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How to Heal the Trauma?

May 15, 2010
Browsing through the different blogs exposing the Bad Gurus, it is striking how so many of the stories are quite similar. The same mechanisms seem to be working, regardless of the length of the Guru’s beard. The following is found on this blog about Andrew Cohen. Read it and see if you recognize somthing from your own experience in AOL…i did.

What is the experience of the student or disciple of the guru if that guru has been abusive or if the guru is a narcissist? This question is often quite confusing for the ex-disciple for they tend all to often to protect the “good” that they experienced while in the guru’s group.

It seems clear, however, that without some degree of trauma and abuse most if not all former disciples would have remained in their former spiritual groups.

A real return to emotional and spiritual health requires that one face into all the implications of the cult experience. Prior to leaving the group, one no doubt was fed propaganda claiming that leavers are losers, that life will cease to have any meaning once you walk out the door, and that guilt for this sin will never leave you. Clearly that is a load of bs – but it all too often works, and it is the first layer that needs to be removed on the road to recovery. This is very difficult for most of us to do. Many will offer sympathy, but few councilors, psychologists, spiritual advisors or even friends can fully understand what is taking place inside the leaver. One must make a personal mission of peeling back the layers of the cultic conditioning and by degrees allowing light back in. This is difficult and can take years to complete, but the result is having your own life back, with the added understanding and clarity of having deeply pondered this experience.

Here is what one expert on healing trauma says about the challenges facing the leaver:

“Many trauma suffers live in a state of resignation regarding their symptoms without ever attempting to find a way back to a more normal healthy life. Denial and amnesia play an important role in reinforcing this resigned state. Though we may be tempted to judge or criticize people who deny that they have been traumatized, claiming that nothing really happened, it is important to remember that this (in itself) is a symptom. Denial and amnesia are not volitional choices that the person makes, they do not indicate weakness of character, personality dysfunction, or deliberate dishonesty. This dysfunctional pathway becomes patterned in our physiology. At the time of a traumatic event, denial helps preserve the ability to function and survive. However when chronic, denial becomes a maladaptive symptom of trauma.
Reversing the effects of either denial or amnesia takes a great deal of courage. The amount of energy that is released when this happens can be tremendous and should not be minimized or underestimated, it is a time of great significance for the traumatized person.”
– Peter Levine, Waking the Tiger, p. 165

  1. Anonymous permalink
    May 17, 2010 3:07 pm

    Too many Bad Gurus out there. Any good ones?

  2. WhistleBlower permalink
    May 17, 2010 10:26 pm

    Dear Skywalker,
    Thanks for this lovely & insightful post. Many of us who have been deceived by RS & AOL, in our journey of understanding, healing and recovery, have studied this “guru” phenomenon. Like you, I was also astounded by the similarity between RS & all the other fake gurus. The methods of enslaving & trapping devotees are so similar that one wonders if they all have got their training in the same “How to become a fake Guru” school!
    I will send you separately an article I am writing for your blog under the heading of “Original Sin in AOL & the final Salvation”, explaining from my personal perspective , gained through my own personal experience with AOL & my observations of AOL/RS, how this trapping was done in AOL.
    But reading your post, I was moved to write & say that I have also been amazed at the similarity of all “bad guru” stories. When I read some of the abuses in other cults, I don’t know whether I should laugh or cry. Yes, one can laugh at the stupidity of Andrew Cohen devotees, listening to his mad ideas such as submerging in freezing waters to the degree of hospitalisation or Kalki/Amma Bhagavan’s
    devotees (of oneness Deeksha fame), taking the drugs their guru gave them to make them act silly & then sat there & laughed at them, as if it was all done for his personal entertainment, etc, etc.
    Whereas once I could have easily laughed at these incidents & wondered at intelligence level of anyone falling for these false gurus, now, having been through AOL cult, I have a better understanding & more compassion for those who are deceived. Indeed, I feel all other gurus should come and take a lesson from Sri Sri Ravi Shankar & see his methods of abuse & trapping, so ever subtle , so ever insidious, so cunning. And not so obvious like drugging people or getting them in frozen lakes! Those gurus can truly take a lesson or two from RS re how to trap people without them even knowing, how to torture their souls & minds, without leaving a physical scar!
    On the other hand, anyone who has freed themselves from AOL cult & all its subtle manipulations has got all the insights, skills & wisdom needed to stay away from any false guru & recognize any such guru from distance of miles away!

  3. May 17, 2010 11:37 pm

    Hi Skywalker,
    I appreciated your post which includes and the thoughts about the universality of abusive techniques among corrupt gurus.

    I am a former long time student of Andrew Cohen’s and have written a book about my experiences entitled “American Guru”.

    I have posted an excerpt from your article an linked it on my site:

    Best wishes,
    William Yenner

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