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Big way to tap into someone's ego - make them feel **useful**
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: January 11, 2017 09:39PM

An article written by a man whose father was a professional con artist.


"My father’s ability to tap into a person’s avarice and ego at once was what made him a success."

Pause at this. Often, when we read about ego, we picture arrogance. No. Ego includes the finest aspects of ourselves.

Such as the need to be useful. Helpful. To be of service.

This is why you have the right to fact check any person or project that taps at the service dimension of your ego.

"My father always insisted that you couldn’t cheat an honest man. He believed cash was the ultimate bait, and he strove to draw out the average person’s greed, as well as their desire to be needed. Senior citizens were not only more trusting on average, but they were often lonely and eager for company, and it pleased them to feel useful again. "

How the scam worked:


Like most con-artists, my Dad and Jack preferred to target the elderly. In one scam, dressed in dark tailor-made suits, they would knock on a woman’s door, and hand her business cards that identified them as bank officers investigating an embezzler. The problem was internal, and they believed it was a teller.

Sitting in the woman’s living room, my father would gaze into her eyes with concern and gently explain what an extraordinary public service she would be doing if she agreed to withdraw her savings for the sake of this on-going investigation.

Once they had her money, Dad and Jack explained, they would enter the bank undercover, target the teller under suspicion, re-deposit the funds and if any of the cash went missing, the culprit would be caught. Twenty-five thousand dollars, a small fortune in the 1970s, was promised as a reward.

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"False Teaming" - a method of manipulation
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: January 14, 2017 01:17AM

Just now learned of a method of manipulation that is termed "false teaming".


Forced teaming: An effective way to establish premature trust because a “we're in the same boat” attitude is hard to rebuff without feeling rude.


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This article describes many features of cult recruitment
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: January 26, 2017 10:34PM

This article describes one group, Access Consciousness.

Much of the material applies to other groups as well.



Haworth, a former cult member, once part of the now non-existent PSI Mind Development Institute, added: “These groups will cash in on anything that’s popular. If people are interested in personal development, and why shouldn’t they be, then they’ll offer that … if people want something that’s going to be invented tomorrow, then they’ll offer that too.”

Corboy note: Here's a short list of topics that are popular today:

Social Justice - dodgy groups and leaders exploit good causes. Fact check anything
before you get involved.




Sustainablity/Going Green

Quality Education for Children

Death Preparation



Any topic that triggers guilt and fear (homelessness, social injustice, human rights violations)


Dr Alexandra Stein, a London-based writer and educator specializing in the social psychology of ideological extremism, says she has seen how people are “sucked in” by such courses, which appear to have a “fixed methodology” on getting people involved.

Stein says people go along to their first class intrigued, having been told the course will provide them with tools to help them be a more “effective, efficient, assertive” person.

Fact Check Courses and Workshops Required by Your Employer

Sometimes, corporate workplaces even send employees along after programs sell them package deals.

The courses are often high-intensity, and can run for 10 hours a day for three days in a row, Stein says. Participants often leave having experienced ‘collective effervescence’ – a sense of community and shared experiences.

Stein says some of the training courses have ‘plants’ sitting in on them – people who have already done the course and who are ready to vouch for “how much it has changed their lives.” At the end of a course, participants are likely to be upsold a new course to reach the next ‘level’ of personal development.

“You have all these levels that cost money and take time, but most of all they start engulfing you in the system, and you have to keep going,” Stein says.

“It’s seductive. Not everyone, but quite a few people that have money in situational moments in their lives where they may be at a bit of a loose end, it’s very easy for people to get sucked in. You know, a few years later they wake up and say, ‘oops, I spent my life savings.’”

Stein was part of a cult in the 1980s – a secretive left wing political group called ‘O.’ For 10 years, it deprived her of all personal freedom, alienated her from friends and family and even told her who to have children with.

Fact Check Anything and Anyone Before You Get Emotionally Invested

She urges anyone thinking of joining any group – from yoga to karate – to do an internet search to find out other people’s experiences of it.

Stein has formulated a five-point definition of what a ‘cult’ is for people to consider before joining any group.

Cults are started by a leader. That leader must have charisma in order to pull people in, and are also authoritarian.

The structure of cults is very closed, hierarchal and isolating.

Its ideology is presented as the only way to explain the universe.

A process of “brainwashing” or “coercive persuasion” is used.

During this process, leaders set up an environment where the only perceived safe space is the group.

As a result of the structure and ideology, members become highly dependent on the group, and are exploitable and controllable.

Education and Intelligence No Protection

Stein says the stereotype that “needy, vulnerable” people are the ones recruited to cults is incorrect. “In a lot of cults you’ll find intelligent, educated people. These are not poor, miserable, oppressed people. A lot of them are highly educated. Education and intelligence are not protected.”

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Confessions of a Self Help Guru/ San Francisco Learning Anex
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: January 27, 2017 11:52PM

.Friends, this is a must-read.

was a self-help guru. Here’s why you shouldn’t listen to people like me.
I learned the hard way that the people trying to solve your problems often need help the most.
Updated by Michelle Goodman Jan 23, 2017, 8:00am EST



"Deepak Chopra is a fraud". This is what I was thinking as I lingered 20 rows back, waiting for Bree, my boss, to finish huddling with Deepak onstage about the presentation he would give that evening.

Bree ran the San Francisco chapter of The Learning Annex, that mainstay of adult education courses for the personal-growth set. This was the mid-’90s, when people still called the New Age movement “the New Age movement.” Deepak was our big get that season. We proudly positioned the blurb announcing his lecture at the front of the newsprint catalog on its own two-page spread, rather than tucked away amid the litany of courses taught by shamans, sexperts, and self-professed real estate tycoons.

I had nothing against Dr. Chopra.

I just found it surprising that moments before the dry run now underway, this beacon of enlightenment, a man supposedly above the trivialities of ego and self-doubt, had asked Bree if the khakis he was wearing made him look fat.

Apparently, I learned, gurus are people too, even gurus lining the self-help shelves of friendly neighborhood bookstores. They aren’t infallible, all-knowing oracles above worrying about their generous muffin top or widening backside. They are businesspeople — businesspeople with books, keynotes, and openings in their consulting practice to peddle.

It’s all smoke and mirrors,” my friend Cherise, a ghostwriter for a number of these bestselling gurus, told me the following week over tea, her Mission District apartment stuffed with piles of self-help books, CDs, and videos. “Many of these people are no more qualified to dole out life lessons than you or I.”

How I became a self-help “expert”

A decade and change later, I got a firsthand taste of the guru trade. It was 2007 and my first book, a career guide for creative types who didn’t want an office job, was approaching publication.

Wonderful!” my mother said when I called to tell her my advance copies had arrived in the mail. “When do you go on Oprah?”

I explained to her that most authors, especially small press authors like me, don’t get the opportunity to meet the queen of daytime television. I also broke the news that I would not be flying first class around the country on my publisher’s dime or drinking Champagne from dollar-bill?shaped flutes anytime soon. For most nonfiction authors I knew, “going on a book tour” meant blogging obsessively and visiting a couple cities where you had couches to crash on and knew someone who knew someone who ran a conference or an event space at which you could speak. More often than not, you footed the bill yourself.

“You never know,” my mother countered. “Look at that Eat, Pray, Love lady. She certainly didn’t sell herself short. Just keep me posted so I can tell everyone what shows to see you on and when.”


I met a lot of other self-help authors along the way. And I discovered there were two types of us: people who lived to write, and self-appointed experts hoping to get rich and famous. “A book is just a means to an end,” one A-list blogger told me in the green room of a local TV station, where we awaited our upcoming live segment. Eyeing her crisp red blazer and perfect blowout, I smoothed my rumpled blouse and tried to forget about my frizzy mane.

“Your book is basically your calling card,” she continued. To her, a book deal was a business plan — a stepping stone to ad revenue, keynote invitations, corporate sponsorships, consulting gigs, even startup capital. If you wanted to make money writing books, you had to be a thought leader, a guru. Basically you had to be Deepak Chopra.

Attaining Chopra-like status was tough but not impossible, my fellow authors assured me. The key was to monetize my expertise, as though every person I’d ever encountered was loose change waiting to be salvaged from the couch. To do so, I needed to pepper my website with authoritative photos of myself — arms crossed, face confidently arranged into a tell-me-something-I-don’t-know expression. I needed an e-newsletter promoting products my many acolytes could buy, like webinars, ebooks, and $499 coaching packages. I also needed to invest $10,000 in a media trainer who could teach me to hold my own with Terry Gross and Anderson Cooper. Never mind that $10,000 was far more than I’d received for my advance and I was already behind on my rent.

If Deepak Chopra was a fraud, then so was I. As I was beginning to glean, playing pundit was a hypocrite’s game.

Finally, the author's health broke down.


nd then I started having chest pains
Around this time, I started having chest pains. My doctor thought I just needed some TUMS. Three weeks later, the TUMS I was popping like Life Savers stopped working. The tornado in my chest was all I could think about. My doctor now on vacation, I was left to my own neurotic devices. I called the 24-hour number on the back of my insurance card.

“When did the pain start?” the hotline nurse asked.

“About two days ago.”

“Shortness of breath?”

“A little…”

I took the nurse’s advice and went to the ER. Six hours and multiple tests later, a cardiologist told me there was nothing wrong with my heart. I’d probably been having a panic attack. The prescription? Less stress, more rest.

Publicly I was the poster child for the well-balanced, successful freelancer. Privately I was unraveling. Writing a book about creating a self-styled career you love had led me straight to a job I hated. I was supposed to be this emissary of work-life balance, the queen of controlling one’s career destiny. Yet Sunday evenings now gave me the same fetal-position dread my book claimed to help readers avoid. I’d gone to the hospital with chest pains in my 30s, for chrissake, racking up $4,000 in out-of-pocket expenses in the process.

The lesson: practicing what you preach is really, really difficult. So I decided to stop preaching.
Practicing what you preach is tough. And not just for me. I’ve known dating advice columnists who don’t date. I interviewed a career expert who advocated nanny care for telecommuting parents while trying to manage two crying children between sound bites. I know a “turbocharge your freelance income” workshop leader who’s privately admitted he has no idea how much he makes because his wife handles all the money.

The dirty little secret of those in the advice business is that we wind up teaching others the lessons we most need to learn ourselves.

Corboy question:


This my friends explains something.

It explains why the many successful self help gurus are often outed as being
abusive and exploitative.

How did they become successful?

By having a feeling of entitlement before becoming famous.

Kind and unassuming persons probably wash out early in their self help careers
because they get exhausted. They get exhausted precisely because they are unhampered by conscience and because they feel entitled to special treatment
long before they are famous.

So the successful self help types race with an advantage. Early in their careers
they safeguard themselves from stress by acquiring entourages of devotees
who are willing to work themselves to death on behalf of the guru long before
the guru becomes famous.

This keeps the guru looking fresh as a daisy when giving lectures all over the world: The hidden network of early disciples who are doing all the unseen
labor that safeguards the guru's sleep and leaves plenty of time for spa treatments and facials.

After the guru becomes a celebrity, these loyal early disciples are often
discarded. Or they realize their loyalty is unreciprocated and chose to leave.

Once gurus become famous and acquire public images, they often resent
that they needed so much help to became renowned. A resentment of dependency
and utter ingratitude are hallmarks of narcissism and abound in the guru

Corboy suggests that the successful gurus avoid stress overwork by, at the start of their careers.

They do not do this because they have mastered meditation or by having an
inside pipeline to God or kundalini, or by Loving What Is.

The secret of the guru is -- acquiring a small, effective, invisible
entourage of helpers early in one's career.

Wanna look freed from suffering, be charming, and enjoy a fresh complexion?

Have servants. That is "The Secret", boys and girls.

So, those all important early devotees are like the Sherpas who help
rich Westerners get to the top of mountains they could not climb on their own.

Every guru who has summitted the Himalyas of celebrity and without getting breathless has done so because he or she has a hidden group of devotees
who have done the heavy lifting - tasks such as the following:

* Worked as the aspiring guru's administrative assistants

* Designed the website and the online store

* Wrote or at least edited the guru's books and tapes

* Distribute fliers and pamphlets - still an important way to get
the word out. If you can find a lot of devotees willing to distribute
these for free, you dont have to hire a distribution service

* Researched and hired appropriate venues for seminars and retreats. This
is an important skill. One must know how to arrange chairs and curtains
to make a room feel just right according to the number of listeners
who arrive

* Booked the plane flights and finding affordable accommodations, whether
at a devotees house or a hotel.

* Handled appointments

* Did the aspiring guru's laundry, hair and makeup

* Saw to the luggage to and from the airport

* Booked the rental car or Uber

* Kept audiences placated so that the guru could arrive late (on purpose)
and for the audience to believe that patience is good for ego annihilation
rather than being fucking impolite.

* Cooked for the guru. The founder of the Hare Krisnas got himself
a disciple in his first years in American whom he trained to become his
personal chef. Prabhupada grew up in affluent circumstances in India. He felt entitled to this level of service -- and got it.

In short, the successful aspiring guru is someone who early in the game feels
ENTITLED to be waited on hand and foot.

Persons from India and other South Asian countries may also enjoy an advantage
in this area: in South Asia it is considered normal and desirable to have
servants and to make excessive demands on them - it is part of the culture.

More material here. There are times when it is just not possible to separate
a harmful guru from the technique used by that guru.


Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 01/28/2017 04:50AM by corboy.

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Problems with Transformational Large Group Trainings
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: February 01, 2017 10:47PM

A person who passed through a very intense Large Group Awareness Training (LGAT)
has written an informative essay which can be read here.

Some articles about LGATS here. The two earliest LGATS was est (known today as Landmark Education). All other LGATs incorporate some features of est/Landmark. an Lifespring wss one of the first of the derivative LGATS.

Listing of LGATs and their founders


est/Landmark/Werner Erhard




Description of the Training


Participant Observer Description of the Training





In describing how he or she was adversely affected by the training, the author ('Noo'wrote something that sums up why Cult Education Institute exists and why CEI provides this message board free of charge.


I...think the reason people don't talk about exactly what happens on the trainings is twofold: one, probably the main one, is because the "graduates" are being pressured to bring new people in, and telling them exactly what they will be confronted with would put most people off.

And two, because a lot of the effect of what happens on the trainings is unique to each person, very deep in their own minds, and isn't actually easily explained by means of the activities that happen on the training.

...That's hard enough to talk about for those have had a good experience, but for those who have a bad experience, there's really nobody to talk to about it other than perhaps someone else who also did one of the trainings and had a bad experience. It's very isolating.

You can't talk to the people who are happy with their experience because they'll use all the training jargon phrases against you, to convince you that you're the one who's responsible for yourself being messed up.

Large Group Awareness Trainings are not a good intentioned project that has gone bad over the years. All of them are based on a business model. Participants
are told to distrust their analytical thinking while the LGAT owner hires specialists in analytical thinking to do PR, web design, accountancy, logistics and provide advice on investments and legal advice.

Subjects are sign away their right to sue or mediate for damages - which means they get the blame if they feel harmed, while the LGAT takes all the credit if the person feels happy.



Just a few elements of LGAT training

Room arrangement






Landmark Jargon


Corboy note: Werner Erhard was an avid student of grammar and rhetoric. Here is a description from someone who volunteered as library assistant at Erhard's mansion in the 1970s.


One Taste Jargon


Red Black Game/Prisoners Dilemmma


If you follow a Hindu guru, you are not safe and secure from LGAT
methods. Some gurus have used this stuff - and not told their disciples.

So-Called Ancient Hindu spirituality concealing American LGAT 'tech'


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Re: Recovering from New Age Mumbo Jumbo
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: February 05, 2017 12:48AM

Landmark Education's health warnings.

An earlier discussion by survivors. Read this before you sign anything.

Applies to other LGATs and workshops.


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Re: Recovering from New Age Mumbo Jumbo
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: February 06, 2017 08:50AM

Some thoughts by a former devotee of Guru Maharaji/Elan Vital/Prem Rawat.



By then I had gotten into the habit of not questioning too deeply what he said (who would I ask anyway, HIM?). If he said something helpful, fine. If he didn't I ignored it. Looking back, I see his messages were often mixed, and contradictory. Intellectually, I found him kind of embarassing at times; yet I cut him slack in a way I would not have done for anyone else.

I hate the word "brainwashing", because it sounds like something that someone does to you without your consent.

Premies are more like, "conditioned"; we were conditioned to not question him much, to overlook his illogic or greed or character faults. No one forced us, we just went along with it, because we wanted to feel love, and if being judgmental got in the way of that, then we convinced ourselves that it was not important.

We made excuses, and learned not to question too much. We COOPERATED. We went along with it.

And in return, many of us got something out of it, too. But we payed a price.

I'm just glad I didn't put all my eggs in one basket. I did have other things to fall back on when I left. But I can think of many premies for whom that is not true. They gave him everything. Destroy that faith they have invested in him, and what do they have?

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Re: Recovering from New Age Mumbo Jumbo
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: February 10, 2017 08:10AM

A page of revelations from people who got burned badly by participating in
transformational technology workshops.


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Re: Recovering from New Age Mumbo Jumbo
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: February 10, 2017 10:32PM

Things to Make and Do

Go to the search button on the upper right corner of the message board window.

Open it and go to the 'author search' slot.

Put 'Elaine' into the author search slot and select 'all forums' and 'all dates.'

There are just 5 posts by Elaine, making this quite manageable.

Read them, starting from the earliest to the most recent one.

You will see a pattern that matches what I privately term 'sleeper troll' -- someone who starts off helpfully, but drops a few clues here and there.

And in the most recent post, drops the facade and reveals the actual allegiance.

Any time someone's posted material gives an 'iffy feeling' do this kind of auditing of someone's written output.

We had to learn to do this over on the Byron Katie thread, given the number of disruptive visitors who showed up.

Any concerns or doubts...take em to Mr. Ross on the private message function.


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One person's description of how she was recruited to a cult
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: February 25, 2017 10:12AM

Here’s Exactly What It’s Like To Get Lured Into A Cult



Looking back, I see that I was in a vulnerable, transitional state. I know now that that’s what cult recruiters look for—they prey on people who’re displaced, or seeking answers in life. At the time, though, I was an over-confident teen who thought she could take on the world all by herself. I thought I knew exactly what I was doing, but really I was lost as hell.

How did the recruiter first approach you?

With food! I was wandering the streets with my giant backpack and I’m sure I looked as starved as I was. He approached me with such warmth and casually offered me a hot meal at the diner down the street. I nodded yes before he even told me his name. It seemed perfectly safe— a warm meal in a well-lit, public place. Believe me, I needed it.

What did you guys talk about during that initial encounter?

Regular stuff, really. He definitely didn’t mention the organization or anything about it that first night. He asked me harmless questions: Where are you from? Why did you leave? What’s your favorite movie? What type of music do you listen to? That kind of thing. I think he was collecting as much information as possible and trying to build trust without setting off any alarms.


What sort of things did he reveal? And what was your reaction?

He just casually started telling me about all his “close friends,” emphasizing how important they were to him. Sounds sweet, right? I thought he was just the most caring, generous person I’d ever encountered and I felt lucky I’d met him.

At what point did you learn about the organization he was part of?

About a month into our regular meet-ups, he invited me to hang out with him and his friends for the weekend. I said yes because I really trusted the guy. That weekend, I learned that he and his friends all lived together in a compound about a two-hour drive outside the city, and that they worshipped a prophet who claimed to have an ongoing direct dialogue with several higher powers. As I say this, it all sounds bizarre and tough to digest. But in the moment, it didn’t. I swear! What I saw was a group of compassionate, peaceful young adults living in harmony. At a time when I lacked any sense of place or purpose, they welcomed me into their community with open arms.

How did they get you to stick around?

That first weekend was amazing. I was well fed and given fresh clothes to wear. They really coddled me. I felt so loved, as if I was in the company of people who understood me and accepted me just as I was. They also gave me answers to questions I didn’t even realize I’d been asking. Questions about how I wanted to live my life, and what everything meant, you know? The cult had a strict set of rules, of course—about everything from what time you had to wake up to how many hours you had to work and exactly what to say during prayer time—but I liked that sense of order. I took to it because I was desperate to latch onto some kind of identity—I needed something to live for. The prophet and his disciples, as the rest of us were called, gave me that. Plus, I was led to believe that I was unlovable to outsiders—that I was too complicated for anyone but fellow disciples to understand because I’d been chosen. Lucky me!

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