Characteristics of Totalistic Movements (Cults)
Coercive Persuasion, and Crusading Terrorism
(End justifies the means)

Dedicated to Dr. Robert J. Lifton

By: Paul Morantz
I. Introduction

I have often been requested to publicly speak, even testify in court, as to what is “brainwashing” and to provide a description of the common characteristics of a “cult” and “brainwashing” techniques. I was also asked if educated persons, such as lawyers, are by nature more resistant and whether this process only victimizes the lesser educated or persons with severe mental problems. This paper addresses those questions and others.

My expertise comes from research, but more so from hands on battles in litigation. I have interviewed well over a thousand former members and have cross-examined countless leaders. I have read diaries, manuals and internal documents that fill a garage. Most, eventually all of those documents have or will be maintained by the USC archives. She holds a place in history for the development of human knowledge. I may be the only lawyer who has qualified to testify as an expert on characteristics of “ destructive cults” and “brainwashing” and the psychological make-up of those who could implement such a program and seek to be God. I have spent 30 years litigating against and investigating such groups with an eye towards promoting public awareness and unwarranted prejudice. My legal battles with cults are discussed in at least 57 books. I also had a close relationship with Margaret Singer, Phd., who did more work in this field than any person who lived. She was my expert witness many time and I learned greatly from her. I also learned from Dr. Federick Hacker who was like an Uncle to me. He authored a book “Criminals, Crazies and Crusading Terrorist and warned the Hearst family that Patty might convert to her captors before it happened.

While I have often used such terms as “cults” and “brainwashing” in court, teaching and public speaking, both terms have little meaning when actually describing the phenomenon which is the subject of this report. ”Cult” by definition refers generally to a minority group dedicated to a leader(s) and/or a philosophy. By that definition, causing harm is not inherent. Such so-called cults may in fact be benign and of value to their members. This report deals with groups that become malignant.

My answer, as explained below more fully, does intelligence create immunity?–is absolutely not. Intelligent people looking for meaning in life are more susceptible, while poor people, more concerned with food on the plate and often have deeper family-raised religious roots, are less susceptible.

I apologize to the reader for the length of this report. But this article concerns a process few understand or contemplate. It also sums up the knowledge of a life’s work.

In this report examples are given on how this phenomena can cure but more importantly that it is so powerful good persons have been converted to murder and/or suicide participation. How this is done will be explained. Much of what I write is based on first hand experience. I have looked into faces of followers who wanted me dead, who, after removal became my close friends. Before entering law school I had a summer job working side by side with Charles “Tex” Watson who for that time was my best friend. A year later he would commit Tate/Bianca murders for Charles Manson.

The report provides information about how experts first became aware of coercive persuasion (developed by Communist China) and what the studies found. I also describe other similar groups, growing out of the 60’s unrest in the United States and flower children looking for utopias and alternate and guiding beliefs, which gave birth to both kind and murderous groups.

Inherent in this report is background and how my expertise grew in this area for 30 years of litigation and study. I have included below synopsis of so-called cults from which can be seen common characteristics. Further, these histories show how often professional and educated persons are snared. [2] I do not report on all such movements as that could fill bookshelves. I keep mainly to those I fought.

Below I will point out characteristics of totalitarian movements. As stated, in all legal cases that I have been involved with ultimately undisputed evidence surfaced. This might be in the form of an admission that coercive persuasion was occurring (Synanon, Center for Feeling Therapy) or files on clients and client diaries disclosing that all had been taught the same supposed causes of their problems and the same cure (dogmatic adoption of leader’s theory).

Diaries often reflect that the leader is looked upon with deity characteristics.

I have a tape recording of Jim Jones manipulating his followers to convince temporary dissenters to the correctness of killing their children so they will not fall into fascists hands while an audience of 900 cheers; Charles Dederich convincing Synanon members that a valid religious posture is to do violence to its enemies; a Center for Feeling Therapy therapist berating and physically striking a patient until the patient gives a false confession. I have listened to a therapist trying, in my opinion, trying to verbally elicit a suicide ala Hannibal Lechter.
II. The Concept of Utopia

Born in 1817 in Concord, Massachusetts, Henry David Thoreau became a student and friend of Ralph Waldo Emerson in 1837 and lived in a small house on the shore of Walden Pond on Emerson=s property from 1845-47. His experiences were published in the book Walden’s Pond on August 9, 1854. Therein he wrote “the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation” and described the alternative of living simply in the beauty of nature amongst forest and meadows. Schools, he stated, teach what students will never use, a waste of precious time when one could instead learn how his bread is made. People meet at the post-office and at the sociable, but never learn mutual respect.

He wrote:

“…I sometimes dream of a larger and more populous house, standing in a golden age, of enduring materials…, which shall still consist of only one room… where some may live in the fireplace, some in the recess of a window … a house which you have got into when you have opened the outside door, and the ceremony is over; … where you can see all the treasures of the house at one view…

“If one advances in the direction of his dreams, Thoreau wrote, he will meet with unexpected success, will pass an invisible boundary, new laws will establish around him and he will live with the license of a higher order of beings. Those who build “castles in the air,’he stated, should then put the ‘foundations” under them.’”

B. F. Skinner took the idea closer to reality. Born in a small railroad town in Susquehanna, Pa. on March 20, 1904, while at Harvard University, inspired by Bertrand Russell’s articles on behaviorism, developed the Skinner box, a controlled environment for studying the behavior of organisms. In l948 he wrote Walden Two, a novel of life in a utopian community created on his principles of social engineering which allowed 1,000 individuals to live the most meaningful and fulfilling life possible.

In Walden 2 there is no democracy; society is run by behavioral engineers. The belief is that the more successful the planners the more people will do what they are intended to do: living productive and contented lives. When things don’t work right, it is because people are “voting” against a certain social arrangement by not cooperating. At the same tine, every member has a direct channel through which he may protest to the Managers or even the Planners. There is no money and everyone consumes the goods based on labor credits, each expected to contribute 4 labor credits a day. The educational system is based on freedom and self-motivation without regimented classrooms or threats of bad grades, the desire to learn solely arising from curiosity. Students are taught the methodology of learning and then set loose.

The novel’s main character is Frazier, the originator of Walden 2. He claims to know what “conditions” are necessary to stimulate a renaissance in great culture. The other central characters are two college professors: Burris who understands what Walden 2 has to offer but is reluctant to make the leap and Professor Castle who sees Walden 2 as evil and Frazier as some sort of dictator.

They have a running dialogue. Frazier says, “Why do we have such a strong tendency to resist the concept of behavioral engineering? Do we really have free will?.. Suppose you suddenly found it possible to control the behavior of men as you wished… My question is, have you the courage to take up and wield the science of behavior for the good of mankind? …The philosopher in search of a rational basis for deciding what is good has always reminded me of the centipede trying to decide how to walk. Simply go ahead and walk! We all know what’s good, until we stop to think about it. For example, is there any doubt that health is better than sickness?”

In the story’s end, Burris stays at Walden 2 while Castle, still convinced of the evilness of Walden 2, returns to teaching.[3]

And so the debate continued. Freedom and error vs. mind control and someone’s “perfect plan.” In times of chaos alternative communities have spurned like the communes of the 60’s and should again now in the shambles of the economy. Most were harmless; some became horrific. As stated in the conclusion our current President Barack Obama has picked up Skinner’s dreams. And in doing so we may face Castle’s warnings. And the warnings of this report.

II. Totalistic Movements

The term I prefer to use for this subject matter is “Totalistic Movement” which differs from simple “cult” definition in that it seeks to persuade those who do not seriously believe and/or believes it can elevate its dogma to dominate human consciousness.

A common characteristic of these movements is a black and white view concerning its beliefs that is so polarized as to affect the thinking process of those who are involved such that it becomes as, Harvard Professor Dr. Robert Jay Lifton, the leading researcher and author on this subject, wrote, one of the gravest threats to human beings (see discussion re coercive persuasion and history below). Another characteristic of these movements is that rather than each existing for the support of and benefit of its members, the members exist to serve, support and protect, regardless of sacrifice (including their assets and lives), the movement. While such members are led to believe that the movement they support is sacred, beyond reproach and will create a better world for all mankind, it is generally found this is no more than the sales pitch of the leader or leaders who do not believe the same but use the sales pitch to get the followers to do their bidding. These movements are characterized by a “we versus they“ view of the world, a belief that any act (including perjury) may be committed for the movement and will be justified by its higher cause. All people are segregated into those who support them, with all others deemed against them. These groups are most dangerous when they adopt an “ends-justify-the-means” philosophy.

Dr. Margaret Singer, who before her death a few years ago was probably the most knowledgeable person in history on the study of have a journal or document or excuse orders to the people cannot assign totalistic movements and coercive persuasion, reported such polarized movements have existed all throughout history[4] and generally appear following a time of social unrest or upheaval. Examples includes movements following the French revolution and in the United States following the 1960s social revolution that challenged all social norms including psychotherapy and conventional religions, giving birth to the human potential movement, encounter groups, new age encounter groups, self-help movements and spiritual and/or therapeutic communities, many beginning in the 1960s but peaking in the late l970s.

While the public often thinks in terms of religious cults, many are created by therapists licensed or unlicensed. A therapist cannot ethically socialize, let alone live in the same house with a client and cannot be involved in financial joint ventures. This (ignoring all APA ethics) is characteristic of therapy totalistic movements and typical of a leader who believes he/she knows better than the rules so therefore rules and ethics may be disregarded. But a major reason for these ethical rules against dual relationships, besides making therapy destructive, is to prevent a therapist, as in subject movements, from so taking advantage of a client who will because of such status be trusting of therapist and at unfair disadvantage. This potential multiplies when therapist and client live together communally and therapist is accurately controlling client’s life, including social and business.[5] Many of the unlicensed “self-help” gurus and “coaches” will deny they provide therapy. But the saying if it walks like a duck, talks like a duck, it is a duck is applicable.[6]

Whatever the label– religious, therapy, outer space, the basis of process is the same and is rooted in psychological interactions.

III. Leaders

Totalitarian movements are characterized generally by a leader or leaders who so believe in the importance of themselves that they do not blink at taking a large part or all of the financial assets of their followers, separating their followers from all past relationships (including children, lovers and parents), controlling current relationships and requesting total sacrifice of follower’s lives both figuratively and literally. Leaders have been classified as sociopaths or, at the very least extremely narcissistic. The leaders are intelligent typically, and have great instincts into the wants and needs of each individual follower (knowing their “buttons“) with no conscience limiting their ability to manipulate followers against their followers’ best interest in order to serve the best interest of the leader as he or she perceives it. Leaders have a need to maintain their followers, as well as a desire to grow and generally will refer to those who leave the group as traitors and/or enemies. Such designation is routinely accepted by remaining followers as is all dogma presented by the leader.

The leader’s financial support is often dependent upon the followers, as is the leader’s sense of well-being and psychological security. Leaders view those who leave as the loss of a worker, financial supporter and recruiter. Thus they become upset with those who do leave and often wish to punish them as a warning to those remaining. Followers are discouraged from contacting those who left as they may be convinced to similarly depart. A follower seeing one who leaves as “sick” or “enemy” increases commitment and the fear of leaving. It is not uncommon for the group to be given information stating those that left as a result of not remaining true to the group idealization are now living lives of damnation and failure. Mock funerals are performed. Such presentations also communicates to followers that if they leave they will lose the friendship of their fellow believers in similar fashion. This is not an easy choice for a person who has invested themselves in the group for fulfillment of social, living and personal needs. [7] Leaders focus on the psychological make-up of their followers in order to exploit them and to make them dependent.

Once the leader convinces his followers of two concepts that are not recognized by the followers as in conflict– they joined the group due to their own illness, which still exists, but are now well and superior to all nonbelievers as long as they remain– the leader can threaten disobedience with expulsion and loss of “The Way.”[8] Having induced fear of leaving and returning to the old world, leaders are likely to have purges where the seemingly less loyal are kicked out as examples, solidifying the remainder. Such punishments were referred to by Charles Dederich as “carom shots”—the effect of punishment of one bounces off and hits the others.

Dr. Edgar Schein, like Lifton, researched Mao Tse Tung’s conversion process, calling it “coercive persuasion” and published a book of the same title in 1961 dealing particularly with a small group of Americans who were imprisoned between 1950 and l956 in Communist China and who had made politically damaging confessions, a few converting to Communism. Schein also described the struggle groups set up in small villages and towns in China starting in 1949.

Dr. Schein wrote a profile of a leader who would initiate programs to liquidate those who are useless, to re-educate those needed in the new society and to purge the faithful to reaffirm the faith and to consolidate his power, satisfying the leader’s insecurity demands for unanimity and loyalty. The leader must be upgraded to savior and judged favorably by history.

Such person wrote Schein, is primarily characterized by his conviction that he has perceived some imminent law of social development to which he is mystically dedicated to. He is insecure and as a result preoccupied with security and power. When the insecurity is childhood-rooted, the leader becomes pre-occupied with reassurance greatly out of proportion to the usual. He lacks flexibility in thinking and has activity proneness. This, in turn, leads to the purging of taints. [9] His successes cause fear of revenge, leading to paranoia. Moreover, he must fulfill his utopian promises. Any failure increases his insecurity.

My own 30 year study expands the above, as in every case I was involved in or studied the significant events of the leader’s life from childhood on shaped and formed the basis of what all the followers were taught to do. Followers are made to do what the leader has decided for his life, both to rationalize his decisions and to have reaffirmation each is right and good. [10]The dogma given to the followers to compel them to act similarly is generally not believed by the leader, or at least not to the extent the leader so polarizes the followers. By example, Charles Manson did not believe “Helter Skelter” and Dominique Defreeze did not believe statues would be erected in parks of SLA soldiers. Both leaders were products of abandonment and the prison system since youth, and sold others false ideas to motivate followers to carry out their personal vendettas against society. Each enjoyed using a class each hated; for Manson it was women, for DeFreeze it was whites. Charles Dederich did not believe there were enemies conspiring to destroy Synanon (admitting later it was a ploy to bond members), Manson did not believe The Beatles White Album directed the start of Helter Skelter and Jim Jones did not believe the “fascists” were going to invade Jonestown and take all to prison but rather (as cool-aid was distributed) knew he had ordered a mass murder away from the compound and that he had decided to die rather than face the public consequences and life not as a great prophet but a ridiculed man. So all Jonestown followers should follow; similarly the SLA members died in a fire because DeFreeze so chose and as did Branch Davidians when David Koresh so decided in Waco.[11]

Dr. Margaret Singer (discussed below), who had studied all movements since the l960’s stated of leaders: ”They’re all basically, really, the same–Con men.”[12] Below the process to change beliefs and bind followers to the leaders is discussed.
III. Coercive Persuasion Summary

Brainwashing is the term most used by the public for a vastly misunderstood and miss-described process; the term is also misleading, non-descriptive and over applied. The word was invented by American journalist Edward Hunter after a Chinese informant during the Korean War called the process hsi nao (“cleansing the mind).” But the Chinese hierarchy called it Szu Hsing Kai Tsao—“thought reform” or “ideological remolding.”

While coercive persuasion was the term coined by Schein for the phenomena employed by Mao, Lifton used Mao’s label—“Thought Reform.” [13] Coercive persuasion[14] is probably the most accurate description and the one most often used by serious investigators. Based upon my 30-ear study I define coercive persuasion as the art of convincing someone to accept a new belief system involuntarily while at the same time convincing the person he has accepted the belief voluntarily.[15]

It involves convincing the person he is being taught to think for himself generally for the first time in the person’s life while in reality making the person’s freedom of decision limited to those allowed by community dogma. We all make choices based on our beliefs. Change beliefs and you change choices. [16] The initial contact with these movements is designed to be attractive and core ideas are often withheld until the target’s capacity to evaluate those ideas from his/her past experience has been reduced and reliance on the community installed. Often in the initial contact the recruited is asked to show his/her need for the group’s help, i.e. the first confession. Exemplars are seen in the Synanon interview or Feeling Therapy application where one has to prove suitability for selection in order to be saved. In this manner, the applicant is already compliant and eager for directions leading to shedding of old self and transformation to a better self.

In all Thought Reform environments secrets are not allowed. They must be shared so subject to leader who induces group direction and modification. In a normal world, people are entitled to keep private information private.

Victims are caught in what I call the “double bind.” Members are taught that they lived bad past lives and were very messed up and therefore needed to be in the community. At the same time members are taught that they are elite and better than non-members because they are there. While the statements are in conflict members never realize same on their own during involvement. It is the combination that binds. If a person was told all the time that he is bad and messed up he may see the group as not helping and may drop out tiring of the negative only comments. If a person was continually praised he or she might develop sufficient self image to decide to move on. Thus is the necessity for the double bind. They are saved by being there but not well enough to leave. Victims act seeking to avoid the pain of being reminded by the community of their negative self and to seek those moments where they are credited as loyal examples of how the work[17] (dogma) makes a better person. To accomplish this task is to do what each believes the work directs. Members will compete to be the best example as that may bring not only praise but raised status and resulting benefits. Long hours committed also weakens resistance.[18]

Status and relationships are often subject to the leader’s control. It is common that the leader and or community select mates and break-ups require permission. Mass weddings are often performed. The goal is to make sure the commitment to the movement is greater than to any person and to communicate that your mate is a gift but only as long as one is true to the cause. Rarely does a Spiltee (Synanon term) leave with his mate. That is how the leader sets it up. Similarly one is granted a respectable job and friends that are all “removable.”

The process is successful enough to be condoned in fighting addictions, but it has also been shown successful enough to be able to enforce beliefs upon which great crimes have been induced to serve a planted holy purpose (see discussion fn 10). While discussed in detail in second part of this report, the process, in a short description, is the ability through group manipulation to tear down a person’s sense of identity so that person adapts to current environment and reborn in the image the group approves, all directed by the group’s masters.[19]

It is also a system that does not work without constant reinforcement, thus the need to never stop AA attendance. The investigators of the Korean prisoners of war found 90 free days was it would take to self deprogram. Similarly, in my fight against Synanon, when learning a key person had left the community I would announce be patient, in 90 days he calls us. One Synanon man, Bernie Kolb, called and actually said, “Mr. Morantz, I have been out 90 days…you know what that means.”
IV. Susceptability

Dr. Lifton wrote those who already had a negative self-image, tendencies towards guilt, identity confusion, involvement in situations productive of historical and racial conflict, plus inclinations toward all-or-nothing emotional alignments were most susceptible to thought reform. Those who have had early problems with trust, chaos, dominating parents, guilt and identity crisis were more readily converted. Late adolescence, he wrote, and early adulthood, are times when identity takes shape and there is a tendency towards emotional polarization making one more susceptible. Dissatisfaction with large societies leads to confusion and lack of commitment and can make one vulnerable. [20] In converse, Dr. Lifton stated, those most secure, with strongest family bonds and secure beliefs re faith, and who fear domination, are more capable of resistance.

Dr. Singer[21] and other authors noted people following crises such as divorce, a death, or just the transition to adult hood are more open prey. Some people are true believers[22] looking for a good salesman. [23] No one, save mental ill, however has immunity.

That we are all, to some degree, vulnerable to conversion, even to commit horrible acts if convinced of a justification was proved in an 1974 experiment by researcher Stanley Milgram (looking for an answer for holocaust ) in which duped volunteers were induced to deliver increasingly heavy electric shocks to others as punishment for poor recall (it was faked) by being convinced by scientists the experiment was for the betterment of mankind. Two-thirds of those tested were categorized as “obedient,” and, when placed with others willing to administer lethal dosages, 92% went along. And these subjects weren’t feeble or addled; they were drawn from typical working, managerial, and professional classes.
V. Coercive Persuasion in Detail and History

America was shocked in l953 when military prisoners returning from Korean War, in exchanges with the Chinese, spouted Communist doctrine, some twenty-one of them trying to avoid repatriation. It raised public questions as to how some of the country’s finest could reject our culture and way of life.

The public preferred – in part to protect against admissions of their own vulnerability – to believe war veterans had been subject to horrific torture. Ultimately Hollywood created an image of a conditioned robot – The Manchurian Candidate — something so extreme no one really had to fear it. The author of The Manchurian Candidate acknowledged the process he described was made up, but unfortunately he left an incorrect imprint on the public regarding the process of coercive persuasion or thought reform. The film described a fictional hypnosis-like transformation likely never achieved. Similarly misleading is the fictional conditioning process in A Clockwork Orange.

The Central Intelligence Agency was concerned “with reason” about China’s brainwashing of POW’s as declared by the U.S. Supreme Court in C.I.A. vs Sims. In an effort to “catch-up;” but clearly on the wrong path, from 1953 to 1966, the C.I.A., without permission experimented by using dangerous drugs, including LSD, aimed at obtaining the same effect on unknowing members of the American public.[24] The code name of the experiment was MKULTRA.

While the CIA blundered in ignorance, several researchers descended upon the returnees and began a long-term investigation. Their goal was to find the causes of these phenomena. While different labels were used –thought reform, coercive persuasion–their findings were consistent. Drugs were not part of the Communist conversion system and neither physical torture nor imprisonment– contrary to latter public misconception as a result of the Patty Hearst kidnapping and conversion — was essential. Despite the public’s preference to believe absent physical coercion amounting to torture everyone is immune from whatever the process is, the reality discovered was that we are all not only vulnerable to such manipulated changes but in various degrees many of our beliefs have already been so shaped.

The most exhaustive study and ultimate reporting was by Dr. Lifton. A professor at both Yale and Harvard, he had long been involved in East Asian studies and won recognition with studies on the long term psychological effects of the atom bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Later, as part of the Army’s Walter Reed Institute of Research, he arrived in Hong Kong in January of 1954 to examine the civilian ex-prisoners of war. His observed almost without exception Westerners displaying remorse at leaving China, a “grief” reaction. Dr. Lifton at first wondered what were they “mourning.” [25]

The ex-prisoners reminisced of a special intimacy of total exposure and sharing. Some sought to maintain contact with other returnees to recapture the part of self lost. Some expressed fear of returning to the Imperialistic world and had hoped the Communist Party in the United States would care for them. The security they knew had vanished and their newly acquired identity was shaken. Many were nostalgic for the simple, ordered and meaningful prison experience, a glorified memory which could not be relinquished until trust in the new environment and trust in themselves could be reestablished. When agitated, some chanted stock phrases and protested in repeated clichés.

A teacher expressed strong praise for her captors and after reluctantly admitting she hadd been in chains, she stated her initial refusal to confess the truth justified it. A priest, having exchanged his clerical robe for that of a Chinese scholar, lamented he could not return. Another priest said this was one of the best periods of his life and what he received from the Chinese was the truth. He took pride in describing bringing others around, particularly those who had resisted. He, as others, spoke of greater harmony than he had ever known and, as others, did not want to exchange it for the pain of freedom. A young Chinese girl reeling from group hatred directed at her at a Peking university was still feeling “selfish” for leaving.

Not yet having sufficient time to distance themselves from the experiences many were confused and readily following suggestions of others. There were symptoms of paranoia and depression.

Those beginning recovery were ashamed over their conversion. Experiencing severe anxiety, many vowed “never a second time.” Some wanted to read everything they could find on the subject of “brainwashing.” Several became adamant about wanting to contribute to its study, feeling this was in evil that must be combated; a psychological business that had to be tended to first before a return to Western life. Some feared manipulation and distrusted former friends. An elderly bishop in a hospital bed cried the system that had converted him was “in alliance with the demons.”

Many had the need to re-enact the experience, what Freud called “the repetition compulsion.” The individual arranges for variations of an original theme he has not learned either to overcome or to live with and deals with the stress by meeting it repeatedly. As the experience created shame and guilt, they lectured and wrote about thought reform as if to achieve mastery, convincing themselves it could not happen to them again. Some had suicidal thoughts, depression and anxiety. Problems existed with ability to trust and to renew identity. A year later some had to distort their memories to make their experiences morally justify themselves, remaking themselves as more heroic in resisting, forgetting their weakness and submission.

In 1954, Lifton published “Home by ship: reaction patterns of American prisoners of war repatriated from North Korea” in the American Journal of Psychiatry. In l956 he circulated a paper, “Chinese Communist ‘thought reform:’ the assault upon identity and belief.”

In 1963, Dr. Lifton’s work, “Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism, A study of “Brainwashing” in China”, was published. What he wrote was not limited to war prisoner camps that had caught the eyes of the West. Its usage there was merely an import of the program applied in Chinese universities, revolutionary colleges, prisons, business, labor and government. This is important to this herein report. All investigators found that the process was more successful outside of the prisons and where people came not so much from fear but as to hope to cure them of a convinced illness and better their future.[26]

Thought reform, concluded Lifton, consists of two basic elements: confession–exposing and denouncing the past– and reeducation– remaking in the new image. The combined use of external coercion and evangelistic exhortation provided its emotional power.

Lifton quoted a Mao Tse-tung speech explaining two principles:

“The first is ‘ punish the past to warn the future’ and the second, ‘ save men by curing their ills.’ Past errors must be exposed with no thought of personal feelings or face. We must use a scientific attitude to analyze and criticize what has been undesirable in the past… This is the meaning of’ ‘punish the past to warn the future.’ But our object in exposing errors and criticize shortcomings is like that of a doctor in curing a disease.[27] All crimes have definite sociological roots. The evil ideology and evil habits left behind by the old society, calling for the injuring of others for self profit and seeking employment without labor, still remain in the minds of some people to a marked degree… Thus if we are to wipe all crimes from their root… we must also carry out various affective measures to transform the various evil ideological conceptions in the minds of the people so that they may be educated and reformed into ‘new people.’”

Dr. Lifton examined the process applied to prisoners as well. In the cell a prisoner was emotionally, culturally, and ideologically isolated, often denounced as Imperialist and a “spy.” Cellmates, further along the conversion process, would point out one’s past professional life was really a “cover-up” for years of his “spy personality.” Without support, he adapted to new group standards. The group, more than the leaders, was the agent of reform, the message deliverer. Once a Westerner began to confess, criticize others, he made it easier for others still in conflict to likewise submit.

The procedure was known as the “struggle” conducted for purposes of “helping” a prisoner to finally be free by formulating his “confession.” Any admissions when made, no matter how miniscule, were seized as an illustration of the need for further confession and correction.

Struggles dehumanized and attacked former self with a goal of death and rebirth. The identity assault reduced a person to something, Dr. Lifton described, not fully human and yet not quite animal, no longer the adult and yet not quite the child; instead, an adult human was placed in the position of an infant or a sub-human animal, helplessly being manipulated by larger and stronger ‘adults’ or ‘trainers.’ Placed in this regressive stance, each felt himself deprived of the power, mastery and selfhood of adult existence.”

Confession and denunciation touched feelings of guilt and sinfulness. In this environment cut off from “affectionate communication,” which all people need, the assaults on identity encouraged guilt. Sinfulness, not the captors, was the cause of pain and suffering. Prisoners were encouraged to denounce society, institutions and behavioral norms of their previous existence. This in turn pressured one to “accept help” and to “help” others, losing the identity he has known. As the assault turns inward, fear of total annihilation occurs. Sometimes the person suffers a breakdown trying to cope, having delusions and hallucinations common to psychosis, which will prevent conversion success.

Often the turning point was an unexpected show of kindness at the point where the prisoner was reaching his breaking point. It provided a relief allowing the prisoner to relax and “adapt.” The future became visible… the award of a new identity and acceptance. Now the prisoner developed a compulsion to confess in order to rid himself of all harmful parts to his being. History was interpreted from the “People’s standpoint.”

The prisoner began the “higher” group routing experiences, what Dr. Lifton called “logical dishonoring.” His past evil doings were related to his prior world, thus opening a vision of a New World as the solution to all problems. In doing so the prisoner merged with the group, obtaining acceptance and the strength of being part of a moral crusade to benefit mankind, taking part in the catharsis of personal confession.

Those who already had a negative self-image, tendencies towards guilt, identity confusion, plus inclinations toward all-or-nothing emotional alignments were most susceptible.

But the program, Dr. Lifton concluded, was ultimately a failure. It only worked while one remained in the controlled environment. Only one of twenty-five subjects he examined was an actual successful convert. Still, there were consequences. No one completely cast off the picture of the world and self provided in thought reform. Four years later some still feared total annihilation and repetition along with a deeply repressed desire for the same to atone for a sense of guilt. At the same time there were therapeutic benefits in emotional strength, sensitivity and flexibility in human relationships. Dr. Lifton concluded this probably came from testing one’s limits, the knowledge they survived the same, having emerged from rock bottom to some measure of self-respect. Dr. Lifton compared it to results observed in people after experiencing severe stress, including prolonged sensory deprivation. When such stress is brief, the well-being may be limited to rebound euphoria but after experiencing total disintegration in thought reform the relief at recovery is more enduring. Each may gain access to parts of themselves they never knew existed.[28]

The same results, both as to methods and lack of ultimate success when removed from the environment, were found on the studies of the military prisoners conducted by Schein, an Army Captain, Harvard graduate, and research psychologist at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, who did the interviews of the prisoners. Another Walter Reed Army Institute psychologist, the great Dr. Margaret Singer, helped analyze Dr. Schein’s interviews. In 1956 they jointly published “The Chinese Indoctrination Program for Prisoners of War” in Psychiatry Journal. In 1958 Dr. Schein and Dr. Singer did a follow-up study on the former prisoners. Air Force Major Louis (Jolly) West, later head of the UCLA Neuropsychiatry Unit at UCLA, and an expert on Patty Hearst and Jonestown, examined imprisoned pilots and false confessions by imprisoned pilots of committing germ warfare. Major West then became involved in the trial of a marine actually charged for his conduct. Today the military teaches resisting of the Chinese process.

As did Lifton, Schein found fellow prisoners further along the conversion road that would help the others find the way to salvation and truth were more influential and more meaningful then either the leaders or fear.

Dr. Lifton reports on what happened outside of prisons is of most importance for understanding the success of totalistic movements in the United States since the late l960s and the success in converting the more highly intelligent. The “free” Chinese had been asked to undergo thought reform as an act of patriotism. This included scholars, teachers, artist, writers, politicians, scientists and other professionals.[29] By late 1951, all intellectuals had been swept up in a year-long thought reform campaign. One Chinese commentator called it “one of the most spectacular events in human history.” Dr. Lifton called it the most powerful effort at human manipulation ever undertaken. While imposed dogmas, inquisitions and mass conversions have always been with us, the Chinese, Dr. Lifton concluded, had developed a more organized, comprehensive and deliberate system then ever seen before.[30]

Study groups were formed for public confessions, along with the new mass press and with a new stereotyped jargon, all denouncing the past and prior erroneous views, pledging to correct. Professionals denounced their careers and boasted they would begin again. Professors, humiliated before their students confessed and asked to be given a chance to “prove” themselves. Special “revolutionary universities” were established for thought reform. While there was a strong suggestion one should attend, many actively sought admission to adapt to the new regime. The atmosphere appeared friendly; open areas with wooden buildings and places for study. People were met warmly by Communist cadres enthusiastic over the future. In the beginning “students” were left to get to know each other. They would reveal their backgrounds, frustrations and aspirations. It grew to massive confessions, each revealing their improper past and the evil to be cured. Like the prisoners, the students competed to give the most complete confession and challenged others to match. Secrets were wrong. Someone who was non cooperative would be humiliated at public gatherings, forced to give descriptions of his evil deeds. There was “washing away all of sins” in order to become a new man. It was made clear that one’s future was dependent upon changing one’s ways.

This also created trauma such as nightmares, anxieties, fear of disclosure of hidden secrets and caused psychotic breaks and hospitalization. Many experienced fatigue, insomnia, loss of appetite, physical pains, breathing and stomach problems. The responding diagnosis was “there’s nothing wrong with your body. It must be your thoughts that are bad. You will feel better when you have denunciated your parents.”

In universities, there was an assault upon identity, without any physical brutality, although with rigorous physical training. Guilt and shame were established, along with alternating leniency and harshness, compulsion to confess and a logical desiring of reeducation. A final elaborate confession with a greater emphasis upon personal rebirth was ultimately obtained from each student.

Like Big Brother in George Orwell’s l984, campaigns mobilized the group. Japan was blamed, as was America. The call went out to enlist in the Army to respond to these enemies.[31]

“Hate your past to win your future,” said Mao. Those who had a history of loyalty in the past were moved to direct it to the Communist regime. Ideas of moderation and live and let live were talked of as evil. All confusion was to be replaced by certainty, speculation by absolute knowing and the old self by a new identity.

The first stage — according to Mao is the great togetherness: the merging of a dedicated group on a utopian quest. Mao told them all ”You’re sick!,” so that the “patients will have a fright and break out in an over all sweat; then, they can be carefully treated.” Communist “doctors” possessed the knowledge for cure. The treatment may be difficult but if one will submit and trust, he will acquire a new and better self.

Stage two is the pain one must go through to realize the utopian promise. This is the “logical dishonoring” of the past and reeducation. ”Individualism” is criticized as Democratic ideology that places personal interest over the interests of all. ”Marxism-Leninism” is the scientific and revolutionary truth. The criticisms and self criticisms break down every emotional identification which could interfere with accepting a new identity. Nothing in one’s history is worthy of respect unless it contributes to the new person being shaped.

Denunciation of one’s father,[32] stated Dr. Lifton, is the “symbolic act par excellence.” The history of mass movements, he noted, teaches that attacks upon family ties are characteristic of early phases. This severs one from past loyalties and allows new commitment. The final stage is to accept a new identity, to be one with the masses of workers and peasants, and if not so merged to accept the direction of the working-class. Dr. Lifton stated it was group identification, isolation and conflict and reintegration. He found at every moment of thought reform the person revises and rejects his past to prepare himself to become a new and more appealing identity as a reward.

The result was a Chinese “zealous convert” usually an adolescent or young adult. The Chinese intellectuals became “adapters” partially but not completely convinced,[33] but needing to cope with the stressful experience of thought reform and needing a place in the new society. In this new world an emotional frenzy existed over “poisons” related to the old. They had to be found and expunged.

Noting the religious characteristics, Dr. Lifton compared the disillusionment to believing in God and then discovering there is no God.[34] The students slowest to respond to the invitation to speak ultimately were the most boisterous in their criticisms.

In his book, Lifton addressed the question when is an environment brainwashing? He wrote there were eight psychological themes partaking in such an atmosphere that may temporarily energize or exhilarate, but which at the same time, he wrote, “poses the greatest of human threats.”
1. Milieu Control

The most basic feature of thought reform, stated Lifton, is controlling human communication reminiscent of George Orwell’s 1984.[35]

The Chinese communist prisons and revolutionary universities were as controlled as any environment ever had been. Therein everyone knows that full information about each person is conveyed to the authorities who have declared that reality is their exclusive possession. They have the “duty” to spread this “ truth.” A participant is pressured to abandon his personal views and merge. He is deprived of external information and opportunity to reflect. He is called upon to make the polarization and accept his new identity, giving him the opportunity to no longer struggle to find truth but to accept as given and look at the world with “God’s eyes view.”
2. The Mystical Manipulation

The next step is a mystical manipulation of the person. Behavior and emotions are provoked yet made to seem spontaneous, arising from the environment–a catharsis or feeling of “breakthrough.” Ideological totalists believe they have a “higher purpose.” They have been “chosen” for a mystical pursuit that “must supersede all considerations of decency or of immediate human welfare.” One is asked to accept these truths on the bases of ultimate “trust.” The individual, wrote Dr. Lifton, develops what he calls the “psychology of the pawn”– unable to escape forces more powerful than himself, he instead adapts and submits. He becomes sensitive to all kinds of cues, expert at anticipating environmental pressures and skillful in riding them in such a way that he psychologically merges with the “tide.”
3. Demand for Purity

The world is divided between good and absolute evil. The good is all that is consistent with totalist ideology and everything else is a “poison” which must be eliminated by all- out -war. The atmosphere is continuous reform, one must strive continually and painfully to evolve into an idealistic state that doesn’t really exist. This demand creates feelings of guilt and shame and causes one to expect punishment, such as humiliation and ostracism, when he fails to meet the prevailing standards. Guilt and shame become highly valued, objects of pride, is shared and bonds the group.

Lifton noted that education, psychology, religion and politics all use coercion, exhortation, therapy and realization. Ideological Totalism, however, delivers a message that you “must change and become what we are — or else.” The threat is anything from death to social ostracism, to a form of pain.
4. The Cult of Confession

Confession is beyond ordinary religious, legal and therapeutic expressions to the point of becoming a cult in itself. It is demanded one confess to crimes one did not commit or to weaknesses one does not have and to induced sinfulness, all in the name of a “cure.” In totalists hands, confession becomes a means of exploitation and control, rather than solace. It creates a personal purification and is an act of surrender to and merging with the environment. There is a purging milieu –the constant emptying of all impurities so one may evolve. By total exposure of all thoughts, there becomes group ownership of each individual. The emotional catharsis, especially those associated with punishment, pleasure from personal degradation, is credited to the group. The sharing creates “orgiastic” openness and intimacy with fellow confessors. The person dissolves into the mass movement.

In this environment, there is continuous conflict over which secrets to reveal and which to protect. But the more one confesses, the more he has a right to judge, with the person taking on the environment’s arrogance and sense of omnipotence.[36]

5. The Sacred Science

Sacredness is evident by the prohibition against questioning basic tenets and the reverence for the originators of the truth. The totalists offer an individual comfort and security by allowing sweeping “non-rational” insights. Man’s quest for knowledge is fulfilled. See Attachments A and C and the voice mail messages.

Behind Totalism, there is the ever present human quest for the omnipotence guide and belief that will bring solidarity and eliminate the terror of death and nothingness.
6. Loading the language

Language is characterized by thought-terminating clichés. Complex problems are answered by catch phrases easily memorialized and repeated. Dr. Lifton called this jargon the “language of nonthought.” The familiarity makes each “one of us.” While each believes he has mentally expanded, in fact, he is so reduced as language clichés constricts the capacity for thinking. When logic confronts, causing uneasiness, the totalist shouts the clichés louder to hide his despair and protect against the fear and guilt should he doubt.
7. Doctrine over Person

The doctrine is valid and true and any aspect of human character or experience to the contrary is false. The person must demonstrate absolute sincerity to the environment.
8. The Dispensing of Existence

Those on the outside are non-people. Dr. Lifton observed in China and elsewhere, non-people have often been put to death. Totalists must destroy all possibilities of false existence. Existence becomes, wrote Dr. Lifton, “I believe, therefore I am” and “I obey, therefore I am”.

Dr. Lifton wrote:

“Also, ideological Totalism itself may offer a man an intense peak experience: a sense of transcending all that is ordinary and prosaic, of freeing himself from the encumbrances of human ambivalence, of entering a sphere of truth, reality, trust, and sincerity beyond any he had ever known or even imagined. But these peak experiences, the results as they are of external pressure, distortion, and threat, carry a great potential for rebound, and for equally intense opposition to the very things which initially seem so liberating.. Rather then stimulating greater receptivity and openness to the world they encourage a backward step into some form of embeddedness — – a retreat into doctoral and organizational exclusiveness, and into all — or — nothing emotional patterns more characteristic of the child than of the individuated adult.”

Dr. Lifton warned of the dangers of this process. The exhortative approach is that you will choose to change if you are moral and wish to be good. The therapeutic message is you can change your sickness and relieve your suffering and become healthy. The realization message is you can change and reach your potential and learn new ways of knowing and acting. But the goal is to produce a “cowed and demoralized follower.”

Thought reform, according to Dr. Lifton, has a “cult of enthusiasm”– a religious excessive emotional experience demanding total self surrender. It has a psychological momentum of its own, a self-perpetuating energy with a complex set of psychological themes, in all-or-nothing emotional alignment about man and his relationship to the natural or supernatural world. “And where Totalism exists,” he warned, “a religion, a political movement, or even a scientific organization becomes little more than an exclusive cult.”

Dr. Lifton referred to historical examples to illustrate the horrors that could arise from totalistic environments such as the Inquisition of the Middle Ages and the search for heretics. These movements were characterized by orgies of false confessions and manipulations of guilt. Inquisitions created their own “witches” as the Chinese created “spies.”[37] Religions, he observed, become totalistic when they exaggerate control and regulation of guilt and shame, emphasizing hopelessness and depravity, all within a closed environment of truth. A political example was McCarthyism: A blend of political religion and opportunism, demanding confessions under fear of ostracism, stressing betrayal.

In such environments, Lifton noted, there exists a general mania for “security.” A person so polarized has difficulty regaining sensitivity to human morality. Dr. Lifton observed an infectious effect. This process not only leads to the formation of a dangerous group, it likewise mobilizes extremist tendencies in outsiders under attack, thus creating a “vicious circle of Totalism.[38]“

In the end, Dr. Lifton forecasted, “the universal psychological tendency toward projection is nourished and institutionalized, leading to mass hatreds, purges of heretics, and to political and religious holy wars.” [39]

VI. Totalistic Movements and Terrorism

Above has been discussed how the polarization leads to an emotional mass unity towards critics and enemies, perceived or real. A key element as well is the psychological unbalance of the Founder.

But out side pressures as well are predictable and can eventually turn the benign to malignant. As the movement turns toward self –identification, such as wearing a color, uniform or hair style (including lack thereof), a significant portion of outer society will feel uncomfortable towards them and fear their zealot dedication. A group doing only good things will be subjected to a certain amount of unwarranted prejudice and this will be used by the leader to further bond the group with an “I told you so” attitude. It increases the “we vs them” psychology and breeds further the notion of family that must protect itself and its ideals for the better of mankind.

The leader himself is affected by being treated as God surrounded by yes men. Whatever he thinks is accepted and cheered without criticism. So his thoughts become bolder and bolder and his/hers hold on reality diminish and some times just evaporate. The counter responses lead to more outside rejection which in turn spurs the outrages inside. The group becomes insular dropping outside contacts. It takes on a lynch mob mentality which further polarizes its critics against it. Dr. Sigmund Freud called this the Herd Instinct and noted the more irrational the message the more emotional was the group dedication to it. The combination results in a lethal snowball. What Lifton called, as said above, the “vicious circle of Totalism. When the first blow is finally struck the hurrah for our side begins and momentum takes over to its predictable conclusion. Just look at the Crusades or Israel-Arab conflict. Both sides adopt the mania of the other. After 9-11 came the invasion of Iraq.

XII. Totalistic Comunities in the United States

As the 1960s produced social uncertainties and a reassessment of social values, many “flower children” sought to find the meaning of life that led them to movements seemingly offering psychological and/or spiritual salvation, when in reality that was the carrot on the stick held by those seeking exploitation.[40]

The following are some case histories set forth to establish common characteristics of totalistic leaders, movements and coercive persuasion, as well to establish my study and expertise and that intellectuals, such as lawyers, are often converted and have no built in immunity. In some of these groups there are discussions of violence and suicides. Setting them forth is to show how successful this process is on selling sales pitches, particularly if an end-justifies-the-means mentality is adopted.
Children of God

Ted Patrick held a Community Relations post in San Diego in the summer of 1971. He received reports children in the area, including his own son, had been recruited by members of a “family” called the Children of God, speaking of a life without work, without problems and where no one would ever be sick. They wouldn’t even have to go to school. Those were things of the devil. Many of the youngsters spoken to did not return home but instead notified their parents they had joined and requested all their material property be delivered so it could be donated to the group.

Investigating, Patrick pretended to join COG. Therein he could see tents in the fields full of automobiles, buses, motorcycles, jeeps, stereos and televisions donated by converts and now ready to be sold. He also saw new converts being taught “Your parents are the enemy,” and “You have to surrender your whole life to God… 100 percent.”

The leader of the Children of God was David Berg, a.k.a. Moses, a former Baptist minister expelled for misconduct. His letters and tapes declared parents were the root of problems and that “there’s only one family. This is your family. And you don’t leave. Leaving here and going back to that is like to a dog returning to his vomit. It’s like going back and eating your own shit. Moses is your father — – there’s no salvation except him. You leave here you will have blood on your hands. You leave here you will be struck by lightning… you will all be killed.” Another “Mo-letter” read:

“ If you have not forsaken your husband and wife for the Lord at sometime or other, you have not forsaken at all.”

Patrick investigated and ultimately kidnapped and deprogrammed a follower of COG [41] who dropped out of USC in joining. Eventually Patrick studied other groups, quit his job and spent his life as the first ever kidnap/deprogrammer. His book “Let Our Children Go” brought the “cult” problem public. It also informed deprogramming was accomplished upon presenting the convert with sufficient evidence of just one lie by the leader. At this point the convert’s mind races and self determines all other lies.[42] [43]
Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity

Dr. Margaret Singer, who worked with Dr. Schein on studies of coercive persuasion in Communist China, counseled former members of the Unification Church (Moonies). She recognized they had been placed in a Thought Reform environment similar to that employed by the Chinese and upon investigation found that one of Rev. Moon’s top assistant’s had been employed by the Chinese to do conversions and that Moon himself had spent time in such prisons before migrating to United States. [44]

The Moonies restricted contact with members’ families and pressured the turnover of assets. They further placed members on the streets soliciting donations and/or raising money by selling of flowers. Money turned over to Moon guaranteed their “Ticket to Heaven.” It is from these locations that one law school graduate and a college student, both recent converts, were kidnapped and then deprogrammed. They had been lied to in order to encourage their going to Boonsville where they unwittingly participated in confession groups. Among the lies that got the victims there was the representation that the solicitors were not Moonies and that the Boonsville camp was not religiously based. The concept of lying was called by the Moonies “Heavenly Deception” which meant it was approved to lie in furtherance of God. The students eventually sued the Moonies leading to the California Supreme Court defining coercive persuasion, stating it had no first amendment protection and a victim could sue for compensatory and punitive damages. I was an appellate counsel on this case. Molko v. Holy Spirit Assn. (1988) 46 Cal.3d 1092. The effect of this case was dramatic in reducing conversion camps and process use in America.

The law school and student status of those victims in Molko is typical.
Manson Family

Charles Manson, born in l934 in Ohio, the illegitimate son of a 16-year-old mother, was sent to prison for robbery, raised in foster homes and eventually found his way to a life of crime but never violence. In prison, he added to his street-wise sensibilities by studying Dale Carnegie, Buddhism, Scientology and a group that allegedly worshipped both Christ and Satan, [45] the Process. Some suspect in exploring the latter two he learned methods of bonding and control. Released in 1967, after his request to stay in prison–home for half his life–was denied, Manson found his way to the Haight-Ashbury section of San Francisco, then the nation’s hippie capital filled with flower children, free love. drugs–and plenty of confused, vulnerable young people looking for truth.

He recruited girls for his family who in turn were bait for young men. [46] His childhood was marked by abandonment by women, including his young mother and a wife, therefore subrogating women to his will was appealing. He set up communes at several locations, including the Spahn ranch in Chatsworth, where he could indoctrinate his recruits in an environment akin to an Al Qaeda training camp. Through his programming, he taught followers to bond and love each other and most of all him. He was the father and the giver of love. He used LSD and sex orgies to break inhibitions. He exploited weaknesses and instilled fear, at times applying physical punishments for breaking his rules. He choreographed sex, even sodomizing a boy in front of his followers.

Role-playing games were called magical mystery tours in honor of Manson’s favorite singing group, the Beatles. He urged denunciation of parents, surrender of egos and past identity and the taking of new names. Susan Atkins became Sadie Mae Glutz. He hinted at deity status. He was “Man-son.” They were to be free and learn that there is no right or wrong, only love and to follow love. But while preaching independence, he made them dependent. Whatever you want to do is your karma, he said. It was not even wrong to kill as there was no death, only a change. Death was an illusion. This preaching was conditioning for the plan Manson had in mind. His followers had strapped sheath knife, guns, rode Dune Buggies and played war games. Security was rigid and mock invasions were practiced to check it. [47]

Manson’s lifetime frustration at the establishment that had shunned him boiled over when record producers he met through friendship with members of the Beach Boys rejected his music. Then, twisting the meanings of Beatle lyrics, claiming their White Album conveyed special messages to him—“Happiness is a warm gun; Blackbird singing in the dead of night…you were waiting for this moment to arise; you say you want a revolution”– Manson preached he was the instrument to ignite a social and racial war. It was all for the good of the Family and mankind. Blacks would win, but they would then realize they are stupid and would come to Manson, who with the family would live in a dark hole while the fighting raged, to lead the world.

His true motives, however, were far more self-serving. “You people have done everything in the world to me,” he said of society during a parole hearing years later. “Doesn’t that give me equal rights? I can do it to you people because that’s what you have done to me.”

Manson soon led his new recruits, as those of us old enough vividly remember, into an epic bloodbath. Over two nights in August l969, Manson and his followers invaded two homes and slaughtered six people, including actress Sharon Tate, the pregnant wife of director Roman Polanski, coffee heiress Abigail Folger and hair-styling king Jay Sebring. Manson chose the locations because he had been there before and to him they represented the wealth and fame that had always eluded him and was now eluding him again. Tex Watson [48] shot Sebring, saying, “I am the devil and I am here to do the devil’s business.” Susan Atkins dipped a towel in Tate’s blood and wrote the word “pig” on the wall. Ultimately 12 murders were linked to the family and Manson bragged of 35.

While it certainly can’t be compared with the Twin Towers, or Jonestown, it was, at the time, the “cult” crime of the century and the world was horrified when the culprits showed no remorse or shame after their capture. “You have to have a real love in your heart to do this for people,” Susan Atkins said with pride. While his family members denied he had any control over their minds, [49] during Manson’s trial, they slavishly copied him in court when he struck a crucified pose. When he carved an X on his forehead, they did likewise, with heated bobby pins. When Charlie shaved his head, so did they.

Vincent Bugliosi who prosecuted the case, told the jury all were responsible for the hideous crimes because “they had murder in their hearts.” But in reality the followers were mainly from middle-class families, one had even been a high school princess, and none had a history of violence. Bugliosi pointed to their social alienation to support his argument, but their anti-social history was nothing more than many middle-class youths had experienced in the 60s, dropping out for a while before turning into BMW-driving yuppies. This wasn’t the type of background that typically led to violence. But juries accepted Vincent Bugliosi’s argument, preferring to believe this was an aberration, a unique blend of sociopaths uniting in the desert. [50]
What happens in these movements is the illogical sociopath reasoning is sold and accepted as reason by intelligent people whose prior identities were washed away and they became a pirate’s parrot. [51] Okay.
Symbonese Liberation Army

Donald DeFreeze, the founder of the SLA, was a black man who spent most of his life in and out of jails, all the while developing a hatred for society. His life was a carbon copy of Manson and the results were the same. He was doing five years-to-life for armed robbery when, at age 31, he escaped from San Quentin in l973, founded the SLA and was reborn Cinque Mtune after the leader of the historical mutiny aboard the famed slave ship Amistad. He recruited a middle-class white army off the UC Berkeley campus –including a former Goldwater campaign worker, teachers, dramatists and an African missionary–and predictably, gave them new names to go with their new lives, much as Manson did with his family. [52]

To his followers, Cinque preached that he wanted to teach and help them. To the public, however, he warned similar to Manson, “I am that nigger you have killed hundreds of times…I’m that nigger that is no longer hunted, robbed and murdered. I’m the nigger that hunts you now.”

Like Manson, Cinque used the class he hated the most—in this case whites—to do his bidding and he boasted of being a prophet God had sent to start a revolution for blacks and the oppressed. He kept his followers isolated and, like Manson, often quoted what be believed were special messages in songs alluding to the revolution. Political power, he said, grows out of the barrel of a gun and he put cyanide in their bullets. His favorite source to quote was Mao.

In 1974, just 15 days before her 20th birthday, Patty Hearst, daughter of media giant Randolph Hearst, was taken blindfolded–a Prisoner of War–from her Berkeley apartment. She was kept in a closet, used for sex and lectured on SLA politics. They told her the FBI would not help her and interpreted the news as proof the establishment did not care to negotiate for her release.

The SLA denounced her prior life as nothing more than potted plants and nail polish. Like the prisoners in Korea, she was told that they all had once lived like her, but had come to see the exploitation of such an existence. They were ready now to fight and die to show their love for the people. Her father was denounced and when the elder Hearst would not totally meet the extreme ransom demand of Cinque the criticism of her father started to be seen as having validity.

Freed from the closet, Patty said she chose to join, initially out of fear (Stockholm Syndrome), but later, after a barrage of personal criticism in struggle groups and reeducation classes, out of conviction. She studied SLA literature, participated in parties and adopted their rhetoric; grateful for learning the truth about “Amerikka.” Her shoulder-length blond hair was cut and she lost 15 pounds. She was renamed Tania in honor of a guerilla fighter who fought with Che Guevara. Reading from a script, she was taped condemning speculation she had been brainwashed and denouncing her ex-boyfriend, her father and the corporate ruling class.

Like many totalistic leaders, including Osama bin Laden, Cinque stated he would rather die than go back to prison. And like all totalistic leaders, he wanted his followers to join him. So he taught continually that freedom fighters must never surrender. He rehearsed ala Jim Jones shoot-outs with law enforcement that would make them martyrs. He stated in the future the world would have parks with monuments and statues dedicated to their memory, much as Al Qaeda fighters are told.

On May 17, l974, DeFreeze got his martyr’s wish. As more than 100 Los Angeles police officers surrounded the SLA home, he died in a hail of gunfire and tear gas. There would be no prisoners. As the house burned, SLA members chose to remain, and burned to death; only Defreeze shot himself in the head. [53]

In September of 1975, Patty Hearst was arrested by the FBI, defiantly giving a clenched-fist salute to the media and describing herself on the booking report as an “urban guerrilla.” [54] Sixty-eight percent of those surveyed about Hearst believed she should be sent to prison; two-thirds thought she joined the SLA voluntarily and half thought the kidnapping was a fake.

Three experts who worked with the Korean prisoners and a psychiatrist who helped the army develop brainwash resistance training examined her and concluded she had been subjected to coercive persuasion. One was Dr. Lifton. He labeled her a “classic case.” She was convicted but after the events of Synanon and People’s Temple came to light Hearst was pardoned by President Jimmy Carter. John Wayne summed up the public feeling: “If the public can accept that one man brainwashed nine hundred people to kill themselves in Jonestown,” said the Duke, “then it should be able to accept that the SLA could brainwash one little girl.” [55]

Sarah Olson, a long-time SLA fugitive recently brought to justice and accused of similar crimes, initially did not receive the same treatment as the heiress. Living an exemplary life in hiding evidences her beliefs had been changed by the SLA and are consistent with self deprogramming upon separation. While a precedent cannot be set giving a criminal credit for the quality of life maintained successfully as a fugitive, that life can tell us about that human being once removed from the influence of a totalistic environment. Patty did not volunteer her involvement, but it is even easier to turn a “true believer” into a crusading terrorist. As Mao Tse-tung once said the secret is simply to convince the “patient” he was sick and that they had the cure. However, she appears to have been ultimately released with the appropriate prison time. The public crime against Leslie Van Houten continues.
People’s Temple

James (Jim) Warren Jones, born in 1931, started his own church, The Wings of Deliverance in l955 in Indianapolis, later changing the name to the more descriptive People’s Temple. There he preached a combination of theology, socialism and communism. In l965, convinced a thermonuclear war was inevitable, Jones brought his racially mixed flock of the poor and working class by bus to Ukiah, California, thinking it to be safe from fallout. Once on the west coast, where new religions flourished, he was able to recruit more affluent professionals [56] as followers. Rich and poor alike, they all called him “Father.”

A master manipulator, he raised an average of $250,000 a month, including $60,000 from social security checks and members’ cashed-in estates, using a variety of means to tap people’s emotions and their pocketbooks. After being robbed and assaulted, a blind woman was taken by ambulance to a hospital, where her “alleged” broken arm was set. When she came to the Temple for the first time later that night, Jones amazingly recounted these events from a “vision” he had, then removed her cast and healed her arm as parishioners shouted praise and the woman sobbed in gratitude. None of these people knew that Jones had rigged the entire thing, from the robbery, to the attendants, to the makeshift clinic.

Under the weight of the press and IRS investigations accusing him of bilking followers and a court-order to remove a child, [57] Jones led his followers to a remote, 27,000-acre commune in Guyana, where outsiders were barred. While they worked non-stop from early morning to late night to build a self-supporting community, former member Debbie Blakely was testifying in a court case that Jones had a rehearsed Doomsday plan wherein they would all die, children included, for the “Cause.” [58]
In Jonestown, the thought-reform process was relentless. Subsisting on rice and beans, commune members, many over the age of 50, slaved away in the fields while Jones harangued them with lectures and sermons over a public address system. Public beatings and humiliations were standard punishments for any breach of loyalty.
In November of l978 Congressman Leo Ryan, 53, and a 12-member entourage, including journalists, flew into a small airfield near the Commune to investigate. After a night at the commune they set out to return after 16 followers asked to leave with them. Ryan made the mistake of telling Jones of the defections. Fearful of the tales they would tell the journalists, Jones mounted an assault on the departing plane, killing Ryan and three newsmen and wounding six others. Jones knew then they would all die but to him that was better than the further ridicule and loss of great man status.

That night, Jones urged his flock to die with dignity, as they had practiced, saying the alternative was to be herded into prison camps by the government forces that would surely follow. He taped the grisly mass suicide that followed, convinced, as are all totalistic leaders that history would look back on him favorably. On one tape, a father says “no” to ending his daughter’s life. But when it is illustrated the terrible things the enemy would do to her, the man acquiesces, as the flock applauds. “Mothers, you must keep your children under control,” Jones later shouts, amid a tumult of shrieks and gun shots, as the unwilling die with the willing. “They must die with dignity.” [59]
Jones often spoke of “translation,” the process by which he and his followers would die together and move to another planet for a life of bliss (a similar line that would be used in Heaven’s Gates many years later). The lie had to be given to make it work. The truth was simpler– Jones would rather die than face prison and humiliation, and like other totalistic leaders he wanted his followers to validate his choice by joining him –, but the truth would not have such success. All told, 9l4 died, including 276 children.[60] [61]

Of course this is the story my life will always be connected with.

Born in l913, Charles Dederich’s alcoholism took him through failed marriages and lost jobs to the doorsteps of AA, where he became a fanatical believer. The insights he believed he gained during a l956 UCLA experiment on the effects of LSD on alcoholics transformed his former religious AA sermons into intricate psychological and philosophical analyses.

He developed his own following and started a storefront club in seedy Ocean Park. When drug users started joining, the ex-drinkers departed, and Synanon–the first self-help drug rehab–was born in l958. Through rough and tough group sessions—ultimately called the “game”—past behavior was attacked and modified. Newcomers were taught to “Act as If” everything demanded of them was right and cruel punishments were dished out for negative behavior. People who “acted out” were given public verbal haircuts (berating) that Dederich expected to “carom” and affect the behavior of all. Early writings on Synanon made comparisons to Lifton’s work on thought reform and Dederich did not deny the accusation, instead proclaiming that addicts’ minds were dirty and needed “washing.”

Early on, the process fascinated the media and politicians. One Congressman called Synanon the “Miracle on the Beach.” By selling goods and pleading with the public to “buy from us and save a life” and gaining large donations from Fortune 500 companies, Synanon grew in wealth and political influence. It eventuall purchased the landmark Del Mar Club building in Santa Monica. Certain prejudiced actions by Santa Monica to keep Synanon out outraged Dederich and laid seeds for the paranoia that would eventually consume the Founder. Believing dope fiends would revert if they left, Dederich ended “graduation” and in l967 purchased land in Marin County to build a utopia he called Synanon City; he later developed a second one in the Badger Mountains outside of Visalia. He recruited non-addicts—middle class, professional “squares (no addiction)”—by convincing them they could participate in man’s evolution and be the first to reach the 21st Century. He developed the Synanon Trip, the predecessor to modern self-help training sessions, a 48-hour experience designed to make the participants break emotionally and see Synanon and Dederich as their savior. Versions of the game grew to 72 hours and longer to override resistance and “squeeze” members to Dederich’s will. Synanon practiced containment–allowing members as few contacts with the outside world as possible. Meanwhile, they were continually blasted with Dederich’s tape-recorded speeches via the wire, an enclosed broadcasting system that reached into every nook of the complex. Members shaved their heads and wore overalls–men, women and children.

Predictably, the organization’s practices turned increasingly bizarre. After banning sugar and smoking, in l976 Dederich decided that children interfered with Synanon goals and all pregnancies were aborted and all adult males–himself excluded–had vasectomies. [62] Resisters were put into long games and harangued until they broke and then they were carried into makeshift medical rooms where doctors performed vasectomies. Several doctors had never done the operation before. One woman aborted after being blasted in a Synanon encounter game after being pregnant for four months.

After his wife died of cancer in 1977, Dederich interviewed women for the position of his fourth wife and, finding he could now mate with a stranger, to reinforce the validity of his decision, he ordered all Synanon couples to dissolve and take new mates for three years to share in his experience.

As the group grew more insular, it grew more violent. In 1974 Dederich allowed members to strike disobedient, non-member juveniles sent by probation officers, a plan necessary for Synanon to maintain its tax free charitable status. Soon violence carried over and members were struck for disobedience and perceived enemies were attacked. Now allowed, there was competition to prove loyalty by committing violence best. A rancher and his family who helped Synanon runaways were attacked by a mob of Dederich loyalists. Neighboring teenagers who offended the group were likewise beaten by mobs, as were visitors accused of being spies or thieves. Ron Eidson, a rancher who wouldn’t apologize for a traffic incident was pistol whipped at his ranch in front of his wife and children, all of this approved by Dederich, Synanon medical doctors and a staff of about five lawyers, including the number one ranked graduates of the Stanford and Harvard Law schools.

Dederich converted his best men into “Imperial Marines” at an Al Queda-like training camp, [63] eventually dispatching them on coast-to-coast “missions” against perceived enemies. Dederich soon declared as official, as predicted long ago by Lifton, a “holy war” against enemies wherein followers were encouraged to make violent attacks for which Synanon would deny responsibility while warning the public its uncontrollable residents might escalate to throwing bombs into the homes of those who criticize the organization. A man trying to get his child out was beaten with mallets in front of his home and almost died. Ranchers who challenged Synanon were attacked as well as perceived trespassers and members suspected of stealing.

My involvement with Synanon stretched approximately 8 years. During that time I reviewed over 20 banker boxes of documents and listened to hundreds of Dederich tapes that were broadcasted over Synanon’s “wire.” These documents included training of the Imperial Marines and the National Guard as well as directions to get enemies. I have also about 16 volumes of Dederich at deposition; total member depositions fill a closet. I deposed Dederich and he confirmed “notions” in Synanon arose out of his childhood and life experiences, and that he pressured people to turn over their assets to him. My cases involved child custody, [64] getting return value for “donated” house, damages for attempted coercive persuasion (the attack on beliefs drove a plaintiff psychotic) and damages for victims of violence.

In the summer of l974 I was mainly a magazine writer working part-time law with my brother Lewis. A skid row alcoholic named T.B. Renfroe managed, against the rules of a small light mental convalescent home in Burbank, telephone a liquor store operator downtown to say he was being held against his will. The proprietor and my brother talked and the matter fell into my hands. I made contact with a nurse named Mary Williams who had already been doing her investigation which led to the discovery of a Philippine — Mafia connected scheme to kidnap skid row alcoholics and sell them $125 per head to a chain of convalescent homes stretched across Los Angeles County and Orange County so that Medi-Cal could be billed for their stay and medical care. Thorazine was used to keep them sedated. I actually went undercover in pretense to meet with the capper and after locating a book keeper who quit and kept copies of the payoff checks for her own protection I took the case to the Department of Health. Licenses were lost and the capper was convicted. The resulting publicity promoted me to public figure status in Los Angeles and so it was that a man whose wife had walked into Synanon and was not seen again called me on the telephone.

I had assumed Synanon a licensed facility and called the Health Department but they informed that Synanon had no license for reasons they did not understand and they were not allowed to enter or inspect. When I finally got the woman out of Synanon she was having a psychotic break from the pressures of the Synanon game make or believe her husband no longer wanted her and that Synanon was now her family. She was hospitalized and 3 weeks later called me and thanked me for saving her life. When I asked why she thought I saved her life she responded if I had not gotten her out she would have become one of them.

I filed a lawsuit against Synanon for kidnapping, false imprisonment and brainwashing. And so the war started.

Dederich denounced me so much on the wire– a closed-circuit 24 hour communication system within Synanon all a big brother in 1984 that Splitees (people who leave) knew who to come to for help. I eventually filed another case regarding child abuse and the attached declarations of ex-children were reported by Narda Zacchino of the Los Angeles Times. Her stories made the wire services and suddenly Synanon’s great name was under attack. It caused the Marin County grand jury to open investigation in which I was requested to attend and to present evidence. The scathing report issued was rejected by Marin Sheriff Louis Montanos as idiotic. [65] Another reporter joined the investigation—Connie Chung. And Pat Lynch produced a segment 3 on Synanon in the summer of l978.

In June of 1978 on the half of the grandmother and through legal action had taken I had Synanon surrounded in San Francisco by 11 police cars with weapons drawn to remove 3 children from Synanon who are under the age of 18 and without parents. Later that summer, Marin County Supervisors including Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein, through a deputy counsel contacted me to advise there was a bill by Congressman Herschel Rosenthal making its way through the California Legislature that would exempt Synanon from all licensing laws. It was explained to me that because Synanon was a powerful resident the supervisors did not want to go on record against the bill and instead were asking me to somehow defeat it. By that time the bill had passed all but one committee.

I had in fact provided the information to convince the Health Department that Synanon was acting as a residential care facility for people with medical problems that they could not do so without a license. The Department of Health at my constant urging eventually tried to inspect and Synanon would not allow them on the property leading to a then pending lawsuit by the Department of Health. I knew if the bill passed all my work would be for not. So off I went, contacting each committee member or staff, telling the story, sending evidence and the bill was defeated by one vote.

In September of 1978 I won a $300,000 judgment for the woman I got out of Synanon and her husband. I was fighting Synanon in the press, trying to publicly expose them. By now Synanon had sued me claiming I was interfering with the practice of religion out of prejudice. I also by then was aware of the beatings, the Synanon Imperial Marines and was putting together proof of a conspiracy within Synanon management for the Marines to go out and attacked the enemies of Synanon and if caught to go to jail telling a story that does not involve Synanon. Worse, I knew that Synanon knew I was figuring it out. I feared this was a battle that was only to have one survivor.

On October 10, 1978, two Synanon Imperial Marines, one a former Vietnam veteran addict and the other the son of a famous bandleader, placed a four and a half foot rattlesnake in my mailbox. I returned home from the meeting with Atty. Gen.’s terrorist office to be bitten and rushed to the hospital. It was the act that would lead to Synanon’s ultimate demise.

I finally deposed Mr. Dederich after his conviction in a case of a rancher that they pistol whipped in front of his family due to a vehicle incident on a Visalia road.

I was hired by the United States Department of Justice I believe in l982 to assist in its case to retroactively revoke Synanon’s charitable status for a four-year reign of terror that included over 50 physical attacks from coast to coast. When the Deputy Attorney told me who he was I responded where “where have you guys f—ing been.” Much of the evidence of Synanon responsibility was produced by the law firm of Lillick and McHose who represented ABC which had been sued by Synanon. Those guys were my heroes. Evidence was also obtained by the Los Angeles police department and Mike Carroll of Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office. The Justice Lawyers uncovered more, including that Synanon had a hitman hired to take me out for $10,000 but Dederich decided to save the money shouting and “This is what I trained the Marines for.” Synanon’s defense was crippled by the findings several Synanon members and attorneys had destroyed evidence during the criminal prosecution of Dederich for the snake attack. Based on Synanon’s own documents they kept under violent attacks summary judgment was issued and Synanon’s tax free status was retroactively revoked. Synanon fought the ruling on appeal, as well as the ultimate assessment for taxes, interest and penalties, but eventually the doors of Synanon closed in 1991 13 years after the snake attack. Dederich spent his remaining years living in a home with his chosen wife and died in 1997. [66]
Center for Feeling Therapy

I represented over 40 plaintiffs after this movement self destructed. My work covered 5 years and I reviewed more documents than I did fighting Synanon.

Art Janov’s Primal Scream became a hit in the sixties encounter groups trend after John Lennon called it the greatest in Rolling Stone magazine. So many young, lonely and insecure college graduates wanted to come that Richard “Riggs” Corriere and Joseph Hart broke away from Primal Institute to start the Center for Feeling Therapy in Hollywood. At the time they were teachers at UC Irvine and recruited considerable class students to the center. [67] The therapists purchased several houses and took out common fences to create the “compound.” They sent out advertisements that their programs could cause a complete transformation and cure in six to eight months. But in the end, no one was ever told they were well enough to leave and most had remained 9 years [68] until the Center ended in a patient revolt following a revelation that certain myths taught to all were admitted not true.

Prospective patients had to first convince their masters they should be taken on by writing long letters showing how bad their lives were and how much they needed the center. When they arrived, they were placed in two-week “intensives,” and ordered to wear no makeup and remove items of identity. Without contact but for long hours each day in isolation they were convinced by the interrogator how bad their prior lives were.

The Center taught that all people were harmed by not being able to live by their true feelings, starting with being told “no” as children by their parents. The Center patients lived together in apartments surrounding the compound. Patients could date only other patients, and even then they were often selected by the therapists. Permission was needed to break up relationships. Like Synanon, it used horrible punishments and humiliations to control behavior. A woman was made to moo like a cow in group, a man to sleep in a crib and a diaper, and a woman resisting an ordered abortion to carry a doll with weights around its legs. Some patients who tried to leave were tackled and brought back. Therapists routinely struck patients, and patients were taught to strike other patients who were suspected of having negative thoughts. Verbally berating a person in front of others– called a “haircut” in Synanon –was called a “bust” at the Center and in one community “challenging.” All therapists intermarried, but no patient married or had a child. Therapists routinely had sex with patients.

Riggs and Hart call themselves the Butch Cassidy and Sundance Kid of psychotherapy and appeared on Geraldo Rivera and Johnny Carson. They preached that their system could make their patients believe anything, including that Atlantis was rising from the sea. Further, their system they admitted in the wrong hands would be like a buzz saw figuratively cutting off hands and feet, only the damage would be mental. “Like Synanon,” they admitted, their followers to keep their sanity– now that they had learned to live from feelings– had to live in a community of similar feeling persons as the world outside would disorder them. Also like Synanon, the Center created businesses that employed patients at cheaper wages. Other patient-run businesses paid consulting fees to a Center-aided business consulting firm. Patients were required to refer new patients and to hand out cards in the street promoting books written by the leaders.

Not only were lawyers members at the Center, two lawyers gave up law practices to act as therapists with assigned patients at the center. The Center regularly had open houses to interest others and recruit those appearing most suitable. The Center plan was to gross $1 billion a year by making therapists out of patients and opening clinics across the country. The patient – therapists were paid low wages, forced to donate long hours and could be punished or fined for losing a patient or not reaching recruitment quotas. Patients in therapy were convinced to enhance their lives they are to bring their friends to therapy when in reality the ploy was to convince the friends to join. Those clinic patients most suitable would be “funneled” inside to the Center community.

The way the Center ended proved Lifton’s theory of “hundred flowers bloom.” Patient-therapists tiring of long hours and poor pay finally spoke amongst themselves concerning their negative thoughts during a time period that Riggs was off in Arizona playing Cowboy on a ranch purchased with patient funds that had been raised to purchase a gymnasium for the center. This led to a busting of Riggs and temporary allowing of free thought that in 48 hours became so volatile the Center closed and Riggs departed California. [69]

Licenses were taken away in the longest license removal administrative hearings in history and has been called the greatest psychotherapy tragedy in history.

Jack Rosenberg, a used car salesman from Philadelphia with a couple of criminal convictions for fraud, dabbled in Scientology and then became a trainer for Mind Dynamics. He was charismatic, successful and discovered self-help was the thing to sell. When Mind Dynamics came under criminal investigation for pyramid schemes [70] Jack broke away and, with what he learned from Mind Dynamics and with the aid of some Scientologists, developed his program. He changed his name first to Kirk Von Savage and then to Werner Erhard and started “est”: (Erhard Seminar Trainings). It became an instant success in the 70s with the middle class yearning for “benefits.” Weekend trainings (modeled after Synanon Trip) took place where the doors were shut and going to the bathroom was disallowed. It was a philosophy of there is no good, no bad, just is. People were taunted with the goal of getting it while called assholes and other names. Each was to participate in the confessing of the sins of their lives and was put down until they did confess and surrender. [71]

est began to make millions, but the wealth was not shared. Instead it remained in a complicated non-profit-to-profit corporation scheme that wound up in an IRS investigation. It had the usual advantage of a cheap-to-free-labor force. One could get benefits by helping est succeed or just being around Werner. So people volunteered the phone lines to call friends, family or anyone to convince them to first time enroll or to come to a graduate seminar. The money was there to pay these workers but it was not so spent. est proclaimed each person the master of his universe and responsible for what happens to them, whether raped or inheriting a fortune. Under this philosophy one could do as he or she wished because if it hurt someone else that was that person’s responsibility and what he or she really wanted–a rationalized sold acceptance of sociopath thinking. Werner might be seen as the Grandaddy of the “Me” generation leading to a philosophy critical to the current economic collapse.

Werner (he wanted to be called by his first name) had big ambitions. His biography was highly publicized. He stated a goal of est becoming a worldwide philosophy. He had plans to get est taught in schools (and when it happened grade performances diminished) and offered free training to any government agency that would take it.

Internally, Werner controlled his followers. People were encouraged to direct all their time and thoughts to est and him. He used Scientology’s e-meter (a makeshift lie detector) on his staff and family to make sure they were loyal and dedicating their time totally to him. His temper was highly volatile and he often in rages broke or ripped things apart. Criticism included reprimands and punishments, some of which were physical. On occasions he struck people, women included, and was once arrested for assault. [72]

Eventually, a lot of criticism about est circulated, pushed by me, including that it brainwashes. It was made fun of in several movies, particularly “Semi-tough.” Werner was there for the money more than the dogma and was willing to respond, modify and change. When criticized for promoting selfishness he declared he would end world hunger by stating all we had to do was think it. He established the hunger project which solicited donations. But the magazine Mother Jones did an exposé showing how the project was a recruitment tool for est and how the non-profit money was going to est not hungry children. est claimed the money would be used to “educate” on hunger. The article was appropriately entitled, “Let Them Eat est.”

In the 80s est came under the fire of litigation, including claims of brainwashing. [73] Werner then dissolved est training and replaced it with the Forum in l983. [74] He made a purchase of the materials from the non-profit foundation. [75] Werner himself came under attack with dirt tossed around by his ex-wife claiming abuse during a divorce. One of his daughters on 60 Minutes announced her father had molested her. [76]

Werner and Associates than sold the Forum to the Landmark Educational corporation [77] and Erhard moved abroad. He claims he had to go into seclusion for fear that he is in danger from Scientology death threats for squirreling [78] Scientology teachings. [79]

An assistant of Erhard broke off and later became subject also to a series of lawsuits.
Rajneesh and Aum Shinrikyo

Controlling relationships and prohibiting them both succeed in making sure the movement’s goals are the priority of all. Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh encouraged free love ala Manson, long encounter groups, ala Dederich, mixed with guru teachings. Like L. Ron Hubbard of Scientology, he was paranoid about contact with germs which aided his image as a higher being. His followers received new names like the SLA and Manson people did and orange robs.

Based on listening to public relation speeches of Ma Anan Sheela in l984, I warned authorities in the media that Rajneesh had entered the “we vs. them” phase and that violence was coming. Two weeks later it was discovered Rajneesh had spiked salad bars at 10 restaurants in Oregon with Salmonella Typhimurium, forerunning the Aum Shinrikyo sect in Japan in l995 releasing sarin nerve gas in Tokyo’s subway pursuant to a Manson-like con of bringing on a needed Armageddon. Aum Shinrikyo succeeded in killing 12 and injuring thousands. A lawyer investigating the group disappeared.
Branch Davidians

David Karesh’s followers chose to perish by fire, along with their children, rather than surrender during the Waco shoot-out in 1993, similar to DeFreeze’s choice when the SLA were similarly surrounded by authorities and to that of Jim Jones. If Karesh was not going to surrender, no one would. This was another example of all must join to validate Karesh’s choice to be a martyr and how the irrationality of the leader become rational to followers. This led to similar end in Heaven’s Gate.

Heaven’s Gate

Four years after Waco and 19 years after 900 drank Jim Jones kool aid, followers of Heaven’s Gate’s founder Marshall Applewhite, were cajoled into drinking phenobarbitol-and-vodka cocktails per a sales pitch to “shed their containers” and rendezvous with a UFO. The body count included Applewhite and his wife was 39.

I heard of this group for the first time when a journalist called to advise and get my opinions after the mass suicide. Profiling Applewhite was not difficult. When I was told male followers had castrated themselves, I said to look for a sex-related event in Applewhite’s life that caused him trauma and from which the group came into existence. I said he was preaching sex was a sin, his marriage was platonic and the males to honor him removed their organs. It was later reported Applewhite had been a college music professor but a homosexual affair with a student got him fired and cost him his wife and children. From there he became a mental patient, met a nurse with whom he would form a sexless relationship and start Heaven’s Gate, claiming they (now called Do and Ti) came originally from another universe. They did not have sex. Thus to follow his choice and rationalize it, followers renounced sex and a group of males submitted to castration.

From there he became a mental patient, met a nurse with whom he would form a sexless relationship and start Heaven’s Gate, claiming they (now called Do and Ti) came originally from another universe. Thus to follow his choice and rationalize it, followers renounced sex and 39 males submitted to castration. Marshall was not one of them.

As to the mass suicide, I said the space ship story was the sales pitch and Appelwhite did not believe it. I said he either had a life threatening illness or believed he had one. He wanted to go, so all must prove that this is right decision and follow. His believing he had a terminal illness turned out to be correct. These victims were not poor and uneducated. They were middle class, tireless workers, who brought in large sums of money building commercial websites.
Center for Human Growth

The Center for Human Growth was a lesser known and small group. I know a lot about it because I sued it on behalf of two former members. It was founded by a non-licensed theorists, Jay Kennedy, who, like others without a license provided live therapy and same by video tapes while controlling licensed therapist followers. This also occurred in Center for Feeling Therapy. Riggs Corriere never got his PH.D until the end. Then he lost his license. While quite old, Kennedy also had controlled the licensed women underneath in part through sexual affairs.

Leaders of Center pushed members to donate to Jay to aid his work in saving mankind and for similar reasons to provide funds to pay center bills, all in addition to regular charges. As with most such groups, parents were considered the root of pathology and outside relationships discouraged. [80]

Lawrence Cohen first did not want to be Jewish- type-casted so he changed his last name to Corey. When later the therapist became born again Jewish, likewise his small group of followers had to rationalize and affirm the decision. So he converted his non-jewish patients to Judaism, his sales pitch being that Judaism is the only “psychotherapy” that can succeed; the proof being that Jews all through out history had preserved in the face of horrible persecution. [81]

Cohen used his patient-followers for support and a roof, convincing them to purchase a condo for him and then all members had to live in condos in the same building from which he could march his patient-followers to Synagogue and have them serve his every needs. In addition he had a sexual relationship with one younger member. Ultimately licensing action was taken by the State. [82]

I represented several ex-members who sued him.

Mental institutions had failed science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard, so he theorized and wrote “Dianetics”. It developed quite a following and a new therapy school was born, its practioners using e-meters “ (quasi lie detectors)” to detect past “ingrams” (emotional traumas) and “audit” (conditioning) until member could repeat the episode without moving the needle. [83] The follower was then said to be “clear” of the event, and one who could do it while speaking of all aspects of his life reached “Clear” status. After government action for fraudulent representations as to healing powers and lack of therapy licenses, Dianetics morphed into the Church of Scientology. Representations and treatment were now claimed to be of faith, rather than secular and thus free from therapy ethics and other laws. Later levels of enlightenment (at a cost) were available to those deemed ready for same included the teaching that long ago in a George Lucas like world an evil lord placed A-bombs in volcanoes on earth leading to future damaged psyches because destroyed thetans (souls) landed on future new born babies. Initially this ultimate “secret” was kept for Scientologists until leaders believed the person was ready to accept such a tale and the followers had completed and paid for other upper courses. I had battled in court that the public had the right to know the secret of OT level 3 before deciding to join. Today it is common information even ridiculed by a television cartoon show (South gate).

Hubbard earlier wrote that controlling a person could begin with just asking him to hang up your hat and acknowledged “brainwashing.” In his earlier writings he also wrote one of the easiest ways to become rich was to start a religion.

Hubbard, like the Bagwan Rajneesh, lived a catered life and tried to avoid germs and Hubbard often lived at sea from where he could direct his private war on enemies, all similar to the leader of the fictional “Spector” in the James Bond movies. Based on an informant’s tip, who claimed Scientology held him prisoner to prevent his talking after he was arrested for attempting to steal IRS Scientology files in l977, the FBI seized Scientology’s “Guardian’s Office” documentation of training and employing FSM’s (covert agents) to infiltrate, criminally frame and/or otherwise ruin those seen as a threat by Scientology. [84] These plans were carried out as to some adverse to Scientology including a governmental lawyer, a critical author and several anticipated as being a possible threat. Eleven members went to prison, including Hubbard’s wife. Hubbard, himself, was an un-indicted co-conspirator as he could not be found and was not found until his death. Scientology also once lost its tax status because its assets were funnelled to Hubbard. Hubbard wrote that Scientology should be quick to sue its critics as they can be destroyed by cost of litigation and victory was not necessary; critics were subject to “fair game,” i.e. destruction. It appears less abuses are reported against Scientology in recent years and the organization, years removed from Hubbard’s direct control, may be mutating, as did Synanon in the end, to a more benign movement and accepted organization. [85]

Christ Bridge in Arcadia provided spiritual and psychological counseling and ran a private grade school. Its charismatic leader Dr. John Gottuso, at one point a licensed therapist, preached and practiced his theory– Psytheosynthesis (“PTS”)– a merger of therapy and Christianity. Gottuso saw clients individually and in the group meetings in Gottuso’s home. The children of followers were placed in the grade school and in therapy as well. All teachers at the school were members of Christ Bridge. After the death of his father Gottuso sent members a letter saying all past relationship ties were cut and he would continue only with those willing to make a commitment.

Gottuso’s taught women they were sick and not good Christians because Christ did not allow them the sex they lusted. So he preached that sex was really no big deal, you could have it with anyone, including males other than spouse, as long as you did not turn sex into idolatry (as in worshipping an idol before Christ). Of course, he would help them with this. He also taught women to be servants of their mates and that males should exercise this dominance.

Gottuso’s sexual abuse started in l960’s. As a result of five civil cases wherein I represented former female clients, Gottuso lost his license in l989 and State action issued against the school in l989-1991. For acts on female students he was arrested in 1992 and again in l996. In the mid l990’s I represented six minors and 5 adults in civil actions against him and spoke on behalf of another victim at Gottuso’s sentencing. I brought to his sentencing hearing female victims from 4 decades.

Gottuso’s modus operandi was similar on most occasions. Gottusos sales pitch was to convince his victims they had a sex problem that each would not admit, that they all longed for sex and the cure is to be “free” in order to learn that sex is nothing. To prove his point, he forced confessed sexual fantasies, and convinced each victim he is the one each really wants. He hugged, touched, hinted, kissed, made innuendoes, wanting his victim to initiate. His favorite question was “Are you wet?” He had certain requirements to justify his defenses. The woman must initiate so he could say they were at fault. If they hesitated he chastised them angrily and would wait until they “were ready.” Intercourse was often withheld so he could claim no real adultery. When he had children disrobe, he would claim he was not looking so nothing was wrong. To break his victims down, he verbally degraded them publicly and privately, pinched their breasts and pulled on their pubic hairs. The children were subject to punishments at school for not dealing with their sexuality and at home their parents received instructions to ground them. Practically all victims reported that when these events occurred Gottuso’s face would actually change and take on a strange look. Female students were degraded in “Bible” class, even ordered to do slut walks in front of class while Gottuso encouraged male students to grade them.

It did not matter that. Gottusos was married, because there could be many holy relationships before God, only idolatry prevented oneness. Marriage was simply the space between two people. Thus, women could become secret “covenant wives.”

All victims in therapy were made to feel that they were worthless, dependent and in need of Gottusos’s directions. He controlled how they lived and what they thought. And many thought each was the only one this was happening to.

Gottuso always told his followers how great he was and lucky they were to have him. He spoke continuously about his past life, glorifying it. He, as did therapists at Center for Feeling Therapy, bragged about things he could be but instead choice to be there for his followers. But not a single person I interviewed ever knew once before he had been long ago married to another woman and had two other children. I found the divorce file when checking court archive records. It was clear this was his Rosebud, i.e from where his hatred for women and desire for revenge on women sprung. [86]

My last case against Gottuso wherein I represented 6 minors and 5 adults ended with an award of $3,200,00. His school still operates.
Unnamed group

In the settlement agreement made in this case I agreed that the names of the parties involved would not be revealed by me in the future. I am only allowed to discuss what was alleged. While I have been involved with many cases involving violence and great physical and/or emotional harm there was a part of this case and that bothered me considerably.

At age 11, a boy we will call Timothy was the youngest of 3 children who lost their parents that year in an automobile accident. the parents were well enough to leave each child approximately $1 million. His older brother became his Guardian. But rather was also a true believer member of a small sect operating in a small prosperous beach town along the California coast. Timothy, through his brother, lived in communal homes of sect members and raised in their beliefs. Just after the parents death the brother had taken Timothy to a sect meaning where a circle was formed to pray for the parents. The leader took Timothy into the middle of the circle, placed his hands on Timothy shoulders and said that it was his parents karma to be borne, make their money and through their death bring that money to the sect in order to better mankind. The leader further told little Timothy that by his cooperation in giving the money he will be guaranteeing his parents a better life in their next reincarnation.

The brother, as guardian, begin making gifts even prior to Timothy reaching 18. After reaching that age most of Timothy’s money was transferred. Timothy remained a member but left when he observed atmosphere becoming violent and observed the leader shouting at seemingly no one. He went to Dr. Margaret Singer for exit counseling in his mid 20s. She help him understand when it happened in his childhood and helped him break free. She also referred him to me to get his fortune back. His case was settled.
VII. United States as a Totalistic Society

I was once asked in a documentary following the invasion of Iraq if Fox Network News was “brainwashing.” I answered “no” as a person could change the station and get a different view. Fox was like George Putnam. But what if all stations said the same. Of if one watches only Fox? At the time CNN was pretty much in line with Fox. Both had flags waiving, were patriotic to point of putting down critics, and were totally irresponsible by bringing the war live in to living rooms.

In so doing, not only was it risked a parent might see a child killed, the networks had finally duplicated George Orwell’s Big Brother. Big screens were everywhere showing brave soldiers risking their lives to preserve the public ideology and lifestyle—proving the sacredness of it. Polarized by 9/11 a nation heard “enemy, enemy,” 24 hours a day. A President, not psychologically or historically much different than his opponent Osama Bin Laden, put the conflict in terms of evil vs. good. And as did Osama did for Muslims Bush proclaimed God is on our side. Both Bin Laden and George Bush, Jr. had famous powerful fathers to please and impress, both had periods of drinking and excess, both had born again experiences, both thought they spoke for God. Both had war experiences (Afghanistan and Kuwait ) that propelled them to fame and created a lust for repetition. Bush denounced France and Germany with the words of a dictator: “You are either with us or against us.”

When Bin Laden could not be found, led by Bush the country responded overboard to a misguided youth found fighting for the Taliban. Finally a nation cheered invasion of another country and the mass killing of innocent people.

For the only time in my experience in America free speech was on hold. To criticize was to be shunned. But as with the Nixon era, the press, as it usually does, woke up, this time sparked by Bush exposing a spy because her husband dared criticized him. Finally the realization hit that like other totalistic leaders Bush had lied about his sales pitch for the war—weapons of mass destruction.

That America came out of its malignant state is a credit to our guarantee of a free press. But polarization has always gripped this country in the form of its two party system and belief all is fair in love and politics. There is a little difference between the psychology of a political rally and that of those in totalitarian communities or lynch mobs. To win, one party may sabotage the other’s attempt for success in helping the country. Critics will be destroyed with lies just as easy as with truth.
VIII. Conclusion

Charles Dederich once stated of Synanon’s early days treating drug addiction that in Synanon they took away free choice because free choice in the hands of an addict is like a loaded gun in the hands of a baby. In these totalistic movements free choice is also taken away but the gun-in-baby-hands analogy is more descriptive of the power of the leader. As Lifton wrote the process is one of the world’s gravest concerns and dangers; a cause of Holy Wars. And he wrote that about 25 years before 9/11.

Today is the start of a new era with perhaps the final recognition of long ago predicted weaknesses of the free enterprise system. But the new President has been reported to have hired behaviour experts to manipulate society into thinking according to his belief. We should so think to better society. Once again, we face a return to Skinner’s world. The controls will work initially but history tells us that success breeds more experimentation and the search for quicker ways to convert. In the end who makes the decisions as to how we should behave. Osama? The next President? For the benefit of economy do we endanger our ability to decide matters free of coercive influence. Freedom inherits chaos. All people have equal opportunity, but are not equal. But Americans have always chosen freedom.

Americans have always been subject to behavioural manipulation whether its politics, advertising, investment ravings or sales. But probably not on the scale currently planned by our goverment. Our powers now believes we need to be made to see “correct” choices and to accomplish it plan like Mao did.. To what this leads to is yet known. Such a system can turn around an economy. Hitler made the trains run on time. But the problem is history shows absolute power corrupts absolutely and behaviour modification is a powerful tool that rarely fails.

It’s success will do good. Until it starts doing harm.

[2] I have been contacted countless times over the last three decades by individuals wishing my assistance in prosecuting their cases against these types of movements. I rejected approximately 75% on the merits. Sometimes the rejection was for reasons of the statue of limitations which was then one year, now extended to two years in California. Given the great amount of work that was necessary, the length of time from departure being beyond the statute of limitations was seen as risky even though the victim’s reason for inquiry and commencement of understanding as to what had happened to him or her was delayed by time necessary to overcame “guilt” over leaving and/or the implanted negative self image. Many who leave for some time believe they left because they failed. Though factually the statue could be overcome by estoppel doctrine (defendant cannot assert limitation statue if damage caused made filing timely not psychologically possible), I generally would only make the attempt to prove statue not a defense in a case of clear provable extensive damage.

I have also had the experience of seeing people in a courtroom that wanted to figuratively cut my eyes out and 90 days later I was having dinner with them and being told how they were “brainwashed.” I also have contacted former members as witnesses and found that after my questioning it would drastically change them in a short period of time and later they contacted me about suing; my questioning having begun to unravel programming. In one case involving a Synanon school teacher I sought out to deprogram the person at deposition by getting the person to repeat certain beliefs members universally held about the organization and then providing transcript of its founder stating the opposite of what members had been taught. This person ended up leaving Synanon shortly thereafter and turning evidence for governmental authorities.

It supported what kidnaper/deprogrammer Ted Patrick stated: Once you prove one lie, the follower unravels the others. I have never supported the kidnapping remedy, however.

[3] Skinner entertained the notion of starting a utopian community based upon behaviorist principles between the years 1955 and 1965, and even got as far as consulting an architect to plan the physical dimensions of one. Asked, in 1979, why he never followed through on his earlier intentions to start a community, or even joining an existing one, he said: “I’d have to get a divorce right away…My wife doesn’t believe in community.”

[4] In fiction author Jules Verne’s “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea,” Captain Nemo, romanticized by a Walt Disney film, suggests that at least Verne was aware of the phenomena in the 19th-century. The fictional Nemo, after a loss of family he blames on society’s violence, destroys battle ships and innocent seamen he sees as instruments of man’s evil, convincing a crew of men without previous purpose to follow in his mission against the world in a submarine that society mistakes for a sea monster. When Nemo is mortally wounded, he orders the Nautilus sunk so that his crew will die with him in a mass suicide. Not only does the crew agree to so die, they fight anyone who tries to stop it. As explained herein leaders often do not want to die alone and give moral pitches to get followers to end there lives, too.

[5] Attorney ethics require if a business deal is made with a client there is a presumption attorney took advantage and attorney has burden to prove fairness. With therapists such transactions are completely forbidden. It is also an APA violation to elevate a therapeutic theory to a superior status over other therapies. Yet that is what all totalistic movements do.

In the l980’s I was one of a group of lawyers and therapists that pushed the principle that any psychotherapists who has sex with a patient is absolutely liable in damages. At I the time I was being referred cases by the California Board of Medical Advisors. At the time stats showed 50% of therapists had at least one offense, the majority of offenders being the more publicly renowned. Our work led to the passing of California statue CC 43.93 which abloslutely prohibits such acts and make damage awards a matter of right.

[6] See In re Deborah C. (1981) 30 Cal.3d 125, 141 [177 Cal.Rptr. 852, 635 P.2d 446] (conc. opn. by Mosk, J.

[7] In Synanon, persons who left were derogatorily called “splitees” and followers were to no longer to have any contact with splitees, who were not welcome on the property.

[8] A group of that title had a large following in the Midwest in the 1970s.

Once so believing, a follower facing leaving fears his sickness will become worse and his obtained benefits lost, as well as losing those who “understand” him. If he leaves and the prophecy of failure occurs he is likely to try to return unless he has good support.

[9] Charles Dederich, the founder of Synanon, called purges “the squeeze” and “shaking the rotten fruit from the tree.”

[10] By example, Charles Dederich explained his own troubled youth started with his feelings that when his stepfather married his mother he had taken her away from him. In the early days of Synanon, Dederich had its members attend Oedipus Complex meetings so they would learn that all their problems stemmed from their still being in love with their mothers. After his father died when he was four he felt responsible for his younger brothers. At age eight, the youngest died of influenza and Dederich kept away from kids thereafter. In Synanon they were placed in a “Hatchery.” Eventually reproduction was outlawed.

[11] Not all so-called “cultish” groups studied turned to violence but each, if it survives long enough, develops that potential when and if the “we vs. they” dichotomy bridge widens and if violence comes to serve the purpose of the leader. If leader sells it to followers, the majority will so act in a totalistic movement (see Stanley Milgram experiment discussed below).

[13] California Supreme Court: “We use the terms ‘coercive persuasion,’ ‘mind control,’ and ‘brainwashing’ interchangeably to refer to the intense indoctrination procedures discussed herein.” Molko v. Holy Spirit Assn. (1988) 46 Cal.3d 1092 at FN10. Author was appellate counsel.

[14] California Supreme Court in Molko supra acknowledges the works of both Schien and Lifton and stated: “The brainwashing concept is controversial. Some highly respected authorities conclude brainwashing exists and is remarkably effective. (See, e.g., Lifton, Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism (1961); Schein, Coercive Persuasion (1961).) Some commentators additionally conclude that certain religious groups use brainwashing techniques to recruit and control members. (See, e.g., Delgado, Religious Totalism: Gentle and Ungentle Persuasion Under the First Amendment (1977) 51 So.Cal.L.Rev. 1, 3‑9; Rudin & Rudin, Prison or Paradise? The New Religious Cults (1980) pp. 20‑25; Clark et al., Destructive Cult Conversion: Theory, Research and Treatment (1979) 1‑15.) Courts have recognized the existence of brainwashing in religious settings.” (See Peterson v. Sorline, supra, 299 N.W.2d at p. 126; Meroni v. Holy Spirit Assn., supra, 125 Misc.2d 1061, 1067, 480 N.Y.S.2d 706.) FN 12

[15] The California Supreme court defined it: “Brainwashing is ‘a forcible indoctrination to induce someone to give up basic political, social, or religious beliefs and attitudes and to accept contrasting regimented ideas.’ (Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dict. (1987) p. 175.) The specific methods of indoctrination vary, but the basic theory is that brainwashing ‘is fostered through the creation of a controlled environment that heightens the susceptibility of a subject to suggestion and manipulation through sensory deprivation, physiological depletion, cognitive dissonance, peer pressure, and a clear assertion of authority and dominion. The aftermath of indoctrination is a severe impairment of autonomy and [of] the ability to think independently, which induces a subject’s unyielding compliance and the rupture of past connections, affiliations, and associations.’” (Peterson v. Sorline (Minn.1981) 299 N.W.2d 123, 126. Molko v. Holy Spirit Assn. (1988) 46 Cal.3d 1092 at FN11.

The California Supreme court in Molko, supra, recognized donations to spiritual groups can be rescinded for undue influence, as well as coercive persuasion FN17. “Although circumstances sufficient to support such a claim occur infrequently, religiously motivated gifts have occasionally been set aside on a particularly strong showing of undue influence by religious advisors.”

One of best descriptions was made by Dr. Frederick Hacker in his book Crusaders, Criminals and Crazies. Dr. Hacker, who fled as a young boy from the Nazis to America, had a clinic in Vienna on terrorism. He advised Hearst family that Patty would convert before she did and was consulted by governments in hostage situations. Until his death, Dr Hacker and I remained close friends and at one point we taught a class together at USC that included teaching coercive persuasion.

[16] The process actually existed in a form before Mao and was employed in Russia following the Communist revolution; its version had roots in the study of Pavlov’s dogs.

[17] A term for the process used by one small group still in existence from end of 60’s.

[18] Charles Dederich of Synanon called it dissipation and bragged that if he kept people up long enough you can get people to believe anything. To accomplish this he had a special “game” (encounter group) that lasted 72 hours. He had a weekend admitted conversion process called the Synanon Trip designed to emotionally break the subjects and force commitment. Werner Erhard, though not making the admissions, copied the process and called it est training. Richard Corriere of Center For Feeling Therapy said they could make people believe Atlantis was rising.

Dederich called his move to reduce monthly dues for outside club members to 1 cent a “stroke of genius.” The almost free status allowed him to use guilt to work on them all to make large donations, including many ultimately moving in and handing over all their assets to Synanon.

[19] Humans have a natural instinct to conform and adapt to surrounding values. If their belief structure is deleted they will reach to the environment for a replacement. Kanter, R. M. “Commitment and Community.”

[20] Some studies have showed Jewish descendants are the largest identifiable segment of “cult” population in America and various reasons have been stated for it, such as more rebellious to required belief from parents fearing dissipation of religion due to holocaust. I draw no real conclusion from this. My experience provides no support.

[21] In the past when I have seen someone particularly suffering from such experience I arranged for exit counseling with Dr. Singer. Her passing, unfortunately, deprives future victims the benefit of her knowledge. Typical victim damage is lack of trust in others. See Molko, supra, which not only defined coercive persuasion but also stated common damages of its application.

[22] Term coined by Eric Hoffer, a longshoreman who wrote the book, True Believer.

[23] Like Synanon game club for outsiders, est training, Feeling Therapy open houses, while subject to coercive influence, those who ultimately join a community or have time largely consumed by leaders are the ones whose lives become ultimately most in service of the group and its leader(s).

[24] The secret project thought up by Richard Helms and approved by Allen Dulles consisted of 149 subprojects involving over 80 universities, research foundations, similar institutions and 185 private researchers. Many victims suffered impaired health and at least two died. In l973 the CIA destroyed all known records relating to MKULTRA, although some financial records accidentally survived and were discovered in l977. This is an example of Lifton’s reverse polarization, i.e. the target takes on the same end-justifies-the-means as the attacker (see below discussion). For a brief period the United States had such a conversion following 9/11 exemplified by the “with us or against us” ramblings of leader President Bush.

[25] Dr. Lifton testified at the trial of Patty Hearst in l976. He later investigated the Japanese cult that released the sarin gas in Japan subway train stations. Still active at Harvard in his nineties, his consultation has been sought regarding predicted public responses in a post “9-11” America and whether the Iraq invasion was a typical polarized response to an attack from a polarized enemy.

Many who leave such groups have suffered similar grief and confusion, fearing the enlightenment path was removed. In reference to the Unification Church (Moonies), this was called one’s “Ticket to Heaven.”

[26] Terror and prison have been known to create the Stockholm Syndrome named after hostages who aided their captors surrounded by police in a foiled bank robbery. Such conversion is short in duration (coercive persuasion will ultimately fail, too, over time without reinforcement but recovery is significantly longer in coming). Patty Hearst probably fell victim to this syndrome but her ultimate conversion was through “struggle” groups led by DeFreeze in which the only other participants were members already converted, similar to Korean prisoners of War.

[27] Mao learned his process by applying it first to his soldiers and modified it through trial and error. In the United States some totalistic leaders read about the process while others used trial and error and got to the same place.

[28] This was the general result of those who took est training in the 1970s which was an intensive 48 hour confined attack on self in group settings modeled after the Synanon Trip which Dederich admitted was designed to break people and make them commit to Synanon. est damage came from the abusive attack or by commitment that led followers to enter the center of the est Community to become voluntary workers in slave like conditions.

[29] Intelligent people such as lawyers and doctors are not only not immune from this process most evidence points they are more susceptible or at the very least when converted the conversion is deeper. Doctors and lawyers led the Synanon Imperial Marines.

[30] From my own personal experience, in the United States Synanon had no peer in creating a totalistic environment and coercive persuasion machine.

[31] In the United States, totalistic movements speak also of enemies to force bond; a “we vs. them” mentality.

[32] I have observed this pattern continuously in my 30 year involvement.

[33] In May of l956, satisfied with control, Mao decided to allow some independent thinking and freedom of debate to allow people to vent grievances. It was thought this would lead to new ideas and improvement. Mao called this letting a “Hundred Flowers Bloom” expecting this to be “as gentle as a breeze or a mild rain.” Instead it became a hurricane of disillusionment. In six weeks, the movement had to be squashed and refresher courses on thought reform instituted. The former critics had to denounce the criticism; those who did not were arrested.

[34] The pain of such disillusionment is why for some it takes time after leaving to face it \.

[35] Synanon reached this state with the installation of a 24 hour inner broadcasting system while Jim Jones used a bullhorn.

[36] Universally this phenomenon was stated by my clients; the group would parrot the leader after leader interpreted individuals needed confessions concerning their past or current life conduct.

[37] Charles Dederich of Synanon became so paranoid of spies that a former drug addict showing his wife where he was reformed was taken prisoner, tied to a post, and with an attack dog near by and his wife confined, was beaten as a lesson to all spies.

[39] A prophetic term given recent events.

[40] Dr. Margaret Singer (as said above) states that patterns of similar brainwashing – “coercive persuasions” – have existed in various forms for centuries. “After the Roman Empire, there were spectacular clairvoyant cults that came up, where the leaders would have you go talk to the wall and someone hidden would talk back,” Singer says. “You had the Oneida Community in New York in the mid-1800s” – a utopian “group marriage” cult that died out as a philosophy but led to the non-cultish silver plate giant today – “and in post-World War II Japan there were cults everywhere led by men who said they were divine. You find it again and again – any time there is great upheaval, a big change in a society and people feel vulnerable, there are always sharpies around who want to hornswoggle people.”

[41] A report by New York’s Charity Fraud Division of the Attorney Generals Office led to Children of God fleeing the United States for Europe in the early winter of 1973. Berg told his followers they had to leave because the comet Kohoutek was going to strike the United States, a false story that would be similarly used years later by Heaven’s Gate to induce a mass suicide.

[42] While many ex-members have told me that kidnapping- deprogramming saved their lives, I have never condoned the activity.

[43] Such involuntary deprogramming rarely occurs today; although the majority of juries acquitted Ted Patrick on grounds his crime was necessary to prevent a greater crime. Today, there are many who practice voluntary deprogramming or what Dr. Margaret Singer called “Exit counselling.” This, too, involves presenting convincing proof of lies and a discussion of the process. I have used the concept of Patrick at a deposition to successfully deprogram a Synanon follower while deposing him. I have applied exit counselling to countless clients and non-clients, including even persons who were defendants (leader assistants) in civil actions wherein I represented the plaintiffs.

[44] Moon would eventually spend time in prison for tax evasion.

In the 1960s and ’70s, Singer reported, “I started hearing from families who had missing members, many of them being young kids on our campus or others, and they all would describe the same sorts of things.. The person would have a sudden change in personality, a new way of talking, would hang out with one of the many cultic groups that were springing up in those days, and then they’d disappear. “And bingo – it was the same sort of thing as with the Korean War prisoners. I recognized the same sort of thought-reform processes, the social controls. Only now it was happening right here at home.”

[45] The idea of satanic cults is popular in books and movies. The only suggestions of same to me by claimed victims were found on examination non-believable. Dr. Singer also stated she never came across one.

[46] This is a common method of recruiting, i.e. use of sex. COG termed it “flirty fish” and Nichon Shison called it shaka buko (unsure of spellings).

[47] The SLA did this similarly, but the greatest paranoia was in Synanon which was protected by several layers of trained security personnel. Ax handles and weapons were locked up but ready to be handed out to the community. Suspects were captured routinely and beaten. Secret missions to do physical harm were ordered against many not initially captured.

[48] Ironically, I worked with Tex Watson at Contessa Creations the summer before he found Manson. We were close friends. He was very conservative, shy of the California lifestyle and appeared to have fine morals. Seeing how a person can be so destroyed and rebuilt is one of many first hand experiences I had that led me to study totalistic movements and to represent and/or counsel victims.

To this date Leslie Van Houten remains in prison—wrongfully in my view– the misfortune of an e home-coming princess who decided to go hitchhiking one day.

[49] Victims of coercive persuasion not only believe they are acting by free will, but are told that by their leaders. Each while in the group believes he is blessed to so believe until some event “snaps” them out. “Snapping” by Jim Siegelman and Floy Conway.

[50] Bugliosi, perhaps because he is intertwined, argues against comparing Manson to cult leaders such as Jim Jones and David Karesh. They ordered mass suicides, he contends, and says that is different than getting people to commit murder for you. Actually, it is harder to get people to kill themselves rather than others. Further, Bugliosi’s argument forgets the murders at the Jonestown airport before the suicides and that many followers who tried to run from the poison distribution were shot in the back. And the bullets fired by Karesh followers at the ATF agents were not blanks. Someone poured the kool-aid and someone lit the match.

[51] In time, new evidence surfaced suggesting that Manson family members were also victims of a ruthless thought-reform regime. In jail, away from the total control of Manson, all ultimately recanted their allegiance and expressed remorse. Other family members went off and lived normal and good lives. Watson (from prison) and Paul Watkins wrote books on how Manson programmed them and the family. Watkins had been No. 2 in the family, but, after being deprogrammed by a neighbouring miner while Manson was visiting the Beach Boys, he went on to become a mayor and head of the chamber of commerce in a small Death Valley town. Had he not been deprogrammed, he wrote in his book, it would have been him, not my old friend Watson, involved in the murders. His greatest regret was picking up Leslie Van Houten hitchhiking, as it led her to a life in prison.

[52] Dr. Singer stated most (leaders) don’t recruit in the poor end of town, because “people in the poor end are street smart and know when someone’s out to steal their lunch money,” Singer said. “No, they come off very nice at first, go for vulnerable people who are looking for answers and are lonely.” That means educated, open-minded, middle-class people – “what you’d call normal people,’ ” she says. “Like the smart kids that became SLA recruits, Manson’s women, David Koresh’s victims in Texas. “These sharpsters, when they’re very good at what they do, can get people to believe anything,” Singer says. “Anything. You might think you’d never get taken in – but don’t bet on it.”

People’s Temple and to some extent Synanon were exceptions starting with the poor, but both became more bizarre when they successfully switched to recruiting middle class and wealthy that provided better workers and greater financial donations.

[53] David Koresh also convinced Branch Davidians to die in a fire rather than surrender to FBI. Fire is a horrible death and confirms the commitment and loyalty this process produces.

[54] This is similar to statements of Manson followers when arrested and recently of John Walker Lindh when he was arrested in Afghanistan.

[55] One might say I was tangentially a factor in her release because of my efforts against Synanon and Jonestown and to publicize how coercive persuasion was involved in each. Ironically, Carter’s wife was involved in new age movements and through a white house staff member both est and Synanon were making inroads.

[56] As stated above, lawyers, doctors, intellectuals are not immune from coercive persuasion. Because they provide income and skills, they are often targeted by the leader and kept on a leash close to the leader.

[57] The father of this child was a follower-attorney for Jones who did his legal work. Jones seduced many woman, including this attorney’s wife, and claimed the child was his. The attorney, having left, won custody and was trying to enforce the order in Guyana but was too late. The child died with the others.

[58] Similarly through group influences members became both a financial reservoir and a work force.

[59] On the tape an 11 year old boy says he is ready to die. Jones says he is of age to pick up a saber and fight if necessary.

[60] I have three significant tapes from movements that illustrate the power of coercive persuasion to work regardless of the horror that is sold. Terror is twisted into beauty. In one tape Jones manipulates the group to kill their children on the last night of Jonestown. In another, Charles Dederich convinces doctors, lawyers and a Synanon community of approximately 1,000 to attack–even kill–their enemies. In the third, a therapist in a therapist community, the Center For Feeling Therapy, berates and physically strikes his patient until he falsely changes his confession of his personal history.

[61] I represented the father of a slain photographer at the Guyana Airport as well as various surviving family members of those who took the cool-aid laced with cyanide. This resulted in my reviewing numerous Peoples Temple documents, interviewing many ex-members and listening to tapes on the last night in Jonestown. Some had argued the Peoples Temple estate should not pay wrongful death claims as this was suicides. It was my job to show that it was murder by coercive persuasion.

[62] Important is that after his father died, Dederich became a surrogate father to his younger brothers, the youngest who died in 1920’s flue epidemic. As a result he later in life could not bond with children and so therefore to rationalize his life good children were removed from parents to a hatchery, and then to a school to be raised separate from parents who were discouraged from excessive visiting. Eventually pregnancies were to be aborted and males were to have vasectomies. Eliminating children also had benefits of reducing distractions from adults in serving Synanon and saving money raising them. Eventually, the “Punk squad” was developed for delinquents and violence was used as punishment. This became the birth spot for an ultimate industry of abusive camps and schools for children.

Thus same occurred in this Center for Feeling therapy where no children were born during the life of the center—1971 to l980.

Lack of children is found in many groups. Many either control or disallow amorous relationships. Through this method, there are no other relationships and loyalties or emotional ties that could get in a way of commitment.

[63] The Imperial Marines were run by a doctor, Doug Robson, M.D., who reported to the Synanon legal staff. Reports of attacks were maintained by the legal department to hide the same under attorney-client privilege. After I was bitten by a rattlesnake Synanon placed in my mailbox, Dr. Robson’s father apologized to me and said he was sure his son was involved.

[64] A fifteen year-old’s school essay bragged how Dederich can tell 1000 people what to do and that changing partners is good, people who do not obey are to be thrown out and the community will learn Syndo (martial arts) and all will be part of the holy war. His grade on the paper was A+.

[65] The sheriff in fact had been elected with Synanon’s help and had weapons permits issued to Charles Dederich and 2nd in command Dan Garrett. This caught the attention of Dave Mitchell, editor of a small weekly newspaper in Marin called the Point Reys Light. Mitchell’s investigation of Synanon led the Point Reys Light to become the first weekly to win the Pulitzer Prize. You can’t say Dave and I were in contact with each other daily because it was much more than that.

[66] ABC had commissioned a movie on Synanon in the 1980s and Showtime did again after Dederich’s death. Neither was ever made. Showtime greenlighted it 4 years, delaying due to setbacks, and then canceling. A book appeared this decade called the Rise and Fall of Synanon by Rod Janzen. Mr. Janzen used the UCLA archives as a source for his book not realizing Synanon was selective in its donation. He never interviewed me but did contact me for a date confirmation and when I offered him my Synanon documents I had on Synanon’s violence and brainwashing techniques he declined. He said his publisher John Hopkins did not want to extend the time. Janzen, believe it or not, never interviewed me. He was not a reporter but a supporter of communes with a pre conception he did not want to risk being interfered with. People he interviewed down playing the violence in many cases were the perpetrators themselves. This resulted in the most inaccurate books I have ever seen. But then I don’t read every day books about something I lived through. All other books on Synanon are generally factually accurate regardless of the perspective the author takes. The book I recommend most is Dave Gerstel’s Paradise Inc. For a completely accurate description of the early days nothing is more complete than the Tunnel Back by Lou Yablonski in the early 60’s. It was so frighteny accurate that while Yablonski wrote it in praise (he married a Synanon member), a Dr. Freidenberg writing in the magazine Nation warned of the Synanon disregard for humanity the author fails to see in his own reporting, comparing the process to Dr. Lifton’s work on brainwashing and predicted from reading the book alone that one day there would be a dangerous state of mind and Synanon. For more see my article a history of Synanon violence.

Steve Simon, a psychological student, was sent to Synanon by the reader of the humanistic movement, Abraham Maslow who believed Synanon was the future of psychology. Simon did his dissertation on Synanon and analyzed it has brainwashing per Dr. Lifton’s work. He warned that an investigator had to be careful not to be converted. Simon was not only converted, he ended up going to jail for destroying evidence.

[67] Several of the Center-to-be therapists were already having sex with class members, even sharing at least one woman.

[68] In these movements no one is ever told they are well enough to leave. The group advertised a 90-day cure but this is fraud. Victims later will be taught this is a life long commitment (which is also unethical for a therapist).

[69] I represented approximately 40 patients in litigation and also voluntarily assisted the Attorney General’s office in the longest license removal proceedings in history of California. I reviewed over 50 banker boxes of documents, speeches, therapist written articles and books, and listened to over 100 Center related tape recordings. Dr. Margaret Singer was hired by the State to testify to the therapeutic abuse and coercive persuasion employed by the Center For Feeling Therapy.

[70]Mind Dynamics was led by William Penn Patrick, whose Holiday Magic and other marketing schemes got in trouble with the federal government as Ponzi schemes when the marketers were more interested in selling franchises than products. It presented Jose Silva’s “Silva Mind Control” program as a large seminar, a name more honest than the labels put on self-help groups that would grow out of it.

The group evolved to “Leadership Dynamics” and one session, a subject of lawsuits, is described in the book: “The Pit: A Group Encounter Defiled,” and later made into a motion picture called Circle of Power starring Cindy Pickett illustrating how ego-destruction, cruelty and group dynamics transformed its participants into “brainwashed” loyal followers.

Today the group has reformed as Lifespring and is under new management. There have been numerous lawsuits for psychological abuse including wrongful death following this history. It has been accused of continuing some of the monstrosities described in “The Pit”, including the use of feces. Like est and Scientology, Lifespring abuses have been the subject of CBS= 60 minutes.

[71] In the training several processes led people to believe they got it even though they did not understand it. Group confessing tends to merge participants with the group and the long hours and intensity can lead to a peak experience (cathartic release) which the participant mistakenly credits the spoken wisdom. Further, no one wants to believe they wasted a weekend and several hundreds of dollars.

Many groups use practice of calling people “assholes” as does military in its conversion process.

[72] In l978 Werner offered to train an entire farm community north of Fresno, Parlier, after its mayor got it in a training in San Francisco. I and psychologist Jessie Miller were brought in by town’s resisters to educate on est. Proving Dr. Singer theory correct, the poor town had immunity; Erhard would have done better to go after Beverly Hills. The community eventually directed est to leave. Werner then got the Police Protective Union to agree to have Los Angeles Police officers attend free trainings. This ended after one session after I briefed the Police Under Chief and the Union at the request of Los Angeles Police Department Intelligence Division (LAPDID) and brought the matter to the attention of the media.

[73] Dr. Singer testified re Erhard’s process in his divorce proceeding.

[74]Use of the bathroom was disallowed.

[75]The est training was put on by a profit-making corporation which was owned by the non-profit corporation. Erhard was employed as a “researcher” by one of the corporations on salary. This was presented as a shield during his divorce. The structure itself and the accountant who set it up both came under IRS scrutiny. Erhard arranged a personal loan, documented by a very critical Fortune magazine article at the time, from a Swiss bank, which let him purchase the ‘est’ training and various other assets from the two corporations. Werner lost to the IRS and additional taxes were paid.

[76] One of the allegations made by his ex-wife, according to a TV news report, in addition to the physical abuse, dealt with group sex. She has also stated she had been kicked on the ground by Werner, he once shook his son and was using cocaine.

Erhard claimed his alleged abused daughter received value from their relationship.

[77]This group, too, has been sued for causing psychological injury.

[78] This is Scientology’s terms for others altering and using its concepts.

[79]Scientology has been noted for it’s policy of fair game–those who are opposed are open to destruction without retribution and a policy of stamping out squirrels–those who modify Scientology practices to form their own splinter group. It has been reported that before his death L. Ron Hubbard was not happy about est.

[80] I represented two clients who sued the Center.

[81] As with Dederich, Jones, and others, Corey’s long period surrounded by yes men led to making his sales pitches public, unaware those not subjected to this group directed influences might see him as insane.

[82] I represented two clients who sued him.

[83] This theory is not far from Janov’s Primal Scream.

[84] According to Synanon board minutes, Scientology counseled Synanon as to dealing with perceived enemies.

[85] Years ago litigation brought by Scientology forced Cult Awareness Network (a critical information house storing and offering information on various “cult” groups) into bankruptcy and from said proceeding Scientology purchased it. After that, when members of the public contacted Cult Awareness Network for information received information from members of the Church of Scientology.

[86] And every time I’m quiet, engulfed in my own thoughts — in my own world,

I’m always told in their whiny, nasal-filled, “curious” voices to “get involved.”To “relate”. I detest that. I also detest when you, D.J., tell me I’m a heartless & self-centered girl who believes her only goal in life is to have sex with every guy she sees. You have to know all my inner thoughts at all times. No, D.J., you’re not going to control me any more! I won’t be one of those starry-eyed adoring females who always sit at your feet & laughs at all your stupid jokes & giggles & blushes when you harshly make fun of their “big butts.” I’ve put up with that too far long enough. And I don’t have a big butt. I’m not fat….I wish I could just move away, move away from this madness. Leave the perverted, twisted world of The Fellowship & lead my own life. I wish my parents were understanding. But you know what they say, When life is hard ,you have to change… And that’s what I’m going to have to do. Goodbye world of religious hypocrisy & psychological torture. I’m moving on.”

The Diary of Christie Rowe

Christ Bridge Academy High School 1993

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