Simplifying Complex Programming
Jeannie Riseman, MSW
This is the text of a speech given at the 2002 S.M.A.R.T conference.
I was surprised when Neil asked if I would be interested in speaking today, because it never occurred to me that I would have anything of interest to say to you. When I think of mind control survivors, I think of people who were subjected over and over again to near-fatal torture and whose programming is extremely deep, highly complex, and very, very difficult to work with. I am in awe of your intelligence, strength, and courage, and I feel totally out of my league here.
After I got over my initial shock at being invited, I realized I do have things to offer. First, I am source material for a chapter in the early history of mind control experimentation. Second, I have lit upon some rather simple and easy to use methods of working with obscure programming. They might or might not work for others, but I believe they are worth considering and may inspire some of you to create your own simple -- or simpler -- ways of dealing with very complex issues.
Let me start with the historical part. I am almost sixty-five. I was a mind control guinea pig in the early to late forties. My generation, by and large, either didn't ever remember, or started remembering in the late eighties, along with so many others. I believe that far fewer children were experimented on back then than after the sixties, simply because the "technology" was new and there weren't that many trainers available. So we are relatively rare, and because of our age, we are dying out. What little knowledge we have of those early days will go with us unless we record it, or unless we suddenly discover a warehouse full of lab notebooks.
I was not trained for any specific purpose. Rather, my mind was used as a prototype to study what kind of internal structures could be created. I think of myself as a sketchpad where my trainer could doodle freely without having to justify using valuable material for no useful end purpose. (A couple of other older MC survivors have told me that they were also experimented on in this sense of the word.) In talking to other, younger survivors, I have discovered a couple of ways in which the prototype structures were later used.
I'm going to share with you in some detail the first structure I discovered. There are some diagrams on these handouts. Be careful -- I imagine that some of them might be quite triggering if you have similar constructs internally and have not yet worked through them. Remember to breathe, and remember that we are here to share knowledge and promote healing, not to harm anybody. Do whatever you need to stay okay -- move around, jump up and down if you like, leave the room. I'll understand.
Okay, here we go. How did I find this structure? Interesting story. I was totally stuck in therapy, no new memories, no motion, no nothing. (At that time I didn't know I was multiple or that I had an MC background.) I finally remembered a simple writing exercise that was presented in a group I had attended years ago. We had been asked to pretend that we had been molested and write about the experience in detail. Some amazing things came out, because the "it's just pretend" framework helped by-pass the inner censor.
So I said, "I'm going to pretend I'm multiple and draw my system." Simple technique, but the system was so complex it took three months to get all the information. Here's some of what came up for me.
Figure 1. There is an inner circle I call a node, with five lines ending in other circles, or nodes. At first I thought the inner circle was my original personality that had been split into five parts. Who knows, it might have been, but those weren't the terms I found myself using. I think of the nodes as neurons, with the straight lines being dendrons. You might find it easier to think of a TinkerToy structure.
In Figure 2 we have the process expanded outward. This is really a three dimensional structure, but it's far easier for me to draw the nodes and their connections in a circle than in a sphere. If you imagine any generation of nodes in three dimensions, it looks like an orange with cloves stuck in it. That's Figure 3. (We used to make those and hang them in closets to smell good and repel moths.) As you go out, there are more and more nodes, of course. Five here, twenty-five here, one hundred twenty-five here, and so on. Rather like an onion, with layers that are built up as the system grows.
Have I lost you yet?
Now here's where it gets interesting. Each connection each TinkerToy stick, has a meaning: the nodes have no meaning; they are just connecting points. The original five sticks are death, sex, deceit, money, and cover activities.
The next five sticks get more specific. Sex with self, men, women, children, animals. It's sort of like playing twenty questions -- the further you travel down a TinkerToy path, the more specific the information. So this structure can be seen as an information storage system.
Information storage is important for mind-control programmers. But this structure can also be used to carry out tasks.
Each node is assigned a numerical code. If three or more nodes are brought together by calling out their code names, they form a temporary alter. (The nodes do not have to be adjacent) The information on the TinkerToy sticks that lead to each of those nodes, when put together, constitutes the instructions for that temporary alter. When the task is done, the temporary atr dissoles, the nodes go back to their original place, and each node divides into five. The node that divided cannot be used again, but any of the five new ones can.
The numerical code that calls the nodes together is made by dividing the sphere into sections using lines like longitude and latitude. When the nodes are latent, just sitting there doing nothing, no node on the surface layer is connected to any other node. They cannot communicate, they cannot exchange information. They only behave like an alter when they have been called together.
An interesting aside. Any person who knows the meaning of the connecting sticks can, effectively, read a person's history embedded in the structure because tasks that have been done several times generate dense clusters of nodes. I wish I could see where the clusters were and read my own history, but I can't. I can't see the clusters. My hunch is that it wouldn't be very informative, because they only made functioning alters often enough to make sure the technique worked, and then went on to fiddle with something else.
A couple of years ago I shared this by e-mail with a younger MC survivor. I was told that this looked like an early version of something called "blizzard programming" which was and is still used in Europe. In blizzard programming, the alters come together like snowflakes to form a temporary alter to do the task, then melt apart. The theory is that since the alter that did the job no longer exists, it is impossible for any part of the system to remember what was done or what happened. Total safety for the programmers and handlers.
Figure 4 is another structure whose eventual use I just learned about this spring. It looks like a child's drawing of a house, and you can make it without lifting your pencil off the paper. I used to doodle this figure a lot when I was bored in school. I also used to draw it in three dimensions.
A survivor, again younger than I am by at least twenty years, told me that it is a house. When you rotate the "X" a quarter turn, the door opens and the alter who lives there can come out. This survivor has a system with many houses, each of which has a numerical code, like a complicated address. In each house lives an alter who has been led to believe he or she has a specific history that is completely different from the body's real-life history. The alter's programmed past can be manipulated to make that alter do what the handler wants. It's a way to tailor alters to specific tasks, to motivate them to do those tasks, and to keep them isolated by locking the doors of the house.
Again, I don't think I have a whole lot of houses; just enough for my trainer to play around and see that it could work.
Other structures are sketched out in Figures 5, 6, and 7. If any of you have these and know what they are used for in your system, I would really appreciate it if you would mention it during the question and answer period or come up to me afterwards and we can talk about it.
They are obviously common occult symbols: One is a three-dimensional pentagram, which looks like a starfish with little bumps on it. I think that, functionally, it's just a variant of the sphere, and that the bumps are nodes, but I am not sure. Another is a series of triangles that resembles a spider web. Again, it can be made in 3-D. And then there's the eye, which somebody or something inside me says holds meta-information, such as the history and purpose of the cult or project, how to remove amnesia, and training techniques. It also contains meta-rules for the programming.
So that's the historical part of my talk. Let me turn now to the techniques I use to deal with what I discovered.
This programming initially frightened me. I thought it was so exotic, so other-worldly, that I didn't have a fighting chance against it. It didn't help that the system contained no recognizable alters. How could I unravel it is I didn't have the codes? The codes would let me remember, but I had to remember to get the codes. Impasse.
I soon realized that I was thinking using the premises of the programming. It had been designed to block me, and as long as I thought in its terms, I was, indeed, blocked. I had to think outside the box.
I have come to believe that it doesn't work well to use the perpetrators' framework. By doing so, you are buying into their belief system and reinforcing it. Just like I can't see how to teach children not to hit by hitting them. Or teaching people not to kill by killing them. All it teaches is that the strong get to do what they want to the weak. Besides, if I use the perp's weapons, I feel like a perp myself. I don't like it. I usually feel miserable enough as it is without purposefully adding to those bad feelings.
It dawned on me that a sentient part of me must have been present when my mind learned all that mysterious math junk. I decided to work with the part or parts of myself that had learned all this stuff. Back then, I had been an every-day child, with likes, dislikes, fears, dreams, head colds, and much-hated brown socks. I might not have the vaguest idea what to say to the programming, but I sure as hell know how to talk to an eight-year-old.
I started to talk past the system to the child I had been, and still am in some frozen part of my mind. "There's nobody around who will hurt you. They hurt you back then, but now is real different. They aren't here anymore." And for the very little parts, "Bad guys all gone bye-bye!"
With my biological kids, especially when they were young, I would over-simplify whatever I was talking about. As they caught on, I made things more complex, matching my explanation to their developmental stage. I figured that it was worth a try working with myself and assumed that there were parts of my mind that were still operating on a child-like level. Even if it didn't work, I was convinced that the very fact that I was using common-sense things that any teacher or mother knows instinctively would help me cut the mind-control programming down to size in my own mind. I was no longer paralyzed when thinking about it. I had a plan and some hope.
Looking back, I see that instinctually I did three simple but effective things.
1. I set the stage for respectful internal communication
2. I educated myself internally about the present and about the past and its effects
3. I offered opportunities, but did not try and change anything internally
Step One: Setting the stage. I start by giving permission to my parts to learn, without being coercive. "Anybody who wants to listen can. Nobody has to. Anybody who isn't listening can ask others inside about what I said. And I will explain again, too, in case you want to listen later on." I've snuck in the idea of freedom of choice.
"Anybody who objects to or doesn't like what I am saying can let me know if they want to. Anybody who wants to give me information may, as long as it's okay inside."
I try to keep it casual. I don't want to sound frantic and scare my parts or make them feel like I have a heavy agenda.
As an aside, I had a friend who spoke to his alters like this, "Listen up, ass-holes!" He didn't get a lot of internal cooperation by being rude. Exorcism doesn't encourage internal cooperation, either, in my opinion. It just scares alters and send them into hiding.
Step Two: Then I educate and explain in simple language. I explain that we were raised by people who liked kids to obey and liked to hurt kids. But those people aren't around anymore. We don't have to follow their rules. We don't have to agree with them any more. We can make up our own rules. We can change our rules any time we want.
I steer away from words that have a weird connotation to me. "Safe" for example, means to many of my parts that I am locked up, and that therefore I cannot hurt anybody or anything. I am "safe" because I am imprisoned. This is not a m essage that I'm trying to convey inside, so I avoid the word and find words that weren't used back then. "Okay" is a fine substitute, as my perps were too proper and snotty to use that word. If I find that I'm getting anxious or panicky, I take a look at the words I have just used and apologize inside and ask if I need to add to my list of double-meaning words.
I describe my present life. "This is my bed. These are my sheets and pillowcases. I bought them myself because they are pretty. I sleep alone in my bed. Nobody comes to my bed to bother me. Never! Those days are all in the past. I can sleep with stuffed animals if I want. This is my purple frog. I can go to sleep whenever I want and I can sleep as long as I want. I can get up in the middle of the night to pee if I want. I don't have to ask anybody's permission."
I explain all the psychological things I have learned about PTSD and dissociation. I explain amnesia, alters, and flashbacks. Again, I keep it simple. The young parts can understand.
"This is a flashback. It feels yucky. It's something we are remembering. Once long ago we forgot it, and now we are remembering. It isn't happening now. It just feels like it is because the memory is so strong. But that's okay. It's like the mind is burping up a memory. Burp! Feels better after you burp."
I do this at random times during the day when I'm relatively calm, as well as in an emergency. Years ago, when all this was new to me and I was flooded, I held a stuffed rabbit and patted it, saying, "Of course you're afraid. You'd have to have rocks in your head not to be afraid. It's okay to be afraid now." Day after day I repeated the same message. In time, with repetition, it got through. My feelings had been normal, there was nothing wrong with me, and I was in a different situation now, one where I could feel my feelings.
Step Three. Without trying to change anything inside, I offer opportunities. "Would anybody like to learn how to make an omelet? There is a pretty nifty omelet maker around here, and maybe that omelet maker would enjoy teaching you-all. Nobody has to learn, but you are welcome to watch and learn if you want." "Anybody there who never got to choose what kind of ice cream to eat? Yeah? How would you like to choose what kind we're going to buy today?" I think what I am doing is expanding the number of jobs and skills each fragment has, without challenging their fundamental sense of self.
I also explain things to my drivers. "We are going to the supermarket. We'd like to drive so that we don't scare anybody. Don't want to scare ourselves, don't want to scare another driver or a pedestrian. We especially don't want to scare a cop. We want to watch the traffic lights and the traffic signs." And I thank them afterwards and say it was a great job.
This worked with my biological kids, by the way. If they knew how they were expected to behave, they did, as long as there weren't any disconcerting surprises. It was usually ignorance and confusion that made them behave inappropriately.
I've been talking about building relationships inside. Let me give you an example of the growth of a friend's cult-identified alter in relationship to an outside person, namely me. I'm still rather in awe of what happened.
This alter's job was to perform the sacrifices and make sure the holidays were observed. When my friend stopped going to rituals, he would come out and cut. The only time a non-cult outside person had spoken to him was when my friend was in four-point restraints. Everybody was petrified of the poor guy. He came out (it wasn't a holiday, so he wasn't cutting) and we talked about his job. I mentioned that some of the things he described were done differently in my cult, and soon we were discussing comparative religion. No four-point restraints, no lecturing, no trying to talk him out of his identity. Just a normal conversation.
Over time, we became quite fond of each other. And curious about each other. He had a friend for the first time ever. He started showing an unexpected softness. Once he told me "I dreamed of you sleeping on a bed of tulips." And the shock of learning that different branches of the cult did things differently opened up all sorts of possibilities to him. Eventually he decided that he didn't have to perform the rituals or observe the holidays anymore.
All this happened simply through our relationship. That's what I am aiming for inside, that kind of miraculous, seemingly effortless, growth.
Okay, Let me summarize how I work with my parts. I talk to myself, respectfully, reassuringly. I educate. I open doors to new experiences and viewpoints. And I try never, ever, to be coercive, or know-it-all, or bossy. I want to be as different as possible from my perps. I try to accept and work with, rather than against, my parts and my programming. I did this before I had any idea that I had conventional people-like alters inside, and I still do it. It doesn't seem to have done any harm, at least so far.
Here's another very simple technique that I often use when I don't have the faintest idea what is going on. I adapted it from a technique I learned in meditation. If a thought, emotion, or sensation appears during meditation, name it and let it go.
When I have thoughts or urges that seem cult-related
1. I label it as soon as I become aware of it.
2. I refuse to act on it.
3. I let the issue go -- I don't brood on it.
To name a thing is to take away some of its power. A name is like an anchor in my mind. Labeling a thought "programming" clearly brackets the thought that I find undesirable and separates it from the "me" that I value. It is now something that was taught me without my permission, not my own thinking.
Steps two (not acting on it) and three (letting it go) are weakening the programming by not reinforcing it. Refusing to act on it, to cut, for example, is avoiding reinforcement and avoiding buying into the perps' value system. And refusing to brood on it, to beat myself up over it, is equally an avoidance of reinforcement. If I spend three days agonizing over having had a suicidal thought, that is three days of driving that thought deeper into the grooves of my mind.
Note that this is not the same as denial. I'm not shoving anything under the rug. I acknowledge it, deal with it, and move on. If I slip, I make amends to myself and move on. But I don't solidify the programming by thinking about it all day and all night.
A Personal Example
Here's how I used the technique to a cult-implanted "don't talk" program.
At one point I told my therapist something I was never supposed to remember, let alone talk about. The internal backlash was something fierce. I was haunted by strong urges to suicide, usually in particularly revolting ways. So I tried thinking "programming" every time I spotted a self-destructive thought.
What happened? For starters, it seemed like every third word I thought was the word "programming." I had no idea that the "kill yourself if you tell" program was that compelling. "Wow! They really did a number on me, didn't they? I wonder how they did it." My mental attitude changed from fighting suicidal impulses, trying not to think those thoughts, to curiosity about the past. Which was great, because trying not to think something is a losing battle, and consumes a vast amount of energy, besides.
Step two. I gave my kitchen knives to my best friend to hold and re-committed myself to not acting on suicidal urges. Just let them be. If I act on them, I will never get a chance to understand where they came from and what they mean. I'm sure I would have experienced some relief if I had cut, but I chose to stay with the thoughts and feelings and see what happened.
Step three. After I labeled the suicidal thought as programming, I turned my attention back to every-day activities. No point in hanging on to it, for surely it was going to come back by itself. Meanwhile, might as well get something accomplished.
And so I "out-Zenned" the program, rather than fighting it, and it ran its course and faded. I emerged from the situation feeling more empowered. There was more of "me" and less of the programming. The next time a suicidal program kicked in, it was less intense and lasted a shorter time.
I then proceeded to fine-tune this simple technique. I tried talking to the program as if it were an alter. I praised its strength, intelligence, and sophistication. I could almost feel the programming smile. (Of course, I wasn't really talking to the program, I was talking to the alter or to that part of my mind that had learned the program.)
I also spent some time telling that part that nothing bad would happen if we broke the rules now. I explained that there was nobody around to enforce the old rules, and so they didn't really apply any more. They had stopped being rules. We were free!
Educate. Accept. Don't arm-wrestle with programming. Work with, rather than against, my parts and my programming. Cool.
I'd like to quote one of my heroines, Cheryl Beck. She wrote about dissolving a complex mirrors/everything backwards/matrix program by talking past it to the underlying parts that had been programmed. I'm paraphrasing from her e-mails with her permission.
"I had a diamond matrix. The front side opened like butterfly wings. This was the open access side, which I could enter easily. It was composed of RA stuff like complicated belief systems such as the Kabbalah. I could've spent a lifetime confused and lost trying to figure it all out.
"The ever-present threat looming in the background was Draco the Dragon that patrolled the "Dark Side of the Moon." this was the backside of the diamond where the real MC programming was stored. The rest was just a cover. This part of the matrix fell under "Draconian Law" -- death to me and my family if Draco reported disobedience by me to my MC handler. Draco was the ultimate internal perp. There were also others like the Iceman, who froze me if I got too close to an MC memory.
"The facets of the diamond were mirrors which multiplied one image and made them into dozens. This was all meant to confuse and overwhelm. In fact the mirrors were alter fragments doing a job to keep me safe, to keep me away from the MC memories. What worked for me was simply to congratulate them on a job well done and to find something else for them to do. My fragments usually just threw away their jobs and blended with a protector alter.
"The need for backwards communication and pairing of opposites was also a way to keep me safe by confusing me and leading me away from the MC memories so I didn't have to be accessed and re-trained by torture. I communicated internally that I was a competent adult free from the cult/MC world now, and I had no need for that type of "safe communication" anymore. I promoted those fragments from that type of confusing communication to straightforward reconnaissance. Whatever the fragments understand and desire to become works.
"After a while I "got it", from head knowledge into my very "knower." It was my mind that created all this. They didn't insert a matrix into my brain. All material constructs and figures and images were actually little kids. -- alters or alter fragments imitating perps, dragons, colors -- all in the interest of keeping us safe from further harm or torture. "When I got it on a gut level, the construct came to an end quickly. It literally blew up and freed all the alters, instead of killing them in the explosion, which was the lie they had believed.
It was very reassuring to learn that the same technique worked for Cheryl and for me. Maybe my instincts were right after all! I just knew in my bones that it wasn't necessary to get all fancy and complicated to deal with programming, no matter how complex it might be. It just felt right to use simple, proven, every-day, common sense techniques. It also felt instinctively right to use love and respect and friendship to counter the mind-fucking that had been done to me.
Look at it this way. I spent many long years of hard work learning Latin, which is a highly complex language. I learned it very well, too. Got straight A's. But I don't have to think or speak Latin today. Just 'cause I learned it doesn't mean I have to use it. I prefer to speak English. Of course, the difference is that no part of me ever believed I had to use Latin for the rest of my life, while many parts of me believed that I could never escape the cult system and way of thinking and behaving.
Okay, let's have some questions now. Neil will, I believe, have copies of this talk available on his web site for those who want it.
Copyright © 2002 by Jeannie Riseman and Survivorship.
All rights reserved. You may print out one copy for use
in your own healing. For additional reprints, write
Survivorship, PMB 139, 3181 Mission St, San Francisco CA 94110.