Expressive art therapy: cult recovery can be fun!

I cringe when I remember that I had a Master’s Degree in Expressive Art Therapy before stumbling into “school”. The master’s program required ethics courses on relationships and power differentials. We discussed how the professional title, therapist, put us in the power position. We were responsible for not taking advantage of our clients.

I cringe because, even with that education, I let the cult’s alleged “teachers” micromanage me with their deluded fantasies about “self remembering.”

Yet, I know that cults entrap through emotional ploys. The bait and switch has nothing to do with intellect, or lack of intellect. Someone seeking something encounters the con artist offering vague “answers.” The seeker wants to believe. The con leverages that desire.

Taking my life and voice back included returning to my professional roots in expressive art therapy. Who knew that cult recovery could be fun! (I prefer to call it reclamation, but that’s another post for another day).

Sometimes a gal has to make fun of other cults with deluded fantasies. Today, it is the Twin Flames: Universe. What is Twin Flames: Universe? Watch The PSA above if you are Desperately Seeking Soulmate, brave enough to create the life of your dreams, need clear guidance on how to spot one (a twin flame) and what to expect from twin flame love and will do almost anything for harmonious union. Remember, if you encounter Twin Flames: Universe, run away!

Or just watch it for an example of catharsis through expressive art therapy – happy to entertain!

OSG Boston, a little history …

I’ve always wondered when OSG opened its poor cousin Boston branch. According to this article, Like Son Like Father, 1979. If you want to know how much the leadership omitted from your class, this description provides a little more information about the San Francisco theater, leaders and why it shut down.

By the way, this article is not intentionally about cults. It outlines one man’s searching, joining and finding meaning and community. The author is born a Protestant, embarks on a journey as a young adult; connects with several different groups, some culty, some not. The Theater of All Possibilities (later “School”, Odyssey Study Group, “the Study”… now, who knows?) happens to be one of the culty groups. He finds his home in Judaism.

So, I’ve provided the link, for what it’s worth.

A Little Bit Culty, the podcast interview …

Hello fellow “disgruntled ex-students” –

Do you enjoy a good pod about cults?
If so, I offer you, A Little Bit Culty, one of many silver linings to float up from the NXIVM ash heap. After former members Sarah Edmondson and Anthony “Nippy” Ames extracted themselves, they created a badass cult buster podcast.

A favorite quote:
Nippy: “If you’re not already familiar with the culty-cluster fuck known as ‘School,’ please note the capital S on that basic noun – red flag.”  
Sarah: “Red flag”

I like to say humor heals 😉 Listen and “verify for yourself.” (cough)

 The “School”, 2023: the “All Lies & Slander!” post 

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

Tis the season for the seasonal hijacking with “school’s” big Christmas Party. Every November, I feel grateful for my cult-free holidays. I do wonder if “school” still throws the big bash.

Speaking of hijacking, yep, OSG’s Boston branch is still out there “making new friends…” I’ve gotta give them credit, this cult keeps on cult-ing on. Like mold, the spores never die.

During my misadventure, Robert would warn us against Internet research into “school”, claiming, “It’s all lies and slander.”  After I left, I saw that he was trying to get ahead of online sleuths and cult busters who were exposing the grift. 

You see, the “all lies & slander” is a common cult trope – a tactic used to dismiss critics. Narcissism experts call this strategy DARVO: Deny, Attack, Reverse Victim Offender.

Recently some of “school’s” targets for “new friendships” contacted me and filled me in on “School” propagated DARVO of du jour. Here is what I’ve learned: 

1) DENY any connection to Odyssey Study Group, NYC, Alex Horn, Sharon Gans, California, The Theater of All Possibilities, etc. 

2) ATTACK these reports & call them “manipulation,” while trying to manipulate a potential target into the Hollow Halls. 

3) Claim VICTIMHOOD on par with the Sandy Hook families. Let me repeat this – when “school” recruiters get confronted about having deep roots with OSG, a shady, abusive cult, they whine that those claims slander & victimize the group and leaders, the way Alex Jones victimized Sandy Hook families. Let’s unpack this: in Dec, 2012, an unhinged shooter ambushed Sandy Hook Elementary School with an AR15. He murdered teachers and kindergartners. Then Jones–a narcissist peddling “vitamin supplements” (cough) and self-serving rants about masculinity — claimed the massacre was staged, calling it a “false flag” — the preferred nomenclature for those who cling to their AR15s, mumbling, “My Precious, my precious … ” Then unhinged minions, Jones wannabes, served up death threats to already traumatized families.

When “school” leadership compares its victimhood to Sandy Hook families, they demonstrate what I call, Stupid Narcissism.: only a pathologically selfish person would say something like this out loud, believing it to be an acceptable and winning statement. 

Finally, the latest version of “school’s” cult recruitment has not changed too much from my “friendship” in 2006: 

  1. Recruiter engages a target in conversation at a coffeehouse, a concert, a performance, a bar, Trader Joe’s, etc, expressing an intense interest in getting to know you, aren’t you special (aka, love bombing.)
  2. Recruiter says, “Let’s get together! Here’s my phone — what’s yours?”
  3. Recruiter pursues relentlessly, becoming increasingly insistent. As time passes, you sense desperation behind the placid presentation, as though he or she has an unspoken agenda–also called a 5-week AIM— a “critical” task to fulfill for a secret cult. 
  4. Over the course of this “new friendship” Recruiter will bring up “ideas”, psychological & cosmological “experiments” & “opportunities to study ideas with other friends…” with a don’t miss out on this rare offer kind of sub-text; think, Tom Waits, Step Right Up.  
  5. Recruiter will eventually introduce you to another “friend” who echoes the pitch, “join us to study … ideas!” 
  6. After several “meetings” recruiter will pitch a generic invitation: “It seems like these conversations might really align with you. If it’s interesting and exciting to you, we would love to have you join us in our next meeting, since we’ll be opening the group up for new people to see what we discuss, which we don’t do very often— It’s always nice to go into something new with other people who are also just starting out. We’ll help you develop an experiment to try out in your daily life and then you can share your experiences with the rest of the group. We will need to have a meeting with one more of our friends before that group meeting. He will be able to offer you a formal invitation to our group meeting.”
  7. Recruiter arranges a meeting with one more “friend” and likely introduce you to “school’s” current cult leader, without mentioning his leadership role. If you attend this meeting, you will note that your friends will defer to his “wisdom”. 
  8. If you’re reasonably intelligent, have money, or the potential to earn money, and can follow these “rules:” 
    *no romantic or sexual relationships with other people in the group
    *no drug use at all. Alcohol is fine, though.

The newest “new friend” will invite you to “study esoteric ideas” in a “free experiment.” It’s likely that they need warm bodies who will eventually pay a monthly “tuition”. If you ask about the “tuition” it’s likely he will dodge that question, responding, “It really depends on each student. We’ve never turned anyone away because of money.” 

Back in 2006, that’s what Robert told me, which vaguely nodded to a group that accepted voluntary donations. Really, it cost $350 / month, which Robert revealed only after my “free 5-week experiment.” Who knows what it costs today, not to mention the hidden interest rate of increasing time, energy, focus and attention as well as damage to relationships outside the hollow halls. 

I suggest that you never find out. IMO, Keep your holidays, cult free!

Happy, Merry 🙂 Moving on! GSR

Sharon Gans portrait, $1300

I’d like to post a picture of this portrait, but I think I’d be breaking copyright laws.

Unlike “school’s teachers,” who Xeroxed & redacted an entire published book, to hand out in class and claim, “These are transcribed lectures from a great teacher of the work!” I will refrain.

If you’re curious click on the work’s title: Sharon Gans Horn (False Profit). The art itself will pop up on artsy.net.

Here are some photos of “school’s” copyright violation:

How inspiring!

Ted Talk: Sarah Edmundson talks cults, post NXIVM

The headlines: cults bait with deceptive marketing, reel in with “love bombing” & switch with “help” that hurts; exploit human social and emotional wiring; assume that you’re broken & sell fairy dust to “fix you”; take $$$, time, energy, focus, & damage relationships.

Beware of: groups that redefine words, creating a pretentious, self-aggrandizing, code, posing as superior and exclusive; groups that file serial lawsuits against critics; groups plagued by news reports about seedy practices.

Healthy groups: welcome questions; don’t demonize people who leave; respect personal boundaries; don’t demand commitment at personal expense. #cultawareness

“School” & The Moonies

I think that all cults are, basically, the same. Cultic scholar, Margaret Singer, did not agree; but from what I see, while the outer trappings may vary, the inner bells and whistles are always the same. 

Even so, I’ve never compared The Moonies to “School” or “The Study,” or whatever it is called now. However, this news article, The Bizarre Story Behind Shinzo Abe’s Assassination, discusses the tentacles that The Moonies have wrapped around certain politicians and Moonie recruitment tactics echoed back to my “School” recruitment:

Apparently, Moon “…devotees systematically misrepresent themselves and their intentions.” One source shared how a fellow PTA member at her son’s school “befriended” her, invited her to join other “friends” to watch films and tv shows at “the video center.” The films and shows increasingly featured religion. 

“Twice this woman asked of her friend, ‘is this a religion that you’re trying to convert me to?’“ The “friend” denied it. But, a year into this alleged movie-club, Moonie members handed her a Bible and told her, that Moon was the Messiah.

She wanted to keep her friends, so she told herself that she’d quit if things got bad. Soon she was attending church lectures and peddling socks and handkerchiefs on the street to benefit charities, as required by leaders.

Of course, the charities did not exist. All profits enriched the church. Leaders required secrecy about church-related activities. Eventually, her husband helped her leave and deprogram. She told the reporter that, “…the church had reduced her to a state of infantile dependence. This is at the root of its doctrine. ‘They tell you not to think on your own because that was Eve’s original sin.’ ” 

Sounds familiar, yes? The deception, the secrecy, the requirement for silence, the damning of independent thought, the slow boil of indoctrination into a corrupt dogma that poisons over time, the eventual feeling of dependence. I remember thinking, “If I don’t like it, I’ll leave…” when Robert invited me to try a “free five-week experiment.” Turns out that it wasn’t that simple.

It also turns out that Moon doctrine and strategy influenced “School” tactics.



Yep, the Boston “school/study” is Cult-ing Away

The latest…

  • Sometime during 2018-19, Robert got the boot & Paul was promoted as top “teacher” (both, a little hard to picture & not… sigh)
  • As of 2022, “school” was still calling itself “the study.” 

I’m wondering the following:

  1. does the cult still meets at Billerica’s Faulkner Building?
  2. Is the “making new friends” recruitment the same deceptive process?  
  3. Has it swapped out “the study” for another scholarly sounding name, in the race from scrutiny?

If you’ve recently left the Boston branch, or are “breaking rules” by consulting the “evil internet” to find out if you’re in a cult (yes, it’s a cult), feel free to update, correct, or otherwise provide helpful, identifying, information.

GSR podcast interviews and book tour info…

Hello first real vacation since before Covid times!! New Orleans & The Kerrville Folk Festival in Kerrville, TX.

I keep hearing Robert claiming, “Those who leave the source, regret it, believe me!Yes! Right now, I could be at an early-morning making new friends training & paying $350/month for “the privilege.” I could be at Whole Foods, seeking out my “new friends,” while the nausea I always felt when recruiting overtakes me.

Instead, I’ve been unnecessarily suffering some NOLA Jazz, powdered-sugar beignets, fish tacos and cocktails (none better). This week, in Texas, I’ll be hearing the most fantastic songs never heard by the general public, at late-night, early morning, Texas campfires. Sigh. All with my new book in hand 🙂

After exiting the hollow halls in 2011, the Big Easy was one my first post-cult trips. NOLA holds a special place in my heart. We’d planned to go back in 2020. Obviously, that didn’t happen. This year we are making up for the trip that Covid ruined. I’d intended to forget about all cult-related things. But exciting book-related things have thwarted that intention. Sigh… I’d better get back to “the source,” before I ruin my life. Or, maybe I’ll just go ahead and ruin my life without it.

Here’s the news …

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