Food For Thought




Food for Thought



Democracy Now!

Dec. 25, 2007



Ordinary People Telling Their Stories to Each Other


Three years ago, award-winning radio producer Dave Isay created a national social history project called StoryCorps. It now has the potential to become one of the largest documentary oral history projects ever donated to the Library of Congress.


Dave joined us in our firehouse studio earlier this year. He is author of the new book, Listening is an Act of Love: A Celebration of American Life from the StoryCorps Project.




Jan. 7, 2015


The Power of Listening


William Ury explains how listening is the essential, and often overlooked, half of communication. His stories of candid conversations with presidents and business leaders provide us with impactful lessons, such as understanding the power of a human mind opening up. He asks us to join a listening revolution, and promises that if we all just listen a little bit more, we can transform any relationship.




Ideas worth spreading

March 2021


How to have constructive conversations


“We need to figure out how we go into conversations not looking for the victory, but the progress,” says world debate champion Julia Dhar. In this practical talk, she shares three essential features of productive disagreements grounded in curiosity and purpose. The end result? Constructive conversations that sharpen your argument and strengthen your relationships.



Psychology Today




Wisdom is one of those qualities that is difficult to define—because it encompasses so much—but which people generally recognize when they encounter it. And it is encountered most obviously in the realm of decision-making.


Psychologists tend to agree that wisdom involves an integration of knowledge, experience, and deep understanding, as well as a tolerance for the uncertainties of life. There’s an awareness of how things play out over time, and it confers a sense of balance.



The Idries Shah Foundation




Changing the way we view
ourselves and the world one
story at a time…


ISF is devoted to championing a sense of imagination, and to teaching stories – the kind of which are contained in the large published corpus of the writer and thinker, Idries Shah. 


Engaged in a wide range of charitable projects on a world-wide basis, the Foundation seeks to stimulate the minds of both young and old by regarding the world in new ways.




The Son of a Story-Teller



Becoming the Marginalian: After 15 Years,

Brain Pickings Reborn


Notes from the odyssey of ongoingness,

notes for the symphony of aliveness.


By Maria Popova

October 10, 2021


We are born without choosing to, to parents we haven’t chosen, into bodies and borders we haven’t chosen, to exist in a region of spacetime we haven’t chosen for a duration we don’t choose. As physicists know, we don’t choose the particular atoms that constellate our particular selves or the neural configurations that fire our consciousness. In consequence, as James Baldwin knew, we don’t even choose whom we love.


But amid our slender repertoire of agency are the labels we choose for our labors of love — the works of thought and tenderness we make with the whole of who we are.



“Reading Allowed” by Taylor Mali


Performed as part of a Page Meets Stage pairing at the Bowery Poetry Club on February 22, 2007.



The Daily Show | Nov 16, 2021


Peanuts, Franklin, and Racial Representation in Cartoons – Beyond The Scenes


Franklin was introduced as the first Black “Peanuts” character in 1968, opening up a conversation about race and representation in comics. In this episode, Roy Wood Jr. sits down with Daily Show writer Josh Johnson and Franklin’s namesake and creator of JumpStart Comics, Robb Armstrong, to discuss how the character was created, and the impact of comics.



The On Being Project

March 1, 2015


The Subversive Power of Beauty


By Michael Fryer


Beauty has the potential to be a transcendent and transformative element in conflict situations. In John O’Donohue’s book, Divine Beauty: The Invisible Embrace, he argues that beauty has real power, a power that can be subversive.


Moments of beauty — be it music, art, nature, or an act of kindness — can take you out of a space of weary familiarity. Beauty, in whatever form it takes, can interrupt a pattern of behavior or a way of thinking and cause us to stop in our tracks and take notice of it. There are people holding out on the toughest frontiers of existence, surrounded by misery, but yet somehow sustained by a moment of beauty.


A story can act as a vehicle for transcendence. Joseph Campbell suggests that a story has the power to pitch you out of your everyday experience. Once you’ve heard it and return to where you were, you see the world, or the person telling the story differently. He likens it to walking down 5th Avenue in New York City and stepping into St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Suddenly you’ve left the busy metropolis and are standing in a huge open space. The light is different. It’s quiet. You begin to think on a different level. And, when you return to the bustling world of the street, cars still rush by, people still hurry about their business, but stepping into that different space creates a moment of transcendence.



A Thousand Words is Worth a Picture


By Kenneth Grooms





Psychotherapy Networker

May/June 2018


Stories Told at the End of the Day

From an Evening of Storytelling 2018




Moments of Truth


By Marian Sandmaier


Storytelling is nearly as old as language itself, a way of communing with others through showing and telling what’s meaningful – even necessary – in our lives. Many linguists believe that sharing in-person tales is encoded in our very DNA, with tone of voice, facial expressions, and gestures combining to more fully engage others and develop intimate connections with them.




My First Client, My Best Teacher


By Susan Johnson


My journey as a therapist began as a counselor in a residential treatment center for emotionally disturbed adolescents in British Columbia, Canada. Overnight I was plunged into doing individual, group, and family therapy with kids who showed up with every problem under the sun, including schizophrenia, homicidal behavior, and anxiety disorders. I had an undergraduate degree in English literature and one year of teacher training. My actual training for helping these kids at the time was exactly zip, nada.


Back then, the human potential movement was in full swing. Encounter groups were the cutting edge, with everyone lining up to to beat a cushion with a tennis racket and yell about their mother, thereby releasing their deep inner rage. Gestalt therapy and primal screams were everywhere. For a nice, polite English girl, it was like being thrown in the touchy-feely deep end without a life jacket. And I was lost!




The Hearing


 By Kirsten Lind Seal


So there I was in the courtroom. I walked up to the witness stand, put my right hand up in the air and my left hand on the Bible, and I promised to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help me God. . . .






 By David Treadway


A raised eyebrow. A tilt of the head. Pursed lips. A subtle shrug. Growing up, that was the language we used in my old New England Yankee family to express anger, and even rage. Yes, we were an incredibly charming and handsome family. So much so that in 1949, Look magazine printed a photo of us as a full-page, glossy model of the ideal American family. We were so well-mannered and well-behaved that you’d never guess that of the six of us, my sister and my father had florid psychosis, my mother would commit suicide, and my two brothers would end up with lifelong addictions. Of course, this family also produced a family therapist. Big shock.




Karaoke on Five South


By Martha Manning


After you’ve been through years of killer depression and agitation that escalate into repeated interventions, it’s impossible to ignore how much you’ve taken your family along for the ride.


By the time she was in college, my daughter Keara’s optimistic cheerleading approach to my illness had exhausted itself, leaving her weary, angry, and cautious. As a psychologist, I knew this made perfect sense. As a mother, it broke my heart.




A Complete Life


By David Kessler


As a specialist in issues of death and grief, I was called in by an oncologist to see a 29-year-old patient named Leslie, who was dying of cancer. As I approached her hospital room, I found her mother, tall and straight-backed, standing outside like a guard waiting to meet me. She said, “Under no circumstances should you tell Leslie that she’s dying.” I nodded, having heard this kind of thing before. “I don’t want her to know,” the mother continued. “She needs to keep fighting. She needs to have a complete life.”



Can You Keep a Secret?


A Story of How One Therapist Changed Her Mind

About Keeping Secrets


By Evan Imber-Black

August 19, 2019


When I was trained as a family therapist in the early 1970s, nobody taught me much about secrets, beyond a handful of caveats. Effective inquiry into secrets requires a focus on content as well as relationship, and at that time family therapists were in a broad-brush revolt against Freud, who specialized in excavating secrets. The book-lined offices of the individual therapists who followed him were repositories of secrets, much like the religious confessionals of earlier times. We wanted no part of that old role. In our eagerness to differentiate ourselves from everything that had come before, we insisted that it was the pattern of communication, not its content, that was important. We knew very little then about the pervasiveness of such destructive family secrets as addiction and sexual abuse, and we hadn’t thought much about how the power and values of the larger culture shaped what went on in the therapy office.


In those days, many of us subscribed to models of family therapy that cast us as cybernetic technicians operating coolly and confidently on a family system without, somehow, becoming part of it. With the exception of Virginia Satir, family therapy’s pioneers didn’t pay much attention to how emotions, particularly shame, affected the lives of clients. And except for Murray Bowen and Ivan Boszormenyi-Nagy, most early theorists emphasized the here-and-now of family life, not its history, even though many secrets concern past events that silently shape the present.


All of this kept many of us out of the murky terrain of secrets. We fell back on a simplistic rule: that we’d rather not hear them. In the early 1980s, I worked within the Milan model to maintain neutrality toward all parts of the family system, and I was determined not to be pulled by individual family members into taking sides. I remember giving little speeches to my clients, telling them not to tell me secrets because I would not keep them. I tried to avoid having people call me at home or hang around my office door after the session was over.


The silence was first broken quietly in the 1960s and 1970s in living rooms and in small consciousness-raising groups. Women, gays and lesbians, incest survivors, disabled people, the families of the mentally ill, all discovered they had been blackmailed and disempowered by silence and shame. As they spoke out more and more publicly, their secrets were drained of their stigmatizing power. Women at speak-outs told strangers about rapes and molestations; famous women disclosed their abortions in newspaper ads. In 1975, Betty Ford talked publicly of her breast cancer, and three years later broke the silence about her alcoholism as well. Gay people wore pink triangles to work and marched in gay pride parades. Revelations that would once have been called indiscreet or foolish were now perceived as brave.




March/April 2020


Case Study:


Breaking the Silence with

Nonverbal Autism


By Peter Rothenberg


In Pedagogy of the Oppressed, author Paulo Freire demonstrates that nothing is more empowering than teaching people to name their world. As therapists, we know this applies especially to our clients’ inner worlds. Even relatively high-functioning people can find it difficult to know what they’re experiencing and how to express it. Imagine what it must be like for the people with autism who don’t talk but have a world of perceptions, feelings, thoughts, fantasies, and desires swirling around inside them. Imagine the frustration, isolation, and confusion they experience. 





September/October 2021


Borrowed Tears


A Therapist Reclaims His Buried past–and Upends His Practice


By David Treadway


Years ago, out on the workshop circuit, when I’d talk to therapists about many of us being some version of a “wounded healer,” I’d describe my own role as a parentified child and my futile efforts to counsel my mentally ill mom and somewhat clueless, disengaged dad. Many of us were the children who’d taken care of family members as a way of staying out of the line of fire and feeling good about ourselves. At some point in my presentation, I’d observe that for some of us, our childhood coping strategies made us highly effective therapists. Jokingly, I’d conclude, “And who knows, maybe if I ever really do get well, I’ll retire.”


Little did I know that this throwaway line would become my life’s koan.



Helper Syndrome


When Are We Enough?


By Gabor Maté


When problems aren’t fixable, as they can often seem in these times, we therapists are faced with the predicament of trying to solve the unsolvable. This predicament lies at the very source of our distress as healers. It’s the weight of trying to fix the unfixable and manage the unmanageable that’s stressing us.


And yet, although you might be worn out, there’s no such thing as compassion fatigue. No one gets tired of being compassionate. Compassion is part of our nature, and we don’t get tired of being ourselves. In fact, I’m going to suggest that we get tired of not being ourselves. The problem is not with compassion directed toward our clients, but with a lack of compassion for ourselves.




The Ambivalence Trap


Liberating Ourselves from the Pursuit of Perfection


By Linda Gask


I’m a psychiatrist who’s experienced recurrent episodes of depression, sometimes quite severe, since my 20s. At medical school, I was extremely anxious and needed psychiatric help. Nonetheless, I found it easy to speak to patients with mental health problems–which encouraged me to pursue a career in psychiatry myself.


During the 33 yeas that I practiced, when I was well, I was always certain that psychiatry was the right career for me; at other times, I’ve considered myself to be a total failure, despite evidence of my success as a doctor and academic. There were even periods when life no longer seemed worth living.


Since then, psychodynamic and cognitive behavioral therapy have helped me make many necessary changes in my life, but they’ve been insufficient in preventing relapses. And while medication has helped me considerably–and I’ve seen it help many people in my practice–I’m still ambivalent about taking the pills.





Addressing Abuses of Power


Power is the ability to influence the events, people, and environments around us. However, people do not always use their power well. Sometimes people (intentionally or unintentionally) use power in ways that cause harm to others. When power is used unethically, the affected parties may wish to see a therapist. A mental health professional can help restore a balance of power and teach people more sustainable ways of asserting themselves.





Possession of power is not the same thing as using power. A strong person may have the ability to strike a rival, but they are not obligated to do so. Sometimes, refraining from using one type of power (like physical coercion) can lead to an increase of another type of power (social status).


The right use of power, as defined by Cedar Barstow, MEd, in her book of the same name, is “any use of power that does any or all of the following: prevents harm, reduces harm, repairs harm, promotes well-being… power is the ability to have an effect.” Power’s effects do not always match a person’s intent. For example, a person who manipulates their friends “for their own good” will still likely hurt the people they care about.


Power does not always corrupt: it can be used for prosocial or antisocial purposes. Context can heavily influence how a person uses power. According to a 2008 study, individuals who are in a conflict scenario are more likely to use their power in an antisocial way. But individuals who are primed to think of others (such as in a health care scenario) are more likely to use their power in a prosocial way.





Take greater control of your mental health with

our helpful doctor discussion guides.


When it comes to your mental health, it’s important to ask the right questions during the time you spend with your doctor. Those conversations can help you understand your symptoms and treatment options and learn how to navigate any challenges you may face.


These printable guides contain sample questions to ask your doctor along with common terms that can help facilitate conversations with your medical team. Bring them along to your next appointment so you can feel more confident and get answers to your most important questions.




April 14, 2021


Aphantasia: The People Without a Mind’s Eye


If you close your eyes and picture an apple, how clear is that apple in your mind? Most people can visualise images in their head instantaneously – this is known as the mind’s eye. But in 2015, a scientific study shed new light on the relatively unheard-of phenomenon known as aphantasia, a mental blindness where the brain is unable to call images to the mind’s eye.


This short documentary uncovers the root cause of a person’s emotional detachment from people and events – and the unexpected advantages that come with it. Alex Wheeler shares the story of how his experiences with aphantasia have affected his life, particularly his grieving process after losing his mum, as he seeks answers from Adam Zeman, Professor of Cognitive and Behavioural Neurology at the University of Exeter Medical School.





Dec. 19, 2017


Paula Stone Williams: I’ve lived as a man & a woman — here’s what I learned


If you’re a man, at one point or another you’ve probably thought to yourself, “I will never understand women!” And if you’re a woman, “what’s wrong with men?!” But your gender is all you’ve ever known, so how could you understand?


As a transgender woman, Paula Stone Williams has lived on both sides, “and the differences are massive!” In this funny and insightful talk, Paula shares her wisdom for all. 



4 Common Ways Highly Sensitive People Are Misunderstood


By Dr. Annie Hsueh, Ph.D

October 1, 2021


Highly sensitive people are often misunderstood. When someone tells them to “just relax,” it’s not like they can turn their sensitivity “off.”



The Atlantic

March 4, 2021




A Counterintuitive Way to Cheer Up When You’re Down


When you most need to get happier, try giving happiness away.


By Arthur C. Brooks


Norman Rockwell painted some of the most iconic images of 20th-century America. His paintings, such as Rosie the Riveter and the Four Freedoms series from World War II, and The Problem We All Live With and Murder in Mississippi from the civil-rights movement, were intended to evoke the best in people who saw them: hope, solidarity, courage, justice—but most of all, happiness. The bulk of his work captured scenes of lighthearted joy. Consider Shiner, which depicts a young girl with a black eye, sitting outside the principal’s office with a grin that tells you she has just been the victor in combat.


I have seen these paintings my whole life, starting with my grandfather’s beloved, dog-eared coffee-table book of Rockwell’s greatest works. A printing-press operator in Longview, Washington, my grandfather was no art connoisseur. But he gave this assessment of Rockwell: “These pictures make me feel happy.”


And yet, Rockwell himself struggled with happiness. In 1953, he moved to Stockbridge, Massachusetts, a bucolic town in the Berkshires—not for its natural beauty and peace but because it happened to be the home of a psychiatric hospital where he and his wife could receive treatment for chronic depression. There, he was a patient of the world-famous psychoanalyst Erik Erikson, with whom Rockwell racked up a therapy bill so large that he had to accept commissions for Kellogg’s Corn Flakes magazine ads.



After Skool

Oct. 15, 2019


Nikola Tesla – Limitless Energy & the Pyramids of Egypt


Nikola Tesla (July 10, 1856 – January 7, 1943) was a Serbian-American inventor, electrical engineer, mechanical engineer, and futurist who is best known for his contributions to the design of the modern alternating current (AC) electricity supply system. Tesla held over 300 patents and is responsible for inventing the laser, x-ray, radio, Tesla coil, Tesla turbine, neon signs, induction motor, remote control and many more. Tesla was a brilliant mind, but did not focus his energy on monetizing his inventions and had difficulty socializing. He died alone in a small hotel in New York.



Psychotherapy Networker


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.



Insider June 27, 2020Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog


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.’



invictus maneo October 5, 2015


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.



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?



Greed and excess hide the truth from men’s eyes and make them blind.

Would you have eyes to see and ears to hear clearly?

Then, tear off the obstructing veil of greed!  ~ Rumi



brucelevy October 5, 2015Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog



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: (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?



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:



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 provides a modern retelling. The details seem consistent with what I heard back then.



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.





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



The false teacher represents the ultimate hypocrite

in the field of human development. ~ Idries Shah



Brought Up in ApolloOctober 23, 2021Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog


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.: Lalich


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


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


I hope this helps.



cult recovery 101


Cult Recovery, cult counseling, cult professionals, mental health professionals with cult recovery experience. . .


Trauma and Recovery (cult, brainwashing)


By Judith Lewis Herman, M.D.



diegoriverassquaretrouserlegOctober 29, 2021

Worth a listen…


Home page of the 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 I’d love to hear your perspective or talk about anything you think I missed.



Jomo PiñataNovember 10, 2021



diegoriverassquaretrouserlegNovember 21, 2021

I somehow missed these podcasts back in 2019. They seem to have no connection with Jennings’s 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 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.






See: Criminal Minds, Season 1, Ep. 2: “Compulsion,” on Netflix



ton2uAugust 9, 2015


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.





 False Prophets and Messiahs, Teachers and Gurus,

Cons and Cult Leaders




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 its crimes, the perpetrator does everything in its power to promote forgetting. Secrecy and silence are the perpetrator’s first line of defense. If secrecy fails, the perpetrator attacks the credibility of its victim. If it cannot silence her absolutely, it tries to make sure no one listens. To this end, it 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; 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.”


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




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.



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.



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: 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.



New York
Feb. 22, 2019


The Corruption of the Vatican’s Gay Elite

Has Been Exposed


By Andrew Sullivan


I spent much of this week reading and trying to absorb the new and devastating book by one Frédéric Martel on the gayness of the hierarchy at the top of the Catholic Church, In the Closet of the Vatican: Power, Homosexuality, Hypocrisy. It’s a bewildering and vast piece of reporting — Martel interviewed no fewer than “41 cardinals, 52 bishops and monsignori, 45 apostolic nuncios, secretaries of nunciatures or foreign ambassadors, 11 Swiss Guards and over 200 Catholic priests and seminarians.” He conducted more than 1,500 interviews over four years, is quite clear about his sources, and helps the reader weigh their credibility. He keeps the identity of many of the most egregiously hypocritical cardinals confidential, but is unsparing about the dead.


The picture Martel draws is jaw-dropping. Many of the Vatican gays — especially the most homophobic — treat their vows of celibacy with an insouciant contempt. Martel argues that many of these cardinals and officials have lively sex lives, operate within a “don’t ask, don’t tell” culture, constantly hit on young men, hire prostitutes, throw chem-sex parties, and even pay for sex with church money. How do we know this? Because, astonishingly, they tell us.


So much of the information in the book comes from sources deep within the Holy See. Named and unnamed, they expose their fellow cardinals and bishops and nuncios as hypocrites, without perhaps realizing that their very targets are doing the same to them. Martel didn’t expect this remarkable candor, or, clearly, what he was about to see: “Whether they are ‘practising’, ‘homophile’, ‘initiates’, ‘unstraights’, ‘wordly’, ‘versatile’, ‘questioning’, or simply ‘in the closet’, the world I am discovering, with its 50 shades of gay, is beyond comprehension.”



“Food for Thought” by Tom Gauld



To be continued. . .