Allan Memorial Institute

Ellen P. Lacter, Ph.D.  (Revised 9-9-2007)

Organizations with a wide range of political and criminal agendas have historically relied on coercive interrogation and brainwashing of various types to force submission and information from enemies and victims, and to indoctrinate and increase cooperation in members and captors. In modern times, these techniques are used by political/military/espionage organizations, race/ethnic hate-groups, criminal groups (e.g., child pornographers and sex rings, and international traffickers of women, children, guns, and drugs) and exploitative and destructive cults with spiritual or other agendas. Methods of “thought reform” used by such groups include intimidation, social isolation, religious indoctrination, threats against victims or their loved ones, torture, torture of co-captives, and brainwashing through social influence or deprivation of basic needs, such as sleep or food (see Releasing the Bonds: Empowering People to Think for Themselves (2000), by Steven Hassan).

Mental health and law enforcement professionals working with severe trauma are increasingly seeing victims of torture for the purpose of installation of more covert mind control, that is, mind control that was “installed” in a deeply dissociated (without conscious awareness) state, and controls the person from these unconscious, dissociated, states of mind (Boyd, 1991; Coleman, 1994; Hersha, Hersha, Griffis, & Schwarz, 2001; Katchen & Sakheim, 1992; Keith, 1998; Marks, 1979; Neswald & Gould, 1993; Neswald, Gould, & Graham-Costain, 1991; Noblitt & Perskin, 2000; Oksana, 2001; Ross, 2000; Ryder, 1992; Rutz, 2001; Sheflin & Opton, 1978; Smith, 1993; Weinstein, 1990). The evidence of the existence of covert mind control has begun to surface in the legal arena as well (e.g., Orlikow v. U.S., 682 F.S. 77 (D.D.C. 1988).

The following list describes 12 forms of mind control, beginning with thought reform that is registered consciously, with memory, through the most covert forms of mind control, in which the individual has no memory of the installation, and is controlled beyond conscious awareness.

Levels of Brainwashing and Mind Control from Least to Most Complex and Binding, and often used in combination, especially in ritual abuse:

1. Terrified Submission: Outward compliance, but one’s own beliefs and identity are preserved.

2. Willful Compliance: A disturbed or abused child/adolescent/adult is provided with objects, drugs, affection, sex, “freedom”, etc., and chooses the abuser over his/her current life situation.

3. Stockholm Syndrome: Terror (abuser harms victim or threatens victim and his/her family with violence), plus isolation from prior support, often combined with lies of family abandonment, lead to dependence on abuser(s), and perceived loyalty to the abuser.

At 10:15 A.M. on Thursday, August 23rd, 1973 the “Sveriges Kreditbank” of Stockholm, Sweden was rocked by sub-machine gun fire.(1) “The party has just begun”, announced a 32 year old prison escapee named Jan-Erik Olsson. “The party”, indeed, continued for some 131 hours, or five and a half days, as Olsson held four of the bank’s employees hostage in an 11 by 47 foot vault until late in the evening of August 28th. …Later interviews with the four hostages yielded surprising results — results that have been confirmed in numerous other “hostage situations” in the years that followed. Even though the captives themselves were not able to explain it, they displayed a strange association with their captors, identifying with them while fearing those who sought to end their captivity. In some cases they later testified on behalf of or raised money for the legal defense of their captors. The Swedish location of the “Sveriges Kreditbank” gave its name to this mental aberration as “The Stockholm Syndrome”.

4. Religious Indoctrination: A psychologically weak or dependent person submits to a charismatic leader who claims to be spiritually connected to some kind of God, professing to be chosen for a spiritual agenda, promises salvation to devotees and eternal damnation promised to non-followers.

5. Brainwashing through Social influence: An individual is placed only among successful “converts” to the abuser or cult, who profess the belief system of the group, while the person is isolated from family and previous support systems and activities.

6. Brainwashing through Deprivation of Basic Needs: Sleep, food, water, combined with chanting, social isolation, etc.

“Brainwashing”… describes …. the process of indoctrination that… occurred to some American prisoners of war during the Korean War (1950-1953). It is a term coined by journalist Edward Hunter (1951) to describe “thought reform” programs and methods developed by the Chinese Communists after taking control of China in 1949. The Communist Chinese hoped to influence their own people and some prisoners of war enough to cause them to change their beliefs and accept beliefs as true that they previously had considered false. Their methodology included starvation, deprivation of sleep and isolation of victims alone in a prison cell or a small room for long periods of time where they feared for their lives. They were told repeatedly and harshly that their political, religious or social beliefs were wrong while shown the advantages of complying with their captors’ position.

7. Self-View as an Accomplice or Evil: Abuser forces victim into double-binds that cause the victim to feel culpable.

8. Unidimensional directives: are communicated during severe abuse, convincing affected personalities that the abuse will re-occur if the programmed mandate is broken. The most common are, “Remember to forget” the abuse and “Don’t tell” about the abuse. A central function of most mind control is to cause the victim to physically and psychologically re-experience the torture used to install the programming should she or he act in violation of programmed commands. The re-experience of the original torture often includes somatic manifestation of the original injuries, such as bruising and swelling, though not to the degree of the original injury.

9. Spiritual “Programming”: Evil attachments, claims, curses, covenants, etc. Witchcraft ritual abuse seeks to “attach” evil entities (spirits of abusers and demons) to dissociated identities to harass and control victims for their entire lives. Claims, curses, covenants, hexes, vexes, etc. are used to forever malevolently define victims as evil, physically or mentally ill, socially devalued and isolated, sexually enslaved, a murderer, a cult member, a witch, etc.

10. Psychic driving: Taped messages are played for hours non-stop while the person is in states of consciousness altered by sleep, electro-shock, sensory deprivation, inadequate food, water, sleep, oxygen, isolated, confinement or other torture.

This methodology was utilized by Ewen Cameron, MD, in the 1950s (See film, “The Sleep Room” about 1950s CIA funding of his research.) In 1997, the U.S. CIA was sued by a number of Dr. Cameron’s ex-patients. The Canadian court found in favor of the patients who endured Dr. Cameron’s tortures in the name of creating a more efficient Manchurian Candidate for the CIA championed by Allen Dulles, the man behind the MKUltra projects. Electroshock, according to Dr. Cameron’s protocol would do the following (Emery, 1977):

  • First Stage: In the First Stage of electroshock amnesia, the subject loses much of her recent memory, “yet she still knew where she was, why she was there, and who the people were who treated her.” (J. Marks, 1979, p. 135). That is called keeping your “space-time image.” The subject knows where she is, why she is there, and recognizes familiar faces. Names are harder.
  • Second Stage: In the Second Electroshock Amnesia Stage, the subject loses that space-time image and is aware of the loss. That awareness causes extreme anxiety. The subject wants to remember. At his stage the subject asks repeatedly, ‘Where am I?’, ‘How did I get here?’, ‘What am I here for?’
  • Third Stage: In this final stage, the subject becomes bizarrely calm. All the previous anxiety is gone. At this point the patient was moved back to their room where a speakerphone had been placed under their pillow, a tape recorder with a continuous loop played repeating the same command over and over again. While in this state, patients showed incontinence of both urine and feces.

Much of these inhumane “treatments” appear to have originated 50 years earlier in Pavlov’s abusive experiments with dogs. Read more at: 2-22-2003, the main web-site from which this section of the outline was derived. Also, see Ross (2000) and Rutz (2001), for more information on the United States CIA projects (MKULTRA and others) using unwitting human subjects for mind control experimentation and exploitation.

11. Machiavellian manipulation of the inner psychological world of the child. Examples of process: from “The First Five Steps of Discipline” (Svali, 1999)

Third Step: To Not Wish. The child is placed in a room with favorite toys, or objects. A kind adult comes into the room and engages the child in play. This adult may be a friend, aunt, parent, or trainer. The child and adult may engage in fantasy play about the child’s secret wishes, dreams, or wants. This will occur on several occasions, and the child’s trust is slowly gained. At some later point, the child is severely punished for any aspect of wishing or fantasy shared with the adult, including the destruction of favorite toys, going in and undoing or destroying secret safe places the child may have created, or even destroying non cult protectors. This step is repeated, with variations, many many times over the ensuing years. Occasionally, the child’s siblings, parents, or friends will be used to reveal inside fantasies the child has revealed to them during the daytime, or in unguarded moments. The ostensible reason the cult gives for this step is to create a child who doesn’t fantasize, who is more outwardly directed, less inwardly directed. In other words, the child is to look to adults for permission in all aspects of its life, including internal. The reality is that this step destroys all safe places the child has created internally, to retreat from the horrors it is experiencing. This step creates in the child the feeling that there is no true safety, that the cult will find out everything it thinks. Exercises like this are also used to create young alters in the child who will self report to the cult trainers any secret safe places, or covert wishes against the cult, that other alters have. This will then begin to set up intrasystem hostility and divisiveness, which the cult will manipulate throughout the person’s life span in order to control them.

12. Trauma-based Coercive Mind Control– Trauma-based mind control programming can be defined as systematic torture that blocks the victim’s capacity for conscious processing (through pain, terror, drugs, illusion, sensory deprivation, sensory over-stimulation, oxygen deprivation, cold, heat, spinning, brain stimulation, and often, near-death), and then employs suggestion and/or classical and operant conditioning (consistent with well-established behavioral modification principles) to implant thoughts, directives, and perceptions in the unconscious mind, often in newly-formed trauma-induced dissociated identities, that force the victim to do, feel, think, or perceive things for the purposes of the programmer. The objective is for the victim to follow directives with no conscious awareness, including execution of acts in clear violation of the victim’s moral principles, spiritual convictions, and volition.

Installation of mind control programming relies on the victim’s capacity to dissociate, which permits the creation of new walled-off personalities to “hold” and “hide” programming. Already dissociative children are prime “candidates” for programming. Alternatively, very young children can be made dissociative through trauma-based programming. The extreme abuse inflicted on young children in intra-familial satanic and “black” witchcraft (not Wicca) cults reliably causes dissociation. Children in these cults are programmed to the extent that the cult’s leaders understand mind control programming. Many ritual abuse survivors report that other abuser groups with criminal, political, and military agendas infiltrate their familial cults to gain access to these readily-programmable children to program them to fulfill their own agendas, often paying the cult parents large sums of money to do so.

One common function of trauma-based mind control programming is to cause the victim to physically and psychologically re-experience the torture used to install the programming should the victim consider violating its directives. The most common programs are unidimensional directives communicated during torture and impaired states of consciousness to; “Remember to forget” the abuse and “Don’t tell” about the abuse.

Much trauma-based mind control programming is significantly more complex, more technological in its methods of installation, and utilizes the individual’s dissociated identities (personalities) to effect greater layering of psychological effects. Personalities are usually programmed to take executive control of the body in response to particular cues (hand signals, tones, etc.) and then follow directives, with complete amnesia for these events. This is exemplified by the automatic response of the programmed assassin to seeing the Queen of Diamonds in the 1962 film, “The Manchurian Candidate”. Personalities are programmed to become flooded with anxiety or feel acutely suicidal if they defy program directives. Personalities are often programmed to believe that explosives have been surgically implanted in their bodies and that these will detonate if the individual violates orders or begins to recall the programming, the torture used to install it, or the identities of the programmers.

In highly sophisticated mind control, the individual is programmed to perceive inanimate structures in the unconscious inner landscape. “Structures” are mental representations of objects, e.g., buildings, grids, devices of torture, and other containers, that “hold” programmed commands, messages, information, and personalities. In many cases, walls are also installed that serve as barriers to hide deeper levels of programming and structures. Unconscious personalities perceive themselves as trapped within, or attached to, these structures, both visually (in internal imagery), and somatically (in experiences of pain, suffocation, electroshock, etc.).

Structures are installed in early childhood, generally between 2 and 5 years of age. Torture and drugs are applied beyond the endurance of all of the already-formed personalities, which usually requires that the child be taken near death. The intent is to bury all memory for the event deeply in the unconscious mind, below the level of consciousness of all personalities. When all conscious processing of information is blocked, the child cannot mentally resist any of the programmer’s input, cannot reject it as “not me” or as untrue. Instead, the input is “taken in whole”, into the unconscious mind, with no conscious memory, and therefore no ability to process or reject it later.

The child may be tortured on a device, and the personalities formed in this process then perceive themselves trapped on these devices. Or an image of an object may be projected on the child’s body or on a screen, or in virtual reality goggle, or a physical model of the object is shown.

The programmer then tells the child that this device or object is now within him or her. Because the mind of the small child does not easily discriminate reality and fantasy (this process relies on the pre-school child’s use of magical thinking), the child now perceives the object as a structure within. Then, a code is installed, for the programmer to gain future access to the structure to erase or give new information.

Immediately after the structure is installed, the programmer will generally command traumatized personalities go to places in the structures, e.g., “Go inside the grid”; The programmer will generally also install the perception of wires, bombs, and re-set buttons, to prevent removal of the structure. The child is usually shown something to make the him or her perceive these as real, e.g., a button on the belly-button.

Installed program “triggers”, “cues”, and “access codes” allow the programmer easy access to programmed personalities and program structures to install or change commands, messages, and information, and to retrieve information, all out of victims’ conscious awareness.

Personalities trapped in (or on) structures obey program directives until freed from the structures. Programmed functions are usually performed unconsciously, or with a some awareness of a compulsion to do, or not do, something. E.g., personalities are often programmed to awaken in the every morning hours to make a telephone call (use of toll-free numbers results in no record of calls) to obtain or provide information to abuser groups. Programmed “reporter” personalities report whether therapy is approaching the hidden programming. The host usually has no knowledge of making these calls, or may occasionally find him/herself holding a telephone in the middle of the night, not knowing why.

Similar methods of programming, sometimes combined with witchcraft spiritual abuse, are used to mentally install “humanoids”, e.g., robots, shells, etc., that contain no part of the person’s true humanity, i.e., no personality fragment. These humanoids carry out specific functions within the mind, or in external actions.

Programming overides the victim’s free will. Programmed individuals (usually specific personalities) follow commands and perform actions that are in clear violation of their free will, moral principles, and spiritual convictions, generally without conscious awareness.

These kinds of programming continue to control the person’s thoughts and actions for decades, usually with no conscious awareness of the programming or of the personalities under its control. Survivors of ritual abuse who re-associate their history of abuse usual begin to recover their memories of abuse from between 30 and 50 years of age. It is generally many years more before the survivor becomes aware of mind control programming and its ongoing effects on her or him.

Free will, determination, and deep spiritual faith, are usually not enough alone to find the unconscious personalities perceiving themselves inexorably trapped in programming, or the carefully hidden program structures. Finding these generally requires expertise in safely helping survivors access this information. By the programmers’ design, attempting to disable or remove programming usually “sets off” programmed self-destruction and negative health/mental health consequences. Finding, disabling, and removing programming must skillfully sidestep these negative consequences. Although the host personality may be determined to defy all such consequences, concealed personalities trapped in complex programs often perceive themselves as unable to defy programmed negative consequences.

Consultation with experts in program removal who have extensive knowledge of various kinds of programming done by the various abuser groups permits; a) the discovery of programming buried in the unconscious mind, b) techniques in side-stepping programming, and c) recognition of “red herrings” and disinformation.

The objectives of program removal are to:

1. Free all personalities controlled by programming, so they may act of their own free will:
a) to decide who and what they want to be and do!,
b) to leave the sites of their trauma and program structures,
c) to go to a healing/safe place in the inner world, and/or
d) to gain co-consciousness with the host, or integrate with the host and with the core (which is usually a young part of the host that the individual has managed to hide from the abusers).

2. Remove all injunctions and implants (structures, humanoids, hostile spiritual controls).
The free will of the host and other personalities must be respected at all times in the process of disabling/removing mind control programming. Program removal cannot be achieved with re-programming or abuse, e.g., use of coercion, manipulation, deceit, intimidation, sleep deprivation.

In most cases, skillful program removal greatly facilitates the psychotherapy process. In many cases, program removal is essential to stop ongoing contact with abuser groups.

I have worked extensively with an expert in program removal for the past eight years. I welcome people to contact me for more information about my consultant and the program removal process. My e-mail is:

Some Indicators of Trauma-Based Mind Control Programming:

A. Repetitive, robotic statements that do not make sense in context of dialogue, e.g., “I want to go home”, meaning to return to the abuser group.

B. Compulsive or ritualized behaviors, especially self-mutilation (esp. in patterns), singing same song.

C. Fear in response to benign stimuli, e.g., colors, shapes, cartoon characters, lights, food brands, phone rings.

D. Telephone reactions; e.g., strong startle response to phone ringing, many hang-up calls to the home, a compulsion to make calls (often toll-free), finding the phone in one’s hand in early am hours, without recalling making a phone call.

E. A pattern of increased “dead-air” phone calls (phone calls in which noone answers when the phone is picked up and when one says “hello”) around birthdays or ritual holidays

F. Severe flinching and spasms (as if being electro-shocked) when approaching trauma material.


Boyd, A. (1991). Blasphemous rumors: Is Satanic ritual abuse fact or fantasy? An investigation. London: HarperCollins.

Coleman, J. (1994). Satanic cult practices. In V. Sinason (Ed.), Treating survivors of satanic abuse (pp. 242-253). London, and New York, NY: Routledge.

Hassan, S. (1990). Combating cult mind control. Rochester, VT: Park Street Press.

Hersha, L., Hersha, C., Griffis, D., & Schwarz, T. (2001). Secret weapons: Two sisters’ terrifying true story of sex, spies, and sabotage. Far Hills, New Jersey: New Horizon Press.

Katchen, M., & Sakheim, D. (1992). Satanic beliefs and practices. In D. K. Sakheim, & S. F. Devine, (Eds.), Out of Darkness: Exploring Satanism and Ritual Abuse. (pp. 21-43). New York: Lexington Books.

Keith, J. (1998). Mind control, world control. Kempton, IL: Adventures Unlimited Press.

Marks, J. (1979). The Search for the Manchurian Candidate: The CIA and mind control. New York: Times Books.

Neswald, D., & Gould, C. (1993). Basic treatment and program neutralization strategies for adult MPD Survivors of Satanic ritual abuse. Treating Abuse Today, 4 (3), 14-19.

Neswald, D., Gould, C., & Graham-Costain, V. (1991). “Common programs” observed in survivors of Satanic ritual abuse. The California Therapist, 3(5), 47-50.

Noblitt, J.R., & Perskin, P. (2000). Cult and ritual Abuse: Its history, anthropology, and recent discovery in contemporary America; Revised edition. Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers.

Oksana, C. (1994, revised 2001). Safe passage to healing: A guide for survivors of ritual abuse. NY: Harper Perennial.

Rutz, C. (2001). A nation betrayed: The chilling and true story of secret cold war experiments performed on our children and other innocent people. Grass Lake, MI: Fidelity Publishing.

Ryder, D., & Noland, J.T. (1992). Breaking the circle of Satanic ritual abuse: Recognizing and recovering from the hidden trauma. Minneapolis, MN: CompCare Publishers.

Sheflin, A. & Opton, E. (1978). The mind manipulators. New York: Grosset & Dunlap.

Smith, M. (1993). Ritual Abuse: What it is, why it happens, how to help. San Francisco: Harper.

Weinstein, H. (1990). Psychiatry and the CIA: Victims of mind control. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Press.


Mind control (also known as brainwashing, coercive persuasion, mind abuse, thought control, or thought reform) refers to a process in which a group or individual “systematically uses unethically manipulative methods to persuade others to conform to the wishes of the manipulator(s), often to the detriment of the person being manipulated.” The term has been applied to any tactic, psychological or otherwise, which can be seen as subverting an individual’s sense of control over their own thinking, behavior, emotions or decision making.

Theories of brainwashing and of mind control were originally developed to explain how totalitarian regimes appeared to succeed in systematically indoctrinating prisoners of war through propaganda and torture techniques. These theories were later expanded and modified, by psychologists including Margaret Singer, to explain a wider range of phenomena, especially conversions to new religious movements (NRMs). A third-generation theory proposed by Ben Zablocki focused on the utilization of mind control to retain members of NRMs and cults to convert them to a new religion. The suggestion that NRMs use mind control techniques has resulted in scientific and legal controversy. Neither the American Psychological Association nor the American Sociological Association have found any scientific merit in such theories.

Project MKULTRA, or MK-ULTRA, was the code name for a covert, illegal CIA human research program, run by the Office of Scientific Intelligence. This official U.S. government program began in the early 1950s, continuing at least through the late 1960s, and it used U.S. and Canadian citizens as its test subjects.

Donald Ewen Cameron (24 December 1901–8 September 1967) was a twentieth-century Scottish-American psychiatrist. Cameron was involved in Project MKULTRA, United States Central Intelligence Agency’s research on torture and mind control.

Cameron lived and worked in Albany, New York, and was involved in experiments in Canada for Project MKULTRA, a United States based CIA-directed mind control program which eventually led to the publication of the KUBARK Counterintelligence Interrogation manual. He is unrelated to another CIA psychiatrist Alan Cameron, who helped pioneer psychological profiling of world leaders during the 1970s.

Naomi Klein states in her book The Shock Doctrine that Cameron’s research and his contribution to the MKUltra project was actually not about mind control and brainwashing, but about designing “a scientifically based system for extracting information from ‘resistant sources.’ In other words, torture…Stripped of its bizarre excesses, Dr. Cameron’s experiments, building upon Donald O. Hebb’s earlier breakthrough, laid the scientific foundation for the CIA’s two-stage psychological torture method.”