More on Snapping

Dear Readers,

I hope that you’re having a good weekend. I’m posting to, again, sing the praises of Snapping.

This book continues to be my favorite. Published in 1977, the authors researched something prominent in our culture today: the weaponization of information, the communication of disinformation, so prominent in today’s social media, that Russian Trolls, attacked and took control of our presidential election. Now Trump Trolls across the country parrot Russian propaganda. It’s astounding.

Back in ’77, decades before the World Wide Web, Conway and Siegleman wrote the following about the elements of Snapping (slightly tweaked for blog): “… the intense physical experiences of religious ritual … dancing, drumming, chanting, prayer and meditation, along with physiological stresses … exhaustion, poor diet, isolation … not even all of these components in concert set off the moment of snapping… the sudden drastic alteration of an individual’s entire personality requires an altogether different kind of information.”

“It consists of the potent rhetorical ploys, individual & group techniques, mass-marketing strategies that make up America’s technology of experience; everything from fervid lecturing and earnest personal confrontation to slickly packaged appeals, from casual conversation to active role playing and guided fantasy.”

“This set of instruments may be systematically orchestrated to engage the individual’s communication capacities … This all encompassing verbal and nonverbal assault, charged with challenging new beliefs, suggestions and commands, may build up profound and often conflicting feelings  … which prompt the person to seek release from a troubled past or immediate problems.”

“Then, often in a a sensuous, seductive, or totally foreign environment, or surrounded by an atmosphere of love, warmth, acceptance, openness, honesty and community the person might yield to some call … to surrender, to let go, to stop questioning, to relinquish all will.”

“It is this act of capitulation that sets off the explosion we call snapping. In that moment, something quite remarkable may happen. With that flick of a switch, that change of heart and mind, an individuals personality may come apart. From our perspective, this phenomenon can now be identified as an overpowering holographic crisis in the brain.”

I admit that this except loses something without the context supplied in the previous chapters, but perhaps there’s enough in it that will compel anyone who needs to understand a cultic experience to pick up a copy and read the entire thing. Have I told you that I recommend it?

Okay, off to do laundry.

Recovery Thoughts: BREAK “rules”

Need to recover from a cultic experience?
Whatever the cult demanded, do the opposite. Break “rules”.

  • Cults isolate:connect to authentic relationships/communities.
  • Cults require secrecy:refuse to safeguard and carry burdensome secrets.
  • Cults silence:claim and use your voice and share your story with whomever you choose.
  • Cults numb:claim your emotional/feeling self by acknowledging, allowing and expressing ALL the feelings: grief at losses; anger at abuses; cynicism about the hypocrisy; joy at your reclamation and ownership of self and life going forward.
  • Cults deny individual rights:claim your rights and attend to your needs; guard yourself and those you love, fiercely.
  • Cults employ and require deception of self and others:seek and speak truth.
  • Cults commit identity theft, emptying participants of soul/authentic self:claim your authentic self through all of the above practices.

I have experienced recovery as reclamation. Cultic dynamics devour members, mind, body, heart and spirit, in psychological webs of tangled confusion. You have the power to untangle those memes, clear out the twisted ideology, and deceptive narrative – you can return to emotional and cognitive clarity and heal relationships damaged by the group. You have the power to return to yourself, and your life, by breaking “rules”.

Reclaim your humanity. Believe it or not, this difficult healing process can lead you to joy and laughter … sometimes lots of laughter.

My opinion, for what it’s worth.

Cult Confessions Endorsement: Snapping

I’ve read a lot of cult books since 2011, when I left the little mom & pop cult formerly known as “school”. I think this book might be my favorite, so far… imagine that, having a favorite cult book.

Here’s a quote from the first paragraph in chapter 6, Black Lightening: “In all the world, there is nothing quite so impenetrable as a human mind snapped shut with bliss. No call to reason, no emotional appeal, can get through its armor of self-proclaimed joy…  we talked with dozens … after a while, it seemed very much like dancing to a broken record. We would ask a question and the individual would spin round and round in a circle of dogma. If we tried to interrupt, he or she would simply pick right up again or go back to the beginning and start over.”

I’m grateful that my mind has been “bliss”-free for several years now. Yep, folks, it’s possible. Happy 2018!

The Marjoe Documentary: expose on Evangelical scammers

Hi Everyone – in my obsessive post-cult research, I found a book called Snapping, copywriter, 1978.  Authors Flo Conway and Jim Siegelman dig into “America’s Epidemic of Sudden Personality Change”, citing weird phenomenons like the Moonies, EST, Patty Hearst, Hare Krishnas and analyzing the mind altering techniques shared.

They interview a guy named Marjoe Gortner, “… the first Evangelical preacher to blow the whistle on his profession.” Apparently, Marjoe’s parents groomed him from childhood to be a boy preacher and the boy preacher caused quite a ruckus – doing faith healings, officiating weddings, leading revivals and, most importantly, racking in the cash. When he hit his mid-teens he refused to continue. Then he returned to the profession in his twenties, recruited a film crew, and made the documentary, to essentially, blow the whistle on himself, and other holy rollers: Marjoe, faith healer/false teacher.  I immediately went to YouTube and low and behold … there it was:


I found it disturbing & informative. It shed some light on today’s End-Days Trumpists, for whom no amount of fact, logic, principle,  or lack of morals shakes their faith in the predator-in-chief. Curious to know what you think — though, be forewarned, it’s not for the faint of heart.


The Heaven’s Gate Podcast …

Hey Everyone – This is a great podcast that tells the story of Heaven’s Gate, an end-days cult that culminated in a mass suicide in 1997. Those of us who traversed the Hollow Halls for any length of time will, most likely,  draw parallels. For example, the two leaders referred to themselves as Si & Do. La, la, la … The host, Glynn Washington, grew up in an end-days cult. I recommend giving it a listen: Heaven’s Gate. 

That’s all for now… hope you’re having a good weekend! GSR


About “school” dreams …

Fairly recently, a commenter, who traversed the hollow halls in the 80s, provided some “school” information that was new to me. I plan on elevating her comments to blog prominence in the near future — so folks can glean as much illustrious context as possible.

Today, I wanted to address her mention of “school” dreams: “I still have these memories that just fly into my head, sometimes dreams haunted by Sharon or Bob, or where I’m trying to attend a meeting without making a commitment.”

I’ve heard others talk about “school” dreams: sinister, or anxiety-ladden, accounts of nightmares in which they are back in the group and trying to escape. I’ve had a few myself, over the years. It seems poignant that “school” haunts ex-members in their sleep for years after departure.

Some of you might appreciate my most recent “school” dream; it was — if you can believe it — satisfying! I was back in the “classroom” listening to Robert ream out & humiliate a fellow student. I witnessed quietly until he kicked her out. At which point, I stood up, announced that I would also be taking my leave and then turned, looked straight at him, and said, “Fuck you.”

Ahhhhh, that was sooooo cathartic! Maybe I was dreaming about the courage that I wish I’d had.  Even so, dream, or reality, it felt great! And I guess it’s not too late. Blog Monitor, if you’re out there, feel free to pass on the message. Send Bobert a link to this particular post.

More importantly, lately, I’ve also been hearing from ex-members of different cults. I started wonder if all ex-cult members have such dreams. I’d like to know if this phenomenon is a shared experience. I’d love to hear from you, whether an ex-“school” mate, or experienced another cult.

Thanks for reading and happy Cult-free holidays!

Gratitude: Freedom and Simplicity

Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone!

First, let me thank those who made it out to Club Passim last night! We had lots of fun!

Secondly, an ode to the holidays: this is my 6th “school”-free Christmas season. For 5 years, I allowed “school” to hijack my holidays. My first post-school November-January felt strange, but wonderfully free. I was constantly comparing and contrasting the pre and post. Each realization, that I wouldn’t be scamming Christmas trees for the big Christmas Party, or lying to friends and family about why I was so unavailable, or I was not going to go through the season sleep-deprived and stressed out about the “fineness” of the party … etc. etc. etc. … brought on more and more gratitude.

I’m happy to report that every year that followed, I compared and contrasted less. This year, I thought so little about the “school” party, that it only occurred to me to acknowledge it today. So far, Thanksgiving, 2017 has consisted of walking the Feaster Five, a 5k in Andover, with a dear friend. And cleaning out my closets. Tomorrow, I’ll eat T-Day dinner with my husband, stepson and his girlfriend. We’re simplifying and minimizing stress and that’s fine by me, great in fact!

Yep, life does go on without “school”. I have NEVER regretted leaving “the source”. If anything, I now have ever-growing gratitude to have my freedom, energy, focus, self and – yes – holidays, back.

So, Happy Thanksgiving, All and cheers to your “school” free holiday season!


Trotting out Cult Confessions, the CD, at Club Passim

Hey Folks – Cult Confessions, the CD is almost complete! If you’re in town the night before Thanksgiving, come to Club Passim for a sneak peak and get a few fun things:
1) Experience the hilarity and brilliance of my dear friend and fellow songwriter, Mark Stepakoff. We’re splitting the night. He’s releasing a new CD, Any Port in a Storm — it just got a great review from The Noise!

2) Get your free, 2-song, pre-release, Cult Confessions, CD! Think of it as an appetizer before the entree … I admit the entree has been in the slow cooker for a while … but we’re almost done!

3) Meet the producer, Doug Kwartler! Mark and I both recorded with Doug at Hollow Body Studios and the Kwartler Magic works! When Mr. Kwartler’s in the house, suddenly my guitar becomes significantly easier to play 😉 I don’t know how it happens, it just does. Magic! Doug is a fine singer/songwriter/performer in his own right and is one half of the duo, The Lied To’s, whose first CD got lots of praise, and are heading towards releasing their second CD this winter!

4) Meet and hear the other Lied To, the brilliant and talented Ms. Susan Levine. Susan is a dear friend, a talented singer and songwriter and I’m recruiting her talents for this show … which might include a co-rant with a few choice words for our current narcissist-in-chief … we are still deciding …

5) If you are wondering how my dear husband possibly stuck with me through five years of cultic fun, he will be in the house. I can’t promise that he’ll answer “school”-related questions — given a choice between talking cults and getting a root canal, he’d take the root canal. But he will be there and you can ask.

Come and find out. 🙂  Click here for details and tix! 

Hope you can join us!