• Report: #230363

Complaint Review: PSI Seminars

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  • Submitted: Sat, January 13, 2007
  • Updated: Tue, May 26, 2009

  • Reported By:Scottsdale Connecticut
PSI Seminars
Miller Phoenix, Arizona U.S.A.

PSI Seminars Another PSI recruit speaks out Ripoff Phoenix Arizona

*Consumer Comment: PSI Grad, Tempe AZ

*UPDATE EX-employee responds: "that is more than I can say for other friends that haven't taken the courses.

*UPDATE Employee: This is about "PSI Seminars." Don't GO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

*Consumer Suggestion: investigate thoroughly

*Consumer Comment: So right on

*Consumer Comment: Bla Bla Bla

*Consumer Comment: Steve is a wife??

*Consumer Comment: I'd be upset too!

*Author of original report: PSI Seminars, The Happy, Happy, Joy Joy Cult

*Consumer Suggestion: Another Basic Grad speaks out

*Author of original report: I can point a finger.

*Consumer Comment: Pointing Fingers

*Author of original report: Another problem cause by PSI Seminars

*Consumer Comment: You're not alone

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Hi, I have read all the posts here on PSI and I would like to add what happened to me. I had a friend, a very good friend, recommend PSI to me about three years ago. I attended the basic class and immediately felt invigorated. I noticed a change in my attitude towards my husband and family. Looking back on it I was a bitch. Nothing was good enough and I wanted more from my relationships then was reasonable. I tried to get my husband to sign up for the basic on the third day of class. He refused after he asked me to describe what they do there; I told him that he would have to experience it for himself, which I see is a common statement in most of these posts. I was angry at him for not wanting to support me in my need to have him attend. Later I came to understand why. The facilitor told all of us that PSI is a tool to a happier life and everyone in your life will not understand what you have gone through until they attend also. I remember the slogan resistance is persistence. If the people who love you don't attend the seminars they are holding you back, so you need to leave them behind.

At the end of the basic I signed up for PSI 7 at a cost of $3000.00 dollars. I took the money from our joint account. My husband was obviously upset with this but I didn't care. I felt this change/experience was worth the cost and the grief it cost me with him. He put his foot down and said enough is enough.

I went to the ranch and participated in the pole, the wall, the ledge, the barn dance and wore the clothing that was selected by my PSI buddy. Clothing that I felt uncomfortable wearing in even a private setting. I looked into the eyes of several men, strangers to me up to then, and felt like they actually wanted to have a relationship with me, beyond the physical. I felt they had seen the real person underneath. I came home gushing like I had the time of my life. My husband was angry as I left without a word of warning to him or my family. He had even called the police to report me missing. I even signed up for the Leadership Seminar for $3600.00 dollars and charged it to my credit card. My husband blew up at me, asking me if I had lost my mind.

I told him upon my return that if he loved me he would find the time and money to attend the training. I told him that it would save our marriage. Looking back on it our marriage was on its fifth year and we were both happy. We were both looking forward to our lives together and starting a family. And more importantly he was my best friend. He suggested marriage counseling and we set up an appointment.

After speaking to the therapist I felt like she was ganging up on me so I refused to go back. Three weeks after returning from PSI7 I left my husband and filed for divorce. I gave up the man I had married, the one who protected me from harm. The man who told me he loved me more than anyone in his life. I gave up my husband, my best friend, for my own self interests when I should have known better.

I was out on my own and loving the attention I got from my PSI brothers and sisters. The support for my move, or shift, was almost overwhelming. I felt that the people in my group were the only ones who could understand; they were the only ones who would love and support me; my husband and family were strangers to me now even though I had their love and support for my entire life. I would communicate with my PSI group on a yahoo group site, but the communication was short lived as they started having their own problems. The group stopped talking and the messages died out after a few short months. In the meantime I quit my job and started looking for something better.

While waiting for the divorce to go through I stayed with my best friend, but the relationship was strained as my husband and her husband were also friends. Her husband started watching me and would inform his wife that under no circumstance would she be going to PSI. I tried to get her to go to PSI. I tried so hard to convince her that this was the right decision for me but she continued to tell me that I should tried to work things out with my husband. I saw this as being unsupportive, moved out and dropped that friendship. We were friends for 10 years. I had learned one thing from PSI and that was not to do what people expected me to do. I moved in with my mom and this was more than she could take. She asked me to leave after two months. I was staffing the basic and playing PLD and trying to get others to enroll for the basic. I failed to see that I was on a course of self destruction and I was still looking for a job.

In the meantime the divorce was finalized, the house was sold and after taking a loss on the property I moved into an apartment until I could save some money. I bought a house a few months after the divorce. I bought the house for more then I could effort and I didn't care. I also bought a new car and later had that repossessed because I couldn't afford both the car and the house. I felt that this was my reality and everything would be alright.

After a time I decided that I needed to find another man in my life. I see references to that number 10 relationship. This was what I was looking for. I attempted liaisons with several men and could not find one that could understand why I had this attitude towards life. I wanted more and I wanted it immediately, but the world was not cooperating with my reality. I turned to an internet dating service and started looking for the perfect relationship and after meeting a few men I found the one I was looking for. He wined and dined me, told me that I was perfect for him. I thought I had found that number 10 relationship. I took this relationship for what I thought it was, LOVE. I was so involved with the relationship with this man that I decided immediately to move in with him when he asked me. We had only dated three months. I sold my house and moved in with him. The little money I had earned from the sale went into a joint account and he spent it on one of his new toys. I failed to pay attention that this man, my number 10 relationship, had just divorced his second wife a few short months before I met him on the internet. He had four small kids from his first marriage and I became a baby sitter when he wanted to go out with the boys on weekends and drink half his salary.

It was about 2 years after PSI7 he asked me to marry him. We were married and a few weeks afterward he quit his job and had me put him and his four kids on my health insurance. He stayed at home and would expect me to wait on him and his kids hand and foot when I got home from work. It was a few short months later when realizations started to hit home. I was asking myself what the hell I was doing with this man and his kids. He was treating me like I was nothing more than a maid. This was my number 10 relationship?

I realize now that I am the failure. Not as a PSI graduate, but as a human being and as a woman and a wife. I was duped into believing that PSI was the answer to everything wrong in my life. I threw away my first husband, a man I loved for a relationship with 78 strangers. People who said they loved me, not because of who I was, but because of what they had made us. The relationship with these people did not last. My first husband suffered the most as he tried several times to get me to see reason after I left. I threw away my friends as they refused to see my point of view when in actuality I should have seen theirs. My point of view was more important. My family disowned me after my outbursts towards them when they refused to listen to my new found views on life.

It is now too late to go back and fix the wrongs I did, and I have tried. My ex-husband refuses to talk or even see me, and I can't really blame him. I left him without any explanation. I didn't even shed a tear over the loss of our marriage, he once said I ripped the heart from his chest and didn't even think enough on our relationship to take the time to smash it. And he was right, that is exactly what I did.

Now I am in a broken marriage to another fool who takes me for granted, treats me like I am his slave, and I have no where to go, no one to turn to, and this is what I wanted in life? Even the friend who introduced me to PSI dumped her marriage and is pretty much in the same boat I'm in. And I hate her for getting me involved in this.

I was a stupid, arrogant, self centered fool. I agree, PSI does give you the tools, the tools to destroy your life. It destroyed my life with a good man and earned me the likes of the Al Bundy personality I'm with now. I am ashamed of what I did. I am ashamed of what I have become and I would not recommend PSI for anyone.

Sorry for the long post.

Steve
Scottsdale, Connecticut
U.S.A.

This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 01/13/2007 12:27 PM and is a permanent record located here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/r/PSI-Seminars/Phoenix-Arizona-85242/PSI-Seminars-Another-PSI-recruit-speaks-out-Ripoff-Phoenix-Arizona-230363. The posting time indicated is Arizona local time. Arizona does not observe daylight savings so the post time may be Mountain or Pacific depending on the time of year.

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#1 Consumer Comment

PSI Grad, Tempe AZ

AUTHOR: Mike - (U.S.A.)

I found this on another website:

Attend a PSI seminar with eight of my closest, newly-converted PSI buddies. While I'm at it, why don't we refinance the house to pay for their upper level seminars too? ***, let's just give them the house for their weekly PSI meetings. That would seriously be the lamest thing I think anyone could ever do.

People whose loved ones got involved with this group said after the person in question attends the big seminar (its like a week long retreat) they usual break up with their significant other 30 days afterwards then go and do really crazy poo poo - like buying houses and cars they have no way to afford, quit their jobs, and its really common they hook up with someone they met at the retreat or start dating people they met on internet dating services.

They commented that the "core group" that they were with at the seminar become their support circle and they have constant contact for awhile. They support each other through all the radical decision they make after the seminar. Then after everyone's life goes haywire due to the batsh*t behavior they lose contact and everyone spins off in their own orbit of crazy. They then just promote and staff the local events (that are just recruiting new members) so they can go to the next level retreat. (I think there are 3 major levels of retreats and you are not allowed to contact any outsiders during it (no phone calls, cell phones, email, nothing) totally isolated from your normal circle and surrounded with fellow recruits and members only.

That about sums it up. Want to Join this Batsh*t Now?

Then I was checking out PSI on FACEBOOK and found a perfect example of what happens when your so brainwashed by PSI Seminars:

Heather wrote at 3:44pm on March 4th, 2009
Hey Everyone! I am so driven in life now that I have graduated WLS. I did the Basic Seminar Jan 29th, four days later went to PSI 7, and then five days later went to WLS. I see the vision. I have felt the urgency needed to make changes in my life and my true vision came to me at WLS. My vision and purpose in life is to be of service to those all over the world. I will create and cause some kind of change in this world. PSI Seminars has a great vision, but it needs to be taken a step further or the vision will die. I will be a part of creating the first of many expansions of PSI all over the world. The first step for me, is getting to principia, so that I may also become a facilitator. With that being said, I am asking for support from my fellow PSI graduates. I exhausted my credit cards and bank account just doing what it took to get through Basic to WLS this last month. I need to raise $3800 to go to principia by March 6th, this friday (to get the discounted price anyway).

How about it PSI Grad? Is this you????

Now tell me this is Normal.
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#2 UPDATE EX-employee responds

"that is more than I can say for other friends that haven't taken the courses.

AUTHOR: Jenny - (U.S.A.)

I was checking into PSI as my husband left me for this this past month. I was very surprised to say the least.

I still stay in contact with all my PSI friends. Why? Because if I needed them for anythin at all, they would be there to support me and that is more than I can say for other friends that haven't taken the courses."

I was reviewing this post and noted the above. It really stood out as an example of what PSI grad's experience with these Large Group Awareness Training Programs. Why? Because of this one statement; if I needed them for anythin at all, they would be there to support me and that is more than I can say for other friends that haven't taken the courses. My husband returned with the same attitude. His PSI Buddies were the ones who 'supported' him in his time of need. He refused to listen to his long time friends and family. How can you learn to trust people you've just met and spent a week with at the ranch?

PSI Grad if you really believe this I feel very very sorry for you.

Please get some help.
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#3 UPDATE Employee

This is about "PSI Seminars." Don't GO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

AUTHOR: Jason - (U.S.A.)

This story is has everything to do with PSI seminars!!!! The person who responds to a one week seminar by doing the listed things has more problems than the seminar and they need to have their head checked. You have that one right PSIGrad. It seems to fit the pattern for most people who attend PSI Seminars. This was not the only person I've read and heard about that ruined their lives after their return from the ranch.

I too am a graduate of PSI seminars and would NOT recommend it to anyone!!!!!! I attended the Basic and PSI7 to learn and understand why my wife did what she did and I learned that PSI is nothing but a waste of time and money. I didn't come back from PSI 7 and dump all the people in my life; but my wife did.
And don't tell me that they don't suggest it. They specifically tell the graduates that they need to get family/friends/spouses involved in the program so they understand where you're coming from. They call this RECRUITING.
It is a success seminar that teaches life tools. What are these TOOLS?
Whoever makes it anything more than that has serious issues. This statement is true; you have serious issues to even think about taking this program.
Take responsibility for yourself and quit giving PSI a bad name. I am taking responsibility; I am informing the general public that this PROGRAM is dangerous and should be avoided. And it is very sad that someone like you could actually get benefit from going to such a seminar. What were you missing in life that caused you to need to adjust your life? And I will blame PSI for my bad experience. Don't be so vain as to think that because YOU had a good experience that you have NOT been brainwashed. That is absurd. What makes you so special??
Let other people have their own experience and feel 'refreshed, goal-oriented and extremely positive in my feelings about P.S.I. and life in general.' and quit being a bah-humbug. Yup, I see this as the fact you're on here trying to recruit more victims to PSI Seminars.
You are exatly right in everything you have said. I am a PSI 7 grad and I would agree that is all about being responsible. You stayed involved with the seminars, staffed, played PLD... the works and why???? Maybe it's because you have no life of your own and this gave you the vehicle to communicate with like minded individuals? Because you changed your life by miles with the tools you learned at PSI and because of the changes you made in your self esteem, your drive, your responsibility, your word, your service to others? You mean you didn't have this to begin with? It is a shame you needed to attend these seminar to learn what your parents should have instilled in you while growing up.
You stay in contact with all your PSI friends? How long have you been involved? How long will it last? A few months? A few years? I find it interesting that you make no mention of people in your family (not your PSI Family) being there to support you.
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#4 Consumer Suggestion

investigate thoroughly

AUTHOR: Nickname - (U.S.A.)

These "seminars" are in just about every state. They all start the same way, you are invited by a friend and its so "awesome". Then you go and there is lots of applause and hype to discuss how awesome the experience was. You sign up and cant wait. Day 1- You are yelled at, refused opportunity to go to bathroom, you stay 14 hrs, etc. Day 2 more of same, Day 3- they start to be nice, Day 4, they build you up as a winner, an achiever, etc. and you go through the hype for a group of suckers like you did when you were "invited".

People kill themselves after these things. They are run by people who do not have the skills to deal with peoples extreme emotions and issues. They in my opinion are dangerous. If you are ever invited to something like this and it is secretive, dont go. If they cant tell you about it ahead of time, they are hiding something. My wife and I went to one and left in the middle of day 2. We just thought this is not something we were interested in doing for another 2 days.

Just my .02 worth.
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#5 Consumer Comment

So right on

AUTHOR: Psigrad - (U.S.A.)

You are exatly right in everything you have said. I am a PSI 7 grad and I would agree that is is all about being responsible. I, unlike some people, did stay involved with the seminars, staffed, played PLD... the works and why???? Because I changed my life by miles with the tools I learned in PSI and because of the changes I made in my self esteem, drive, reponsibility, my word, my service to others etc. I still stay in contact with all my PSI friends. Why? Because if I needed them for anythin at all, they would be there to support me and that is more than I can say for other friends that haven't taken the courses. Anyone that has a bad experience needs to take personal reponsibility because life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react.
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#6 Consumer Comment

Bla Bla Bla

AUTHOR: Psigrad - (U.S.A.)

Sir, Let me start by pasting a quote from your post....
"I felt as if I was on an emotional roller-coaster for those four days, and I left feeling refreshed, goal-oriented and extremely positive in my feelings about P.S.I. and life in general."

Take responsibility for yourself and quit giving PSI a bad name. It's very sad that the few remarks from someone who is just out to trash talk could stray away someone, like me, who could actually get benefit from going to such a seminar. Let me just say that I have changed every aspect in my life for the better as a result of going to PSI Basic. Don't blame PSI for your bad experience. Don't be so vain as to think that because YOU had a bad experience, everyone else has been brainwashed. That is absurd. What makes you so special?? Let other people have their own experience and feel "refreshed, goal-oriented and extremely positive in my feelings about P.S.I. and life in general." and quit being a bah-humbug.
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#7 Consumer Comment

Steve is a wife??

AUTHOR: Psigrad - (U.S.A.)

This is the most idiotic thing I have ever heard. This story is has nothing to do with PSI seminars and everything to do with the fact that this lady/man whatever is insane. The person who responds to a one week seminar by doing the listed things has more problems than the seminar and they need to have their head checked.

I am a graduate of PSI seminars and would recommend it to anyone. I am happier than I have ever been. I didn't come back from PSI 7 and dump all the people in my life nor do they suggest you do. It is a success seminar that teaches life tools. Whoever makes it anything more than that has serious issues.
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#8 Consumer Comment

I'd be upset too!

AUTHOR: Devilsadvocate - (U.S.A.)

Holy sh* steve, you took 3k from your joint account to go to PSI 7? I would have tracked you down and given you a piece of my mind as well! and I am a PSI 7 graduate. There is something they taught that you really really overlooked.

Responsibility for your actions. You were as irresponsible as one could be. As your husband I would have refused to go to PSI as well, without a doubt. I went to the basic, and went to PSI7, and found their teaching to be useful, good tools, and dealt with crap that I othewise would have avoided.

But to be that irresponsible, WOW. I would have popped a cork. My wife introduced me to PSI when we first reconnected. I waited until I created the money to go, I didn't just grab it and run, then not tell here where I was. that is not what a responsible person does!

I also don't hang with the PSI groupies either, I attended the courses, made some friends, use the tools often, but I don't "live" in the environment. You remind me of a few that I saw get swept up in the moment, and that moment lasted a lot longer than most. I always tone it down with a single word.

Responsible.

I am responsible for my own actions, my own choices, no one else is. and no one else can "make" me do anything. it is always my choice.

So when you look back no one ever told you to leave anyone, and if they did, they ought to be slapped. PSI does not resonate with everyone.

As PSI is experential, each person has a different experience. Yours was obviously a LOT different than mine.

You could have chose different clothes for the dance, I shaved my beard, something I had not done in several years. It was fun. It was supposed to be fun. and I suspect you had a wonderful time. and if the clothes were skimpy enough, they probably WERE looking for sex, and in that setting, maybe even more. and yes, if you left me without warning I would have tied you to the pyschiatrists desk!

Your therapist probably was ganging up on you. Changing your life, stealing money, vanishing for a week, those are pretty good signs that something is wrong.

Divorced because of PSI? I suspect there was other issues as well, but it sounds like you let them run roughshod over you. again, responsibility.

Nothing wrong with quitting a job as long as you have something else in hand. looking after the fact is a bit silly. and to play PLD while unemployed is fine, as long as you have the means to support yourself.

As for failure, only if you choose to be. You made some very poor choices, do something smart. learn from them. Use the tools, not the "foo foo" that goes into PSI. Too late? You bet, I wouldn't have anything to do with you either, after all that. However, the future is what you make it. Just use better judgement, quit being a victim, and quit being a cheerleader. Make the stuff work for you, not against you. USE GOOD JUDGEMENT.

And you got yourself involved, you could have quit at any time. (not that it would be easy, but that option was always there) Take a moment, step back, breathe, then do an assessment of where you are. If it isn't working....

FIX IT. Quit being a victim, take control of your life, and get to it.

Guilt, shame, "whoa is me" does nothing. Find a way to support yourself, divorce the jerk, and get on with your life. LEARN FROM YOUR ERRORS IN JUDGEMENT.

And good luck
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#9 Author of original report

PSI Seminars, The Happy, Happy, Joy Joy Cult

AUTHOR: Steve - (U.S.A.)

Roger I would like to also point out that I am not the only one who has suffered a loss because of PSI. PSI is a vehicle, a vehicle which causes people to lose touch with their reality and give away their money. I started researching LGATs and found this blog on myspace. Read what this PSI grad had to say about your CULT...

"PSI cho therapy or, my life with the happy happy joy joy cult.
It's time for another edition of 'exploring cult dynamics!' with your host, Mr. xxx xxxx. In previous editions we've tackled hardcore Xtinity and the "Masterpath," moderately exploring common brainwashing techniques & groupthink rhetoric, using examples culled from the real-life situations of those that have to deal with indoctrinated family members, friends etc. Today, our host will recount his own experiences in and around the fringes of a New Age empowerment / 'life transformation' group called P.S.I. (People Synergistically Involved).

Case history: Spring 1997
During the time I became involved with P.S.I. I was living in CO., attending classes at College. After a brief stint of heavy partying in my late teens, I'd settled down into a routine of 'personal growth', which for me entailed studying eastern philosophy, daily routines of Yoga and Tai Chi, and practicing my writing. The College itself was profoundly uninvolving, scholastically: it was set up as a rich kid's 'playschool' where east-coast trustfundies could taste Colorado powder while earning basic credits. The staff at the school ranged from atrocious to "intellectually demanding;" one teacher in particular had a 'hardcore' class that forced potential graduates to construct a by-the-book thesis paper. Given how much time this would take out of the usual routines of bong-toking, heavy drinking, casual sex and snowboarding, this relatively moderate college requirement not only gives telling example of the curriculum and the overall attitude of education, it ended up flunking a good portion of the dissipated trusties as well ? not that it mattered. Most of these kids came from mild to extremely wealthy backgrounds; some would receive allowances of up to $500 a week. In other words, they were on the golden road and consequently spent fortunes on maintaining the party-life and in having the latest toys in the brightest colors. Perhaps I have already digressed, but I suppose establishing environment is important to what follows.

In the spring of 1997 I began a job cleaning up the college dormitories. One of my workmates was a man I will call "DB", whom I met near the beginning of the year; he had struck me as a pompous asshole with more money and testosterone than brains and afterward I associated with him as little as possible ? not a difficult trick, as by his own admission he spent 165 days snowboarding that year. However, something had changed with DB ? the unpleasant aspects of his personality had been replaced by a far more genial presence; he appeared calm and happy and he continually raved about 'this seminar' that had changed his life immeasurably for the better. Quite naturally, he was trying to enroll as many people as possible into the program. The information he did reveal (as much of it was cloaked in secrecy so as not to 'ruin the experience) seemed tantalizing enough, and I assumed that this was a sort of higher-training platform for the various philosophies and paradigms I'd spent the last two or so years studying. The real proof in the pudding, for me, was how drastically changed this individual had become, almost overnight going from someone I'd not want to spend an hour with to a good friend and associate.

D.B. had me attend a "coffee", an informal meeting about P.S.I. attended by graduates with the intention of recruiting new people. By this time I'd already made up my mind to attend ? though the cost was around $475, years of Yoga & assorted aesthete programming had given me a very low 'value' on the concept of money; it was energy to be used, not obsessed over, and the promise of a full refund (minus a $50 'processing' fee) if one was not satisfied with the experience ? well, what did I have to lose?

The coffee was held at the manor of local funeral-home magnet xxxx xxxxxx, later to head the P.S.I. organization's branch in Denver. I saw a change in xxxx as well ? DB dated his daughter and I'd visited the house one time pre-P.S.I.; the man who had struck me as a fairly lethargic middle-class shell had been transformed into a sparkling-eyed, uberconfident powerhouse. "Well, this can't be all that bad," I mused, "and I can always get my money back?"

DB had a hard time convincing other people to sign up, however. Many people shied away from its cult-like demeanor, despite DB's protestations to the contrary; his exuberance and pushiness alienated some, while others viewed the entire affair as suspicious: "cult! Cult!" I remember one of my myspace friends whispering subversively at the coffee DB had pressured him to attend.

SO ? I forked over the money and a couple weeks later left for Denver with DB, the Xxxxxx family and another recruit (the same fellow that would eventually abandon me in the middle of Ashville during a road trip) for the four day P.S.I. Basic.

For a complete breakdown of what typically occurs at these life-training seminars, click here:

http://perso.orange.fr/eldon.braun/awareness/lgat1.html

In essence, P.S.I. "it" is a mishmash of hypnotherapy and psychotherapy with a 'break them down and build them up' format, designed to expose people to the individual programs childhood and young adulthood have installed. Using mind-control techniques designed to bring people in a highly suggestible state, P.S.I. serves as an therapy arena where people can touch into their 'inner self' to confront negative / debilitating programming, all augmented by interactive exercises, meditation-breaks and games.

The emphasis of P.S.I. is win-win, subverting (or, in many cases, suppressing) the competitive survival-streak endemic in all humans, and in positive affirmation, i.e. training the mind towards a 'half-full' paradigm, trying to view situations 'outside the box,' applied rhetoric and mantra techniques ("PSIspeak", my own invention), and many other standards of the self-help industry, including emphasis on accountability & integrity, knowing and going for 'what you want', etc. The biggest slogan of all was "To think is to Create" via Napolean Hill's Think and Grow Rich. "You create your own reality" was a big one too ? in that, the subjective programs tended to control the way a person communicates, does business, etc.; I prefer Wilbur's "We co-create our own reality", as this both emphasizes the narcissistic control-room of the noggin yet allows for chaos and chance outside the dominant sphere of groupthink/selfthink. Alas P.S.I. does not make the distinction and I've ever found myself amused / exasperated by people (particularly of New Age bent) who use it to confirm their nebulous conceptions on how everything 'works.'

Again, I've veered off track. As for the seminar: I felt as if I was on an emotional roller-coaster for those four days, and I left feeling refreshed, goal-oriented and extremely positive in my feelings about P.S.I. and life in general. Although I was already aware of some of the conceptions presented, others were new and the whole thing operated in a precise framework designed to maximize these ideas in a highly-suggestible state. I was, like most, mildly brainwashed into this 'new thing' that needed to 'take the world by storm' yadda yadda. Despite my acolyte status, however, I began to notice certain elements that, though I couldn't quite put my finger on it, were vaguely disturbing.

The hard-push to get people to sign up for the next weeklong course composed most of the training for the fourth day, when people had already gone deepest in 'their shit' (the 'Red / Black' game and assorted trauma-release exercises) and then gone through several trust / groupshare activities with the facilitator. The line from P.S.I. was that the Basic was just the basics; in order to get the full training (emphasized on self-training), one had to go to P.S.I. ? 7 ? a $3000 course, hosted in the Clearwater Lakes area north of San Francisco. The push to do the continuing courses was fairly tremendous; I remember seeing people rushing en mass to the sign-up booths to get a moderate discount on the higher level seminars. $3000 was quite a bit out of my range, but the seduction of 'The Ranch' had me firmly ? here I could find out the real techniques of power and self-mastery, I thought; it seemed a natural step forward on becoming a more complete and happy person. I had been given tools to attain emotional intelligence.

The facilitators made suggestions for people uncertain about P.S.I. -7, going as far as to encourage "putting it on the Credit Card" or asking support money from people you knew or P.S.I. graduates. I had met a fair amount of the successful businessmen who were staffing the event; when I asked them ( a 'risk' for me) the answer was a kindly 'no'; when I asked xxxx xxxxxx, he laughed and asked me to propose a payment plan. While I understood that money-is-money and those with it have to be especially careful of those who want to take it, this reaction struck me as a bit at-odds will all P.S.I. had taught me ? "giver's gain" ? no one wanted to give to me, so I had to do it myself. Thus I worked that summer at the local grocery store, living in a one-bedroom apartment with three other people (including DB), and by the end of August I had $3000 saved. When I handed this to xxxx xxxxxx he made a joke about the money 'disappearing', which I suppose was his humorous reaction to someone who dealt in cash but at the time stuck a needle into my skeptic's core. Whatever, I thought. I'd paid my dues, on my own wage. Let the learning begin!

In order to attend the Ranch I had to fly out to San Fran (on my own dime, natch) and from there was bussed up into Marin County. I suppose a little insight into the history of P.S.I. is necessary. As the legend goes, Andrew Carnagie instructed a man to find 'the secrets of wealth and happiness' and to write a book about it; this man, Napoleon Hill, studied for twenty years and came up with ye classic Think and Grow Rich. Hill instructed several students, who in turn began to teach it to corporations and individuals ? creating 'large group awareness training' or LGATs, which went under the name of Lifework, Landmark, P.S.T, est. Here's another (negative, mind you) mini-summery:

"PSI was founded by Thomas and Jane Willhite in 1973. They copied Mind Dynamics, a seminar founded by Alexander Everett from England

http://perso.wanadoo.fr/eldon.braun/awareness/mind.htm.

Graduates from the same class founded other LGAT's - est, Lifespring, Lifestream, Context Trainings and others. In addition to the break 'em down, built them back up brainwash, the LGAT's do use their own customized version of personality and character ethics which have been evolving over centuries and no literate person should feel compelled to shell out $4k to learn stuff they can get from a good personal growth book such as Covey's "7 Habits of Highly effective People"

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0671708635/102-9281316-7861739?v=glance .

PSI - everything is geared to selling more courses and getting friends and families sucked in, ruining many a relationship and career in the process.

The LGAT's will do anything and everything to make a buck - the facilitators will advise people to quit their job or a relationship just to get them into a seminar (and collect a commission). The dangerous thing is that the PSI facilitators practice psychiatry and relationship counseling without license. They turn their subjects into unpaid sales staff of their seminars and "make people deployable without their consent (that's the reason why Margaret Singer, clinical psychologist from UC Berkeley calls the LGAT's CULTS and that would then be the definition you may want to remember

http://www.rickross.com/reference/brainwashing/brainwashing13.html ).

They coerce you into buying their seminars at times when you are most suggestible, vulnerable and emotional. Some of their staff prey on people in the above situations

(http://forum.culteducation.com/showthread.php?s=&threadid=853).

They use deceptive tactics to sell their seminars. People have experienced emotional and physical breakdowns; suicide attempts and psychotic episodes following poorly run LGAT sessions. That's what I have a problem with.

Willhite died in the late 80's from an airplane crash and the ranch he bought at Clearwater Oaks became the central arena for P.S.I. work, continued by his widow Jane Willhite. It should be mentioned that there is an aura of 'mystery' surrounding the higher levels of training, with certain symbolic distinctions, the biggest being that of the eagle ? as the eagle 'never gives up' and will dive for a fish one hundred times (etc) ? and those who have completed the $4000 MLS /WLS (men / women's leadership seminars, which comes after PSI-7) receive a gold ring with an eagle's head as a mark of their education. Also, while at the Ranch one can see 'the house' where Jane Willhite lives upon a high ridge and I remember a staff member recounting how she was invited to visit... anyway, the seven-day course was fairly intensive, with a day devoted to ropes-course activities, but my overall impression was fatally marred when, later into the week, one of the facilitators asked "what are you doing here? You have the tools (e.g. the Basic) to control your life" ? I found that profound in the sense that it seemed as if I wasn't learning anything really beyond from what I'd initially invested; P.S.I.-7, the 'necessary' course, seemed like a rehash when it was all said and done. $3000 can motivate a lot of justification, and in some ways I still feel the experience was worth it ? I met and exchanged information with a number of interesting individuals, had the opportunity (as with the Basic) to have my own "poor-me" bullshit contrasted by people who had truly suffered greatly in their time (Child abuse victims etc) and were getting an enormous amount of catharsis from PSI's techniques. Also, I was recruited to raise $3000 dollars in the course of the week so our class (#300) could have an eagle-plaque on the Ranch's 'wall of fame'. I, who had money programs to begin with and hadn't managed to raise any money for this education from graduates, managed to succeed in this task ("suggested" by another and quickly assumed by all to be on my shoulders). True, I was working in an environment of high suggestibility ? using P.S.I.'s business tactics to benefit P.S.I. and, by extension, the 60-odd people in my class ? but this 'breakthrough' I count as valuable in the long run, if nothing else than as an interesting examination on how people can be influenced to reach for the checkbook.

It should be noted that, at that time, I had no conception that P.S.I. was only one of many life-training courses. Willhite's origins were given a nice sheen (Hill was mentioned) but an aura of secrecy and an emphasis on the founder's own books etc. gave the impression that P.S.I. was something new, unique, and valuable for the human race (the only truth being in the very last category)?and hey, wouldn't it be great if everyone knew this stuff? Your family and friends and work acquaintances? The recruiting had even been given its own training course, P.L.D, where for 90 days one paid $345 to be called three-four times a day and counseled on goals, the biggest goal of all being enrollment of family, friends and anyone else.

This pushiness, combined with a relatively disappointing P.S.I-7 experience (the ropes-course stands out most prominently in my mind, 10 years later, as I managed somewhat to overcome the vertigo-program of my father & confront my fear of heights) ? began to increase my ambivalent stance on P.S.I. Certainly the core curriculum they taught was invaluable (I fumed about why some of these simple ideas were not taught in public education), but all organizations are subject to the interior programming's of man himself; even P.S.I., as I'd later come to discover, struggled with maintaining its own course of ethics among its facilitators.

The PSIspeak began to get on my nerves with increasing contact with graduates who used it to either a) defend their core conceptions of the world, b) give an arbitrary 'sheen' to the horrors of the world (often condescendingly: example: "so your stepfather f*cked you in the *ss for five years? Well, what are you going to do about it now?") or b) as a method of manipulation ? the hierarchy scheme of the various seminars, the emphasis on enrolling and the encouragement that those 'who had not done the training' were somewhat less-evolved (and only needed to go through the Basic to reach 'our level' ? note: this was discouraged in rhetoric but exploited in practice); the 'rules' by which facilitators could easily employ PSIspeak to chastise and control participants (I engaged in a debate with one facilitator which ended up with her repeatedly telling me "I had to work on my issues" with the matter, rather embarrassing when a hundred other people are watching).

Yadda yadda? All in all, I enjoyed my time with the happy happy joy joy cult (I take this from one of their exercises, where people jump up and down while exclaiming "I'm excited!" or "I'm happy!" to spark physical enthusiasm and energy) and I did learn a lot However, P.S.I. ? like Yoga, Carlos Castenada, Socrates, Nietzsche and any other number of 'paradigm-shift' material ? eventually began yet another stepping-stone on the long staircase of my education. The $4000 for the next seminar didn't seem worth the investment, to me; I knew what made me happy (writing, hiking and philosophizing) and, moreover, I had a direct conflict with one of the biggest PSIspeak techniques: think positive. This, like in all cult-like organizations, became the rule of the word; people got on your back for daring negative contemplation. While it is true that peak performance is best initiated with positive reinforcement and that negativity is the sabotaging mechanism, to just conform to a 'positive mindset' reduced and dissipated the very prominent and important issues at large for the human race; it was, in essence, a gate of denial. "Oh, you're thinking negatively about this? Well, that's your subjective experience and you're going to bring the project down and everyone else too" ? regardless of concepts like common sense and critical analysis. The more extreme aspect of this can be found in my past musings on 'The Masterpath', and the danger is in this: empowerment is fine and dandy, but four days of seminar are not going to 'fix' anything and maintaining a 'be here now' mentality effectively suppresses many negative stress-points that often should be addressed. I'm of the opinion now that those who confront abuse issues during a Basic would be better off spending the $3000 on professional therapy rather than blow it on a glorified / mystified basic extension. Moreover, empowering certain individuals in this manner can be very destructive; PSI does impart, for some that take the course, an underlying arrogance of assumption and rhetoric-justification, ignorance given platform.

A few months ago I postulated to my friend and my mother that "we're really just evolved beasts", trying to explain through the New Age bubble that refuses to account for our violent, savage past of scramble, scorn and surpass. Everything "is perfect" from a higher stance, people contract into their sufferings, etc. etc. Although this is somewhat effective for whitewashing the very basic concepts of cruelty, stupidity and perversion (giving it all meaning), it certainly isn't a "perfect" formula no matter what syntax is applied to construct a mental realm of belief. Even those with extended training are still like every other person: trained in a certain way to process and filter reality, weighted by doubts, media-influenced temptations and confusion. Corruptions can exist under the 'best' intentions, including those who espouse these best intentions.

Jump forward to eight years later. I'm buying a sandwich at the local Subway when an old high school acquaintance enters. We chat for a bit and eat together; he mentions "P.S.I." and how he looked my name up on a list of 'area graduates'. It seems this person has just completed the MLS seminar and is working to create a "Pagosa P.S.I." He asks me to attend the upcoming meeting. I cautiously agree, remembering keenly the positive and negatives of my own personal experience. I attend one meeting. I see both the good and bad of PSI in those few hours; I hear the life-stories of the participants, and contribute in turn; but afterward I felt little desire to return ? P.S.I seemed a long ways back on the 'staircase'; moreover I knew the propagation techniques that P.S.I preach and demand would soon be snaking out time-consuming tentacles around my form. Engaged as I was in my private studies and artistic commitments (then DJ work / production and some writing), I felt I didn't have the time to commit the "100%" they were demanding, a suspicion made clear when, after much pressure and repeated calls, I attended another meeting where they formed a 'mastermind' with the intention of creating a Pagosa basic. Here I realized by lack of desire to commit that 100%; moreover I felt disgust at the draconian techniques of the higher brass of PSI, who said they would only stage a Basic if a certain number of people were involved, and not one person less; I stayed away after that point, though the phone calls and even occasional visits to the Radio station continued for another six months or so. I resented the 'disappointed' looks these PSI members gave me; I must have been seen as a 'betrayer to the cause.'

I've written the above blog because, after some time of not thinking about it, I goggled "PSI" with "mind control" and discovered, after so many years, the structural backbone of these organizations (when I was actually into PSI, the internet yielded very little information about the organization and the founder; wikipedia still does not acknowledge many of the founders and LGATs currently practicing.). This site here

http://perso.orange.fr/eldon.braun/awareness/

provides more than enough information about what goes on, the hypnotherapy tools employed, history of etc; FACTNet has several message boards where the merits of PSI and its associates are debated back and forth, both sides having generally good points to make (one thread is infected by trolls but the rest of the discourse is that rarity of the net, civilized and with class).

http://www.factnet.org/discus/messages/1/12277.html

In some ways it was good to have those internal suspicions confirmed, but I stress again that PSI was, for me, valuable life-training; the important thing to remember is "kill the master" ? in that, educate oneself and then challenge, critique and continue on, rather than exclusively adhering to only one branch of learning ? for such is the way of cults. PSI is certainly superior to shelling out $300,000+ the way top Scientologists are for a debased and daemonic version of these 'human truths'? but the same core training can also be found in a $5.99 paperback version of Think and Grow Rich, with just a dash of Edgard Cayce and Anthony Robbins?

As for my friend DB, he who introduced and championed PSI to me -- he gave away a $20,000 car to someone he hardly knew, put his sister through the training (they had horrifically abusive childhoods), decided to become the greatest facilitator of this information in the world (pre-PSI he'd vowed to become the greatest snowboarder in the world), got into a fight with the PSI top brass because they wouldn't allow his sister to attend the higher-level classes (18+), broke up with his girlfriend and entered an obsessive state about it. The last time I talked to him he mentioned how his sister had been busted with a bunch of gangbangers for selling X, how he'd grown disillusioned with the politics behind PSI, and that he was entering the military.

"To think is to create" works in some ways, but is not a universal maxim, if nothing else than for the bare fact that most people's thinking comes from someone else's creation, both before and after LGAT.

EDIT: I posted a lot below, but this requires attention:

It appears that PSI instructor xxxxx, daughter of PSI World president xxxxx xxxx, cohort of owner Jane C. Willhite, is not practicing Win-Win, Givers Gain. She was convicted of felony hit-and-run driving in December 2004 and will be sentenced on April 8, 2005. She has the possibility of serving up to 4 years in prison, or at least 90 days in jail. She hit a man walking at the side of they road in the wee hours of morning on September 18, 2003 and didn't know she had hit anything due to intoxication. The two gents in the 2001 Mercedes Benz Suv couldn't recall anything either because they were also drunk. I guess she was riding on the "red horse" trying to fill up her emptiness with alcohol. And, I guess poor xxxx xxxx, 58, probably walking home from work, created this, his death. Remember the words of Ernestine Fischer, "They are the ones creating it," referring to the person's circumstances. Jane C. Willhite is planning to help the xxxx family sue the newspaper over their coverage of the trial. What? For telling the truth and exercising their 1st amendment right to inform the public about a documented circumstance? All of this information can be obtained from the Lake County Record Bee newspaper. They should be "nailed on the concepts with the concepts." I don't understand why xxxxx just didn't go into her levels and heal this man's broken body and save his family from grief instead of denying the act from the onset. Xxxxx had a broken windshield and a dent in the front of her car. That could have been fixed in her workshop too. And people pay thousands of dollars to learn these concepts while those at the top of the organization do not practice them, but blame others with the attitude of "I just don't care. They are the ones creating it."

MORE: ------

The following is the climax of PSI Basic, and one the secrets they command initiates not to spread in order to "not ruin the experience". That said, this is a fairly common exercise in all LGAT programs and the below is taken from someone who did the Landmark training.
The Red/Black game: After several of these types of processes it was time for the Red/Black game. In this game people are divided into 2 teams and sent to separate rooms. Instructions were given to get the most number of points and elect a captain who will tally the votes. The trainer asked if anyone in the room had played the game before. A few had and were excused. I raised my hand and stated that I had read about the game in a book. I was told to play the game anyway.

There are 10 frames in this game like a bowling sheet. The 5th frame is double points, the 10th frame is triple points. Points are accumulated from frame to frame. There is no communication to the other team other than a staffer runs back and forth between rooms and tells you how the other team voted between frames. Each team votes on a color red or black with a simple majority. The trainer goes back and forth between the rooms and observes. There is absolutely no help from the staff.

Scoring is as follows:

Team A vote Team B vote Team A scores Team B scores

Black Black +3 +3
Red Black +5 -5
Black Red -5 +5
Red Red -5 -5

It should be obvious that the scenario is win/win win/lose lose/win and lose/lose.
When I went to the next room with my team, I was overwhelmingly elected to be the team captain since I had read about the game. I then explained the purpose of the game and how it is to illustrate the win-win scenario. We took a vote which I counted being the team captain. The votes for black outnumbered red by about 2:1. The staffer came into the room and said. "Team B what is your vote?"
To which I responded "Team B votes Black."
The staffer said "Your vote has been accepted. Team A votes Black."
The black/black vote gave each team 3 points. Everyone seemed quite pleased that the vote turned out the way it did and it appeared that we were headed towards a win-win game. But this was not to be the case.
I asked for the vote for the second frame and this time the overwhelming majority voted black with just a few people voting red. The staffer returned and asked
"Team B what is your vote?"
I responded "Team B votes Black."
The staffer replied "I'm sorry, you did not follow the ground rules. Your vote is invalid."
This was quite puzzling. We took the vote again with the majority voting black. Again the staffer returns and asks
"Team B what is your vote?"
I responded again "Team B votes Black."
The staffer replies again "I'm sorry, you did not follow the ground rules. Your vote is invalid."
Being that the staffer is not in the room when we vote then one of the staff members that is seated at a table in the rear of the room must be giving him a thumbs down sign. The staffers seated at the rear sit with their arms crossed and are not saying a word. I was to learn later that this is practiced.
By this time people are starting to murmur that voting black must be wrong and that we should be voting red. I responded that the purpose of the game is to observe how you play game. I was thinking about how things had become rather interesting. I asked the group what they remembered about the ground rules. People responded with what they thought they heard. I took another vote. This time there were a few more voting red. Again the vote was declared invalid.
This time several people became very upset. A few of them get disgusted and leave the room. They are, of course, attended by staff. I can't blame them since it has been a long and stressful evening and it is well after ..:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />midnight and at the rate we were going we could be there all night.
A man stands up and says that we should be voting red. That is why our vote was wrong. I stated that there was nothing in the ground rules stating which way we had to vote. More and more people rally around this individual and there is a motion to dismiss me as the team captain. The majority vote to dismiss me and install the other guy as team captain.
He takes the vote which is red by a small majority. The staffer returns.
"Team B what is your vote?"
To which the captain responds "Team B votes Red."
The staffer said "Your vote has been accepted. Team A votes Black."
There is much relief and celebration in the room. Not only has the vote been accepted but we are now winning the game. I was to learn later that members of Team A in the next room thought that Team B had tricked them into voting Black in the second frame and were now arguing for the third frame to be voted Red.
I stood up and said that I thought that what I did wrong was not count the individual votes in the second frame since it was overwhelmingly Black.
We took another vote which was black by a very small margin.
"Team B what is your vote?"
"Team B votes Black.."
The staffer said "Your vote has been accepted. Team A votes Red."
Several people are upset that Team A has voted Red. Even more people get up and leave the room. I think by the end of the game only 2/3rds are left in the room.
The fourth frame is voted Red/Red. The rest of the game goes rather quickly. From this point on with each frame more and more people in the group vote Red that by the 9th frame only myself and one or two others still vote Black. The tenth frame was the opportunity for triple points. At this point it is close to the end of the game and I said to myself "Screw it. I guess majority rules".
Everyone in the group voted Red, myself included.
Team A also voted Red.
The final result was a score something like -7 to -17. Little did we know there was hell to pay...

By this time it was after 1 AM and we were told to file back into the main ballroom in silence. The trainer had a look that would kill. When we got to our seats we were ordered to close our eyes and the trainer screamed at us for over 30 minutes straight. We were told that what we did in the game amounted to war and the way we played that game was the way we lived our lives. That screaming lecture accused us of just about every negative behavior imaginable. We were told that crime in the streets, racism, and other personal and social problems were because of people like us. You would have thought we were the leaders of Russia and America who just fired off an all-out nuclear exchange at each other and were now being called to account for it in hell. Those of us who knew how the game was supposed to be played and voted black were especially berated because we didn't "take a stand" for the win-win situation.

After a night of sleep deprivation and now another late night plus all the psychological opening exercises, this screaming lecture over a PA system sends thunderbolts through your consciousness. I felt like with every sentence that a powerful jolt of electricity was sent through my nervous system.

We were told to leave in silence and were given an assignment to spend an hour reflecting on what we just did and to be back at 10 AM. This is in addition to written homework due the next day. By this time it is going on 2 in the morning.

How to win the game? Refuse to vote unless the whole team votes for the win-win scenario.

------------------------
Philip Cushman writes in his PhD dissertation on Lifespring, "The Politics of Transformation":
The last exercise of the evening is the "Red and Black" game. This is a type of "prisoner's dilemma" game popular in social psychology experiments. Participants are encouraged by the trainer and by staff to "win" the game, really pour it on. Staffers become like cheerleaders, and, after the trainer has explained the game ("The purpose is to win"), participants are divided into two teams and are left on their own to elect captains and figure out how to win the game.

[COMMENT: The game, of course. is rigged. It directly follows the long "parent process," when participants are in an euphoric, emotionally primitive state in which they experience the ultimate gratifications of childhood: unconditional love and unlimited attention. After all the importance the trainer has placed on "winning," "doing whatever is necessary to win," and "creating your own reality," it turns out this game can be won only if the two sides cooperate. In the 18 trainings subjects reported on only once did participants figure out how to cooperate.)

By the time the game has to be stopped, 3 of 3"behavior" subjects (100%) reported that many people had become very excited. driven, and frustrated about winning. it is at this point the trainer steps in and harangues and humiliates the participants. He swears at them, he calls them names, he blames the arms race and world hunger on people like them, who "can't imagine winning without killing the other side."

The recrimination is very strong, and very effective. All subjects reported being affected by it and remembering it. The pattern was the same for 14 of 15 "experience" subjects (93%). Either subjects felt distraught because they tried to win by making the other side lose, or they figured out the key to winning, but they were too frightened to speak up or too self-critical to believe they knew the answer Either way, one "experience" subject noted, everyone seemed to feel embarrassed and crushed. As one "behavior" subject noted, it was, paradoxically, a no-win situation.
Random posts from a link above that elucidate the dangers of the self-growth industry:
"I attended the PSI basic seminar a couple of weeks ago. I am a registered nurse that works with war veterans. PSI is very dangerous. I don't care how much positive information was instilled in the class- most of which is common sense- there are no trained professionals (i.e., psychologists, psychiatrists, and physicians) that specialize in mental health to circumvent the extremely emotional, oftentimes painful, and damaging awareness that occurs during the seminar. One is asked to "take a closer look at what is really going on and come to terms with the 'truth of the matter'." One is placed in a semi-trance state and asked to relive very emotionally disturbing and painful experiences in life. 99% of the individuals have no idea what they are in for when their friends/family members suggest the seminar. Those who attend the basic are asked to dive into their emotional baggage for four days and then left with no safety net to pick up the pieces of their "discoveries." Unless, of course, one wants to pay $3400 to attend PSI7 (an advanced seminar) to learn how to utilize tools to cope with the potential damage created from the basic seminar. I had a very unsettling feeling after the seminar ended. I was told by my microgroup leader and other PSI junkies that it was me coming to awareness of my "less than adequate life." I sat down and discussed my feelings and experiences with TRAINED professionals. After realizing what PSI seminars was all about and the potential danger that can be wreaked upon one's life, I felt a clarity that I had not felt since the first day. Please do not enroll in PSI seminars and have a heart-to-heart discussion with those in your life who believe that PSI is their only way to truly achieve a rewarding life. They are selling themselves short and spending a lot of money to do so!"
"My relationship fell apart because of this. she tried over and over to get me to go. I asked her what qualifications these people had and how much money they were paying her. (she's been to two "ranch" seminars.) She's currently in pld and came home one night from a meeting and left me. I don't get how to show her that this is the biggest scam in the world. she's a very impressionable person. no job, sits around all day, no job to fulfill her. This has given her a purpose. a purpose without pay. jeeze, i'm I retarded?

I am sorry that your relationship fell apart. Oftentimes, individuals that put their faith in the program to give them answers, are guided by others that truly think they are guiding them in the right direction to gain insight into specific situations in their life. As one individual put it, "If you don't have real issues prior to attending PSI seminars, the facilitator (and others) will assist you in creating some." Unfortunately if you can't see some solidified value in PSI, you can't enroll others to further their mission. The concepts taught in PSI are very real concepts that one can achieve by attending motivational seminars (which PSI is definitely NOT) or buying a book or two. The damaging effects of attempting to get into one's psyche with hypnotizing exercises is certainly a way to brainwash individuals. For those individuals that think PSI is their only way to achieve more in life, I would challenge you to research the "activities" that take place within the seminar. Just about every individual in the mental health profession would concur that the techniques utilized are techniques that can create brainwashing and should be utilized only by mental health professionals not a bunch of pseudo mental health junkies. Even if PSI helps a large number achieve peace, the damage it can do to some outweigh the benefits. Those I have spoken to from the seminar I attended were on a "high" with a manic quality to their presence. This can not last forever. A friend of mine is heavily involved in PLD. PLD encourages groups of people to set their goals to achieve a greater sense of accomplishment in life. PLD is a great concept, however, she had to pay $300 to enroll in this program whereas none of the members were paid staff. They volunteered for the cause and PSI kept their money. A goal of all PLD members to sign up six new people in a 90-day period. If it is supposed to be about her setting goals, why are they giving her a goal to further their profit? A great selling technique after you are raw and vulnerable from 4 days on an emotional roller coaster ride is to get you to sign up for PSI7. I was told that if I wanted true wealth in life that I would get the money any way I could to attend because my life is more important than $3400. Interesting, because PSI speaks a lot about taking responsibility for actions in your life. However, I would have certainly been acting irresponsible by making a snap decision and signing up for a seminar with money that I did not particularly have for such efforts. The hypocrisy on the lessons taught (again, basic common sense) and the overwhelming pressure to sign me up for PSI7 was nothing more than a huge hypocrisy.
I too am a PSI graduate I was very involved with PSI for over a year. I attended all the seminars and staffed etc. I talked a few people into the program. (I really feel guilty about it too) My involvement with PSI Seminars just wrecked havoc in my life. I almost lost my marriage and lost many friends. It has been a struggle to heal and mend relationships.

As a previous poster said "The concepts taught in PSI are very real concepts that one can achieve by attending motivational seminars (which PSI is definitely NOT) or buying a book or two." Even PSI will tell you that nothing they say is new.

The nurse is correct. PSI Seminars takes some really valuable concepts that can be helpful to people to reach goals in life. People buy into the good stuff, but don't realize that it's wrapped around an inner core of deception, greed and exploitation.

PSI Seminars does use cult tactics of thought reform, brainwashing, trance, triggers, and psychological techniques that open up peoples psyches in a very unsafe environment.

I saw trainers mind game students into doing things that were not in the best interest of the student. They set themselves up as authority figures, students listen to them as if they possess the answer.

PSI Seminars is like a beautiful box of chocolate truffles with a creamy feces center. People eat them up and exclaim about the yummy chocolate. Then offer you one. No one wants to admit to eating poop.

Especially not the PSI grads who every time they witness something unethical the cognitive dissonance they experience triggers them to rationalize it.

I have personally met and interacted with many of the trainers and the owner. Jane C. Wilhite, Ernestine Fischer, Gary Elkins, Shirley Hunt, Rob Rowe, Cathy Q. Perez, Carol Santucci etc.

I have no respect for these people. They know that "things happen" that are damaging to the students. I quote Ernestine Fischer "I just don't care. They are the ones creating it.".

I never once saw a trainer/owner/facilitator take responsibility for what they created. They always blamed the student.

Just finished PSI Basic here in Scottsdale. A friend of my mother's went in LA and just raved about the seminar. I thought that that was just what it was...an educational seminar in business-just what I needed at this point. I had no idea it was an LGAT until after we paid the $445.00. I had searched on the web for PSI and didn't see any negative things until I searched explicitly for negatives. This is where I made my mistake. I WISH I had done the negative search before payment.

I asked for a refund, was given the "no refund- but you have one year in which to attend" song and dance. I then called the Arizona Attorney General's office, then the Arizona Law Library wherein I was informed that their 'no refund' policy is not illegal because I had initialed the application where it states 'no refund'. (silly me). I called the Credit Card company and was informed of the same thing-that the chargeback would be denied because of the application. So the only alternative is to go to the 4+ days of activities, THEN ask for a refund. I am supposed to attend the "Graduation" tonight, but I am not going. I cannot stand another moment in the presence of this group; every moment in my past 2 sessions there was spent with them trying to sell me on the next phase, PSI7...which I will never attend.

This group uses manipulation and nearly coercive techniques to just get more and more money out of attendees. I could not believe what I heard people saying to their families on their cell phones during the break after the "Big Pitch" on Sunday...talking about borrowing the $6500 for both of the next stages (a special price for the two!) and how the seminar would guarantee their prosperity and ability to pay it back. I saw people using 3 credit cards to pay for this!

This doesn't even get into the techniques of the 4 days of the sessions. The emotional vulnerability of many there was wrenching to witness, and I felt there was absolutely no one qualified to deal with the fallout from an exercise gone wrong. There were one or two very intense emotional incidents and all that was offered was Kleenex and a hug. This is an irresponsible organization, created to make great deals of money at the expense of people who are insecure and vulnerable. Please do not attend unless you wish to endure amateur psychoanalytic sessions and moments of humiliation.

I have been to PSI Basic and I have staffed PSI Basic. PSI is not an "out-to-rule-the-world" cult, or "let's commit suicide together" cult -- it is a MONEY CULT. It is ALL about the money. The course cloaks the purpose with some reasonably good advice on goal setting, visualization, etc. and the merits of being a good human being, but in the end all they really want is YOUR money, your family's money, your friend's money, your company's money, etc. And if you are really whacked, they want you to (as I did) spend 40 hours "staffing" or up-selling to PSI 7. They pressure the staff into committing to "Paid In Full" PSI 7 up-sells. If the brain-washed staff does not deliver, then they question their "integrity." After the event, they invite everyone to party at the bar. This is touted by the facilitator as an excellent time to really sell, as the liquor sets in, and the confused victim is taken advantage of. At the beginning of my seminar, one of the volunteers was not following party doctrine, so the "facilitator", some lawyer/psyhologist/wanna-be-reverand so verbally abused her, as to force her off the team. Apparently, she might have reduced earnings. As a newcomer to the group, I was scolded within 5-minutes of the facilitator arriving to the seminar room for having a "Looking Good Program" (afraid to be myself). While everyone has a certain degree of self-doubt, I began to question myself, and wonder why he picked on me. The answer is now clear -- I was new to the group, and he knew he had the others already sucked in, so it was time to start chipping away at the newcomer. Later he asked, "When are you going to start loving yourself?" -- Ha ha... Actually, it's not so funny -- I saw one lady lay down $10,000 to continue with this torture. If you can keep a clear head, and filter the good ideas from the manipulation, you will find value in this course. For example: DO NOT STOP THINKING!! The facilitator will continue to say, "stop thinking in your head and start feeling in your heart." Wouldn't a used car dealer love for you to do the same!? Of course they don't want you to think -- that might get in the way of taking your money. When you do the math, PSI raked in around $70,000 from our group in about 40 hours. Not bad...

I forgot to mention above that our facilitator, Paul, actually told all the staffers that God speaks through him! And I think he is serious, or at least the whacked out staff believed him... What a bunch of bullsh@t!"
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#10 Consumer Suggestion

Another Basic Grad speaks out

AUTHOR: Steve - (U.S.A.)

Found this on a MySpace blog. This has PSI written all over it. Beware!!!!!


Saturday, January 27, 2007

Flirtation with the Cult/LGAT


So I recently attended a recruitment meeting for an LGAT- a Large Group Awareness Training. These cult-like groups don't really have a compound and make you live there; they are mostly about getting your money by charging you absurdly huge amounts of money for seminars that use some very shady tactics.


I had presented a speech the night before at my school, discussing the ways that cults and LGATs hook people and their similarities to hypnotic techniques.
So I went the next night to actually observe what went on and see what happens. Here's the story:

The first thing was that I signed in to a table outside the hotel ballroom. Several of the seminar leaders were standing by, dressed immaculately. I approached one, smiled, and signed in and was given a name tag. The man recognized my name (I had been emailing him) and introduced himself, asking who had brought me. I told him nobody.

Tonight's event was the "Graduation" from the initial seminar, which had taken place over 4 days and cost a shade under $500. To celebrate the graduates, all the participants who'd made it through the four days were invited to bring their friends and family along. As the crowd mingled, the grads and guests mingled and chatted with Seminar employees who strolled around, making introductions.

None of them attempted to talk to me- the lone guy ambling around, talking on my cell phone periodically, taking notes here and there.

Finally we were let inside to the ballroom where the meeting was being held. We took our seats.Some seminar people went around the room, stilll talking to people, working the room.

The man I'd been emailing came to the front, introduced himself, proudly pointed out the grads, asked us all to give a big hand to celebrate their achievement. I glanced around the room- the grads all looked so excited, so happy, but it was nothing next to when the speaker introduced the man who'd actually led the entire seminar.

When he came bounding up on stage and took the mike, the grads went wild. It was spooky- it was like Elvis inciting a flock of girls. The grads even gave him a standing ovation, and, as he spoke for the next hour or so, the grads' glee didn't diminish- they kept giggling in bliss and ecstasy.

The moderator spoke at length, again congratulating the grads, at first admitting a couple of things- first off, how odd this must all seem to the guests. "You get BEGGED to come to this by your friends or family, and now you're here, hearing all this, right?" Pretty much.

"And you must think it's kinda weird, right? They're telling you 'You gotta come to this! BUT- I can't tell you what it's about!" The grad next to me giggled. "Well, let me tell you: it's not a cult. No. We're here to help you, to get you to achieve your full potential?." He went on, talking about what the course could do for you, but in very vague terms. "Nobody's forcing you to attend, right? We're all here on our own free will, are we not? We all have the choice to accept or decline." I nodded, but my stomach was turning. This is exactly the 'illusion of choice' that a cult would present.

The moderator went on to tell a little about the seminar, but even he admitted it was hard to put into concrete terms- that it was really something that must be experienced, because there were so many group exercises; that it was very 'experiential.' I wanted to hear more about this, to find out what the exercises were like, but he would only say it was like a taste of steak; that the only way to see it was to actually go through with it.

One of the more disturbing moments was when he presented a 'theory of mind' on the board to illustrate how our minds work. It bothered me because it was similar to part of the hypnotic induction process in how you describe the workings of the mind and how hypnosis works, just before you actually perform it. Basically, 'you first describe, and then you perform.' He prattled on about it, and I nodded my head, pretending to be intrigued instead of horrified.

He next had all the grads come up on stage as we applauded them. The mod continued heaping all the adulation and praise onto him that he could, recognizing them for being on the pathway to success and overcoming their personal limitations. He gave them diplomas and read them on stage, which pretty much just reinforced or repeated what he'd said a minute ago. Then he asked the grinning grads to tell us all about how much they loved the program and their experience, to tell us how great it was. "Just try to sum it up in one word," he challenged them.

They thought a moment and then you heard them say things like "enlightening", "success", "learning", "magical", etc.

Now came another creepy highlight.

"And how many of you had resistance at first, when you came in here, all but kicking and screaming, at the start of the first day?"

Almost all raised their hand. "How about at the end of the first day?" Most hands stayed up. "And the second day?" About half the hands were still up. "How about the third day?"

ONE hand remained in the air.

Jesus Christ, I thought. This is how it works- the first two days are spent in long exercises designed to break, embarrass, or humiliate these people, and the second two days are about building them back up.

It was pretty insidious. One thing a cult or LGAT would do is shower the individual with love and acceptance. But this group went one better- start with ridiculing them or tearing them down. It actually makes sense- in one hypnotic induction, we create relaxation by first inducing some stress, and when that's absent, the relaxation is more powerfully felt. And likewise, how best to show love and acceptance? By first creating its opposite experience?.

But why would nobody walk off after the first few hours of abuse? Simple; they've heard the promise of personal benefit if you stay in for the full four days; plus, you're not eligible to get your money back for any reason if you don't complete the course in full.

After this, the moderator showed the schedule for the next seminar (four days- 2 days of 6pm to midnight, and 2 days of 10am-8pm) and presented the cost and where we could sign up, also saying if we had any doubts, just ask around tonight, and to take it, since we could always get our money back if we were dissatisfied (provided we completed, of course). He closed by suggesting we now turn to the person who brought us here and ask them why they so badly wanted us to take this seminar.


I turned to the man next to me, "A", I'll call him, and began asking questions. I talked to him for a while, learning that a friend had gotten him into this almost a year ago. At first he had declined but I guess the friend had badgered him enough and he finally took it. I also learned he was new in town and I wondered why he'd waited till he'd moved to take it, but didn't ask him.

He told me that he'd always been into reading about religions, philosophy, self improvement, and the like. Off the bat, he also admitted that this seminar was like a religion and wasn't- it was definitely an organization, and they were out to make money, plain and simple. That said, he felt like it benefited him quite a lot anyways.

I moved on to my next question. "I understand this stuff is a lot of group exercises; that you learn a lot in there."

"Oh, yes, definitely," he nodded vigorously.

"But what was it like? What did you guys do?"

He looked blankly, as if he'd lost his train of thought, finally saying.: "It's hard to describe. We did so many?" and trailed off- it was as if he couldn't remember any! Why couldn't these people describe what had gone on? It wasn't like they were being coy or secretive about it; it's more like they just couldn't retrieve the memory!

He finally told me an odd one about the inner child or intuition, being in groups of 2, where one person describes a sick friend, giving somebody a few clues, asking them to come up w/ whatever they intuit about the described person. "A" claimed 90% accuracy rate in the facts the intuition drags up and looked at me, wide-eyed, for my reaction. I saw through this (vague-speak, like an Oracle; can be interpreted so widely that it could apply to nearly anything) but he was amazed by it. I feigned amazement, too.

"What else did you guys do?"

I really had to pry it out of him- you'd think in four days of doing mainly exercises, he'd be able to remember much more, more readily, but no. Finally he came up with another, and it was sad.


I'd had heard of this one before: the "broke your word" thing, designed to make everybody see their flaws and play that up. "A" described how he seemed to have done the best, seeming to have kept his word the most faithfully, for a full week, until the mod turned it on him, saying he didn't believe it; either A had lied to him, or A had broken his word to himself. When confronted with that, A said he felt shocked, and reacted in an astonished manner, as if he were still stunned by it. He even described hearing that as a "slap in the face." Of course, this same point was driven in, in many ways, to all the graduates in those first 2 days.

At end of our conversation, I asked if he had any last things to tell me about it, and he advised me to "take the jump" and just try it out. He thought I'd get a lot out of it, that I was curious and smart. He hoped it would help him succeed farther, especially to get over his shyness, loner tendencies, and to help him become a leader- after all, he'd signed up for the next 2 courses, which probably cost $6,000 to $8,000.

I kind of wanted to hear more about this and track his progress, so I exchanged phone numbers with him and left, wondering what I'd hear next. As I stood up to go, I noticed nobody ever asked me directly to sign up, which was kind of a nice sign, but then again, when I looked around, I saw all the seminar people were busy talking to the grads and their guests.

So what hypnotic techniques and methods did I observe? I'll detail them in the next blog.

Oh- and if you don't think these people are out to take your money, if you really think they're beneficial- I just have one question for you:

If this group does so much good, and there's nothing sinister or shady about their method, and that it really WILL change you life, well, why can nobody who goes through the program seem to be able to tell many details of it?

Surely something so important, so groundbreaking in one's life would be a bit more memorable, wouldn't it?
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#11 Author of original report

I can point a finger.

AUTHOR: Steve - (U.S.A.)

Roger, I can point a finger at PSI. Do your own research and see what PSI is, a LARGE GROUP AWARENESS TRAINING PROGRAM! They screw with peoples minds, such as it did with yours. See how the programs works for you in the coming years. See if "IT" holds for you. Wait and see if the money you spent was worth "IT."

I saw my wife lose herself with this BS. She is now deep in debt, in a relationship with a loser, and is now second guessing her "move to the white light and workshops." And even though you're entitled to your opinion I too am entitled to mine.

PSI is a CULT, pure and simple and my opinion is you fell for it. Congrads, You are a PSI GRADUATE.
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#12 Consumer Comment

Pointing Fingers

AUTHOR: Roger - (U.S.A.)

I am not an employee of PSI Seminars and I am not a paid spokesman for them either. I have attended the PSI BASIC seminar and PSI 7 at the ranch in California.

I am and always have been a skeptical person. I always approached the PSI Seminars with wide eyes and constantly tested it for holes as to whether it was a scam or not. In the end I left PSI 7 feeling that PSI Seminars is a profit making corporation (and what company in America isn't) but it is designed to offer its clients real value through a carefully thought out process that creates a vehicle for change within the individual.

Do they make money off of you? You bet.
But for me personally I left with the feeling that even if it was a scam, I didn't get "taken" because of what the Seminars did for me on so many different levels. I gained about 10 years of therapy in seven days. I was able to put emotional baggage down that I never thought I'd be able to and the person who made that happen was me. Most of the people who attend these seminars come there already knowing what they plan to change about themselves. They just need a platform to verbally/emotionally express the desire to do it and bypass their b.s.

For Steve I wish to say I am very sorry to hear of your bad experience. I know that there are a lot of PSI Seminar clients who come back and have a similar experience such as yours but I wish to politely argue one point that I feel you are glossing over and PSI Seminars is not responsible for.

You attended PSI Seminars because of your friends recommendation. Obviously your friend attended and didn't shun you because you "resisted." He/she made a suggestion because they saw you were unhappy and so you gave it a try and admit to having major realizations. But your husband didn't and wouldn't attend.

Here's my point. If you went to a therapist (recommended to you by the same friend), had the same revelations, and your husband refused to go to the therapist, wouldn't you have the same result in the end? Be honest now.

When ever one person in a couple undergoes dramatic emotional and psychological change and the other doesn't participate in the process then there is always, ALWAYS, a great divide. Most of the time insurmountable. Whether you went to PSI, a therapist, or found religion in a new church these platforms represent major change in your life and if the other partner didn't participate and the old relationship fell apart then the only person to truely blame is you and that partner for not reaching a compromise at you wanting to make the changes that you did.

Instead, I would respectfully argue that you are blaming the platform in which you used to make your changes.

I feel that PSI Seminars is getting a black-eye from reports like Steve's and in the end PSI Seminars benefits the majority of the people who attend it and therefore it is not a rip-off and is unworthly of being pulled into the gutter with the companies that do.
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#13 Author of original report

Another problem cause by PSI Seminars

AUTHOR: Steve - (U.S.A.)

Here is another problem caused by PSI seminars. The people left behind.

Hi everyone, thanks for letting me join. I started doing research on PSI a few weeks ago as I have a major problem with my husband. First I have not attended PSI nor have I taken any Large Group Awareness Training Programs, therefore I have no idea what they do there except what I have learned on the board and other sites. My husband has also not attended PSI.

My husband and I have been married for about 2 years this past October and were dating a year before that. The relationship is very good except for the fact that his first wife attended PSI7 a few weeks before she left him about five years ago. (This was my first marriage and his second.) Unfortunately my husband still runs in the same circle of friends as his ex-wife. The rumors run rampant, people think she is out of her mind and naturally they go to him and tell him what's going on in her life.

My husband has started coming home these past few months with the rumors that are currently going around about his ex. A few months ago, after several failed relationships, she started dating guys from an internet dating service, apparently met a man who has been married twice before and has some children from one of those marriages (not sure which). This new guy it seems is not the nicest person. Lately it seems she has made some drastic changes to her life style. I would have said it appears that she is suffering from a midlife crisis but after reading this material I can see she might still be under the influence of PSI. I would add that I do not know if she is still attending the seminars.

When she left my husband a few years ago she immediately purchased a new house and car, neither of which she could afford. The house was lost to a foreclosure and the car repossessed several months later. Several times she has called my husband asking him for money and because money was tight he gave her what she could so as to not damage their credit rating. He found out later she was buying more of these seminars and it had placed him in a hole financially as well. After being gone for six months she filed for a divorce leaving him with most of her bills.

Now when I met my husband I was taken with the shy, but confident person he was. He was a kind and caring man who loves his family and friends. He would give you the clothes off his back and is always ready to lend a hand to a friend. He has a heart of gold and I love him for the person he is. During our dating relationship I thought he was haunted by something in his past as there was always something distant about him. I fell in love with the man and I initiated a relationship with him after he had been divorced for two years. But I now believe that my husband still loves his ex-wife, and it is hard for him to gain some distance from his relationship with her. According to him he was unaware what PSI was about at the time she was initially going to it as she was very level headed when they were dating and later married. She always had a sharp sense of herself and took care of things like most of us do in the course of our lives. After taking PSI she returned with a new found attitude and started spending money like it was water. She spent their savings and charging the seminars to their credit cards, which left him in debt to the amount of $30,000 dollars. Guess who had to pay when she left and divorced him?

So for the past few weeks my husband comes home and seems to be depressed. Last week he told me the reason that he is having problems with all this and that is why he is sometimes preoccupied; he is worried about his ex-wife. He told me that he considered her the true love' of his life and continues to love her in a spiritual sense. He says he loves me, but is still haunted by his feelings for her. He said he sometime thinks of her when he sees something or someone that reminds him of her and is sadden when he thinks of the loss of his marriage. He said he is reminded of the good times and thinks that his marriage to her could have been saved if she had stayed away from PSI. These memories cause him to become depressed and more so lately when hearing the rumors about the damage she is doing to her life.

Now I have tried to understand why he feels this way and that's why I am checking out these websites. I am afraid that I am going to lose him because of this. After reading the material here I am scared to death. I can't see how someone can throw their marriage away after attending these seminars, but after reading several examples here I understand that she is too far gone to help. I also see why my husband has these feelings. I feel that this has scarred him more deeply than he lets on and I feel so bad for him. There was nothing he could have done to save his marriage and yet he stills feels responsible. How do I get him to understand this is not his fault, that it was her responsibility? I have tried to make him see what this group did to her but he still feels that he is supposed to take care of her. He even broke down and cried, cried so much I thought he was having a nervous break down.

I don't want to tell him that this is putting our marriage in trouble for fear it will cause him to go into a deeper depression, and I don't want it to be the end of my marriage, but it seems he is more concerned with her then he is for me. I am very scared for him as he has come to be very depressed about all this and it seems to be getting worse. I don't know how much more I can take. For that matter I don't know how much more he can take.
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#14 Consumer Comment

You're not alone

AUTHOR: Juliet - (U.S.A.)

Steve - I am so sorry for the way you find yourself to be, at this time. I am in a not terrific place, myself, as far as living with someone I don't want to live with, and trying to find my way out, but meeting many obstacles.

It's VERY interesting that you attribute the destruction of your life to a group, because outside of the group's influence, your story could so easily be that of a drug addict.

With drug addiction, finding recovery is "easier", I suppose, in that there are so many groups for support.

Finding recovery from a destructive group like this, I'm not sure how to go about that. But it sounds like it was just as destructive as if you'd been using chemicals, and therefore, the road to recovery is no easier, just because it wasn't chemical abuse.

You need help, that is without question, to me. Therapy, counseling, SOMETHING to help you recognize the wrongs of the past, and move on from them, and be able to find a "new you" - the REAL you - so you can move on to success and happiness in your life.

Have you looked up anything on the internet about "recovering from a cult" or a similar search item? While you may not have been involved with a hardcore, well-known cult that is indisputably a cult, the effects this group has had on you are surely the results that come from a clearly established cult.

One thing to keep in mind, while you struggle through your present lifestyle - Today is not forever.

It sounds so dumb, and so simple, but it's what I've been hanging onto for the last 6 months, as a way to stick around until tomorrow. Yes, sometimes tomorrow has been worse than "today" - but there is so much truth to "Everything Passes".

Change cannot come without you having it in your heart that you want things to change, and need things to change. Just having that desire is the start of changes happening, if you never let go of the desire.

A discussion board that I have found "helpful", to say the least, is on AETV.COM. It is a Discussion group, for the TV show "Intervention".

I watch the show and was very curious wanting to know if there was anything on the website about a specific person they featured. I was hoping to find out where he is, now, and if he was okay and all.

Well, didn't find that out, but found the discussion board, and there are SO many helpful posts about recovering from destructive behavior. "Intervention" doesn't just feature chemical abuse, but eating disorders, gambling, shopping, self-mutilation.

It would take some reading to extract information you can use, in your situation, but IT'S THERE, Steve. I wish I had more information to assist you with, but this could be a start.

Again, I wish I could be more helpful, but you are NOT alone, in having a life you wish you never had found yourself in. Wishing you all the best in your recovery efforts, Steve. You deserve a better life.
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