Looking for Sterling Wives...
Date: March 01, 2007 03:04PM
Hello, my name is Morgan.
I was moved to post here by reading the concerns of 'Sterling Institute Wives', about the effect of their husbands' participation in Sterling Institute Men's Weekends, and in particular the associated men's groups.
I know whereof I speak, as I attended the very first men's weekend seminar, and I was the first male paid staff member at Sterling Institute, starting in 1981. I was responsible for almost every facet of the institute's operations, for almost two years, until I had enough of Justin Sterling and resigned.
I attended every seminar, for both men and women, during that time, and I was instrumental in the creation of the work that has now decayed into what you describe.
I was very close to Justin, both professionally and socially. He had almost no friends, was estranged from his parents, and I and the other two to three staff members (all women), served both as his family and his servants.
I was privy to his most private thoughts about men and women during that time. Toward the end, I was a co-facilitator with Justin in the seminars. I probably know more about him and his organization than anyone else you will ever meet.
Let's start by straightening something out. The institute and its work were not an 'offshoot' of EST. Justin, all of the staff members, and most of the participants at that time were, however, EST graduates. I came to the institute with a background of producing large enrollment events for EST, and I was very familiar with the underlying dynamics of such seminars.
The basic processes for physical management of the seminar participants were based upon EST practice, and worked quite well to ensure that people could go through the administrative precedures of the first day, and take bathroom and meal breaks in a way that was both expeditious, and protective.
The personal nature of the subjects dealt with in both the EST training and Sterling's work required that people experience a sense of safety as they allowed themselves to give voice to the most delicate and vulnerable aspects of their lives. That meant that people couldn't be milling about during the seminar, coming and going as they pleased.
Bathroom and meal breaks were scheduled at set times, and everyone understood what those times were. People who required access to bathrooms more than once every four hours were required to bring a note with them, from their doctor. Special provision was then made for their needs. They could sit toward the back of the room, and come and go as needed.
None of this had anything to do with 'mind control', though attendance at a lengthy and intense event such as the seminars were would, of course, produce a so-called 'altered state' of awareness There is nothing fundamentally wrong, or 'evil' about this, as it is literally no different, dynamically, than sitting through a long movie or play. Of course, much depends upon what information is being received by the participants while in that altered state.
The seminars as I knew them were very different from what they have become over the years. Back then, the male and female graduates appreciated and celebrated each other, and they worked together very well, for example when volunteering as seminar assistants.
Some of what we taught was very similar to what is offered now, if not identical. The tone, however, was entirely different. In the beginning women were told that, in the area of relationship, men were basically jerks.
The secret formula for success, then, was for the woman to find a man that she was willing to take on as a 'project', make sure that he got what he wanted, and manage him so that he only wanted what she wanted him to want.
On the other side, men were told to find a woman who would take them on as a project, surrender to her management, and make sure that he got what he wanted. Because men were held to be so incapable about relationship, the woman was to be totally responsible for the relationship, in the eyes of both herself and her man.
At the time, that information was delivered as an acknowledgement of womens' power and wisdom, and most of the participants took it that way.
I know, I know, it sounds, now, like a recipe for disaster. Back then, however, it made sense to a lot of people. Don't ask me why.
There were support groups organized for men and women separately, made up of people from the same seminar, who lived in the same general area. These groups were supposedly set up to help people integrate what they had learned into their lives. The real, unacknowledged purpose was to produce new enrollments in the seminars.
You must understand that organizations that do this kind of work survive solely on the basis of continuing enrollments. As with any other business, without new customers, the business soon dies. That's just plain business sense.
So, how do you get people who have just undergone a powerful, life-changing experience to enroll other people? This is how EST did it: "If you don't go out and share your experience of the EST training with others, then the experience that you had wasn't real." Mind-boggliong, isn't it? But it worked.
EST offered a whole array of Graduate Seminars, offered as a weekly series of evening seminars on various subjects, where graduates could expand upon their initial experience. Graduates were encouraged to bring guests, who would be taken aside to other rooms while the seminar was in progress. These guests were given a brief enrollment presentation, and invited - more like pressured - to enroll.
A part of every evening workshop was the infamous 'Guest Talk', where the graduates as a group would be haranged to bring guests, if they hadn't, or to bring more guests, if they had.
After I went on staff at Sterling, I went back to EST for a Graduate Seminar, as a means of spreading the word about the Sterling seminars. During that seminar series, nobody brought guests. Week after week, the EST staff member who was leading the seminar would give his Guest Talk, to no avail.
'Important people' from the EST headquarters began sitting at the back of the room, to assess tha leader's skill in this area. Still, no guests showed up. Finally, in desperation, he said, "I've tried everything else, so now I'm going to tell you the truth. The Graduate Seminars exist to produce new enrollments, period, end of sentence".
The Graduate Seminars, then had no other official purpose. They used people's desire to further themselves as a means of ensuring the organization's survival.
Justin used that model in setting up those early support groups, but of course, he never said so to the graduates, until 1985, some two and a half years after I resigned from the institute. The groups were constantly encourage to hold enrollment 'open houses' in thier members' homes, but no one was pressured to do so.
In 85' I heard, through a business associate who was still involved in assisting at the institute, that Justin had put out the word that any support group that would not commit to producing one open house each month would be expelled from affiliation with the institute, and could no longer refer to themselves as a Sterling Institute Support Group.
As if that weren't enough, Justin went on to demand that every graduate acknowledge him as 'source' in their life, of suffer being shunned by the organization. As bizarre as it sounds, I'm not making this up.
I had always considered Justin to be unbalanced, but my presence as the only other man close to him - and a very different kind of man than he - seemed to serve aa a kind of counterbalance to his 'peculiarities'. I had the concern that, after I resigned, he would begin to 'lose it', and that is evidently what happened.
I could go on, but the point of all of this is that Justin Sterling never invested his energy, attention or money in anything that wasn't designed to produce more emrollments. In Justin's mind, I assure you, the sole purpose of the men's groups is to enable him to go on making money from the seminars, no matter what he asserts to the contrary.
The groups are very cleverly set up. Through their experience of the weekend, men feel a powerful bond with other men. In fact, it may be more powerful than any bond they have experienced before. Justin uses that bond as a tool.
The central focus of group activity is producing enrollments. There will, of course be a lot of talk about 'being men together' and so on, which is a perfectly natural outcome of the kinds of experiences that the men share in the seminars.
The kinds of problems that you are experiencing arise when the men make enrollment the central focus of their lives, as Justin actively encourages them to do. When they resist, they are shamed into compliance, as 'traitors to men', 'wusses', and much, much worse.
Men - and women - who go into the seminars with a weak sense of who they are are particularly suceptable to that kind of manipulation. Sadly, many who are drawn to participate have little sense of personal value other than what they can get from other people.
Justin is a master at using such people to serve his own ends. All he has to do is to tell the men that "men keep their word", and put them into groups that are set up to require them to produce enrollments 'at any cost', and he has them right where he wants them.
The men, particularly those who aren't secure in their manhood, are in the position of constantly having to prove their worth to other men, and the beat goes on, and on , and on.
No one stops to consider the fact that a man who is secure in his manh0ood has no need whatsoever to prove anything to anyone. You would think that would be obvious, but it isn't.
Justin uses shame and intimidation to bully men into being 'manly' by his definition. That's extremely ironic, because one of the things that I knew from the beginning about Justin was this: by his own admission to myself and other staff members, Justin had - and I believe still has - a profound distrust of men. Further, in observing Justin in social situations where he had no permission to assert control, he feared men as well. Watching him squirm to avoid men, say at a party, was an education.
Another thing that became clear to me toward the end of my stay at the intitute was even more insidious. It was evident in the way he treated female staff members, all the way up to and including sexual abuse, as well as the way he treated the women he was in relationship with. We staff members used to discuss it at length. Simply put, Justin hates women.
He has created the perfect venue for himself. He gets to - 'officially' - put women 'in their place', and he gets to turn men loose to run roughshod over them. None of this has anything to do with manhood, of course, because that is something of which he has no personal experience.
At bottom, Justin is an 'adult boy', whose sole aim is the accumulation of both wealth and power over others. That he can achieve that aim by means of manipulating those who seek to better themselves is sad, but perhaps inevitable. Who else, after all, would be willing to give their power away to him?
There are good, sound organizations out there that do wonderful work. Some of them are listed here, as 'cults' or whatever. That label, even if accurate, doesn't automatically make them malicious of 'evil', though you may believe otherwise.
There are incredibly positve and powerful experiences available to people, in both the men's and women's seminars and, for that reason, I am reluctant to tell people not to enroll. I am immensely proud of the work I did with Justin, and equally proud that I have no part in it now.
So, while I don't tell people not to participate with Sterling institute, I absolutely cannot recommend it.
As to this business about real men 'keeping their word', you wives might want to remind them that they first gave their word to you.
Regards, Morgan (that's one name only, no last name) C. P. C. C., C. C. H. T.