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The Full Story

The Complexities of Identifying Ritual Abuse (RA) and
Mind Control (MC) in  Your Client
by Eileen Aveni, LMSW, LCSW, ACSW, BCD  © 2017

This document is not intended to be diagnostic or therapeutic.

If you read this, please take care of yourself. You should only read this if you have
your therapist or your support person available to you.



Recognition of ritual abuse (RA) and mind control (MC) in survivors is complex, as they often present with clues that are not obvious to a clinician unfamiliar with this more complex and severe type of trauma.  RA and MC usually result in the diagnosis of Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) stemming from severe, early, and chronic childhood trauma and from deliberate perpetration to create DID.   Clinicians can misdiagnose without proper knowledge of the clinical features of this kind of trauma and consequently offer treatments that may not be conducive to recovery.


This article provides an overview of the clinical features and clues that ritual abuse and mind control may be present in the background of a client, despite apparently unrelated presenting problems.  Clinicians will be introduced to both government (Monarch/MkUltra) and other forms of cult mind control programming.  A brief differential diagnosis of DID resulting from RA and MC as compared with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and other forms of Complex PTSD, is also included.  With increased awareness and knowledge of the clinical features of RA and MC resulting in DID, clinicians can more accurately diagnose and more effectively treat this population.

Recognition of ritual abuse and mind control in survivors is complex as they often present with clues that are not obvious to a clinician who is unfamiliar with this more complex and severe type of trauma, including the following.

  • Regular sexual abuse recovery could be characterized by two steps forward, one step back; but the RAMCOA process is characterized by 1 step forward, 2 steps back.

  • RAMCOA survivor disclosure of memories is fraught with suicidal and self-harm behaviors (programmed self-punishment for disclosure)

  • Rapid switching

  • Phobias of unusual things. Example: spiders, snakes, blood, death, darkness, movie lights (i.e., those used for filming)

  • Client starts to disclose memories, then cancels next few sessions for other reasons

  • Ask, “Have you ever had exposure to the occult?” In an RAMCOA survivor, this could cause significant reaction.

  • Client’s fear of having emotions—needing to stuff them, not allowing them to come out. Because children never allowed their true emotions, soon they are not allowed to feel at all. What they feel inside their hearts becomes silent and numb.” Smith, M. Ritual Abuse: What it Is, why it Happens, and how to Help. (1993) San Francisco: Harper) “I can tell you that I experience feelings from my brain, but I rarely experience feelings in my body.” (ibid.).

  • DID incidence is higher in the chemical dependency and sexual abuse populations than in the general population. Chemical dependence can be trauma-based, though chemical dependency treatments/treaters often miss this connection. (Dorahy MJ, Brand BL, Sar V, Krüger C, Stavropoulos P, Martínez-Taboas A, Lewis-Fernández R, Middleton W. Dissociative identity disorder: An empirical overview. Aust N Z J Psychiatry. 2014 May;48(5):402-17. https://doi: 10.1177/0004867414527523. PMID: 24788904.)

“Multiple personality most often presents with depression and suicidality rather than personality changes and amnesia which are obvious clues to dissociation…The original personality is usually amnesiac for the secondary personalities while the secondary personalities may have varying awareness of one another…Generally the original personality is rather reserved and depleted of affect. The secondary personalities usually express affects or impulses unacceptable to the primary personality such as anger, depression, or sexuality…Headaches are extremely common as are hysterical conversion symptoms and symptoms of sexual dysfunction.”
— Philip M. Coons, Child abuse and multiple personality disorder: Review of the literature and suggestions for treatment, Child Abuse & Neglect, Volume 10, Issue 4, 1986, Pages 455-462, ISSN 0145-2134, (

Overview of the clinical features

  • Physical pain or other physical symptoms without a current physical cause

  • Visual or other hallucinations

  • Switching

  • Scrambling of sensory information—can’t make sense of others or of the world

  • Bizarre delusions

  • Being told you behaved bizarrely or like an animal

  • Client has to learn what it means to be safe: modeling and practicing safety while walking in a parking lot from a building to a car, use of a PO box, multiple phones

  • Possible time loss (gaps in daily memory or even within a session)

The variety of presenting problems

An extreme abuse survivor may come in for other things, such as:

  • Marriage

  • Depression

  • Family issues

  • Depression

  • Bipolar Disorder

Complexities of Diagnosis

Diagnosis of RA, MC, and DID is complex but there are common indicators. Most survivors will have many of these common indicators or clues. But—importantly!—the presence of any of these clues does not prove that RA and MC has occurred. It’s the combination of clues, plus the client’s actual experience, that will further clarify what has really occurred in the client’s life.

A therapist must:

  • Be skilled in DID treatment or be supervised by a therapist skilled in DID treatment.

  • Be extremely observant.

  • Always be open to the possibility that your client may have gone through extreme trauma and may be scrutinizing you to know if you are willing to walk with them. 

  • Be unwilling to keep your client only to do the minimum or what is comfortable for you.

  • Be willing to refer out, or be willing to learn from others, most especially experts in the field.

Extreme Abuse Survey (EAS)

In 2007, a team of researchers conducted three related online surveys, collectively titled An International Online Survey for Adult Survivors of Extreme Abuse (Becker T, Karriker W, Overkamp B, and Rutz C. Available online at One survey addressed survivors directly, one addressed clinicians, and one addressed children (via their parents). The survey included questions covering various aspects of extreme and ritual abuse experienced by the respondents.

  • 2337 persons viewed the survey; 1719 in English, 618 in German.

  • 1471 persons answered at least one question on the survey.

  • 31 countries were declared: United States (774); Germany (273); United Kingdom (92); Canada (75); Australia (38); Switzerland (13); Israel (11); Norway (10); etc. 124 respondents did not name a country of residence.

Of those who responded to the question asking if they had ever been threatened with death if they ever talked about the abuse, 77% indicated yes.

Of those who responded to the question asking if they have had dissociative flashbacks with satanic themes, 68% indicated yes.

Of those who responded to the question asking if their ritual abuse had originated from their family of origin, 63% indicated yes.

One of the researchers, Wanda Karriker, identified the following ten findings from the survey that are helpful to understanding ritual trauma.

  1. Ritual abuse/mind control (RA/MC) is a global phenomenon.

  2. A diagnosis of Dissociative Identity Disorder is common for persons who report histories of RA/MC. (84% of EAS respondents who answered that they have been diagnosed with DID [N=655] reported that they are survivors of RA/MC).

  3. Ritual abuse (RA) is not limited to SRA, (i.e., satanic ritual abuse, sadistic abuse, or satanist abuse).

  4. RA is reported to involve mind control techniques.

  5. Some extreme abuse survivors report that they were used in government-sponsored mind control experimentation (GMC).

  6. RA/MC is reported to be involved in organized “known” crime.

  7. RA/MC is reported to be involved in clergy abuse.

  8. Most often reported memories of extreme abuse are similar across all surveys.

  9. Most often reported possible aftereffects of extreme abuse are similar across all surveys.

  10. In rating the effectiveness of healing methods, therapists tend to favor stabilization techniques; survivors are more open to alternative ways to cope with indoctrinated belief systems.

Deliberately-Created Internal Personality System–Mind Control

  • Personality system created by inflicting abuse in repeated rituals or patterns (often, but not necessarily, religious in nature), involving torture, humiliating sexual abuse, and indoctrination. Thus the term "Ritual Abuse" (RA)  

  • Personality system created using psychological manipulation, including torture, to control the individual’s choices, thoughts, and beliefs. Thus the term "Mind Control" (MC)

  • Multiple perpetrators, sometimes in large, organized crime networks.  Thus “Organized Abuse” (OA).

  • RA + MC + OA = RAMCOA

  • Focused torture to achieve certain goals of the perpetrator group(s).

  • Person can be high-functioning, tightly wound, well-groomed OR underachiever, struggling in life. 

  • Internalized perpetration to keep person under control - personality parts are taught to punish each other for divulging information about the abuse.

  • More complex internal structures from mind-control to ensure compliance and reliability.

  • Mind Control Programming:

    • To never be discovered,

    • To undermine or sabotage therapy,

    • To be more complex to resolve - thus confusing - if you don’t know the process of treatment and recovery.

    • To cover up the crimes and thus protect the perpetrators.

  • Perpetrator groups have professional mind control experts who are hired, move around to different groups, are paid well to achieve flawless victims.

  • Usually misdiagnosed, thus treatments for other diagnoses do not resolve the underlying problems.

  • Some personality parts are also spontaneously created by the survivor.

Ritual Abuse/Mind Control (RA/MC) Patterns

Many patterns exist due to the different goals of perpetrators.

  • Sophisticated, Organized Cults – Multi-generation families who may take on leadership. 

  • Basic Lower-level Cults – Gangs.  May/may not be multi-generational, not in leadership.

  • Specific Needs Cults – Sex trafficker, drug ring leader, assassin, breeder, messengers, military soldiers, government mind control, and more.

Common Mind Control Programs

  • Self-Injury Programs (cutting, burning, failure to eat, accident prone, ingest injurious materials, failure to sleep.

  • Lethal Programs (suicide: may have many suicide programs in the personality system).

  • Assassination Programs (cult may trigger a part to kill someone who is a threat or liability like a supportive significant-other, or may want to discredit the survivor to weaken their power in the cult, frame them and thereby flush them out of the cult and into the penal system. The cult group may give them the weapons).

  • Cult-control Programs (reporting, accessing, return back or call back, reminder/reinforcement programs, clock).

  • Therapy Interference Programs (scrambling, flooding, recycling, cover programs, verbal response – acceptable language to the cult, silence/shutdown, nightmare/night terror, isolation, pain, rapid switching, not see, not think, stay distracted, become obnoxious, mistrustful, or resistant to the therapist).

More Complex Mind Control Programs

  • Fourth Reich


  • Monarch

  • Alice in Wonderland

  • Metals/Jewels

  • Abandonment

  • Shell

  • Experimental

  • Command/Access/Function Codes

  • Electroshock

Symptoms (Clues) of RA and MC with DID

Again, none of these clues, individually or in combination, are of themselves diagnostic. Teasing out RA/MC/DID is a long process, including building trust and learning the client’s personal life experience.

  • Depression and anxiety, substance abuse, sexual problems.

  • Personality changes and amnesia.

  • Large gaps in memory, often for an entire year or more of one’s childhood.

  • No memory for particular past places of residence.

  • History of significant suicidality, often beginning in childhood or following attempted disclosure.

  • Suicidal feelings feel disconnected from one’s own thoughts, not their own true feelings.

  • Client appears relieved after remembering a troubling incident in their history but then exhibits suicidal/self-harm behavior soon after.

  • Increased depression, anxiety, self-harm, or suicidality on holidays, birthdays, equinoxes, solstices, Halloween (All Hallow’s Eve, All Souls Day), holidays that a given cult celebrates, etc.  Dread for one’s own birthday.

  • Client has unusual fears and phobias - water, fear of bathing, being underwater, snakes, spiders, rats, rain – may feel as if it is burning (hot or like acid), darkness, red meat, any food that is brown (reminds of bodily processes), enclosed places, being placed underground, in coffins, in dark holes, in cages.

  • Fears, phobias, or nightmares associated with religion, e.g., priests, churches, crosses, Christmas, demons, angels, God, etc.

  • Sensitive to indoor lights, need bright lights to be turned off or dimmed.

  • Fear responses to benign stimuli, e.g., indoor lights and mirrors (very common), colors, shapes, animals, hearing one’s name called, cartoon characters, etc.

  • Unexplained behavioral compulsions, i.e. strong need to eat or drink a particular thing, go to a particular place, perform a particular act, etc.

  • Chronic stress-related disorders (Fibromyalgia, Lupus, Arthritis, Eczema, Asthma, etc.).

  • Headaches.

  • Sudden need to leave home for the evening, weekend, longer.

  • Views self as an accomplice or as evil.

  • When producing art, draws abuse or torture themes, eyes, child or children stuck somewhere (enclosed spaces, etc.), babies, spiders, triangles, nested triangles, number sequences, uses mostly red and black art mediums to draw.

  • Fears of movie projectors or film lights.

  • Feelings of hopelessness, excessive crying, often sounding/whining like a child.  Can’t seem to be consoled. 

  • Strong advocate for animal rights.  Loves pets, an obsession.

  • Increased phone calls (but no one answers to “hello”) around birthdays or ritual holidays.

  • To not wish for anything.

Therapeutic Resistance Clues of RA & MC

  • Any memories of trauma is usually followed by a statement like:  “I must have made it all up.”

  • Any progress in therapy or memories that surface increase suicidality, self-harm (burns, drug overdose, cuts – watch for patterns in cutting), depression, anxiety.

  • Need to cancel the next session following a disclosure, urges to stop therapy.

  • Sleepiness in therapy, lost time, feeling the need to go somewhere else inside while in a session. inability to speak or hear the therapist.

  • Calls, or contact from family, or handler(s) to client following a session.  May sound benign to the therapist but client appears to be reacting or making decisions. 

  • Headaches or other physical pain, esp. following a disclosure or to derail the session. Includes ongoing or intermittent pains which can’t seem to be medically diagnosed.

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

Government-sponsored Mind Control

  • Project MkUltra or MK-ULTRA was a mind-control program developed by the US government, under the guidance of Nazi scientists who were covertly imported to train our government to combat the Cold War against Soviet Union.

  • Nazi scientists were developing mind control in the concentration camps by experimenting on prisoners.

    • Attempted to create a super Aryan race utilizing drugs, torture, and brainwashing, etc.

    • US theorized that they needed people who could be extraordinary in espionage work. 

  • Monarch Programming is a continuation of project MK-ULTRA.

    • Methods are incredibly sadistic. 

    • Results in a mind-controlled slave (man or woman) who can be triggered at any time to perform any action required by the handler. 

    • Used by sex traffickers in the sex slave industry, and in the entertainment industry (sex slaves are known as Beta alters and Beta models).

    • Used by the military in the Delta program as assassins, professional killers, special ops.

Symptoms or Clues of Monarch/MkUltra Mind Control

  • Obsession with numbers, sequences of numbers, singing the same song, robotic thoughts.

  • Obsession with the butterfly image (tattoos, drawings, etc.).

  • Psychic driving feeling (coming from when the person was subjected to a continuously repeated audio message on an endless looped tape to alter their behavior, a method developed by Ewen Cameron, MD). 

  • Feeling that there are inanimate, mechanistic, mathematical, or laboratory-like objects “in the mind” or elsewhere in the body. 

  • Feeling drugged when coming near memories.

  • Clients exhibit symptoms of electroshock abuse. 

  • Alice in Wonderland programming and Wizard of Oz programming (“Follow the yellow brick road”) - used to build and control a Monarch slave.

  • Repetitive, robotic statements that do not make sense in context of dialogue, e.g., “I want to go home” (Wizard of Oz).

Again, it’s important to point out that none of these, individually or in combination, are in and of themselves diagnostic. It’s the combination of clues with the client’s personal experience that will clarify what has actually occurred in the client’s life.


Things to look for as you do initial interviews AND as you get to know your client (6 months to 1 year or more). Some of these potential clues are mutually exclusive or even contradictory (such as high-performing vs underachieving, listed in section 1, below). This may be driven by the kind of abuse or abusing group, if any, involved. The thing to look for is extremes, unbalance.

1. Level of functioning in daily life

  • Educated, good family life, good job, goals in life, maybe church-going with positions held in the church, positions of influence in the community, etc. 

  • Underachiever, basic job or no job, attempts to get ahead but seems to sabotage self or others sabotage them, preoccupied with basic survival.

  • Diagnoses possibly present (i.e. Borderline, Depression, OCD, phobias, anxieties, Bipolar, eating disorders, etc.). 

2. Family background

  • Dysfunctional family vs perfect family (or it seems that way)

  • Dysfunctional family - feuds, relationships severed, multiple marriages/affairs, lots of chaos in relationships, some sibs very successful while others very dysfunctional and acting out, cruelty, no loyalty, secrecy, incest, abuse, violence, substance abuse.

  • Perfect family – too perfect, driven, consistent push to succeed, leaders in the town, closed family system where others outside know little about what really goes on inside the family.  Secrecy with incest and other abuses inside family system.  A few fall short of the family expectations, are cut off from family. 

  • Ancestral line of leaders OR of more dysfunctional patterns.  Some may have died of mysterious circumstances. 

  • Multiple births – twins, triplets, etc. in the line. 

3. Geographical area where they were born/grew up

  • Where were they born?  All levels of the cult are aware that some locations are more hallowed, more revered, come with more power and possible future success for a future cult member.  Some go out of their way to have the birth take place there. 

  • Where did they grow up?  There are hotbeds of cult activity everywhere.  The location will tell us what the cult was like, the goals they may have for members, and how sophisticated the group may be. 

  • For example:  In the U.S. Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, upstate New York, and Kansas City continue to be hotbeds as they are carry-overs from the migration from northern Europe where RA had the most foothold in the cultures there.

  • Kansas City ranks high because of being the center of the US and on the Mississippi river (much lore is associated with that river); Fire Island, NY; certain mountainous land formations, Indian burial mounds, places where 3 rivers intersect, etc.

  • British Isles, Scandinavia, Germany, Canada, and Australia seem to have a significant population of RA & MC survivors.

  • Many other locations in the US, Canada, and the world.  Therefore, look for geographical oddities, special land, or RA history.  Some survivors will have been accessed no matter where they live or lived. 

4. How they spent their vacations growing up

  • Interesting question? 

  • Does the person remember vacations?  Memory lapses except for maybe only good things.  Asking more questions may provoke discomfort. 

  • When were they taken?  Over known cult holidays? Close to a big cult holiday?

  • Where did they go?  Pay attention to the location - i.e. known cult area? Same extended family each time?  Where? 

  • One cult’s mechanism might be to strategically implant and reinforce programming periodically and usually over cult holidays.  The rest of the year is off limits.  Other cults may implant and/or reinforce programming all around the year.

5. Perpetrator(s) – single, small group, organized network ring

  • Does the person have clear memory of a single or small group of perpetrators?  Do they sound sophisticated or is it a group getting some kicks? 

  • Some clients will be able to identify what happened, memories may come out in stilted fashion, but will come without mind control interference.

  • With Organized Network Rings - clients are fraught with a host of symptoms as they even come near the memory.  Is it just PTSD – delayed reaction?  Or is it mind control preventing the memory from coming forward?  Switching may occur. 

6. Presentation – chaotic/distressed, active switching, voices, phobias, etc.

  • Does the client present as chaotic, distressed, maybe unkempt, actively switching, hearing voices, even imperceptibly?  

  • Or do they present as well-controlled, well-groomed with perhaps a marriage problem or something else unrelated to a deep-seated trauma in their background? 

  • Do they exhibit another mental health problem like depression, OCD, etc?  Is that a correct diagnosis?

  • Does the client report that they have some phobias (i.e. beef, hates the color red, maybe black or purple, claustrophobic, fear of flying, fear of bugs, fear of cameras, fear of snakes, other odd fears? 

  • When reporting any of these things, does the client appear uncomfortable talking about it? 

7. Changes in emotional state

  • As you interview and explore, are there changes in facial expression, glazed eyes, forgets the last question you asked, tightening of the throat, nervous twitching of the body, a look like they are listening to something else (inside voice maybe?), reactionary/belligerent behavior to push back at the therapist,

  • RA survivors almost never cry over things we might cry over.  But their body language gives away their discomfort over perhaps.

  • Not being allowed to tell or break secrets from the cult.

  • Feeling programming kicking in to flood and overwhelm, shut down talking, internally perpetrate anyone inside who might betray the cult, switch to a different alter to allow relief or to present differently to the therapist so the therapist doesn’t catch on that anything is wrong.  

8. Seasonal switching/rotation of parts

  • Some internal systems rotate around the year at the change of seasons. 

  • Especially true of those who grew up in the northern parts of the US where there are 4 seasons. Not common in regions without full differentiated seasons.

  • Groups that have a history in fertility cults are usually based on seasons.  Other groups can use this model as well.

  • Many parts in this kind of system are grouped by season and only appear in that season.

  • Usually, the internal system will have an internal self-helper that stays year-round and knows everyone.  They are a kind of gate-keeper who is useful to eventually help the entire system recover.

  • Leading up to the seasonal switch, there is usually chaos in the system. 

  • If it’s winter time, ask if they are aware of what they did last summer?  Or another time of the year? 

  • Did the client grow up in a 4-season region but now lives somewhere else? 

9. Front part (shell?) in denial or acceptance?

  • Front part is also known as the Apparently Normal Personality (the ANP). 

  • In high cults or specific needs cults, the ANP may be a shell to present a normal personality to the world.   Essential to their role and function within the cult.  This person usually has no understanding of their relationship to any cult.  They are clueless. 

  • The front part may not be a shell.  There could be flawless rotations of parts that also allow the person to present as a normal personality.   To the observer, sometimes the person may not finish sentences and appear to think very fast, faster than they can speak.  Other than that, they routinely rotate flawlessly.  This is high cult. 

  • The front part could also realize that they are losing time, be classically switching and be in distress about it.  They are struggling to accept being DID. 

10. Indicators of programming (reporter alters, reactions to therapy, etc.)

  • Over time, there may be indicators of programming that are present in the client.

  • The ANP reports to family member (or whoever is in charge of them, such as their handler)

  • Calls or cards from family or perps at strategic times (like before a therapy appointment), losing time since last appointment, sudden change in attitude about therapy, changes in behavior since a ritual date that may have passed, etc.

  • It is essential to work with the reporter alters from the beginning to prevent them from reporting back to the cult, even if the person has supposedly been out of the cult for years.

11. Working directly with parts vs. working through the ANP

  • Some clients actively switch in a session.  Parts come out and communicate with the therapist. 

  • Some clients work with their parts while the parts remain internally hidden in the back. 

  • But some clients could be switching in almost imperceptible ways.  To the trained therapist, subtle switches of vocal tone, facial movements, eye movements, body repositioning, etc., may give it away. 

  • Try asking permission to work directly with a given part.  Respect if they are uncomfortable with this.

12. Detecting switches

  • In early therapy, clients may switch subtly.

  • Language may change.

  • Content may change while voice sounds the same.

  • “Word salad” speech can indicate rapid switching.

  • Emotional states may be quite different.

  • Ask if this is someone new, if they know you, if they know where they are.

  • If you suspect it’s a child part, ask the age so you can communicate appropriately.

13. Detecting co-presence

  • You may sense a change in emotional state.

  • Ask “Is someone else here?”

  • “I sense someone is feeling scared – Is that you or someone else?”

  • “Can you tell them who I am and where we are so they won’t be so scared?”

  • Always assume more than one part is present.

  • Often I can almost see the new part– for example, right behind the client, or right beside her.

14. Active involvement in group

  • This is difficult to determine in the beginning of treatment.

  • RA/MC clients have:

    • Internal perpetrators who punish if the client tells anything – always true in deliberately created systems. 

    • Multiple layers of programming kick in one after another or simultaneously – especially true for those whose function was destined to be very valuable. 

    • This may lead the therapist to believe that the client is cult-active.

    • The client could be cult-active if behaviors change at ritual date times including:

    • Memory lapses, parts out that weren’t out before while others were stuffed inside,

    • Serious physical abuse occurs,

    • Reactivation of programming that had been successfully dismantled such as agreements that were made with reporter alters but now changed,

    • Evidence of reprogramming that was done.

15. Role level within perpetrator group

  • For high cult members, leadership is their destiny:

    • To influence culture, the arts, entertainment, politics, youth, the church, world events, etc.

    • Professional programmers hired out to other groups.

    • Key professionals in all places in society to carry out activities and keep the cover-up going (police, judges, doctors, funeral directors, political figures, porn film industry leaders, etc.)

    • For low or specific needs members, roles may include:

    • Baby-breeders for sacrifices or future use, drug runners, money-launderers, sex traffickers, sex slaves.

    • Assassins, professional programmers, espionage work, military secret storage and retrieval.

    • Women’s cult leaders, spiritual leaders within churches, synagogues, and occult activities, etc.

16. Internal Structures

  • Always assume there is an internal hierarchy of parts with those at the top in control while those under them do their bidding.

  • As work progresses in therapy, there may be evidence of other internal structures at work in the system such as: geometric structures, spider webs, mirrors, upside down pyramids, prisms, Monarch, government mind control.

  • These structures reflect an organized, more sophisticated cult group.

  • The programmer can then place deliberately created parts into these structures in organized ways to easily locate them later and call out parts or groups of parts for certain tasks. 

  • The client may surface memories or phobias about these structures, or draw pictures with these images on them.  Parts may also refer to them.  These are keys to later understand and unravel how the system was put together.

DID vs. Schizophrenia

DID vs. Bipolar Affective Disorder (BPAD)

DID Assessment Tools

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