False Prophets Part 3



False Prophets and Messiahs, Teachers and Gurus,

Cons and Cult Leaders








       N  E  T  W  O  R  K  E  R


Editor’s Note: Rich Simon
July/August 2016 [excerpt]


If post hoc diagnosis is any indicator, many of history’s most illustrious figures had some version of what we now call obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), including Thomas Jefferson, Ludwig van Beethoven, Charles Darwin, Marcel Proust, Sir Winston Churchill, and Albert Einstein. Apple cofounder Steve Jobs even got down on his hands and knees to search for specks of dust on the floor during the rollout of the first Mac computer. 


Certainly, in our time, many habits of mind associated with workplace success—single-minded dedication, concentration, persistence, intensity—might appear to have a certain OCD-ish quality. But anybody who’s truly experienced the real OCD, or known someone who suffers from it, realizes just how nightmarish the actual condition can be. It turns people into prisoners of their own minds, locked into an ever-shrinking cell of unwanted mental preoccupations and the frantic desire to escape them—which has the paradoxical impact of strengthening them, thus reinforcing the whole miserable cycle.




Treating Children with OCD


The Essential Component


By Lynn Lyons 


OCD in children can operate like a kind of cult leader, demanding acceptance of an extreme view of a perilous reality and offering solutions that can’t be resisted, no matter how absurd they may sound. Given the overwhelming fear and worry the condition generates, falling in line with the cult leader can seem like the best strategy—except that it doesn’t work.



Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ


By Daniel Goleman, Bantam Books, 1995


From Chapter 14: Temperament Is Not Destiny (p. 225)


Psychotherapy—that is, systematic emotional relearning—stands as a case in point for the way experience can both change emotional patterns and shape the brain. The most dramatic demonstration comes from a study of people being treated for obsessive-compulsive disorder.12  One of the more common compulsions is hand-washing, which can be done so often, even hundreds of times in a day, that the person’s skin cracks. PET scan studies show that obsessive-compulsives have greater than normal activity in the prefontal lobes.13


Half of the patients in the study received the standard drug treatment, flouxetine (better known by the brand name Prozac), and half got behavior therapy. During the therapy they were systematically exposed to the object of their obsession or compulsion without performing it; patients with hand-washing compulsions were put at a sink, but not allowed to wash. At the same time they learned to question the fears and dreads that spurred them on—for example, that failure to wash would mean they would get a disease and die. Gradually, through months of such sessions, the compulsions faded, just as they did with the medication.


The remarkable finding, though, was a PET scan test showing that the behavior therapy patients had as significant a decrease in the activity of a key part of the emotional brain, the caudate nucleus, as did the patients successfully treated with the drug flouxetine. Their experience had changed brain function—and relieved symptoms—as effectively as the medication!



Psychology Today


Dangerous Cult Leaders


Clues to what makes for a pathological cult leader


Joe Navarro M.A.



Posted August 25, 2012


One of the questions that I am often asked by students of criminology and psychology is, how do you know when a cult leader is “evil” or “bad”? These of course are vague descriptors to some extent, but I also get the question, “When is a cult leader pathological or a danger to others?” This is a valid question in view of the historical record of suffering and hurt caused by various cult leaders around the world.


From my studies of cults and cult leaders during my time in the FBI, I learned early on that there are some things to look for that, at a minimum, say “caution, this individual is dangerous, and in all likelihood will cause harm to others.”



DW Documentary

Jan. 13, 2017



Part 2


From Buddhists and bankers to Eskimos and psychologists, we explore the phenomenon of greed with people from all walks of life. How can it be defined? What makes us greedy? And what are the repercussions?



invictus maneo October 5, 2015Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog


REB once told me his chief feature is greed. (He probably told other people other things at other times in his never-ending attempt to take money or sex from them.) I don’t think anybody is born a remorseless, vile predator, like him; I think this is learned behavior. But greed is an understandable starting tendency for developing an uncontrollable thirst for endless amounts of money, objects and sexual stimulation.



brucelevy October 5, 2015





jomopinataOctober 5, 2015


invictus maneo wrote:


I don’t think anybody is born a remorseless, vile predator, like him; I think this is learned behavior.


When I interviewed various people in the 1990s who knew Burton prior to 1970, what most surprised me was the absence of any indication of what came later, in terms of remorseless exploitative behavior. I expected reports of something “weird” or “off,” but that was not what people said; I was told (for example) that he was a capable, well liked fourth-grade teacher. So much for a theory that his psychopathy was “developmental.”


But later I read that damage to a region of the brain called the orbitofrontal cortex can produce something called “acquired sociopathy.”


See: scientificamerican.com/article/can-you-make-sociopath-through-brain-injury-trauma (which doesn’t actually mention the orbitofrontal cortex, but talks about how TBI can turn someone into a sociopath). It is commonly known that Burton was in an auto accident in Modesto in 1968 in which he sustained a serious head trauma. The notion of sociopathy acquired as a result of orbitofrontal cortex damage explains a lot. Maybe an autopsy report will tell us more (although I have every reason to believe Burton would sit up screaming on the end of the gurney if they tried to do one now).



Ames GilbertOctober 5, 2015




I’ve heard a reference to this Modesto car accident once before on the blog (maybe from you?) It’s been so long ago (‘78–‘94), but I can’t recall ever hearing about it while in the FoF. I was hardly in the center of things, but I would have thought that I would have heard at least as much fuss about it as the “tennis shoulder injury” which required so much massage and Darvon—and which was the prelude to a number of seductions by Burton—and I heard about that quite a bit, both directly from Burton himself and others.


Anyone else recall this rumor or have evidence for it?





9 Brainy Facts About the Neocortex


By Jordan Rosenfeld | Nov 17, 2016


The human body is an amazing thing. For each one of us, it’s the most intimate object we know. And yet most of us don’t know enough about it: its features, functions, quirks, and mysteries. Our series The Body explores human anatomy part by part. Think of it as a mini digital encyclopedia with a dose of wow.


The brain is arguably the one organ that makes you who you are—and the largest part of the brain is the neocortex. Taking up a vast amount of space in your skull, the neocortex is what allows you to do many things you take for granted, such as write and speak, have social interactions, and muse philosophically about the meaning of life. But you might not have known these nine crucial facts about this critical part of your brain.


The neocortex controls language and consciousness, among other things . . .




If the neocortex is injured through accident, surgery or head trauma, patients may lose any number of cognitive abilities including speech, space recognition, eyesight, motor control, the ability to recognize social cues and more. Wear your helmets!



jomopinata October 5, 2015




I heard about it in the early 1980s from people who had been around since the early 1970s. Apparently, Alex Horn made remarks about the head stitches which were a part of the story, although I do not remember what the remarks supposedly were.


The Scientific American article is simply a general interest piece on the subject of acquired sociopathy. I first read about acquired sociopathy several years ago in the book to which I link here. Start with the last two lines on p. 71, and proceed thereafter as long as you like:




There are some pages missing, but you will get a feel for the argument.



James Mclemore October 5, 2015


I can only recall that Burton, while in meetings in the mid 70’s, spoke about the car accident on a couple of occasions. If my memory is correct it was always in the context of “C Influence” and how they arranged friction for us. Once again, if my memory is correct, he did make it sound as if something significant had taken place that day, but then you have to remember that he also thought that license plates and mail boxes could be quite significant.



jomopinata October 6, 2015


Ames, this is a better article about acquired sociopathy, a case study: brain.oxfordjournals.org/content/brain/123/6/1122.full.pdf



Tim Campion October 6, 2015




I too recall Burton speaking about the accident at large meetings in the mid-70s and, as James stated, always in the context of Higher Forces/C Influence providing friction for our awakening.


This post by Ollie [135.] provides a modern retelling. The details seem consistent with what I heard back then.



129. OllieSeptember 26, 2011


WhaleRider wrote, “My guess is that the cult is currently preoccupied with the next doomsday prediction in 2012.”


Indeed, Robert Burton is, when there is some spare time and he is not detecting “the message” in yet another circle or square, a number six or four. I came across some recent material:


Robert Burton on 6/22/2011:


 “We received wonderful information on our visit to Dallas, Houston, and Fort Worth, and had four very nice dinners with two students in Dallas, GC and CE. As we were leaving, I mentioned to them that I felt the end was quite near for humanity. Just then there was a flash of lighting in the sky, and that night a tornado appeared in the region. I have been in many earthquakes with Influence C, but this was my first tornado! Related to the ‘circling centuries’ [this refers to a few lines by Virgil: ‘Now the last age by Cumae’s Sibyl sung/Has come and gone, and the majestic roll/Of circling centuries begins anew’], a group in Oakland predicted that the earth would come to an end on May 21st – the day we were leaving Texas. As soon as we drove away and waved goodbye to the two students, within thirty meters we saw this license plate in front of us saying ‘ALL DUN.’ Unbeknownst to us, when we left G and C, it was six o’clock at Apollo – the time at which the prophecy claimed that the world would end. There is a video we made of L pushing a globe. We call it ‘turning the world.’ After the globe began turning, he stopped it, and it weighed five thousand pounds! Then he started turning it again, pushing it four times. What this means is that Leonardo will see us though the Last Judgment. I believe that the Last Judgment will be the work of the angel Paul. Then Leonardo will begin a new civilization here at Apollo, with the new seed people from around the world. Only when we walked away did S realize that it was six o’clock Apollo time.”


Robert Burton on 9/14/2011:


 “We have been working with Influence C for forty-four years, and are still waiting for them to realize their plans. But we are much closer – everything is in place now for the Last Judgment. It is becoming much more probable.”


“Next month, on October 4th, there will [be] 444 days to the Mayan prediction of the end [of] the cycle on December 21, 2012. The messages I am receiving indicate that they will not enact the Last Judgment in 2012, but more likely in 2018. It is based upon several signals they have given. In fact, as I was speaking about this with Dorian today, an email arrived and my iPad chimed just as I said ‘2018.’”



WhaleRider September 26, 2011


Priceless! Thank you so much for your invaluable report.


“…as I was speaking about this with Dorian today, an email arrived and my iPad chimed just as I said ’2018.’”


“As we were leaving, I mentioned to them that I felt the end was quite near for humanity. Just then there was a flash of lighting in the sky, and that night a tornado appeared in the region.”


“As soon as we drove away and waved goodbye to the two students, within thirty meters we saw this license plate in front of us saying ‘ALL DUN.’ ”


~Robert E. Burton


Ideas of reference and delusions of reference involve people having a belief or perception that irrelevant, unrelated or innocuous phenomena in the world refer to them directly or have special personal significance: ‘the notion that everything one perceives in the world relates to one’s own destiny’.


In psychiatry, delusions of reference form part of the diagnostic criteria for psychotic illnesses such as schizophrenia, delusional disorder, or bipolar disorder during the elevated stages of mania.”





Tim CampionSeptember 26, 2011


135. Ollie


Truth is indeed stranger, and more entertaining, than fiction! Though he’s in large part addressing a new audience, the script is right out of the ’70s. (Though I must admit it’s even more candid and detailed than anything I heard at the time. Perhaps we are approaching the final chapter, and he feels the need to tell his personal story, colorfully embellished as it may be, filling in the blanks.)


Returning to that “hallowed” September 5, 1967 date assures the maximum number of 44th anniversaries to be celebrated in the coming years (along with their attendant fundraising campaigns. Some clever marketing there.) And the newly-repackaged loving relationship with Alex Horn is “sweet”.


And those ALL DUN license plates have a habit of showing up at the wackiest times! (This is at least the third occasion that one’s been trotted out.)


But does it really matter that he makes this stuff up? Perhaps those around him are content to just watch and occasionally participate in the show, to humor the man in his twilight years, heedless of the personal cost and the fact they harbor a criminal.



Mind Out of Rhyme September 2, 2016
 Imagine the hideous twist of fate required for life to turn you into something like this:




ton2uSeptember 2, 2016


FOF = Fellowship of Fops ? 


Why this ninny is so excessively concerned with appearances, clothing, luxuries, minor details, refined language, leisurely hobbies – seems all too obvious: the narcissist lacks empathy, compassion, and in general the qualities which contribute to emotional maturity reflecting a depth of soul. This malignant narcissist is overly concerned with appearances and superficialities (see photo), because he’s dead on the inside, there is no depth, there is no soul – so to him it’s all about surface.


It’s truly ironic, absurd, that an individual so afflicted is able to pass himself off as some type of “spiritual” leader – it says something tragic about the sycophants who continue to follow and support the fool….the joke’s on you.



Insider June 27, 2020


No doubt, everyone is aware of the significance of today’s date. Six years ago on June 27, 2014, The Absolute paid His first noticeable visit to Apollo and Robert Burton. The following is a transcript from a meeting Burton led 800 days later, when She (having changed its gender) came a 2nd time, and when details of the visit were finally made public, including a never-before-seen photograph of Burton spontaneously taking a knee (actually 2 knees).


‘This is a photograph of me kneeling and bowing, kissing the ground during the first visit of the Absolute. It occurred right in the front of the Gallery at the beginning of the rose arbor, after you walk through the four cypress trees and turn left. Petrarch said, “I bless the place, the time, and the hour of the day/that my eyes aimed their sight at such a height.” Here we see that. Then we walked straight ahead, beyond the path on the right, and our dog Apollo was doing his business – number two – on the lawn. It was the third state. Nicky [J*hns*n] was with Him. Nicky is now in drug rehab.


Afterwards Sasha and I went into the house. (Dorian came later.) He then did an act of humility for me. All I could think of was to get down and kiss Sasha’s feet as an act of humility too. Who are we that He should do an act of humility for us? But that was the only response I could think of. We are in the same Pavilion with Him right now. Even in your ninth life, you will probably not receive this exceedingly special experience. All I can do is speak for our school. One reason that He is visiting us is because the first angel visited us and we are at the end of the sequence of civilizations. We are the thirty-third expression of schools in different galaxies.’



Cult SurvivorFebruary 18, 2019


I just found this review of the FOF on Yelp:


Charles S., San Francisco, CA, 4/14/2018


I was a member of this organization 36 years ago for six years. I’ve been aware of its “esoteric” (hidden or hiding) activities ever since I left. That the leader of this organization is an individual you don’t want your male children around is a given. That you don’t want your boyfriend or husband to be around him also is a given. If you’re a good-looking heterosexual male, and you don’t want to be “converted,” stay away. If you’re an average-looking homosexual male, there’s nothing here for you except what, below, I say you’ll find: enslavement / conformity. The “Teacher” has a prohibition against homosexuality (except whereas his own homosexual needs are concerned). Whoever you are, do your due diligence and research the hell out of this organization and its leader on the Internet and in old and recent newspapers before you do any serious decision-making in trying to join and taking your orders from a sociopathic homosexual man who refers to himself as a goddess.


This organization is a pseudo-spiritual group of pseudo-psychological self-development but one of the most expensive cults in the world to join. I worked three jobs to afford the fees and paid $5,000 a year back in the day. It has an alluring surface-front but a slavish, nefarious underbelly, not unlike most cults if you’re objective. This cult and its leader have hurt and destroyed countless lives. Joining the group is a risk that has the potential for scarring you for life. That being said, there are many individuals in this organization who have been members for decades and are even grandparents now. That they remain inside a homo-pedophilic operation and don’t even try to leave is a major symptom of their mental and moral enslavement to the material seductions this cult and its leader offer: wine, theater, and music, with all the pretensions of owning or having “culture.” Instead of finding truth like a true seeker and a true sense of belonging, should you join, you shall find perversion, group-think, domination, corruption, and vanity. Hypocrisy, however, runs through every level of this group like an air-borne infection.


Source: yelp.com/biz/fellowship-of-friends-oregon-house



Hypocrisy: quackery, affectation, bad faith, hollowness, lip service, bigotry, pretense of virtue or piety, empty ceremony, sanctimony… The feigning of qualities and beliefs that one does not actually possess or hold, esp. a pretense of virtue, piety or moral superiority


Hypocritical: deceptive, double-dealing, insincere, dishonest


Hypocrite: liar, pretender, fraud, deceiver, charlatan, bigot, quack, Pharisee, sham, actor, cheat, trickster, malingerer, swindler, traitor, wolf in sheep’s clothing, masquerader, fake, two-face


From Webster’s New World Dictionary & Thesaurus





Hypocrisy is a deceitful tactic used most often by those in power, who say “you must do this” or “you cannot do that” or “this is wrong,” while purporting that they themselves do not do said thing when, in fact, they do.


A hypocrite (from the Greek, “actor”) is someone who espouses a view, perspective, or philosophy without adhering in any meaningful way to it themselves, especially if they claim that their philosophy applies to all people. The ultimate snarkology of the hypocrite is “do as I say, not as I do.” Generally, “hypocrite” is a pejorative term; there are practically no cases where hypocrisy is considered a good thing unless you’re a politician like Donald Trump.


Deceit is a term denoting the misrepresentation of the truth.


Some forms of deceit may be unintentional or the result of a logical fallacy, and don’t necessarily mean the speaker intends to deceive (also see Hanlon’s razor).


Deceit can take many forms:


Affinity fraud — abuse of the trust of others because you are (or pretend to be) a member of the same socio-economic, religious or ethnic group.


Censorship — silencing all dissenting viewpoints.


Equivocation — using wordplay in a way that you’re not technically lying, but you are trying to give an incorrect impression.


Red herring — besides being a type of pickled fish, is a fallacious argument style in which an irrelevant or false topic is presented in an attempt to divert attention from the original issue, with the intention of “winning” an argument by leading attention away from the original argument and on to another, often unrelated topic.


Quote mining — presenting a real (but “hairdressed”) quote, deliberately placed out of context and presented in a new or different context, so as to make it seem like it meant something else than was originally intended. This differs from making a “misquotation”, as those are simply mistakenly attributed or phrased wrongly.


Lying by omission — failing to report something that wasn’t specifically asked for (yet perhaps cannot be asked for as it is an unknown, unknown to other people), with the express intent to deceive others via manipulating their perception of the truth.


Burning the evidence — attempting to secure plausible deniability by destroying possible trails of evidence that could, if left intact, allow potential investigators to correctly identify the true culprit.


One single proof — claiming that without a specific key proof, the whole argument is invalid.


Propaganda — affect or control the perceptions and behavior of a population.


Historical revisionism — revising history to something it wasn’t.


Willful ignorance — metaphorically (or literally…) sticking your fingers in your ears and going “Lalalala! I can’t hear you!”.


Statistics — sometimes statistics are used as a drunken man uses lampposts for support rather than illumination.


Bullshit — nonsensical claptrap, or words without any particular connection to reality.



The false teacher represents the ultimate hypocrite in the field of human development. ~ Idries Shah



InsiderJuly 9, 2021 Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog


The following is from robertearlburton.org, a Fellowship-sponsored website and recruiting tool (and hotbed of misinformation and outright lies):


“Year after year, Robert Burton’s students have come to him with their questions. Year after year, with unfaltering patience, he has taught that the only true solutions to any perceived ‘problem’ lie in our efforts to self-remember and to transform our suffering.”


Actually, no one comes to Burton with questions. He has disallowed this kind of interaction for 30-40 years. He cannot be approached in person, by phone, or by texting. Fact is, Burton simply does not have a Teacher-Student relationship with anyone in the Fellowship, not even with his “inner circle” or “entourage,” as was made clear on this forum by “knoti” in 2018 (page 162, #111). Any trace of such relationships back in the early days degraded and crystallized into a King-Subject relationship, or Emperor-Serf, or Dictator-Slave.


Robert Burton does not give a damn about anyone’s “evolution” or any aspect of their “spiritual work.”


Yet Burton is still universally referred to as “The Teacher” (though he teaches nothing, save how to manipulate people for one’s own selfish ends), and he refers to the Fellowsheepers as “my Students who will follow me to Paradise.” And the illusion will certainly persist right through to Burton’s physical demise, and likely long beyond.



diegoJuly 10, 2021


More exquisite bollocks from the propaganda dept. They’ll do and say anything to attract fresh meat for Bob or money for Bob to buy kitsch antiques with.


The fellowship has an absurd imaginary picture of itself. The miraculous conscious school guided by angels and the quintessence of sublime wonderfulness, Robert Burton. Truth is it’s a hideous cult run by a deluded and increasingly demented predator and serial abuser and a dozen or so enablers. Burton hasn’t answered a personal question in years, possibly close to two decades. Last one was at a meeting in St. Petersburg when the fiance of Gay Hussar basically asked him why he was having sex with her lover. He stumbled to answer, told her she was poison and had her booted.


He can’t empathize, he’s a malignant narcissist, he doesn’t know how, it’s an impossibility for him. The attempt to empathize would challenge his wildly whacky notion of himself as someone the Absolute visits to give a blow job to, as an act of humility. To empathize would require him to enter into the place of a sub-species, a human being.


Relationship with him is conditional on the other person or sub-species simultaneously recognizing and accepting his absolute magnificence and their imperfect wretchedness. If you have a problem, remember yourself and transform your suffering even if Burton is the primary cause of your suffering, e.g. if you have a problem, being fucked up the ass by him and his little cocktail sausage of a dick, separate dear and transform your suffering, after all you’re being punked by a Goddess in the body of a man and shouldn’t act like an ingrate unaware of his incalculable good luck.


After said meeting, cards with sanitized pithy quotes were read out by the flock at meetings, and he would wiseacre with a previously rehearsed cosmic response. No more embarrassing questions, total control re-established, Angel feathers no longer in danger of being ruffled, blow jobs after the meeting.



InsiderJuly 11, 2021


Fellowship gatherings, no matter how large or small, formal or casual, remind me of “improv,” or improvisational theater. It’s like each person arrives and is secretly told to play a certain role. They can do or say anything, interact with each other as they wish, but they have to stay in the role assigned to them. Unbeknownst to each person, each other person is given the same role to play.


And the role that each person is given?


That of a “conscious being.” Each person is to pretend they are “conscious,” and to be as convincing as possible.


The challenge, of course, is that no one has any idea what this means. [They] have a more or less definite image of how to act like they just fell in love, or their preferred team just lost in the World Cup final match, or they just inherited a million dollars. But since there is no actual, inner experience of what “consciousness” feels like, or indeed who or what is able to experience “consciousness,” or whether “consciousness” is even an experience at all, each person trying to act “conscious” has little to go on, other than imitating someone else who claims to be “conscious,” or at least more “conscious” than they are.


And so, off they all go to the stage of Burton’s “galleria,” or a “meeting,” or a dinner or breakfast with Burton, or just with each other, dressed as a “conscious being” would dress, walking the “conscious” walk, talking “conscious,” putting on all the “conscious” facial expressions and smiles, acting “consciously” happy, “consciously” and conspicuously eating and digesting all the supposed “higher-hydrogen impressions.”


And then they all go back home, smug and content that they are, indeed, one step closer to permanent “consciousness” and a free pass to Paradise.



Brought Up in ApolloOctober 23, 2021


Does anyone have recommendations for therapists for the children brought up in the FOF?



Associated PressOctober 25, 2021


Check out these resources:


Dr. Janja Lalich, Ph.D., (Chico):
International Authority on Cults and Coercion:


About Dr. Janja Lalich, Ph.D.:
wikipedia.org/wiki/Janja Lalich


Dr. Margaret Singer, Ph.D., now deceased, for historic perspective:
wikipedia.org/wiki/Margaret Singer
Books authored and/or co-authored with Lalich.


Here is something to read immediately:
Margaret T. Singer Collection:


I hope this helps.



Robert Earl Burton and the Fellowship of Friends


An Unauthorized Blogography of

“The Teacher” and His Cult





Children’s stories


[ed. – Like his mentor Alex Horn, Robert Burton (often through intermediaries) controlled most family planning decisions. From a distance, it appears part of a strategy to utterly disempower his followers. See also: “ton’s” Story and Kids Say the Darndest Things.]


From Stella Wirk’s website:


In the first year or so the group gained a reputation for wrecking marriages. Of the first batch of couples who joined 37 of them split up within a few months!


Rules about children caused a lot of emotional trouble. Burton’s suggestion was to wait 5 years after marriage to have children, and sometimes that’s a nice idea that doesn’t work. Burton told the hierarchy of the group to tell these people to have abortions if the “timing” was wrong! They did, and women had abortions!


Linda [Linda Tulisso/Kaplan] who worked closely with the teacher told us in Amsterdam in 1980 that she was “only following orders” when she told women members to have abortions! (She was a member since the early 1970s, and still is as far as we know.) Burton wanted children to be a certain age at Armageddon, for which he claimed, “I will bridge the gap for humanity at Armageddon.” Ack! People were believing this! If one *believes* this, one MUST obey. Fear of “higher forces” was instilled in members, and most easily introduced into people who did not actualize the Work ideas within themselves by personal observation so they could see what was going on and avoid the pitfalls.


Children were frequently spoken of as being a considerable waste of “higher energies,” and some women were convinced to give their children away!



diegoOctober 29, 2021 Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog

Worth a listen



Home page of the robertearlburton.blogspot.com brings you to the first four episodes of Jennings Brown’s 6 episode ‘Revelations’ podcast. Two more to come.



WhaleRider October 31, 2021

A BIG THANK YOU to all who participated.

I really enjoyed how Jennings portrayed his observations with the foreknowledge of what he was getting into, unlike the rest of us, that is, before the blinding cognitive dissonance sets in.







The Fellowship of Friends is an elite and secretive spiritual organization. Ex-members say it’s a doomsday cult and that its leader, Robert Earl Burton, preys on his followers. On October 20, 2018, journalist Jennings Brown was at the Fellowship’s extravagant compound, observing the final black-tie dinner before the end of the world. Robert had predicted the apocalypse was going to begin the next morning and Jennings wanted to report on the community as it prepared for a global catastrophe. But Jennings soon realized the end-times prophecy was just the beginning of the story, he’d spend the next three years investigating the Fellowship and its dark secrets.





JenningsNovember 2, 2021


Hi, Jennings here. I’ve been thinking about Insider’s comment about people in the Fellowship seeing me as a Trojan Horse. I wanted to address this, for anyone who helped me report this story and now feels disappointed with how it turned out. When I initially reached out to the Fellowship, I was interested in profiling a unique spiritual community with a rich and complicated history. There had not been much reporting on the organization aside from coverage about the winery and abuse allegations. I knew there had to be more to the story, but I had no idea how that story was going to turn out. I wanted to see what the Fellowship is like in its current form and understand the perspective of students who are still involved. I tried to give members the space to share what the Fellowship means to them. I met many wonderful and kind members while reporting this. Many of them gave me a lot of their time, and welcomed me into their homes and to Apollo events—and for that I am grateful. Thanks to them I was able to get a more complete portrait of the Fellowship, and showcase some of its beauty, in addition to the darker aspect. As one of the members told me in an interview: “The Fellowship, it’s a hologram. You look at it this way and it looks miraculous. You look at it this way and it’s a horror…let’s say a Fellini movie.” I became fascinated by that duality. And the more time I spent exploring that duality, the more it became clear that many people were hurt and exploited. As a journalist, I had an obligation to report on that harm and speak truth to power.


If any current or former members would ever like to connect, you’re welcome to email me at jenningsbrown@protonmail.com. I’d love to hear your perspective or talk about anything you think I missed.



Jomo PiñataNovember 10, 2021





diegoNovember 21, 2021

I somehow missed these podcasts back in 2019. They seem to have no connection with Jennings’s [podcasts] and contain a wealth of historical information, detail and psychological insight. There are two parts, links are below. I found them to be a chilling and good companion and introduction to Jennings’s series.


Hard to believe I was involved in this horror show. Burton is a truly sick, perverted fuck. Many of the gory details are out there now for people to find and yet and still, only the surface has been scratched.


Largely the crimes of the early years are documented now and available here and there in the public domain for anyone with a mind to find them and piece them together, but Burton refined his strategies of abuse and got better and better at it; he also perfected ways of isolating himself from prosecution and litigation whilst the predation escalated. He continues today largely unimpeded, financially supported by the naive and needy, and enabled by the knowing and willingly complicit.


Fifty years of lies, abuse, manipulation and madness, predation, greed, addiction, coercion and intimidation…….


“I am the brightest light since Jesus Christ.” – Burton


Buyer beware.







ton2uAugust 9, 2015 Fellowship Discussion blog


Though difficult to recognize when you’re in the cult, after you step outside of cult programming, its use of mind-control techniques becomes all too obvious.


For example, the “eternal damnation” meme is already deeply embedded in the collective psyche of “western” (judeo-christian and including muslim) cultures. This idea is a control mechanism that’s been used by religions for hundreds of years – along with belief that the only way to avoid damnation is to adhere to the religion and to follow its dictates. Burton adopts and uses this idea with the threat of one’s soul “going to the moon” should you “lose” the school – it’s the “4th way” equivalent of “eternal damnation.”


Another mind-control technique has to do with the nature of Burton’s numerous false prophecies, there’s always a prediction of some cataclysmic event hanging in the air, threatening all those who are not part of his “school.”


Whether the “prophecies” are true or false isn’t the point, nor the effect…. these “prophecies” are simply designed to scare those who are fooled into believing.


Psychological fear tactics act as part of the invisible fence which keeps the “flock” in their pen.





Psychology Today

March 5, 2022


The Danger of Dark Triad Leaders


The link between psychological disorders and power.


By Steve Taylor Ph.D.


The sheer horror of the Russian invasion of Ukraine is so shocking that it’s difficult to process. It’s hard to believe that a leader — and his wider government — can be so malevolent and destructive. It seems like a return to an earlier, more brutal era of European history.


The war highlights the link between psychological disorders and political power. It was the British historian and politician Lord Action who coined the famous phrase, “power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” However, this phrase doesn’t take account of another factor: that power attracts people who are already corrupt (and who become even more corrupt once they attain power).


While some psychologists like to think in terms of specific disorders like psychopathy and narcissistic personality disorder, I prefer — like many psychologists nowadays — to think in terms of a “dark triad” of three personality traits that appear together: psychopathy, narcissism and Machiavellianism. This makes sense because these traits almost always overlap and are difficult to distinguish from one another.


Dark triad personalities crave power and find powerful positions easy to attain, because of their ruthlessness and manipulative skills. Since they lack empathy and conscience, they have no qualms against deceiving and exploiting other people in their rise to the top. Since they are often charismatic and charming, they often gain the support of ordinary people, who are impressed by their apparent confidence and decisiveness.


In my view, some of the suffering that has filled human history since the beginning of the 20th century has been caused by psychologically disordered dark triad leaders. Before the 20th century, inheritance-based systems of power restricted access to leadership roles. But once these social structures broke down — and particularly if they weren’t replaced by democratic systems — the most brutal and amoral individuals tended to rise to the most powerful positions. Some examples may include Stalin, Hitler, Mao Zedong, Mussolini, General Franco (of Spain) Pol Pot (of Cambodia), Saddam Hussein and Colonel Gaddafi. Towards the end of the twentieth century, most of Africa and South America was ruled by ruthless, amoral dictators who inflicted massive amounts of suffering on their own people.










Trump’s latest hate rally: A master class

in cult mind control


By Chauncy Devega, Salon – Commentary

Published April 30, 2022


Donald Trump’s political circus and freak show is continuing its American tour. Everywhere it stops, Donald Trump unleashes a torrent of lies, hatred, ignorance, bigotry, racism, narcissism, authoritarianism, threats of violence and other antisocial and evil values.


Trump’s political rallies resemble George Orwell’s “two minutes of hate” from 1984, expanded to two hours or so.



Psychology Today


James Fallon Ph.D.
The Psychopath Inside


The Mind of a Dictator
Exploring the minds of psychopaths and dictators.
Posted November 11, 2011


For the past 18 years, I have studied the brain activity, psychology, and genetics of psychiatric patients and the brain scans of psychopathic serial killers. A few months ago, I was approached by a non-profit human rights organization to create a presentation on the mind of a dictator—an especially compelling issue in light of recent uprisings against autocrats in the Middle East and North Africa.


After combing through literature on the world’s worst dictators and combining it with my neuroscience research and that of others on psychopaths, I presented my theory in May at the Oslo Freedom Forum, an annual conference produced by the Human Rights Foundation. The following article is based on my speech, an attempt to look inside the minds of these elusive and powerful world players.






July 28, 2022


People who lived through the 80’s might remember this incredible case that reverberated around the whole world. Known as “the psychopath little girl,” young Beth Thomas terrorized her entire family. However, it started with a terrible trigger. Even today it will put your hair on end.


Everything that happens during childhood leaves a mark on the child. That’s why it’s so important to have good emotional development in this formative time. The problem is that sometimes this doesn’t happen, and problems come out later.


That’s what happened to Beth. She went through unspeakable things . . .






April 21, 2012


Subject: This is how it works…


Linda and Sam,


I recently read ‘Trauma & Recovery’ by Judith Herman — a powerful book. Here’s a passage that speaks to many of our common experiences:


“In order to escape accountability for his crimes, the perpetrator does everything in his power to promote forgetting. Secrecy and silence are the perpetrator’s first line of defense. If secrecy fails, the perpetrator attacks the credibility of his victim. If he cannot silence her absolutely, he tries to make sure no one listens. To this end, he marshals an impressive array of arguments, from the most blatant denial to the most sophisticated and elegant rationalization. After every atrocity, one can expect to hear the same predictable apologies, or it never happened; the victim lies; the victim exaggerates; the victim brought it upon herself; in any case it is time to forget the past and move on. The more powerful the perpetrator, the greater is his prerogative to name and define reality, and the more completely his arguments prevail.”


Except, of course, that Gans & Co. never apologize, ever.




December 16, 2019


My Life in a Cult


For 23 years, Spencer L. Schneider says he was trapped in an ultra-shadowy group that stole from him his dignity, his youth, and his psychological freedom. Here, for the first time, he writes frankly about his secret life in the School of Sharon Gans.



Seeing Into the Heart of Things


Thirty-one years ago, I joined a group that I later recognized as a cult. I left the group in 2005 and the story is not over yet…




New York City, NY


Plaza Denizen Ran ‘Secret Cult’ Masquerading

As Study Group: Suit


Kathleen Culliton, Patch Contributing Writer

Posted Wed. September 22, 2021



NEW YORK CITY — An alleged “ultra-secret cult” masquerading as a philosophic study group squeezed millions of dollars out of followers who funded their leaders’ lavish lifestyle at the Plaza Hotel, a new lawsuit contends.


Two former members of the Odyssey Study Group say they paid $400 a month for the privilege of serving the late founders Sharon Gans and her husband Alex Horn, both of whom fled San Francisco amid allegations of violence, child neglect and “brainwashing,” according to a lawsuit filed Monday in Manhattan’s supreme court.


“Through methods traditionally utilized by cults to groom, intimidate, weaken, gaslight, and exploit their victims, OSG coerced and tricked its members,” the suit contends.


“The members of the cult made Defendants Sharon Gans and others very rich.”




April 26, 2022 | Psychology


Why do people join cults?


We explore the secret world of cults through a psychological lens to try to understand how cults lure people in.



Esther Friedman


Gentle Souls Revolution


Welcome to GSR Healing Arts. Have you had a strange experience in a group? Did you find this site researching cults? I understand. In 2006, a “new friend” invited me to a “philosophy group”. In 2011, I left a cult.


Daniel Shaw, author of Traumatic Narcissism, offers this formula: bad luck plus timing = recruitment. No one “joins” a cult. Cults lie to potential members in vulnerable moments. They recruit through deception.



The Clinician
Spring 2018


Books Written by NYSSCSW Members
Reviewed by Debra Kuppersmith, LCSW




Traumatic Narcissism:
Relational Systems of Subjugation


By Daniel Shaw
(Routledge 2014)



The trauma referred to in Daniel Shaw’s title is not experienced by narcissists, but by those who find themselves in relationships with them. In this powerful and highly readable book, Shaw describes in detail his understanding of what it means to be entrenched in a relationship in which an authority figure aims to subjugate another.


His work on this subject is informed by his personal history of living in an ashram in upstate New York for 10 years. While there, he was repeatedly denigrated by his guru and finally, after enduring this for years, was able to walk away. This experience inspired him to try to understand what drove his guru to interact with him and others in this manner and why the guru’s followers participated in their own humiliation . . .



    Jomo PiñataApril 1, 2022Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog


    Coming this summer, a book about the Alex Horn/Sharon Gans cult:


    “We were invisible. We had to be. We took an oath of absolute secrecy. We never even told our immediate families who we were. We went about our lives in New York City. Just like you. We were your accountants, money managers, lawyers, executive recruiters, doctors. We owned your child’s private school and sold you your brownstone. But you’d never guess our secret lives, how we lived in a kind of silent terror and fervor. There were hundreds of us.”


    Right under the noses of neighbors, clients, spouses, children, and friends, a secret society, simply called School—a cult of snared Manhattan professionals—has been led by the charismatic, sociopathic and dangerous leader Sharon Gans for decades. Spencer Schneider was recruited in the eighties and he stayed for more than twenty-three years as his life disintegrated, his self-esteem eroded, and he lined the pockets of Gans and her cult.


    Cult members met twice weekly, though they never acknowledged one another outside of meetings or gatherings. In the name of inner development, they endured the horrors of mental, sexual, and physical abuse, forced labor, arranged marriages, swindled inheritances and savings, and systematic terrorizing. Some of them broke the law. All for Gans.


    “During those years,” Schneider writes, “my world was School. That’s what it’s like when you’re in a cult, even one that preys on and caters to New York’s educated elite. This is my story of how I got entangled in School and how I got out.”


    At its core, Manhattan Cult Story is a cautionary tale of how hundreds of well-educated, savvy, and prosperous New Yorkers became fervent followers of a brilliant but demented cult leader who posed as a teacher of ancient knowledge. It’s about double-lives, the power of group psychology, and how easy it is to be radicalized—all too relevant in today’s atmosphere of conspiracy and ideologue worship.




    Gans died in 2021. More about the Horn/Gans group here: nypost.com/2019/11/11/inside-the-alleged-cult-that-has-been-quietly-operating-in-ny-for-decades



    Drinking On The Job – DOTJ 

    February 21, 2021


    Season 1 – Episode 93: David Kulko [Sharon’s son]


    David Kulko was being groomed to take over a cult but instead of drinking the Kool Aid he drank mezcal and found his true light.





    Trust Me: Cults, Extreme Belief, and Manipulation




    Spencer Schneider: Sharon Gans, School, &

    a Manhattan Cult Story



    Jomo PiñataApril 9, 2022


    More fun with Alex Horn and Sharon Gans: cultvaultpodcast.com/podcast/episode/320a879e/161-author-esther-friedman-part-1-sharon-gans-esoteric-school-odyssey-study-group



    Choosing Therapy


    What Is a Malignant Narcissist? Signs, Causes,

    and How to Deal With One



    Written by Hailey Shafir LPCS, LCAS, CCS


    Published – July 16, 2021 | Updated – January 1, 2022


    Malignant narcissism is not a formal diagnosis, but instead a common term used to describe a person with traits and symptoms of both narcissistic personality disorder and antisocial personality disorder. Also called pathological narcissists, malignant narcissists tend to have more impairments, worse relationships, and worse responses to treatment than people with classic NPD.2,4


    People with narcissistic personality disorder tend to exhibit grandiose attitudes, feel superior to others, need excessive praise and validation, and respond very poorly to even the slightest criticism. People with antisocial personality disorder lack empathy, disregard the feelings and needs of others, and use and exploit others to meet their needs.5 Malignant narcissists tend to display a mix of these traits and behaviors, which keep them from forming healthy relationships.2,3,6



    Psychology Today

    June 21, 2021


    The Personality Disorder We

    Don’t Hear Enough About


    The sadistic personality may be mistaken for antisocial

    personality disorder.


    By Anthony D. Smith LMHC 


    Key Points


    • Sadistic personality disorder is no longer in the DSM, but it’s still recognized by personality aficionados.


    • The chief component of sadistic personality is taking pleasure in cruel, demeaning, and aggressive behaviors as a means of control.


    • It is differentiated from antisocial personality disorder in that, for the sadistic personality, cruelty and aggression is an end unto itself.





    How Does Conformity Influence Behavior?



    By Kendra Cherry | Updated on March 26, 2020


    Conformity involves changing your behaviors in order to “fit in” or “go along” with the people around you. In some cases, this social influence might involve agreeing with or acting like the majority of people in a specific group, or it might involve behaving in a particular way in order to be perceived as “normal” by the group.



    UNDER THE INFLUENCE: The Destructive Effects of Group Dynamics by John D. Goldhammer, Prometheus Books, January 1996


    From Chapter 6: The Collective Machine (pp. 180-81)


    Rationalizing Evil


    When one has once given Evil a lodging, it no longer demands that one believes it.  Franz Kafka 41


    The numinous quality of a group and its leadership is a seductive influence that results in individuals becoming adept at rationalizing anything the group does, no matter how cruel or unethical it may actually be, and no matter how abhorrent it may be to one’s individual conscience. Learned rationalizing into-the-collective is an insidious process that kills individual critical thinking. Anything a group does is accepted and defended because it is for “the big picture,” “the company mission,” “a higher purpose,” “saving souls,” or “for Jesus.” Thus propaganda, manipulation, lying, violence, and even murder become defenses of a just cause. War comes from people who are polarized inwardly and outwardly into good and evil camps – people who are unconscious of their inner evil camp. Sam Keen, in Faces of the Enemy, calls warfare “applied theology,” explaining that outside enemies make groups feel solidarity and purpose. Keen concludes, “We create surplus evil because we need to belong.”42


    Greed becomes “God’s blessing of prosperity for the group’s leaders,” or necessary compensation for the Godlike person who founded the firm. Human slavery translates into “giving oneself to a higher purpose – to something bigger than the individual.” “Something bigger” in any type of group-embodied ideal or cause is ultimately destructive for individuals and consequently for society as well.


    Leon Festinger, a social psychologist, theorized that “cognitive dissonance”43 provides an explanation of how persons rationalize different types of behavior. According to Festinger, cognitive dissonance occurs when a person is caught by two conflicting ideas, and tries to hold both as true. For example, a group I belong to tells me that Jesus is the only way to God. But, I happen to read the life of Krishna, Buddha, or Lao Tzu, and realize that they also seem to be quite Godlike. This contradiction creates tension (dissonance). Becoming terribly uncomfortable, and to eliminate the tension, I change one of my cognitions so that everything fits together in a manner that does not threaten my group’s viewpoint.


    For example, in the religious group I belonged to, we explained this problem of multiple world saviors by assigning a totalistic hierarchy, a spiritual rank to each individual. Jesus was number one – a four-star general; Buddha was close, but ranked as number two in the spiritual pecking order. Other mystics and saints of various religions were well thought of, but were in differing states of evolvement. Of course, the most spiritually advanced souls were those who most closely emulated the life of Jesus. Many New Age groups obliterate this dichotomy by claiming that former world saviors were actually past incarnations of the same evolving savior.


    In the end, such rationalizing simply stops legitimate inquiry dead in its tracks. We miss exploring the inevitable mystery of existence, grouping different approaches to life into one amorphous mass of collective non-thought. Anthony Pratkanis, in his book Age of Propaganda, wrote, “In these circumstances [cognitive dissonance], individuals will go to great lengths of distortion, denial, and self-persuasion in order to justify their past behavior. When our self-esteem has been threatened by our own past behavior, we all have a powerful tendency to become rationalizing animals.”44  Tragedy strikes us all when this rationalizing involves cruelty and violence to others, either psychological or physical. Destructive groups depend heavily upon rationalizing-out-of-existence all conflicting ideologies and viewpoints. Right to Life groups, who justify violence and the murder of doctors who perform abortions, are excellent examples of the destructive side of rationalizing. Murder, paradoxically becomes the “Christian” thing to do, when, in fact, Christianity teaches “thou shalt not kill.”


    Totalistically organized groups always assume they have the right to control individual freedom of choice and autonomy. The Inquisition made the same assumptions that religious and political groups make in modern times.




    From Chapter 7: Going Backward: Developmental Regression in Groups (pp. 189-191)


    Westerners bring so much baggage into the ashram. The spiritual search coexists with the inner child’s search for belonging.   Jean Callahan 1


    And the word “courage” should be reserved to characterize the man or woman who leaves the infantile sanctuary of the mass mind.   Sam Keen 2


    Groups behave at a much lower emotional level than do individuals so that group behavior is less psychologically mature. Thus, in group situations, affect emerges as an expression of group-induced regression.   Jerrold Atlas and Laura Porzio 3



    Survival Mode


    The situation [in groups] is not unlike that observed in children and undifferentiated adults where the lack of a distinct individuality leaves the mind without guards against the intrusion of influences from without.   Eric Hoffer 4


    Adult developmental regression in groups, a state of self-helplessness, results from the individual’s attempt to survive and adapt to the group ideology. An outside authority keeps one in a dependent state, whether the FDA, a religious leader, a politician, some deity, or an advertising campaign. Joseph Campbell described this dependent state:


    Now if there’s a way or a path, it’s someone else’s way; and the guru has a path for you. He knows where you are on it. He knows where he is on it, namely, way ahead. And all you can do is get to be as great as he is. This is a continuation of the dependency of childhood; maturity consists in outgrowing that and becoming your own authority in life.5


        In destructive groups, leaders become abusive parental figures while the members become ever more dependent and incapable of independent decision-making. The propensity toward developmental regression within such groups is so powerful that most people find it nearly impossible to not modify their behavior in some fashion in order to be accepted by the group’s leader(s) and by their peers.


        The dark side of groups initiates a process of developmental regression, which takes place on two primary levels: cognitive and emotional. Emotionally, one is drawn into a supportive group of friends and associates who become a replacement family. A social codependence quickly develops that is extremely difficult to walk away from. Cognitively, the group dynamic slowly changes one’s thinking and thought processes with the subsequent behavioral changes. As the group message, agenda, belief system, and rules gradually take over, all outside and inner events are interpreted through the group mind-set. One’s viewpoint becomes a collective viewpoint. One alters reality to suit newly acquired concepts and ideology. Anything that challenges that new reality is rationalized away, suppressed, or transformed into an enemy of the group’s purpose. The actual reversal of the individual’s normal growth and development is a distinctive feature of destructive groups.


    The Cult Awareness Network’s extensive research has shown that destructive groups cause these specific harmful effects in adults:


    1. Development of dependency and return to childlike behavior.
    2. Loss of free will and control over one’s life.
    3. Loss of spontaneity or sense of humor.
    4. Psychological deterioration (including hallucinations, anxiety, paranoia, disorientation, and dissociation).
    5. Inability to form intimate friendships outside the group or enjoy flexible relationships.
    6. Physical deterioration and abuse.
    7. Involuntary, de facto servitude or exploitation.6


    In addition, according to Cult Awareness Network, destructive groups generally have some or all of these characteristics:


    1. Mind control (undue influence): The group manipulates by the use of coercive persuasion or behavior modification techniques without the informed consent of the individual.


    2. Charismatic leadership: A leader or small core of leaders with power and special privileges demand unquestioning obedience.


    3. Alienation: The group encourages and sometimes enforces separation from family, friends, and society, a change in values and substitution of the group as the new family — there is evidence of subtle or abrupt personality changes as members conform to the group’s social and belief system.


    4. A totalitarian worldview: The group has a we/they outlook: reinforcing dependence, promoting goals of the group over the individual and approving unethical behavior while claiming moral superiority, goodness, righteousness, or enlightenment.


    5. Exploitation: This can be financial, physical, and psychological – pressure to give money, work long hours, to buy courses, to give excessive time to special projects, and in some cases, to engage in inappropriate sexual activities.7


        Peer pressure in such a group is a formidable psychological weapon. When one first enters the group, one is commonly fawned over and made to feel very special and loved – a process often referred to as “love bombing.” This threshold experience of being accepted and loved feeds a deep, instinctual, childlike longing in human nature. Most persons want to belong, feel accepted, be needed, and be loved by others. However, this apparent acceptance and love from a group is conditional, which the new member quickly learns. In order to continue to receive this familial-style nourishment, new members must conform to and accept the group ideology. In fact, one soon discovers that increasing dedication to the group’s belief system results in proportionate increases of loving acceptance from the group.


        The group takes on a monolithic, parental, authoritarian role while the individual must play a childlike role in order to survive. As a reward, people receive love, acceptance, the illusion of belonging to something special, and the illusion of being special because of identification with the group’s mission or cause. Hence, one no longer functions as an adult but regresses to an infantile state of survival-adaptation.



    Psychology Today

    January 1976




    Honor Thy Father



    Sun Myung Moon suffers youth to come unto him, and they do, in droves. His Unification Church, stern and evangelical, leads the march of psychoreligious cults. Moon’s Family, a warm womb, shuts out care, responsibility, and the need to think for oneself.


    by Berkeley Rice



    CNN health


    Are you susceptible to brainwashing?


    By Michael Nedelman, CNN

    Updated Tue. February 13, 2018


    For more on the Patty Hearst case, watch “The Radical Story of Patty Hearst” at 9 p.m. ET Sundays on CNN.



    Steven Hassan was a college junior in the mid-1970s when he was recruited into the Unification Church, a cult also known as the “Moonies.” Hassan said he quickly came to believe that Armageddon and World War III were imminent. The Moonies, he thought, were singularly tasked with saving the world.


    “It only took a few weeks to get me convinced that the Messiah was on the Earth, even though I’m Jewish,” said Hassan, author of Combating Cult Mind Control.


    It wasn’t until he met with ex-Moonies, albeit reluctantly, that he began to leave the cult 2½ years later.


    “I was an off-the-charts, fly-a-plane-into-the-World-Trade-Center-if-Father-ordered-you-to Moonie,” he said of the group’s leader, Sun Myung Moon, whom the members called Father. “I was sure they wouldn’t be able to make me betray Father. I wanted to prove to my parents that I was not brainwashed or mind-controlled.”


    Hassan, now a licensed mental health counselor who specializes in helping former cult members, said that just about anyone’s mind can be controlled in similar ways.


    Other experts have long pushed back against the concept of brainwashing, arguing that it is a loaded term that doesn’t hold up to scientific scrutiny.


    “Every time I use the term, as you may have noticed, I usually put it in quotes, which means there’s something wrong with it,” said James T. Richardson, professor emeritus of sociology and judicial studies at the University of Nevada, Reno.


    “It defines the person as a passive object that has no will of their own, and it defines anyone with any apparent perceived influence over them as some kind of evil person manipulating them psychologically,” said Richardson, who believes that there is often an element of choice on the former’s part.




    August 8, 2011


    Cults: An In Depth Look At The Experience Of Being In Cults And Breaking Free From Them


    Power, Money, Sex – Most cult leaders are motivated by some combination of this triad. Experts at the psychology of mind control, cults deprive their members of free will, often with disastrous consequences. From Jonestown to the Branch Davidians, to the Moonies, to Heaven’s Gates, cults prey on the most vulnerable. What should one do if someone they love has joined a cult? How is it that cults are so effective at controlling the thoughts and feelings of their members? What happens to the children of cult members? What is it like being in a cult? How does a cult member manage to find their way out, and are there dangerous consequences to leaving?


    Professor of Law Diane Sullivan is joined by Dean Lawrence R. Velvel and former cult members Janja Lalich and Steven Hassan in this presentation of The Massachusetts School of Law’s Educational Forum on the topic of cults. Ms. Lalich is a Professor of Sociology at California State University Chico, and Mr. Hassan is a cult expert, author, and mental health therapist.





    Freedom of thought is a universal human right.


    Tell your story.


    Impact lives.


    Change the world.


    The sole mission of #iGotOut is to inspire survivors of cultic abuse to tell and share their stories, creating an online community dedicated to unflinching honesty. 


    We believe this simple but profound act is a catalyst for personal healing as well as community education and prevention that corrects the many systemic misperceptions of cultic involvement. 


    We believe the collective potential of ALL of our stories will help steer society into a new day where abuse of power is not tolerated.




    August 17, 2022


    The infidels will not be silenced


    Like Salman Rushdie, I choose freedom


    By Ayaan Hirsi Ali




    August 20, 2022


    Donald Trump, Mike Pompeo, and Newt Gingrich spoke at an event affiliated with the Unification Church in Seoul, South Korea, despite Japan controversy


    By Alia Shoaib


    The Unification Church, formed in South Korea in the 1950s by self-declared messiah Sun Myung Moon, is known to have deep-rooted ties with conservative politicians worldwide. Its followers are often colloquially referred to as “Moonies.”


    Former CIA director and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich spoke in person at a conference affiliated with the church in Seoul on August 12 to coincide with the 10th anniversary of the death of Sun Myung Moon.


     Pompeo and Gingrich’s speeches spoke about the value of religious freedom and the dangers of communism – a view they share with the church.


    The controversial religious organization – formally known as the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification – has been in the spotlight following the assassination of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.


    The assassin told police that he was motivated by anger towards Abe and his links to the church. It is widely described as a cult by former members.


    Former President Donald Trump recorded a video message played during the meeting, per Japanese outlet NTV News 24. During his speech, Trump said that Abe was a “good friend and a great man” and praised Reverend Moon’s widow Hak Ja Han, who now heads up the church.


    Other billed speakers included former Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and former US ambassadors and generals.


    According to Dr. Steven Hassan, an expert on cults and a former Moonie, the ties between right-wing politicians and the church are due to a shared hatred of communism and the group’s vast wealth and influence.


    The Moon empire has been estimated to be worth billions of dollars and includes ownership of the conservative newspaper The Washington Times.


    “It doesn’t shock me that Pompeo, the former head of the CIA and the State Department, spoke for them. I’m sure Trump got a lot of money,” Hassan told Insider, speculating about their speaker’s fees. “I’m sure they don’t believe Moon was the Messiah.”




    News  //  Bay Area & State


    PSYCH SLEUTH / Margaret Singer has made history delving into the psychology of brainwashing


    Kevin Fagan

    May 26, 2002


    2002-05-26 04:00:00 PDT Berkeley — The boots of the cult thug clunking on her porch practically every night for a week about 2 a.m., the silence hanging thick and menacing as he hunkered in her doorway, the cryptic notes in her mailbox – it all finally got to her.


    So Margaret Singer leaned out her second-floor window the next time she heard the guy at her doorstep, and she yelled with all the bluster she could muster in her quavery, 80-year-old voice: “I’ve got a 12-gauge shotgun up here with a spray pattern that’ll put a three-foot hole in you, sonny, and you’d better get off my porch or you’ll be sorry! And tell your handlers not to send you back!”


    Months later, as she sits at the kitchen table of her rambling old house in the East Bay hills, Singer still chuckles at the memory of the man skittering to the sidewalk, never to return. “If that shotgun hadn’t worked, I have a World War II machine gun that can do the trick,” she says, pounding a thin, bony hand on the Formica top.


    Name any major cult or near-cult in America in the last half of the 20th century, and this teacher and author of Cults in Our Midst has probably researched it, debriefed its victims, or helped the cops nail its leaders.



    You find it again and again – any time there is great upheaval, a big change in a society and people feel vulnerable, there are always sharpies around who want to hornswoggle people. ~ Dr. Margaret Thaler Singer (1921–2003)



    Bryan ReynoldsJuly 20, 2018 Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog


    Article on the term “brainwashing”




    [This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article here.]



    University of California Television (UCTV)

    October 30, 2021


    Dark Persuasion – The History of Brainwashing


    Joel Dimsdale discusses his latest book, Dark Persuasion: A History of Brainwashing from Pavlov to Social Media, which traces the evolution of brainwashing from its beginnings in torture and religious conversion into the age of neuroscience and social media. Dimsdale is distinguished professor emeritus in the Department of Psychiatry at UC San Diego.



    The University of Texas at Austin

    McCombs School of Business


    Ethics Unwrapped 



    Obedience to Authority


    Obedience to authority describes our tendency to please authority figures. We may place too much emphasis on that goal and, consciously or subconsciously, subordinate the goal of acting ethically.



    From Teaching Notes


    The pleasure centers of our brains light up when we please authority. We are trained from childhood to please authority figures, —parents, teachers, and police officers.


    Law and order are generally good things, so some level of obedience to authority is definitely a good thing. But if people go too far and suspect their own independent ethical judgment, either consciously or unconsciously, they are dropping the ball.


    Employers, we argue, pay employees for their brains, their education and training, and their judgment. Employers are short-changed if employees do not use their best strategic judgment, their best operational judgment, and their best moral judgment, because errors in any of the three areas can be quite costly.


    To learn about related behavioral ethics concepts, watch Conformity Bias and Role Morality.


    The case study on this page, “Stangl & the Holocaust,” explores an extreme example of obedience to authority, in which Nazi officer Franz Stangl, who was responsible for the killing of nearly one million Jews, claimed he was simply following orders. For a related case study that examines the dangers of conformity bias during the Holocaust, read “Reserve Police Battalion 101.”


    Behavioral ethics draws upon behavioral psychology, cognitive science, evolutionary biology, and related disciplines to determine how and why people make the ethical and unethical decisions that they do. Much behavioral ethics research addresses the question of why good people do bad things. Many behavioral ethics concepts are explored in detail in Concepts Unwrapped, as well as in the video case study In It to Win: The Jack Abramoff Story. Anyone who watches all (or even a good part) of these videos will have a solid introduction to behavioral ethics.



    September 19, 2021


    Subject: Two calls from an atheist call-in show


    Hi Linda,


    This is an atheist, skepticism, and humanism call-in show with rotating hosts. This week featured former Jehovah’s Witness Kenneth Leonard, who has deconverted, is being actively shunned by his family and former friends in the church (a dictate by the JW church), and now speaks about the dangers of the Jehovah’s Witnesses and other religious cults.


    The link jumps to these two conversations which you might find particularly interesting.


    In the first conversation (about 15 minutes), the caller asked about the differences between a religion and cults, and briefly discussed Trumpism. The hosts also mention/recommend Dr. Steven Hassan, who you might be familiar with: wikipedia.org/wiki/Steven Hassan


    The call is followed by a 25 minute discussion with an ex JW, who talked about his JW experiences with Kenneth, and how to think about death and epistemology while coming out of his indoctrination.





    ABC News In-depth | Four Corners

    September 13, 2021


    Escaping Jehovah’s Witnesses: Inside the dangerous world of a brutal religion


    Former Jehovah’s Witnesses are fighting back against a religion that failed them. They know they’ll lose their loved ones for doing so.


    Few know the extreme nature of the beliefs of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, a religious group which boasts eight million followers in multiple nations. They took a strict interpretation of the Bible and predicted the world would meet its ‘wicked end’ in 1914, 1925 and 1975.


    A US-based Governing Body of eight men sits at the pinnacle of the Jehovah’s Witnesses organisation. Witnesses believe these men are anointed as the voice of God on Earth. Former members reveal the secretive practices used to instill fear and maintain discipline among followers.


    With strict rules governing every aspect of their lives, these former Witnesses say the organisation is controlling and dangerous. They say it’s time to hold the Jehovah’s Witnesses to account.



    diegoDecember 1, 2021Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog


    Revealed: ex-members of Amy Coney Barrett faith group tell of trauma and sexual abuse




    “The basic premise of everything at the People of Praise was that the devil controlled everything outside of the community, and you were ‘walking out from under the umbrella of protection’ if you ever left,” said one former member who called herself Esther, who had to join the group as a child but then left the organization. “I was OK with it being in a tiny little corner of Indiana, because a lot of weird stuff happens in tiny little corners in this country. But it’s just unfathomable to me – I can’t even explain just how unfathomable it is – that you would have a supreme court justice who is a card-carrying member of this community.”



    RichDecember 4, 2021







    Golden VeilFebruary 12, 2022


    The Fellowship of Friends appears to be in the process of rebranding its image as a spiritual school. It’s likely that this strategy, which is implemented through new website design, was instigated by the exposure of the cult’s dark underpinnings in the dramatic and critically acclaimed Revelations podcast on Spotify. The former website image of fellowshipoffriends.com and livingpresence.com expressed elitism and opulence. Images of Robert Earl Burton were prominent and his role as a teacher reverently promoted.


    Probably with the aim to recast the cult’s identity, the websites now present a more corporate, almost austere, look. The rich colors are absent and have been replaced with a black and white theme and an image of international flags as the key image on the Home page of each website. Robert Earl Burton’s presence is greatly diminished and he is presented more as a founder than teacher. There is only one book on the Publications page, Robert Earl Burton’s Awakening (2016) and that book appears to be the only book available on Amazon. Fifty Years With Angels (2017) is now listed as out-of-print.


    Although only Awakening is currently featured under Publications on the Fellowship of Friends website, there are actually two books by Robert Earl Burton ~ Awakening and Self-Remembering ~ in pride of place on the Recommended Reading page of the Living Presence website. They are included with books by Fourth Way luminaries Gurdjieff, Ouspensky and Collin.





    diegoFebruary 18, 2022


    Fellowship of Friends members enjoy being dominated by an ignorant, vengeful, malignant, pathologically aberrant, neurologically decaying, diseased, lying con man, buffoon, serial criminal doofus, delusional sexual predator and molester because it somehow makes them feel special.



    Associated PressMarch 3, 2022


    Heaven’s Gate Survivors to Share New Details in 20/20 Special


    Diane Sayer unravels mysteries behind cult with interviews with survivors who share stories for the first time.


    March 3, 2022

    By Rolling Stone reporter, Althea Legaspi


    In 1997, 39 members of the Heaven’s Gate cult were found dead by suicide in their Rancho Santa Fe, California, home, which they dubbed “The Monastery.” Central to the group’s belief was that they would go to heaven on a UFO. On March 11, a two-hour 20/20 special looks to unravel the mysteries surrounding the chilling, ritualistic mass suicide and what would lead people to follow its bizarre principles.


    During The Cult Next Door: The Mystery and Madness of Heaven’s Gate special, Diane Sawyer interviews two survivors who share their stories for the first time. She also speaks with Rio DiAngelo, a member who left the group before the tragedy to serve as a messenger. She first spoke with DiAngelo in an exclusive interview in 1997. Family members who were left behind also share their stories.


    In a trailer for the special, interviewees discuss some of the rules of the cult, which included how members were to dress, brush their teeth, and even use the toilet. “They didn’t have any free will,” one person says. They also practiced celibacy, and castration was employed.


    The members who died in the largest mass suicide in America came from all walks of life and ranged in age from 26 to 72. They were drawn in by Marshall Applewhite, the compelling leader who co-founded the group with Bonnie Nettles (Nettles died of cancer in 1985). Known as Do and Ti, the two bonded over religious beliefs which soon morphed into a belief that they were of a higher level than others and that they could reach the “Next Level” by rejecting their human forms and becoming extraterrestrial beings who would ascend to heaven via UFO, and they recruited followers.


    The Cult Next Door: The Mystery and Madness of Heaven’s Gate features never-before-seen footage including home movies, as well as newly released audiotapes. It airs on 20/20 March 11 from 9:01–11:00 p.m. ET on ABC and will stream the next day via Hulu.


    More at:






    ton2uMarch 18, 2022


    Feeding darker forces of the human condition can only lead to degeneration of humanity.


    wikipedia.org/wiki/Political ponerology





    A Science on the Nature of Evil

    Adjusted for Political Purposes




    Opus 111June 16, 2022


    Today NYT relating a story about FOF members and Google company:



    Tim CampionJune 16, 2022


    “The Cult in Google” by Kevin Lloyd appears on media.com.



    diego June 22, 2022


    At Axios today.




    “The Fellowship is a tiny California sect based in the Sierra Nevada foothills that has run a winery, invested in antiques and espouses spiritual awakening through exposure to the fine arts. Its founder has also faced allegations of sexual abuse.”


    It’s a tawdry, pretentious, failed doomsday cult.



    Insider June 23, 2022


    Another podcast about the Fellowship. Jennings Brown, producer of “Revelations” last year, is being interviewed by “Ross and Carrie.”



    If you can’t get to the Spotify version, Ross and Carrie have their own website: ohnopodcast.com. The Jennings interview is there.



    diegoJuly 10, 2022


    Mihai explains Burton’s sick seduction routine. Burton is a Douchebag number 8 who has been refining and perfecting his game of molestation and rape for 50 years. He gets a lot of help from his enablers, procurers and proceresses.










    Mathew Cox is a former mortgage broker from Florida who found himself on the Secret Service’s most wanted list. He made millions falsifying home ownership and mortgage documents for five times the properties’ actual worth.



    Associated PressJuly 27, 2022


     The Fellowship of Friends: A Cult of Gentlemen

    Dangerous Ideas S01E01

    12,127 views Aug 4, 2017 







    PART  I   II   III