Thursday, May 2, 2024

The Recruit

I love the short film called The Recruit. It was written by and stars Christina Connerton. It is based upon her experience working at a recruiting agency in New York run by members of a cult. Enjoy. 

Sunday, March 24, 2024

Manhattan Cult Story

If you subscribe to Spotify, you can listen to the audiobook of Manhattan Cult Story. Thank you to everyone who has purchased, borrowed, streamed, or otherwise consumed this book. 

Thursday, February 15, 2024

Gentle Souls on A Little Bit Culty

Esther Friedman, former cult member and advocate, gave a great interview to Sarah Edmondson and Nippy Ames.  Enjoy it here.

Tuesday, February 6, 2024

Guest Post From Former Member

Silent Treatment

In 1989 I was 27 years old and had recently made a new friend, a Harvard-educated writer who was ten years older than me and lived in my building. David was bright, erudite and took a keen interest in me, which was both immensely flattering and exciting. Our conversations ranged widely and soon touched on matters of philosophy, religion and the yearning to make sense and meaning from the world. Before long I was invited to join a "study group", an invitation I accepted without reservation.

Joining me that inaugural and fateful night in 1989 was Spencer Schneider, and another recruit still currently involved with the group.

Fast forward to 27 years later. Now 54, I decide to leave the group. Simply put, I had been going through the motions of being a "student" for years, attending largely from a sense of obligation, habit, and fear of disappointing my peers and "teachers". It was a difficult decision, but I knew in my deeper self that it was the correct one.

However I was not prepared for what would ensue.



People who I thought were my true friends and had known for decades - some with whom I had travelled to other countries and had been guests at my wedding (yes, the rules against "fraternization" are bullshit) simply disappeared.

The day I left, I called a teacher with whom I had been close (or so I thought) to thank her for her many years of friendship and support. Her response: "You're sweet," and then she immediately hung up.

That was it.

I had officially been excommunicated.

I reached out to others to say goodbye - my messages were not returned.

In retrospect I shouldn't have been surprised.

I had seen numerous "students" pass through "school" (quotations intentional) with nary a mention of them when they disappeared.

A cult of silence.

A silence that was for me confusing, saddening, depressing.

Fortunately and blessedly I had (and continue to have) a strong and loving marriage, wonderful vibrant children (and grandchildren!) and a rich and diverse group of friends.

All of this helped buffer the painful sense of loss I felt, a sadness still present when I think of certain people I will always hold dear in my heart.

I wonder how some former "students" can cope with the cruel and intentional silence that follows their exit from "school" and its all-encompassing embrace.

I recently read an excellent article from The Atlantic that addresses the psychological effects of the "silent treatment"

In short, the author - to paraphrase - refers to intentional silence as a form of psychological abuse with deleterious effects to all the involved parties.

Silence does of course hurt and cause damage - I know this to be true.

And therein lies one of the greatest hypocrisies and contradictions of Sharon Gans's supposed "school of inner development" that was an integral part of my life for twenty seven years:

Leave and you're dead. Useless. Valueless. Erased. Invisible. Deleted.

This is how "evolved" people behave and treat others?

Nice, huh?

I encourage anyone with the wish for contact and reconnection to reach out  - none of us should be forced to suffer in deafening silence.


Tuesday, January 30, 2024

Trauma and Disclosure

Im sorry I haven't blogged much these days.  Im working on a new book and articles and that writing takes up a lot of time. But I will continue to post as I can. 

This interview caught my eye. One of my heroes, holocaust survivor and philosopher Edith Eger, was recently asked about why she chose to write about her experience after years of silence.  She talks about the shame and stigma that she felt of being a holocaust survivor. Shame is a common trait in victims of trauma and partially explains silence.  

Monday, January 8, 2024

R.I.P David Fitzpatrick

 My condolences to the family of David "Fitz" Fitzpatrick. I admired Fitz for his intelligence, quick wit, and his being a big huggable bear. Fitz loved his two sons. He was a friend to many and loved by many. 

Saturday, September 23, 2023

Groper - Re-print

 Another old post, I remembered and wanted to repost can be found here