions decide to defy their abusers and change“sides”. These ego states know much more than their own experi-ence, having been programmed for key monitoring functions, suchas recorder and reporter alters, or regulatory functions, such asalters that control “switching” between the host and programmedself-states, or system leadership roles, such as alters with significantstatus in their abuser groups.
Gresch (personal communication, 2009) worked through hisprogramming with the help of his “mediator”, programmed assystem administrator to (1) steer his front personality, which wasonly a staged façade, and keep it amnestic for the programming,(2) deactivate his “kernel” (original self), and (3) ensure that historture-hypno-conditioned alters, all off-shoots of the mediator,executed their duties as directed. When the mediator decided todefy his programmers, its knowledge of the system helped over-come the programming.
Miller (2008) discusses the importance of working with systemleaders, especially those who believed their abusers’ lies, falsepromises, and threats, to discover their abusers’ deceptions and togain the co-operation of the alters beneath them in the internal hier-archy. Then, internal observer and recorder alters can assist thetherapist in selecting the most critical memories that need to beworked through.
Fotheringham (2008) had a self-created record keeper who hidboxes of records unbeknown to her abusers. This alter was able tolater help her work through memories of the abuse:
Unbeknownst to my handler and trainers, a record keeper altersplit off and got stuck at age eight, due to an overload of righteousoutrage and hate from witnessing and recording too much hateful,horrific wrongness and injustice. Most of the “boxes of records”were kept by this alter and hidden in my inner tunnels. Luckily,“files in folders” had recently been introduced and instituted asthe main storage system of my inner world, so this absence amaz-ingly went unnoted, and the records remained pure and intact untilthis alter was discovered in my late 30’s [sic]. As a result of this particular split, a significant piece of my natural activist/defendervoice escaped later “adjustments and fine-tuning,” and was nevercaught in the “shutdown and discard” programming whichhappened later. [p. 510]
Many survivors have the experience that parts of the self wentout-of-body during abusive events and saw the events from a bird’seye-view. Other ego states were perceived to hide within the bodyas they watched the abuse. From these vantage points, these partsoften “see” through abusers’ illusions, disguises, tricks, film, etc.,and have more knowledge than directly tortured self-states.
Victims of abusive witchcraft often have a hidden ego state whowas largely self-created to fend for itself in the world of abusers.This ego state often “watches” the abuse as it occurs. At some point,especially within a respectful therapy relationship, this part mayquestion the world-view, theology, and agenda of the abusers. Thispart can be of tremendous help in resolving programming if it joinsforces with the true self or a strong host. However, these significantkinds of shifts do not tend to happen early in the recovery process.
In many cases, memories of programming are initially regis-tered in a multitude of self-states, and these alters join forces toprocess these. Many therapists invite all self-states affected by aparticular event to meet in an internal therapy room to go throughthe event. Fotheringham (2008) explains,
[E]xperiences were . . . often fragmented as they occurred. Thismeant that one alter could be “out” for an event, while one or moreof [the] base alters “siphoned off” the feelings, emotional states,and/or pain that went with whatever was experienced, withouttruly being out in the body. Due to this, each alter’s piece of thememory had to be accessed and addressed before the whole expe-rience could be considered reclaimed and healed. [p. 497]
Fotheringham (personal communication, 2010) explains that herhost and alters worked together to discover her programming. Herhost provided intention and focus by deepening into whateveremotional or somatic state she was experiencing. She focused onthe feeling and how she felt it in her body, asking, “What’s this feel-ing about; where does it come from? What is it connected to? Whatis its root cause? What does this feeling have to tell me?” (seeWatkins’s “affect bridge”, 1971, and “somatic bridge”, 1992). Then, her trauma-bearing states, and states perceived to have observedthe abuse, often from out of the body, would share the memories.She found that her emotions were, in essence, a synthesis of hertrauma experiences, and her greatest tool in guiding her to discoverher memories.
Rutz (personal communication, 2009) similarly found that allinvolved alters had to contribute to resolve their programming,often by initially addressing the fear of the alter in the greatest pain:
[I]f it was a ritual abuse situation, it was possible that four or fivealters would be part of it. One for the pain, one for the ritual, onefor being transported, etc. etc. . . . I think that the reason many DIDpeople have trouble recalling what happened to them is that youmost always have many different alters as part of one situation. Itis not possible to recall the entire event unless you get the perspec-tive of each alter involved. If you can work through the fear of thealter presenting with all the pain, you have the possibility of actu-ally reaching the rest. Many times I would remember events back-wards, and then lastly put it all together and understand and feelthe ramifications of it all.
In some cases, the above methods are adequate to discover andresolve programming. In other cases, many programmed self-statesare “frozen” in time and space in sites of torture and are inaccessi-ble to the survivor and therapist. If they “come forward”, they oftenbring overwhelming pain, terror, and drugged states with them,restricting the capacity for mental focus, and flooding the psychewith their distress. Many self-states cannot participate because theyare too fragmentary, limited to the function they originally servedduring the abuse to suffer pain or terror or perform a circumscribedbehaviour.
Much programming is held in place by self-states in hiding.Many hide in terror. Some are hidden in compliance with torture-hypnotic directives to “go to” particular locales in the unconsciousmind, and are now “too far away” to be reached, often behind wallsor chasms installed in programming. Some survivors have groupsof self-states programmed to internally “reside” apart from eachother by programmers with different agendas. These groups areusually largely unknown to each other. Even “watchful” parts maynot have been able to witness the entirety of some events.
In victims of ritual abuse, affected self-states often perceivethemselves to be controlled by malevolent spiritual attachments. Itis only after much of the “spiritual programming” is “undone” thatthese self-states feel “free” enough of spiritual evil to participate intherapy in any way.
So, in many cases, the survivor needs more than a strong hostor other strong ego states to work through programming. “Don’ttalk”, “Don’t tell”, and anti-therapy programming are aimed atsilencing hosts and other key ego states. Registration of program-ming events is often spread across many self-states, many hidden.Some self-states are obedient or loyal to their abusers. Some believethe theology or illusions, tricks, and lies of their abusers. And someprogramming is placed directly in the unconscious mind,“beneath” the level of all self-states.
How can the survivor overcome these barriers to consciously processing their programming?
Obtaining a meta-view
One solution to many of these obstacles is to work with thesurvivor to develop a means of obtaining a meta-view of thesurvivor’s trauma history and self-state system. A few methods toachieve a meta-view include work with internal self helpers(ISHes), work with a strong self-reflective “true self”, work with theunconscious mind, and work with the survivor’s spiritual source.These are somewhat overlapping constructs and each survivor andtherapist will define them differently.
An internal self helper may be considered a specialized ego stateor a superconsciousness beyond ego states. Many therapists andclients understand it as spiritual in nature; others understand it inpurely psychological terms. Conceptions of the ISH include thespiritual self, spirit, soul, the part connected to God, a higher self,source of inner wisdom, inner guide, co-therapist, observing ego,hidden observer, central organizing force, an ego-state aware of allother self-states (a hub), holder of all memory and life experience,and the unconscious or subconscious mind itself (Adams, 1989;Comstock, 1991).
Some survivors and therapists ask why the wise, system-savvyISH cannot be the host. My observation is that ISHs expend great mental energy to be “up front”. They can sustain this only briefly,although this can be extended, especially within the support of atherapy relationship.
In some people, the “true self” and ISH are much the same. Forothers, an ISH is a specialized ego state that one accesses in a highlyfocused or meditative state, while the “true self” is broader inscope. In internal family systems therapy, the “Self” is consideredto be the undamaged core identity and the “system leader” a ther-apist to the “internal family” (Goulding & Schwartz, 1995; Nichols& Schwartz, 1991). Internal family systems therapists help clientsmove into the position of the “Self” to work with their dissociatedego states. For other therapists, the “true self” is viewed as some-thing that must develop more gradually, through increased capac-ity for self-reflection, genuine expression of affect, integration oftrauma memory, and increased critical thinking (Schwartz, 2000).
For Gresch, only his true self, whom he views as the “one-and-only person”, could discover and overcome his programming.Gresch views all alters, including the host, as originating in this trueself, and having long ago submitted to executing scripted roles inresponse to torture and training designed to break the will. Whenthe survivor becomes aware that he or she “created alters” to com-ply with the abusers, this critical “break-through” allows the trueself to make the choice to defy the programmers and discard theroles and alters. The most challenging step to this critical act of defi-ance is to reduce the fear that had kept these memories and the trueself hidden (personal communication, 2009).
A third means of obtaining a meta-view is to work with theunconscious or subconscious mind (UM). Fortunately, it is notnecessary for my purposes here to attempt to define the elusiveUM. It will suffice to say that therapists and survivors who use theUM as a resource to work through trauma generally view it as aholder of all memory and information about all self-states. Manyalso view it as a source of wisdom, the spiritual self, and theconnection to God.
Work with the client’s spiritual source is also a means to obtaina meta-view. The spiritual source may be God of an established reli-gion, a broader “higher power” or source of love, the spirit within,or light, love, truth, etc. Some survivors prefer an animal that sym-bolizes strength or protection. For some survivors, there are limits to the material that can be obtained through work with a spiritualsource. For other survivors, one’s spiritual source provides an effec-tive meta-view.
Some survivors are able to focus inward to obtain a meta-viewto make their programming conscious, and to overcome it, withoutthe assistance of a therapist, friend, or loved one. They have usuallyalready done a great deal of inner work on themselves, and they areusually currently safe. Some have a strong spiritual foundation.Some use art, writing, or sand trays to increase inner focus. Someneed only the support of an empathic witness to do the work. Somedescribe having internal ISHs who are always working to undoprogramming.
These survivors are the exceptions. In my experience, mostsurvivors cannot do meta-view work unassisted. It requires a stateof deep internal focus and external support is needed to staygrounded. Most survivors also need help to structure and toleratethis hard work. I have found it tremendously helpful for the thera-pist to help the survivor develop a formal procedure to obtain ameta-view to discover programming, to provide much guidance inovercoming it, and to help contain noxious trauma-derived affectand somatic sensations that arise in the process.
Development of a formal procedureto make programming conscious
Before beginning the hard work of making programming consciousand overcoming it, I spend a good deal of time working with clientsto develop tools that create enough structure and safety to do thisdifficult work, that allow for a meta-view of trauma memory andthe self-state system, and that facilitate resolution of programming.These tools include:
- Obtaining a family tree and history, education and workhistory, areas of residence, etc., for future reference.
- Creation of a formal declaration or prayer to “protect thespace” at the start of depth work.
- Maintaining deep respect for the client’s free will. I often ask,“Is it your free will to do this work?” before processing programming. During the work, I often ask, “Do I havepermission to ask . . .?” The choice to proceed, in itself, helpsto reduce anxiety and increase focus. It is important to avoidpower struggles, even when there is risk of harm to self, evenwhen re-contact with abusers may be imminent. Pressure tocontrol any thoughts, feelings, or behaviour is likely to beexperienced as reminiscent of abuser control. Efforts to controlhigh-risk behaviours may be perceived as a promise of moreprotection than the therapist can provide, ultimately leading todisappointment, and can make the client feel disempowered oroverly dependent on the therapist. The therapist can workwith the survivor to increase safety, but the motivation to workto stay safe must originate in the survivor.
- Exploring the client’s deepest values and spiritual beliefs todetermine the role of this “spiritual source” in the work. Beliefsas non-specific as the right to freedom, truth, healing, or lovefor animals can be powerfully applied to resolve program-ming. Spiritual beliefs can help in protecting the safe place,containment strategies, effecting change in the inner world,“rescuing” states from sites of trauma, and for healing of trau-matized states.
- Creating a container to store pain, fear, spinning, body fluids,and drugged and toxic states, in order to reduce flashbacks andflooding, and to side-step programming to re-experiencetrauma. I often say, “There is no value in reliving pain and fear;go ahead and place those in your container.” For extremetorture, repeated guidance may be required, for example,“Continue to store the shock”, or, “Reduce the spinning byhalf, reduce it by half again. Let me know if it has been stored.”In some cases, noxious states and substances may need to bestored in separate containers. The client’s spiritual source canalso be used to contain or remove unwanted feelings andsubstances.
Rutz (2003) explains how she used a toy box to containmemories between sessions and how she learned to be able to“stay in the present” in therapy:
[We] all know how awful abreaction is, even though it is effectiveat allowing the alters to tell and getting a really accurate picture of what took place . . . [I]n the beginning I was doing nothing butabreacting. I would find myself in my mind in a room looking at aclosed door. After opening the door for the first time I always knewI would find a traumatic scene from my past, generally where anew alter had been created.
When I left the therapists [sic] office I would have to put what I hadbeen working on away, so that I could effectively live during theweek without being bombarded by the new material. I created aninternal safe place to put the memories that we worked on in eachsession so that I would not be flooded in between. It was a toy boxand I would set a stuffed animal on top before I left the office.During the week we would journal or not, which ever felt safe, andthen let the memories back out of the toy box again in therapy thefollowing week. This was different from the safe place my alterseventually built to go to for healing.
Later after my therapist had attended a seminar we began usinggrounding techniques so that while I was remembering I could alsoremain in the present. This was much less painful and traumatic tothe system and every bit as effective as pure abreaction. Mygrounding technique was really simple. I taught myself that whenI would begin to abreact and lose total control, I would grab thearm of the chair and bring myself back to the awareness of where Iwas. That insured that I was still in the present, and this happenedin the past and did not have the power to hurt me anymore.
6. Creating an inner place of healing or recovery, a place whereself-states can be “rescued to” from the sites of their abuse, tophysically and emotionally heal. This place can include nurtur-ing ego states, spiritual help, pets, soothing things, etc. A pre-established healing place increases the capacity to discoverprogramming, including lowering resistance posed by fright-ened self-states.
Rutz (2003) explains how she used a healing place for altersto rest and heal and for grounding:
The same visualization that was used by perps for programmingenabled us to undo that programming. We created a healing placeinside where anyone who chose to could go and rest and get helpfrom other alters in healing. I found parts that couldn’t speak becauseof programming or being preverbal and a helper alter would agreeto be used for the memory retrieval work. That part would remain grounded so that the emotional impact was not so overwhelming. Ibelieve this is really important and could cause system wide shutdown if we attempt to handle too much at one time.
7. Creating a place to do the work of making programmingconscious and resolving it. A place devoted to this workgreatly facilitates meta-view work. Some survivors readilycreate such a place. Others believe that there can never be anysafe place. Some have been programmed against any inner safeplace (Svali, 1996, Chapter Two). If a survivor feels such a placeis not possible, I explain that many others initially felt the sameway, yet created one. It is essential to maintain a stance of “Wewill create a way around every abuser intimidation and machi-nation”, in order to overcome programming.
The survivor decides “who” will work in this place. It maybe one or more of a host, ISH, the “true self”, etc. Prior to“going to” the working place, it often helps to have all otherstates go somewhere to be distracted, such as a playground.
Safety measures can be established to travel to this place,such as a secret entry or being taken by one’s spiritual source.I suggest that the journey be made possible only when it is oftheir genuine free will and exclusively for the purpose of theirhealing, to prevent abuser coercion or threats being used toforce survivors to reveal their place.
Additional security measures are needed with very fearfulsurvivors. Once the designated ego states are in this place, I letthem know that they can develop additional safeguards tofurther hide it from outside detection. Programmers installillusions, such as buildings, guards, locks, and internal barri-ers in victims’ inner worlds to control them. Survivors can usethis same imaginative capacity and malleability of their inter-nal worlds to their own advantage. The survivor ultimatelyhas more control of his/her inner world than a programmerever could.
Fotheringham (2008, personal communication) explains howshe created places for her healing:
As part of my healing, I adopted the use of structures for my ownbenefit. When I had a need for a specific alter or group of alters thatcould not be met within the already existing structures, or by adapting them for my purpose, one of my alters . . . would designa new structure to serve the needed purpose. I ended up with,among others, a Healing House with a Healing Hot Springs HotTub . . . a huge 4 story Discovery Lodge with an Intensive Care Unitand “Memory Processing Unit” (to ease extreme suffering of indi-vidual alters trapped in torture, by extracting and storing memoriesfor later retrieval and processing), a Nursery (with soundproofedroom for the one who screamed all the time) . . . and big, individu-ally equipped dorm rooms for the various groups of children, andthe 24 Rear Guardsmen who mostly became child-care-givers!
I suggest clients use their creative capacity to hide their work-ing place from everyone, including me. Only the voice of thetherapist need be heard there. I say, “Only you need to knowhow you hide this place. You can create a decoy, like a paint-ing can hide a safe, like a secret-door bookcase can hide aroom. Your first place can be a counterfeit with an illusion thatmakes it look like the work is stuck, with your true placeanywhere in the universe, perhaps accessible only throughyour spiritual source.”
Once the designated ego states are in the working place, it isimportant to help them feel “grounded” there so they do notrelive the trauma memories being processed. I might say, “Feelwhere you are sitting, tell me what you see, what is the temper-ature, etc.” While working, if the client begins to relive amemory, I remind them, “Stay in your working place without‘going into’ the trauma.”
A procedure should also be developed to help clients leave theworking place at the close of the work, such as “locking” orotherwise securing it and grounding themselves back in theoffice.
Once back in the therapy room, most clients need to processthe trauma they have discovered in more conscious, lessintently focused, more emotional ways. Some clients choose to“leave” their memories in their working place until the nextsession. Over time, they develop increased tolerance for con-scious memory of the trauma they are processing, and reservethis option for the most difficult material.
8. Establishing procedures to obtain information while in theworking place. Clients who work with an ISH or the “true self” usually use a fairly straightforward process of choosing towork and deep focus on exploring the origins of particularsymptoms or snippets of memory. Clients working with a spir-itual source usually pray to be shown the truth about whathappened. Clients working with the unconscious mind maysimply get a sense of “knowing”, or they may create additionalimagery to know or see “answers” and images. One survivorlowered her questions in a bucket into a well that representedher unconscious mind; the bucket brought the answers orimages forward. Others watch words or images on a televisionscreen, read the answers from a book, etc.
Material to explore and kinds of questions to ask
Some survivors proceed to discover programming with a simpleintention to know about anything that was done to control the self.It is often expeditious to focus on the most pivotal information assoon as possible, by asking something like: “What is the mostimportant event to look at?”, or to begin with the earliest program-ming, since it is often foundational for later programming.
More often, current material supplies the direction for the work:a disturbing thought or impulse, a flashbulb memory, a stimulusthat “triggered” distress, a somatic sensation or symptom, a senseof fear or threat, a dream, symbols in art, writing, or sand trays, orefforts to understand a particular self-state.
In the early stages of using this process, and later as particularlysensitive information is broached, it is helpful to repeatedly ask,“Do I have permission to . . .”, or, “Would it cause any harm to lookat . . .”
Early in the process of doing this work, and at the beginning of aday’s work, small, specific questions help to “grease the works” andare more manageable because the survivor is in a trance-like state,“somewhere” between the external and internal worlds, betweenmental clarity and dream-like primary process thought. Small,focused questions also reduce fear of remembering and telling.
Formulating questions is the real art of this work. Questionsshould be focused, yet not leading. Because this work requires suchintense mental effort, it helps to repeat what the client just said within the next question: “And when [what client just said], whathappened next?” (www.davidgrove.com/).
When beginning with current material, a good first question iswhether that issue has something to do with a particular event. Ifthe answer is yes, the next question might be, “Do I have permis-sion to ask for the age of the body at the time of this event?” It helpsto set the stage for the event by asking who dressed the child, whotook the child there, whether it occurred outdoors or indoors, whowas present, the position of the body, etc. These concrete detailsgenerally make the memory more accessible, and the survivor maythen be able proceed in the order of what occurred.
Important areas to explore include how the child was abusedand whether anything was done to put the child in an altered stateof consciousness, for example, drugs, spinning, suffocation, near-death, etc. It is important to learn about what may have been placedon, or in, the body of the child. It is critical to determine whethernew self-states were formed, whether their purpose was to servethe self or the abusers, and the degree the abusers used these newlyformed self-states for their purposes. A useful question is, “Forwhat purpose, or in response to what, was this part created?” It isimportant to discover the words spoken to harm, control, define, orname self-states. Sometimes, it is important to explore whether theinformation provided is accurate or a product of deception, hallu-cinogens, hypnosis, illusion, film, perceived spiritual evil, etc.
Perceived spiritual effects must be explored, including whetherit was perceived that anything was attached to, or “captured” from,the child in this event, and whether words were spoken for spiri-tual control, such as claims, curses, commands, and covenants. Itmay be important to discover whether this event resulted in theperception of portals or astral pathways that allowed abuserscontinued spiritual access to the child.
Sample beginning of a dialogue to discover programming
Is there a particular event we have to look at to help this part? Yes.
Do I have permission to ask the age of the body at the time of thatevent? Yes.
How old was the body at the time of this event? Three.
Do I have permission to ask about the location of this event at agethree? Yes.
Was this event indoors or outdoors? Indoors. In a house.
And this event in a house, was it where the body lived or anotherhouse? Another.
Do I have permission to ask whose house? No.
Do I have permission to ask who took the child to this house? Yes.
Who took the child to this house? The grandmother.
Did the grandmother dress the child for this event? Yes.
How did the grandmother dress the body? A dress.
May I ask the colour of the dress? Black. [Often a colour used forsacrifice.]
Did the child wear anything else? A chain.
Where was the chain worn? Around the waist.
Did anything hang from the chain? Yes. A locket.
Did the locket have a stone, a carving? A portrait.
Am I allowed to ask the subject of the portrait? No.
Did the grandmother place this locket on the child? No.
Am I allowed to ask who placed the locket? The lady in the portrait.
Am I allowed to know if this person was a rival of the grand-mother? Yes, she was.
When the grandmother brought the child to this event, did shepresent her to someone? The rival.
Did either of them speak? Yes.
May I know who spoke first? The grandmother. She said, “I giveyou my granddaughter.”
Did the rival respond? Yes, she said, “You have done well.”At this event at three, were others present? Yes.
How many others? Twelve.
Were any male? No.
Were there other children present? Yes.
May I know how many? Three.
Were any male? One newborn baby boy.
Am I allowed to ask the ages of the two female children? Three andsix.
Were these children already known to the child? Yes.
Am I allowed to know who they were? No.
Where were the other children when the body was presented to therival? The girls were on altars. The boy was with one of the ladies.
After the rival received the child, what happened next? She wasplaced on the altar.
Who placed the child on the altar? The grandmother.On an altar by herself? With the other three-year-old.
Were words spoken when the grandmother placed the body on thealtar? Yes.
Am I allowed to know the words? Part.
What part may I know? “I give you to …”
Spoken by the grandmother? Yes.
And when she spoke those words, what happened next? . . .
This continued piecemeal, until the event was completed. Then,“disconnecting” the harm, physical, mental, spiritual, etc., culmina-ting in rescue of the three-year-old ego state, can begin, as follows.
Resolution of programming once it is made conscious
Making programming conscious is very challenging. Resolvingprogramming once it is made conscious is comparatively easy. Itrelies on defiance of programmers’ directives, training, condition-ing, and hypno-suggestions; assertion of one’s will against abuserattempts at spiritual bondage; use of one’s imaginative capacityand the malleability of the unconscious mind to re-sculpt the innerworld to one’s own needs and wishes; communication and negotiation with significant ego states; “rescue” of self-states from theirabusers and from the sites of their torture to an inner place of heal-ing; in some cases, integration of ego states into the self. Thesechanges are most deeply accomplished while the survivor is still inthe inner place created to do the work of discovering and resolvingprogramming.
Svali (1996) explains that survivors can use a limitless creativecapacity to overcome programming:
The good news is that this internal landscape is highly malleable.Once parts are “found”, and the binds that trap them in harmfulsites are discovered and resolved, they can be helped to perma-nently relocate to places of safety and healing in the internal world.And scenes and structures installed in the mind to cause harm canbe removed. In essence, the work of healing and disablingprogramming uses to the survivor’s advantage what programmersused to their disadvantage: the limitless malleability of the internallandscape.
Krystal (1988) captured the essence of this therapeutic approachwhen he wrote about helping traumatized alexithymic patientsachieve a “wish-based psychic structure” and the need for patientsto be in trance-like states to modify self- and object-representations:
The patient, formerly suffering a psychic ‘hole’, has to be helped (atsome risk) to convert the absence of psychic representation to awish-based psychic structure. [p. 482]
In my extensive work on this subject, I came to the conclusion thatbecause the problems of alexithymics are a reaction to conflictsregistered as preverbal, infantile, or purely affective memories, theusual approaches of psychoanalytic psychotherapy fail us. To dealwith such early and/or severe trauma, the patients have to experi-ence trancelike states in which modifications of self- and object-representations can be achieved. [p. 481]
Conscious processing of tricks, illusions, lies, and set-ups
Once programming tricks, lies, films, set-ups, etc., are madeconscious, revealed for what they are, and the affected self-states are discovered, they lose their potency. The survivor now has theconscious capacity to mentally reject the intended messages,perceptions, and set-ups. Programmed triggers come underconscious control. In some instances, triggers are further masteredby changing them to impossible stimuli, like a purple and bluepolka-dotted apple playing the saxophone.
Self-states formed or harmed in these events need help to leavethese scenarios. They need physical, emotional, and often spiritual,separation from the abuse they endured.
Physical separation involves guiding the survivor to use his orher spiritual source, strong and helpful ego states, powerful ani-mals, or even inanimate devices, to “go into the memory”, push theabusers back away from abused self-states, detach them from thedevices of torture, cleanse their bodies of any abusive drugs, toxins,blood, sexual substances, etc., destroy the equipment (electroshockmachines, restraints, film projectors), and to relocate the affectedself-states to the inner place of healing. Most survivors readilyemploy such suggestions. Some survivors initially express thatthese interventions feel artificial or invalidate their abuse. I sharethat I agree that this work will not change that this abuse occurred,and the memory will never disappear, but that for self-states whoperceive themselves “stuck” in the sites of their abuse, this “addsan additional frame” to this memory, a corrective ending, and thatthis ending also reflects truths, such as their love and compassionfor hurt parts of themselves.
Psychological and “spiritual” separation also usually requireguidance by the therapist, at least initially. Survivors have been sointimidated and dominated by the mind-set of their abusers thatthey initially feel unable to think outside of the abusers’ frame. Forexample, survivors manipulated into harming others usuallybelieve, as their abusers intended, that they are deeply evil. Thera-pists have the natural impulse to want to argue with survivorsabout their having been given no good choices, that everyone has abreaking point when tortured, that there is a survival instinct thattakes over when one’s life is threatened, etc. These approaches mayhelp in the long term, but rarely have an impact short-term. Theguilt is existential. And it is natural to unconsciously seek to undoharm done to others through suffering and self-punishment. I havefound that a more useful immediate intervention is to guide the survivor through a pronouncement or prayer and to ask them torepeat my words if they feel that I am speaking truth, and to stopand correct me if I have it wrong. I say something like:
I, [name], on behalf of all of my parts, refuse to submit to [abusers’]claim that I am as evil as they are. The truth is that I never wantedto do [act]. I was coerced by [abusers]. I did not do [act] of my freewill. They gave me two choices that were both unbearable. It is alie that I agreed to this act. Any agreement made under torture,threat, or trickery is invalid, legally and spiritually. I reject theirstatement that I was evil. That lie belongs to them, not to me. Ichoose the truth that I was an innocent, terrified child whodeserved love, protection, and respect.
Generally, all of these steps must occur before affected self-statescan be rescued to a healing place. If affected self-states are unableto be moved to a healing place, it usually signifies that criticalelements of the event have not been discovered and resolved. It ishelpful to ask, “Is there something else we need to know beforethese parts can go to your healing place?” On occasion, ego statesneed to “tell their stories”, release their emotions and sorrow, beforethey can be relocated.
Conscious choice against directives,claims, curses, covenants, threats, etc.
Words that abusers and programmers pair with torture have a deepand devastating effect on their victims. It is important to reject orrenounce verbal commands and proclamations, especially words todefine the roles or nature of self-states, assigned names, claims ofspiritual ownership or evil, curses to threaten or create expectationsof harm, covenants (coerced agreements), triggers to call forwardself-states, codes to access, activate, re-set, back-up, programmes,and, in many cases, to replace these in declarations or prayer withproclamations, blessings, new names, new roles and definingpurposes, impossible stimuli (for triggers and codes) etc., of one’sown choosing.
An anonymous survivor and psychotherapist explained thecritical importance of discovering the words of programmers:
The last and very necessary step of dismantling the structure, forme, was to remember exactly what the programmer told me andthe imagery that I created from this. Once I realized that the struc-ture was that way because of what someone told me, I was able todissolve it permanently. Strangely, just knowing that the program-mer told me to make it that way did not work. I had to rememberexactly what he said and what I did in response. I did not alwaysdo exactly what they wanted, but sometimes just told them I did.What I did in response to what they said was just as important aswhat they said for me to get rid of the structure.
Formal declarations and prayers have a powerful effect in over-coming words intended to define, control, and harm the survivor.Here is a sample prayer to rename a self-state:
I ask you God, on behalf of myself and all of my parts, to hold thisthree-year-old part of me and let her know in her heart that theabusers lied to her when they told her that her name wasUnlovable. That was a lie. She has always been lovable. Please lether feel your love and let her feel our love. Please let her know thatthe abusers tried to give her that name so she would never feelworthy to reach out to anyone who would really love her. Theyknew that name was a lie when they said it. We never agreed tothat name. I give that name back to the abusers. I ask you God tobless her with the new name of [survivor’s choice, such as SweetLittle Girl].
Psychological and spiritual separationof perceived spiritual attachments
I believe that ritually abused clients reveal their experiences of spir-itual evil only to people whom they sense are receptive to its possi-ble existence and who convey some genuine comfort in being ableto help with it. Without this support, many survivors do not allowthe perception of spiritual evil to become conscious. When clientsperceive the presence of spiritual evil, internally or externally, Iusually work with that perception, rather than initiating dialogueabout whether the perceived evil is real or not. If I were to try toconvince a ritually abused client that human spirits or entities arenot real, to try to reduce their fear, etc., I might stand a chance with some hosts, but no chance with self-states raised in Satanism orabusive witchcraft. Those self-states were raised in cultures rootedin theologies that such entities are more powerful and enduringthan human life. And these self-states are barely orientated to theoutside world. Programming is most deeply resolved when itsucceeds in changing the reality of programmed alters in the innerworld. Whether such “evil” is spiritually real or not, it is psycho-logically real to these self-states, and I believe it can only be dealtwith as such.
I have found that to achieve “separation” of perceived attach-ments, whether this mechanism is partly spiritual or only psycho-logical, survivors must recall the rituals in which “transfers” and“captures” were perceived to be accomplished, and then assert theirwill to reject each act. I tell survivors that I believe that any actintended to spiritually control children, who are not aware that theyhad any choice to the contrary, can now be opposed and “sepa-rated” spiritually and psychologically by a simple act of one’s will,that we each have control of our spiritual self. I believe that an over-whelmed, frightened, and abused psyche is what permitted theperceived “admission” of these entities and introjects. Making thetrauma conscious and the exercise of free will is what allows fortheir rejection and separation.
Many survivors use traditionally religious approaches or per-sonal spiritual approaches to “remove” perceived “attachments”and to retrieve “captured” parts of the self. This work generallyincludes the use of a spiritual base to refuse the abusers’ right tohave abused them, to refuse the words intended to bind them, torefuse the spirit or entity to remain, to will it to leave, to close allperceived portals, to sever all perceived astral pathways, and todeclare one’s right, or ask the spiritual source, to have all parts ofone’s self returned, with none of the abusers’ spirits, words, evil, ordeities/demons attached.
Technological programming can also result in the perception of“introjects” dwelling within, often intentionally “placed” by pro-grammers. These can also be “separated” by one’s will or spiritualsource.
Many survivors easily differentiate self-states from perceivedintrojects or entities. For others, the therapist can help the survivordifferentiate these through dialogue. Self-states, even those with a hostile veneer, usually desire some human connection with thetherapist, are motivated to feel “better”, and their hostility has aquality of underlying fear and pain. Perceived introjects and enti-ties generally do not establish a “felt” human connection with thetherapist. Instead, they demonstrate scorn for the survivor andintense hatred for the therapist.
In many cases, when the work seems “stuck”, survivors mayhave the sense that “spiritual evil” is interfering. If they perceivethat “evil” is being “sent” in the present, survivors can usuallyeasily refuse its presence by asserting their will in intention orprayer. In the case of perceived interference by introjects or enti-ties “attached” in prior abuse, it usually helps to “place” these inopaque, soundproof containers, guarded by spiritual protectionif the survivor wishes. As the event is processed, words of control,implements and bodily substances of abuse, attached deities, etc.,can also be placed in these containers. Once the event is fullyprocessed, the container and its contents are generally easilyexpelled.
I have consistently observed that when affected self-statesperceive spirits and entities to be gone, the survivor experiencestremendous relief. To date, no survivor I have worked with ever feltthat they had separated a part of the self in the process.
“Removal” of structures
“Removal” of “structures”, especially foundational structures, canbe challenging, especially early in a survivor’s recovery. Some struc-tures are “placed” with near-death torture in the unconscious mind,“beneath” the self-state system. A meta-view of the inner world isoften necessary to discover such structures. The programmer’s goalis for the terror of death to secure the structure against any attemptto tamper with it by the victim, or by rival programmers.
Programmers often “install” structures with booby-traps toprevent their removal. Wires to explosive or electroshock devicesmay connect self-states and structures. Some programmers attach“demons” or “spirits” to protect their structures. A self-state may beprogrammed to be a loyal servant or good soldier to guard thestructure. Structures may be connected and layered, more hidden structures installed by more skilled programmers. Rival program-mers often compete to control victims.
Self-states trapped within, or connected to structures, have verylittle, if any, self-agency. They define themselves by the reality of theprogrammers who dictated that the structures can only be removedby their own parameters. Some programmers install a complexseries of steps that must be followed to remove a structure, includ-ing explosive devices that must first be emptied of their explosivesubstances, then removed, codes to deactivate booby-traps alongthe way, separation of “demons”, a master erase code, and modifi-cation of re-set codes to prevent their use.
Stimuli associated with a programme installation often serve asre-sets and must be contained, destroyed, removed, etc. Undis-covered stimuli can later serve to re-set programming, by pro-gramme design, for example, “When you hear this song, this gridwill reappear in your chest”, and by classical conditioning of asso-ciated stimuli with pain, terror, and programmer commands. It is,therefore, helpful to check, “Was there anything else being per-ceived in this event?” Words, music, smells, tastes, sights, and phys-ical sensations can be changed to “impossible stimuli”. Tools oftorture must be separated from abused states, including drugs,toxins, wires, constraints, things used to rape, body fluids (blood,semen), “spirits”, and “demons”. Devices and substances can bechanged to benign objects, destroyed, or washed clean, by an act ofwill or by one’s spiritual source.
Programmers may initially install structures with the require-ment that in order to remove the structure, the victim must be re-tortured in the same way while saying the removal code,. Inactuality, this can be accomplished in imagination only and veryquickly, while the removal code is said. In doing so, it is veryimportant that the survivor mentally remains in the safe placerather than “slip into” the site of the torture.
Some survivors remove structures, fundamental and otherwise,from the inner world without following programmer “rules”. Thisgenerally requires awareness of the structure and self-statestrapped within, and development of much “true self”, with com-passion for what all self-states endured and forgiveness for whatthey were forced into doing to others. This capacity for self-love,setting intentions and/or spiritual faith, can be used to free selfstates from structures and to remove the structures. Many survivorsreport that structures only “work” if self-states connected to themperceive them as real. When the programming is made conscious,even if only in significant ISH, and the trapped self-states under-stand that the structure that surrounds them is only an illusion, thestructure simply vanishes.
Rutz (2003) realized that creative visualization was how herprogramming was done and used this same capacity to erase barri-ers and booby-traps and to deactivate and remove structures:
A lot of my programming revolved around the Wizard of Oz. Thehourglass was used in the event I would begin to remember andtalk. They would tell us that if we talked the hourglasses [sic] sandwould begin to run and when it was all run out we must do ourselfin. We turned the hourglass on its side so it could no longer be usedto threaten us. I was also told my head would explode. When I raninto this the first time, I was driving home from therapy. My headnot only felt like it was going to explode; I saw a gigantic bombwith a lit fuse. I decided that I had used visualization for helping toheal other alters and since the programming they did was donewith creative visualization, I should be able to undo it in the sameway. I took my fingers and snuffed the wick out—it was thatsimple. Knowing their lies made it so much easier to dismantle theprogramming . . .
I found there were hidden parts. We took a giant eraser and inter-nally started erasing all the lines to the boxes and triangles insideof us. We saw people coming out on stretchers, with bandages andothers internally were carrying them on cots to the healing place.
When I was having trouble even getting close to memories wefound booby traps and land mines surrounding them, so that everytime we got close we couldn’t get past these. We visualized a giantpacman in our blood stream. He was sent on a search and destroymission for any programs that were implanted and dangerous.When pacman was through destroying these he yelled, “MissionAccomplished.” Our progress after this was remarkable.
Relocation of self-states to an inner healing place
Once released from programme controls, survivors can use theirimaginative and spiritual capacity to “relocate” hurt self-states from sites of abuse and programme structures to a place of healingwithin.
Often, only “a part of a part” can be located to a healing placewhen an event has been processed, because that self-state wasabused repeatedly over many events.
Some ego-states require therapeutic help before moving to ahealing place. Many need their feelings and experiences honouredand witnessed. Many need to critically evaluate the agenda of theirabusers, now that they can safely do so. Many must grieveperceived bonds to their abusers. Some need the protective functionof their abuser loyalty to be understood. Some have intense rage,and need to develop constructive channels to release it, or tocontain or dissolve it imagistically or spiritually.
For Rutz (2003), “Neverland” held a pre-verbal baby who nevergrew up and “Shadowland” held an alter trained as an assassin.When she tried to rescue these trapped alters, they were initiallyafraid to leave their familiar places. She needed to communicatewith them to get them to safety:
It took a longtime [sic] and a good deal of work, to find this andbreak free, since even after the alters found out the truth they didnot want to leave their lands right away where they felt safe andcome to the safe place in my system. After some internal commu-nication the baby was rescued from Neverland. Alters simplycreated a bridge and crossed from there to Shadowland. Our babypart was nurtured by our alter who was trained for killing, so itwas very beneficial to both those alters. The door to Neverlandwas burned and holes were shot in the ceiling of Shadowland to letlight through . . . eventually everyone felt safe enough so that anelevator was built to the healing place and Shadowland wasdestroyed too.
Ongoing spiritual, psychological, and physical healing occurs inthe inner healing place. I ask clients what their self-states need forphysical comfort, cleansing, love (pets are a common wish), etc.They may choose to have me ask their spiritual source to providethese, or may have ISH provide these.
There is a significant easing once ego-states are relocated to theinner healing place. It is often a full resolution for programmedfragmentary self-states. Once their programming is conscious and they have been relocated to a place of healing, they only needsafety, love from the self or the survivor’s spiritual source, and timeto heal. They need not be actively engaged in therapy or “inte-grated” with the “true self” or host. More substantial ego states alsorequire much emotional release, grieving, and sharing of experienceand memory with the “true self”, host, and therapist. I do notencourage integration, but view it as a very personal and seamlessprocess that usually occurs as barriers between ego states are nolonger needed.
In the process of resolving, overcoming, and removing program-ming, major shifts occur in self-states and in the internal landscape(inner world). This can be unsettling in that the familiar is nolonger so.
When large structures that housed self-states are gone, somesurvivors perceive a “void”. This usually must be replaced. A heal-ing place provides a home and sense of grounding for previouslyprogrammed parts. Survivors create many other new and helpfulplaces in their inner worlds.
Many survivors discover a foundational programme structurethat separated two sides of their self-state system. The host side isamnestic for the other side, where most self-states endured veryserious abuse as both victims and perpetrators. Once this barrier isgone, each side must develop compassion for the other. The hostmust face the horrors the abuse-bound parts endured and not recoilfrom them. The abuse-bound side must forgive the host for notenduring more abuse and must appreciate the host’s role in livingthe normal side of life. Ultimately, they all must face that everyonewas hurt and that they share this common bond. Survivor supportgroups can be of great help in resolving these conflicts.
Survivors can look forward to deeply moving changes. Rutzexplains (2009, personal communication),
Each alter’s job is normal to that alter. It’s all they know. Just as anabused child who is being incested and is told that is love, learns tobelieve that lie. They don’t know any better, so to them that is“Normal.” An alter like Samantha only knows pain, so whywouldn’t it be normal. As I was healing, it was so vital to allow eachalter to choose a new job or a new way of life. For instance, Guychose to rock the Baby part and comfort her when the barriersbetween Neverland and Shadowland were dissolved. Think what that meant to the system’s healing to have a part that was a trainedkiller be able to feel love and give love. That was huge.
Once substantial work has been achieved, and enough parts arein the inner place of healing, the hidden “core”, an early and centralaspect of the self that the individual had kept long-hidden fromabusers, or that the programmers had sequestered, may feel safeenough to make itself known to the “true self”, host, and therapist.Other major integrations of the self-system may spontaneouslyoccur. This often results in a sense of vitality. Senses may feelheightened. One survivor reported truly seeing colour for the firsttime. There is often a sense of truly being alive in the world for thefirst time.
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CHAPTER FOUR Love is my religion
Iwas born the first daughter in a long line of first daughters.My mother came from a long line of people who took part inritual abuse. For a long time, this was something that my father knew nothing about because this was something that happenedthrough the women in my family, a very powerful, matriarchalfamily that I grew up in. I’m second generation Irish. My parentswere staunch Catholics, so I was initially brought up with twoideologies—the catholic ideology and an inversion of that, whichwas Satanism.
My very early memories are of being a small baby in a roomwith my mother, grandmother, and other women; later, men joinedin too, and they would cut marks on my body and they wouldthrow me to each other, around the room. My early memories ofthese experiences are of being very startled, terrified, and disorien-tated. It was not long before I went from being one baby to twobabies, three babies, more . . .
- Due to the libel laws in the UK and the wish to protect myself and myfamily, this piece is written anonymously.
The women in my family had some very twisted ideas aboutmen and women. Men were very stupid. Women were much morepowerful, much more significant, and much more important. Sexwas dirty and sinful, but it was our job to satisfy men because theywere weak. You had to keep them happy.
I remember being a small baby and being sexually stimulated.My body was being prepared for the things that were going to behappening to me later. I was also trained from a very young age totolerate extreme pain and trained to dissociate, so that I left mybody.
I was taken to church from a young age and made to sexuallyservice the local priest. It was very confusing trying to make senseof the fact that we were sinners yet we were expected to providesexual relief to priests.
When I was three years old, my mother met a man; I will callhim X. My first memory of meeting X was when he came into aroom, picked me up by my hair, and started swinging me around,and everybody laughed because when he put me down I was reallydizzy. He would switch between being incredibly cruel and fright-ening to being very, very, charming, and a lot of my experienceswere about trying to please him and trying to get on to the charm-ing side of him. My mother became involved with X. He used herto get to me and to other children in my family. She had alreadybeen abusing me from birth, not just in a ritual situation, but alsoat home. There was a part of her that would lose control and shewould bare her teeth and her eyes would light up and she wouldbecome crazed. She would do things like pick me up by my hairand put me in the washing machine. So just being at home is a trig-ger, there are so many triggers in the environment. I’m at homewith my kids and I put the washing machine on and suddenly I amthere, drowning, spinning, choking.
So, although my mother was already a very frightening womanby the time I was three, meeting this man and the sort of world thathe inhabited meant the abuse was taken to a whole other level. Oneof my earliest memories of her with him is being taken to a forestand being taken into this small room; I don’t know what it was, Iwas very small and I was disorientated. I am tied to a table and aman I have never seen starts putting electric shocks through my feetand on my genitals, before sexually abusing me. I am just screaming and screaming and screaming and then my mother comes inwith X. They look like they’d probably just had sex or something,they’ve got their arms wrapped around each other and they juststand over me and they laugh. I’m just pleading, mummy, mummy,mummy, but she’s laughing. The message was very strong—he’sthe person that I’m attached to, I care much more about him thanyou. I’d not really experienced this kind of betrayal in that waywith her before. So that was the start of an established pattern ofher betraying us. Of course, what he did was use that to his advan-tage, which I think was very deliberate on his part. He would gether to betray me then he’d take me aside and say, look at what awitch your mother is, look at how much she doesn’t love you. Ithink you are beautiful, I think that you are a really special girl andI think that your mother is really, really stupid for not seeing whata beautiful and special girl you are. That’s what he did a lot of,manipulating me, luring me in, seducing me, making me feelimportant in a way that I never had before. That combined withhow terrified I was of him was a pretty lethal combination.
He was a performer and we would travel around to places in theUK, and I was also taken abroad. These were special shows and Iremember one of many shows that I was involved with, which wasin Amsterdam. It starts with a woman coming on stage. She istopless and she squeezes her breasts and squirts the audience withbreast milk and everyone is delighted and laughs and then shestarts to cut herself and do things like this to herself on stage. I hadbeen primed—I was probably about eight at this time—to have sexwith a boy who was around the same age as me, who wasabsolutely petrified. He wasn’t really used to this stuff in the waythat I was by this point. So I had to tell him before we went on whatwe were going to do. I explained to him, I’m going to do this to you,and then you do that to me, and so on. We then go on stage and theaudience clearly get off on it.
X’s big thing, his speciality, was creating parts. What he liked tobelieve was that he was giving birth to these different parts—creat-ing new souls. He would call himself a Gnostic, which is allegedlya synthesis of a lot of different belief systems, different religiousbeliefs, mythological beliefs, philosophical beliefs: Christianity,Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Tantra, sex magick, Paganism,alchemy, worshipping innumerable deities, gods and goddesses, the list goes on. Anything was up for grabs. It was a very elaboratesystem that he created within me. It was based on the kabbalah, thetree of life, and the tarot, and what was sold to me was this ideathat I was the chosen one, that I was very special and very fortu-nate to inhabit this world. He ensured that we underwent a veryvigorous training, which involved things like going to a master ofkundalini yoga. From a very young age we were trained to readesoteric texts, sit in extreme yoga postures for hours on end, tomeditate, to chant. I believed very much in the things that he wastelling me. We would be sitting there in these extreme yogapostures and doing all of these kinds of breathing techniques witha mask on that had nails in it. There were different things that wewere doing in order to separate our minds from our bodies, gettingused to experiencing extreme pain without reacting to it and awak-ening these different states of consciousness and different kinds ofenergies; he had a belief in these different kinds of energy systemsbased on the truth that we do have different kinds of energeticsystems within our bodies. The belief in kundalini is that we havethis snake that we awaken through spiritual and physical practiceand we become enlightened, and, of course, he would help it alongby using things like electric shocks and other torture techniques likeisolation and starving to arouse this serpent that allegedly lived inmy spine.
The thing that has caused me the most difficulties is these differ-ent parts that he created. Because what he essentially did was createparts that were completely dedicated to him. We were made tobetray each other, for him. So, when I started to remember it, it wasabsolutely abhorrent to discover that there were parts of me thatloved him, that loved this monster and wanted to go back to him,and would do anything for him and did do many terrible things forhim. That realization was devastating to come to terms with. Whatpart of me wanted to do was literally to cut those parts off and saywell, go on, go back to him if that’s what you want. But, of course,we all inhabit one body and it was not possible to do that.
He also created parts of me that would kill themselves, eachother, other people, parts that were programmed to go back and killhim—if you go back to kill him, then he has got you. There was awhole system designed with particular things in mind. What hewould do, for example, was starve you, spin you for hours, play loud frequency sounds, tie you to a chair, and he then might useelectric shocks, until he saw that your mind had snapped and hewould see that you had vacated your body, and then he would say,your name is now this. He would name this new part of me andsay, you are an Egyptian goddess and your life is dedicated to deathand destruction, and there would be a ritual where people woulddress up and people would be chanting and they would burnthings. Initially, as part of my conditioning and programming, I wastaught how to kill animals and how to torture other children andthen, later, much worse things.
This was a whole system and a lot of effort was put into creat-ing it. It felt like colonizing the world—the significance of numbers,magick numbers, dangerous numbers, dates in the calendar . . . thewhole world controls you. The number three is significant becauseif you spilt one you have two, and 1 + 2 = 3, so that everything addsup and has this power that is inescapable. If you are colonizing allof these religions, then there is a religious festival all of the time,there is always something to celebrate and you are just bound inthis world within this structure and belief system. He would havea part that was very frightened, and then he’d get another part tobetray that part, and that has been another devastating thing, to tryto reconcile the parts that betrayed each other. He’d call out a part(snap fingers)—that was one way he’d trigger a part and get her outthat way—or he’d ring a bell, a certain sound, a different part of thebody that he would hurt, so literally it was like colonizing my body.He carved and burned diagrams on my body. The left leg wouldconnect to certain parts, for example, and he would focus on thatpart of me when he was torturing me and then that part of mewould be associated with that part of my body. He would then beable to call that part out and say to that part, “What has she beensaying?”, and he’s got that part to squeal on other parts. They mightsay, “She’s a bit frightened of you.” And he would say, “Oh is shenow—what exactly is she frightened of?” “She doesn’t like it whenyou do this.” So he’d use that: “So and so is telling me . . .” It felt asif he chased me through my own mind. There was no escape fromhim. I’d literally be tied to a chair and he’d call different parts outand he would get them to verify stories by asking, “Is what she issaying true, is this what happened?” He would be doing things likesending me off on missions and he needed to know exactly what had been going on. So, for example, he was involved with freema-sons and people who were quite powerful, and he would use me asa lure. I had been trained in sado-masochistic sex, so as a child I’dgo to hotels to meet men that he would have arranged and I wouldgo to the hotel room and I would do this stuff with these men andthey would film it. They would have secret cameras and theywould film it and then they would use that to blackmail the personin the room. Afterwards, he would be saying, “What did he saythen?”, if there were things that they couldn’t see or hear on thecamera, and he would then call out the different parts to verify this.We were used as prostitutes, we were used in pornography, wewere used in these different kinds of shows and, of course, rituals.
From the ages of 7–12, this was a lot of my world. All of the timehe was saying to me, your parents are idiots, they don’t know howbeautiful you are, so increasingly I began to feel, well, actually, I amsuperior to my parents. I was working my way up, I was good atthis stuff. For the first time in my life, somebody was giving mereally positive attention and I’d never ever had it and I felt very,very powerful. So those parts of me that were very attached to himthought my parents were really stupid and thought that the rest ofthe world was really stupid. We are far better, we inhabit this worldwhere really exciting things happen, we are superior beings—it’snot this normal shit that everyone else has to deal with. We inhabitthis world where it’s powerful and its magickal and it’s reallyspecial and, of course, you are having these intense and very over-whelming experiences, particularly around sex, and a lot of how hecontrolled me was through my sexuality. As a baby I had alreadybeen prepared physically for sex, and remembering this stuff, forthe parts of me that had no memory of the abuse, it was very dis-turbing to encounter these very sexualized children because itcontradicted everything I’d believed about children and what chil-dren were capable of.
There were eight-year-old parts of me who were very sophisti-cated sexually and knew how to seduce men, who would dress upand lure men. For him, it was all about inverting and subvertingthings. He would get me to do these really wild things and adultswould be shocked. What he was proving to them was “Look howwild and special we are, how wild children can be, that childrenwant to be fucked, that’s what children want”. It was all about trying to lure people in—that’s what he was trying to do. Hemanaged to lure my father in. They lure people in and then theyfind out what turns people on, what their weaknesses are, and thenonce you are in it’s hard to get back out again—you’ve crossed aline. And then you have to cross more lines and more lines untilthere is no way back out again. You move from being a victim to aperpetrator, so there is no way that you can ever tell.
The first murder of a child that I consciously remember waswhen I was about four or five years old. My mother was impreg-nated by X. My father wasn’t on the scene at this point. We weretaken to a big stately home; it was in the middle of summer, a bigfestival. She was induced the night before. So, on the Friday night,there was a ritual which was followed by an orgy which involvedmany people who were dressed up in costumes, cavorting in thishuge room—Bacchus was one of the gods that he revered. The nextday we went outside into these huge grounds. There were proba-bly about 100 people there, so it was a big ritual, lots of peopleinvolved, and my mother is lying on the ground and X is chantingand my mother is screaming—she is in labour. I remember feelingvery worried and frightened for her. She’s clearly in pain, she is inthe second stages of labour and she is pushing and crying and Iremember thinking, poor mummy, mummy is naked with her legsopen on the floor and everyone can see her, poor mummy. So ayoung part of me would have been out then, and then he callssomebody else out and we have to go over; she’s lying on theground with her legs open and he says, “Lick her”, so we have toget on the floor and start licking her as she is in labour. The child isborn, a little girl, and he places a knife in my left hand and he saysthings over this child, and then he puts his hand over mine and wepull the knife down the baby’s chest and we kill her. He pulls herheart out and he holds it up and everybody screams and cheers andgoes wild, and then this child is dismembered and consumed. I hadseen things happen to babies before, but this was the first thing thatI was directly involved in. I was witness to lots of things like that.I saw women having abortions performed on them, I saw womengiving birth, and babies being killed and destroyed.
When I’m twelve he starts monitoring my menstrual cycle, andone day he says to me, “My darling girl, something fantasticis going to happen, you are going to have a baby.” I remember thinking, well, I didn’t have words, I just felt, oh. My mind couldnot actually envisage what he meant. It was incomprehensible.
I cross the road, as he literally lives across the road from myhouse, and go home. I am very frightened: the reality that at twelveyears old I am pregnant—what can this mean? My mind cannotactually envisage what it means, I can’t really go there. In despera-tion, I go to my mother and say, “Mummy, X has told me that I amgoing to have a baby.” She looks stunned and then she goesabsolutely berserk. She slaps my face and says, “You stupid, stupidbitch”, and then she goes wild. There is a part of me that thinks,well, actually, you are the stupid bitch, you are the one who got meinvolved in all of this shit in the first place. And another part agreesthat I am a stupid bitch—sex leads to pregnancy, you dirty bitch—what did you think would happen? Another part of me thinks thatshe is just jealous as I am his special girl, I am her greatest rival, Ihave surpassed her. I also know she is frightened. X is much morepowerful and influential in my life than she or my father is. He isalso much more terrifying—he can do whatever he likes and no onecan stop him.
So, I’m pregnant, I’m twelve, I then turn thirteen and I inhabitthis world where I go to school and, because I have all of theseparts, I’m not pregnant while I am at school, I’m just at school. Hehas trained me to keep the two worlds very separate. I rememberthis experience of being in school in a science lesson when suddenlyI feel this flutter and know it’s a baby and feeling my mind justsplitting in two in the science classroom at school. These worlds arestarting to collide for me, these very separate worlds that I inhabit.A lot of the time when I’m not with him, I don’t think about the factthat I’m pregnant, I’m not even really aware of it, and if I am, it’sjust too awful to contemplate. Apart from sometimes when I am inbed at night and I feel the baby moving and I have these fantasiesabout this baby that I’m going to have and it’s going to be lovely,it’s going to be perfect, and me and X are going to have this littlehouse, and I develop this fantasy world. Of course, this isn’t whatis going to happen. And then I go back to the world with him andhe loves the fact that I am pregnant and he makes full use of it. Hearranges photo sessions where I dress up as a schoolgirl and Iexpose my pregnant belly and prance about and men take photosof me.
There comes a point when I know that they are going to wantthis baby. I know this in my heart of hearts. He turns up one dayand he takes me to this flat with three other men. He’s been away,so I am angry with him. Bear in mind that there are parts of me thatare terribly attached to him. I say to him, “You’ve been away, wherehave you been, you left me, where have you been?” And he says,“I am back now and you know it is time now, you know what weare going to have to do.” He gets a knitting needle and he sticks itinside me to induce labour and then he has sex with me, and thenI have to have sex with these men, in this flat, and then he takes meto another place, because, of course, it is going to be a ritual whicha lot of people will want to attend.
The process of being pregnant and giving birth involves severaldifferent parts of me; different parts of me have different experi-ences. I remember being in labour and I remember a part of methat’s just holding on to this child, not wanting to give birth, andthen another part takes over and says, get this thing out of me. I amstanding in a circle surrounded by lots of people who are watchingand I am holding on to X and he has sex with me in the middle ofthe circle and then I fall to my knees and I give birth to the child.A boy.
They take him away and they take me into this room and adoctor comes in, they say he is a doctor and he comes and exam-ines me and he says leave her alone for a while, so they leave mealone in this room. So, essentially, I am in this room, having givenbirth to this child, knowing what is going to happen, and then Xcomes in and he says to me, “You are my special girl, you did bril-liantly, come with me.” He takes me into this beautiful room whichhas a four-poster bed and lots of candles and he takes me into bedand then he brings the baby in. We spend a night with the baby, justholding him, and I become very attached to this beautiful, preciousboy. The next day X says to me, “You know that we are going tohave to take him from you.” They take him from me and I becomehysterical. They give me an injection to calm me down and thenthey prepare me—put make-up on me, dress me up, and call outanother part out. I walk into this room, knowing that this is whenthey are going to kill him. As I turn into the room I see X sitting ina throne next to my mother, who is breastfeeding my child. I beginscreaming.
The child is killed and then there is a bloodbath as X cuts himinto pieces. All I remember is blood, blood, blood. I am still bleed-ing profusely because I have just given birth, and of course thebaby’s blood is splattered everywhere—how could such a tiny bodyhold so much blood?—and then they tie me to a cross. They turnthe cross upside down so that I am hanging upside down tied tothe cross. Everyone is running around and screaming, elated, wild,it’s a celebration after all—it is Good Friday. I’m hanging upsidedown on this cross with blood streaming out of me, wild andcrazed, and I feel like such an idiot, such a fool. I hate myself, I hateall of them, but I am no better than them. I hate everyone andeverything. That part of me often wants to go out on a killingrampage, to go out with a machine gun and just blow people up.
That was the beginning of the end for me. That experience wasjust too much. I started breaking down, I started not being able tofunction because it had all become too much to bear. X completedthe programming. He had an ECT machine, which he then used toscramble my mind. He was trying to cover his tracks.
We move house to a different area. My parents very much wantto get me away from X because they have lost me to him and theyare terrified of him. My father has been implicated, other membersof my family have been implicated, so we move. I start to forgetwhat has happened. It’s aided by my mother saying things like,“You had a happy childhood, me and daddy never hit you”, andthere was a part of me that just wanted to believe that. I alwayswanted a happy childhood.
Then, one day, I am coming back from school. I am fifteen by thistime. I walk through the park; I need to go to the loo as I often do, soI go into these toilets. Suddenly, this man comes in behind me. Helocks the door, throws me on the floor, and as he is slamming myhead against the stone floor he says to me, “We are watching you,we know where you are, we watch you everywhere you go and ifyou ever speak to anyone about this we will kill you, we kill yourchildren, we will kill anyone or anything that you ever love.” Thenhe rapes me on the floor. Afterwards, he gets up and walks out andI just get up, I’ve got my knickers in my hand and I run all the wayhome. I never tell a soul about it because there is no one to tell.
That is the beginning of my forgetting. There was a growingmist that just descended over my whole childhood with this pervading sense of intense shame and terror that I carried aroundwith me and a cacophony of voices in my head. I had lots of issuesaround eating, sleeping, and self-harm, and lots of experiences offeeling unreal, as if I was disembodied or as if I were in a bubble,separated from the rest of the world, in my own, sealed-offuniverse. All of these things I kept very private. I was quite petri-fied of both of my parents, especially my mother. The unnaturalfeelings that I had about my parents only served to prove that therewas something inherently wrong with me.
I start to remember it again, ten years later, when I am twenty-five. I have my first daughter and it all comes flooding back to me.When I become a mother, I start hearing voices that I’d never heardbefore telling me that somebody is going to kill me, that somebodyis going to kill my daughter, and I start having these awful visions.I would be changing my daughter’s nappy and suddenly she’d becovered in blood. I started visualizing all of these things and I feltas if I was going mad. I began experiencing pain in my body, andmarks and bruises appeared on my body like stigmata.
I was very fortunate, because prior to becoming pregnant I hadbeen working with a counsellor for a couple of years, and thenwhen I was pregnant I stopped working with him. It later proveduseful that he had a sense of me as not being mad and he believedin me and he later said to me that he’d always felt that somethingreally awful and chilling had happened to me but that he didn’tknow what it was. At that time, I didn’t know what it was either.
After I had given birth and I started feeling as if I was goingcompletely crazy, I went back to see him and I said to him, “I feellike I am going mad, something is happening.” And he said, “Doyou want to start working together again?”, so that’s what we did,we started working together again and then I started remembering.
I started having dreams about the street that I grew up in andthings happening to me, abuse happening to me. Then one nightthis new voice came and said to me, ‘Terrible things have happenedto you and we are going to tell you what happened.” And that’sbasically what happened. That new part of me came that had a lotof information. I didn’t realize at that point that I was multiple.I knew there was something profoundly wrong with me, but Icouldn’t conceptualize it. That was the start of a journey thatcontinues to this day.
I have given you something of a linear story, but this isn’t howI remembered it, of course. It came back in fragments and in lots ofdifferent ways. It has come back a lot through my body, throughvoices, visions, and the remembering process for me has been abouttrying to associate and process highly dissociated experiences. Imight remember things in my body and be dreaming about thingsor seeing things and I will be feeling sick and terrified. I don’tnecessarily realize that those things are connected and that theyhave come back to me in bits, but I’ve been very fortunate becausethere are parts of me that have really aided this process by tellingme what’s going on, saying that part of you is holding the bodymemories and another part of you has the intellectual knowledge,so get those two to talk to each other. This process is what is help-ing me to become whole.
Despite encountering outright denial from the many profes-sionals that I have tried to disclose my abuse to, I have been veryfortunate to encounter other brave souls who have had the courageto bear witness to my experiences. With their love and support Ihave been engaged for many years in a long, arduous process oftruth and reconciliation, of listening and bearing witness to thehorrors of my past. I have no doubt that therapy saved my life.Alongside this gruelling work, I have developed a successful career.I have become a woman on a mission of her own making. I havemothered two magnificent children who continue to teach me somuch about what it means to be human. Despite having a loving,non-abusive mother, they, too, have been shaken to the core by thereverberations from my past. It will take many generations beforethe trauma that I have endured can be fully resolved—alas, I havelearnt that I am not omnipotent!—but, as my eldest daughter saidto me recently, “You have stopped the cycle, Mummy.” That is mygreatest achievement.
I have learnt many things on my journey: that if we forget ordeny the past we are condemned to repeat it, that only the truth willset us free, and that the most powerful force, the only force that cansave us in the face of such horror and destruction is LOVE. I cannotbe a religious person, but love is my religion. Love is what I believein. The greatest truth is love.
It is a known fact that working with survivors of ritual abusemainly involves working with female survivors. Less has beensaid about working with male survivors. I am going to tell you
about some of my experiences with a male survivor of ritual abuse.My client, a twenty-eight-year old, very intelligent and highlycreative young man, came to see me after spending most of hisadult life wandering from AA to SLA (Sex, Love Anonymous)trying to combat his addiction to alcohol and watching pornogra-phy on the Internet and making calls to phone sex lines.
I will name him Bruce, after the character from the film The Hulk,and later on I will explain the link. Bruce was born into an uppermiddle-class, well-educated family (his maternal grandfather wentto Oxbridge, and paternal grandmother was from the aristocracy).He grew up in a wealthy village where the golf and rugby clubswere the hub of a well-established and well-connected paedophilering. It was in this leafy rural setting that the most horrific child-hood sexual and physical abuse and mind control took place,concealed within a middle-class environment more closely associ-ated with cream teas, Christmas parties, and sporting activities thatenhanced their masculinity and superiority. These people were well connected, with access to finance, weapons, factories, mansions,and even aircraft.
From birth, Bruce was exposed to torture, abuse, and ritual rapeby his parents and extended family, teachers, and a paedophilering. He experienced child prostitution in England and abroad, aswell as methods of severe abuse such as regular thumping on thehead, being spun in a washing machine, being buried alive,confined in closed spaces covered with insects and snakes, made toeat faeces, terrorized by people in frightening masks and crocodileheads, forced to being electrocuted with a head device, hung off thetop of a building, being put on the roof of a speeding car, beingpushed out of an aeroplane, and even strapped to the wing of aflying plane. On coming to see me, Bruce displayed symptoms ofsevere phobias around heights, speed, reptiles, and insects, hairloss, washing in a bath, and much more. He also developed ME,severe headaches, and insomnia, all of which have now subsided intheir extent.
In spite of it all, and with the help of the incredible survivalmechanism we call dissociation, this brave young man had not losttouch with his creative parts. He managed to graduate from univer-sity and later on to take a second degree in media studies, but at thecost of a final breakdown. He managed to find enough resourceful-ness to get into the Maytree, a respite home for the suicidal. Whenhe got there, Bruce remembered how when he stared at his reflec-tion in the mirror, he saw a dead person with no soul. Later, look-ing at the forms he had filled in at the Maytree, he was asked whyhe wrote that every time he has sex he felt suicidal. It was at thatpoint that the past started flashing back into his consciousness.Although Bruce had a clear memory of his father sexually abusinghim, his childhood was highly dissociated and later was displacedby alcoholism. After leaving the Maytree, he started seeing an arttherapist, who was helpful but was not familiar enough with thislevel of trauma.
As clinicians, we all know that with this level of abuse, torture,and suffering, MPD, DID, and post trauma stress disorder (PTSD)are almost inevitable conditions. I have been working with Brucefor just over a year now. During this period, we have kept in dailycontact through phone and e-mails. Our meetings take place threetimes a week, sometimes four. The MPD he displays is still work in progress, as the part-fragmented identities still keep on floodinginto the sessions. Figure 1 is a diagram of all the personalities thathave so far surfaced.
Unlike some other survivors with MPD, Bruce’s part-selveswere not named before therapy, but during therapy. Once we iden-tifed the part and his characters, Bruce would often go home choos-ing a suitable name for that part.
I will focus only on one part-self that was instrumental inBruce’s survival, but which, unfortunately, I felt less and less safebeing alone with in my consulting room. Consequently, it wascrucial for me to find a rapid and effective way of working safelyin order to allow our therapeutic alliance to blossom in a trustingmanner.
What is attachment-based psychotherapy, and how does itwork? I am afraid I do not have enough time for all the wonderfulquotations I could offer. In a nutshell, attachment therapy offers arelationship that is authentic, empathic, secure, attuned, and inti-mate. The concept of intimacy combines a number of human needsand capacities: openness, transparency, close proximity, and the most important need of all is SAFETY. Something we all need, some-thing we are all entitled to when we first enter this world. We nowhave enough evidence to show that without such relationships, lifecan become a hardship with a burden of depression and illnesses.
Unfortunately, survivors of ritual abuse are robbed of theirneeds from birth. Not one of Bruce’s basic needs was adequatelymet. On top of the sexual and physical abuse Bruce regularlyreceived from his mother, father, grandmother, grandfather, and thecult, he also endured endless humiliations, mockery, and bullyingthat left him feeling paranoid, shamed, and guilty, feeling that itwas entirely his fault, which would often trigger voices saying:“You’ll go to hell, you pervert, dirty homosexual, good for noth-ing”, especially around the satanic dates. Currently, Bruce and I arestill fighting off these voices that seem to be an almost predictablebacklash to the good progress Bruce is continuously making.
Committed and determined to get better and never missing asession, Bruce spent most of the first nine months in therapyregressing into trance states, reliving and remembering his horrificabuse in detail. In doing so, he would often freeze, convulse, trem-ble, shake, and whisper, while his voice sounded younger. Hewould jolt, ache, itch, and scream as if he had been bitten by asnake, felt as if he was being buried alive, or was forced to eathuman flesh. On leaving the session, he would then go back to hishome and put all his memories into a journal; this helped himspeed up the recovery process.
A session with Bruce would often begin with him arriving look-ing pale, tired, and unwashed. He would climb up the stairsrapidly, declaring how angry he felt. Within seconds, this wouldflare up into an explosive rage, shouting and swearing as if hisperpetrators were standing next to us. Soon after these extraordi-nary outbursts, his body would display the pain of the abuse:spasms, stiffness, shaking, trembling, remembering episodes wherehe had regularly been raped, thrown around, bitten, and tortured.I would often hold Bruce through the reliving of the trauma, reas-suring him that that was then and that he is now safe. He wouldthen burst into uncontrollable sobs, wishing he were dead, wishinghe were someone else.
One of the many alters/identities was the severely sexuallyabused child who could only relate through his sexuality. Bruce has named him as “Steve”, who can only think of having sex. However,when this finally happened, a suicide ideation would take place,leaving him feeling worse than before. The little boy and the adultBruce were, and still are, very confused about the issues andboundaries around sex, love, and desire. This meant an intensifiederotic countertransference between us. This is still work in progress.
A few months into the therapy, Bruce took a massive risk, some-thing he had not done before in his life; he left a phone messageconfessing that he loved me. I told him that he is worthy of love,too, but this time it must be modelled to him appropriately in aboundaried way. Little Bruce deserved to be loved in a secure andsafe way, and this is what he needs most, and, as his caring thera-pist, it was my duty to keep this love safe and contained. Bruce feltrelieved and lighter after he confided his real feelings to a womanfor the first time in his life. This theme still plays a part in our jour-ney, but less so, as little Bruce is developing a real maternal attach-ment to me and a sense of a core self is emerging. He is able toexpress excitement as well as mourn something so alien and unfa-miliar, but, at the same time, extremely threatening to the oldsystem. Talking about this new set of feelings for the first time inhis life was not only overwhelming, but terrifying: how risky theyare. How dangerous this must be. What if I am not telling the truth?What if something happens to me? What if I go away and nevercome back? If attachment means dependency, then attachment isdangerous and unreliable. During one session, while crying, littleBruce told me: this love with boundaries you are modelling to me,is so painful, so strange and unfamiliar, yet feels nice and safe.
One of the prime functions of the infant–mother relationship isto regulate physiological arousal in the infant. Victims of childhoodabuse and neglect fail to regulate their arousal levels and need amuch higher activation in their brain to feel soothed.
I often find it fascinating how much time of the classical psycho-analytic training is spent on hate and destructiveness in the trans-ference. Not much is mentioned about the terror of love in theclinical setting. Indeed, I often tell my clients, it is much easier tohate than to love.
Bowlby (1998a,b), in his trilogy on separation and loss, wrote,“whenever loss is permanent, as it is after a bereavement, anger andaggressive behaviour are necessarily without function” (p. 286). Christmas is one of the hardest times for our survivors. It is timewhen human sacrifice takes place and when our clients were mostterrorized and abused. My work with Bruce was intense, yet highlyrewarding. I certainly needed a break. We agreed to be in touchonline or through text messaging. And, if needed, he would go theSamaritans, with whom he used to be in daily contact beforecoming to see me. I also left him the number of a couple ofhelplines. Adult Bruce kindly told me how I deserved a holiday,and so I set off. Unfortunately, in my holiday resort there was noInternet connection, and when I received couple of angry textmassages, I responded to him, reassuring him that I would be backsoon.
Bowlby, in his writing on disorganized attachment, has noticedthat after prolonged separation from the parent, the child willconstruct a segregated system where both fear and anger arecompartmentalized, because any display would be likely to alien-ate the child still further from their attachment figure.
At our reunion session, Bruce angrily marched into my housenot making any eye contact, and as I sat down, there he was, “theHulk”, in all his glory and might, his skin pale, his blue eyes turnedbrown and narrowed, his eyebrows joined to each other, grindinghis teeth and his voice bristling with rage.
“Have you got any idea, have you got any idea what we’ve beenthrough all by ourselves going through the worst of times, theworst of memories, the worst of hell and without the Samaritans wewould be dead, yes, dead! So don’t tell me to calm down and takethat smirk off your face. I’m asking you: why did you not keep yourpromise? Have you got any idea what we’ve been through? Youclearly don’t, you are clearly another person from the caring thera-pist to the non-existent person you became. Please stop sayingsorry and repeating yourself unless you have a good justification asto why you weren’t in touch with us when you promised to be. Wehave trusted you, relied upon you and you have let us down, youhave let us down big time, and I don’t know that I want to comeback here ever again. This is pathetic, absolutely pathetic!”
My body froze, my neck stiffened, I apologized profusely for nothaving an Internet connection, and said that I had been thinking ofhim. Nothing seemed to calm his rage. This went on for fortyminutes or so. I suddenly realized that I had to switch off during my holiday, and I shared it with him. His shouting paused, “Finallyan honest answer”, he angrily exclaimed, and as he was about toleave the room, I, somehow, reached out for a little tortoise souvenirI bought on my holiday and in a tiny voice asked him, “Please stay.”
At this point he switched into little Bruce and started to cry. Ihad to extend the session. Sobbing, Bruce told me about his hellishChristmas, memories around the sacrifice of his little baby brotherand how they threatened that they would kill his younger sibling ifhe did not slash the baby’s throat.
During the following months, we would recover more unbear-able memories, flashbacks, and nightmares of ritual torture andabuse. The Hulk would appear on a regular basis. He sometimeswould start his shouting from the bottom of my street. He wouldstart a session announcing, “There is a lot of rage about today. Thistime it is against my father.” His head turned down as if gatheringall his strength for the fight. I would instantly tense up, feeling theterror and dread gradually building inside me. And as his violentshouting took place, the window glass would gently rattle, the airstood still. I would jump and then freeze, feeling totally paralysedby the experience. Each time I’d try to prepare myself, but noamount of preparation would ever make it any easier; on thecontrary, the closer our relationship became the more abusive it felt,the harder it became to bear.
Van der Kolk (1989) sees that what needs to be understood is thelong-term neurophysiological aspect of PTSD, and the victim’scompulsion to repeat the trauma lies at the heart of the traumaticorigins of violence.
The Hulk was born when Bruce was nine years old. Prior to theHulk, there was Leo, who was the first alter to protect Bruce fromtrusting anyone. Leo would sometimes lash out, kicking an adultwho was trying to be nice to little Bruce, warning him that humansare not to be trusted even if they appear to be kind.
For those of you not familiar with the character, the Hulk is castas the emotional and impulsive alter ego of the withdrawn andreserved physicist, Dr Bruce Banner. The Hulk appears shortly afterBanner is accidentally exposed to the blast of a test detonation of agamma bomb he invented. Subsequently, Banner will involuntarilytransform into the Hulk, depicted as a giant, raging, humanoidmonster, leading to extreme complications in Banner’s life. The Hulk’s creation was inspired by a combination of Dr Jekyll and MrHyde and Frankenstein.
Although the Hulk’s colouration has varied throughout thecharacter’s publication history, the most consistent shade is green.As the Hulk, Banner is capable of significant feats of strength,which increases in direct proportion to the character’s anger. Strongemotions, such as anger, terror, and grief are also triggers for forc-ing Banner’s transformation into the Hulk.
Little Bruce’s Hulk was born at night, around a solstice date inthe satanic calendar, when a big party took place at a large mansionhouse in the country. Everyone was there—the whole paedophilering and other familiar faces, all smartly dressed, some wearingmasks. Little Bruce knew what was coming, he had had enough, hehad nothing to lose, he wanted to die. At this point something verybig inside him, someone with a huge voice and uncontained anger,suddenly took over. At the top of the elegant staircase, there hestood in all his might, feeling fearless, free of the abuse, free of allof them, all alone in the world, he screamed the house down: “Youf—g, c—s!!!” They all looked shocked and very worried; neverbefore had any child dared to display and protest with such a voice.
The consequence was inevitable: his punishment was due anyminute; rape was not enough. They had to upgrade the level ofmind control and torture. They had to make sure that the youngboy who publicly humiliated them was silenced forever, and so,from the ages of nine to thirteen, my client was exposed to the mosthorrifying methods of abuse and terror, in which speed, heights,and suicidal mind control were the main tortures. He was nearlydrowned, put into dangerous roller-coasters, hung off the top ofbuildings, placed in fast cars driven through dark tunnels, pushedout of an aeroplane tied to a parachute and permanently injuringhis knee, and strapped to the wing of an aeroplane while it wasin flight. The Hulk was regularly assaulted, bitten, caged, andimprisoned.
Facing the Hulk for the first nine months was unpleasant, butsomehow manageable. However, the greater the attachment thattook place, the less safe I felt being in the same room as him. Iincreasingly felt the dread around his outbursts of rage, whetherthey were directed at his perpetrators or aimed at me. This reacheda climax when, on one occasion, Bruce felt I acted wrongly. He told me that the Hulk was very angry with me, and he slammed downthe phone, shouting, “I’ll see you tomorrow.” At this point, I feltvery unsafe being in the same room with Hulk, as there was noreasoning capacity, especially when I was confident that I had notacted wrongly.
I was dreading the confrontation I had to face, and so I calledhim back, suggesting that we should have a phone session wherethe Hulk could express his uncontrollable rage at me while I waslistening.
“This is exactly why men with my kind of history don’t seektherapy and end up in prison or locked into psychiatric units,” heangrily responded. “The Hulk needs a safe place to express his rageand you are forbidding him that, you are restricting him. You mustnot restrict him. I told you he won’t harm you; he’s been impris-oned long enough. He needs to express himself. He is a big part ofme and you are denying us access to your house. Where can we gonow? This would only make him more isolated and angry. What isyour supervisor’s opinion? Maybe you haven’t resolved your ownissues?”
I listened and agreed with his argument in the main. I thenasked him to have an internal conference and try to convey to theHulk that we are all in this together, trying to find ways of relatingto each other, and I know how lonely he is. I told him that I knowhow he helped Bruce stay alive during his abuse and that the Hulktaught him not to trust anyone, not to fear them, to stand up tothem. He had also fought them, and, thanks to him, they stayedalive, all alone, feeling angry and bruised, jailed in a world ofmistrust where there was no dialogue, no negotiation, and no rela-tionship. Now that we were doing so well, the majority of Bruce’sinternal population was seeking proximity to an attachment figure,something that the Hulk was terrified of.
For the following session, Bruce turned up looking contempla-tive and thoughtful. This was the spokesman for the Hulk. I satquietly, listening to him advocate the Hulk’s position in the system.
“Obviously, he is really hurt by your rejection of him, but we alltalked with each other and it is important for you not to judge orcriticize him. He is there for a reason, and you need to love him likeyou love the others, otherwise he’ll just get more violent and out ofcontrol.” For the next couple of months, the Hulk still appeared aroundtriggering dates. Particularly after Bruce had been rejected, disap-pointed, or felt needy or humiliated, the Hulk would defend Brucewith his fist and raging voice.
Although this extreme defensive response had served its imme-diate purpose of protecting the child and adult from unmanageablearousal and trauma, it left the child/adult with little understandingof his own body, emotional makeup, or how to negotiate andsurvive everyday relationships (Figure 2).
I tried to convey to Bruce that by my not feeling safe, the Hulkwas now actually holding back the process of recovery and inte-gration, despite his original good intentions to try to protect littleBruce from getting hurt. As with the entire non-relational groupinside the system, the Hulk had internalized the ways and methodsof his abusers. His aggressive, frightening gaze must have mirroredBruce’s grandfather and father. His isolation meant no relationship:no reasoning process between two subjects, no negotiation, andcertainly no integration. The spokesman insisted that in order forthat to shift, the Hulk needed to be convinced that he was acceptedand loved.
Figure 2. The internal structure of the non-relational group.
As with some female survivors who self harm, releasing tensionand anxiety as the Hulk did is a way of gaining control over theexperience and the loss. At the neurological level, the brain willexperience an analgesic effect through the production of opioid ormorphine-like substances. Camila Batmanghelidjh, who workswith very traumatized children, claims that as a way of weaningthese children from the re-enactment of their trauma, her organiza-tion has found constructive ways of releasing the adrenalin in theirbodies by taking them to martial arts, rollercoaster rides, andboxing. I also suggested to Bruce that he should go on long runs, orshould box a cushion. Unfortunately, this was not of much use tohim, as his shoulder had been dislocated as a result of the abuseand he also suffered from ME.
Rage is a response to loss, frozen tears that turn into muscles.Counting up and mourning Bruce’s losses is an ongoing processthat will take many years to heal. What I feel is taking place at themoment is a continuous dialogue between myself and the spokes-person. A mediation process of reasoning and communication isoccurring between me and the rest of the non-relational group. Theyoung ones are very much attached to me and the other creativeand relational parts are extremely grateful for the therapy. I feelmore comfortable sharing my experiences about the Hulk, how Icare and feel for his pain of loneliness, but at the same time howunhelpful I become to him when he shouts and I resort to a basichuman response of freeze/fight/flight.
The spokesperson told me that negotiation with the Hulk wascurrently taking place. The system has realized that what the Hulkgets out of his shouting is a sense of control and empowerment. Hemanaged to convey to him, “Look, we already won, there is no needto lash out at people in the present who love and care for us”. Asthis healthy dialogue was taking place, I found myself naming him“Hulky”. We also decided to release him from his internal prisonand give him a nice, comfortable room. This has really helped tomake a difference; the spokesman informed me that he likes hisnew room and name.
When Hulky eventually left the room, depression crept up onBruce, and little Bruce came twitching in his eyes, whispering witha younger voice, “I am all alone in the house, Hulk really helpedme.” Coming back from that regressive state, Bruce looked at me, and said that he thinks he is ready to let go of him now. He wishedwe could have some kind of ceremony for the Hulk’s service anddeparture. The following sessions were riddled with heavy sadness;Bruce looked broken and stricken by an intense grief, feeling ofdepression, and suicidal ideation. The spokesman tearfully told me,“If Hulk leaves, Bruce will have to be in touch with the unbearablefeelings of despair, sadness, loss, and even suicide. Expressing hismurderous rage was a way of gaining control over his grief.”
A week later, I received a phone call from Bruce, telling me thathe had spotted one of his abusers seated in a restaurant with someother people. In a shockingly calm manner, he first confirmed theman’s name, then confronted him by calling him a rapist in front ofthe other diners. The man looked pale and shocked, while Brucemarched out, not believing what he had just done.
Marking this as an act of bravery and a breakthrough of ourgood work with the Hulk, I bought Bruce toy figurine of the Hulkwith a Bruce Banner doll inside him. We congratulated the Hulk’sprogress towards integration, modelling this huge step forwardfrom aggression to assertion.
De Zulueta (1993), quoting Van der Kolk, wrote that workingwith people who have been traumatized confronts therapists aswell as patients with intense emotional experiences. It forces themto explore the darkest corners of the mind, and to face the entirespectrum of human glory and degradation. Sooner or later, theseexperiences have the potential to overwhelm therapists. Therepeated exposure to their own vulnerability becomes too intense,the display of the infinite human capacity for cruelty too unbear-able, the enactment of the trauma within the therapeutic relation-ship too terrifying.
It is just over a year now since I first met Hulky. Currently,whenever Bruce experiences anger during the session, I listen to mycountertransference. It is no longer a feeling of dread that comesbetween us, but a human feeling of irritation, frustration, assertion,and anger, but no longer to the extent of feeling unsafe.
If I ask him how Hulky is, he closes his eyes and, after couple ofminutes, he reports back, “He is OK, he is still feeling excluded inthe main, but he is listening.”
Unfortunately, for centuries, men have been permitted to be vio-lent, while with most female survivors of ritual abuse, an internal Hulk would be most likely to have expressed itself through self-harm. Working with male survivors of sexual, ritual, and sadisticabuse can naturally bring the potential to feel unsafe within the con-sulting room. Therefore, the number one priority is to create a safespace for both therapist and client. Now that we have paved the wayfor me and for Bruce to work safely, we can continue working withall the many relational and non-relational part-selves inside him.
Bowlby (1998a), in his volume on separation about children whohad been separated from their care-givers, found that when theconditions of separation were prolonged and stressful, the behav-iour observed upon reunion was detached, cut-off, disconnected,and bewildered, with gaze aversion .
On our reunion after the summer vacation, Bruce was in a badplace, having been triggered and disappointed by a relationshipwith a girl he met over his holiday, and so Hulky was around.“There is a lot of rage inside and I don’t know what to do with it.”
Listening to my countertransference, I felt the dread creepingup, but without the same velocity, and so I said to him, “Whatwould you like to do? Is it Hulky?”
At this point, he shrugged his shoulders, looking distant anddetached. For the first time since I had met him, he went into aforty-minute silence, crying and wanting to be left alone.
When I finally managed to get a response out of him, he thenmanically switched into hysterical laughter. When he finally calmeddown, I asked, “Was that Hulky?” He then cheekily replied, “I thinkhis name now is SULKY!”
These are still early days in therapy, and we still have a longway to go. The dialogues with the spokesperson are still ongoing,and so whenever Hulky turns up he is there for brief moments. Ifind that the spokesperson that communicates and mediatesHulky’s position is not only inspiring, but is also a sign of hope.This hope does not only belong to Bruce and Hulky, but to manyother severely abused men who are terrified of seeking therapy.
Working with survivors of ritual abuse can be challenging on somany levels: not only do we enter the survivor’s world of terror,helplessness, and loneliness, but we also have to put up with facingthe denial in the wider society that these things are happening. Itis, therefore, important never to lose hope; after all, what is themeaning of life if we do not face a battle that is bigger than us?
Bowlby, J. (1998a). Attachment & Loss: Volume 2, Separation, Anger andAnxiety. London: Pimlico.
Bowlby, J. (1998b). Attachment & Loss: Volume 3, Loss, Sadness andDepression. London: Pimlico.
De Zulueta, F. (1993). From Pain to Violence. London: Whurr.
van der Kolk, B. A. (1989). The compulsion to repeat the trauma: re-enactment, revictimization, and masochism. Psychiatric Clinics of
North America, 12(2): 389–411.
CHAPTER SIX Maintaining agency: a therapist’s journey
Professional journey 1966–1988
My professional journey started when I entered socialwork in 1966. By specializing in child care and familywork, I became a de facto specialist in child abuse andprotection. In 1986, I was appointed by Cleveland Social ServicesDepartment as their Child Abuse Consultant, a post created in thewake of a high profile public inquiry into the death of JasmineBeckford (HMSO, 1985). I was given a strong political and profes-sional mandate to tackle child abuse, and I was filled with a senseof agency. Together with the paediatricians, Marietta Higgs andGeoffrey Wyatt, I was a key figure in the 1987 Cleveland child abusecrisis, when what was then an unprecedented number of childrenwere medically diagnosed as having suffered sexual abuse. Ourefforts to bring this to attention and to protect the children precipi-tated a public outcry of disbelief, orchestrated by the media and onelocal MP, and led to the Butler-Sloss Inquiry.
The Butler-Sloss Inquiry was a breakthrough in societal aware-ness of sexual abuse summed up by the opening of its conclu-sion:
We have learnt during the Inquiry that sexual abuse occurs in chil-dren of all ages, including the very young, to boys as well as girls,in all classes of society and frequently within the family. The sexualabuse can be very serious and on occasions includes vaginal, analand oral intercourse. [Butler-Sloss, 1988, p. 243]
At the same time, I regard the inquiry report as a political docu-ment used to calm disquiet, contain the extent of the emergingproblem, and inform procedural solutions. It was not within itsbrief to determine whether or not the children had been abused. Itdid not analyse child abuse as a phenomenon, and decided againsthearing expert evidence about behaviour of perpetrators. Neitherdid it respond to all the data submitted by myself and my col-leagues concerning children trapped in silence. Instead, it focusedon the management of those children who are able to make a disclo-sure and take part in a child protection investigation. A differentanalysis of Cleveland from the perspective of gender-based politicsis provided by Campbell (1997). A different professional analysisand the data on the children were published by those of us at thecentre of events (Richardson & Bacon, 1991).
Butler-Sloss (1988) expressed the hope that all of us who hadbeen involved would be able to work together for the good of chil-dren in Cleveland. I was very keen to do this and take forwardwhat I had learnt, but, along with my paediatric colleagues, I wastreated as the bearer of an unwanted message. My much-heraldedpost of Child Abuse Consultant was declared redundant. I faced thecollapse of my professional networks and career in child protectionand had to find another way to maintain my sense of personal andprofessional agency.
Outcomes of the Cleveland journey
The personal and professional outcomes of Cleveland have beenpermanent for me and are an integral part of my current work withritual abuse. To paraphrase Bowlby (1988), I was left knowing whatI am not supposed to know and feeling what I am not supposed tofeel. I was acutely aware of the lost narratives of the majority ofabused children and adults, who also know what they were not supposed to know and feel what they are not supposed to feel, andI developed a rising awareness of dissociation as a way of under-standing where some of their lost narratives had gone.
I have never become immune to the emotional impact of abuse,but, at the height of the Cleveland crisis, after a day spent trying tomanage the influx of children diagnosed by the paediatricians ashaving suffered sexual abuse, I used to go home thinking that atleast I had heard the worst of what can happen to children, only tohear of yet more the next day. So, I developed a degree of affectivetolerance. I learnt then that there is no end to the varieties ofsavagery which adults can inflict on children and never to thinkthat I had heard it all.
As Herman (1992) says, moral neutrality in response to traumais not useful, and being a bystander was never an option for me.This stance has implications. I was exposed to the savagery ofdenial and scapegoating in an unsupportive and hostile profes-sional and political context, with all its spin and distortion. I regardthese as fear-driven systems that affect entire professional networksto this day. Struggling for support, I slowly realized that the deci-sion to hold on to my sense of agency was essentially down to me.
Repair of agency
In making the paradigm shift to understanding the significance ofchild abuse in the aetiology of trauma and dissociation, I created atwo-edged sword, because it was both the cause of my difficultiesand also the source of my agency. At the same time, I found thispreferable to dissociating from what I had learnt, a strategy I feltsome of the colleagues I left behind in social work had resorted to.
I carried on care-seeking and found that any crumbs of care-giving can go a long way. What I needed care-giving for, beyondmere survival, was to enable me to process my experiences. I cannotoveremphasize the value of taking time to do this as key to remain-ing open to the emotional content of others’ traumatic experienceswithout loss of agency via vicarious traumatization. My peer groupfragmented and the absence of professional care-giving was ap-palling (Richardson & Bacon, 2001a). My resources expanded whenI became one of the first intake in the psychotherapy training provided by what is now the Bowlby Centre. This gave me theopportunity to process the emotional impact of events and some-how keep both my left and right brains functioning. With thesupport of John Southgate and Kate White, I did much grieving andmourning: weeping and wailing, expressing anger, and confrontingdespair.
I was determined to bear witness rather than be silenced, and toget the lost narrative of Cleveland’s children heard. I spoke at alarge number of conferences and meetings and published twobooks with my colleagues (Richardson & Bacon, 1991, 2001b) andseveral papers.
I had some allies in other beleaguered colleagues and adultsurvivors. I knew nothing at that time of ritual abuse, and onlyopened my mind to it after meeting with colleagues from theBroxstowe case in Nottingham. In this case, professionals were atfirst commended by the High Court for protecting a group of chil-dren from sadistic abuse, but were subsequently derided in themedia and elsewhere for believing the children’s further disclo-sures, which were replete with indicators of satanic ritual abuse.These colleagues drew attention to the possible significance of someof the drawings published in our account of Cleveland’s children.For example, a child who was seen by a clinical psychologist drewher abuser dressed as a devil figure (Richardson & Bacon, 1991,p. 117). While it has never been established whether or not this childor any of the children in Cleveland had suffered ritual abuse, someprofessionals are now of the opinion that this may have been afactor in the crisis.
I did not anticipate it on moving into psychotherapy, but intothe therapeutic space stepped adult survivors of ritual abuse,daring to believe that I might be prepared to hear of experiencessimilar to this child’s drawing. I began to see the potential signifi-cance in what some of my clients drew, such as an all-seeing eyeor an inverted crucifix, or spoke of, such as memories of robedfigures and chanting. One of these clients had a vivid implicitmemory of what presented as ritual abuse ceremonies, which shewas able to draw very clearly but without any conscious memoryof them at all. I started to get an idea of what it is like for clients tolive with a loss of agency in everyday life, and I was on a steeplearning curve.
Professional learning curve
My journey alongside survivors of ritual abuse has shown me thatthere are two kinds of dissociation to consider. First, clinical disso-ciation as the sequelae of disorganized attachment and interper-sonal trauma. In this instance, any sense of agency tends to befragmented and held by different parts. The second kind, deliber-ately induced dissociation, is the sequelae of the use of terrordesigned to maintain the perpetrator’s power and control and, byits nature, is more undermining of agency. That profound loss ofagency is illustrated by a survivor or ritual abuse who said, “Itbothers me that I don’t know how to exist. I don’t know how to BE,unless it is to someone else’s design. I can’t find me. There is noth-ing there. I can’t answer questions about what I want because Idon’t know how to locate ‘I’.”
As a result of the way in which abusers manipulate attachmentneeds, the whole concept of relationship is problematic to thesurvivor and all the notions we hold dear as therapists are seen asdangerous. For example, the more caring the therapeutic relation-ship is and the more it develops, the more the expectation increasesthat it is a precursor to abuse and a part inside gives the messageto flee. As a result, I find I am often seen by clients as highly suspectwhen I relate in a kind and friendly manner.
My learning curve has led me to develop what one of my clientshas called a “methodology of healing” as a framework for practice.It is influenced by a new attachment paradigm developed by Heard,Lake, and McCluskey (2009). Devising my own methodology usingattachment theory has been very empowering for me and my clients,and seems to achieve lift-off in therapy for those who can use it.
In summary, I have identified an “internal attachment system”with patterns of internal care-seeking–care-giving as a key target ofintervention (Richardson, 2010). I find that helping to build aninternal attachment hierarchy can be more viable and less threaten-ing than an emphasis on relationship with the therapist. I see myrole as being what Blizard (2003) calls a “relational bridge” for theparts inside. Some parts can be brilliant care-givers; for example,knowing how to manage avoidant parts who are terrified of prox-imity by keeping a tolerable distance, giving just the right amountof reassurance or using other child parts to make an alliance with terrified inner children. I have reframed questions from the AdultAttachment Interview (AAI) into an “internal attachment inter-view” (Richardson, 2010). The quality of the narrative sheds lighton internal attachment patterns, provides a map of internal rela-tional configurations, and identifies tasks of repair.
Some ongoing challenges to therapeutic agency
To act as a relational bridge in a way which supports the growth ofinternal care-seeking and care-giving means attuning to multiplefeeling states, attachment styles, and developmental stages. Forexample, one client asked each part of her system what theythought of me. Some parts did not know to whom she was refer-ring, and it had to be explained that I am the person they see on thesame day at same time every week. Another part thought they justmight recognize me by my characteristic appearance. Yet anotherpart said dismissively that they know perfectly well who I was, butcould take me or leave me alone. In addition, as in every system,there were traumatized children desperately seeking attachment.
Evolving strategies to deal with the effects of programmingdesigned to destabilize or destroy attachments is challenging andjust beginning. More challenging still is bearing witness to a historyof atrocity, one in which the client may have been forced to takepart. The nature of this, along with the client’s dysregulated care-seeking, arouses our own care-giving systems. Care-givers wouldnormally reach their goal when well-being has been restored in thecare-seeker. However, clients who have suffered ritual abuse canhave immense difficulty in reaching the goal of well-being. I find Iam often faced by chronic, unassuaged care-seeking by distressedparts and poor, absent, or punitive internal care-giving. This can bequite dysregulating for me as a professional care-giver. I suspect itis the source of potential therapeutic hazards that are all too easy tojudge in our peers, such as loss of boundaries.
Journey to date: maintaining agency
In my experience, it makes a lot of difference to belong to profes-sional organizations and networks such as the European Society for Dissociation and its UK network, the special interest group on ritualabuse and mind control set up by the International Society for theStudy of Trauma and Dissociation, and small peer groups. Thisreduces isolation and helps to maintain vitality through interestsharing.
In the wake of Cleveland, I have learnt to live with conflictingand incoherent narratives at every level (Richardson, 2008). In indi-vidual therapeutic work, I am regularly afflicted by doubt that noteverything is what it seems, and have become aware that thesystem is not always right. I know I have been misled at times byparts who are still relying on old ways to survive. In response, I tryto see the journey as a shared search with the client for their “real-ity” and “truth” and the construction of a narrative that is suffi-ciently coherent to live by.
For sources of inspiration, among other things I draw on poetry(e.g., Jennings, 1986; Nightingale, 1988) and literature (e.g., Slovo,2000). I share these resources with clients when appropriate, as theydo with me when creative writing and poetry is part of exploratorytherapy.
I hold on to hope for healing. From an attachment perspective,hope can be informed by the client undoing any belief in the perpe-trators as the sole source of care; recognizing that attachment to theperpetrators cannot provide what other relationships can; seeing allparts of the self as worthy of care rather than as “evil” or culpable,and co-creating a means of effective internal care-seeking and care-giving. It is my experience that survivors of ritual abuse and mindcontrol can restructure their internal care-seeking and care-givingand move from an insecure internal world to one which is moresecure.
I find that engaging in exploration, creative “play”, andsymbolic communication is part of the upside of my work. I havea small collection of toys in my therapy room (Figure 1), alongwith paints, clay, storybooks, and various symbolic objects whichadult clients often use to work on restructuring their internalattachment systems. As the internal relational structure represen-ted in toys or other materials changes, the narrative also changes.Then the toys and materials are no longer needed and are putaway or bequeathed to my collection, which, for this reason, isgrowing.
Figure 1. Toys used in my therapy room.
Journey from 1987 to the present date: conclusions
In conclusion, I can affirm that agency is tenacious, both in myselfas a professional after times of deep despair, and in even the mostapparently damaged clients, for whom allowing themselves toremember what they are supposed to forget is a huge act of agencyin itself.
On my journey to date, I have seen the wheel come full circle.The proactive assertive approach to child protection for which wewere condemned in Cleveland has been called for in subsequentcases of child deaths elsewhere, such as Baby P, killed at age two.
Even though previous crises in Nottingam, Rochdale, and Ork-ney were shut down, ritual abuse keeps trying to emerge. Dare wehope that ritual abuse will have its Cleveland, which will bringabout a paradigm shift in its understanding and recognition? Darewe hope for a genuine discourse and an end to multiple andconflicting states of mind about knowing vs. not knowing aboutforms of ritual abuse and mind control? My journey so far has notgiven me the answer to these questions. I hold on to a vision for thefuture of a changed societal and professional context that providesfor the unfolding of unheard narratives and recognizes andsupports the complex and challenging tasks of repair and witnessto survivors of ritual abuse. For this to happen, all of us have to take on the burden of change with its potential rewards. The endeavouris a political one, and its nature transformational. The challenge andrewards are summed up by a survivor as follows:
When I think of the generations gone
When I think of the generations gone to darknessWhen I think of the generations gone to madnessIt makes me shudder.
Out of nowhere but the infinity of spaceand eternity of time
Out of the deep, deep ground with its hidden secretsThis revelation was flung to us
To be the generations that bring truth into the lightTo be the last bearers of that trembling of the mindTo be the first who speak of the violation of the body
We come with the truth of mans’ bearing
Of nature’s desperate clawing at the night
We come with the burden of change on us
With the shifting of consciousness’s tectonic platesWe come holding Utopia
In the guise of the unmentionable
Wreathed in atrocity we bring the sunrise
Of women’s and men’s potential
We carry new dynasties in dung stained hands
We, the lucky unlucky onesWe, the dirt under your feetBring you the future
An equable humanity
Free from the consequences of man’s lust. [Evans, 2006, p. 5]