Religious Tolerance logo


horizontal rule

Sponsored link.

horizontal rule

Many adults enter counseling with no recollections of childhood sexual abuse (CSA). However, if they receive Recovered Memory Therapy (RMT), then some will recover CSA memories. Some therapists claim an 80% success rate; a few claim 100%. Often memories emerge during meetings of survivors; sometimes they materialize during self-hypnosis.

Since the early 1980s, approximately 17% of the clients who recover memories of CSA go on to uncover memories of ritual abuse or of Satanic or Sadistic Ritual Abuse (SRA). Some also progress to a diagnosis of Multiple Personality Disorder (a.k.a. Dissociative Identity Disorder).

Mental health professionals debated whether such memories were of real events, or were an unintended iatrogenic phenomenon arising from the experimental RMT therapeutic techniques. A split developed among professionals. Most memory researchers believed that recovered memories should not be regarded as valid unless corroboration is first obtained. 1 Many therapists believed that the memories represent actual memories of real events. Various professional organizations recommended against accepting recovered memories as accurate without external verification; however they did little to combat the proliferation of RMT therapy.

This conflict raged during the late 1980s and into early 1990s. Patients and clients continued to be exposed to various experimental therapies, even though there was:

bullet No hard evidence of SRA actually had happened anywhere in North America.
bullet A lack of experimental studies showing that memories can be repressed and later recovered.
bullet Obvious decline in the mental state of the clients during therapy.
bullet Massive destruction of the clients' families of origin due to uncorroborated accusations of CSA and SRA.

A series of high-profile court cases with multi-million dollar settlements against RMT therapists brought pressure by malpractice insurance companies, mental health professionals, the media, and the general public. By the late 1990s, recovered memory therapy was largely discredited, and belief about the validity of MPR/DID was in rapid decline. 

horizontal rule

Common SRA memories:

SRA memories usually include being forced to attend Satanic rituals conducted by inter-generational, secret cults. They were forced to watch and sometimes participate while animals and infants were tortured and ritually murdered; the victim's flesh was eaten and their blood consumed. There are many indicators that such cults do not exist and that the SRA memories are actually images that feel like memories of events that never happened.

horizontal rule

Sponsored link:

horizontal rule

Allegations of SRA mind-control programming:

Along with memories of Satanic rituals, many SRA survivors recall being subjected to programming sessions by the cult; this lead to mind control by the cult. The Los Angeles County Task Force on Ritual Abuse 2 described programming as follows:

"Mind control is the cornerstone of ritual abuse, the key element in the subjugation and silencing of its victims. Victims of ritual abuse are subjected to a rigorously applied system of mind control designed to rob them of their sense of free will and to impose upon them the will of the cult and its leaders."

Elements of mind control programming are often believed to include:
bullet A Satanic (or similar) religious cult, sometimes involved in criminal activities. Alternatively, a secret federal government agency or men's fraternal organization is involved.
bullet The cult contains many civic leaders: local government office holders, police, judges, doctors, Christian clergy, etc. Many members attend Christian churches on Sunday and put on Satanic robes at other times.
bullet The cult needs to develop robot-like behavior in children so that when they mature, they will take over the organization of the group and continue the abuse into the next generation.
bullet The cult tests children at a young age. Those who are have an average or low ability to dissociate are killed in ritual sacrifices; those who can readily dissociate are retained for programming
bullet By a highly sophisticated program of physical, emotional and sexual abuse, the children are taught to dissociate. When they are unable to handle the pain and terror, their mind drifts elsewhere to a safe place. They become able to block out the abuse. Eventually, the dissociation becomes so complete that multiple personalities are created. These alternative personalities (or alters) are a natural defense mechanism within the brain of a child when they are confronted with more abuse than they can handle. Each alter adsorbs some of the memories of the abuse. The child will eventually have a single dominant personality which is in control most of the time, and is unaware of the programming and of the presence of the alters. However, control can be transferred to an alter for intervals of time.
bullet These alters are programmed to perform certain specific functions. For example:
bullet return the survivor to the cult upon command for further abuse or programming
bullet commit suicide if the survivor discloses information that might threaten the safety and security of the cult
bullet disrupt therapy, through thought-stealing, mind scrambling, emotional outbursts or distancing from the therapist
bullet burn, cut or otherwise mutilate the body
bullet send status reports back to the cult, etc.

Neswald et al lists a number of typical ritual abuse programs. 3

bullet Along with alter programming, certain triggers are established that will cause a particular alter to emerge and perform their pre-programmed function. These triggers may be a word, sound, color, picture, time, date, hand sign, etc., or a combination of events. Exorcist and fundamentalist Christian Bob Larson writes: "For example, and [sic] SRA survivor may be programmed so that every time he sees the color red a self-mutilating alter will come out and cut the body." 4
bullet As part of its programming, the child is required to kill animals and/or infants, and to feel guilt for the murder. This reinforces their low self-image and feelings of hopelessness and lack of control and power.
bullet As an adult, the survivor is unaware of the programming and SRA. They do not realize that they are suffering from Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD) or Dissociative Identify Disorder (DID). Recollections of abuse are locked up in the alters' memories.
bullet One of her alters is recalled periodically by the cult for further abuse and programming. This often occurs on "call-back" years, at ages 27, 30, 33 etc. when the survivor feels that she must either return or kill herself. She might be recalled for an entire weekend of abuse; on Monday morning her memories are a complete blank, although her physical condition would be dreadful.
bullet A few adults are driven by emotional problems to seek therapy. Under hypnosis and other suggestive treatments, awareness of the alters and of the cult abuse and programming can emerge. Suicide ideation and successful suicides are relatively common among individuals recovering memory of SRA and of programming.

horizontal rule

Is programming a real phenomenon?

We have been unable to uncover hard evidence of its existence. Like SRA itself, there are thousands or tens of thousands of people who have recovered memories of having been programmed in cults. Many have been diagnosed as suffering from MPD/DID. But such memories are highly suspect. 1

We have been unable to find any hard evidence of these forms of abuse motivated by religious principles, like the worship of Satan. There have been no criminal charges or convictions. We have been unable to find any instance where a survivor was followed during a recall to the cult. We have never been able to locate a survivor of cult-induced programming who has had continuous memories of the abuse. We have never found a credible Satanic ritual abuse disclosure by a child. We tentatively conclude that no programming, and in fact no Satanic Ritual Abuse is perpetrated by organized cults in North America. However, with a population of about 300 million, it is possible that Satanic ritual abuse does exist, but is an extremely rare.

horizontal rule

Why Do People Believe in Programming?

Foundational beliefs which are commonly held by people who believe in programming and mind control are:
bullet the psychological programming derived shown in some movies [e.g. The Manchurian Candidate (1962)] are possible in real life.
bullet that "brainwashing" techniques used during the Korean war were much more effective than they really were.
bullet that the CIA pilot projects in mind control (Artichoke: 1951-1953; MKULTRA: 1953-1963; MKSEARCH: 1963-1973), which used drugs, hypnosis, hallucinogens, sensory depravation etc., were not shut down in the 1970's due to lack of useable results as is generally believed. They have been continued secretly to the present time.
bullet that memories recovered during hypnosis and other forms of suggestive therapy are always accurate recollections of real events, no matter how bizarre or improbable they may seem

Under pressure from the Anti-Cult Movement, the American Psychological Association gave legitimacy to these beliefs in their DSM-IV manual. 5 They described a type of dissociative disorder that can "occur in individuals who have been subjected to periods of prolonged and intensive coercive persuasion (e.g. brainwashing, thought reform, or indoctrination while captive)"

The concepts of programming, triggers and mind control became widely accepted among feminist, religious and social conservatives, and other groups. By 2005, support for these beliefs has almost vanished.

horizontal rule

Specific programming techniques:

We suspect that these programming techniques are derived from clients undergoing recovered memory therapy. 

bullet Psychologist Cory Hammond of the University of Utah has lectured on what he believes to be the Satanic techniques of mind control. He claims that a team of Nazi doctors had been conducting mind control experiments in concentration camps. They came to the US after the war to secretly continue their experiments for the CIA. They allegedly programmed and tortured children on army bases across the US. At this time, the CIA, NASA, the Mafia, Hollywood and some business leaders are part of a massive, tightly controlled Satanic network which is gearing up to rule the world. He asserts that children are programmed from age 3 to teenage years; this involves disorienting noise, flashing lights and electric shocks. He believes that alters are created to perform specific functions. Programmed is done in layers; some are:
bullet Alpha layer is general programming
bullet Beta controls sexual behavior including knowledge to make kiddy-porn
bullet Delta are assassins and are responsible for slashing
bullet Theta are psychic killers; through mental energy, they can cause another person to develop a malignant brain tumor
bullet Omega self-mutilate and commit suicide
bullet Gamma provide misinformation and create confusion
bullet Zeta has information to produce snuff films
bullet According to the Los Angeles County Task Force on Ritual Abuse, 2techniques used by the cult include:
bullet physical abuse: starvation, thirst, pain, drugs, exhaustion, physical isolation, sexual abuse, disorienting bright lights.
bullet emotional abuse: the creation of moods of terror, guilt, shame, emotional isolation and rage.
bullet cognitive abuse: being kept in a state of ignorance, confusion; being taught that God has abandoned them and that Satan is in control
bullet Dr. John D. Lovern has described spin programming, a "newly uncovered technique of systematic mind control which he uncovered during therapy with his patients". He believes that it is used by Satanic cults to simultaneously modify the programming of a number (perhaps all) of a survivor's alters. If the patient is aware of their alters, then she will report that many or all of them are feeling a common emotion (e.g. fear, depression, etc.). They will complain of dizziness and of a sense of spinning internally; parts of their body may move rhythmically. The survivors tell of starting programming at the age of three. Many methods are used:
bullet lying horizontally on a rotating table
bullet horizontal spinning about the long axis of the body (as in a barbecue)
bullet attached to a vertical rotating table (like the arms on a clock)
bullet attached to a vertical spinning pole
bullet confined upright inside a vertical spinning cylinder

Dr. Lovern implies that most (perhaps all) survivors may have been exposed to long periods of spin programming.

bullet A person with MPD called "all of us" has described a color programming method that she believes is in standard use by Satanists worldwide. One color is associated with each alter or grouping of similar alters; it may be the clothes' color that they are visualized as wearing, or the color of the "room" that they live in. Pink are infant alters; red are Witches and sexually compliant alters; black perform rituals; purple are the supervisors; light blue protect the body; dark blue protect the cult; orange handle emergencies; yellows are spiritual alters; green alters maintain ties to the family or origin; browns are disguise alters; sliver are alters with ESP powers; gold are the senior administrators; white is the principle personality; platinum is the ultimate authority.
bullet Pamela J. Monday and Denny Hilgers describe many programming methods in their essay "Recognizing and Classifying Programming." Two are:
bullet "The Carousel is usually found in the center of the Double Helix. Within the carousel there are mirrors and a shadow system. There is a key in the center of the carousel. The carousel spins and moves up and down repeatedly. The function of this program is to add confusion and avoidance. The mirrors and shadows are within the carousel which help prevent further deprogramming. Often the use of special light to light up the right path through the mirrors and shadows in order to reach the key has been helpful. Spiritual Interventions can be helpful here, as three 'floating spirits' (False Prophet, Hoofed One, and Dragon) are frequently found in this program."
bullet "The Scrabble system contains letters, numbers, and mathematical exponents. This is a very detailed system, with no room for error. A sequence of numbers or letters might set off this programming. For example, if the therapist writes a series of numbers such as '31133113', '13113311', or '11331313', and the patient responds to one or all of these series of numbers, you may have the Scrabble system. There is a lot of torture and trauma associated with this program because it is so sophisticated and difficult to learn. As programming proceeds, any mistakes made by the survivor will be severely punished." 6

horizontal rule


  1. C.A. Ross, "Satanic Ritual Abuse: Principles of Treatment", University of Toronto Press, Toronto ON, (1994), P. 139
  2. Los Angeles County Commission for Women: The Ritual Abuse Task Force, "Ritual Abuse", Los Angeles CA (1991)
  3. D.W. Neswald, C. Gould, V. Graham-Costain, "Common "programs" observed in survivors of satanic ritual abuse:, California Therapist, (1991-SEP/OCT), P. 47-50.
  4. Bob Larson, "MPD and Satanic Ritural [sic] Abuse (SRA)," at:
  5. American Psychological Association, "Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition", Washington DC (1994)
  6. P.J Monday & Denny Hilgers, "Recognizing and Classifying Programming," at:

horizontal rule

Web sites which promote beliefs in mind control programming by Satanic cults:

bullet "Discovery" has an enormous list of links to mind control programming web sites at:
bullet Ritual abuse and healing home page at:
bullet MindNet Journal issues often contain information on mind control conspiracies. Back issues are available on line.
bullet D.C. Hammond, "The Greenbaum Speech." This is the text of a lecture given to the Fourth Annual Eastern Regional Conference on Abuse and Multiple Personality in 1992. It  was originally called "Hypnosis in MPD: Ritual Abuse." See:
bullet Mark Phillips & Cathy O'Brien, "Mind Control: Index and Introduction," at:
bullet Vexen Crabtree, "Ritual Mind Control Tactics," at:
bullet Ann S. Earle, "Cult and Ritual Abuse," at:

horizontal rule

Web sites which are skeptical of mind control programming by Satanic cults:

bullet Evan Harrington, "Conspiracy Theories and Paranoia: Notes from a Mind-Control Conference," This is a skeptical review of the 1995 conference sponsored by the Society for the Investigation, Treatment and Prevention of Ritual and Cult Abuse (SITPRCA), titled "Cult and Ritual Abuse, Mind Control, and Dissociation: A Multidisciplinary Dialogue." See:

horizontal rule

Copyright 1996 to 2005 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2005-MAY-03
Author: B.A. Robinson

line.gif (538 bytes)

horizontal rule

Go to the previous page, or go to the Satanic Ritual Abuse menu, or choose:


Go to home page  We would really appreciate your help

E-mail us about errors, etc.  Purchase a CD of this web site

FreeFind search, lists of new essays...  Having problems printing our essays?

Twitter link

Facebook icon

GooglePage Translator:

This page translator works on Firefox,
Opera, Chrome, and Safari browsers only

After translating, click on the "show
original" button at the top of this
page to restore page to English.