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Self-help and personal development can be dangerous. Just ask Elizabeth.

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MonteLukast Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-29-10 02:34 PM
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Self-help and personal development can be dangerous. Just ask Elizabeth.
When I first heard Hunter's pronouncements that "His wife is holding him back from reaching his full potential", and other things that sounded straight out of a Tony Robbins book, my attention was piqued.
What role could the influence of a person talking like a life coach, have in JRE's suddenly behaving in ways he never in his life had before?

A pretty good one, as it turns out. A single-minded focus on "personal development", and its attendant narcissism and blindness to one's effect on others, is one of the biggest reasons for rapid and dramatic personality change.

John Edwards could have been the poster boy for personal-growth seminars. He truly was living a life of "harmonic wealth" as described by James Arthur Ray: he was abundant in all five types of wealth: financial, physical, relational, mental and spiritual. He possessed, in spades, perhaps the most sought-after goal of the seminar attendee: charisma; which is also one of the biggest promises of the self-help movement: to cultivate this elusive quality in you, if only you pay for their methods.

And as a man with ambitions to the highest office in the land, it would make sense that he would want even more abundance and advantages. He may have wanted, in other words, personal development.

And our society would have happily cheered him on, enamored as it was (at the time) of The Secret and desperate for some positive magical thinking to take our minds off the economic raping we suffered at the hands of Bush.

But personal development has an interesting side effect... the over-cultivation of ego and the undermining of relationships... "Recovering a healthy sense of self entailed forsaking your excessive or unhealthy concern for others".
Also, the subject frequently experiences a blindness to the effects his actions have on other people, and a disregard for feedback from others. Sound familiar?

And Edwards wouldn't have been the first person to undergo a change for the worse, as a result of personal growth gone wrong:

Rebekah Lawrence, after attending the Turning Point seminar, has a "psychotic episode" and kills herself though she had no history of mental illness;

Lesley Grogan adopts the trainings of Marianne Williamson ("A Return to Love") and becomes so confused about her identity that she uproots her life and abandons her family;

Michael Scinto attends the ManKind Project's New Warrior Training Adventure and becomes so appalled by the sexualized peer pressure and psychological abuse that he kills himself;

The man in the first link, "Gerry", starts innocently enough on a few Jack Canfield seminars, but when he goes to Fiji and meets Catherina Rodrigues of Think Love, he starts a long, drawn-out process of abandoning his old life and family... and Rodrigues abandons her husband and child too;

And, of course, the three people who died and the 20+ people injured in James Ray's Sedona sweat lodge last October.
And there are many others.

The "breaking point" for the Edwardses happened when John complained about Elizabeth checking on his phone calls and whereabouts. They apparently both decided if she couldn't trust him, they shouldn't live together.

He was too dense to realize that her checking up on him was just as much to PROTECT him as any reason having to do with trust. I think she knows that Hunter is a dangerous person who should have absolutely no contact with her family. You'll notice that her visit to baby Quinn was heavily mediated, in a public place, and with no sign of RH. Exactly how you're supposed to handle child visitation when the other parent is a sociopath.

She checked up on him because she LOVES him, and wants to protect not just their kids, but HIM from a person she knows to be dangerous and sociopathic... and his reaction is very discouraging to me; it suggests he's he still has not fully caught on. And she can't afford to be with him until he does.

I will close out with some of the responses to the Gerry/Think Love story, which make me think of Elizabeth and everybody else who makes up the collateral damage from someone's unilateral self-help project:

Paranoia, fear, anger, alienation, loss of identity, embarrassment, sleepless nights - and tons of unanswered questions - these are just a few of the rewards of having your life torn apart by outsiders acting on the people you love, trust, and depend on. ... There just aren't too many other emotions open to you when you've been betrayed so deeply.

... None of the main drivers in these stories have shown any respect for the most basic boundaries that make family life, or even society, possible. They're incapable of any concern for the fact that their significant others are concerned about them - turning any concern into a maddening joke.

... What has the cost been of all this "love" and "healing"? When you add up... the people who are suffering over the loss of a loved one, any sense of a cohesive family, and the loss of trust in how the world works - how much collateral damage are we talking about here?

... How many of these people - especially the kids - will learn to never trust another human being? Never to marry? How many will learn that the highest ambition one can shoot for is to become ruthless in protecting yourself - especially against anyone holding vague notions about "spiritual awareness", "enlightenment", or "empowerment"? How many will assume this is the way of the world - and start deceiving and hurting others - as a way to get ahead?
--"S.H.A.M. Scam Sam"

There is a peculiar type of...well, evil...with {the self-help movement} -- particularly in its pop-spirituality guises.

So many of these pop-spiritual gurus claim to take their ideas from those of the great spiritual traditions such as Buddhism. They speak of love, and yet the "love" they practice is that of the most narcissistic sort. Maybe in the larger scheme of things, "evil" is too strong a term to use for these people. But for the folks who have been directly and indirectly harmed, "evil" seems to be the best description.
--"Cosmic Connie"

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