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Joe Dispenza and Ramtha's School of Enlightenment

Discussion in 'General Discussion Subforum' started by Forest, Jan 24, 2016.

  1. BruceMC

    BruceMC Beloved Grand Eagle

    I just stay clear of anyone associated with Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington. I could go on forever, but . . . enough is enough.
  2. Forest

    Forest Beloved Grand Eagle

    I tracked down a video of JZ pretending to be "Ramtha" on the Merv Griffin show. It's hilarious.

    Her accent and body language are comical, as if she were parodying herself. It's interesting to compare this "funny, kookie" version of Ramtha with the angrier one that we see in the more recent clips, tearing down Linda Evans. There was a forum for people who were trying to recover from RSE, (until she sued the owner of the forum and ruined him financially) and one of the members wrote the following, talking about how she has changed over the years:

    Maybe you have not been there long enough to know the teachings have done a 180. Maybe you don't know that it was about enlightenment. Christ consciousness. Rather than fabulous wealth and first seal wine ceremonies. Maybe you weren't there for the "truth" teachings. When human morality was taught. Or when Ramtha was against profanity. Maybe you weren't there before it turned into a theater production complete with with tier box seating. And auctions for a one on one and $5,000 dinners? Maybe you think the next teaching or cd is gonna do it for you. That you're gaining ground. "Becoming". Becoming what"?
    Source: http://enlightenmefree.com/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?t=2534

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  3. BruceMC

    BruceMC Beloved Grand Eagle

    What's that P.T. Barnum said, "There's a sucker born every minute"?
  4. mike2014

    mike2014 Beloved Grand Eagle

    It never stops to amaze me how crazies like this can still walk around in plain site. She does far more harm than good. I say, put her in a nut house.

    I hope she's not looking in and request this thread be removed lol
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  5. Forest

    Forest Beloved Grand Eagle

    Joe actually talks about JZ and RSE in his first book, Evolve Your Brain. In the acknowledgements section, he wrote about JZ and Ramtha as they were different people and as if Ramtha were real: "I also want to give thanks to JZ Knight for giving her life to help humanity. To Ramtha, who inspired me to write this book and from whom I have learned enough to think about for a hundred lifetimes."

    I try to keep up on books like this and I've noticed that authors often tell you their life story to try to give themselves authority, particularly when they don't have real credentials. In Dispenza's case, he tells the story of a crash he had on his bike. He opens the section by writing the following about starting his career as a chiropractor: "In 1986, I was 23 years old, had opened my own chiropractic practice in Southern California less than half a year earlier, and was already seeing more than a full patient load every week."

    This sentence makes you wonder: he finished his education at 22 or 23 and he wants us to believe that he is an expert in quantum physics, medicine, and neuroscience?

    Apparently he was a bit of a jock, because he was competing in triathlons. He was in an unfortunate car accident while riding in a triathlon and while he was recovering, he found a book: "One day, during that first six weeks, I saw a book sitting alone on a bookshelf. Its author was Ramtha, and it was published by a group affiliated with the Ramtha School of Enlightenment (RSE). I opened Ramtha: The White Book and began to read, unaware of how influential this book would be to me."

    I want to emphasize that from the way that he is writing, he sounds like a very nice and like-able guy. Of course, he's also trying to sell a huge number of books, so he has to think very hard about how he presents himself to readers. Behind the scenes he might be a total jerk like many other public figures, but perhaps he isn't as well. It's hard to know.

    Soon after, he writes, "I started reading it out of curiosity, but even after the first few pages, the subconscious part of me had nudged my intellect, telling me to pay attention to what I was reading. The words were making sense on a lot of levels. By the time I got to the part in the book that explained how thoughts and emotions create our reality, the idea of superconsciousness, I was completely hooked. I finished it 36 hours later. I was a man in the middle of changing, and the book greatly accelerated the rate of my change. Ramtha: The White Book was the perfect catalyst, crystallizing much of what I had been thinking about and experiencing for most of my adult life. It answered many questions I had about human potential, life and death, and the divinity of human beings, just to name a few. The book validated many of the decisions I had made, particularly my risky choice to forego surgery. It challenged the boundaries of what I knew to be true intellectually, and it raised me to the next level of awareness and understanding about the nature of reality."

    I think that what is happening here is that JZ is taking new age ideas that were popular at the time and speaking them through the voice of "Ramtha." Joe, as @BruceMC pointed out, is a graduate of Evergreen State College, so he had probably been exposed to many of these ideas before. When he heard about them again through the voice of a 35,000 year old Lemurian warrior from Atlantis, he was hooked.

    I'd bet that it made him feel like he had access to special wisdom and was therefore a special person. In particular, it made him feel like he had magical, psychic powers of "mind over matter."

    He writes, "I made a deal with myself. If my body was able to be healed and I could walk again without being paralyzed or in pain, I was going to spend a major portion of my life studying this phenomenon of mind over matter and how consciousness creates reality. I became more interested in learning how to consciously and thoughtfully control my future. That’s when I made the decision to enroll at the Ramtha School of Enlightenment, to become more involved in the teachings."

    Finally, he summarizes, "Through 17 years as a student and the seven years I spent as a teacher at the Ramtha School of Enlightenment, I have gone well beyond the original boundaries of that inquiry. I have been inspired and enriched by those experiences. This book would not be possible without the learning and experiences I had at RSE. Evolve Your Brain then, is an attempt to put together an accurate account of my own education and experiences, some of the teachings of Ramtha, as well as my own research."

    It's a compelling story for many people. It's just too bad that, at least in my view, it rests on a foundation of hogwash.

    Dispenza's actual book looks reasonably interesting. Primarily, it's basic neuroscience that one could learn in a basic college course. It emphasizes brain plasticity - our brain's ability to adapt and mold itself to experience, like a muscle growing stronger when it is exercised. Many of the ideas are similar to the idea that I like so much that are discussed in the "Two Wolves and neuroscience" thread that I often link to. (It's a great thread. Go read it! When Dispenza talks about "neural nets," it's the same thing. By feeding the "good wolves" inside of you, thought meditation and keeping positive, you can turn yourself into the person you want to be. It's hard work and has nothing to do with quantum physics, but is just good science.)

    The difference, of course, is that I (and many other bloggers and others) refer to well established neuroscientists rather than turning myself into a cult figure of my own and making millions of dollars on seminars pretending to do "quantum healing" like Dispenza does.

    Right now he's clearly quite successful at pulling the wool over people's eyes, though. He is currently outselling all of the TMS authors on Amazon, and he is taking up an increasing share of Google searches. It's sad, and as Bruce wrote above, there truly is a sucker born every minute.

    Plus, Dispenza is a heck of a good marketer. And he's telling people what they want to hear. He makes them feel special and powerful and they give him money for his seminars.
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2016
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  6. BruceMC

    BruceMC Beloved Grand Eagle

    Exactly, Forest!

    But I have to confess I did give Dr Joe my money, read his book, and listened to his CDs. After the book and CDs I began to notice though that it didn't seem to change me. There is a big difference between Dr Joe telling you to "go into the quanta" and actually entering a quantum state. You just have to do something more than using words as a substitute for a functional methodology. Dr Joe doesn't have any real technique other than repeating buzz words. Works in romantic poetry and medieval magic but not on real flesh and blood, sad to say.
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2016
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  7. Andy Bayliss

    Andy Bayliss TMS Coach & Beloved Grand Eagle

    I had a great teacher once, Richard Moss, M.D., and he suggested that the the "channeled beings" arise because for the channeler, inner wisdom arises that cannot be quite "owned as my own." So an entity is born. His point, and mine in this post is that there is often great wisdom "chanelled." A lot of hogwash too! But when you find truths in Joe's work, or wonder about his attachment to this "crazy lady," it may point to some actual truths that have come through this Ramtha's work. I have no idea, because I have not studied her. And more than one "chanelled being" and recognized "wise teacher" have "gone south" after some remarkable teachings. My point is that in human experience, there can be quite a "mixed bag."
  8. Forest

    Forest Beloved Grand Eagle

    I understand that you're trying to be sympathetic, but I feel pretty strongly about this. Edmund Burke once wrote, "It has been profoundly said, and how true it is, that the only thing necessary for evil to exist is for good people to remain silent..." If there are people out there spreading lies like this, we are part of the problem if we don't stand up and call it out. Dr. Sarno was deeply skeptical of alternative medicine, saying that it wouldn't exist if it weren't for the placebo effect. Likewise, I'm sure that he would not believe in channeling disembodied 35,000 year old warriors from Atlantis. If this is an evil hoax, I don't think that we should make excuses for it.

    This is a woman who talks about alien lizard people who will come to earth and eat people. Apparently the only way to protect yourself is to line your house with copper.... She also claims to be an expert on "cutting edge quantum physics" (quantum physics is actually quite old and hasn't been cutting edge for 50 years). She takes huge amounts of vulnerable people's money for this and lives in a 12,000 square foot house because of it. This just strikes me as evil.

    Another way to look at it is that there are basically two possibilities here. Either there is a disembodied 35,000 year old warrior from Atlantis who has come to speak through this random woman with too much plastic surgery and a fake accent or not. It's pretty clear that the whole Atlantean warrior thing is absurd. Dr. Sarno did not believe in past lives and I can't imagine a TMS doctor who would accept that hooey. I certainly wouldn't want to associate with one who did.

    So if there is no 35,000 year old warrior, then it follows that, in one way or another, she's making it all up.

    There seems to be two possibilities for this. The first is that she is aware that she is consciously making it up. In this case, she is a fraud and a thief, and why would we want to study with a person like that?

    The second possibility is that she is deeply mentally ill. Again, someone who is so deeply mentally ill shouldn't be relied on as a source of guidance. They're crazy!

    I couldn't ever possibly see a channeler as an authority in any subject other than mental illness or fraud. The fact that they were a channeler would immediately remove any credibility that they might otherwise have.

    One could certainly take the approach that wisdom comes from the mouths of madmen. While those are nice romantic words, it's a pretty silly way to live one's life that will only be attractive to people so insecure that they need some way to feel special about themselves.

    Likewise, one could say that maybe it is a combination of her being in denial about the fact that she's faking it and simply has a tenuous grasp on reality. This makes her sound like a manipulative and tremendously damaged person. Again, not someone you would want to learn from or emulate.

    Healthy people are those who have the ego strength to be confident in who they are and love who they are. The don't need to make up stories or follow a cult leader to compensate for an emptiness inside of them.

    This is the core of why Dispenza loses credibility. He was so damaged that he couldn't JZ the way a normal person would. A normal person would conclude that there was no 35,000 year old warrior from Atlantis and that she was just charging people thousands of dollars to briefly feel good about themselves by pumping them full of hot air.

    Doctor Sarno would be horrified to have such ideas taken seriously on a forum dedicated to his legacy. I would be, too.

    As far as I am concerned all so-called "channels" are either frauds or severely damage and weak individuals. There is no entity being "born" as the entire thing is either a cynical or pathetic fabrication. The channels themselves are likely predators and are to be pitied rather than respected.
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2016
  9. Forest

    Forest Beloved Grand Eagle

    In the end, as Bruce mentioned, what makes this fail is that it doesn't help people. Rather than having a nonprofit forum of success stories, they have/had a nonprofit forum of people who were recovering from their time in RSE. The following post is a plea from someone who had gotten out to the people who are still inside and captures yet another reason why we should not look to them for truth. To me it is a portrait of weak and damaged people being sucked in by a predator who of course only makes them feel worse. I just find it incredibly sad to read.

    Is there Love where you are? Is there acceptance that allows you to express freely your thoughts and feelings? Are you welcome at your neighbors home? Greeted warmly by others-students? Is there peace and joy in your heart that soars as you contemplate today and tomorrow? Is there a song in your heart? Warmth?

    Or are you living in the harsh judgement of arrogant superiority? Yours toward others and theirs toward you? Superiority? Of course, the "teachings" that have become the criteria of defining yourself-and others. Are you aware of how judgmental you have become since becoming a student of the great ancient wisdom and drive to enlighten the world?

    What do you think "enlightenment" is? Do you think it's an intellectual understanding/comprehension of something you hope you are and hope to be? Hope to experience?

    What took you to RSE? Had you come up empty handed in relationships? Was your life in chaos? Had you been injured by deception and betrayal, rejection? Were you confused, frustrated, hurt and angry at the lack of gratification and fulfillment in what you had so invested yourself in-that came to naught? Were you feeling unappreciated and disrespected by those you cared most about? Were you feeling deflated, lonely and alone, wondering, "what's it all about"? And your love life well....we aren't going there. When life really sucked you heard the "call". Message of the Ram.

    You read a book, saw a clip on You Tube or maybe heard a cd? Maybe a friend heard something and shared it with you? Suddenly, you aren't alone. Someone understands and is not only saying you're important (and you are) but that you are God. God divine! God Almighty. You, with your hands in dishwater and ignored. Neglected by lack of consideration and attention. Taken for granted. Special to no one. Suddenly you are hearing from an awesome ascended master you are important.

    Was it awesome to not be vulnerable any longer and able tell guys where to go? That you no longer want or need them? That you are more than just a female, more than a body, more than a mother and all the other relationships/hats you wore? Uh huh.

    You blew it all off and walked away from YOUR life, family and friends, job, to live close to RSE to go to school. Relationships just not important any longer. All that human emotion and wasted energy. That you can redirect to create a "spiritual" life instead of being a villager. One of those lessor beings. One of those people that have empowered your channel who by your worship has fulfilled HER dreams and ambition of being rich and famous?

    How important is your channels personal relationships to her and the ascended one that it's the topic at a wine ceremony? To a paying captive audience there for a "teaching". To help them get closer to their God and dreams. While you're paying your channel to learn you you can conquer your image/humanity, has your channel conquered hers?

    When you don't have the money to go to an event are you still important? Or criticized, judged and condemned? Or allowed to attend for free?

    Let me share something you might not have realized yet. The more you give up of yourself and individuality to be accepted- the less you become-not greater. The more you depend on someone else for your answers and identity-the less you become. And the less you care about others-the smaller you become. The more you depend on another for your strength and importance-the more you transfer your soul to them and the weaker you become.

    Is it what makes you happy?

    Are you fulfilling your dreams?

    Do you have dreams?

    Source: http://enlightenmefree.com/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=2534

    I do not believe that great wisdom was "channeled" here. I believe that a predator with a photographic memory (this is what people who were close to her say) would highlight passages from new age books and then use them in her "channeling" sessions later. This is discussed in the following interview, between 20:44 and 25:00. The interviewee is JZ's former bodyguard, Glen Cunningham:
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2016
  10. Forest

    Forest Beloved Grand Eagle

    Here is another example from the forum for people who are recovering from RSE. It's called "I NEED URGENT HELP , Please," and you can hear the desperation in the person's voice. The person's significant author had been caught in the cult and had spent over $50,000 in the last 6 months on the cult. (I've bolded a couple of sentences to make it easier to read quickly.)

    Hi all ,

    I am a new member but a long time guest reader.

    I’ve decided to register to this forum because it seems I have no one to turn to and I need help please.
    I am living with a new partner for the past year who is amazing person but have totally lost his way lately and I don’t know how to fix this .

    He has been a devoted RSE student for the last 7 years . When we met (12month ago) he introduced me to it and I even went to RSE school once ,which was enough to smell the "Rat".

    I do not believe or support this fanaticism but have not made an issue as it seemed to be on the background for the first 6 month of our relationship . However , since this April and the recent “ urgent updates BS” he has completely lost the plot .
    He has spent ( and continuing to spend) all the money he owns (over 50,000 over the past 6 month) . Contributes very little to our life in the NOW ( we live together). Plus dragging other people in to it , to invest in land and shelter, water , food , generators , water tanks, tools , gardens, spices, medicine … etc..

    I know we should not have expectations of our partners and One should respect others choices and Free Will but we are now expecting a child (still early days) and all he ever talks about is 2012 , End Of The World and this crazy JZ [​IMG] . I am scared that it will never end!?

    I have tried everything , I showed him this website , hours of research on other sides and pleaded for this madness to end. Nothing works … he says things like:

    “ You disempowering yourself by not willing to see the truth and fallowing masses” OR
    “ There is a higher truth that can only be seen through energy . If we only assess the world through intellect we will be lost and never find truth” OR
    “ The world is unconscious and will pay the ultimate price very soon” OR
    “ The aliens will pick up conscious people (like him) only and the rest will then realize”
    “I see what’s going on darling, more than any people in the world who only uses 10% of their brain” OR
    “How do we understand 15 dimensions when we choose to see only 3 and believe that’s it. Have faith , the truth is coming”

    WTHell ??? (sorry)
    Is he serious ?

    My GOD …. even writing this – I just want to cry …. [​IMG]

    Please help !! How can I get through to him???
    How can I stop this madness??

    Will seeing a professional help??
    Is he a lost case?
    Will I ever get Ramtha out of my life?
    Can it even be done ?

    ........Or should I run as fast as I can? [​IMG]

    Any advise will be most appreciated . I am drowning …..

    Sorry for the long message but unfortunately that’s a short story … [​IMG]

    Source: http://enlightenmefree.com/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=16&t=1482
  11. Andy Bayliss

    Andy Bayliss TMS Coach & Beloved Grand Eagle

    For the record Forest, I don't believe in chanelling. Nor do I support this particular chaneller. I was in no way defending Joe or Ramtha (the lady). Except to explain where some of the "good" in Joe's work might come from. If there is any. I have not read his work either. That we are a mixed bag. I write this, because reading my post above, perhaps I was not clear. And I agree that almost any cult can be extremely dangerous for the health of the members!

    For a good recent movie on cults, you might enjoy this thriller:
  12. Forest

    Forest Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi, Andy, that's a relief. I've always enjoyed your posts and perhaps I misunderstood.

    I will have to check out that movie. Like Simplicity, I've been curious about cults for a while and remember studying Scientology a while ago. RSE actually reminds me a lot of Scientology and I think of JZ as like a living L R Hubbard. Maybe some day RSE will have its own Tom Cruise, jumping on a new Oprah's couch.

    Some ex-scientology members have drawn the same parallel and explore it in this thread:

    I think that the good in Joe's books comes from the fact that he makes them feel special because they have some special knowledge that other people don't have. The "knowledge" is baloney, but it still makes them feel good, and they get addicted to that feeling so they sign up for another $600 seminar. Other people are smarter, notice that it doesn't work and get out. Or maybe they never even get to the seminar level and stop with books and CDs.

    I'm sure that some other good comes from the fact that he tells people that they can heal and improve themselves. This is similar to what we do in the TMS approach, but rather than explaining it in straightforward medical science, he wraps it up in what is known as quantum flapdoodle. (The term was coined by Murray Gell-Mann, who won the Nobel Prize for helping to discover the quark. It stands for stringing together a series of terms and phrases from quantum physics and asserting that they explain something in our daily experience. It's hogwash just like channeling is.)

    He also pretends to be a neuroscientist when he, by his own admission, finished his education by the time he was 23. That was 1986, when he discovered "Ramtha." By 1988, he had moved to Yelm (if not earlier), a tiny town of 8,000 which happens to be the world headquarters of RSE.

    Like the person described by the anguished partner in the post two posts above, it looks like he was so sucked in that he physically moved himself to Yelm so that he could devote more of his life to the cult. Yet another indication of catastrophically bad judgment on his part.

    Speaking of his bad judgment, there's another article that says that he contributed $15,000 to a Ponzi scheme that JZ apparently promoted. As you may know, I teach economics at the college level and one of my research interests is financial crises, so I know a decent amount about Ponzi schemes. I've never seen one quite so ridiculous, though, and can't believe that people got sucked into it. Of course, if a god like Ramtha is telling you to invest, then the most gullible will invest heavily.

    All in all, very sad.

    Either way, I care deeply about this community and recognize that vulnerable people read these pages as well. On a personal level, it is very important to me that none of these people get sucked into similar scams. I hope that everyone else reading this feels the same way. It's a free country, but as was mentioned above, "the only thing necessary for evil to exist is for good people to remain silent." At least that's the way I see it. It's certainly something that I'm willing to investigate and speak out about.

    In the meantime, here is the Ponzi scheme that, according to a news article, "Dr. Joe" invested in:
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  13. balto

    balto Beloved Grand Eagle

    this make me remember how I felt when I read about "reconnective healing". My friend lost tons of money to someone who claim she can heal him thousand of miles away over the phone.
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  14. North Star

    North Star Beloved Grand Eagle

    Forest, I really appreciate the time you spent unpacking this subject. You are a wonderful teacher and I am learning. Thank you! And Andy, that movie looks interesting. I remember gobbling up information on cults when I was a young adult. It's a topic that continues to fascinate and enrage me. Btw- I love the quantum flapdoodle word. lol

    Soooooo....to bring up another name. I did a little research on Carolyn Myss - I've had one of books on my "to read" list on Amazon. I was disappointed to read that her credentials sound a bit like Joe Dispenzas. (PhD from a Cornflakes box pretty much, undergrad in journalism.)

  15. North Star

    North Star Beloved Grand Eagle

    Balto - Sounds like some of the stuff I've heard from some friends. Some really crazy crap out there. How have we gotten to be so naive and dumb? (And I say this as one who has been naive and dumb myself. I'm learning.) As I've said before I try to hold a space for mystery and being curious but bullshit is bullshit. These cons are masters of weaving the two together - sort of how an effective liar uses just enough truth in their deception to sway the unaware.
  16. mike2014

    mike2014 Beloved Grand Eagle

    I think these cults prey on the weakness and vulnerability of humans.

    I remember reading Linda Evans overcame cancer, I'm wondering if she joined this cult before or after being diagnosed...

    I think for some, logical or rationale reasoning goes out the window when they experience trauma, they try to seek "why", in the craziest of surrounds. The psychology behind it is quite interesting.

    Unfortunately, as long as there is fear and uncertainty, the medical world will be an open playground for quacks to have free reign. But I agree, threads like this and educating people are pivotal.

    It is very saddening and disturbing that so many reach desperation and lean towards the crazy thou.
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2016
  17. Simplicity

    Simplicity Guest

    Why Do People Join Cults?
    Why do people join and even appear to thrive in cult-like groups?

    by, Adrian Furnham, Ph.D.

    Why do people join the Masons, the Rotarians or a political Party? Because of what they offer:
    friendship, connections, identity, an opportunity to make a contribution. Are the motives the same as joining the Order of the Solar Temple, the Branch Davidians, the Taliban, Hamas, or the Al Qua-eda? How are acceptable social groups and organisations different from (dangerous) cults.

    There is a great deal of interest in “cults” which can take many forms: They may be religious or racial, political or mystical, self-help or pseudo-psychological, but they all have half a dozen recognizable characteristics:

    • Powerful and exclusive dedication/devotion to an explicit person or creed.
    • They use of “thought-reform” programmes to integrate, socialize, persuade and therefore control members.
    • A well thought through recruitment, selection and socialization process.
    • Attempts to maintain psychological and physical dependency among cult members.
    • Cults insist on reprogramming the way people see the world.
    • Consistent exploitation of group members specifically to advance the leaders goals.
    • Cults nearly always go in for milieu control signals: a different,unfamiliar setting with different rules, terms, behaviour patterns.
    • Ultimately using psychological and physical harm to cult members, their friends and relatives and possibly the community as a whole.
    Most cults start their induction by trying to stop both individualistic and critical thinking like the army their job is the first to break you than remake you as one of them. This involves the introduction of a “sacred creed” that members may have to live by. Through open confession and subordination of the individual to the doctrine the cult ensures control and “purity”. Cults deliberately induce powerful emotions like fear, guilt but also pride. They tend to develop their own language, dress and signals which shows their specialness.

    But the central question is whether usually-thought-of good, legitimate organizations do things differently than cults. Do the Boy Scouts or the Round Table or the Women’s Institute operate psychologically at any rate?

    All too often, we explain strange, unexpected behaviour (like joining a cult) in terms of the dispositions (personality) of others; they (the poor gullible naïve indoctrinated members) have quite defective personalities But we explain more common behaviour in terms of the appeal of an accepted group's philosophy, leaders or benefits. Thus sad inadequates join cults; but altruistic, caring people join the church.

    Applying misunderstood psychiatric labels to those who join extremist groups offers little or no explanation for their behaviour. It often represents little more than a moralistic condemnation. Rather than immediately trying to blame extremists for being different, it is equally important to try to understand the psychological appeal of cults, extremist groups and political cells, as well as some business organizations.

    Any analysis of the make-up of individuals in cult groups shows surprising large diversity in terms of age, career, education, ideology and talents. They can attract the post-graduate and the illiterate; the teenager and the "senior citizen"; the solidly middle class and those on the fringes of society. It is not so much their demography that is important as their psychological needs.

    Studies on those who have signed up for all sorts of cults and extremist groups have, however, shown that they do have similar and sophisticated recruitment promises, induction techniques and social influence agendas. They use methods of "indoctrination" and "mind-control" no different from all groups, though they maybe a lot more intensely applied.

    The mind-controlling techniques of extremist groups are little different form those of the army, religious organisations and prisons. These "wicked" techniques are in fact well known; demanding total, consistent compliance and conformity; using heavy persuasive techniques; creating dissonance; emotional manipulation. They differ only in intensity and duration…and thus in effectiveness.

    What do all groups (cult and non-cult) offer a potential recruit? Answer: friendship, identity, respect and security. They also offer a world-view: a way of discerning right from wrong; good from bad. These are powerful incentives for all people whatever their background. We are social animals. But they offer more: a structured life-style and the ability to acquire new skills. Through their (very different) ideologies they also offer moral explanations into how the world works. They provide clear answers to difficult and big questions: what it all means; the secret of happiness; life after death; the difference between right and wrong, who is with us and who against us; the saved and the damned.

    Even political groups have a sort of religious agenda and the language of revenge, purification, justice which are often very "old testament". There is usually within most extremist cult groups surprisingly little violence and often a healthy life-style, at least in terms of exercise, diet, etc. And many promise the ability to heal physical and psychological illnesses...even the illness of society as a whole. Many promise the greatest gift of all: immortality.

    Essentially five things make extreme groups dangerous to their member:

    First, they demand that they sever all ties with people (family, friends) and organisations (schools, churches). This naturally makes them more dependent on the cult itself and helps create the person's new identity. They start again, wipe the slate clean. This rule is also found in extreme in Christian Monastic orders.

    Second, the members are required to show immediate and unquestioning obedience to rules and regulations which maybe arbitrary, petty or pointless. The idea is to ensure allegiance and obedience. This strategy is used to "break-in" all army recruits. It is the very staff of boot camps.

    Third, group members often have to do long hours of tedious work. It maybe drilling, begging for money, cooking, followed by compulsory reading, chanting or mediating. Recruits usually become physically, emotionally and mentally exhausted. Sleep deprivation is a good start. It's all part of the induction process.

    Fourth, all groups need money to exist. Some are very much into money both as an end and as a means. This may, therefore, quickly involve recruits getting involved in illegal, or semi-legal activities. Groups that are state supported or those with a long history of operation may, however, be different. Members need to understand how, when and why money is required and to set about getting it quickly.

    Fifth, groups make exit costs very high. Leaving is associated with failure, persecution and isolation. It is more than just a waste of time and effort. They make you feel as if nothing will ever be the same as you will be an outcast. It is made to sound a very unattractive, indeed impossible, option.

    But it is true that certain individuals are more receptive to the message of cults than others? Recruiters know that what they appear to have in common is they are at some transitional phase in their life: something has gone and not been replaced. They may have moved location or given up work or education. They may have just left the bosom of the family because of age or poverty or divorce. They may have drifted away from their religion or ideological roots. They are dislodged from their social group…and looking for another.

    In short, they often feel alienated; they experience all the meaningless, powerlessness and helplessness that goes with the state. They can feel increasingly isolated form the commercial, political and technical world that offers little for them. Disaffected, often angry and resentful they can seek each other out.

    Enter the group recruiter. They are introduced into a group with simple (but "sensible") answers. They offer simple rules and a simple life-style and social support. Most are happy to trade off their liberty (and assets such as they are) for the (illusory) glory, power and security of that group. The group (cult) appears to offer all they need and want.

    Rather shy, unassertive people who seem inhibited and awkward in social situations are particularly attracted to groups with formulaic interaction patterns with their predictability and rule following.

    Extreme groups offer simple, clear messages in an increasingly complex world. Old certainties are crumbling; ethics even science is portrayed as having only relative truths. The world is corrupt, evil, unfair and very complex. So a group or leader who offers a "sensible, sane" explanation for the complex world, a secure group and personal salvation is very attractive. They come in many forms: politicians of the extreme left or right; religious leaders; romantic revolutionaries; persuasive writers; power-hungry individuals, brilliant orators; movie-star saviours.

    People who join extreme groups are not strange, disturbed, sheep-like idiots. We are social animals and members of many groups. The more secretive the group the more we are likely to label it a cult. The more zealous the member them more likely we are to call them deviants. And if they are involved in quasi-military activity, they are terrorists.

    All the above applies to saboteurs or Luddites, if people are group members and act on behalf of groups. A lot of dark-side behaviour in organizations is group work. Certain forms of stealing and cheating cannot be done by individuals alone. People club together to revenge themselves. And they do things on behalf of groups that many seem strange and unacceptable primarily because they do not fully comprehend the value of group membership.

    No one sees themselves as a cult-member. Cult is pejorative. Indeed even members of fairly extreme groups like Trappist monks or Amish farmers would never think of themselves as cult members. But they owe their survival to many of the principles outlined above.

    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 10, 2016
    Forest likes this.
  18. Simplicity

    Simplicity Guest

    I agree that this thread is very important and that we need to bring attention to other similar people we come across. One has to be very careful about these things.

    @Andy B - I'm definitely going to check out that movie. I really liked Martha Marcy May Marlene, another movie on cults.

    This reminds me of the time Homer Simpson joined a cult, I loved that episode... they try to brainwash him, which is easier said than done. ^_^

    When watching the indoctrination movie:
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 10, 2016
    Forest and mike2014 like this.
  19. Dexy

    Dexy Peer Supporter

    Wow, very interesting to learn all of this about JD. I recently read his book, "You are the Placebo Effect" and another one whose title currently eludes me...

    Despite this information, I find him very well written/easy to read, and the messages in his book are pretty powerful, even if these same messages are given in various ways by others. I've also listened to him on various podcast interviews and find him inspirational. All this to say that even though he may have some shady intentions, the messages in his book are still very interesting.
  20. Forest

    Forest Beloved Grand Eagle

    Thanks for reading, @North Star! I know it's a lot, but I think it is important to read and thank you for taking the time.

    I'm afraid I don't know much about the author you mention. It does sound like her claimed PhD is fake. Likewise, the Council for Media Integrity did an alert debunking her:
    BruceMC and North Star like this.

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