Potentially unsafe groups or leaders "come off very nice at first, they go for vulnerable people who are looking for answers, lonely, what you'd call 'normal people.' They're very good at what they do and can get people to believe anything. You might think you'd never get taken in, but don't bet on it. "
-- Margaret Singer, Ph.D.
By Rick Ross, Expert Consultant and Intervention Specialist
Ten warning signs of a potentially unsafe group/leader.
Absolute authoritarianism without meaningful accountability.
No tolerance for questions or critical inquiry.
No meaningful financial disclosure regarding budget, expenses such as an independently audited financial statement.
Unreasonable fear about the outside world, such as impending catastrophe, evil conspiracies and persecutions.
There is no legitimate reason to leave, former followers are always wrong in leaving, negative or even evil.
Former members often relate the same stories of abuse and reflect a similar pattern of grievances.
There are records, books, news articles, or television programs that document the abuses of the group/leader.
Followers feel they can never be "good enough".
The group/leader is always right.
The group/leader is the exclusive means of knowing "truth" or receiving validation, no other process of discovery is really acceptable or credible.
Ten warning signs regarding people involved in/with a potentially unsafe group/leader.
Extreme obsessiveness regarding the group/leader resulting in the exclusion of almost every practical consideration.
Individual identity, the group, the leader and/or God as distinct and separate categories of existence become increasingly blurred. Instead, in the follower's mind these identities become substantially and increasingly fused--as that person's involvement with the group/leader continues and deepens.
Whenever the group/leader is criticized or questioned it is characterized as "persecution".
Uncharacteristically stilted and seemingly programmed conversation and mannerisms, cloning of the group/leader in personal behavior.
Dependency upon the group/leader for problem solving, solutions, and definitions without meaningful reflective thought. A seeming inability to think independently or analyze situations without group/leader involvement.
Hyperactivity centered on the group/leader agenda, which seems to supercede any personal goals or individual interests.
A dramatic loss of spontaneity and sense of humor.
Increasing isolation from family and old friends unless they demonstrate an interest in the group/leader.
Anything the group/leader does can be justified no matter how harsh or harmful.
Former followers are at best-considered negative or worse evil and under bad influences. They can not be trusted and personal contact is avoided.
Ten signs of a safe group/leader.
A safe group/leader will answer your questions without becoming judgmental and punitive.
A safe group/leader will disclose information such as finances and often offer an independently audited financial statement regarding budget and expenses. Safe groups and leaders will tell you more than you want to know.
A safe group/leader is often democratic, sharing decision making and encouraging accountability and oversight.
A safe group/leader may have disgruntled former followers, but will not vilify, excommunicate and forbid others from associating with them.
A safe group/leader will not have a paper trail of overwhelmingly negative records, books, articles and statements about them.
A safe group/leader will encourage family communication, community interaction and existing friendships and not feel threatened.
A safe group/leader will recognize reasonable boundaries and limitations when dealing with others.
A safe group/leader will encourage critical thinking, individual autonomy and feelings of self-esteem.
A safe group/leader will admit failings and mistakes and accept constructive criticism and advice.
A safe group/leader will not be the only source of knowledge and learning excluding everyone else, but value dialogue and the free exchange of ideas.
Don't be naïve, develop a good BS Detector.
You can protect yourself from unsafe groups and leaders by developing a good BS detector. Check things out, know the facts and examine the evidence. A safe group will be patient with your decision making process. If a group or leader grows angry and anxious just because you want to make an informed and careful decision before joining; beware.
Humanity in Unity (HIU)? Sai Baba’s disciple….Sai Maa
Posted on 4 December 2009 by dialogueireland
We would welcome feedback concerning Sai Maa and her organisation. It is our intention to add new material once we have had time to process it.
A relation of mine is involved with an organisation called Humanity in Unity (HIU), led by a charismatic female leader currently known as Sai Maa. Sai Maa is a disciple of the infamous Sai Baba, and often refers to him as her mentor.
My relation has visited the US to attend “courses” run by this woman. I know these courses are very expensive, and that substantial sums have also been given to a “trust” for Sai Maa’s “health and well-being”. My relation has recently began discussing the sale of property he owns, on various pretexts. Over the past year, my relation has begun associating more and more with people associated with this organisation. Over time, they have taken up more of his time, to the point it is difficult to meet him on his own, i.e. he is almost always in their company. This has been concurrent with a gradual lessening of time spent between my relation and his friends and family. I am deeply worried about him. He tends to be gullible and naive, and is easily led. If anyone has information on this organisation or people associated with it, I would be grateful to hear it.
nonymous, on 19 September 2016 at 10:16 am said:
“Psychomotor therapy is neither widely practiced nor supported by clinical studies. In fact, most licensed psychiatrists probably wouldn’t give it a second glance.”
This is a New York Times article about Pesso’s successor’s work. Bessel van der Kolk
Albert Pesso, the creator of a therapy very similar to JOPH – sans Guru the ego trip.
nonymous, on 29 August 2016 at 6:41 am said:
I did go to JOPH – Journey of Profound Healing. It was very psychologically violent. The claim was she was pulling out the chords of our karma. We were no longer subject to psychological trauma from the past or neurological/psychological nuances. She continually placed the blame for people’s problems on their parents. There was an intense release at the end; more from the yelling finally ending in truth. She claimed it was her great power. The program actually involved sleep deprivation as everyone searched for the seed of their “problem.” Food intake cut back and hours spent observing or participating in play-presentations of people’s life traumas. This is a real therapy developed in Europe in the 60’s by a dancer. No mention of his contribution.
Naturally there will be endorphin highs at the end of such a thing. They are not indicative anything spiritual; but just human brains doing what human brains do in high stress situations. I could see many fellow members ensnared in her claims; I was for a bit, too.
It’s wild… how we’ll fall for this stuff. I regret meeting the ‘enlightened’ friends; who are really not role models in life. Read: unemployed, under-employed, struggling financially, reading into every event that happens, claiming a higher level of consciousness in relationship strains, contacting intuitives at any moment of crisis or change, drawing tarot cards, hearing voices, and believing that their work, uniquely theirs, or their presence is rising up humanity’s level of consciousness. It almost felt like they had recreated an Indian caste system in their own minds.
Note: my family; full of scientists and mathematicians picked up her and her successor’s books at my request and couldn’t finish because it’s hack science. They were too polite to tell me at the time. Now we laugh about it; but I shudder at the thought of the money I did spend for the retreat (several thousand) and the shocking time it took to pull out of the strange beliefs.
Stay far away.
Anonymous, on 29 August 2016 at 6:16 am said:
She seems very impressive and all-knowing if you are in a needy place when you meet her. Sometimes people are. A more stable, well-versed human would listen respectfully, chuckle, ponder a few irrational statements, and leave at the end of the evening having experienced an interesting sub-sect of New Age believers. The nuttiness is quite apparent.
I’m not sure how bad it gets in the inner circles, but it is apparent that there are those circles. My friends were in the slightly inner circles and they believed in a number of hypnosis paths, including MSIA and ACIM.
evin, on 9 May 2016 at 10:46 am said:
My wife was always interested in Eastern mysticism and she fell into the cult’s clutches at a spiritualist Weekend.
I have lost my wife to Humanity in Unity (HIU). Indian spiritual teacher, Her Holiness Sai Maa Lakshmi Devi who is teaching that the Earth is about to ascend into a new and higher dimension, and those who are spiritually prepared for the change will be moving with it.God help us all.
Seems incredible that anyone in this day and age could fall for a guru who claims to be a disciple of Sai Baba. Maybe if it was the 1980s, but since then the internet has brought to light the chicanery of so many fake gurus and spiritual leaders, Sai Baba being one of the foremost,
Anonymous, on 4 May 2016 at 5:43 pm said:
My daughter has been lost to me as a result of Sai Maa’s teachings. My daughter has spent thousands of dollars on Sai Maa’s retreats or clinics or whatever they are called. When we spoke last and I said something against Sai Maa, my daughter screamed bloody murder at me and ended the phone call. That was the last time we spoke and that was weeks ago.
My daughter is 29 and college educated. What does Sai Maa do to them to convert them and have them dissconnect with their families that love them. Is the next step in the Sai Maa’s to have her followers “drink the kool-aId” like the Jim Jones followers did? Someone tell me how we can join together and debunk her to all the world. SHE MUST BE STOPPED.