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

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. #Igotout #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 …

Read reviews on Amazon and Good Reads. Want to help? Rate or review, yourself!

Sneak Peek: Cultic Identity Theft, Defined

Welcome to the sneak peek series, which features excerpts and ideas from The Gentle Souls Revolution. Installment 1 outlined an emotional life hack that I call, The Guilt Experiment. This sneak peak explores a concept that I call, Cultic Identity Theft.

When it comes to describing cult indoctrination, language falls short. Phrases like brainwashing, thought reform & mind control focus exclusively on cognitive hijacking, without including body, heart, spirit and soul. For me cultic indoctrination is a wholistic hijacking: cults steal personhood. Cults poison the mind then, insidiously seep into heart, body and soul.

This is psychological and social violence. It evicts individual agency and fosters dependency on a false savior. Cults peddle false hopes. You lay down your money, and a never-ending theft unfolds. The hierarchy weaponizes your trust along with any uncertainty or fear you feel; your hopes and dreams; strengths, weaknesses, attachments and relationships. Cults betray and the top-tier narcissist benefits at everyone else’s expense. That is the nature of the beast.

In the midst of my personal misadventure, I clearly remember being stuck in commuter traffic, crawling toward the job I hated, with the thought, my life is no longer my own popping into my consciousness. It still took me another two years to leave. If you ever find yourself thinking something akin to, my life is no longer mine, the time to take your life back has arrived! I don’t recommend waiting another two years.

To learn more about reclaiming your life CLICK HERE to BUY The Gentle Souls Revolution. I’ll be posting more about reclamation soon.

For now, inhale, exhale. As always, I welcome your comments.

Four apostates meet at a pub …

The rule breakers!

Last Thursday night, sources spotted 4 “disgruntled ex-students breaking rules!” The heretics met at an Irish pub called, The Burren, in Somerville’s Davis Square. Between Guinness, chips, and live music, they talked, like grownups! One source heard them wonder, “…when did ignoring each other in public to ‘protect the invisible world’ become normal? That’s a little bit culty, isn’t it?

Speaking of cults, I have two exciting future cult-busting things to report:

1- Kacey, the brilliant host of The Cult Vault Podcast, interviewed me about my book, The Gentle Souls Revolution, on Friday! That conversation will be aired in early August. More to come on that!

2-Last weekend, a documentary filmmaker interviewed me as a “cult expert” (Ha! Who knew;-) He wants to document how his uncle became a deprogrammer back in the groovy 70s, when panicked parents hired people to snatch kids-turned-cult-members off street corners. I can’t wait to learn the whole story!

When he asked how I left “school” – I described myself circling a soccer field, over and over, pre-dawn, contemplating the demise of all good in my life, as echoes of Robert’s voice announcing… “… those who leave the source, regret it. Believe me!” reverberated in my rattled mind. (This was his go-to proclamation when “students” disappeared.) I looked at the sun rising, and thought, “… but that’s the source.”

So, full circle back to the 4 disgruntled(s). They look pretty miserable, don’t they? They left “the source” & look at how they are suffering through the unbridled, unmonitored conversation, the beers, the cheers, the food. Sigh …

If you’re among the “disgruntled”, or (alternatively) not – yet disgruntled, but considering it, break some rules. Meet your “school mates” outside the hallowed halls, or reach out to me, persona non grata. Maybe you’ll enjoy your free speech as much as “they” (cough) enjoyed theirs. 🙂

Happy spring! Esther

Book: The Gentle Souls Revolution !

Hello Book!
I can’t believe it’s finished and published!!
AND, you can BUY it on Amazon 🙂

And THIS endorsement!!!

“A masterful storyteller, Friedman’s narrative has layers that render her book both instructive and entertaining. As dark as her experiences are, she injects humor, humanity and yes, ‘gentle spirit.’ Friedman reflects on her experiences, then steps off the page to teach us about cults, coercive control, and the dynamics of power and greed. She gives us a candid assessment of her own vulnerabilities, behaviors, realizations, disengagement, and lessons learned. 

The Gentle Souls Revolution holds the reader beyond the final page. We come away with a better understanding of human nature, the predators who take advantage of vulnerabilities, and the possibility for renewed strength and independence in recovery.”

Debby Schriver,

President, International Cultic Studies Association 
Author of Whispering in Daylight: The Children of the Tony Alamo Christian Ministries and Their Journey to Freedom