Universal Medicine is resorting to falsely defaming critics as mentally ill cyber-bullies and deriding the world’s foremost authorities to convince themselves they’re not a cult.
Anything to avoid answering our questions.
So do they fit the definitions of a cult?
And what would Alison Greig know?
On UM’s defamatory ‘facts’ site, Alison Greig trashes the scholarship of US Psychiatrist, R. J. Lifton and psychologist, Margaret Thaler Singer by drawing on politicized criticism of the ‘American anti-cult movement’. She describes their psychological theories as ‘unscientific’ and Singer’s documented work as a clinical psychologist assisting in the rehabilitation of thousands of cult survivors as ‘fiction’. . This in defence of Serge Benhayon, a man who has called reincarnation and numerology sciences and told us The Horse, Elephant, Eagle, and Cat for example, will evolve to a Dog, Dolphin or Whale. In expounding her theory on the ‘myth’ of brainwashing – a term Lifton regarded as erroneous, Greig wants to believe cults and their victims don’t exist. She draws on academia when she ‘feels to’, but shuns rationality the rest of the time.
When you read [Esther’s] blogs be aware that they are configured energetically and are intended to place seeds of doubt in your body that are not necessarily obvious when you read but can come up later on – be present as you read it and remember that reaction to the material only feeds it.
Personally I sit on a healing symbol and also have one under my computer!
(Password protected ‘Debasing Evil’ website, February 21, 2014)
Ironically, Margaret Thaler Singer was the scholar in house psychologist Brendan Mooney drew upon to argue UM isn’t a cult. Meanwhile, criticism from the anti-‘anti-cult movement’ comes from University fixtures in sociology departments who never deal clinically with those adversely affected. The works of Lifton and Singer remain the mainstay for therapists and organizations working in the field of cult recovery, and Lifton is still regarded as the world’s foremost authority on totalistic and extremist psychology, and cults. If their works had been ‘thoroughly discredited’ as she claims, they would no longer be widely cited and employed in clinical settings worldwide.
Lifton’s cult definitions
Lifton wrote on Aum Shinrikyo and other groups, and defined a cult by three characteristics;
1) totalistic thinking or thought reform practices
Thought reform or mind control is
the process by which individual or collective freedom of choice and action is compromised by agents or agencies that modify or distort perception, motivation, affect, cognition and/or behavioral outcomes. It is neither magical nor mystical, but a process that involves a set of basic social psychological principles. (Zimbardo, P., “Mind Control: Psychological Reality or Mindless Rhetoric?”. Monitor on Psychology. November 2002)
One of the methods Benhayon uses to modify perception and behaviour among followers is trance induction. The techniques are used in healing sessions, workshops and during lectures to induce hyper-suggestibility wherein Benhayon introduces his erratic philosophy. In the hands on healing practices I took part in, participants were instructed to empty their minds and were bought to states of physical and emotional catharsis which Benhayon framed as clearing trauma from past lives, or clearing of supernatural entities – implanting lurid descriptions while participants were in suggestible states.
Other mind control techniques include listening to Benhayon’s audio lectures for an hour or more per day. Followers commonly listen to the same lecture thirty times, preceded by a meditation session, and reinforce the conditioning via repeat readings of Benhayon’s confusional literature. Students are taught feeling is superior to thinking, but feeling must be without emotion. Suggestible trance states are maintained by students repressing mental and emotional function to focus wholly on bodily sensations. They engage in obsessive ritualistic behaviours around food preparation, physical activity, meditation and grooming. Followers are constantly endeavouring to clear their bodies of invasive ‘pranic’ energies and discarnate ‘entities’, and subject themselves to frequent hands on healing sessions.
The result of saturating their daily lives with UM centric activity is impeded social functioning and limitation of critical thought. UM followers develop difficulties in their relationships with non UMers and are drawn further into the group through their sense of ‘connectedness’ with others behaving in a similarly stunted fashion. Isolation of recruits is reinforced with teachings that non adherents carry disease causing energy and are holding them back from their ‘glory’.
Debate, questioning and deviation from the group line is not tolerated.
2) worship of a person or guru supercedes worship of spiritual principles
Serge Benhayon is idealized as the incarnation of a supernatural ‘Ascended Master of the hierarchy’ and the only human being to have achieved the highest level of ‘initiation’ on earth. He is regarded as source of the ‘One Unified Truth’, however his philosophy is a disorganized collection of ideas drawn from a variety of beliefs and populated with extra-terrestrials and supernatural enemies.
Universal Medicine operates nine websites promoting Benhayon, his multi million dollar business and his Way of the Livingness religion. Three propaganda blogs are named after Benhayon. The sites only allow comments which promote UM. The group’s publicity omits the more outlandish and controversial aspects of his teachings, and when questioned, UM followers are unable to provide reasonable explanations of his philosophy.
Followers blindly defend Benhayon’s record of dishonesty and inappropriate behaviours insisting on his ‘integrity’ and attempting to intimidate and censor critics.
3) a combination of spiritual quest from below and exploitation, usually economic or sexual, from above
UM customers are attracted by the promise of health benefits. Those susceptible to the insidious indoctrination believe they can attain elevated status on Benhayon’s initiation scale, rewarding them with less illness and misfortune and an improved reincarnation. Followers commit to ‘the work’ believing they will someday ‘get there’, however Benhayon constantly shifts the goal posts and upbraids students for their inadequacies. There are no reports of anyone being successfully cleared of evil energies, however followers persist with the austerities believing those who fail to commit to the Esoteric path will be ‘cleansed’ with disease, raped by entities and will damage the future reincarnation prospects for themselves and their families.
When the desired health and other benefits are not forthcoming, followers tell themselves it’s because they’re not committed enough. They continue to spend money on UM, attending events repeatedly and subscribing to indefinite ‘healings’ to cleanse themselves of negative energy and entities accumulated over thousands of years of lifetimes. Apart from instilling a dependency on UM products and services, the enterprise maximises followers’ expenditure by providing numerous points of sale and regularly rebranding the same products. Credit is extended to followers who can’t afford the workshops, and many do unpaid work promoting the group, selling the products and volunteering at cult events.
Followers also donate to UM charities with the belief that doing so will benefit their health. They’re told leaving bequests to loved ones who are non subscribers will harm the future reincarnations of all concerned.
Benhayon dominates the sex lives of followers. His teachings that sex is ‘energetic rape’ and his trauma triggering rants about sexual violence induces sexual dysfunction. Restrictions on emotion and prohibition of a list of sexual acts or forms of expression limit followers’ capacity for intimate engagement and erode relationships, particularly between cult members and non subscribers. Subsequent divorces free up funds from property settlements for donation to the UM charities or for expenditure on UM products. Benhayon also matchmakes among followers, assigning and reassigning partners. Followers with little compatibility or interest in each other commonly form partnerships after Benhayon has told them they have a ‘connection’, usually from a past life.
The Universal Medicine cult’s exploitations are comprehensive. Diet and exercise prohibitions compromise the health of followers, making them more susceptible to exploitation. UM’s beliefs erode followers’ enjoyment of life, their personal autonomy, their finances, their health, their relationships and their spirituality.
Those in recovery experience feelings of isolation, desolation and loss of faith in humanity when they realize how comprehensively they’ve been exploited.
So is Universal Medicine a cult?
I’m given no reason to think they’re not. Their recent harassment and defamation of me has reinforced that view.