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Re: Hoffman Institute
Posted by: Bodhichitta ()
Date: February 20, 2012 08:54AM


I apologize. My intention was to be very relevant to this topic. I agree Hoffman doesn't use traditional psychologists and pychiatrists. However- throughout the years their board is full of them. My wife was addicted to amphetamines and heroine and it wasn't until she went through Hoffman that she made a fundamental change. She really didn't benefit from any traditional therapy and in fact, I am pretty convinced the traditional methods made things worse. I suspect alot of other people if they were honest would say the same thing.

Thanks for the correction I will try to follow your lead but just wasn't sure what topic you wish to discuss in relation to Hoffman.

Best regards,


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Re: Hoffman Institute
Posted by: rrmoderator ()
Date: February 20, 2012 09:05AM


Stay on topic.

The topic is the Hoffman Institute, which as you point out "doesn't use traditional psychologists and psychiatrists" and is not a licensed mental health faciltiy.

See []

In this paper by a psychologist that participated in a mass marathon training (large group awareness training LGAT) program, he notes 13 liabilities of encounter groups, some of which are similar to characteristics of most current mass marathon psychotherapy training sessions:

1. They lack adequate participant-selection criteria.

2. They lack reliable norms, supervision, and adequate training for leaders.

3. They lack clearly defined responsibility.

4. They sometimes foster pseudoauthenticity and pseudoreality.

5. They sometimes foster inappropriate patterns of relationships.

6. They sometimes ignore the necessity and utility of ego defenses.

7. They sometimes teach the covert value of total exposure instead of valuing personal differences.

8. They sometimes foster impulsive personality styles and behavioral strategies.

9. They sometimes devalue critical thinking in favor of "experiencing" without self-analysis or reflection.

10. They sometimes ignore stated goals, misrepresent their actual techniques, and obfuscate their real agenda.

11. They sometimes focus too much on structural self-awareness techniques and misplace the goal of democratic education; as a result participants may learn more about themselves and less about group process.

12. They pay inadequate attention to decisions regarding time limitations. This may lead to increased pressure on some participants to unconsciously "fabricate" a cure.

13. They fail to adequately consider the "psychonoxious" or deleterious effects of group participation (or] adverse countertransference reactions.

The groups were determined to be dangerous when:

1. Leaders had rigid, unbending beliefs about what participants should experience and believe, how they should behave in the group. and when they should change.

2. Leaders had no sense of differential diagnosis and assessment skills, valued cathartic emotional breakthroughs as the ultimate therapeutic experience, and sadistically pressed to create or force a breakthrough in every participant.

3. Leaders had an evangelical system of belief that was the one single pathway to salvation.

4. Leaders were true believers and sealed their doctrine off from discomforting data or disquieting results and tended to discount a poor result by, "blaming the victim."

Also see []

Frequently LGATs use what can be seen as "coercive persuasion" techniques to gain influence over participants.

The key factors that distinguish coercive persuasion from other training and socialization schemes are:

1. The reliance on intense interpersonal and psychological attack to destabilize an individual's sense of self to promote compliance

2. The use of an organized peer group

3. Applying interpersonal pressure to promote conformity

4. The manipulation of the totality of the person's social environment to stabilize behavior once modified

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Re: Hoffman Institute
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: February 20, 2012 11:36PM

"Though the firm hand of Hoffman was always present during this period, he sought input from many sources (who sometimes did not even know that Hoffman was talking to others about the same issue). But he attributed final changes to his spirit guide, Dr. Fisher, which, I will argue, was part of the story he created to make a plausible claim that a tailor from Oakland could be the source of a complete psychological treatment."

"Despite his claims to the contrary, Hoffman made ample use of the more nasty tricks with complete impunity, always taking the higher ground. (He was, for example, never angry with anyone, but ‘righteously indignant.”) But when it comes to actually seeing if his results were lasting, the evidence is scarce or relies very heavily on anecdotal evidence. Many people say that the experience was powerful, but if they made real changes in their lives, if they were happier and not living under another despotism, however benevolent, the majority of those I interviewed had found a sustainable spiritual practice and devoted themselves to it.

Quoted from "The Ontological Odd Couple" reproduced in full length below.

Here are an article published on a blog. It is one man's story, but nevertheless may be of interest to journalists who may later want to trace the history of Hoffman Institute.

From Google cache accessed February 20, 2012 at 7:27 PST



Buddha, S.J.

Bob Hoffman & the Quadrinity Process
At the outset I warn the reader that though I have tried to be as objective as I can be, I find it impossible to take a entirely disinterested position with regard to my own process and a difficult friendship. My experience with "the Process" was long and personal. I was Bob's on-again, off-again friend from the time I first worked with him in 1972 until his death in 1997. I have tried to include all the aspects of our relationship. When Bob was generous towards me, it came with expectations—most of which I was unwilling to fulfill. It was a bumpy road.

I first experienced the Fisher-Hoffman Psychic Therapy when Bob formulated the group process under the guidance of Claudio Naranjo in his Berkeley SAT groups. I remained connected to the Process after Bob's death as a staff person at the Hoffman Institute.

The men in the picture are Claudio (R) and Bob (L). Though I never ever saw Bob wear a tee shirt, the text on Naranjo’s website confirms that it’s Bob. So, as a salute to their collaboration I am including it.

And here is a longer account from Google cache accessed February 20 2012 at 7:28 PST


These search terms are highlighted: bob hoffman quadrinity process buddha sj
Buddha, S.J.

Monday, June 6, 2011
The Ontological Odd Couple
and the Origins of the Fisher-Hoffman Psychic Therapy

July 31, 2004
Revised September 16, 2006
Republished 6/6/2011

I decided to republish this piece. 7 years ago I thought that the answer to my own reservations about Hoffman and his work could be answered by a simple recounting of historical facts and events.

I was also prompted by the efforts of proponents of the HQP to recast, revise, and distort them--let's not mince words, I mean lie about them. However, after disentangling Hoffman's bizarre and abusive behaviors from the modality of the Process itself, I still feel strongly that anyone who feels inclined to undertake this work ought to exercise caution.

As far as I can see, there is nothing original or other-wordly about his insights or his methodology both as presented nearly 40 years ago and in their current iteration. I'd advise anyone to undertake an ordinary course of therapy with a licensed professional rather than the HQP.


Success has many fathers and mothers.

When creating an historical account, you have to start at the beginning and get it right. Some facts, times, and dates can be accurately reconstructed from documents, letters, transcripts and personal calendars, if you are lucky enough to have them, but the messy parts of bringing something new into the world are, for the most part, buried and lost.

The original Process, the Fisher-Hoffman Psychic Therapy (FHPT), was created by Bob Hoffman and the people he gathered around him between 1968 and 1973, most notably Claudio Naranjo.* It had to fight for a marginal existence, competing with other offerings in the world of human potential that were then beginning to appear in California.

Though the firm hand of Hoffman was always present during this period, he sought input from many sources (who sometimes did not even know that Hoffman was talking to others about the same issue). But he attributed final changes to his spirit guide, Dr. Fisher, which, I will argue, was part of the story he created to make a plausible claim that a tailor from Oakland could be the source of a complete psychological treatment.

It is ironic that the marketing efforts required to breathe life and cash into a new offering also distort the original vision. Reshaping history creates the impression that the Process came full blown from a pure source, and the people who do the difficult work of bringing something new into a world are elevated far beyond who they really are. Unrealistic expectations become a false standard to evaluate personal experience and it becomes more difficult to use one’s own inspiration to gain self-knowledge and liberation.

No course of psychotherapy can produce real changes in people if it remains only theory. It changes. It reaches into areas that its creators cannot predict. If promises and expectations cannot be fulfilled, they have to be modified or eliminated. However, this evolution is distinct from marketing. Sadly, in our culture, promoting a brand name, writing persuasive copy, will prevail and in the process the contributions of many talented people are cut and lost. When these contributions are marginalized and their value neglected (or, in the worst scenario, attributed to others), the world itself loses something of its humanity and love.

What follows is just an inclusive footnote to the revised story.

*Naranjo is best known as the person who introduced and developed the Enneagram as a tool for self-analysis and spiritual development in the West.

My Purpose and Sources

I propose to outline the early development of the FHPT from the basement ‘reading’ room in Hoffman’s clothing store on 15th Street in Oakland to the SAT group process that is the foundation of today’s Quadrinity Process. I will not cover any of the subsequent additions and deletions since the creation of the seven-day format. My interest is to examine the 13-week process, the exercises and mind trips (now called ‘visualizations’) that remain the framework of the HQP, to see if this yields an insight into how a very simple insight became a course with sequential series of scripted emotional ‘events’ and a recognized 'product' in the human potential market place.

The primary source of information about the early development of the FHPT is my own experience. In 1972-73, I was in the first SAT group that Naranjo used to create a group process to accomplish “a loving divorce from mother and father” that Hoffman promised. Later in the spring of 1973, I was one of approximately 55 people Hoffman invited to be in his first 13-week group that he himself “took through” the Process in Tolman Hall on the UC Berkeley campus.

The following year I was trained as an FHPT therapist and group leader which became my primary work for several years. I lead the 13-week processes for PSI and later, I worked privately with smaller groups for another three years.

Another primary source is Hoffman himself and my conversations with him from 1972 until his death in 1997. Our friendship was at times rewarding and at other times strained and painful. While he was alive I did not talk about the personal qualities and idiosyncrasies that gave me some insight into inner workings, puzzles and deep-seated sources of the unhappiness of the complex man. Extremely concerned about his public image, he imagined that he had to present himself to world as straight, a guy who had “his act together.”

Most people who were at all close to him, certainly those who worked with him closely, knew that Hoffman was gay, but he never publicly acknowledged his homosexuality. In this day of liberation and acceptance, however, his deception, his closeted life, cannot be overlooked. A good case could be argued that the process itself grew out of his conflict about being a man who loved men, his difficulty forming and nurturing close relationships, his creativity and sensitivity, and perhaps some of his inner doubts about the worth of his work.

I do not know all the people who contributed to the development of Hoffman’s work. They are legion. I have not included hearsay material from people with whom I did not work or with whom I didn’t have focused conversations. Many disappeared after working with Hoffman and making a significant contribution to the Process, such as Dr. Ernest Pecci, M.D., a psychiatrist who founded PSI, The Center for Psycho-Spiritual Integration, to present the 13-week Process.

I trained as a therapist under Pecci and worked with him for more than two years in the 70’s. Pecci’s psychotherapeutic model was heavily influenced by New Age spirituality. My last personal contact with Pecci was a phone call about 1977 when he warned me that Hoffman was going to sue everyone that he, Pecci, had trained unless we ceased to offer the Fischer-Hoffman Psychic therapy to the public. (Nearly everyone who was offering some version of the FHPT ceased under Hoffman’s threat of legal action, with the exception of one or two practitioners who had split with Hoffman before PSI, substantially altering or modifying it. He was also not successful in shutting down the Anti-Fisher Hoffman Process that was offered in the Bagwan Shree Rajneesh’s ashrams in Pune and Antelope).

Some key people are dead, among them Julius Brandstatter, the man who coined the word ‘Quadrinity’ to reflect the four aspects of being human— physical, intellectual, spiritual and emotional. I met Julius and his wife Miriam when they returned from Israel in the 70’s; their work with Hoffman continued through the re-casting of the Process into the current seven-and-a- half-day format. In the opinion of most observers, their contribution was never fully acknowledged by Hoffman. I had several long conversations with Miriam in 2006. It was she who created the organization and flow for Hoffman’s early sessions. Hoffman would call Miriam in Israel and tell her what he presented that week with SAT, and later in Tolman Hall. Miriam, a well-trained psychotherapist, then returned what she had presented in Israel, as an orderly, effective outline which Hoffman filed and used for the next Process.

The most important person in this story was dead before Hoffman had the powerful experience that gave birth to the Process. In the first years, Dr. Siegfried Fisher assumed the status of legend and myth in the story of the Process as Hoffman’s guide. His name was removed from the original title when his widow threatened to file suit. She claimed that there was no personal friendship between the two men and that her husband’s professional reputation was threatened by Hoffman’s claims. I will briefly examine both claims below.

Many of the people with whom I had extensive conversations became estranged from Hoffman, among them Ilene Cummings and Stanley Stefancic, who both served as Executive Director of the Institute after Hoffman’s return from Mexico. Besides long and thoughtful discussions about the origins of the Process and the contributions of various players, Stefancic showed me several documents, lists of the unique terms and phrases that were intended as teaching tools in the HQP (e.g. “negative love,” “giving to get,” “illogical logic, nonsensical sense”), as well as descriptions of several elements in the Processes, (including the bitter sweet chocolate ritual, and spirit guide and sanctuary mind trip), that Hoffman and his lawyers prepared when he was considering lawsuits against those he considered pirates. (I have used quotes around words and phrases that Hoffman habitually used to describe either his methodology or the concepts that were the underpinning of his spiritual worldview.)

Other people were constant friends and supporters from their first meeting with Hoffman until he died. Although I know these people and have had conversations with them, I have not used anything they told me in my presentation. Cynthia Merchant, personal assistant to Hoffman and a Hoffman Quadrinity Teacher, worked as the editor of the lengthy transcripts of Hoffman’s presentations that became the core of today’s Process. Ron Kayne, early supporter, by Hoffman’s admission, created the “guide and sanctuary mind trip,” as well being the ghost writer for Hoffman’s book, Getting Divorced from Mother and Dad and the first version of the Negative Love Syndrome.

When I became serious about uncovering and documenting the origins of the FHPS, I interviewed several of the members of Naranjo’s first SAT group who had worked individually with Hoffman. Ron Deziel gave me important information about the bare bones of Hoffman’s initial work heavily laced in psychic practice borrowed from the Spiritualist Church.

While some of what I will present is not easily reconciled with the proposed image of an inspired “intuitive,” or kindly and wise Jewish grandfather, I feel it vital to record another version of Hoffman’s inspiration and preserve it in a small corner of universe, and especially to note in some detail Claudio Naranjo’s contribution. It is a dangerous thing to allow a story of real creation and inspiration to become too sanitized. The contributions of this highly talented man who was present at a certain moment and responded wholeheartedly to Hoffman’s questions and requests without concern for his own personal gain and enrichment cannot be neglected.

The Inspiration

I heard Hoffman describe the inspiration for the Fischer-Hoffman Psychic Therapy many times. The rather bare outline of this otherworldly encounter never varied. In the middle of a night in 1967, the figure of a recently departed friend, the psychiatrist Siegfried Fischer, appeared at the foot of his bed and revealed to him the missing link in psychoanalytic therapy: the concept of negative love, the stream of negative behaviors unconsciously passed from one generation to the next. Then Fischer’s spirit being took Hoffman through his own psychic therapy, uncovering the roots of his own inherited patterns of behavior and liberating him with a new understanding that reached into the depths of his emotional being. Hoffman said that he was able to forgive his parents for all the negativity he had experienced growing up. He knew that “everyone is guilty and no one to blame.” Fischer disappeared with the promise to return and assist Hoffman to complete some of his own unfinished work, his karma, and that Hoffman could help “move on.” Hoffman said he heard the phrase “doors will open” when he asked Fisher how he, a tailor, would enter the world of professional psychotherapy and present this insight as the missing piece, an antidote to the endless cycle of analysis.

Who was Siegfried Fischer? Hoffman claimed that Fischer was an acquaintance, a friend of his wife’s family, a Viennese-trained psychiatrist who had escaped from Austria before Hitler’s invasion, making his way to San Francisco. I confirmed the basic outline of the Fischer story from the public record. Siegfried Fischer did emigrate in the 40’s and practiced psychotherapy at Langley Porter; he wrote Principles of general psychopathology: an interpretation of the theoretical foundations of psychopathological concepts, (New York, Philosophical Library, 1950).

Hoffman presented a scenario of convivial after-dinner conversations with Fischer. They chatted and argued about the existence of the psychic realm, life after death, and questions about the efficacy of psychotherapy. I can’t overemphasize the Spiritualist Church’s doctrine: “truth” spoken by disembodied spirits to spirits inhabiting human bodies, satisfying karmic obligations. Fischer was the scientific materialist and believed none of it. The telling had the feel of an apocalyptic battle between the forces of good and evil, psychotherapy vs. a psychic tailor, the psychic declaring victory after death.

After hearing this part of story, with slight variations, innumerable times, I, and several other participants, began to feel that Hoffman had an ax to grind with the enterprise of psycho-analysis, that he had probably had a failed experience in therapy himself. I began to suspect that he had been Fischer’s patient and quit, still in transference. I asked Hoffman if he had been Fischer’s patient and he said yes, that he and his wife had seen Fischer for family therapy with their son Michael. Nothing about any friendship. I am convinced that Hoffman created a good yarn, a myth, and lied about his personal friendship with Fisher to present himself as a reliable source.

Fischer’s widow maintained that he was never a personal friend of Hoffman or Hoffman’s wife. When Hoffman continued to use her husband’s name, Fischer's heirs filed a lawsuit against Hoffman. Hoffman acceded to the demands of the Fischer family, and changed the name of the FHPT to the Quadrinity Process. However, he still claimed, both in private conversation and group presentations, a personal friendship with Fischer and that Fischer was his spirit guide. [He asked me if I had had any psychic contact with Fischer. His criterion for authentic contact was a vision of Fischer as a real life persona, complete with grey hair, glasses, and white coat. Hoffman told me that he was fairly certain that Naranjo had experienced Dr. Fischer as a spiritual entity, but my vision was less certain.]

Hoffman claimed that Fischer guided him as he began to work with people who started to come to him for psychic readings. From my conversations with several people who did psychic therapy with Hoffman in the “reading room” of his 15th Street shop, Hoffman’s initial work contained the following elements. After some discussion of the problems that were plaguing a person’s life (and legendary “forceful” persuasion), and making lists of his or her parents' negative traits, Hoffman instructed clients to write an emotionally-charged autobiography of their life from birth till puberty. Then he began to direct the “prosecution” of Mother and Dad for programming a defenseless child with negative emotional traits. An “anger letter” to his or her parents capped the prosecution which provided some release as well as giving Hoffman an opportunity to evaluate the depth of the client’s emotional state.

Then Hoffman “psychically read” the emotional history the client’s parents, living or dead, describing events without prior knowledge, often including times and places, that explained and cemented difficult emotional traits into their emotional make up. This was the parents’ “defense”: to see that negative love was passed from one generation to the next. This is the concept of “negative love”: that his or her parents had unwillingly “adopted” these negative traits themselves, driven by their own emotional history and therefore could not be blamed. These deep, psychically verifiable, understandings led to the experience of forgiveness and compassion for one’s parents. “Everyone is guilty and no one to blame.”

And finally, through the mediation of Dr. Fischer and their personal spirit guide, the client got “Closure” by cutting the psychic ties to his or her parents. In a “mind trip,” the client yanked out the umbilical cord that connected his or her emotional child to their parents and allowed them to grow up to their chronological age. As an emotional adult, the client could for the first time experience unconditional love for their parents. The tools for breaking the habit of negative behaviors, now just phantom symptoms of imagined hurt, were repetition of positive traits, a process called “recycling,” and avoidance of negative behaviors by “putting your awareness on your awareness” using rudimentary self awareness exercises. There were also tapes of sessions with Hoffman and written negative trait lists and positive alternatives for reinforcement.

The original elements of the Process, according to Ernie Pecci, were the prosecution of Mother and then the defense of Mother, the prosecution of Father and the defense of Father plus the “Closure.”

One other piece was introduced into the FHPS before Naranjo took on creating the group process with Hoffman. The imagined conversation between the client’s emotional child and the emotional child of the parent came from Transactional Analysis. Hoffman’s no longer read his patients psychically to uncover his or her own parents’ emotional history. Hoffman found facilitators trained in transactional analysis, and adapted an existing technique, a path that he was to follow many times throughout the creation of the Process. If Fischer had really communicated to Hoffman, “doors will open,” perhaps he knew that Hoffman would not hesitate to break down doors if he found them stuck.

The Development of the Group Process

When I arrived in Berkeley in 1972, I was a 28-year-old Jesuit seminarian. I also knew that I needed psychological help—my own spiritual practice had opened up as many blank spaces as it had satisfied—and I was at a loss for any real solutions. I had been in therapy but the result only put me in a huge dilemma: I knew I was gay but denied it; I wanted to experience intimacy in my life, and I wanted to have a spiritual life. My vow of celibacy presented a definite obstacle to intimacy. I had come to Berkeley to work with a Jesuit priest named Bob Ochs who was a student of Naranjo. I had heard that Naranjo was about to begin to “introduce” his group to the work of a man he considered a modern shaman, a tailor from Oakland who was psychically guided by a deceased Viennese psychiatrist, a man who was able to introduce people to the core of psychological understanding in a very swift and complete way. This was a real “Hail Mary,” but would a Jesuit lead me down a dead end?

At our group’s first meeting with Bob Hoffman, he wore very expensive clothes—a race-track sport coat and tie. Standing behind Rosalyn Schaffer, Naranjo’s representative, he appeared uncomfortable. When he began to speak, it was soon obvious that he was not educated in any psychological discipline, but he dominated the room, alternatively talking then yelling in a kind of dumbed-down jargon filled with what became known as ”Hoffmanisms.” The paradoxical definition of “negative love was illogical logical and nonsensical sense,” and if we didn’t understand that, we were just playing dumb out of negative love; if we thought he was too well dressed, it was negative transference and an indication that we didn’t love ourselves. I was trapped, but I had just moved all the way from New York and had nowhere else to turn so I sat and took notes.

This was the very beginning of the creation of the group Process. It is very clear from Hoffman’s written notes in Stefancic’s possession that Hoffman credited Claudio Naranjo for transforming the FHPT into a group process. It is also clear from every interaction between them that I witnessed over more than 20 years, that Naranjo always regarded Hoffman as a modern day shaman, just as he was introduced on that September evening. Naranjo would from time to time poke fun and try to deflate Hoffman, but he also respected the kernel of Hoffman’s insight.

Not only did Naranjo shape the group process, he also gave Hoffman a measuring stick to evaluate the effect that the FHPS had on participants. Lacking psychological training, Hoffman needed Naranjo’s validation, but at the same time he never trusted the techniques that Naranjo introduced to yield insight. He felt that psychotherapy was at base a misguided enterprise and any kind of self observation was, at best, far too slow and, at worst, a head game. His style was to evaluate and attack people, then point to their emotional reactions as example of negative programming, almost always violating the boundaries of professional behavior.

Naranjo was usually absent from Hoffman’s group interactions and, I suspect, just let Hoffman conduct himself in any way he chose. But Naranjo did craft the interactive exercises for most of the sessions. I will discuss two exercises in some detail, the “bitch session” and the “child/intellect confrontation.” They highlight Naranjo’s major contribution to the Process and laid the groundwork for the experiential HQP that is now produced worldwide.

Hoffman instructed us to list our parents’ negative traits. He defined a negative trait as any behavior that was “giving to get,” “buying love,” “withholding love.” This warped economy of love thwarted the free exchange of affection to satisfy our innate desire to love and be loved. (Naranjo examines Hoffman’s view in “The End of Patriarchy”). As we listed our parents’ negative traits, Hoffman insisted that we had adopted them, every one of them, even if we had rebelled against them as children and they occurred as negative reactive behavior. He insisted that this was the sum total of what we knew about love, that our emotional life was infantile, and that we gave emotional love in the vain hope of having it returned, deprived of our birthright to give and receive love freely. This simple model became the foil that Hoffman used to reflect our behavior back to us, a rudimentary self-observation: the memory of past behaviors in relation to our parents revealed how we conducted our emotional life. Our list of negative traits became his confrontational tool. In the SAT group, Claudio also used dyads and other tools of self-observation, notably the study of the enneagram, meditation, and methods adopted from Gestalt, but Hoffman again thought those techniques cumbersome and slow.

We were then instructed to take the list of negative traits and recall scenes from our childhood, before puberty, where we had experienced these traits exhibited by our parents, and write down our reactions. Our emotional autobiography was to be as emotional as possible; we were not to censor ourselves as we wrote. (The Emotional Autobiography is no longer used— Hoffman told me that it was not necessary but I suspect that it took too much time for the compressed version).

That first Fall there were at least five weeks dedicated to this prosecution of Mother. It was mid-October when we began the bitch session. I mention this because it was the first time I noticed Hoffman’s urge to move the process ahead while it appeared to me that Claudio was testing psychological methodology as applied to the FHPT. My observation was of course obscured by the fact that I was a participant with enormous transference already underway. Subsequent events confirmed my initial impression.

The bitch session, which replaced the “anger letter,” was an experiential expression of anger, directed at a parent, using explicit language, physical motion, beating pillows, and screaming. It was first conducted with the group members observing the person on the “hot seat” and then providing feedback about the depth and expression of the anger. (A personal note here: this experience was for me one of the major breakthroughs in my entire adult life. It took weeks for me to really allow myself to express my own anger, but when I finally did touch the depth of my rage at my mother, it altered the course of my life. It was as if a huge veil had been lifted and I had to admit that I was an angry person. But more important, I recognized that I had a range of feelings that I’d struggled to avoid all my life, that I had constructed my life to avoid these feelings. At that moment I became solidly engaged in the exploration of myself to achieve some degree of resolution and freedom.)

The introduction of the “bitch session” was important to Hoffman. It was his first experience of psychological work allowing a person to experience the level of emotional release that he had been unable to achieve with his “anger letter.” It also, in my view, pointed to a rapid way to induce the level of feeling and emotion that is the hallmark of the current version of the HQP. Later Pecci introduced another technique for inducing very early infantile feelings, the “primal,” an adaptation of Reichian body work, borrowing its name from the then-popular Primal Scream Therapy; it also continues to exist in some form in the current HQP.

The next of Naranjo’s contributions that I would like to discuss is what is now known as the “Child/Intellect Bitch Session.” This does not follow the chronological sequence because it actually occurred after Hoffman had begun to do his own work.

While I worked in the first FHPT Process, I continued my participation in the SAT group. One night I took the hot seat when Naranjo himself was doing Gestalt therapy. In the FHPT, the client visualizes his or her self as composed of four parts, the physical self, the intellectual self, the spiritual self and the emotional self. The emotional self can assume whatever age where the client or patient feels some block or experiences some incident that remains unresolved. In a dream sequence that I began to act out, alternately taking the role of a stern mother and a vulnerable child, with Naranjo’s coaching, I experienced myself at war with myself, perpetuating in a kind of stalemate, hiding from my sexual feelings and repressing them fearing my mother’s disapproval. Anger and frustration surfaced, and the solution that I had crafted, the choice of the celibate religious life, began to look like just that, a solution I had crafted and not the vocation that I was trying to follow. As a follow up, it was suggested that I try to craft another kind of truce between the emotional child and the intellectual self, represented in the session as my disapproving mother. I was among the first of several people who used the persona of the child and intellect on the hot seat. Very soon Hoffman introduced an exercise where the emotional child and the adult intellect alternately expressed anger and frustration, eventually arriving at a kind of truce. This became know as the Child/Intellect Bitch Session and continues to exist in a different form in the HQP today.

In the middle of January, Hoffman and Naranjo decided to end their group experiment with SAT. Hoffman told us that he would take us to a place where we could stop the defense of father and that he would conduct his own 13-week group process in Tolman Hall on the UC Berkeley campus. (I later learned that he had been diagnosed with bladder cancer and was going to retire to Mexico to either heal or die; that he had made the decision to entrust his group process to Pecci; and that the training in Tolman Hall was to introduce a pool of people to the group process who might be trained as therapists, or ‘teachers’ as we were called.)

The hallmark of the 13-week process was the order and the pace. The specific assignments for each week were due three days after the session; Hoffman reviewed them and his taped comments were back in your hands at the beginning of the next session. In every session Hoffman lectured, shouted, cajoled, confronted, intimidated, humiliated, bullied, abused us. He called us ass holes and negative love buyers. This behavior perhaps forced some people to examine themselves, but it far exceeded professional boundaries appropriate for therapist/teacher, student/patient relationship. Hoffman justified his behavior by claiming that his basic message was so simple that it was hard to grasp without his unyielding confrontation: human beings deserved a satisfying emotional life but were prevented from achieving that goal by their parenting, the adoption of the negative traits of their parents.

He conducted other portions of his course through “mind trips” and I will mention two of them, the parents’ funeral and the birthday party, because together with the other exercises already mentioned, these fill out nearly every essential element (except “Vindictiveness,” “Play Day,” and “Dark Side”) of present HQP. After the prosecution and defense of both parents, we were asked to close our eyes and imagine that we were awakened in the dead of night by a phone call: our parents had been involved in a car crash and were near death. We were asked to follow the course of events from the emergency room to the graveside. Bob told me that this “came through” as he was speaking. Furthermore he said that if we experienced a full range of emotion, we could actually set aside our anger towards our parents and begin to experience unconditional love for them. There was another mind trip when we were asked to visualize the birthday party that we never had, where we were celebrated and feted for who we were and not who we had to pretend to be in order to experience our parents’ love.

During the whole time I practiced the 13-week FHPT, I know that Hoffman struggled with achieving the high level of emotional experience he considered necessary to produce the emotional freedom he saw as the goal. Both remain today in the HQP as elaborately produced events, with music, props, food. When combined with suggested visual images, they can and do induce the powerful emotional states Hoffman sought. I suggest that Naranjo’s early introduction of experiential exercises into Hoffman’s basic framework made it possible for Hoffman to create the controlled emotional rollercoaster of the current HQP.


As the history of the process is being revised and cleaned up as a product of the human potential movement, I have tried to leave a footnote about the people who helped Hoffman in order that their important contributions are not neglected, attributed to others, or lost regardless of copyright.

I had also hoped to shed light on how an “inspired insight” makes itself known in the world, examining how a core insight into human nature could become a coherent, repeatable experience that would provide people an access to their own emotional life and deepen their awareness of their own spiritual lives. Frankly I do not know if any process is able to deliver this result in a sustainable way, but there is always the possibility that even a split second experience of unconditional love might be enough to alter centuries of abuse.

However, I am certain that I demonstrated that the Fisher-Hoffman Psychic Therapy and the subsequent Hoffman Quadrinity Process came into existence through the combined efforts of Bob Hoffman and Claudio Naranjo, that it required both men to bring it to life, that the HQP would not exist at all without the generous contribution of Claudio Naranjo. Hoffman borrowed widely and used anything that he thought might be useful. He relied on Naranjo more than anyone, but also others like Pecci, to fill out his vision and give it legitimacy.

Claudio Naranjo was constant in his friendship and support. I saw Naranjo demonstrate respect and love for Bob Hoffman from the time he provided him with a group that he could use to create the FHPT to his last meetings with Hoffman while he was dying from liver cancer in his Oakland home. Naranjo thought of Hoffman as a modern day shaman, a man who received an inspiration, an insight that broke into his life unexpectedly and that he wrestled with for the rest of his life. On the other hand, their relationship was not easy—Hoffman, untrained and impetuous, a tradesman by nature and choice, Naranjo, skilled and intellectual, a thorough professional—they were an ontological odd couple.

And finally, a personal evaluation, one that was also hard won.

In the last analysis, it is not difficult to create the circumstances for unique experiences that are extraordinary or yield real insights.

Teachers, real ones and charlatans, have been doing this for ages. Their bag of tricks include meditation and self-analysis, as well as trance and hypnotism, auto suggestion, even bullying as a way of barging through defense mechanisms.

Despite his claims to the contrary, Hoffman made ample use of the more nasty tricks with complete impunity, always taking the higher ground. (He was, for example, never angry with anyone, but ‘righteously indignant.”) But when it comes to actually seeing if his results were lasting, the evidence is scarce or relies very heavily on anecdotal evidence. Many people say that the experience was powerful, but if they made real changes in their lives, if they were happier and not living under another despotism, however benevolent, the majority of those I interviewed had found a sustainable spiritual practice and devoted themselves to it.

In my own experience of directing people in the Process, I cut as much as I could of the trappings of the spiritualist church. I found them fraudulent, or at best embarrassing and useless. I dropped Hoffman’s inflated claims that the Process was all the therapy that anyone needed, that it was Freud’s missing link. I introduced conversations that allowed clients to explore how their early emotional programming influences their lives here and now. But listening deeply to 40 individuals a year began to take too much of a personal toll for a meager income, and I stopped offering the Process when Hoffman threatened a lawsuit. I certainly had no stomach and no money to face off in court over his intellectual property.

I have not kept in touch with people that I worked with. But one person, a very articulate and bright African-American, and his Process were memorable. Early on in the prosecution of Father, the name Jim Jones kept coming up in our sessions—my client said that Jones was a remarkable psychic, a healer, a prophet, a seer. I had never heard of Jones and though the People’s Temple was only a few blocks from where I lived in San Francisco, I felt no desire to “check him out.” I just kept encouraging my client to examine any transference he might have to Jones. After a few more weeks and the “prosecution of father,” I noticed that Jones’s name was not coming up. I asked how he was feeling towards Jones. He replied that Jones was just another fraud preying on the black community. He left the Peoples’ Temple before the exodus to Guyana and escaped the horrific aftermath.

Just that result is enough for me.

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Re: Hoffman Institute
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: February 21, 2012 05:30AM

This website is for people who did NOT benefit from Hoffman Process and who want to be able to discuss this without being interrupted.

If anyone has been happy with Hoffman, rejoice in your good fortune. Just be fair and allow persons who have not benefitted from Hoffman to exercise their First Amendment rights as citizens and resident aliens and be able to discuss what they went through here.

For a small thread this has drawn a lot of apologists and an insistence on mere testimonial. Lets look at the names:

Healthy Skeptic

Feelings and even vivid experiences can may not represent reality. Years ago I had several days of 103 F fevers and experienced myself as ice cold. I shivered violently, craved warmth, was desperate to wrap myself in blankets. But to my surprise, the clinical thermometer read that my body was 103 F -- that I was too warm, not cold at all. Contrary to what I felt, I needed to cool down, not wrap up in blankets.

So repeat, feelings and experiences can be manipulated and not reflect actual reality at all.

Next, there is cognitive dissonance. If a person pays a lot of money or puts a huge charge on the credit card, there is automatic inner pressure to convince oneself that the expenditure is worth it.

There is such a thing as attribution bias. One tends to ignore information that doesnt support one's beliefs and focuses on what does support belief.

Why hasnt Hoffman Process done what John Kabat Zinn has done and arrange for scientific testing of its methods, eh?

Its not enough to say that 'professionals' are on the board of directors. One has to walk the walk.

That is why the real test of whether something (especially something that costs thousands of dollars) is beneficial and worth the expense, is to do double blind trials, with subjects randomly assigned to control groups.

This is what is considered standard of care when assessing any treatment methodology.

And its against the law in most states to practice medicine and or psychotherapy without a license if one charges this kind of money. And as noted in the California case from 1997, 'aiding and abetting in the illegal practice of psychology' can be grounds for having one's license revoked or suspended.

No amount of shrill testimonial can cancel out what is in the lawbooks. And what is already in public record.

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Re: Hoffman Institute
Posted by: Bodhichitta ()
Date: February 21, 2012 06:05AM


There are plenty pf laws which do not reflect reality and plenty of dysfunction within "legally" approved processes and methods. If you truly respect First Admendment rights then you should respect all input. In the field of psychiatry, it is well known that all treatments (especially involving prescription drugs in conjunction with Psychotherapy) is an "educated guess" at best and a crime of humanity at worst. Yes- this can all be backed up by the "scientific method"

However, to your point, it appears you only desire some scientific study as a means to consider an investment into the Hoffman process. Here is something to consider;


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Re: Hoffman Institute
Posted by: rrmoderator ()
Date: February 21, 2012 11:01AM


The study doesn't seem to offer anything objective, but rather subjective results based upon feelings and opinion.

A meaningful scientific study would objectively measure the program's actually improvement regarding a person’s subsequent life through after the training.

Instead, Hoffman has apparently chosen to fund what essentially can be seen as surveys and polls, which report the subjective feelings and perception of its graduates.

LGAT critics have never disputed that training employs effective persuasion techniques, which can directly affect the feelings and perception of its program participants.

But a meaningful study based upon objective results could measure such things as a sustained higher grade point average, notably lower divorce rate, increased income and/or less reliance upon professional counseling over a period of years after completing LE programs.

Sometthing long-term.

Such a scientific study could then compare the Hoffman graduates against an outside control group, which had not attended Hoffman programs. And then of course to validate the study the results would then be submitted for peer-review and perhaps then be published within a respected and credible journal.

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Re: Hoffman Institute
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: February 22, 2012 01:06AM

Here is an item that was published, with the authors permission.

It was published on the Freedom of Mind website.

Here is the text.


The Hoffman - Science vs. Spooks: Skepticism, scientific research and the Nostradamus effect

Science vs. Spooks: Skepticism, scientific research and the Nostradamus effect
In certain quarters here, in New Age California, it is believed that the uniquely western contribution to ¡°spiritual¡± efforts will be the application of the scientific method to the eandeavor.

Perhaps this is just another chapter of the age-old science vs. religion debate, or even a new path to understanding.

But I would like to examine a shadier side of this undertaking, the bias of those who sponsor the research: who¡¯s buying and why, and what does any of this have to do with science? I call it ¡°Science vs. Spooks and the Nostradamus Effect.¡±

In the mid to late 70¡äs, there were a few straightforward attempts by serious practitioners to use standard tests, psychological and psysiological, to measure the effects of meditation. A second wave of this type of objective investigation was to apply standard psychological instruments to measure changes in persons who did some workshop or training ¡ª were the ¡°benefits¡± real change that lasted, or just a kind of workshop high?

And it was not long before the producers of the various trainings and workshops saw that positive results would be a great marketing tool. These were people connected to the world of psychology, some professionals and some who had transformative experiences, and they wanted to present them to a larger audience. Of course it takes money to support these projects.

I worked on staff at two human potential companies, Landmark Education and the Hoffman Institute, when ¡°scientific¡± studies undertaken. I participated in the creation and execution of one.

This was the scenario: The company found money, just as drug companies do when testing a new product. Then in the case I know best, a PhD psychologist on staff shopped around university graduate psychology departments for grant-hungry professors willing to design and execute a study. The instruments of measurement, assessment of the results were negotiated. The size of the sample and a time table were set. A fee was paid. There was also a promise to have the results, if they are positive, published in a professional peer-reviewed journal.

Though the usual requirements to insure that the results are impartial and not stacked were in place, there are three areas where, in my view, the participation of the company skewed the ¡°scientific investigation.¡±

The researchers were charged to look for the positive psychological results and determine if they were lasting. As a ¡®graduate¡¯ of the course I was one of several people who pre-tested the instrument that the researchers designed. Then, through the in-house psychologist, there were ¡®adjustments¡¯ in what was measured with an eye to the marketing.

The testing began.

At some point, perhaps three months into the process, the researchers began to worry that the sample would not be large enough to support ¡°significant results,¡± and staff members began telephoning participants, using a carefully designed script to encourage them to complete the questionnaires.

Though I was not asked to make any calls, I overheard them, and to be totally honest, I did not detect any kind of coercion other than to complete and return the questionnaire.

But there were also a series of support¡¯ calls to graduates at specific intervals, so the plea to return the evaluation was not extraordinary.

Now if I got a support call, reinforcing my positive experience, and then, a few weeks later, another making sure I completed a questionnaire for the study, well, you get the picture.

Though this kind of action might be ethical ¡ª falling within the conditions of impartiality ¡ª it seems to me that if I did not feel strongly enough to send my report back to the researchers, my lack of enthusiasm indicated something.
And the final, and most flagrant area of manipulation was in publication of the results. It bordered on out deception. Although the researchers themselves were to write up the final results submitted to professional journals, perhaps even a presentation at some conference (I left the company before it was complete), there were interim reports: ¡°After six months, participants report more confident and loving conversations with their spouses and children.¡±

This assessment of initial data was written by the in-house psychologist to ¡°report¡± the results of the study to graduates. But when the president of the company read the report, he claimed that this was just too much scientific ¡°jargon.¡± In my view it was not the overwhelming positive result he thought he¡¯d paid for.

I actually stood around his desk with a group of staff as he reworked every sentence, striking any word or phrase that seemed too guarded, asking us as witnesses, ¡°I think that this (his punched-up phrase) says the same thing, doesn¡¯t it?¡± When I asked the in-house psychologist himself about the revisions, he was non-committal, ¡°I suppose that could be said about X,¡± and turned the conversation to the cost of his new home in the foothills. (end of exerpt)

Republished here with the kind permission of the author, Ken Ireland.

There is nothing criminal or even terribly important in this manipulation of scientific inquiry¨Cdrug companies do it all the time and we pay for it when you factor in the cost of their malpractice insurance. And what has this to do with our friend Nostradamus, a 17th century French seer and astrologer whose puzzling riddles have a cult-like following? In 1654 he wrote: ¡°In the City of God there will be a great thunder, Two brothers torn apart by Chaos, while the fortress endures, the great leader will succumb. ¡­ The third big war will begin when the big city is burning.¡± Well, obviously he predicted the terrorist attack on the Twin Towers.

Did that phrase about the two giants collapsing really ¡®foretell¡¯ the attack on the World Trade Center towers? I bet we could find a rich paranormal enthusiast to fund a study that proves¨Cbeyond a shadow of a doubt¨Cthat a certain percentage of the American public, after hearing those sentences read to them in a carefully scripted phone survey, believe that Nostradamus really predicted 9/11.

This is one way to defend against the terror of the unpredictable. I choose to remain skeptical.

Republished here with the kind permission of the author, Ken Ireland. The original article can be found here.

Corboy note: mere skepticism is NOT enough. One has to understand how to do genuine science. This will be described in the next post.

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Re: Hoffman Institute
Posted by: Bodhichitta ()
Date: February 22, 2012 01:33AM


It appears the point of delineation is the strong adherence to the scientific method as the only proof source from which to evaluate results. The science of the brain proves that we create neuropathways as a result of reinforced thinking. So it appears the real scientific conclusion here is that if you elminate the noise- what you "believe" you get out of therapy is more important than the techniques of the therapy itself. This is science.

I think I truly understand and appreciate the scientific method and appreciate it's application for certain uses. However, like Maslow argues in "The psychology of science"- the scientific method absolutely falls short on a bigger reality in life, in part, because the scientific method doesn't apply to subconscious realities. So this is a foundational issue which means we can't by definition get on the name page if you limit your view to a scientific method only. That is ok, but very incomplete to me (and people like Maslow/Jung)

On another note- i predict the APA and their collusion with the big pharma industry will make abestos and tobacco corruption look like child's play. Via licensed professionals they are dealing addictive drugs that truly control the minds and bodies of their victims. I think I understand why this forum exists, but in it's current form- I believe it cannot be responsible in giving people objective feedback based on this type of fixed mindset.

It's equivalent to arguing the 12 step program is a cult because it lacks true scientific studies. To people who do it- it works but a pure scientific method has to ignore these anecdotes. I get it. But it's a silly debate to argue a scientific method with something that is subjective to begin with.

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Re: Hoffman Institute
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: February 22, 2012 01:39AM

As noted, this essay, given above, was posted already on the Freedom of Mind website.

Now...a wee lesson on how genuine scientific research is actually done.

Scientific method is very much more than skepticism. Skepticism is an attitude.

Scientific method is not 'tradition'. To call scientific method 'traditional' is not adequate. This means one can semantically blur scientific method in with other traditions that, unlike science, offer no safeguards against attribution bias.

Scientific method is in a different catagory than tradition, because scientific method, honestly applied, using double blind methods and in acceptance of findings that disappoint ones expectations offers a way to reject personally cherished hypotheses that cannot be supported by evidence.

Feelings of 'satisfaction' and 'growth' or 'self fulfillment' are subjective. These can be defined in various ways.

To design a scientific test one has to define what the outcome is and select outcomes that are quantifiable.

If it is considered enough that persons going through Hoffman merely report satisfaction following participation, this calls into question why one even needs to have psychotherapists on staff or use therapeutic terminology. If HP is merely dedicated to 'personal growth' this is something that cannot be defined scientifically and any attempt to validate it by scientific research is meaningless.

Thats the power of rules.

You can adore and be passionately loyal to your favorite sports team. But if your team cannot score enough points against an opponent according to the rules of the game, the team supporters have to accept that their team has lost a game. One doesnt have to like that outcome but one has to admit its part of the record.

Now...let us look at the rules of science. Not the rituals of science, and not the tradition of science--the rules of science.

Why didnt the Hoffman people do what John Kabat-Zinn has done?

Arrange for different teams to construct some good research design protocols, and then test Hoffman Process and outcomes using double blind testing?

And test this repeatedly with different groups of graduates to see whether the findings are not only statistically significant, compared with controls, but also whether the findings are 'robust' - that is reproducible in different groups.

Thing is genuine scientific testing operates according to null hypothesis: one goes on the assumption that the treatment is no better than what could be produced by random outcomes--that is, it is in effective. For persons in the cult mindset, who cant admit that their darling therapy is anything other than wonderful, even imagining the null hypothesis (this treatment is no better than random effect) -- is cognitively repugnant.

Two, the best research on treatment methododology has a triple hurdle.

a) Disprove null hypothesis


b) Prove that the intervention exceeds placebo effect

c) Prove that the intervention (especially if it is expensive) has better outcomes than existing, less expensive therapies that have already passed scientific testing.

Extra-ordinary claims (or expensive workshops ) require statistically overwhelming validation.

A properly designed study would do the following.

Make it clear in your mind whether Hoffman Process is a treatment for an identifiable and definable ailment. (Or something that fits criteria for the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual. (Current edition of the DSM is the DSM-4(revised). Examples of a condition that can be validated by the DSM and by additional tests would be depression.

If the HP to assist in 'personal growth', that is a vague outcome. Instead, one can tie 'personal growth' to measurable social outcomes such as income level, increased educational attainment (outside of the Hoffman Process community) in the years following participation in HP. If one only increases status by moving from a Hoffman student to becoming, over the years, a Hoffman Process teacher, this may feel satisfying, but is not an indication that HP brings full personal autonomy and skills that are applicable outside of the Hoffman Process social circuit.

Mere reported feelings of 'satisfaction' are not entirely reliable. People who spend a couple thousand dollars will through cognitive dissonance feel an inner pressure to justify the expense by reporting satisfaction.

1) Disprove the null hypothesis (Hoffman Process is no better than random outcome) Create the research design by hypothesizing that HP is nothing better than a random outcome

2) Hoffman Process is no better than a placebo (A control group assigned to a group set up that is merely a series of social get togethers, but with no agenda. Many of us feel better if we are given a group to hang out with, especially in this lonely and hectic world.)

3) Is HP not only as good as but significantly better (statistically speaking) than existing group therapy modalities that have already passed this kind of test and been reported in peer reviewed journals?

To create a research design based on the null hypothesis means one must be able to imagine that ones modality might be ineffective.

That is why subjects have to be assigned randomly to control groups vs intervention groups and in such as way that no one involved with the study knows how people have been assigned.

If people have been processed through somethign that leaves their minds in unconscious 'primary process states of mind', they will have great difficulty imagining that their workshop experience was nothing better than what could have happened in any other social group.

Feelings of 'satisfaction' and 'growth' or 'self fulfillment' are subjective.

If it is considered enough that persons going through Hoffman merely report satisfaction following participation, this calls into question why it is considered necessary to have psychotherapists on staff or use therapeutic terminology.

To do scientific method, (not scientific tradition, scientific method) requires application of conscious and adult logic.

And no, this does not have to take the wonder or excitement out of life.

Not at all.

Baseball follows rules and has its methods, too. It is not only possible to win a game, it is possible to lose a game.

You can love your team and yet if your team cannot score enough points, according to the rules of baseball against the opposite team, you have to face the pain of seeing your team lose a game--and in some cases, feel the lingering agony of your team losing its chance to play the World Series.

But does honoring the rules of baseball take the wonder out of it?

Not at all. People whose teams lose a game or even lose out on a World Series still appreciate baseball and its rules.

The drama and sheer wonder of baseball remains intact, not in spite of its rules but because of its rules.

Ditto for scientific method.

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Re: Hoffman Institute
Posted by: rrmoderator ()
Date: February 22, 2012 01:40AM


Apparently when your arguments fail you spin conspiracy theories about "the APA" and "big pharma".

This and your general attmept to discredit "the scientific method" only serves to demonstrate to anyone reading this thread that you have no objective evidence regarding any of your claims concerning Hoffman.

You appear to be here as simply an apologist and supporter of Hoffman.

Again, you are going off topic. The topic at this thread is the Hoffman Institute, not the APA, pharmaceutical companies or AA.

What in your opinion does Hoffman do wrong?

What mistakes has the organization made that hurt people?

How do you think Hoffman should change to correct past mistakes and improve itself?

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 02/22/2012 01:41AM by rrmoderator.

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