If This Has Happened To YouBluejay Young, Astraea system
Members of Amorpha system provided help in writing this article. They independently confirmed the existence of these behavior patterns by describing their own experiences. In the following article, I talk about multiple personalities and a few other controversial subjects. If you don't believe in such things that is your choice; it's a subjective experience, something which cannot be proved. Write me a letter if you don't understand, or if you need more information about any part of this article. (If you went through these experiences because you were multiple -- or were subjected to them by someone who was or claimed to be multiple -- read this, and then read Multi-Specific Abuse by Rogan of L.B. Lee system.
In the following article, I talk about multiple personalities and a few other controversial subjects. If you don't believe in such things that is your choice; it's a subjective experience, something which cannot be proved. Write me a letter if you don't understand, or if you need more information about any part of this article. (If you went through these experiences because you were multiple -- or were subjected to them by someone who was or claimed to be multiple -- read this, and then read Multi-Specific Abuse by Rogan of L.B. Lee system.
There is a behavior pattern which can be found in many situations in everyday life -- religion, business, school, creative arts. It is a kind of toxic manipulation, and the people who do it are sometimes called malignant narcissists or charismatic manipulators. These are individuals, and organizations led by individuals, who use others for their own purposes, attracting followers to what is popularly known as a cult mentality. Even when there is no cult or religion involved. And, yes, there is such a thing as a cult of one person -- it especially happens in families.
They will use any goal-directed activity or purpose -- from religious devotion or self-improvement to belief in Positive Thinking, channeling, magic, soulbonds, otherkin or people with multiple personalities, or completely ordinary activities. It can be a perfectly normal business or charitable organization, a theatrical group, political activist organization (more here), restaurant, newspaper, even a rock band. It might have already been established for decades, until one member begins actively taking control and taking things in a new direction. These goal-directed activities then become smoke screens -- red herrings leading away from the real issue, which is control of you, your choices, your person.
Some mental health professionals did cult-like manipulation with clients who had multiple personalities in the 90s. They also convinced some non-multiple clients that they were multiple -- leading to the False Memory Syndrome debacle. People took advantage of this, saying it "proved" multiple personality and claims of child abuse weren't real. They had a field day discrediting providers of genuine help to authentic multiples along with victims/survivors in general.
But false memories are something that can happen to anyone, with NO therapist involved. If you are a victim/survivor of abuse, ESPECIALLY if you are multiple, or know someone who is, or if you have ever been blamed for 'attracting' or 'causing' someone to behave in a manipulative, controlling way, please read this.
This kind of thing does happen, as a matter of fact it happens a lot. And if it has happened to you, it is important for you to know that it is not your fault, and you are not alone. You are NOT stupid, weak, or a loser. There is a misconception that only immature, gullible or desperate people get lured into cults. Not true. These groups actively seek out new members, often from among the most successful, stable individuals. They look for you.
I and my inner "family" were subjected to it over twenty years ago -- taken advantage of by people who were not therapists or professionals -- just average (albeit charismatic) people. It still affects our lives.
Remember, this can happen in any field. Doesn't matter what. That's why this isn't a warning to watch out for soulbonders, multiples, otherkin, psychics, cosplayers, gamers, small (or not-so-small) religions, or fans of anime, Star Trek or rock stars. It is not a warning about New Age channels (although several of the big-name ones -- among them, Lazaris, Clare Prophet, and Ramtha -- are confirmed by ex-members to do this.
It is a warning to watch out for this kind of behavior whoever exhibits it and wherever it may occur. It can and has happened in what seem to be normal, ordinary Christian churches. It is just as likely to turn up disguised as motivational seminars for business -- also known as human potential or large group awareness training. (More here.) You might find it in encounter groups or other forms of therapy, or just about anything else, including between friends, and within families.
The key is seeming approval, and promises or a contract that is made, or an invitation, followed by withdrawal of approval and -- above all -- gradually increasing demands on your time, energy and/or money.. The motivation is always some kind of promise, of something that will improve your life, or be helpful to you (or your loved ones) in some way.
In all that I'm about to say here, I'll use an individual example, and I'll say "she" but there are plenty of men who do this too. All this applies to individuals and groups (a good general example might be the Landmark Forum (Landmark Education), or the I AM activity and Clare Prophet's group). Not everything I say will apply to each and every situation -- there are many variations.
What To Watch For:She tells you she's Special. She tells you you're Special, too. Gifted. She's the only one who could understand you. The one who has the answers to why you always felt different, left out or just something a little bit off in your life. She might give you a new name and identity. You knew each other in a past life. You have great talents you didn't know about, but she can help you work on them. Then you can work with her to help people that are in trouble. She knows lots of things about you that you didn't know yourself. Flattery is always part of it. Maybe she invites you to move in with her for a few weeks/months. She can help you find a job and you can work on your novel. Or she invites herself to move in with you.
First she's all affectionate and friendly toward you but then as time goes on she becomes cold and demanding of your time and especially $. (If she's living with you, she might have lied about being able to pay her share.) What appear at first to be unconditional love and respect become very conditional. For instance, she may insist that you behave according to the identity she has assigned you. She may tell you this is all for your own good. Or she may ask you to buy her things -- little things, at least at first.
Watch out for the 3 a.m. phone calls. Watch out for any feeling you have that says "this is beginning to feel like too much" and she insists it's all part of "friendship", or of your "training". Watch out for messages that there are terrible things going on and you can help save the world... or even save or help one other person. Even if you love that person.
Watch out for Constant Crisis. Watch out for abusive criticism. Watch out for double binds, like telling you you have to have more self-esteem and then when you do they slap you down for arrogance. Watch out for feeling coerced to tell deeply personal things or secrets about yourself -- things that you have never told anyone. Watch out for demands that you quit your job, that your loved ones aren't important, and that it's vital for you to move in with your "real friends" (or they with you) immediately.
Oh, yes, "we're your only real friends.." "I'm your only real friend..."
Watch out for trance logic, which is a kind of extreme departure from everyday reality and a demand that you suspend your critical judgement, accepting only what you are told no matter how unreasonable it may seem. (President Bush used trance logic a lot -- for instance, "mission accomplished".) Many things that are said or done "in context" are actually a part of trance logic. Watch out for crediting events -- be they an unexpected raise at work or a flat tire -- to magic or ESP or "positive thinking" when you know that what happened is simply an ordinary event. You do not have to be hypnotized to be affected by trance logic.
Watch out for sleep deprivation. If you've been up for thirty-six hours praying, saving the universe, trying to "get through", or seeing a 'friend' through a crisis, it will be harder to make rational decisions about other things. When you are not getting enough sleep you are much more susceptible to trance logic, and simply not thinking straight, and it becomes easier for other people to manipulate your emotions.
Watch out for being asked to do things that you know are self-damaging. Watch out for shaming. Sessions where they sit you down and tell you exactly what's wrong with you and what you have to do to "improve". Or where they ask you to blame and criticize yourself. You may be told that you need to be "broken down to be built back up".
Your natural feelings of being scared, disturbed, anxious or feeling that this just isn't right -- they tell you those feelings are always your fault, caused by weakness or failure of character on your part. You misunderstood, or you just don't get it. Or it's because of entities -- something evil in the spirit world -- if that's part of the group dogma. It will always be put in terms of you having the problem. There couldn't be anything wrong with what is happening. It's never because you might actually have a legitimate reason to feel that way.
These reactions and feelings are part of your natural sense of self-protection and preservation of life, telling you to leave. Listen to these feelings. Never believe anyone who tells you that sense of self-preservation means you are too scared to face the truth about yourself -- or that you are blocking, defensive, or any of the other things they might say to shame you into going along with their program for your "improvement." Even if it's in a program that has legit features or has worked for others, these feelings indicate that it is not going to work for you no matter how much you try.
You might keep thinking that if you just try hard enough -- if you change your behavior to be the way she wants it to be, if you work hard at the tasks she sets you, if you act, speak, think just the way she wants, that the "good" person -- the one you knew at first, your friend, will come back. You think everything will be fine if you can just hang on through the rough times. And occasionally you may see flashes of that "good" person, and think you're on the right track. The worst thing is when you see her showing that good, kind, loving attitude towards others, and you think they "deserve" it more than you do. The truth is, that "good" person is a mask. It's a trap, designed to lure people in. The "good" person you knew is not coming back, because she never existed. That's the toughest part of all. The good news is it's not your fault; you didn't do anything to make her stop being kind to you. She stopped because she started showing you who she really is and what the group (or method or whatever) is really about.
Such situations are generally centered around one person. There may be a group involved, several of whom may be manipulative to some degree, but there's always one person who's the focus of it all; without that person, it would all fall apart. Everything revolves around this person; whether or not she is happy or miserable, has what she needs or wants, is being served properly by other people. Everything is done with the idea of keeping her happy, healthy and stable while she works on her book, or her art, music, whatever. There will be many rules to support this, any breach of which is a personal attack on her. Lights out, absolute silence during certain hours. Etc.
She may expect others to do all the routine house tasks such as cooking and cleaning, or she may put great energy into doing them efficiently herself, showing that she is capable of exerting herself a GREAT deal more than you are, so that your efforts seem trivial by comparison.
This person often has some kind of backup -- assistant, secretary, partner, or just a friend. This friend is the loyal adherent and confidante for whom the method, whatever it is, is working. They credit this person for helping them from drugs, alcohol, suicide, depression, abusive family, etc. If it worked for her, it can work for you. All you have to do is break down those silly boundaries of yours. She may be kind of a counterpoint - if the leader is brash and loud, maybe the friend has a quiet, reserved manner. The friend may be kind of a mini-copy of the leader, or act as an enforcer. Or she might be truly just a friend -- the leader talks openly, laughs and relates warmly to her in front of you -- the way you wish she still was with you.
A bit more about enforcers. Often the actual leader seems to be a quiet, gentle spirit who keeps to herself a lot, while her assistants are the ones who discipline the unruly, conducting the criticism sessions. In some groups (even where it's supposed to be very spiritual), you get the shit beaten out of you. Believe this: the leader knows all about this and condones, approves, orders it to happen.
Often there is a sexual focus; the people in these groups may be more than just friends. The leader might demand intimacy as the price of his or her favor (Men are not the only ones who do this, by any means!). There may also be a certain degree of physical intimidation - and again, men aren't the only ones who do this. Or they might require celibacy and talk about how important it is to "lift up" those feelings. Count on it: behind the scenes, those people, the ones who say they're beyond all that, are having sex, and if you catch them at it, they will have some rationale.
This person will frequently brag about how good they are at everything (regardless of whether or not they're that good at it), lie or exaggerate about their accomplishments, and/or claim to have abilities or knowledge no one else in the group has, which entitle them to call the shots or judge things more accurately. Often there's a subtle or obvious message that if you devote your lives to them, they can teach you to do these things too, or be as good at them as this person is. And she, or he, is the only one who knows the right way to teach you these things.
No matter how good you get at anything, though, the leader will keep upping the ante -- as soon as you can do something too, it becomes "oh, big deal" and they'll come out with some new story about an amazing ability they never revealed they had before. Interestingly, often these abilities are ones they can't reliably demonstrate or replicate, or things that can be easily faked.
The one ability they are likely to really have is cold reading -- the skill of reading people from body language, tone of voice, breath patterns, eye reflexes, etc. This can seem like psychic sensitivity when it isn't. Or they may have picked up some sleight-of-hand parlor tricks and are passing them off as psychic powers.
People who do these things portray themselves as achievers, as winners -- but they are not. They are losers, despite all the accomplishments and money they may have. They are leeches, sucking minds, bodies, money and souls into their vortex.
There are people who just have high self-esteem and talk about their accomplishments as a routine thing, tell you that you can achieve wonderful things too, and it's only an attitude -- they are not trying to get you. All I can say is that it's a feeling, it's a pattern, and the minute you sense anything wrong, disconnect from those people and don't answer the phone. If you have ever been in such a situation, you will most likely recognize it in the future.
To the people that have had this happen. To the people for whom it's happening now. I want for you to know that YOU ARE NOT ALONE. Often, people in this situation think nobody would believe them, or that everybody else thinks this man or woman or organization is nice and would never do a nasty thing. Or you read what I've written above, there, and say "oh yes, but that doesn't apply to my situation." It's vital that you know you are not the only one who has been through such a situation; it is vital that you know this does not mean you are stupid, weak, or a loser. It has happened to a lot of smart, realistic, successful people.
You are ALSO likely not the only one who is put off, frightened or disgusted by this person's actions. Others may simply be too afraid to say anything. It can seem like "everybody loves" them, and "who'd believe me?" Also, you may think "this doesn't apply to me" or "it's not that bad". She (or he, or the organization or church or whatever) may do some very kind, generous, helpful things -- there may be a lot of nice things about her (or him or them), but that does not mean your experience or feelings are wrong.
Many people are afraid to get away from a person or group like this -- particularly when psychic powers are part of their lexicon -- in case they really have powers and can do you harm. The chances are that they do NOT. If they did, they would not have to lure people in and take their time, money and energy in such a manipulative fashion. She does not have the power of life and death over you, even if she tells you very convincingly that she does. Even if she tells you things about yourself that you know or suspect to be correct, that does not mean she is right about everything and that you need to spend the rest of your life living with and working for her.
If you have reason to believe she does have any sort of magic or psychic powers, there are many things you can do to shield yourself in case she tries something. Since a lot of magic is psychological, find something she dislikes and carry it with you, or put it in your mental "shields" (think about it every time you think about her). If you are Catholic (or even if you're not) you might find the Michael Prayer helpful. But one sure way to stop anything such a person might throw at you from affecting you is simply not to believe that they have any powers. Even if magic is real, even if there is such a thing as ESP, it is unlikely that she has it. Again, if she did, she wouldn't have to do what she does to people. Real magic and psychic things do not involve manipulation, scare tactics, leeching off others' income or using the mental, emotional and physical energy of others to support his or her lifestyle.
For those who think they're safe because they are "not stupid", "never believed in magic", "outgrew their pagan phase in grade school", or think that only losers would get "suckered" into this type of situation: Do not necessarily assume you are "safe". This can happen to ANYONE. ANYONE! It happened to Neil Young when he sought help for his disabled son, not with a cult but with a respected institute for physical therapy! He and his wife became completely enslaved to "the program" because they were desperate -- even after it was clear there was no way it was ever going to work for their son. Another parent writes here about allowing "autism therapists" to abuse her son because she thought they knew what they were doing. This is classic. Please be careful whom you trust when you are in any kind of vulnerable situation
People can and do take over your life with emotional abuse, mental blackmail, and mind-control tactics with only perfectly 'everyday' events involved -- nothing to do with roleplaying, channeling, video games, anime, Wicca, tulpas, My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, being multiple, or cosplay or anything else 'unusual'. It so happens that a lot of ordinary abusive relationships start this way. It happens in families, too. The thing to watch out for is the behavior patterns -- increasingly unreasonable requests passed off as signs of love and friendship, double standards, everything revolving around one person's needs, requiring more and more of your time -- not any specific activity or belief system.
Remember, ultimately you are in control -- it may take some doing, but you can get away from her (or him, or them). Support groups exist for victims of certain organizations. Contact Wellspring Retreat if you think you are or have been in a cult: they specialize in counseling people to recover. Elizabeth Clare Prophet's son Sean has this blog and Erin Prophet also has a blog. Sometimes, reading pages or forums like these may be of support and help to you even if you were treated this way by an individual and not a group. Occasionally, you may find a support group among ex-friends of an individual who behaved this way. You may want to start one.
Most of all, talk about it. Information and knowledge are powerful. Things like this should be talked about openly so that others will recognize if someone is doing it to them.
A Word About Tarot Cards and Astrology
I have been reading tarot cards since I was barely out of junior high and I read professionally today. I have no psychic powers and am not involved in any kind of magickal system. I am told that my readings make sense, which is the highest praise I want. I believe it has to do with the symbolism of the tarot relating to common, everyday life experiences which everyone is likely to have.
If you are worried about a person who predicts dire things through tarot readings or claims to be able to tell you detailed things about past lives or psychic powers through the cards, you would do well to get a couple of books on tarot (I recommend the ones by Eden Grey but there are many others) and discover exactly what can and cannot be read with a tarot deck. ANYONE can read tarot; it does not require ESP or supernatural gifts of any kind. Everything I say here goes for astrology as well.
There is such a thing as a past life reading but it is for very general information like what your occupation might have been, and what was important to you at the time. You cannot use tarot cards or astrology to definitely determine that you were a particular person.
I have had several clients ask me if the card representing the outcome shows an unchangeable future. No tarot reading can predict future events that are inexorable, carved in stone or unchangeable. The future is changing constantly and cannot be predicted with any sort of consistency. What an outcome card does is show you what is likely (not certain!) to happen if you proceed on your present course. You still have control of your life.
Concerning Multiplicity, Otherkin and Fictives
I am a member of a multiple personality system, and there are fictive persons I'm proud to acknowledge as members of my group, sharing a body and life. (You wouldn't know any of them; they're not part of any show, book or film with a "fandom".) In writing this article, I feel that we owe it to ourselves, as well as to our friends from other times and places, to present ourselves as what we are, without pretense or covering. If you don't believe in multiplicity / plurality or fictive presences, that is your choice; it's our personal experience, something we can't prove.
I would be the first to agree that claiming to be these things is net-trendy at this time. People are gaining cultural permission from the internet that is impossible offline, to explore many more options, not just being multiple but gender/orientation issues, BDSM, career changes, investigating other religions.
Some self-described multiples you will meet online are probably just experimenting -- seeing if it is right for them. Others may be putting you on. However, many serious people experience multiplicity, fictive or historical presences, or (especially) being otherkin as completely real, often a very personal thing.
These are not spectator sports for the entertainment and adulation of others. They are not signs of intellectual, emotional, creative, or moral superiority. They are subjective experiences, exactly like a Christian's belief that "Jesus dwells in my heart", or the many people of all faiths who believe they have experienced miracles or had their prayers answered.
People in previous generations who felt their spirits were really animals or mythological beings had little they could do about it, other than to wish they were Indians. I once knew a white woman who was otherkin all her life without knowing that anyone else ever felt that way or that there was a name for it. It was a deeply personal experience to her, almost a holy thing, kept very much to herself. I think she was extremely wise. Confiding such things in others should be done with discretion. It is not something to be flaunted.
If you do choose to tell other people, it's tempting to add disclaimers, to pay lip service to the dominant culture; to say that you don't "take it too seriously" and that you "know you are insane". But if you really believe you are plural, otherkin or have a connection with fictive presences, try not to denigrate it, to be crude or flippant; that disrespects you, as well as the experience.
Bluejay Young, Astraea
"We spend much of our lives alone. Some cope with it better than others. The ones who don’t are primed and ready for victimhood. You have to learn to be with yourself, because if you don’t, there’s a whole world of ... rotten people who will be your friend until you’ve been sucked dry. Beware of what loneliness makes you do." - Somebody on metafilter
... sometimes, when someone realizes how much damage a person or system is doing to them, and breaks ties with them completely, they end up deciding that what happened to them only happened because of something specific to that hateable community, some belief or identity. "If I hadn't bought into this stupid idea, I wouldn't have gotten hurt." It seems to work on a similar principle to "If I hadn't been wearing those clothes on that night, I wouldn't have gotten raped." ...a kind of "I could have prevented this" self-loathing that turns into lashing out at everyone else who gets hurt the same way, for "being stupid and gullible."
When the truth is that they got hurt because the person who hurt them was an asshole. A manipulator, a user, an abusive person who was just generally dangerous to any community they hung around in. Or a system full of them, or a system with one person like this who happened to front most of the time. They could go into literally *any* community and use similar patterns to pull people close to them and hurt them. And saying "I got hurt because I fell for this stupid belief" actually puts you in more danger, because in pinning the blame on the belief or the identity, you miss the forest for the trees -- that abusers, manipulators, people who are toxic to any community they're in, use similar *patterns* to pull their victims close, or stir up shit. The justifications they use for it are just window dressing. - Amorpha, on TumblrIf you have been abused because you had multiple personalities, or were abused by someone who was multiple -- or claimed to be multiple -- read Multi-Specific Abuse by Rogan of L.B. Lee system.
See also A Small Sampling of Suspicious Behaviors in Alterhuman Spaces, talking specifically about abuse tactics in the otherkin community.
The following are suggested as tools for testing arguments and detecting fallacious or fraudulent arguments:
Robert Lifton's checklist for 'totalist' organizationsMilieu Control – restrict what communication modes are allowed.
Mystical Manipulation – appeal to some higher purpose, as set by the leader or organization.
The Demand for Purity – require purity of thinking, that is, with a black-and-white mentality where all our group thinks is absolutely correct.
The Cult of Confession – use a radical level of personal confession to unburden people from their crimes (real or imagined) against the organization.
The “Sacred Science” – promote our moral vision as ultimate: Our way of life is the only right one.
Loading the Language – create code words and insider jargon that reduces complex problems to simplistic solutions, and condenses categories into judgmental labels.
Doctrine Over Person – require people to conform to our perfect system of truth so that individuality is eradicated and sublime conformity is the sacred norm.
The Dispensing of Existence – exercise the “right” to decide who has the right to exist in public and who needs to be isolated or excommunicated.
More at Systemic Abuse Researcher Notes.
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