Posts Tagged ‘Scams’


The Two Types of Cults

   Posted by: Britt    in My Story, On Wealth Seminars

I just finished reading a fictional novel by Kathy Reichs, called Death du Jour. It’s a really well written mystery novel based on a character is a forensic Anthropologist Temperance Brennan, who divides her time between Montreal, Quebec, and Charlotte, North Carolina. (K. Reichs is also a forensic anthropologist, PhD, who divides her time between Montreal and Charlotte.)

As riveting as the novel was, what struck me the most were the definitions.

I’ll let the fictional Red Skyler explain:

Cults are not just a group of crazies who follow weird leaders.  … [T]hey are organized with a set of common features.

… A cult forms around a charismatic individual who promises something. This individual professes some special knowledge. Sometimes the claim is access to ancient secrets … sometimes it’s an entirely new discovery to which he or she alone is privy.

… In a cult, it’s this charismatic leader who eventually becomes the object of devotion.

… And often there is a double set of ethics. Members are urged to be honest and loving to each other but to deceive and shun outsiders

… Cult leaders use a variety of psychological processes to manipulate their members. Some leaders are fairly benign, but others are not and really exploit the idealism of their followers.

… The way I see it, there are two broad types of cults, both of which use though reform. The commercially packaged “awareness training programs … user very intense persuasion techniques. These groups keep members by getting them to buy more and more courses.

Then there are the cults that recruit follower for life. … They are manipulative, deceptive and highly exploitative”[1]

A little later on in the book, Tempe runs into Sam again, and they continue the conversation, focusing on the former.

“Unlike the cults we discussed [for-life recruiters], these programs don’t intent to keep people forever. They exploit participants as long as they are willing to buy more courses. And bring in others. … The coercive influence that these so-called self-improvement programs exert is amazing. It’s the same old thing, behavioural control through thought reform.

… It’s known as large group awareness training.

… They’re packaged to sound like seminars, or college courses, but the sessions are scripted to get participants emotionally and psychologically aroused.

… Most programs last four or five days. The first day is devoted to establishing the leader’s authority. Lots of humiliation and verbal abuse. The next day pounds in the new philosophy. The trainer convinces participants their lives are crap and that the only way out is to accept the new way of thinking.

… Day three is typically filled with exercises. Trance inducement. Memory regression. Guided imagery. The trainer gets everyone to dredge up disappointments, rejections, bad memories. … Then the following day there’s a lot of warm fuzzy group sharing…. The last day is fun and happy, with lots of hugs and dancing and music and games. And the hard sell.

… You take the course, then you’re told that you’ve performed so well you’ve been singled out to go to a higher level, or meet the guru, or whatever.[2]”

When asked who falls for these things, “Red” replies that it’s those dealing with depression and “broken affiliations,” those in transition who are lonely and confused.

Have you noticed that we are in the midst of an economic meltdown? That an incredibly massive number of people are in transition, broken, who are feeling they have lost everything? Is it any wonder that we are chomping at the bit to the incredible promises made by these slick snake-oil salesmen?

[Ironically, in my email today was a note from Robert G. Allen telling the tale of Matt Morris, who only 12 years ago (he must’ve been nine at the time) was broke and desperate and living out of the back of his “red beat-down honda civic” — it’s those personalized details that clinch it! Anyway, in the email, my “good friend” Robert was saying that he discovered 7 closely-guarded online money making secrets (yeah, right, sent by mass mail to thousands NAY tens-of-thousands of us) and he’ll give it to us free in return for a name and email address. I registered (with a junk email I use for these very fine special occasions) only to get the message that he’s already over capacity but will contact me for the next series of freebies. HEY, wait a minute here! My good friend Robert just sent me this email… What’s up dude?]

The common pain is an economic one. Which is why it’s so goddamn easy for the likes of Jack Canfield, T. Harv Eker, James Arthur Ray, Robert Allan, Anthony Robbins, Bob Proctor, and Robert Kiyosaki (to name just a few) flourish in these times[3]. Have you ever noticed that their messages are exactly the same? Have you noticed that no-one references the others, and seem to imply that they have by whatever god-given decree stumbled upon this notion? That when one (James Arthur Ray) gets cooked up for a legal dinner the others don’t rally around their fallen star to help him back on his feet? That their berth is extremely wide from each other, even though they sing each others songs … ALL THE TIME[4]?

It’s getting really bad. At least in my world. Many of the people I know have dabbled in these courses. One I know has done exceedingly well. The others have all dribbled, then dropped.

Even worse, copy-cat courses are springing up all over. It’s what I fell victim to. It’s how come I, at 45 years of age, have to start all over again.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I don’t know what the answer is. I’ve never believed that the government is there to protect us. It’s there to collect taxes and run the world’s biggest corporations (aka countries). I don’t think that regulation is the answer. Education is where I’m putting my efforts.

Listen up folks, and do the math. The guru-led self-help industry is generating billions (yes, that’s BILLIONS) of dollars of revenues every year. Since they offer up the path to wealth, the stats say that in turn there should be at least millions (yes, I mean MILLIONS) of new millionaires created each and every month. Instead, we hear of the smattering of success stories. An oasis the size of a child’s bucket in a desert as big as North America.

Whether it’s a famous charismatic guru listed earlier in this blog or some copy-cat or some poor old schmuck who is genuinely trying to impart is misguided knowledge, know the signs.

And hold on tight to your wallet.

Oh, and thanks for asking … Kathy Reichs’ book was incredible! A writer who is both knowledgeable and articulate. She knows how to write a great mystery novel. Highly recommended. Nothing was given away in this little rant, don’t worry!

[1] Kathleen J. Reichs. Death du Jour. New York:  Scribner, 1999. p. 253-254.

[2] ibid, p. 310-312.

[3] Anthony Robbins released his first book, Unlimited Power in 1987;  On Black Monday of October 1987 a stock collapse of unprecedented size lopped 22.6 percent off the Dow Jones Industrial Average. The world mourned, and a guru kindly stepped up to the plate.

[4] Just a brief disclaimer here. I think that there is valuable information offered by each of the gurus mentioned here. Robbins has is “four classes of experience” (a handy word doc download available here) which I find extremely useful to personal growth; Ray has an excellent handle on marketing techniques (which all belong to Robert Cialdini by the way). But I don’t think that any guru has a singular claim on the whole truth (as throughout the times, it is up to the reader to sift through the claims to get at their individual truth), and I don’t think that it’s worth two to twenty (to infinity and beyond) thousand dollars to access the information. Nor should you need to walk on fire or walk into an arrow tip or suffer in a desert or a sweat lodge to get there.

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Here is an excerpt from the chapter, “The (f)Law of Attraction” in my soon-to-be-released book, The Three Strategies of the Unstoppable Woman. Let me know what you think!

When I watched the movie, The Secret, my fear of flying was renewed. Because, after all, as the Law of Attraction clearly states, what you think about is what you attract into your life.

Shortly after seeing this movie, and having been deeply impacted by it, I started becoming more and more aware of my thoughts. Awareness that you are even having thoughts is a good thing! The average person thinks at the “astonishing rate of up to 400 words per minute.”[1] The more you are aware of the inane chatter in your head, the more you can distance yourself from it and realize that you are not your thoughts.

But the Law of Attraction has you thinking that you are your thoughts. So there I was, with a heightened awareness that I was my thoughts. My thoughts did not like it when my body flew in a plane. I had just come back from a personal vacation on a cruise ship, and the only way to return home as quickly as I wanted or needed was to fly.

On this particular day, I was flying home from San Diego to Victoria. The last section of the flight from Seattle to Victoria was particularly rough. The turbulence literally bounced us into the air a few times. “Empowered” with this new knowledge that I am my thoughts, and that all I have to do is to control my thoughts a little better, I found myself entering a panicked frenzy with the following train of thought:

    If I think it, it will come to pass.
    Crap. Was that turbulence? Uh oh. It’s not stopping. I think this plane will crash.
    Damn! I can’t think that, cause then the plane will crash.
    Stop thinking the plane will crash. Stop thinking the plane will crash. Stop thinking the plane will crash.
    I can’t stop thinking that the plane will crash.
    What if others are thinking that this plane will crash?
    Oh my GOD, how many such thoughts are there on the flight today?
    Surely this plane will crash. Why is that man praying? What does he know that I don’t? Does he have an inside scoop?
    Damn! I can’t think that because then the plane will crash.
    Stop thinking the plane will crash….

and on and on the insanity went.

By this time, I had broken into a damp cold sweat. My heart was pounding, and I felt like it would burst out of my mouth any minute now. And if I kept my mouth shut, it would pop out through my eyes. I had almost stopped breathing. I really felt like I was going to die. It was by far the worst panic attack I have ever experienced. And I don’t normally experience panic attacks.

Then, I had an epiphany.

“Wait a doggone minute here,” I scolded myself, “it matters not what I think, but what the G—D pilot thinks! I’m not in a position to bring this plane down. He is.”

And almost instantaneously, I calmed down. (And, no, the turbulence didn’t stop.)

I had this realization, then and there, that you needed to be in a position where you could actively impact the event in order for the event to be realized.

As The Serenity Prayer[2] says:

    God grant me the serenity
    to accept the things I cannot change
    courage to change the things I can
    and wisdom to know the difference.

The first fatal flaw of the Law of Attraction (LOA) is that it is not a law.

[1] Robert Gerzon. Finding Serenity in the Age of Anxiety. New York:  Bantam Books, 1998. p. 108.

[2] Most commonly attributed to the theologian Reinhold Niebuhr.

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What’s Your Story?

   Posted by: Britt    in General Information, My Story

I’m thinking of documenting my experience with the (f)Law of Attraction in the form of a book.

If you would like to add your story, I would love to hear from you. Your anonymity is guaranteed, as is anyone mentioned in your story. No real names will be mentioned in the book. The point is not to “get back” or “get even” with another person or organization; rather, it is to inform the millions out there to whom this has happened (or is happening) that there is life beyond this particular chapter in the story.

Our stories are familiar to many, but we tend to hide behind the mantle of shame (I can’t believe this happened to me….). It’s time to step out and step up. Let’s help others learn from our experiences!

Click here to contact me and to get your story out there.

Thanks to those who visit, read, and register at this site!

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All’s I can say in all honest is be careful whenever you consider attending a wealth-building seminar or get rich quick event.

There’s this thing called the race for the bottom. I’d like to thank Joseph Heath and Andrew Potter for this, as their book, The Rebel Sell: Why Culture Can’t be Jammed for this insight. They explain it, saying that you’ve committed a bank robbery with an accomplice and the cops know it’s you but they can’t nail it on you. Then, one day, they find both you and your accomplice in possession of drugs, and they take you both in, to charge you and question you. They put you in separate rooms. The tell you that if you agree to testify against your accomplice as the bank robber, you will not be charged for the drug crime. You know they are making the exact same offer to your accomplice. Your choices are thus:

  1. You testify, he doesn’t. Your jail time: nil. He gets six years.
  2. You don’t testify, he doesn’t testify. One year each for possession.
  3. You testify, he testifies. Five years each for bank robbery
  4. You don’t testify, he does. You get six years, he walks out a free man.

The Cold War is another perfect example as a race for the bottom. It goes something like this:

  1. You spend money on weapons of mass destruction and your enemy doesn’t. Optimum Safety, LOW risk.
  2. You don’t spend money on weapons of mass destruction and your enemy doesn’t. Medium Safety, HIGH risk
  3. You spend money on weapons of mass destruction, and your enemy does as well. Lower Safety, Medium risk
  4. You don’t spend money on weapons of mass destruction and your enemy does. Lowest Safety, HIGH risk

Because you can’t be sure that the “enemy” isn’t spending money on the arms race, once you are in, you are in a perpetual climb. And the more you accumulate, the more times you can blow up the world, the greater the risk.

It’s what the Americans engage in with their gun ownership laws.

  1. You have a gun and the intruder doesn’t. Optimum Safety, LOW risk.
  2. You don’t have a gun and the intruder doesn’t either. Medium Safety, HIGH risk
  3. You have a gun and the intruder does as well. Lower Safety, Medium risk
  4. You don’t have a gun and the intruder does. Lowest Safety, Highest risk

It’s why we’re all climbing over ourselves to through $2,000 to $6,000 per seminar to discover “insider secret.”

  1. You seek out the insider secrets and no one else does. Optimum Wealth, LOW risk. This is when you can become a wealth-plus-spiritual guru and charge $2,000 to $6,000 per head to anyone who will come and listen to you. You are accumulating your wealth on the backs of those who desperately want the knowledge and know they can get if they only find the right secret, the proper way of the applying the Law of attraction.
  2. You don’t seek out the insider secrets and neither does the population in general. Medium Wealth, HIGH Risk. Your wealth is medium because you will continue on your career path, earning, getting annual increases, and paying off your house. Your risk is high because you have no guarantees that the Jones’s won’t be going after the secret and perhaps they’ll get rich ahead of you. They’ll borrow the money you’ve deposited at the bank, and they’ll eek the gains, not you.
  3. You seek out the insider secrets and so does anyone the population in general. Lower Wealth, HIGH risk. You wealth will actually decrease as you wind up to take a kick at this can because you will be going into debt to get these secrets (T. Harv Eker charges $20,000 for the full meal deal). Also, according to the world’s best investor, Warren Buffett, “Be fearful when others are greedy and greedy when others are fearful.” If there are sixty to 2000 people in the room, and these seminars are recurring like revolving doors, this is the time to be fearful and suspicious. Simultaneously, your risk will be high because you will not be the only game in town. There’s only so many people who can charge $2,000 per head. I learned from a sub-“teacher”, ie someone who took some of these courses, and they were charging in the hundreds. They are now in deep financial straights, and have taken down a few others along the way, your truly included.
  4. You don’t have the insider secrets but others do. Lowest Wealth , HIGH Risk.

So why the hell am I writing about this? First, to get my own head cleared on the race to the bottom. Second, because on the Cult Education Forum (link to your right) today, there’s this headline: Wealth seminar a front for Scientology recruitment, say ex-members.

The question is, how many people have to bottom out before the madness ends? Bottom out financially, or maybe even pay with a bigger price.

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