Geocities web page Characteristics of Spiritual Abuse
Posted by: Hope ()
Date: December 05, 2002 02:09AM


A good overview of the techniques that spiritual abusers employ and the reasons people get sucked in, by Ron Henzel.

All info applies equally well to Landmark Forum.


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Geocities web page Characteristics of Spiritual Abuse
Posted by: richardmgreen ()
Date: December 16, 2002 11:46PM

I think it was Swami Prabhapuda (spelling?) who said, "the eggs have to aspire to omlettehood..."

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Geocities web page Characteristics of Spiritual Abuse
Posted by: Boz Martyn ()
Date: December 23, 2002 04:34AM

I sure would like to see something like that that isn't so tied to Christian terminology. As it is, it isn't that useful to me, because some of it is so much like what I would find at a Christian evangelical counter-cult site. Such sites regularly condemn my church, Unity, on theological grounds. I totally reject the idea that theology determines whether or not a group is a cult. Authoritarianism is behavioral, not theological.

Some elements of certain theologies may be interpreted as being the cause of authoritatian abuse -- but that is by no means restricted to non-traditional groups, whether Christian or otherwise.

- Boz

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Geocities web page Characteristics of Spiritual Abuse
Posted by: Hope ()
Date: December 23, 2002 11:05PM


My experience growing up in a Christian Reformed denomination was an abusive one, as was my Mom's. Leo Booth's book, When God Becomes an Addiction, put to words exactly what our experience was. Mom was beaten while by her father while he spouted out Bible verses. Mom didn't beat us, but the same messages were there. The church, as well, was full of families with similar dynamics, and I remember listening after church to everyone discussing their situations and wondering what God meant by giving them "their lot in life." From the pulpit, there was very little comfort (yet NOT being a part of the congregation was a fate worse than hell); it was more about money, maintaining an expensive parsonage, providing the pastor with outstanding benefits, salary, a home, education for his kids, a car, etc.

As a result of this, I rejected religion and did not replace it with something else. I know in my gut this is why I "fell" for a spiritual guru ( and there is a lot out there about new agey kinds of pseudo gurus as well). It was a blend of guilt for rejecting what might be true, a need for a spiritual life, and being in a pretty vulnerable state. Whether it's a Christian pastor, a guru or Landmark Forum, when it's not about nurturing spirit but instead furthering the organization or supporting the leader, for me, it is easy to insert any of the above into the article by Henzel.

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Geocities web page Characteristics of Spiritual Abuse
Posted by: Boz Martyn ()
Date: December 24, 2002 01:30AM


Yes, I agree. There is much in what he writes that is of value. In fact, I've read some of this material before and haven't seen anything since that even comes close to nailing the essense of spiritual abuse as well as it does. It's just that some of the terminology is a bit too spcifically mainstream (if not evangelical) Christian to communicate these ideas effectively to people in a metaphysical spiritual organization that is so used to being condemned for deviating from the accepted dogma of Christianty.

Also, the express criticism of mysticism is problematic -- given the fact that Unity and New Thought are related to Christian mysticism. While it is true that mysticism can be abused for authoriatarian purposes (as it certainly often is in Pentecostal and charismatic groups), to argue against it in the way that the article does seems to be a bit too much along the lines of evangelical apologetics.

I say this as someone who is seeking good resources on spiritual abuse, to be used as guidelines for ministers and laity in Unity. I've read Father Leo Booth, too, and I've found that his writings are generally much more along the lines of what I'm looking for -- but don't cover specifics nearly as well as that article does. Booth, by the way, was a speaker at a major Unity convention a few years ago, when an earnest group of reform-minded leaders was running the show. Most of their idealistic initiatives have failed since that time, and it seems that even the use of terms such as "spiritual abuse" and "cult" are taboo. This is also due, in part, to the growing influence of the "cult apologists" of the "NRM" movement, fed by the rampant paranoia over the evangelicals who call Unity a cult on theological grounds.

The article is very much a mixed blessing. I think the solution might be to present select quotes from it -- and then a link to the article itself -- with a brief disclaimer stating that some of the article consists of exercises in apologetics which I do not agree with or endorse.

- Boz

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Geocities web page Characteristics of Spiritual Abuse
Posted by: Hope ()
Date: December 24, 2002 11:47PM

The author of this article wishes to remain anonymous. I've corresponded with Paul Lee, PT, whose web site this appears on. He was adamant about the author remaining nameless. It brings up some good points, not exactly what you are looking for, but headed in the right direction???


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Geocities web page Characteristics of Spiritual Abuse
Posted by: Boz Martyn ()
Date: December 25, 2002 02:24AM

That's an excellent article, and very much along the lines of what I'm talking about. Unity churches and other New Thought groups are, as you may know, very much oriented around spiritual healing through the transformation of consciousness. Along with the misplaced "interaith" idea that has come into dominance, there is also a growing acceptance of any and all modalaties of alternative healing.

This includes not only the affirmative prayer or "scientific prayer treatment" and guided meditation that have long been standard in our churches, but also Reiki, Pentecostal-style faith healing, and "energy work" or all kinds. Just as the author suggests, to criticize *any* of these modalaties or to even question the credentials of a practitioner is to attack the whole paradigm.

The author of that page is obviously a spiritually-oriented rationlist, as am I. It wouldn't surprise me at all if he or she were a part of the New Thought movement -- perhaps even a minister or teacher. Believe me, in the current atmosphere that could easilly explain the desire to be anonymous. However, I suspect that the main reason is the strong possibility that many clents would react to this article in an extremely negative way.

Thanks for posting that link.

BTW, Merry Christmas, etc.!!

- Boz

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Geocities web page Characteristics of Spiritual Abuse
Posted by: Hope ()
Date: December 26, 2002 01:36AM

Hey, Happy Holidays to you too, Boz.


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Geocities web page Characteristics of Spiritual Abuse
Posted by: Hope ()
Date: December 26, 2002 11:02PM

Two articles came to my mailbox from Sam Vaknin's Narcissist Abuse website. The first talks about the way the elderly are being recruited.


The link does not work on this one so I've included the synapsis. I've email Dr. V. to see if he can send me a different link for the actual article.


New Age Beliefs and Narcissism

I read an interesting article in the Summer 1989 issue of the
Skeptical Inquirer dealing with the new age's connection with the
consumer culture. In short, author Jay Rosen makes a thorough
analysis between the claims of the consumer market and the claims of
the new age.

According to Rosen, narcissists are the primary recruits and
promoters of the new age. Contrary to popular belief, narcissists
are not people who are over-confident and have excessive ego, but
are people who have a weak sense of self, a thin attatchment to
tradition or community, and inability to form lasting relationships
or take comfort in their past. The narcissist is a person who is
desperately searching for their "true" or stable self; they want to
find some reason to their life, for they usually feel that their
past has been insignificant.

Narcissists traditionally have been the cheif targets of all
consumer movements thoughout the 20th century -- the message from
most commercial advertisements say "buy this product and change your
life!" "Buy the right shampoo, zit-medication, soap or aftershave
lotion and you will transform your life into something wonderful" is
the message of consumerism, usually typified by the unattractive,
stringy-haired blonde using a new shampoo and is, in the course of
seconds, transformed into a beautiful wavy-haired knock-out with a
handsome hunk holding her hand. Indeed, popular new age promotions
echo this, but are more grandiose; they say "find the right guru,
technique, beliefs, therapy or enlightened outlook, and transform

Marilyn Furguson's book "The Aquarian Conspiracy: Personal and
social transformation in the 80's" would best be re-
subtitled "personal transformation AS social transformation", for
that is the message inherent in her and other new age books. For the
narcissist, who is in need of distinguishing themselves
from "average" people, this is a clarion call. New age cliches such
as "You have unlimited potential", "You are unique", "you have
untapped creative power", and "You are a divine being" seem to
confirm the narcissist's deepest thoughts, that they are the special
person in the crowd, that they deserve to be the center of
attention, or that they are above average people.

Indeed, sociologist Christopher Lasch, author of "The Culture of
Narcissism" and "The Minimal Self", confirms this by arguing that
Narcissism is not only a clinical condition, but a cultural one as
well. Many popular personalities in our modern culture actually
encourage narcissism by their lifestyles. For young people, rock-and-
roll teen-idols become people to emmulate, even worship. We've all
seen the way some teens dress like and adorn their rooms with
memorabilia of their favorite rock groups.

other forces that promote narcissism include:

(1) the uprooting power of modern capitalism, which continually
weakens and destroys inherited ways of life (the devaluation of the
past in a culture where mobility and change are valued)
(2) the emphasis placed on manipulative charm and charisma in
business, politics, and social life
(3) the cult of celebrity encouraged by mass media
(4) The consumer culture with it's seductive images of abundance and
instant pleasure

All working together, these social forces constitute a culture-wide
attack on a secure sense of self, making those with weak egos and
overheated fantasies almost too familiar to the American scene.
I can see the connection -- people in need of finding their "self",
proving their worth to society, or just being satisfied with life
often turn to the new age because it promises that everyone is a
special person, capable of godly admiration. Maybe people like
myself who are repulsed by the new age because many people who are
involved in it seem to have many of the same social problems that
the new age claims to solve. In any case, I think Rosen's argument
is a very good one. Most of the guru-followers and armchair-shamans
that you will meet are kooky individuals, who are a few nickels
short of a dollar.

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