I suggest a book called "Cults in our Midst" by Margaret Thaler Singer Ph.D, she has been recognized as "the foremost authority on brainwashing in the entire world. She talks in this book about how even those aware of the techniques being used on them and how they work are still affected if they participate in these groups, or even if they "stay on the sidelines" and watch. No one, no matter how "strong" you are, or knowledgable, are safe from these techniques, that is how powerful they are.
I have a posting on this site about woman within before, here it is again.
Self-help for women? It’s a scream
A weekend in the country getting in touch with her inner woman didn’t sound scary, but when Genevieve Fox heard the group wail, it was time to run
“You’re on the bitches’ team,” said a woman wearing a pink T-shirt and matching bandana, as she handed me my name badge (I’d given a false name). “We’ll take you to your bedroom.”
I was shown up to my six-bed dormitory. My usher invited me to remove my jewellery and watch, and to forgo make-up. After finding my “object of comfort” (teddy bears had been suggested before we came), I waited to be summoned. Ten minutes later, 30 wide-eyed women, clutching cuddly toys and Linus blankets, trooped down a flagstone staircase, in silence, and in single file, as instructed.
This isn’t reality TV. Nor is it an open prison. It’s called self-development, a Woman Within Training weekend in a country house in Dorset. I had driven there at 6pm on a Friday evening and, with indecent haste, devoured a Snickers bar before getting out of the car, not knowing whether starvation would be one of the tools used to prime me for the catharsis that the weekend is designed to unleash.
At the top of the stairs, I left my bear. I couldn’t face the infantilism. The women were like Margaret Atwood’s handmaidens: obeisant, unnerving. Trooping to the refectory reminded me of fire drills at boarding school. This time we were aged from 20 to 60 and were beginning our descent into the flames of public confessional. Thirty smiling staff members awaited us, flanking the room. Then came the pep talk. “This is not a cult,” said the Woman Within leader.
“This is not therapy.” It is a personaldevelopment programme.
According to the organisation’s website: “Woman Within Training will take you on a journey — a descent — into yourself. Through this descent you are given the opportunity to re-establish connection with the part of yourself that intuitively knows — your ageless wisdom. It provides an opportunity for you to reclaim a part of yourself that may have been lost, stolen, forgotten or fragmented.”
I had first heard about Woman Within after meeting two men who had been on Warrior Weekends, run by the international Mankind Project, a men’s self-help group, which was formed in Wisconsin, the US, in 1987 and has spawned 27 centres worldwide. Woman Within is its sister organisation.
At the centre, we were instructed first in personal-safety guidelines. We were never to leave our group and had to be accompanied by a staff member on trips to the loo. If we were suicidal, we must tell someone. If someone tried to commit suicide, an ambulance would be called. Self-harm and violence against others were off-limits. Wounds had to be covered, to prevent the spread of HIV. These guidelines seemed unnecessary. Only when the night’s first ritual was over did I see that they weren’t.
At 10.30 we filed into the ornate ballroom. Thirty-five women, all Woman Within “graduates” turned staff members, sat in a circle. We formed a circle within. It was time for the confessional. Each woman was invited to share her demons and tell us how she felt and who she wanted to be, using an identical verbal template, which began: “As a wounded animal, I am a . . . (anything from confident female to loving mother).
” You filled in the blanks. The staff went first, all 35 of them, passing a conch shell from woman to woman, then we followed.
An hour and a half later, I had “witnessed” the personal testimonies of more than 60 women. It left me reeling: incest, rape, sexual abuse, domestic violence, parental rejection, discomfort with femininity or sexuality, marital conflict, self-loathing, terminal illness: all human grief was here. But this was no Jerry Springer show. It was no kite-flying celebration of women either. It was about desperate, often very lonely, women seeking the healing power of a community of women.
“This circle is about witnessing the death of the old you and finding the new you,” said the leader, amid the sound of tears. “It is about affirmation and acceptance in a group of women and about discovering the woman within you.”
Confessional was followed by lights out. The next morning, at 7.30, we were woken by the sound of drumming, accompanied by a Native American poem sung by staff members processing along the corridors. I caught the last line: “Oh, mother, carry me, down to the sea.”
Sacred space was being created. As we arrived for breakfast, the ranks of staff broke into Bette Midler’s The Rose, an anthem of self-love. Most of the women wept into their muesli, myself (to my astonishment) included. The group dynamic was working on me. During the rest of that Saturday we joined individual workshops, witnessed by the whole group. Anyone who nodded off, as I did, was prodded awake.
It was the group wail on the Sunday morning that made me determined to flee. Lying on the floor in the theatre, with a staff member crouching behind each one of us, we were invited to give a sound to the pain we were saying goodbye to, thus making way for the new us. Silence gave way to a single murmur. Then the deep exhalations of all the women began, followed by one solitary, mournful yelp. The woman’s yelp turned into a primal scream, long and from the pit of her being. Then another woman let out a high-pitched scream. And then, suddenly, everyone was at it, screaming their heads off.
“These are healing cries,” whispered a staff member who had seen me flinch and scrunch my eyes. “I don’t care,” I thought. “I’m out of here as soon as this group wail is over.” I had to ask permission to leave and there was much genuine concern about my wellbeing. I told them that the screaming made me feel profoundly uncomfortable, that the depth of the despair on display was intolerable. They urged me to stay, assuring me that the rebuilding, “the ascent”, was about to come. Too late, in my view.
Two days later, I attended the Woman Within graduation ceremony, in a hotel in Bayswater, Central London. Most of the women turned up, looking glamorous in make-up, frocks and heels. They bounded up to each other and hugged each other. “You look great!” said an older woman to one of my dorm mates. “Oh, I feel it,” she beamed. They then stood up, one by one, and said thank you for the weekend. “I like myself for the first time,” said one, tearfully. “I’m not afraid,” said another. I was the only dissenter, sitting in the audience, declining to take part.
How, I wondered as I held the graduation rose I had been handed, would they feel in a week, a month, a year, after they had rejoined the outside communities over which they had no control? Would their new, confident, trusting selves survive the rigours of the real world? Lee Chalmers, a life coach, says that women sign up for courses such as Woman Within willingly and because they are ready to embrace change. Doing such self-development courses, she says, gives you another perspective. “When you leave you’ve gained another choice on how to view your life. You can go back to the way you used to see it, or embrace the new way.”
She adds that weekend courses share certain similarities with therapy: “But they can’t replace the therapeutic process. There’s a support that exists in therapy and a process that couldn’t exist in a single weekend. But you can look at the same issues. You’ve got to be willing to look at your life. If you don’t want to change, there is no point in going to a course about change.”
Others are more sceptical. Maurice Nissum, a consultant psychiatrist and analyst at London’s Group Analysis Practice, is particularly worried by the speed of the process. “It sounds incredibly quick, almost like a revivalist church,” he says. “The idea is that the person will be purged. But that is naive. Groups like this work on an illusion of an instant cure: if you reveal all and express all your emotions, you will be transformed. But very few people are transformed.” He argues that discovering emotional transparency can backfire. “These groups glorify the individual, then they throw you out into an uncertain world. You are supposed to be open about your emotions, but you make yourself very vulnerable. If the next person you share your insecurities with doesn’t speak your touchy-feely language, you could be left out in the cold. ”
Julia Wilson, who co-ordinates Woman Within in the UK, says that it isn’t a short-term project, but a “self-development weekend, leading to belonging to a community that offers ongoing support for women by women”.
But what alarmed me most, aside from the distress caused by being exposed to the heartbreaking stories of more than 60 women, was the power of the group to make people blurt, believe and emote without rational constraint. If that’s your bag, for £495 you can join a Woman Within weekend. As you might easily be able to guess, I won’t be there with you.
I found the site doing a google search. I have a background in Journalism, I can track down anything/anywhere. lol
I believe I stated my concerns in my initial entry, but I'll line them out here to be clear.
1. The Money- I understand it pays for lodging/overhead which includes the electricity of the building, maint., food, as well as insurance, but it seems over the top to me for a "non-profit." I don't like the pressure placed on my husband to recruit or he "might not be able to staff". They are constantly saying there's not enough money for scholarships, yet they meet in a newly built multi-million dollar building. Seems fishy to me.
2. Nudity. You can get to know people and know your true self without circle jerking buck wild in the woods.
3. I'm curious about Woman Within. I've been told they use processes, but they are completely different than those of New Warrior Training.
4. I might still very well go to the weekend to see for myself. I've never been a follower and it would take quite a lot to "brain wash" me, especially if I'm skeptical before the weekend.
5. I do believe there are some good results from the organization. It keeps my husband "in check", meaning his I Group can see through his bull crap and they call him on it. Even real friends and family aren't willing to do that sometimes. My husband is a much more grounded person when he's involved with MKP. I see both sides, but I'd like to know more.