Re: Recovering from New Age Mumbo Jumbo
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: October 03, 2008 03:06AM


Continuing Education Module

'Fringe Psychotherapies: The Public at Risk' by Barry L. Beyerstein


This article is on a website that has additional resources. Name of the site is Americans Against Fraudulent Self Help


The entire Beyerstein article is great. It is excellent for persons who cannot easily get a copy of Lilienfeld, Lynn and Lohr's book Science and Pseudoscience in Clinical Psychology 2003.

Here are some excerpts from Dr. Beyerstein's article to whet our appetites. Dont stop here. Read the WHOLE thing.

Quoted Excerpts:

‘And with the growth of the “New Age” movement, the market has also been flooded by a growing cadre of therapists with little formal training but an immense investment in pop-psychology and “post modernist” psychobabble.

"In most jurisdicitions, these entrepreneurs cannot call themselves psychologists or psychiatrists because licensing statutes restrict these titles to professionals with specified credentials and training. They can however, offer their services (where local laws permit) by appropriating unreserved titles** such as counselor, psychotherapist, psychoanalyst, sex therapist, pastoral counselor, Dianetics auditor (one of several pseudonyms for Scientology), New Age guide, relationship advisor, mental therapist, etc.

**(Pop quiz: How many other 'unreserved titles' have we observed in use by persons using powerful methods without proper training, oversight or accountablity? C)

(p3) At the highest levels of the profession, the erosion of the likage between science and clinical practice was further aggravated in recent years when many research psychologists left the American Psychological Association (APA) to form the rival American Psychological Society. The defectors felt that the APA was undervaluing the scientific side of its mandate as it devoted more effort to lobbying and other professional issues primarily of concern to clinicians. Many also felt that the APA had been too timid in disciplining those of its members who engage in scientifically dubious practices. On several occasions, I have witnessed this reluctance to chastise peddlers of outlandish wares myself. My disappointments spring from fruitless attempts to get various psychological associations to rein in their members who charge clients for scientifically discredited services such as subliminal audiotapes, graphology (handwriting analysis), dubious psychological tests, bogus therapy techniques, and various so called ‘rejuvenation’ techniques for recovering supposedly repressed memories.

"I continue to be appalled to see journals of various psychological associations with advertisements for courses carrying official continuing education credits for therapists that promote this kind of pseudoscience.’

"Even if minimally-trained therapists can do some good, there remains the danger that they will divert clients from treatments that would help them more.

"More worrisome is the possibility that their limited knowledge will lead them to apply risky procedures than exacerbate existing conditions or even create serious problems of their own.

"When such malpractice occurs, these uncertified therapists have no professional associations and disciplinary boards to whom dissatisified customers can turn. It is when therapeutic fads emerge from a research vacuum and treatments lack proper outcome evaluations that these safety concerns arise. "

Dangerous New Age Mumbo Jumbo
Posted by: The Anticult ()
Date: October 03, 2008 06:53AM

Another serious problem is that the basic New Age mumbo jumbo can act like a gateway drug.
You start out with the soft stuff, and can get lured into more hardcore stuff.

For example, I have known a person since childhood as a friend, and over the years she has gotten more and more into some really spaced-out new agey stuff. Recently she sent out emails basically hinting that the end of the world is coming, and referencing some nutty writings by some guy named Phil Schneider. (see below)
She is deep into this stuff with her husband, living in a deserted rural area.
So she basically believes that Alien Reptile Overlords are controlling the earth, etc, etc.

Because she seems to have no critical thinking ability, she has gotten deeper and deeper into the rabbit hole, where will it end?
But if she was able to use some critical thinking to challenge her families beliefs, maybe she would think differently?
Carl Sagan's Baloney Detection Kit []

Of course the irony is they think they ARE using critical thinking, and that us sane people who think the world is not controlled by Alien Reptiles are the crazy ones. (did they ever think maybe is just good old fashioned Mafia-style power methods at the top, and not Alien Reptiles?)

But because they don't have objective methods to examine Evidence and Beliefs, it never ends it seems. And then they start believe the complete fabrications of some wacked out dude like a Phil Schneider, who has been debunked even by Alien believers.

I don't know, I can't see anyway out of the potential madness other than to use methods of analysis like those put forward by Carl Sagan.
Carl Sagan's Baloney Detection Kit []

Blind Belief is a very very dangerous thing. Perhaps the most dangerous thing on this planet.

-------(example of current New Agey weirdness)-------------------


Re: Recovering from New Age Mumbo Jumbo
Posted by: Judy ()
Date: October 03, 2008 11:51PM

Hello corboy,

Thanks for all the info! I recently discovered Steve Salerno's Shamblog. I haven't read his book yet, and this is the first I've heard of and some of the others you mentioned.

You're right about some therapists being a gateway. It seems a lot of them endorse and teach classes on A Course in Miracles. I find most self-help is badly written; ACIM is particularly horrid. I suspect (and I could be wrong) that the bad writing is part of the attraction, as in it's difficult to read, so it must be deep.

I've started reading Healing Myths Healing Magic by Donald M. Epstein. He has an entire section devoted to questioning New Age Myths. My only concern is that on the back cover he has endorsements from Anthony Robbins and Deepak Chopra.

Take care!

Re: Recovering from New Age Mumbo Jumbo
Posted by: Sandman ()
Date: October 04, 2008 12:13AM

Much of New Ageism is based on ancient religious or pagan superstitions. Belief in karma and reincarnation has been assimilated into New Ageism so that it is accepted dogma throughout many of the different belief systems. Another good reference point along these lines is [], also Stripping the Gurus... []

You say, Judy, that it's hard to know what's true in the here and now, never mind what happens after death, but when such questions arise for a lot of people, that's when some exotic, esoteric belief system could make its appeal to the imagination and offer up the answers. That they might be backed up by a "secret" or "sacred" tradition or suchlike could impress a person enough to think they've discovered certain wisdom known only to a select elite who hold the secrets of the universe. Repeatedly bumping into a chair could have something to do with the means of death in a previous incarnation. Perhaps you were killed by someone throwing a chair out of a window in the medieval times.

However ridiculous that might seem, assuming for a moment reincarnation actually occurs, what difference would it make anyway? You can choose to behave in a reasonably moral way or not in any given circumstance. To do so on the basis that you can have a better life next time round is beside the point. Only conscience can decide, it's not going to benefit from being co-opted by a religious superstition that, even if true, is ultimately irrelevant. Practical solutions can be found to problems or they can be lived with, there's no point in ascribing them weird, irrational meanings. Once all the cranky mysticism is stripped away from New Ageism, what's left amounts to a few unremarkable, common sense principles, such as treating others in a decent way, or to achieve something, get organised and have some self-confidence.

Your depiction of problems with an abusive partner being sorted out by means of astrology or numerology is pretty shocking, really. However controversial or indeed abusive the radical (and fully qualified) psychiatrist RD Laing was, I always liked his reply to a patient who complained about physical abuse from a relative, which was to go and learn some martial arts. She did so and came back to report that her abuser never went near her again.

There would be a lineage of enlightened masters in mainstream religious traditions such as Buddhism, and it's another concept appropriated by New Ageism in a variety of bizarre forms, one of many examples being Eckankar

See: Eckankar - A Truthful Introduction

Amongst the New Age cultic milieu, as The Anticult points out, is UFO cultism which does tend to have a slightly apocalyptic bent, as did the notorious Heaven's Gate UFO cult. Nowadays it takes a groovy and far-out populist form for "Starseeds, Lightworkers and Walk-Ins", as shown at Ashtar Command... []

True believers are gearing themselves up for a mass sighting of UFOs in somewhere like Alabama this month (!) which has been predicted by some channellers of the Alien Space Lords. This is supposed to be very significant for all humanity and have a major impact in the world media and politics. Of course, when it doesn't happen they will trot out some lame excuse like the aliens decided humanity was not "spiritually evolved" enough after all, or their spaceships broke down due to the crude vibrations of earth's atmosphere, but it won't matter because by that time, on the strength of the unfulfilled prophecy, more people will have got hooked on UFO cultism.

Re: Recovering from New Age Mumbo Jumbo
Posted by: Judy ()
Date: October 04, 2008 12:15AM

The Anticult, are people still going on about alien reptiles taking over the planet? I remember years ago when some people I knew were going on about David Icke. I couldn't believe they took that stuff seriously.

It seems that rather than helping, New Age thinking leads to unhealthy thinking and behaviours. The more people embrace this stuff, the less happy and functional they end up being. I knew someone who believed that she didn't need to exercise or watch what she ate because she was so spiritually evolved and her right thinking would help shrink her hips.

Blind Belief is indeed a dangerous thing. So is group think.

Take care and thanks for the info about Carl Sagan's Baloney Detection Kit.

Re: Recovering from New Age Mumbo Jumbo
Posted by: The Anticult ()
Date: October 04, 2008 01:22AM

It does seem New Agey stuff can be of 2 main strains.

One is along the lines of Love-bombing, where everything is supposedly Love. (Blissing out)

The other line can go into the Paranoid Conspiracy Theories.
Illuminati, The New World Order & Paranoid Conspiracy Theorists (PCTs) []
That gets into the Alien Lizard thing, and 1000 other things.

There is a massive thread here about Byron Katie, who presents herself as Love-bombing, but actually goes into very deep ugly paranoid delusions quickly. []

There does appear to be an escape from all of this, and that is using some of the methods of the Carl Sagan Baloney Detection, which are really a combination of the scientific method and philosophy, examing the evidence, etc. (the book the Demon Haunted World by Carl Sagan is terrific).

But if people don't use any of that stuff, its very easy to fall into the rabbit hole.
This is what many cults do on purpose, they build a rabbit hole filled with quicksand, and then lure you to its edge with a carrot, until you step in it.
Its very hard to get out.
I fear the person I know above is literally going to go bonkers with this stuff, or crash and hit rock bottom. Its too bad that critical and objective thinking is not taught widely.

But the advertisers, and politicians, as well as the cultists and new agers greatly prefer people who don't ask difficult questions. It does appear the human mind can literally believe anything, so their entire job is Engineering Beliefs into people.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 10/04/2008 01:25AM by The Anticult.

Re: Recovering from New Age Mumbo Jumbo
Posted by: Judy ()
Date: October 05, 2008 11:02PM

Thank you to to everyone who responded to this thread. It feels good to be amongst others who question all this New Age brainwashing that is, unfortunately, becoming increasingly accepted by the mainstream -- including places of employment where it's now being shoved down employees' throats.

Unfortunately, I am not able to respond to you all individually because I've become quite ill in the last few days and don't have the energy; my ability to think coherently is much diminished.

Re: Recovering from New Age Mumbo Jumbo
Posted by: mysticjaw ()
Date: October 10, 2008 07:46PM


Like yourself I am disgusted and fed up with the New Age movement. There has been some good coming out of it, namely more awareness of the problems plauging our societies, but not much more.

Personally, I am now on a quest to obtain a doctorate in Psychology to become a clinical psychologist. I am taking a clinical stance and I personally favor Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. It has very real applications, is successful and can do a tremendous amount of good in a wide range of areas.

I also favor the most simple of meditations, I have dispensed with guided meditation and I simply focus on my breath. I do not attempt to controll it but I focus on deep breathing and the results are amazing and long lasting. 1/2 an hour a day is usually more than sufficient to help me with all my conditions from Chronic pain to having to live the vampire lifestyle (I work the graveyard shift from 11pm to 7:30am 7 days a week!)

The most important thing is to never give up your critical thinking skills. These are your most powerful weapons against the new age mumbo jumbo which promisese the world, but delivers nothing more than pure fantasy.

By the way, I am a former cult member and was deep involved with the new age crap. I have my family to partially thank for that. Now I am completely cult free and I am dedicating my life to solid core principles which stand the test of time.

Re: Recovering from New Age Mumbo Jumbo
Posted by: Judy ()
Date: October 21, 2008 06:31AM

Hello mysticjaw,

I'm still in the "sorting out" phase, figuring out which beliefs are worth holding onto and which ones to discard.

I'm leaning more on my intuition and I'm simplifying a lot. One of the things I've simplified is my meditation practise, where I now mostly focus on my breath.

Fortunately, I've never been heavily involved with any cults. I quickly got an icky feeling about Anthony Robbins and his badly written books (and the oh so enthusiastic people who recommended him), same with NKT and various other things.

My siblings, especially my sister, was/is heavily involved in New Age/self-help and various other practises. There were times I had this very creepy feeling that she was involved in stuff that was taking over her ability to think for herself in a healthy way, but I couldn't say anything to her because she was past the point of listening. Fortunately, she's moved on from that particular activity, but her search for magical solutions has continued. I've had to distance myself from my family and several other people because I need to surround myself with healthy, positive energy, not with people who mindlessly parrot Wayne Dyer, The Secret and Louise Hay or attribute everything to numerology, astrology charts, karma, etc. I find being around people like that is not only extremely annoying but very draining.

I've oftentimes noticed that some of the most miserable, barely functioning people are up to their eyeballs in this stuff. They blame their fate on past life experiences, the way the planets line up, etc. and spend a lot of money on psychics to rationalize their pain and paint lovely fantasies about their future. Unfortunately, these people seem reluctant or unable to take proactive steps.

I'm all for goal setting, being focused and optimistic, but we need to take the steps to make it happen. I can sit on my butt all day affirming that I have a great job and excellent health, but if I don't do the necessary research and send out resumes, it's highly unlikely that anyone is going to magically call me up with a fabulous job offer. Same with health issues (something I'm dealing with). I can bless my chips and affirm that the triple chocolate cookies are making me feel better and better, but I can't live on junk food and watch TV all day and expect to be a healthy person. And yes, I knew someone who watched a lot of TV, sat in front of her computer much of the day, was quick to dispense uncalled for advice and judgements and didn't think she had to exercise or invest any effort into losing weight or being healthy because she was plugged into Louise Hay and was sooo highly evolved. When she lost a few pounds it was because of of her "correct" thinking. Meanwhile, her love life, career, finances, her relationships with her kids and neighbours were dysfunctional. Listening to her was, to put it mildly, surreal!

I'm also into being realistic. If you're 60 years old and just starting ballet classes, you can visualize and affirm happy outcomes 24/7, but you're never, ever going to become a prima ballerina with a national dance company. In your fantasies maybe, but not in the real world!!

Re: Recovering from New Age Mumbo Jumbo
Posted by: Hope ()
Date: October 24, 2008 12:42AM


This is a pretty good Wiki article regarding the total responsibility assumption vs partial responsibility. I found it helpful after having a naturopath who was into all the new-age nonsense PLUS Landmark and who used all this on his patients.

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