Archive for the 'Narcissism' Category

Dec 09 2014

A Review: Clearing the Path: Opening the Spiritual Frontier by Dr. Robert Mark

Summary: Dr. Mark gets an A+ for writing an interesting narrative of his personal and professional development. However, a diminished grade for encouraging people to dispense with their critical thinking to entertain the possibility of higher powers and alternative realities. Discouraging a belief in science is a surprising part of this book and therapists especially should not take this advice seriously, lest they begin to practice unethically.
My acknowledgement: I was involved in Dr. Mark’s men’s program and have insights about him and his work. Perhaps there is no good ending in a relationship with people or organizations. This was true for me, so any negative views I express may be colored by my ending experiences.

I was very curious about this book when I learned it had been written and recently had a chance to read it. I surprisingly enjoyed it, as an autobiographical account of the author’s development as a human being and professional therapist. In person, Dr. Mark is both impressive and charismatic.

As the depth of his book demonstrates, he’s intelligent and highly skilled as a therapist. You can tell he has an ease and comfort with traditional forms of therapy and having seen him in action, I can confirm he is an exceptional agent of change in people’s lives.

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Feb 05 2013

“Personal Growth Weekends”, Cults, and How They Use Recruitment as a Strategy for Survival and Profit

Cults…I talk a lot about the Yearning for Zion Ranch (YFZ Ranch) and the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS), but what are some of the characteristics of a cult?

Keeping it simple, it’s an organization of narcissistically driven (usually) men who use a variety of methods to manipulate and exploit vulnerable people.

Here are the essential characteristics of a cult:

  • mind control…use of bizarre religious or secular ideas to enforce the obedience of followers
  • emotional disclosure…participants are encouraged to disclose private, emotionally important information…while the leaders do not share emotional information with the larger group
  • recruitment…participants are encouraged/expected to go out and recruit others to join the cult organization using deceptive and manipulative tactics
  • restriction from all outside ideas and influences ( no radio, television, computer/internet, newspapers)
  • claims that the outside world is evil and will lead to the death or damnation of anyone who betrays the cult
  • participants are manipulated to believe that they can not survive without all the cult offers them
  • participants may also be physically and sexually abused, in addition to the pervasive emotional abuse
  • intimidation by threatening to harm others or animals, especially pets, like a pet white rat, a rabbit, puppy or kitten
  • leaders are a few men who directly benefit from the cult by abuse, manipulation, threat of harm, sexual control of women and intricate financial arrangements
  • methods during the activities include various rituals, guided imagery, psychodrama, native american spirituality, sweat lodges, and over-simplified and out of context psychological ideas
  • key to all these experiences is the claim they can “change your life”
  • marketing literature will often claim the programs are based on science, but they don’t mean research. These claims are often followed by non researched based psychological ideas, such as those of Carl Jung (the shadow and persona in personality archetypes)
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Jan 08 2013

A Son Dies: Exploring the Personal Impact of Rick Warren’s Hostility to LGBT’s

One hears “where there’s smoke there’s fire” a lot when evaluating the religious leaders who stridently oppose LGBT rights, especially marriage equality.

These men seem to crave the attention of both their congregations and media. They are on tv, radio, and often run for the presidency of the United States.

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Nov 20 2011

Damage of Secrets: Research Shows Secrets Clang (my word) Around Inside Our Brains

How do you spell relief? D-I-S-C-L-O-S-U-R-E

Therapists and clients alike understand the relief provided by the disclosure of sad, angry, fearful memories. Therapy is a place where people should feel safe enough to disclose anything they choose, significant or insignificant.

In dysfunctional families or organizations, people are often exposed to behavior which shocks
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Nov 13 2011

Penn State and the Catholic Church

Examining the religious right wing activism defending catholic clergy sex abusers and the response of the church, it’s pretty easy to understand why Joe Paterno didn’t do anything to protect the children being raped by Jerry Sandusky.

He’s Joe Paterno and probably feels entitled to do whatever he wants, just like Bill Donohue, Bishop Finn of Kansas City, the catholic pope, and the entire catholic church hierarchy.
Bill Donohue, Executive Director of Catholic League Center for Religious and Civil Rights,

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Nov 01 2011

Setting the record straight

Addendum: There is an almost completely new Victories Board which has corrected some of my concerns, so this should be read as an historical document from 2011. You can read my update on positive Victory changes here.
Here are important ethical and program related questions for the VOH Board to explore:

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Apr 20 2011

The Similarity Between the Modern Catholic Clergy Sex Abuse Scandal and the prior 2,000 Year History of the Catholic Church: Recovered Memory Series VIII

A key question in the recovered memory debate is whether it’s possible for someone to forget traumatic abuse and then remember it later, sometimes decades later.

If you want to move ahead and study some of the research validating this forgetting and remembering process, go to the following websites:

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Apr 16 2011

1984 Conviction of Pedophile Catholic Priest Gilbert Gauthe in Luisiana: Recovered Memory Series II

The 1984 arrest and later conviction of Gilbert Gauthe (seen middle, in the picture on the left) of 37 counts child sexual abuse is widely understood as the beginning of what we know now as the modern sexual abuse scandal of the Catholic Church.

Joseph Saunders, a lawyer in Louisiana who followed the Gauthe case, has written extensively about sex abuse, the law, and the role of the Catholic church.

Saunders states on his blog:

“Gilbert Gauthe was a popular young priest who groomed his prey by getting close to the family. He sought those young boys who had no father figure, whose mothers looked up to

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Nov 01 2010

2010 Victories of the Heart Shadow Weekend: Not Recommended as Currently Advertised

Writers note: I have been informed the Shadow weekend has been redesigned and is a good experience for participants. There also are testimonials from participants who write about their positive experiences at the weekend. I trust the men who tell me about the improved program. I am keeping the post below as part of the history of my writing about the Shadow weekend from 2010. (September 2016)

From the original 2010 post:
As the lack of information on it’s website indicates, the Victories of the Heart Shadow Weekend remains shrouded in the darkness it’s (“powerful advanced weekend”) hype claims to illuminate.

Therefore, I do not recommend the Shadow Weekend program to any men or mental health professionals.

The Mankind Project’s New Warrior Adventure Weekend offers a better organized and more complete weekend helping men explore deeper aspects of themselves.

The Warrior Weekend includes a structured follow-up group to help men further explore and integrate their weekend experience. The leaders of this integration group are trained, certified, and follow specific program protocols.

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Jun 19 2010

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