Sounds about right.
I often refer to School as Cult lite. I’m half joking and half serious. While I take the psychological manipulation School wields quite seriously, I acknowledge that my experience was more ludicrous, than sinister, as in Cult dark, NXIVM.
That said, my obsessive cult research has led me to a class about coercive control. Today’s guest lecturer, Masoud Banisadr, author of Memoirs of an Iranian Rebel, presented on the time tested mind control tactics trotted out by the Iranian Mojahedin. Here’s a description of his book:
“… Growing up in the aftermath of the 1953 CIA coup in Iran exposed the young Masoud Banisadr to extremes of wealth and poverty, loyalty and betrayal. Years later in the United Kingdom, where Banisadr had gone to do postgraduate study, he decided to join the Iranian Mohajedin, an organization fighting to dislodge the regime that took power following the 1979 revolution.
Torn between two loves–his family and the cause–Masoud gave up normal life to pursue the revolution. But it wasn’t long before the dream turned sour. The Mojahedin’s revolutionary fervor demanded more than total sacrifice: he was pressured to divorce his beloved wife, alienate himself from his family and career, and remain separated for over a decade from his children. Years later, following his defection from the organization, Masoud decides to tell his story. ..this account of one man’s revolutionary journey is also a poignant warning against the dangers of extremism.”
I joke about School a lot, but the more I learn, the more I see how evil School really is. It trotted all the time-tested cult tools and tricks. Teachers knew exactly what they were doing.
For example, If you’re a disgruntled ex-student, you probably remember moments in which Robert *taught* (cough) that “Man/woman has a skewed relationship to time,” or proclaimed, “If you tell me you don’t have time to do this or that, I won’t believe you”
I want you to know that leveraging time is a time-tested, well-worn, mind control technique. The Iranian Mohajedin used it in the 70s. ISIS, or Daesh, uses it today.
Additionally, when teachers trotted out the law of 7 and propped up SHOCK as necessary, they were employing another well-worn and proven mind control technique. Every cult has a version of it – School’s version happens to be explicitly laid out as an “esoteric idea” that’s necessary for your “inner development”, so that when the leadership changes course, or springs a new demand on the membership out of the blue, they an call it “SHOCK” as a requirement if you really want to “Remember Yourself.”
The ISIS version of SHOCK comes in the form of filmed beheadings.
So, folks, I know that I am often sarcastic. I like to use humor to point out the irony, hypocrisy and stupidity. But at the end of the day, this shit is sinister, vile, evil. Maybe cult lite isn’t really so lite. After all, I always had a toe out the door. The leaders were never going to “elevate” me up the ladder into the inner sanctum.
God only knows what happens in the inner sanctum.
I probably dodged a bullet.
Sometimes people ask me if School still exists. For a long time, I had no idea. As it turns out, yep. Recently I learned that the cult was recruiting heavily through 2017-2019. Some of those targets reported the following:
School’s bait & switch is the same as it was in 2006, when it hooked me: it seems that School sends out recruiters in pairs, who strike up “random” super friendly conversations with strangers, feign and pursue friendships over time, & bring “friends” to “presentations.”
Some said that School pursued them for up to two years. For some, the pursuit continued even after they said NO to the “free 5-week experiment.”
Some reported attending a “presentation” on the “divine feminine” in April of 2017 at the Meridien Hotel in Cambridge. Apparently, the presentation was scheduled for April 3rd, then, on a week’s notice, rescheduled to April 12th. Sounds about right.
Red flags include:
*many said that their “new friends” were exhausted — one “new friend” even nodded off during the presentation.
*One said, “The ‘presentation’ is probably the most dishonest thing. What a ridiculous setup and time commitment to make that happen on their part. …” Yep. Imagine the hours poured into an orchestrated deception. And those involved neglect their families to create, plan and rehearse after “class,” and in between jobs.
*Another noted: NO digital footprint. Not on social media. Hard to Google. This is probably because their “new friends” provided fake last names. So, that’s something to keep in mind. If you can’t find any online evidence of a human being, it poses some questions about how honest that person is being.
* Another: “the time commitment of twice per week was outrageous to me, even for a month-long trial.”
*Another: “Something always seemed off.”
*Another found it weird that her recruiter insisted on using email to communicate, claiming her phone couldn’t text.
*One said her recruitment team suggested that they read and discuss, Plato’s Allegory of the Cave.
This is funny because Robert used Plato’s Cave to tell us exactly what he was up to: while listening to him preach that our lives were “caves” he lulled us into believing that our classroom would set us free. Really, the classroom was the cave. If you want to fall down the rabbit hole, I reference that experience in Chapter 1, How to Leave a Cult.
*One described his introduction to Robert– they met at a restaurant & sat in the back of the dining room. Robert floated the invitation — a “free” month in School. No food was ordered. Robert tipped the server, anyway (they were renting the table for a recruitment meeting, I guess?)
Apparently, Robert still vets all potential new Boston cogs, granting the green light, or not. If you were recently targeted and are reading this post, I want you to know that School has been perfecting its strategy for decades.
You can learn more about School’s glorious history HERE should you care to fall into the rabbit hole.
One target, declined the “free experiment,” but told me that although she’s grateful to know that she dodged a bullet, “… I feel violated by their disingenuous behavior.” If you are reading this and, also feel violated, that’s because this orchestrated bait and switch violates your trust — it’s an intentional betrayal.
At times, we are vulnerable to these dog & pony shows. I have been learning that there are neurological, emotional & social reasons for that. If you want to understand why this b.s. is so effective, I recommend reading Malcom Gladwell’s Talking to Strangers, or Maria Konnikova’s The Confidence Game.
Thankfully you can start by trusting your gut instincts and your emotional discomfort. Those signals are your best shields! If you feel that icky, hard to describe, something-isn’t-right feeling, trust it!
School has developed its strategy to deceive smart people and lure them into the cave over decades – literally since the groovy 60s. One recent target told me, “I always felt strange around them but I’m impressed they got me to see them so many times… If it can happen to me, a huge skeptic, it can happen to anyone. I don’t think I ever would have gone to a session, but they definitely had the wool over my eyes in some way.”
This person said,”… why I didn’t trust my instincts because my mind literally did consider that they were in a cult when I met them?“
Probably because most people aren’t running around trying to recruit folks into cults. Most people are good and just living their lives. And most of us are wired to extend the benefit of the doubt, before assuming the worst.