Is the effect of The Work (Byron Katie) dependent on thought reform?
Posted by: luckychrm ()
Date: October 20, 2010 01:27AM

For reference, some definitions from Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism (Lifton, 1989)[]

"thought-terminating cliché"
: A thought-terminating cliché is a commonly used phrase, sometimes passing as folk wisdom, used to quell cognitive dissonance. Though the phrase in and of itself may be valid in certain contexts, its application as a means of dismissing dissent or justifying fallacious logic is what makes it thought-terminating.

"The Work is just four questions and a turn-around" Byron Katie

Any investigation of a half hour or longer into the process of The Work demonstrates that The Work is much more that four questions and a turn-around. See the Judge Your Neighbor and The One Belief at a Time worksheets available as online help for doing The Work at home []. One Belief at a Time has 11 subquestions for part three of the "four questions". "...a turn-around" consists of crafting 9 statements in opposition of your original belief that are genuinely as true or truer than your original distress.

And a deeper look into the process of the turn-arounds...

Q So what you’re saying is that I should just accept reality as it is and not argue with it. Is that right?
A The Work doesn't say what anyone should or shouldn't do. We simply ask, “What is the effect of arguing with reality? How does it feel?” This Work explores the cause and effect of attaching to painful thoughts, and in that investigation we find our freedom.
(emphasis mine; from The Little Book []

In their recommendation of the use of The Work (by Byron Katie) in psychotherapy as Inquiry Based Stress Reduction, licensed mental health providers Anil Coumar and Ricardo Hidalgo state that,

"Freedom from the pain of the original stressful concept is achieved when the turnarounds are experienced as true as or truer than the original concept. When the new concept feels as true, belief in the original concept has lost its hold." []

It's not just about questioning one's thoughts, its about internalizing the turnarounds. As Hidalgo and Coumar have studied anecdotally in their ethically questionable practice, relief didn't come until their patients believed The Work facilitated turnarounds more than they believed their original independent thoughts.

I believe this method is an irresponsible form of self-hypnosis that potentially negates the self when distress is based on external forces such as the actions of other people or uncontrollable events.

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How I stumbled upon Byron Katie and The Work- so you don't have to!
Posted by: luckychrm ()
Date: October 21, 2010 02:05AM

Warning: This post contains some detailed discussion of child abuse, neglect, and sexualized violence

I am a survivor of pervasive ongoing child abuse, neglect, and sexualized violence that occurred within my home and my community. My exposure to trauma began shortly before I was born and proved to be extensive through my early 20’s, with my earliest memories being of sexual abuse at the age of 2, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) insomnia from age 3, and medical reports of failure-to-thrive in toddlerhood. In the first 16 years of my life there were at least 7 different perpetrators of sexual abuse, abandonment and extreme neglect at home, and physical abuse and humiliation at the hands of my child care provider. From the age of 12-15 years I experienced over 30 separate acts of rape and an immeasurable amount of sexual exploitation that I was taught was a desirable, normal, loving relationship. Even though the final set of crimes was prosecuted, I didn’t receive comprehensive treatment for trauma, but at least got a few counseling sessions to manage my constant suicidal ideation that had resulted in two failed suicide attempts at age 13 and 16. My first reported suicide attempt was at age 4.

Without the benefit of therapeutic counseling and as an independent minor at age 17, I did the best I could to stop thinking about my childhood and stay in the present moment in order to maintain a modicum of functioning at school/work/life. And why not forget about it? While the abuse and neglect was happening, I was continually told overtly and covertly that it was “the way things were” and it became obvious that my upset over the situations was the real problem.

Between the ages of 15 and 20 I explicitly developed and refined thought and emotional control techniques that I now know as forms of dissociation. While I did not study a specific method, my influences were many and it is difficult to extricate the cause and effect relationship of specific concepts, so I release them here as a cluster bomb: Candle flame gazing, zoning out, transcendental mediation, astral projection, Reichian psychology, Dianetics, Eckankar, the Aloha Spirit, Carlos Castaneda, Herman Hess, Nice Girls Do, remote viewing, detachment, acceptance… I lived in Seattle in the 80’s & early 90’s and spent much time walking the city streets talking with and believing everyone. I had virtually no protective boundaries.

I couldn’t sleep at night and was plagued by nightmares or trauma reexperiencing when I relaxed, so I would astral project instead. I became a classic case of PTSD (unbeknownst to me) and cultivated avoidance unaware that the accompanying hypervigillance was anything but my “personality.” I managed for 20 years to control my thoughts and emotions about the abuse and torture I experienced in childhood and became a high functioning perfectionistic driven work-a-holic kind of a person with chronic life-time insomnia and nightmares. I controlled everything I could, I just couldn’t control sleeping.

Very much like the method of The Work that Byron Katie has developed and is marketing all over the globe, I independently determined that “thinking” about the bad things that happened to me was the problem in my life and that I would be stuck thinking about those things until I fully accepted responsibility for what happened. I read something like, “blaming others is a curse we put on ourselves because we are not willing to face our own wrongs.” I don’t know where I came across that concept, it’s still a muddle, but I latched on to that one and tried to force myself to face my wrongs. Well anyway, to use a turn of phrase that Byron Katie is so fond of, that all worked great, until it didn’t.

At the age of 37 I was very suddenly and somewhat gruesomely triggered into a PTSD collapse by the simple mention that the man who had raped me for five years was now, at the age of 41, accused of raping a child several times between the ages of 5-7. I had had nightmares about this man from time to time, but apparently had barely discussed the details of his abuse once with my husband. I just wanted to be past all that so much.

The symptoms were once again classic PTSD which were drawn out by being called as a witness in the rapist's current criminal case. This time, as nightmares, flashbacks and crying became constant for months, I was wise and financially able enough to consult not one, but four licensed mental health providers for a diagnosis which I simply wouldn’t believe: PTSD? No- I just can’t stop thinking about how worthless I am… The level of self-hatred and intense suicidal ideation was nearly unmanageable. I had a daughter, a career, a husband. All this crazy stuff I was feeling about accepting my responsibility in the past rapes made no sense at all. My mind literally felt like it was breaking and the most intense anger I felt was at myself for not holding it all together.

Fortunately, I finally got some true psychotherapy and trauma treatment (it’s a year and a half later and I’m in it still). I started paying for it with credit cards and ultimately convinced the State to authorize treatment and recovery services for me as a crime victim. It is incomprehensible to me still, but it seems more crushing to realize the humiliation and dehumanization of my experiences than to accept responsibility and paint myself as a hopelessly masochistic, flawed being. The latter assumption also seems to be where Byron Katie suggests we all find solace.

The Work

I came across the process called The Work about two months ago while researching exposure therapy online. The first link toward The Work came from a comment posted on this site [], which I have since responded to in warning against evaluating The Work to address trauma without the help of a licensed mental health provider.

As I perused [] reading worksheets, testimonials, and viewing videos I had an initially mesmerized reaction. I had just returned from a trauma treatment session using the technique EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) which can leave me feeling spacey and full of recovery insights at the same time. I had an unusual amount of alone time and found myself standing at my laptop in the darkened kitchen for about an hour and a half as the sun went down and I kept watching Byron Katie do The Work in youTube videos. She had individuals on stage with gripping and paralyzing fears who were crying and laughing and seemingly feeling better about their stresses in the course of about 7 minutes. I was hooked. The videos were cut into parts and some were hard to find. I felt compelled to get to each resolution to make sure these people were making it out OK.

While my interest in applying this method (also called Inquiry Based Stress Reduction by Anil Coumar of the University of Washington Hall Health Student Medical Center) to my own terrible feelings about having been abused as a child was growing, my comfort suddenly shifted to a *triggered* frightful reaction when I saw a video of Byron Katie (also known as BK, Kt, Byron Katie Mitchell, Byron Katie Reid) telling a young woman who had been overtly controlled by a domineering parent that she, as a child, made the choice to comply with her father's threatening requests. Katie went on to say that if she were being tortured, it would be her choice to comply with the threats- no terrorist could make her give in, if she did, it was her choice. Other videos and transcripts of Katie's process show similar emphasis on what I think is essentially victim-blame couched as personal responsibility.

I did some research on Katie, which wasn't easy because her background is not transparent, and learned that she has no psychology training. I asked my licensed counselor about Katie. Before I had a moment to express my reservations, the counselor was looking for one of Katie's books on her shelf that she says she shares with many clients. When I mentioned that Katie is not licensed or educated in mental health, the counselor realized she had never looked into Katie's background. Then my counselor said that she does use elements of Katie's approach in some of her work….

1. Abusive Thought Control
Byron Katie’s process called The Work, when applied to trauma, seems to me a pseudo-therapeutic recapitulation of the kind of thought control used explicitly and implicitly by the abusers in my life. As hyperbole, it is a reenactment of the bully who pins you down and hits you repeatedly with your own hands while chanting, “stop hitting yourself, stop hitting yourself, why are you hitting yourself?” The confusing tactics and high level of victim blame likely cause a short circuit for many trauma survivors and very well could be triggering implicit memory flashbacks for the listener/reader/viewer. Implicit memory recall is not typically experienced as a thought but rather an emotive state that comes on suddenly (see Daniel Siegel, Parenting from the Inside Out). Once an individual is in the flashback state, they are incredibly vulnerable to further abuse and coercion (see Judith Herman: Trauma and Recovery), which is why I think trauma survivors should not consider “inquiring into” their thoughts using The Work at all. And please note, there are many trauma survivors out there who aren’t aware of the impacts that their experiences have had on their neurophysiology and self-concept. I still feel nauseous when I use the word trauma to describe my childhood, as if I am telling a terrible lie. But that is how I was made to feel and it is a terrifically strong program that I have worked arduously to break with highly skilled help for the last year and a half.

2. Schemata
I think that my previous investigations into Dianetics and detachment, conducted during childhood and young adulthood when I was still experiencing high levels of trauma and neglect without mental health care, set up a schema for consciousness subverting persuasion that was lit-up immediately upon exposure when Byron Katie stepped into my awareness.

3. Stockholm Syndrome
Byron Katie and her children have candidly admitted that Katie was a rage filled parent whose children had every reason to be afraid of her (see: Allison Adato, How a Self-Help Guru is Born) [a fitting description for my mother as well]. Then when she came back from the half-way house, her teen daughter Roxann was parentified as she held Katie by the hand and managed the woman who interacted with others without respect for personal boundaries. Next Roxann had her own struggles with addiction and was parented in a fashion via The Work. Now Roxann Burroughs, who has never left the Byron Katie thought-control system, is a parent and advocate of developing a parenting system based on The Work that Katie and Burroughs hope will spread worldwide. Has Roxann Burroughs ever had a chance to look at her life through a lens different from the skewed, detached portal constructed by Byron Katie?

4. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
What happens when those with trauma histories who are able to control their emotions and thoughts using The Work are triggered back into reality as I was when I was confronted with the truth that I really wasn’t in any way responsible for the rapes that happened to me? That it really was a terrible thing that really felt terrible and still really feels terrible to think about? Who is there to support these people and their families as they attempt to integrate a healthy sense of self with the knowledge of their helplessness as abuse victims?

5. Story as Healthy Cognition

STORIES MAKE US WHO WE ARE: Lev Vygotsky knew it instinctively and was able to study the role of language in learning in order to support healthy development. Sharing our stories with others helps us make sense of the world, which appears to be one of our fundamental traits as human beings. Daniel Siegel and other contemporary neuroscientists have found that the ability to construct a coherent life story reflects the quality of our attachment experiences and our ability to create secure and loving emotional attachments with children, a trait that we share with most mammals and that is necessary to our survival and health as is demonstrated by discovery of the negative consequence of failure-to-thrive. Especially as it is applied to children (and frighteningly, Byron Katie has been hosting “Children’s Days” for years), The Work deconstructs an individual’s painful story as it makes sense to them and substitutes in its place self-negating self-hypnosis. The person is left with Not-a-story. Not-a-thought. I believe that wholesale implementation of such a parenting method could dramatically and negatively alter the quality of human attachments.

My hope is that sharing my story (which I have yet to construct into a concise narrative) on this forum will help people to protect and nurture their mental health. I’ve lived through the experience of not being able to afford mental health care and I understand the desires and pressures for self-help. What Byron Katie offers as help via The Work seems carelessly dangerous. Even if you don’t spend a dime on one of her books (as I haven’t ) you can be harmed, possibly irreparably, by internalizing the notion that you are “better” without your “story”. Before anyone attempts to do The Work by themselves, my wish is that he or she consults with a licensed mental health provider already familiar with Byron Katie, non-dualistic meditation, thought-reform, and trauma recovery and that if just one part of The Work seems dismissive or negating- kick the whole box to the curb without looking back. There are other valid methods for reducing distress while keeping your idiosyncratic sense of self intact. And, unfortunately, bad things happen to good people, and it feels terrible. Sometimes for a very long time. That is my story.

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Re: Byron Katie (the Work) and Eckhart Tolle Legit??
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: October 21, 2010 02:41AM

Nitty Gritty on Arousal and the Hazards of Attributing Agency to Onself When One is a Target

A few Google searches



What has to be kept in mind is how often perpetrators of assault not only betray trust and boundaries but also, all too successfully, con the target to take on self blame.

And, this mess is aggravated because those victimized are often willing to inflict turnarounds on themselves--by taking the blame.

Its like the perp throws a baseball and the victim has a catchers mitt--the catchers mitt being a metaphor for an emotional state in which the victim is feeling shattered and is desperate to regain a sense of personal agency after the perp has shattered it.

Used and betrayed persons, especially youngsters, are all too willing to assign blame and agency to themselves instead of putting the blame and agency where it actually belongs--the more socially powerful perpetrator.

It is an attempt at self healing, like formation of scar tissue. But too often this clot of emotional scarring can, long term mess up the persons self concept, the way a badly healed wound can generate adhesions that cripple joints or cramp muscles, leading to further injury later on.

First, perps usually select targets from those already vulnerable. To young to fight back, or those who exhibit trust, are already lacking self confidence due to trouble at home, kids who are lonely. Time and again when people are socially marginalized, poor, undocumented aliens, stigmatized, they risk being preyed on.

In American culture, with the high priority on self reliance and personal agency, it is tragically easy to trick an already violated person, especially a young person, into blaming him or herself for an assault.

A violated person feels shock and powerlessness and is desperate to regain some sense of personal agency.

So a very quick way to get a feeling of personal agency is---blame yourself. Making excuses for your perpetrator ('he must have suffered during his childhood') is yet an additional way for a fucked over person to give him or herself a sense of agency--making excuses for the creep.

(In the New Age scene, there is a sort of Compassion Olympics in which one scores points by ones capacity to find tragedy or forgive. The worse the atrocities, the more dangerous and horrid the perp, the more points the victim scores by 'forgiving' the perp and denying the impact of the trauma on him or herself. )

It has to be kept in mind that a feeling of self agency is not the same as actual self agency.

If you were not at liberty to pick and choose your parents, your teachers, your care providers, if you are not at liberty to leave a scary relationship or situation, you dont have much personal agency at all.

(How many 5 year olds can fire their babysitter if the babysitter gets wierd? Or suppose you are in your teens and your parents decide you are a problem child or you actually are raising hell. Suppose you are sent away from home to some sort of locked facility in the wilderness and someone employed at that place is preying on you and the other kids. You have no phone. Your family has labelled you the Identified Patient. Anything you say will not be believed.

So there you are, under the age of 18, and not allowed any visits from the Red Cross, The UN or an attorney. Adults in prison and jail can at least get the services of the public defender if in the US. But if you're a minor--nope. You dont have much in the way of personal agency, now do you?)

So it is a self inflicted poke-in-the-eye to do a self inflicted turnaround and tell yourself that you 'asked for it' when you (as a legal minor)didnt even have a choice of care providers or you were not strong enough to fight back against a larger and stronger adult. Or you're under 18 in a locked facility and one of the counselors or the janitor is getting pervy on you.)

So, one tries to get a sense of agency, as an alternative to suicide--even if it means taking the blame for something totally out of your control.

Thats the tricky thing. Taking the blame also gives the used child a sense of hope in a desperate situation. That hope is, that all he or she needs to do is hang on to this feeling of agency and it will never happen again.

Another grim truth that has to be faced is that sexual or physical assault, no matter how horrid the circumstantce, inflicts shock and disorients critical thinking. In the case of young kids, critical, analytic trace-the-cause and effects though process is not yet fully formed anyway.

And even adults, when in shock, often lose access to part of or much of the analytic thought capacity. When we are desperately ill or incapacitated by accident, or suddenly in a disaster, we tend to obey orders, hoping whoever is giving the directions knows what to do.

In assault, quite often the target feels a very complex mixture of horror, terror and yet also physically excitment, stimulation.

*(Up to a point, a surprising number of people go for this. Its why the horror movie/suspense movie genre is such a money maker. )

However, in physical assualt, when it is sudden overwhleming and not what you planned for, this shattering sensory overload may bypass conscious intellect and cause the body to feel "turned on" even to the point of orgasm.

Now...this does not mean that the target wanted to be assaulted. That does not mean the target changed his or her mind and decided to stop protesting and to consent.

No, no, no.

Human bodies react this way, to overwhelming sensory overload and it is a blind, non intellectual reaction.

It is a matter of human physiological complexity that the mind can be horrified and yet the body can get excited.

All too often, victims blame themselves for feeling pleasure when all that happened was that a horrid person inflicted SENSORY OVERLOAD AND SHOCK.

And, too often, the perpetrator will con the victim into believing he or she wanted it and liked it and too often little kids especially can be conned into believing this.

And in adults, this critical/analytical thought capacity is very easily shattered in the shock of assualt, when we tend to regress. Thats why when you go to see a doctor who is giving you difficult news, you are often advised to have a calmer friend accompany you so that person can remember stuff you are likely, when anxious, to have forgotten.

So, here it is. Many persons who have been assaulted are already doing amateur arounds on themselves.

The last thing needed is for them to have others coming in from the outside to push em to do more of it to themselves.

And there are consequences for the future. People who take the blame on themselves risk being unable to recognize the same situation later on--they may be harmed again, or they may fail to recognize their own kids are being endangered--self blame and self inflicted turnarounds generate a blindness to abuse dynamic and cause it to be perpetrated in future generations.

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Byron Katie Facebook Discussions and an Interview With Marc Gafni
Posted by: luckychrm ()
Date: October 26, 2010 07:40AM

I just ran across some confusing discussions on a Byron Katie facebook fansite. Same revulsed nausea that I've felt every time I encounter correlations between Byron Katie's The Work and trauma recovery. [] <Here is a discussion started by someone who is trauma-recovered-through-the-work-and-loving-it!

In a different tone, in case it hasn't been shared on this thread yet, is an audio interview between Marc Gafni and Byron Katie in which, for at least a few minutes, Katie appears to actually have to answer questions in an attempt prove to someone assertive enough to ask whether or not all suffering can and/or should be ended by applying the inquiry of The Work to it: []

I'm aware (via internet research of news reports) that Gafni has been accused of several sex crimes (off the record) and when it comes to the credibility of a spiritualist author on matters of these sorts (the appropriateness of The Work for treating trauma), I have no compass. I'm more interested in the lengthy awkwardness Katie reveals in this uncharacteristic interview. Gafni knows much about The Work and appears basically to be able to go toe to toe with Katie on existentialist theory and practice, which is a way different starting point than most interviews, which give Katie a free opportunity to say what she wishes unchallenged. I'm most interested in the two-hour meeting Gafni had with Stephen Mitchel after the interview in which Mitchel reportedly "clarif[ied] these issues more sharply."

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Re: Byron Katie (the Work) and Eckhart Tolle Legit??
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: October 27, 2010 12:22AM

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Marc Gafni & Byron Katie: Credible Teachers?
Posted by: luckychrm ()
Date: October 27, 2010 01:28AM

Thanks for posting those Gafni links corboy. I had read several of those articles but don't usually have the time to back track to include the links in these forum postings. Given Gafni's high status in Kabbalah and the very open reports of his inappropriate sexual conduct as a spiritual teacher, I was surprised to get no results when I put his name into the rickross forum search engine.

My major confusion and concern is this:
a) Marc Gafni followers and supporters who believe that his past (and potentially current and future) sex offenses are irrelevant to his status as a teacher and spiritual leader, especially his teachings about sexuality.

b) Byron Katie followers and supporters who believe that her past as a likely abusive and neglectful parent are irrelevant to her status as a teacher and parenting coach.

Would it be possible for anyone to chime in with their perspective on whether or not individuals like Gafni and Katie should be allowed to take positions of power given their history of the misuse of power in such intimate circumstances with the most vulnerable of victims? And, if these folks really should not be in positions of power (the one that comes to mind most emphatically for myself is Byron Katie "Doing the Work" with people who are incarcerated), how can they be stopped from attaining this status time and time again?

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Re: How I stumbled upon Byron Katie and The Work- so you don't have to!
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: October 27, 2010 10:14PM


Would it be possible for anyone to chime in with their perspective on whether or not individuals like Gafni and Katie should be allowed to take positions of power given their history of the misuse of power in such intimate circumstances with the most vulnerable of victims?

Most of are busy and dont have time to 'chime in' or write articles upon request.

If you want lasting satisfaction in your stated quest for justice, take the questions you have listed in your post and go and get advice from an attorney.

If you do not believe you can afford to consult an attorney, go to a legal clinic in your area. Hours are available if one looks online.

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Re: How I stumbled upon Byron Katie and The Work- so you don't have to!
Posted by: luckychrm ()
Date: October 27, 2010 11:49PM

Most of are busy and dont have time to 'chime in' or write articles upon request.

If you want lasting satisfaction in your stated quest for justice, take the questions you have listed in your post and go and get advice from an attorney.
I appreciate the tip on the first step toward legal action.

My working assumption about this forum section is that it is a place for open discussion on the topic threads. My expectation is that any member responds according to their availability and interest.

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Byron Katie (the Work) The Work Foundation Inc, EIN 87-0559189
Posted by: The Anticult ()
Date: October 28, 2010 03:20AM

The Byron Katie prison stuff, has been shown to simply be a PR marketing exercise.
The BKI people pay themselves out of their tax-benefit foundation to attend the prison to "coach", and then they distribute their books and DVD's, bought at retail value from their own company!
Sweet deal for BKI, they get it going and coming.
Check out their IRS 990 forms.

Byron Katie (the Work) The Work Foundation Inc, EIN 87-0559189 []

To put an end to the abuses occurring by these people, citizens can point out the facts of the abuses occurring in public places, like on the internet.
People can lodge detailed complaints with the relevant parties.

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