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     MindNet Journal - Vol. 1, No. 57a * [Part 1 of 2 parts]
     V E R I C O M M / MindNet         "Quid veritas est?"

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Editor: Mike Coyle 

Assistant Editor: Rick Lawler

Research: Darrell Bross

Editor's Note:

The following work, entitled _Spin Programming_ by John D.
Lovern, Ph.D., was written in 1993. Dr. Lovern informed me in a
phone conversation on 12/14/95, that he now has "doubts" about
the conclusions presented in his original work. He requested
that I accompany the distributed article with his most recent
clarification letter, which is included below as Appendix A.



By John D. Lovern

Feb. 1993


The following paper was presented at The Sixth Western Clinical
Conference on Multiple Personality and Dissociation, Irvine, CA.

John D. Lovern, Ph.D.
2141-B West Orangewood Avenue
Orange, California 92668-1941

REVISED. February 5, 1993


Information obtained clinically from seven multiple personality
patients with recalled histories of ritual abuse has revealed a
coercive technique previously unknown to psychotherapists. This
technique here labeled "spin programming," appears designed to
spread effects such as pain, painful emotions, and other feelings
or urges globally throughout a patient's personality system for
purposes of either designing and building a young victim's
personality system, or harassing older victims and disrupting
psychotherapy. Spin programming appears to be based on a
combination of physical spinning, cognitive and imagery training,
and repetition and practice aimed at creating an internal
multi-alter spinning "mechanism" that can transmit the pain  or
affective components of numerous traumatic memories
simultaneously to large groups of targeted alters. This paper
presents signs and symptoms commonly seen in patients subjected
to spin programs, training methods apparently used to create
spin programs, and an analysis of strengths and weaknesses of
spin programming.

Spin Programming: A Newly Uncovered Technique of Systematic Mind

That old black magic has me in its spell, that old black magic
that you weave so well. Those icy fingers up an down my spine,
the same old witchcraft when your eyes meet mine, that same old
tingle that I feel inside, and then that elevator starts its
ride: Down and down I go. 'round and 'round l go, like a leaf
that's caught in a tide (...) Darling, down and down I go, 'round
and 'round I go, in a spin, loving the spin I'm in, under that
old black magic called love.

Johnny Mercer, (c) 1942, 1969

Discussion of ritual abuse as a cause of multiple personality
disorder is a fairly recent phenomenon (Coons & Grier, l99O;
Ganasway, 1989; Hassan, 1990; Kluft, 1989; Los Angeles County
Commission for Women, 1989; Mayer, 1991; Neswald, Gould, &
Graham-Costain, 1991; and Van Benschoten, 1990). Use of the term
"ritual abuse" here relies on the definition developed by the
Los Angeles County Commission for Women (1989):

Ritual abuse is a brutal form of abuse of children, adolescents,
and adults, consisting of physical, sexual, and psychological
abuse, and involving the use of rituals. Ritual does not
necessarily mean satanic. However, most survivors state that they
were ritually abused as part of satanic worship for the purpose
of indoctrinating them into satanic beliefs and practices. Ritual
abuse rarely consists of a single episode. It usually involves
repeated abuse over an extended period of time. The physical
abuse is severe, sometimes including torture and killing. The
sexual abuse is usually painful, sadistic, and humiliating,
intended as a means of gaining dominance over the victim. The
psychological abuse is devastating and involves the use of
ritual/indoctrination, which includes mind control techniques and
mind altering drugs, and ritual/intimidation which conveys to
the victim a profound terror of the cult members and of the evil
spirits they believe cult members can command. Both during and
after the abuse, most victims are in a state of terror, mind
control, and dissociation in which disclosure is exceedingly
difficult. (p. 1)

The topic of ritual abuse is controversial (Kluft, 1989), and
several authors have either questioned the credibility of reports
of ritual abuse or have advised caution in interpreting the
usually unsubstantiated accounts (Coons & Grier, 1990; Ganaway,
1989; Noll, 1989; and Van Benschoten, 1990). This paper avoids
taking a position on the accuracy of clinically derived accounts
of ritual abuse, and instead simply presents information that has
come to light consistently and repeatedly during intensive
psychotherapy with a number of different patients with recalled
histories of ritual abuse.

The information presented here is offered in hopes of making
available recently discovered and preliminary findings that may
be of value to some members of the psychotherapeutic community
and may stimulate additional investigation by some members of the
scientific community. The information is admittedly too new,
derived from too small a sample, and too unsubstantiated by other
investigators to he presented as fact. Nevertheless, the
description of spin programming, if valid, shines a valuable
light on the techniques employed by ritual abuse perpetrators and
provides important insight into how problems frequently seen in
multiple personality patients with recalled ritual abuse
histories might more successfully be approached.


Therapists working with victims of ritual abuse often discover
(or encounter compelling evidence) that their patients have been
subjected to sophisticated mind control techniques, often called
"programming," designed to compel them to do various things,
including engaging in self-destructive behaviors such as suicide
or self-mutilation; allowing access to perpetrators so that abuse
may continue; responding to various cues, such as sounds, hand
signals, lights, names or numbers, etc., by carrying out specific
behaviors or behavior chains; disrupting psychotherapy in a
number of ways, including thought-stealing or scrambling,
outbursts of various emotions (anger, depression, terror,
jealousy, apathy, etc.) and distancing from the therapist (by
fearing the therapist, attempting to protect the therapist from
harm by others or by the patient herself or himself, etc.).
Neswald, Gould, and Graham-Costain (1991) provide a listing and
descriptions of a number of typical ritual abuse programs.

Patients with histories of ritual abuse often reveal that
programming techniques have been applied to them for at least two
distinct purposes: (a) current or recent programming designed to
harass or disrupt psychotherapy, and (b) programming begun early
in life (often at birth), as the means by which programmers
designed and built their victims' entire personality systems in
order to achieve and maintain control over them. One technique
has recently come to light that appears to have had utility both
for harassment/disruption and for system-building. The technique
is based on spinning.

Sources of Information for This Paper

This paper is based on information that came to light during
psychotherapy sessions in which the author was the therapist or,
in some cases, co-therapist. The patients, of whom there were
seven, all carried diagnoses of complex multiple personality
disorder and had clearly defined and consistently expressed
histories of ritual abuse by satanic or similar cults. They had
been in therapy intensively for at least a year before disclosing
any information about spin programming. They were all female and
ranged in age from their mid-twenties to their mid-forties. Their
education levels ranged from two years of college to masters
degrees. They were all white, the majority were married, and just
over half were employed full-time. They disclosed some of the
information about spin programming during conversations in which
they and therapist were "brainstorming" about their programming
histories, and they revealed the rest either spontaneously
(generally making their discoveries between sessions) or in
response to direct questioning carried out with due regard to the
dangers of leading them by directly or indirectly suggesting
desired responses. Before an item of information about spin
programming and related phenomena could appear in this paper, it
had to be verified by comparable experiences and reports from at
least two patients. In most cases, information was verified by
all patients, with only minor variations. Informal conversations
with other therapists about their experiences with similar
patients have consistently verified the information presented

Description of Spin Programming


Programmers appear to rely on certain criteria in deciding which
mind control strategies they will select. One meaningful
criterion is specific versus global, that is, whether they intend
to target a single alter (or a small, defined group of alters) in
a specific way, or the entire system (or a large portion of it)
in a global way. Spin-based programming is a globally targeted
programming technique. Programmers apparently use it when they
intend to disseminate an effect throughout either a large portion
of a victim's personality system, or the entire system.

Examples of the types of effects that may be spread in this way
are physical pain, confusion, depression, self-destructive or
suicidal urges, alienation, apathy, hopelessness, fear of
abandonment or rejection, panic, terror, urges to run away,
jealousy, doubt, suspicion, rage, violent urges, sexual arousal
or urges, lethargy, immobility, sleepiness, sleeplessness,
hunger, loss of appetite, and urges to use drugs or alcohol.
Programmers may spread these effects throughout a personality
system as a method of disrupting the total functioning of the
person, or they may use the possibility of spreading them as a
threat to enforce compliance with directives or prohibitions they
have issued.

Spin programs are also useful in system-building, both because of
their ability to quickly transmit information within or
throughout a personality system, and because of their ability to
establish power relationships between alters and groups of
alters. How these links and power relationships are established
will be explained in the section on training methods.


Patients who are suffering the immediate effects of a currently
activated spin program tend to present with a number of typical
features. These features include: global effects, symptoms
occurring like a "storm," pressure, dizziness, a sense of
spinning inside, physical movements related to the internal
experience of spinning, and spinning-related imagery and

Global Effects. When a patient is affected by a specifically
targeted program, she or he typically experiences one or a small
number of alters having emotions or urges or manifesting
behaviors, while most or all other alters remain unaffected. The
patient might say, for example, "Somebody inside wants to cut,"
or "Joey is feeling suicidal." When a spin-based program is
active, every alter with whom the therapist talks is likely to be
suffering from the same or similar symptoms. At such times, the-
patient might say, "Everybody in the system is depressed;~ "None
of us has any hope or any energy or any interest in anything;" or
"We are all terrified that you are going to abandon us.

Stormlike Symptoms. The experience of dealing with a
spin-programmed patient is, for patient and therapist alike,
somewhat like riding out a storm. The flurries of pain, affect,
or impulse tend to grow in intensity, build to a crescendo,
maintain that peak for a time, and then gradually diminish before
finally subsiding. Nearly every alter in the system is lashed by
the "wind and rain" of the storm, often without understanding why
these effect are occurring, and doing their best to minimize
damages until the storm passes.

Pressure. As will be seen in a subsequent section, spin training
relies in part on conditioning the patient to connect, through
cognition and imagery, the experience of spinning with internal
buildups of centrifugal force. When spin programs are active, the
affected alters subjectively experience high levels of force or
pressure, as if they were sitting at the outside edge of a
rapidly rotating disc. They feel overwhelmed by this pressure,
finding it impossible to resist, and they often complain of
symptoms that would be caused by mounting internal pressure, such
as headaches that feel like they are going to cause the head to
explode from the inside, disruption of speech, vision problems,
and similar phenomena.

Dizziness. As the internal spinning associated with spin
programming increases in speed and force, patients frequently
complain of dizziness. At these times, they may be literally
feeling the sensations caused by the original spinning, because
they are experiencing a planned (i.e., produced by intervention
of the abusers) revivification or flashback of that event.

Sense of Spinning Internally. Along with the dizziness, patients
experiencing active spin programs often notice a sense of
spinning internally, or comment that "everything seems to be
spinning." If they do not mention this feeling spontaneously,
they will often admit it when questioned, for example, by
answering in the affirmative when asked, "Do you feel as if
someone inside is spinning a mile a minute?"

Physical Movements. When the internal spinning is at its most
intense, patients often move in ways that a person might move
while being physically spun. These movements tend to be rhythmic
and repetitive, they may involve any part of the body, and they
are subtle and may escape the therapist's attention unless the
therapist is looking for them. For example, a patient may stare
blankly or appear to be wincing from pain or closing her eyes
tightly, then move her head or upper body very slightly and
rhythmically from side to side, forward and back, or in a
circular motion. Feet or hands and arms are also often involved
in these movement. The movements tend to be slower, smoother,
more fluid, more subtle, and more regular and rhythmic than
typical "nervous" movements.

Spinning-Related Imagery and Vocabulary. When describing their
subjective sensations during an active spin program, patients
often utilize imagery or words that are related to the experience
of spinning, possibly because these images and words are literal
descriptions of their experiences, and possibly because they were
taught these images during the original spin training. Patients
may use this kind of imagery spontaneously during sessions or in
writings or drawings produced outside of sessions, or they may
only describe them in response to questioning. Typical words used
include: vortex, whirlpool, whirlwind, tornado, cyclone, abyss,
falling, drowning, sinking, being pulled or sucked down, being
blown or shot or exploded out, tumbling, hurling, whirling,
swirling, and twirling. Typical visual images include drawings
depicting the ideas listed above and various doodles that will be
described later in the section on training. Some alters have
programmer-assigned names related to spinning (e.g., Spinner,)
which is a name that was independently assigned to alters in the
personality systems of several different patients).

Training Methods

Pain Contests. Pain as Power. and Multiples within Multiples. A
patient disclosed during a psychotherapy session some time ago
that the most powerful alters in her system were those who had
endured the most pain. Subsequent exploration of this notion,
combined with abreactions of memories of "pain contests"
eventually led to the discovery of spin programming.

Many patients with cult abuse histories have had to endure
contests  in which they and another person received steadily
mounting pain until one of them (the loser) could not stand it
anymore. Generally,only one alter was allowed to remain out
during the contest, or else worse abuse would follow. The
requirement that only one alter remain out had some profound
ramifications, leading to the conjecture that this condition
(only one alter staying out), not the outcome of the contest, was
the primary purpose of the competitions.

In order to stay out continuously instead of leaving the body to
a rapidly switching succession of alters (the more typical
pattern of dissociation during trauma), the single alter had to
create a group of internal alters to whom she or he could send
the pain. The typical result of this type of experience appears
to be the creation of an internal analogue of multiple
personality disorder, or a "multiple within a multiple."

In other words, just as traumatic experiences in general can lead
to the creation of a number of alters in one "outside" body to
produce multiple personality disorder, this specific type of
experience can create a similar phenomenon one level in,
consisting of a number of alters "within" the alter undergoing
the contest. However, since the alter has no physical body, the
newly created alters do not necessarily exist "inside" that
alter, but more likely coexist with or near the original alter in
internal space--the "inside world").

One source of internal power arising from this arrangement stems
from the ability of the original alter to send pain to her or his
next level of alters inside the multiple within a multiple
subsystem, allowing her or him to intimidate them by threatening
to activate a flashback of the original training, thus forcing
them to re-experience the pain. The multiple within a multiple
subsystem taken as a unit is more powerful than other, simple
alters, because, as a system, it possesses or is capable of
possessing greater and more varied capabilities than a lone alter
might be able to produce.

Graphic Depiction. Another patient, after looking at a drawing of
a tree structure that was my rough attempt to depict the
connection between pain transmission and power (Figure la),
suggested that the drawing ought to be circular instead of tree
shaped (Figure lb). The original alter, according to this new
view, was located at the center of a circle of alters, and the
ring or rings) of alters surrounding this alter comprised the
multiple within a multiple" system. Secondary alters could
dissociate further by creating alters of their own, resulting in
branches of tertiary and beyond) alters. She indicated further
that her entire personality system, not just individual multiple
within multiple systems, was arranged in this kind of circular
array consisting of concentric rings, with the most powerful
alters located at the center.

Tree and Circular Diagrams Depicting Pain Distribution Among
Alters During Pain Contests

This patient then became visibly frightened, stating that some
internal alters felt that I may not be a safe person because I
knew too much. Subsequent discussions with other patients about
this topic and other topics related to spin programming have
elicited similar reactions from them; it appears that information
about spin programming is highly secret and not for "outsiders"
to know.

However, in spite of her fears, this patient disclosed more
information at the next session, revealing that her system
contained a number of alters who have been trained to create
internal multiple personality systems, and that alters of these
systems often received additional training that made them into a
coordinated, self-monitoring and self-correcting mechanism
designed to employ internal spinning to send pain (and other
experiences) to large groups of alters outside their system.
Discussions with all of the patients (the two mentioned above,
plus the five others) provided the rest of the details comprising
this paper.

Overall Training Strategy. According to patients' disclosures,
spin training begins at an early age, perhaps age three or four,
or even younger. Training appears to utilize a combination of
three basic elements: (a) the creation of internal multiple
personality systems (by pain contests and similar experiences)
whose alters are separated and given specialized training to make
the internal systems into self-regulating mechanisms; (b) actual
spinning both to teach senders the sensations of spinning so that
they can re-create it internally and to force them to spin
internally in order to avoid the extremely painful sensations of
"real" external spinning; and (c) cognitive and imagery training
to build and reinforce connections between internal re-creations
of the experience of spinning and the sending out of pain as a
means of escaping it. Along with this, connections are also
established and reinforced between velocity, centrifugal force,
and the intensity of the pain and other feelings that are spun.
In addition, some programming is necessary to convince the
spinning alters that they are not connected to the other alters
in the system, so that they do not feel guilty about hurting
someone about whom they care Material must be available to "feed"
into the spin mechanism, and this material consists of large
numbers of dissociated memories that contain pain and other
feelings capable of acting as punishments or sources of
disruption. Finally, there may be additional programming to
create controls over such things as which material is to be spun,
when or under what conditions it is to be spun, to which alters
or groups it is to be targeted, which groups of alters will be
exempt from the spin, etc.

Actual Spinning. All patients reported having had many
experiences  of being physically spun by ritual abusers
throughout their lives. While being spun, they were invariably
drugged, usually with sedative or hypnotic drugs as well as
anti-nausea agents, often shown or forced to look at white or
colored lights or to listen to music or rhythms, often given
verbal instructions, and sometimes given other kinds of pain (in
addition to the extreme pain of spinning). The spinning was of
various types, including horizontal spinning on a table, similar
to a record player; horizontal spinning about an axis, similar to
being turned on a spit; vertical, "wheel-of-fortune" type
spinning; and vertical spinning about an axis, on a pole, hanging
upside down by the feet, or inside of a cylinder.

Patients who have experienced a great deal of spinning have a
number of sensitivities that they usually do not understand until
they are consciously aware of having been spun. For example, many
patients become very disturbed by flashing lights, because they
are similar to the lights they had to watch while belong spun.
For similar reasons, they are also often disturbed by watching
rapidly changing colors or circular, swirling motions of any
kind, as well as by certain types of music.

Programmers apparently take advantage of these sensitivities by
simulating spinning when it would be impractical (due to
unavailability of equipment, etc.) to actually spin a victim, or
when they want to intimidate a reluctant alter by threatening her
or him with spinning as a punishment. Rapidly changing lights
moving across the victim's visual field, for example, can very
effectively bring back the full experience of a past actual spin.
Exposure to other stimuli that accompanied spinning, such as
spoken words or music, can also trigger experiences of spinning.

Abusers trigger the re-experiencing of traumatic events by taking
advantage of their victims' means of coping with trauma. When a
victim experiences a painfully traumatic or terrifying event,
including administration of drugs to enhance state-dependent
learning, the victim dissociates the experience, breaking it into
component parts (as in the BASK Model: Braun, 1988a, 1988b).
Abusers apparently record the contents of these dissociated
experiences and know which aspects of them to remind victims of
in order to bring about a vivid replay of a component or portion
of them. By simply introducing such a cue to the victim, the
abusers can initiate the experience of spinning.

Dissociated components of any traumatic memory appear capable of
being moved from one alter to another, making it possible to
"collect"  the pain or affective component of dozens of
experiences that contain similar elements (e.g., physical pain,
terror, abandonment, grief, etc.), feed these into the spinner,
and thereby spread massive amounts of these feelings throughout
the personality system or to targeted groups of alters.

Visual Aids, Demonstrations, and Practice. All patients reported
having observed as children (or when spin training was done, if
later than childhood) a wide range of demonstrations apparently
intended to teach them to think about and perform spinning in
ways that are advantageous to the programmers. For example,
several patients report having watched mechanical devices, such
as centrifuges or devices similar to those sometimes seen at
fairs that make pictures by spreading paint with centrifugal
force; people, such as "whirling dervish" dancers who are made
(presumably by drugs and special effects) to seem as if they are
able to spin so fast that they become a blur; and object lessons,
such as people who are tortured or killed for failing to spin

Patients also report having spent a great deal of time as
children (again, only those programmed as children) practicing
spinning at a conscious level. For example, they may have spun
around furiously at play time, but the spinning was done in grim
earnestness, not for fun. They may also have been involved in
organized activities that involved spinning, such as ballet or
figure skating lessons.

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