Extensible Leash Model of Groups--How is the Entourage Treated?
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: March 16, 2008 07:12AM

A good question to ponder when looking at any religious or human potential group is to ask how the charismatic leader behaves, in private, toward his or her entourage.

Entourage members deserve our closer scrutiny. There are fewer of them than there are outer circle members, but entourage members may incur much worse and more damaging forms of abuse, and may be left terrified to tell what they know. Some may live in fear of legal consequences. They may feel deeply afraid to speak up. The leader's enforcers may threaten them, and lower ranking members may resent them for having passed on abusive behavior from the guru.

Former entourage members may thus find themselves in a double bind.

In some cases entourage members may have been led to perpetrate abuse on orders from the guru and be blamed and hated by ohter members who are eager to idealize the guru and assume that someone else was responsible. They may face special pain as a price of regaining access to their pre-cult selves. Some may find it utterly unbearable to wake up--and continue to defend the leader or insist that it was all a grand adventure, something special and set apart from ordinary human experience, and therefore incomparable.

If one holds one's experiences as incomparable there is no way to see their human similarity with other people's reports and this entrenches isolation.

Steve Susoyev,a former entourage member of an abusive leader, nearly went to jail. In his memoir, People Farm, Susoyev wrote 'As a victim perpetrator, I live with a knowledge that has few advocates.' He wrote that some still fear him for what he did, and he has had, very humbly to accept that.

Time and again, I have read that in abusive groups, there is often an outer circle where people get teachings and feel benefit, and see only the leader's sunny side.

But there is quite often, an inner circle, hand selected for willingness to absorb, rationalize and endure abuse, whose actual unspoken job is to protect, conceal and parent the child/shadow side of the leader, absorb abuse and keep secrets of the shadow side of the guru, whose dark face is kept hidden from the public.

Few who sit in the auditoriums or darshan halls feeling the bliss, ever ask, 'How fares the entourage?'

If a leader or group is covertly abusive, I suspect that one doesnt become an entourage member just by walking in off the street.

It may be that one gets tapped for the role after already passing a series of unspoken and covert tests, much the way certain individuals target and test children to see which ones are vulnerable and receptive to further stages of grooming and seduction.

In some cases, it may work like a coin sorter, into which one pours coins and shakes them around. Some self select and stay in the back seats--and dont get
seriously harmed--they are the lucky pennies.

But the half dollars, through that same process of churning, may work through into a 'slot' where they are vetted for suitability as entourage members. Its a little different for each group and only in retrospect, perhaps decades later, can the process be reconstructed.

My hunch is that those likely to qualify for recruitment into an abusive leader's entourage would often be persons who are already among the walking wounded, perhaps in some ways, not knowing the full extent of what was done to them. They are often talented, hard working (the ones who would play the Hero/Rescuer role in the classic Alcoholic Family), and already capable of rationalizing harsh behavior and ready to feel responsible for someone else's emotions---and also likely to have useful talents and social connections. In some cases, having trust funds would help.

Perhaps another important feature is ability to stay up late hours and not look like crap the following morning. Abusive groups and leaders are exhausting and draining. Stamina is needed. That may be one reason why such groups and leaders prefer young people.

A person who needs to get up early to go to a normal job would find it hard to do so if left a nervous wreck after being screamed at by an abusive guru. One would also need to be able to afford frequent access to massage therapists, or medication to soothe the tension generated by living with the responsiblity of parenting an abusive child/guru.

Two of the best written accounts in book form by former entourage members are Steve Susoyev's People Farm and Amy Wallace's account of her life as an inner circle/consort of Carlos Castaneda--The Sorcerer's Apprentice.

Amy W tells of how CC's female assistants (known as 'The Witches') behaved
nastily when giving public readings. Anyone with good boundaries and adult self respect would have gotten up and left afterwards. But those who stuck around, passed an unspoken test--a craving for power and mystique so great that they were willing to endure abuse. In Amy's case, Castaneda learned that her father had died, and phoned her, when Amy was bereaved and depressed, and told her he had had a dream about her father, through whom young Amy had been introduced to Castaneda, years before.

And a brilliant blog by Marta Szabo describing life as an entourage member can be read here in the entries April-September 2007:


In some cases the recruitment is done knowingly and in other cases it can be a sort of mutual unconsciousness--but is certainly not supposed to happen if someone purports to be enlightened and to promise healing..

The hazard is entourage members may witness and do things that leave them frightened and ashamed to speak out later on. Susoyev tells how he did things that his leader later used to blackmail him. Other entourage members were young persons whom the leader threatened to remand back into the juvenile justice system if they failed to comply with his orders.

Another feature for entourage members is the ability to endure heavy stress without breaking down in illness. Many entourage members may perhaps keep going with the aid of drugs, or constant visits to alternative therapists--preferably those who will not ask why the person has to visit so very frequently for stress reduction protocols.

Meanwhile, outer circle members never see the hidden abuses, and have only the idealized public side of the leader and the bliss inducing effects of the methods, they have no frame of reference when former entourage members try to bear witness-- because to believe them means giving up the idealized image of the guru on which many come to depend for thier own serenity.

All too often outer circle members will say, 'But that was not my experience!' when told about the burden of suffering endured by the entourage members. But...what price bliss if it is generated off the backs of a small group who suffers in silence?

It is really not much different from a family where the parents are wonderful at throwing parties that enthrall their adult guests, while being mean as hell to their own kids when in private, after the party is over.

And is not much different from a director who does utterly fantastic films, but who screamed vile abuse on the movie sets where the work was done.

If outer circle members are kept in ignorance of how the entourage members suffer, they may run businesses such as yoga practices, or alternative healing practices and in all innocence, encourage clients to get involved with the group that has seemingly benfitted so many.

This article gives quite a good description of entourage life:


19. Witness and Accept the Leaders' Faults

Once they reach the highest levels of the cult pyramid, members are privy to their leaders' darkest actions. Members must also come to terms with the abusive behavior of their leaders.

Mormon missionaries also experience this cult phenomena first hand. True Believing Missionaries in the field think their assignments are inspired and the Mission President is a prophet. Those who end up working in the office learn the President has a dark side that is petty, arbitrary and cruel. Yet those exposed to this still propagate the myth that the President is divinely-inspired leader. This is also common in ward and stake leadership.

They may continue to feel protective and parental, toward the leader, at at their own expense, long after seeming to have physically left the group.

It is like modern leashes for dogs. Unlike the old fashioned leather leash, a new style dog-leash is extensible--but nevertheless the dog is still at the end and under control of the person holding that leash--though the dog may not always feel the tug. Some groups are adept at hooking us up to extensible leashes.

So...its never enough to look at a charismatic leader.

Learn to ask, 'How well does he or she treat their entourage and support staff?'

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/16/2008 07:14AM by corboy.

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Re: Extensible Leash Model of Groups--How is the Entourage Treated?
Posted by: The Anticult ()
Date: March 16, 2008 10:46PM

yes, the inner circle is a whole different ball of wax.
Some of them move from being victims, to victimizers, hatchet-men, and apologists and propagandists.
Its pretty clear that once they move into the money-making side of it, they know most of the tricks. They see the same followers coming back over and over to the seminars, and they see what is being done to them.

So each group is unique, but I see a line being drawn between a typical follower, who just Idealizes a Projection onto a guru they may have never talked to one-on-one.

And the inner circle people,who do see the guru backstage, and see they are all too human, and turn a blind eye.
But it can take a very long time for the internal dirty laundry of these groups to become public.

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Re: Extensible Leash Model of Groups--How is the Entourage Treated?
Posted by: The Anticult ()
Date: March 16, 2008 11:06PM

There is also the Dependent Personality Disorder, which would possibly be something that is automatically sorted-for in these groups, and systematically exploited .
Dependent Personality Disorder,

Diagnostic Criteria
A pervasive and excessive need to be taken care of that leads to submissive and clinging behavior and fears of separation, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by five (or more) of the following:

- has difficulty making everyday decisions without an excessive amount of advice and reassurance from others

- needs others to assume responsibility for most major areas of his or her life

- has difficulty expressing disagreement with others because of fear of loss of support or approval. Note: Do not include realistic fears of retribution.

- has difficulty initiating projects or doing things on his or her own (because of a lack of self-confidence in judgment or abilities rather than a lack of motivation or energy)

- goes to excessive lengths to obtain nurturance and support from others, to the point of volunteering to do things that are unpleasant

- feels uncomfortable or helpless when alone because of exaggerated fears of being unable to care for himself or herself

- urgently seeks another relationship as a source of care and support when a close relationship ends

- is unrealistically preoccupied with fears of being left to take care of himself or herself


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Re: Extensible Leash Model of Groups--How is the Entourage Treated?
Posted by: yasmin ()
Date: March 17, 2008 03:40PM

With respect Anticult, that post reads like a more sophisticated version of blame the victim..ie these people have personality disorders; it wouldn't have happened to ordinary people...don't have them to quote, but I think there were some studies that indicated that many different personality types join cults?

Am sure that people readjusting to the "outside world" often have issues with trusting their own decisions for a while,and may temporarily meet some of the criteria listed from the DSM IV but they generally recover from this, and as I am sure you know, a personality disorder is not generally something that comes and goes.
Just another point of view.

Corboy, thought you might like this quote from Carpe Jugulum by satirist Terry Pratchett ( Granny Weatherwax talking to a priest in an interesting discussion of evil)
"Sin, young man is where you treat people as things.Including yourself.That's what sin is"
"It's a lot more complicated than that"
"No it ain't. When people say things are a lot more complicated than that, they means they are worried that they won't like the truth.People as things, thats where it starts"
"I'm sure there are worse crimes.."
"But they starts with thinking about people as things.."

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 03/17/2008 03:47PM by yasmin.

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Re: Extensible Leash Model of Groups--How is the Entourage Treated?
Posted by: The Anticult ()
Date: March 17, 2008 07:07PM

Just to clarify, this thread subject is about the long-term inner circle of these groups-cults, not the members on the outside. Its about the people in the inner circle, which is a very different group of people.
Many of those folks have long ago stopped being only victims, and are victimizers and enforcers.
That's not blaming the victim, but blaming the victimizer.
I'm the last one to blame the victim!!

But for example, Doug Henning was hardly a victim of TM, he was benefitting from it.
Are the top-end celebs in Scientology getting lots of perks and free-stuff, and being treated like a living God? For example, Tom Cruise would not qualify to me to be a "victim", he is a victimizer, a propagandist, he crossed over into recruiting long ago. He gets off on the power of it, clearly.

In the Byron Katie group, the ones who APPEAR to be making some decent money off The Work, would be hard pressed to call real "victims" anymore, they are using the techniques against other people to make decent money. (of course, they could be "giving" all that money and more back to The Master Byron Katie, if they made $50,000 doing Facilitation, they might be so indoctrinated by Byron Katie, they "gift" back $100,000, which probably happens with some of them. After all, the more you "gift" back to The Master Katie, the more likely you will get a private "invite" to the private Parlor parties...)

Also, I just posted that information about a personality disorder which MIGHT explain how some people jump from one of these groups to the next for decades. If a person did have a dependent personality, or some of those traits, then it would make sense they would be more easily be exploited.
Just like the narcisstic and sociopathic personalities, are the people who generally end up running these groups.

I'm the last one to blame the victim of these groups, but people also have to take the time to learn some skills of psycho-social self-defense to protect themselves from getting abused over and over again.

But high-end inner circle people are probably much more complex. They are clearly both victimizers of others, and also still victims of the guru. If they are out there recruiting and lying and denying, then that to me has crossed the line from mere victim, to active perpetrator against others.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/17/2008 07:17PM by The Anticult.

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Re: Extensible Leash Model of Groups--How is the Entourage Treated?
Posted by: The Anticult ()
Date: March 17, 2008 07:42PM

I'll just toss out a couple more general ideas too...

I think people analyzing their own personalities is very good.
For example, if you find you are "suggestible" in terms of hypnosis, then you have to be VERY careful. Whereas some people are like rocks and can't be "hypnotized" in the normal sense of the word.

Or maybe a person is "too nice" or "too trusting", and thus get taken advantage of over and over. Then they would be wise to learn Assertiveness.
Or maybe a person is too aggressive, or whatever.
So self-knowledge is great.
If I read over the traits of Dependent Personality and found many of them were present, then I would find a licensed psychologist, to try to make sure I don't fall into that trap anymore.
Every person has personality strengths and weaknesses, its important to figure them out, and try to compensate for them.

Again, if a person is highly suggestible to "hypnosis" and Trance, for example, they better learn everything they can about it, and learn how to defend themselves, as there are many people using it these days in ways that are very unique.
Note: if a person cries during a toilet paper commercial, you just "might" be highly suggestible!! They better learn some serious psychological self-defense, or they might find themselves on their knees in tears before some New Age Anti-Guru like Byron Katie, and handing over their wedding ring to her, or much worse.

That's not blaming the victim at all, its about former victims learning some skills of psychological self-defense, true empowerment.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/17/2008 07:48PM by The Anticult.

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Re: Extensible Leash Model of Groups--How is the Entourage Treated?
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: March 17, 2008 09:38PM

Its a paradox. The real route to accessing one's full capacities is
recognition of how manipulable one actually is, and by what means one is manipulable. Each of us has a different PIN code.

One person might not fall for LGATs but be seducible by a spiritual counterfeiter who uses a one-on-one approach. That happened to me. I stayed away from LGATs because I hate being binned up in a room, and yapped at by someone with a microphone. But years ago, at a vulnerable time, I fell for someone who did a one on one approach.

This guy had sterling credentials and was recommended by trust worthy people. But...he was not actually trained or licenced as a psychotherapist. That long ago, I knew nothing of how this worked.

But he did in effect, do therapy, without a license and was so charismatic that he assembled a multi layer community of collusion around him. And inflicted his counter transferance issues onto me. Result of which was when I finally did get a real therapist, it took years before I could trust the guy, and tested the living shit out of him to make sure he wasnt like X.

My only consolation was facing in retrospect that I'd been taken in by someone narcissistic and who had done so good a job of hiding his NPD that art concealed art. Compared with this guy, most LGAT leaders, gurus and human potential celebrities come across like naive lounge lizards. The one fortunate thing is he didnt really want money or a large circle of followers. But he did leave enough damage in his wake to keep a lot of us busy after he left town.

The infuriating thing was, back then, I knew what was then known about cults, read up on them, even had a copy of Snapping on my bookshelf. People were already giggling about EST and calling it 'No Pee Therapy'--a jocular hit at the paucity of bathroom breaks. Rajneesh and the salmonella scandal had made the news. We were still shaking in our shoes about Jonestown.

But the knowledge available about cults 25 years ago did not cover the subtle one-on-one fake therapy set up that this guy used to get ego strokes for himself.

If there was anyone who did not 'ask for it' and tried to avoid getting into a cult, it was I. But...I didnt know about psychotherapy cults. No one at the time did.

It is vital to know where one can be seduced. In my case, I dont like working
one on one for someone. I feel better as part of a team. And for me it is poison to be keeper of someone else's secrets.

I read of a Civil War general, Arthur MacArthur, father of Douglas. General Arthur was put in charge of administering a large area of the South, and a merchant (carpetbagger) who wanted to do business had to get the general's signed permission...making that signature worth thousands of dollars.

So the sleazy profiteers did all they could to bribe the young general. They tried with money and he kicked them out.

But when they began sending him beautiful women....General Arthur put in his resignation. He said, in explanation, 'They have gotten too close to my price.'

He knew exactly where he could be manipulated into doing the wrong thing. Rather than kid himself that he could conquer himself by willpower, or prayer---he knew to remove himself from the entire area of temptation by requesting another assignment.

And, as Anti-Cult put it, those of us who know we are susceptible to certain set ups, such as trance, need to know to stay out of anything that resembles an LGAT.

It is also very important to identify social scenes that are feeder routes toward such things--social venues where critical thinking is seen as negative, and where spiritual attainment is mixed up with celebrity, money, conscious awareness of power and its proper use is discouraged, and where misfortune, illness are entirely blamed on the sufferer. And where quick, total results are touted.

Any time I hear a variant of the phrase, 'there are no victims, only volunteers' I smell a rat. I dont care how likeable the person is who is saying it.

THe other day I met a fellow who claimed his Tibetan Buddhist master was the only route to enlightenment. This guy kept saying, 'I am studying Vajra but a lot of it is secret.'

He kept mentioning the secrecy of it. Said it gave enlightenment in one lifetime and no one else but his master knew it.

Instantly, I thought, 'Anyone who keeps referring to secrecy is trying to trigger
curiosity and greed in the listener. And anyone talking about enlightement in one lifetime is trying to trigger greed and impatience.'

Doesnt matter if its an LGAT or something else like a fake Tibetan Buddhist master who has opened up shop.

Certain buzz words are a tip off.

Oh, and this guy also said his master said 'We create our own illnesses.'

Feh. It never occurred to this fellow to run a check and see if this 'Vajra Master'
has a record somewhere, or is even who he says he is.

People know to fact check before buying a computer, but just dont seem to know to fact check before getting involved in a human potential program.

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 03/17/2008 09:55PM by corboy.

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Life in an Entourage--How Lying Became Rationalized as Spiritual
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: March 18, 2008 02:04AM

(Note: the guru described here is now going by the name Adi Da Samiraj. You will still see advertisements for him, often in the form of posters in cafes, with the title, 'The Promised Avatar has come'. )



Lies, half-truths, and bizarre distortions in the service of the Lord

From the Broken Yogi blog (by Conrad Goehausen) brokenyogi.blogspot.com

((Italics are not in the original and longer account, of which this is an excerpt. The italics were placed for emphasis and it was broken into shorter paragraphs to assist reflection by the reader--C)

"As mentioned on the Daism site, the general policy in Adidam is that only good news gets reported, and this creates a culture of lies.

It works both ways.

"Adi Da is not supposed to hear bad news, so Adidam for years resembled a Stalinist cabal, where all the bad news was kept secret from the leader, and he was fed lie after lie about the glorious happiness of his loyal followers.

"Likewise, people outside the inner circle were not to hear bad news or stories of Adida's abuse of both people around him, or his abuse of drugs, alcohol, and sex. Or, if some such stories were to get out, they would be described in a "spiritual context".

"In essence, only Good News was to get either in or out.

"The guardians of the inner circle were thus the only ones who knew the full picture of what was going on. This gave them an incredible feeling of power and responsibility. Lying to both sides of the community was taken to be a kind of sacred puja of service to God. Of course, the people became very twisted up and perverted inside by this life of lying, but they generally took pride in being able to "handle it".

"Most devotees couldn't handle it.

"I've had many conversations with inner circle people about this issue of lying, and it's kind of fascinating to hear people rationalize it. You would literally think that it was some kind of spiritual path to enlightenment to hear them describe it. To them it was almost the epitome of devotion to their Guru, because of the sacrifice it required on their part.

"To them, telling the truth would have been the easy way out, and they even looked down on me when I advocated telling the truth, as if I were just not advanced enough to understand the subtleties of the art of devotional lying.

"I would advocate telling Adi Da the truth about the community, and telling the community the truth about Adi Da, and on both counts was always shot down as hopelessly naive and "stuck on integrity". And I'm talking about conversations at the very highest levels of Adidam, not some local mid-level bureaucrat."

Home page for the Daism archives


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/18/2008 02:07AM by corboy.

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Re: Life in an Entourage--How Lying Became Rationalized as Spiritual
Posted by: yasmin ()
Date: March 18, 2008 02:30AM

Anticult; you have a point."Know thyself" is very important and we all have vulnerabilities, that in the right situation can be exploited.
Re lying I think it is a huge sign of problems in a group. For me one of those "A-Ha' moments was when I realized: hold on, if God saw everything, why are we all pretending ( inside the group) that certain things didn't happen?If it happened and , according to the religous group was fine and in accordance with what God wanted, why are we now pretending it is a religious duty to forget about it? Any time there are religious teachings that other people outside the group "just couldn't understand" and "don't need to know about" that's another huge red flag.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/18/2008 02:35AM by yasmin.

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