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sharon gans "the work"
Posted by: betsy ()
Date: July 12, 2002 09:45AM

I was involved with Sharon Gans group many years ago. I was asked to leave shortly after asking a very good question that was met with a strong verbally abusive vehemence. While there I was driven into a bad depression and when I left I was sent to work with a particular therapist. I went because in my heart I was connected to the idea of work on myself. My therapist, god rest his soul, was at best comprimised.
It was only a year and a half ago that I began to heal. I would love to meet with anyone over the phone or vial email people who are free from this particular group. a few years ago I ran into a woman from the "work" on the train. I wanted to talk but suddenly felt a surge of fear when she approached. If you read this please contact me. I can be emailed at
I wish all those free much love and happiness.

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sharon gans "the work"
Posted by: dar3463 ()
Date: November 29, 2004 01:18PM

I was a student/victim of Sharon Gans, Fred Mindel, Minerva Taylor & Robert Klein from 1987 - November 18, 1998. I was recruited by my then girlfriend with the standard Gans' approach. JH, who went on to become my fiancée, wife, mother of my two kids and finally ex-wife, brought me in to one of two or three Gans groups meeting in downtown Manhattan - Broadway near Leonard. I was (and am) a talented, energetic & artistic guy; and a master carpenter. I spent 11 years working many, many long nights & weekends on Gans’ many "work/school" projects including the following:
Class spaces - Two lofts on Broadway with separate spaces for "higher & lower classes"
Christmas Party - Annual all night booze-athon complete with theatrical sets, costumes & performances prepared for months in advance
Retreats - Ranch near Kalispell, Montana: Hunting Lodge in Croton Falls, Westchester, NY & a series of houses purchased, renovated (by students who paid gans hundreds @ month)& then sold by ???? These deals culminated in Pawling NY with Hudson Valley Artists Foundation, funded in part a student's inheritance. This site, around 20 acres in Dutchess County, was developed in 1998. I was the on site supervisor, my day job, and "privileged older student/volunteer leader” for 24 hr days every weekend. I suffered what I now know to be a complete breakdown & was kicked out of my home by my now ex-wife, thrown off the job & expelled from the cult.
I must thank Gans at this point for telling me to return to AA, which has saved my life & restored me to sanity. Time, healing in AA, the love & support of my wonderful (new & improved 2nd) wife & a meeting with another former 4th Way'er have all led me to here & now. I can now say that I was a gullible, manipulated, damaged member of a very exploitive cult that claims to be a school of inner development for the growth of one's soul. The only thing growing here is her real estate portfolio & safe deposit box.
I would love to hear from any former or current "students of the Work"

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sharon gans "the work"
Posted by: brainstomer ()
Date: June 11, 2006 03:51PM

I have had experiences with Gurdjieff cults myself. Gurdjieff's philosophy was "my cult" and although I was not in any one group for a long period of
time, I did get close enough to get some damage inflicted by people who actually studied with Gurdjieff himself. (Gurdjieff was supposedly the source of Gan's teaching).

However, after 30 years, I now realize how wrong a philosophy Gurdjieff's was and how unique it is in perverting the true purpose of God's creation of Earth. The idea of a maternally caring God is totally absent from the Gurdjieff teaching and this absence creates horrible human adaptations.
Gurdjieffians have a reputation for being cold and abusive, and even
after getting close to many of them one can't ignore this is the case. It
seems different occult groups attract different types of people. It can't be denied that the Gurdjieff groups attract those from a workaholic or families where the obsessive personality disorder may be represented.

I've always followed Nicoll and Ouspensky much more than the others In Nicoll, there is some humanity. Aspects of the systems do produce some good results but one can see these results in many other people.

There has been one book written against the Gurdjieff teaching from an academic. I am interested in starting Yahoo group for people affected by this belief and who want to "decompress" or deprogram.

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sharon gans "the work"
Posted by: jpenney ()
Date: September 01, 2006 10:42AM

Hey all,

I'd be interested in writing a detailed description of "the work" recruiting process and indoctrination "experiment" - I knew they were a cult as soon as the recruiters approached me, and I went with it to see when they would ask for dough. As expected, 8 weeks later, "Robert" asked me for 1K. Dumbass.

So I'd love to kick him around a little. Also would like to get any info on him I can so I can get a good look at him in the daylight.

Anyone who's looking for the most recent meeting place, I used to go to a K of C ( I think) in Belmont (arlmont) center. Maybe you could go flyer the poor suckers there now.



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sharon gans "the work"
Posted by: Brad69 ()
Date: September 01, 2006 01:06PM

Hey John,

Please DO write about the recruiting process and the indoctrination "experiment".

Learning how these groups get their hooks into people is valuable information. One of the best ways to counter them is through educating ourselves.

So, what you have to offer is valuable. I look forward to your detailed description.


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sharon gans "the work"
Posted by: jpenney ()
Date: September 02, 2006 11:03PM

Year: 2000, or thereabouts

Cast of characters:

Beth - Redhead recruiter
Lisa - Brunette recruiter
Josh - my sustainer
Jerry - little unknown fat guy, leader when Robert was unavailable
Robert - big fat guy, leader

Act 1, Scene 1:

Exterior, Lexington, MA. near depot square.

I am walking along the sidewalk, and am approached by Beth and Lisa.

They ask me "we have a funny question for you."

I appear interested

They ask "what did you want to be as a child"

I say "a scientist" - without hesitation. I assume now that this is the quick test question.
Most people would appear suspicious. I appeared open to the question, and in fact answered it without hesitation.
The misinterpretation is that this means I am weak-willed. Maybe I am, but not weak enough for a cult.

They set up a meeting at Walden for the weekend, give me a phone number and go away.

Act 2, Scene 1:

Exterior, Walden pond, summer

We sit and chat about basic stuff, they are probing for personal information and I give some. It's less interesting than I had hoped.
I find out both women do something with art, one paints tiles, they both have kids, at least one is married. They gather information
from me about my job. They now know my income, so they set up another meeting.

Act 3, Scene 1:

Exterior, Walden, summer

Sit and chat, different questions, more probing, hints at "bigger things" in the world - they don't realize I've already gone beyond
all the people they know in my questioning, research and understanding of the world and the creatures that inhabit it.
They think my interest and wonder is from ignorance, but they sense my feeling of superiority and interpret it as
low self-esteem, so they suggest the idea of a school, and wouldn't it be interesting, etc. But they hold back so there's
something to talk about later, and they cut the meeting short (scarcity)

Act 4, scene 1:

Exterior, walden, summer

Sit and chat, more directed conversation, the school comes up early and they start suggesting I join. I'm a decisive person, and I've already
figured out that I have nothing to lose by checking out these weirdos, so I say OK. They suggest one more meeting to discuss it, we chat a
little more but I can sense they are moving on, since their goal is accomplished. I stall purposely now that I have something they want,
just to torture them a little. I do the same thing to Jehovah's witnesses and Mormons. I start enthusiastic and then waste as much of their
time as possible. We set up the last meeting.

Act 5, scene 1:

Interior, daytime, restaurant, brookline

Only the redhead is here. She is out of material, her purpose is accomplished, she has nothing to talk about because her mind is vacant except
for "the work" and she is exhausted from her recruiting. I can see it in her face, and I feel sorry for her because I know she's a helpless
victim. We eat, chat about the school, she give me some information but basically puts me off. Then we set up "the interview" with the teacher
(Robert). A little more chatting, then she has to pick up her (probably malnourished and neglected) child at day-care.

Act 6, scene 1:

Interior, Night, restaurant, cambridge

We have set up a dinnertime meeting. I arrive, the redhead is there but not the teacher - he is setting up the scene already, building the
anticipation. I sit with the redhead and talk a little, but she is distracted and uncomfortable like all salespeople who have an empty
head full of self-hatred. Robert arrives - about 6' tall, probably wearing lifts, black trench coat, black hair, dark complexion, beard. I could
be off in my description, but that's how I remember the guy. Dramatic. We sit in a corner booth, order some tea and bread or something.
He does a description of the school, how most people are asleep in life, etc. Then he tries to control the conversation - I don't remember
the exact content, but I'm a computer contractor, I've dealt with lots of recruiters, and I know when they're trying to get control of my
responses, so that's what this guy is doing, controlling the conversation. Then he pitches the experiment, and I say sure. We drink some
tea, then I waste some of his time just to piss him off (very passive-aggressive. those people hate that.) He gives me a phone number of
my "sustainer", tells me to give him a call and to come to the first class that Friday (it could be Saturday, whatever).

Act 6, scene 2:

Night, Interior, house

I get home, call the sustainer, have a little chat with him, he digs for information and gets some, I learn a little about the school and
he tells me about Pinnocchio. I make plans to get it and read it, there are some relaxation exercises to do and I try them out and find them
interesting. I don't know yeet that that is part of "milieu control" but I know there's something intrusive about them so I don't hold
myself to the recommended schedule.

Act 7, scene 1:

Day 1 of "school" - I'm actually thinking it would be interesting if this turns out to be a legitimate school. If it isn't, I think maybe I'll
make one that is. I do the silence thing for 30 minutes before the scheduled time, I don't listen to the radio, etc. I get to the place
in Belmont, park, go to the door, maybe it's locked? Someone shows up and opens it, there are a few people outside with me, we are all a little
embarassed but we go in. The rest of this is out of order - I think we go into a small room, all the newbies, and sit around a small table and
have a little introduction by the little fat guy, second-in-command. We do some 2-person interactive stuff, probably to warm up, and a little
public confession exercise. Then, the people in the big room have finished doing their "secret chat" and we get to go out. Typical pledge
indoctrination, if you've ever been in a fraternity - it's a big special privilege to be allowed in the big room. Luckily I have absolute
disdain for authority and find it absurd. Anyway, we sit around a big rectangle of tables around the edge of the room and listen to people
discuss vague pseudo-scientific bullshit, and then we give our first impressions. I say "interesting", in essence - basically because I
don't want to say anything because my thoughts are none of their business.

Some awards are given out or something, someone does a presentation on sacred geometry or some bullshit, then we are assigned chapters in
the books we've bought. Oh yeah - we've been assigned to read a pamphlet about this russian guy that the website talks about, and we discuss
him a little. The whole sitting in a rectangle thing is infused with inappropriate public exposure, the first step in milieu control as I will
later discover. I'm not doing any research on cults right now because my only decent computer is in my office, but later I will do lots of

The meeting ends, we put away chairs and tables, I'm helpful, I find out there is a small blond lady who can't afford "tuition" so she helps by
doing labor. My first hint that there will actually be money asked for came in the beginning of the night in the small room, where it was
revealed that there would be "voluntary" tuition on a sliding scale. It's interesting that "sliding scale" means if you can't pay enough, you
have to work for free. These people suck.

I was just now (in 2006) reading a website about "the work" and remembered after reading it that the little fat guy used the word "asshole"
frequently. I remember thinking it was pretty fucked up.

Act 8, scene1:

My first class as a newbie, from the beginning. We "get to" participate in the whole thing tonight - total manipulation - we do "movement" as an
opener (more inappropriate public exposure). The group is directed to dance around and do weird movements in the big room. I do it because I
choose to see what happens next, but I can see myself being pressured into it if I had really cared about being in the school. It is embarassing,
and it's inappropriate. Not sexual, but intimate anyway. We finish, we get out tables and chairs and set them up. All in silence in a room
with 50 people you've never seen. Very weird. Milieu control. Refreshments come out, I grab cookies and some soda. Sit at the tables,
Robert at the front. Go around the room, give progress reports.

Robert begins criticizing, offering "help" - beginning the takeover of the thought process. People are assigned to "help" each other. The idea
that we "choose" to "work on" things is introduced. Reinforcement of this idea is ongoing. We work our way around the tables, there is a presentation
on some nutty subject or other. There is discussion of the relaxation exercises, which is an attempt to extend the milieu control into our homes.
I lie, because fuck them.

The night ends in silence, we put away tables and chairs and drive home in silence. It's interesting, the silence. I make a note that I will
use that tool for myself sometimes. I stop at a pizza place to eat and chat with the restaurant owner to help ensure I don't fall under the
spell. A week goes by, it is class time again.

Act 9, scene 1:

Similar to last time. Movement, inappropriate exposure, silence, chairs and tables, go around the room, milieu control, discussion of projects.
I have finished Pinnocchio, time is come to choose a "work" - the first step at activity control. I choose to do a headstand in Yoga. This is not
popular with Robert. I figured as much, because it involves an influence outside "the work". He tries to intimidate me out of it, I stick to
my choice, he retains control with passive-aggressive acquiescence followed by suggestion that I'll do something different next time. He can
sense my resistance, because his plan requires total obedience at all times and he is very sensitive to my unwillingness and rebellion.

They bullshit for a while, some pitiful stories are told, the meeting ends in silence, we clean up, we go home, I try silence.

Act 10, scene 1:

This time, Robert isn't here - the little fat guy runs the show, same old stuff. Movement, setup, refreshments, bullshit, thought control, cleanup, silence.

etc., etc., etc. - I come late to a meeting at this point because the movement is getting to me, they're boring me with this crap.

Week 8 - Act ? Scene 1.

Movement, setup, refreshments, this time all new people are taken aside one by one. Interesting they do this at the beginning and not the end. It must be to maintain
the sequence, plus put pressure on the newbies I'd like to read the studies on this. The pitch for cash, from Robert himself. I say no thanks. He tries
to manipulate with vague statements intended to induce guilt.
I remember this one: "What you're afraid of happening isn't going to happen". He was trying to impart the idea that somehow he knew what I was afraid of.
Of course he did know what I was afraid of, he just misunderstood my fear - I was afraid of people getting sucked into this, but I was much more afraid
of him taking my money when I knew he was just a nutty asshole. So I said "later" and took a hike, and went someplace really really noisy to get
all the silence out of my head. Then I went and told every single one of my friends about these kooks so they would hopefully never get sucked in by them.

Oh yeah - at some point, I was invited to a presentation, I think it was on Newbury Street, I remember columns in the foyer, I'm sure it's a famous building
but I can't quite remember where it was. It was that nutty harmonious circle stuff. Idiotic, but interesting in its effects on the attendees.

I guess I'll remember little tidbits here and there.

Every once in a while I think about calling Josh and seeing what he says. But then I don't.

That's my experience with "the work" - some details omitted or forgotten.

Glad to lay it out there in writing finally.


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sharon gans "the work"
Posted by: dar3463 ()
Date: September 03, 2006 11:36AM

Go to [] for exstensive info @ gans & klein. I can be reached @

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sharon gans "the work"
Posted by: Brad69 ()
Date: September 03, 2006 02:13PM

So, John, as I suggested to you, your story could help others. I can now tell you that is true because it has helped me put a few more pieces together in my personal story...

My girlfriend did a four-day course with a con man, who used all eight criteria for mind control on participants. He also sold her a second four-day course for the following weekend.

When she returned from the first course, everything was about dancing and music. Yet, a week later, when she returned from the second course it was all about silence!!??!!

Although it has been in front of my eyes for ever, I hadn't actually made the connection about the silence and the control and obedience it requires.

But, after the first course, he had sold people lots of CDs, pirated onto blank discs, filled with music. Any playing of them would take the participants back into the environment of the first course.

After the second course, he sold my girlfriend another course on CD, involving lots of meditation (relaxation exercises) and mumbo-jumbo theories. Again, he was exercising control of information and time, tying her into his courses.

He said anyone who listened to his courses on CD, if they had not done previous courses and been prepared because of them, would befall some bad fate! He used an example of an unnamed guy whose mother had one of the courses on CD. This guy listened to them and two weeks later was knocked down by a car. I don't remember whether he was killed or not.

It sounds much like L. Ron Hubbard who claimed people who read his Scientology OT levels on the Internet would contract pneumonia. No one ever did.

This con man also used mentors between courses, which required newcomers to check in with their mentors three times a day by phone. The mentors honestly had no idea how they were being manipulated, but this method was used to form a group, and by doing that group-think was being fostered.

Then, thanks to dar3463, I read the Rick Ross section on "The Work" a "Fourth Way School" and something else jumped out at me...

In the article titled "Questions to Ask", the first question goes as follows:


Ouspensky says only you can find your own chief feature. Did you find yours, or was it told to you by the teachers?

My girlfriend was put through a meditation that ran through the night until 10 the next morning (!!!), trying to find her "word".

It was revealed - by the con man - to be "innocence". She feels she found it, but through all the manipulation and control it is obvious how she got there.

Amazingly (sarcasm), this con man had a song related to her word ready to play when she found it. Of course, after such a long time, she, like everyone else on the course, collapsed into tears when she found her word.

Later in the "Questions to Ask" article, the following is written:

Have you noticed that, regardless of a student's chief feature, to actively work against it they inevitably end up sacrificing themselves for the benefit the school? For example, to work against "vanity", a student must be more selfless. Or, to work against "greed", a student must be willing to give the school more time and money. To overcome "dominance" or "power", you must do what the teachers say. To work against "nonexistence", you must take a more active role in school activities. Or, to work against "superficiality," you must go into greater depth with your commitment to the school and its activities. Who really benefits most from this work?

So, now, this reminds me of something that occured on my girlfriend's second course. She was warned to watch out for other people's "tunes" (jargon), their manipulations. Those targeted were those closest to her, family, friends, and me, her lover.

Do you see how this fits in. She now believes that at her core, she is "innocence". So, how does she counteract this? She must be streetwise and see through everyone else's manipulations... Everyone's excepting the con man's, of course.

So, now, her word is used against her and the us-versus-them environment in created and controlled.

The result is she no longer trusts anyone, she sees those who were closest to her as those people trying to impede her development, holding her back from "bigger things".

And who is pulling the strings in the background, doing her thinking for her, interpreting her world? The con man...

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sharon gans "the work"
Posted by: cochineal ()
Date: September 27, 2006 09:55PM

One of the interesting things about your recruiting story is that several of the people gave you fake names. You didn't think they would really let you know who they were? Some of the names are correct but I think that it's important to remember that they are all victims just like us. You wouldn't want your name spread around the web identifying you to all as a cult member if you were still in.
I was in the "older" Boston and NY groups for a long time if you have any questions.

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sharon gans "the work"
Posted by: confusedinBoston ()
Date: October 02, 2006 07:47AM

I think my former partner is a member of the OSG in Boston. He presented the Drama Group, Theatre Group, Christmas Party, Acting Classes as separate activities, not as one group. When he left me, the reason given was 'my therapy friend at Drama Group has helped me to see that there is work I need to do that I can't do if I am with you.'

Is there someone who would be willing to confirm his membership if I give you his name?

Does the leader of the OSG tell/guide/direct members to leave their partners if they aren't interested in joining the group or ask that their partner give them equal time?

How much money does the group require of members? (My partner seemed to always be short of cash and did a lot of extra work for the groups - catering meals at meetings, driving other members to meetings, going away for weekends to work on people's houses, etc?)

How much do members tell of their personal lives to the group? (It is scary to think of total strangers knowing the intimate details of our relationship.)

My partner left after a six month affair. Would the group leader ever instruct a member to have an affair as part of becoming more awake?

What would be the consequences if he tells the group that I have figured out that he is in OSG and that he talked with me about the group?

Thanks for helping me make sense of four years with what seemed like a lovely guy that ended unexpectedly and horribly.


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