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Ritual Abuse and Trauma-Based Mind Control

Survivors in the Pew: Ritual Abuse and Trauma-Based Mind Control in the Body of Christ
The apostle Paul commanded believers in the church of Galatia—and hence believers everywhere and at all times—to "bear one another's burdens" (Gal 6:2). Doing so would fulfill "the law of Christ" (Gal 6:2), the commandment given by Jesus that believers love one another as Christ has loved us (John 13:34; 1 John 4:21).

Many Christians and churches are actively engaged in supporting fellow believers every day. The effort is transparent in many churches through weekly small group meetings focused on struggles with alcoholism, drugs, pornography, homelessness, financial crisis, and domestic violence. But there's a group that's routinely neglected. Two of the fundamental reasons for this ministry failure are mutually reinforcing, creating as they do a cycle of neglect.

I'm speaking of victims—more accurately called survivors—of intentionally repeated trauma. Such trauma and its effects are known by several labels used equally in professional, clinical circles and more mundane discussion: ritual abuse (be it satanic ritual abuse or otherwise), dissociative identity disorder (formerly known as multiple personality disorder), and trauma-based mind control.1 Two women I know ("Fern and Audrey"; see below) who have ministered to survivors full-time for over 20 years have told me that "99% of the people we minister to are Christians."

The neglect within the church is not surprising given the labels. Christian practitioners who focus on helping survivors heal have shared the obvious: What they do scares church-going Christians as much as learning that survivors are among them. Many (most?) pastors would rather see such people stay away than include words like “satanism”, ”ritual abuse" and "mind control" in church bulletin announcements about what's happening during the week.

Defining Ritual Abuse (RA) and Trauma-Based Mind Control (TBMC)
Survivor testimony includes many types of repeated abuse and trauma. Dr. James Randall Noblitt, a professor of psychology, and his wife, Pamela Perskin Noblitt, list the following mind control programming methods utilized against children or adults:2
  • sensory/sleep/food deprivation;
  • sensory overload;
  • shaming, humiliation and belittlement;
  • theatrics, trickery, illusion, lies and coercion;
  • physical, emotional, verbal, sexual and spiritual abuse;
  • forced actions against self/animals/others;
  • double-bind situations;
  • systematic behavior modification and hypnosis techniques;
  • drugs, lights, sounds, smells, special effects, films, hidden cameras and microphones;
  • elaborately-designed role-play "characterizations" based on nursery rhymes, fairy tales, stories, books, movies and music;
  • guns, electro-shock, whips;
  • shackles, chains and cages
The more extreme "techniques" on this list sleep deprivation, electro-shock, mind-altering drugs) are among those utilized by McGill University's Ewen Cameron, a Canadian psychiatrist who worked with the CIA in the MK-Ultra Project during the 1950s. The CIA was later (successfully) sued in Canadian court by several of Cameron's "patients" in 1997.3 This "research" has been perpetuated by a generation of graduate students who studied under Cameron and other psychologists and psychiatrists in the employ of the CIA and other agencies during the Cold War, a period of sustained government interest in brainwashing and mind control.4

Healing for Survivors: The Ministry of "Fern and Audrey"
My exposure to RA, DID, and TBMC has come through several people dedicated to helping survivors. Some are clinicians with degrees; others have no official academic credentials. I've woven the issue of TBMC trauma-based mind control into both of my novels, The Façade and its sequel, The Portent. Episodes in the book related to TBMC come from actual cases shared with me. But more generally, those who I know on the front lines have all told me the same things when it comes to truly helping survivors heal:
  • Some survivors know they live out of other parts inside but many do not.
  • Some survivors can "switch" to other parts at will; others are passively triggered and have little control over alters.
  • Fragmented parts of a person can look different (via facial expression, for example), sound different, and act differently than each other. They also can hold different beliefs.
In their book Healing the Divided Self: Clinical and Ericksonian Hypnotherapy for Dissociative Conditions, Drs. Claire Frederick and Maggie Phillips describe a "spectrum of dissociative effects" and "faces of trauma" that may be mis-diagnosed:5
  • Eating disorders
  • Violent behavior
  • Excessive mood swings; bi-polar disorders
  • Attachment disorders
  • Certain autism spectrum disorders
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorders
The implication is that you, the reader, may be among the millions of people struggling with what is a far deeper problem.

You can help survivors afford expenses related to getting help with "Fern and Audrey" (pseudonyms), two lay counsellors I've known for eight years who work with survivors full-time. This effort to support ministry to survivors is a follow-up to the overwhelming response to my interview with Fern and Audrey on the Naked Bible Podcast (episode 68) , (episode 149), (episode 186) and (episode 209) For readers of The Portent, "Fern" is the name of one of the book's characters—someone with a long history in ministering to survivors of TBMC.

Fern and Audrey recently shared a list of characteristics of people who have suffered RA and TBMC without knowing it.
  • They have an inexplicable feeling that their own family is dangerous, that they don't feel safe with parents or siblings.
  • They feel guilty all the time but don't know why.
  • They have a sense of self-loathing and that they deserve to hate themselves.
  • They have a sense that God can't forgive them and doesn't love them, no matter what the Bible says.
  • They feel detached from normal family relationships—with their spouse, children, parents, or siblings. Women in particular fear sex or find it traumatizing.
  • They fear their problems are too complex to be solved.
  • They feel attacked by the quotation of Scripture which ought to ordinarily comfort them.
  • They interpret all of the above as "spiritual attack" by the enemy (Satan or demons).
Fern and Audrey have built a successful ministry, with over 35 years of combined experience, focused on identifying if RA or TBMC are root causes of such thoughts and bringing healing when they are. Their web-site is They have no Facebook page. They maintain privacy and protection. Their ministry is their livelihood, and it functions by word of mouth and the generosity of believers. Please make a tax-deductible donation to help bear the financial burden of survivors and keep Fern and Audrey doing what they do.

Give Now or Learn More!

Dr. Michael Heiser is a biblical scholar (PhD, Hebrew and Semitic Languages, University of Wisconsin-Madison) and Scholar-in-Residence at Faithlife Corp (makers of Logos Bible Software). He is author of the best-selling non-fiction book, The Unseen Realm: Recovering the Supernatural Worldview of the Bible and the paranormal, sci-fi thrillers, The Façade and The Portent. You can follow him via his blog or on Twitter @msheiser.
This article was edited and updated by “Fern”, Nov. 2018
  1. In an article entitled, "Mind Control and Deliberate Dissociation," survivor Carmen Holiday writes: "Dissociation happens on a continuum, from daydreaming through a boring lecture to psychologically escaping to oblivion from an overwhelmingly threatening or shocking event. Dissociation is an innate survival mechanism that allows the mind to separate or compartmentalize certain memories or thoughts from normal, conscious awareness. . . . The term "dissociative identity disorder" is a misnomer in the sense that psychologically separating from an extremely overwhelming event is an adaptive response by a normal human being, not a "disorder," which suggests some kind of innate flaw. The term DIR, dissociative identity response, is gaining momentum and is infinitely more accurate and appropriate. DIR is the result of severe or long term trauma, of having had to separate from events that were so extreme in nature that they threatened survival. It's a sane, adaptive response to an overwhelmingly crazy event. Neglect, extreme abuse, or exposure to trauma that is either habitual or sufficiently severe can result in a separate identity, called an "alter," "split" or "part." In other words, survivors of extreme abuse who have "other personalities" or "parts" aren't insane. When abuse is extreme and repeated, however, people can either lose the sense of their true self or become accustomed to living life through other identities. The American Psychiatric Publishing Textbook of Psychiatry (5th ed.) suggests that .01% of the general population (over three million people) could be diagnosed with DID/DIR. Sources:; Jose R. Maldonado, MD, and David Spiegel, MD, "Dissociative disorders - Dissociative identity disorder (Multiple personality disorder), in R. E. Hales; S. C. Yudofsky; G. O. Gabbard (eds), The American Psychiatric Publishing Textbook of Psychiatry (5th ed.), Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Publications, 2008, 681-710.
  2. See James Randall Noblitt and Pamela Perskin Noblitt, Cult and Ritual Abuse: Narratives, Evidence, and Healing Approaches, 3rd Edition (Praeger, 2014).
  3. Juan Camilo Velasquez, "MK-ULTRAViolence—Or, how McGill pioneered psychological torture," The McGill Daily, September 6, 2012.
  4. An excellent history is that of Dominic Streatfeild, Brainwash: The Secret History of Mind Control (Thomas Dunne, 2007).
  5. Dr. Claire Frederick and Dr. Maggie Phillips, Healing the Divided Self: Clinical and Ericksonian Hypnotherapy for Dissociative Conditions (W. W. Norton & Company, 1995). The late Dr. Frederick was a psychiatrist specializing in psychotherapy and clinical hypnosis. Dr. Maggie Phillips is a licensed psychologist in California and the director of the California Institute of Clinical Hypnosis.

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