From tom@transcore.com Sun Jan 19 20:23:26 1997 Newsgroups: alt.self-improve Subject: alt.

self-improve FAQ (part 2) From: tom@transcore.com (Thomas Wong) Date: Sun, 19 Jan 1997 20:23:26 GMT 5. Physical - Baldness Cures and Consequences Does baldness need to be cured? The answer is up to you, if you're losing your hair. It depends on your self-concept, on how happy you are with the way you look now, and how happy you'll be with the way you will look once your pattern expands to its ultimate stage. You might get some hints on this by looking at pictures of your maternal grandfather in his later years; in any case, debates concerning the actual hereditary links of male-pattern baldness, while of scholarly interest, are mostly unhelpful to individuals and thus beyond the scope of this FAQ. Bald can be Beautiful. Star Trek's Captain Picard (Patrick Stewart) provides an excellent example of a person who, by a happy combination of personality and physiognomy, has managed to be handsome and quite sexy while still being bald. St. Anthony, while not sexy, was good looking too, despite his bald crown. Your case may be a different story. It all depends on how you want to look. Combing to cover. The solution, adopted by some, of combing hair over bald spots is probably counterproductive. In other words, the larger your spot, the better you might look if you just accepted its presence and had your hair styled so that the spot was not being hidden. Vitamins. Severe nutrient deficiencies and extreme stress will shock your body from head to foot. If the foods you eat contain neither inositol nor any B vitamins, you may die sooner than you ought to. But, sad to say, if you have an otherwise normal diet and start popping inositol and B vitamins, your hair will still fall out. Subliminal Suggestion Tapes and the Power of Mind. The person who made a tape designed to trick your mind into keeping hair on your head was full-cap bald when he produced the tape and is full-cap bald to this very day. Not even Krishna consciousness will help you grow hair. Do you have any idea of the number of bald swamis who have been sighted in Wyoming alone? Those who still dwell in the physical body are still bald. Ram Dass and Wayne Dyer, very wise bald sages both, have used their wisdom to talk themselves out of esteeming hair, needing hair, or wanting hair. In fact, many holy beings float so high that they realize that hair is the least of their or anyone else's needs, that it's just more material stuff destined to collect in a porcelain sink, another illusion trying to convince you it's real, just one more set of material attachments from which we all, eventually, seek liberation. And they're absolutely right. Serious Solutions. If you still don't believe that bald can be beautiful (on you) and if you have $$$, then here are some alternatives. (1) Timing is everything. The sooner you start taking some decisive action before your baldness pattern reaches its limits, the smoother your transition from a "balding" person to one with an apparently full head of hair will be.

This, of course, should be obvious. If your hair is just now starting to thin, very few people other than you and those very intimately involved with you will either notice or care if you start to make changes. If you make an abrupt transition, some people will ask you what you've done to your hair. (2) Spray-On Hair in a Can. Don't laugh. This stuff really works--but only if you just have a small spot to cover. Forget it if you don't have any hair that can be combed over your spot and still look natural; in that case, it will just look like you painted your head! Cost: $5.00 per can at some retail stores; $19.95 plus 4.95 shipping and handling (for a larger can) when sold on late-night infomercials. Several brands are available. The one called Instant Hair Plus is a good one. Advantage: If you just have a small spot, this stuff has you covered. Its odd texture somehow creates the appearance of full hair, but only when mixed with a sufficient amount of your own thinning hair. Disadvantage: The powder might come off on your pillow, shirt, and hands. Get used to ring-around-the-collar. The better types come off only when mixed with water and soap. You need to apply for spray every day, or after you wash your hair. Spray-on hair is hardly a long-lasting solution, only a stop-gap measure. Eventually, you won't have enough real hair to make it work. (3) Wigs. Hairpieces of various sizes, qualities, and shapes are rarely called wigs by companies like Hair Club For Men, Hairmakers, etc., but they're selling nothing other than wigs. They call their wigs "systems" or "pieces". Pick the euphemism you prefer. They sew--with a needle and thread--the hairpiece to your existing hair, which is first prepared by making a braid in your own hair along the sides. Other techniques involve attaching the piece to your braid by means of clips. The clips allow you to remove the piece whenever you desire; when the thing's sewn to your head, it's terribly difficult to get off without assistance, but in most cases you wouldn't want to do that anyway and so that doesn't create a problem. Cost: From $700 to $1500 for an initial hairpiece plus about $60 every 5 weeks for a haircut and servicing. If you can afford it, you should eventually get two pieces, so one can be worn while the other is being repaired every few months. Normal monthly servicing-with-haircut takes about an hour of concentrated effort from a specialized hairstylist, who therefore deserves at least a $10 tip. It is possible to get a hairpiece that not only covers your baldness but also makes you look great. You get used to having it on after a few weeks; then it almost seems normal. Practically no one will know you're wearing it, especially if you start before you really need one, and if you return regularly to have your piece serviced. Remember, most people don't think nearly as much about your appearance as you do. However, a wig is always a wig. It's not a part of you; it's a prosthesis of sorts. You grow, but it doesn't. Your natural hair replenishes itself. The hair on your piece will get old faster than you do, fade, and even fall out. From time to time, therefore, you will need to have your piece dyed professionally as part of your monthly servicing and to have lost hairs replaced strand by strand, or clump by clump ($25 or so). You should attend to these details meticulously every few months. There's nothing worse than a balding or faded wig! Some companies claim to permanently "cure" baldness by actually attaching what are no more than wigs or hairpieces to your scalp, not your existing hair. Cost: Whatever it is, it's a horrid waste of money. (4) Minoxidil (Rogaine). This product of the Upjohn company is widely advertised as the only approved cure for baldness. Cost: ? (a) Advantage: Scientific studies have proven that this drug works to restore growing hair for many people, especially those who start early and especially those with

loss only in the crown. Apply a bit twice a day, and eventually and slowly, hair comes back. (b) Disadvantage: Your hair grows back, but painfully slowly. If you stop using the drug, the hair falls out again. For many people the gains are not aesthetically significant. Sure, there's more hair or peach fuzz there, but you still look bald. The cost is relatively high, and you can never stop buying it. (5) Hair Transplants and Baldness Reduction Procedures. This is the ultimate solution. It is the only one that, when it works, works permanently, such that you don't need to do it again! There is nothing like your own growing, regenerating hair. Cost: $8,000 (for just a bald crown) to $40,000 (for full-cap bald). (a) Advantage: If you have the bucks to spend, well spend them here. A doctor will take hairs from the sides or back of your scalp and install them onto your bald or balding areas. These transplanted hairs are the ones with strict genetic instructions to stay with you until your last breath. No more hairpiece servicing, no more bottles of drugs or colored hairspray to buy, just your own hair. Sound good? Read on. (b) Disadvantage: The prices listed are actually rather realistic, if you're going to get pleasing results. You wouldn't need to spend all of that money all at once, however. Each procedure will cost from $900 to $2000. Your results will depend on the skill and caring of your surgeons. Experience counts a lot. And once you have all the hair you've ever wanted, read again that hair is an illusion like all the others. True, it's less of an illusion now that it's sprouting abundantly above your brain. But it's all just a bunch of material stuff, and none of it has much to do with who you really are. Or does it? Your body might be an illusion, but that doesn't mean it has to be an unsightly, dreadful illusion. Why not let your illusion touch your highest ideal, if that's what you truly want to do. - Body Work Bodywork uses physical movement and touch therapy to foster health and well-being. Many practitioners also incorporate a variety of medical, psychological, and spiritual approaches. Bodywork certifications are very comprehensive. A Feldenkrais practitioner, for example, may need four years of training before certification can be given. Some well-known disciplines are: (1) The Alexander Technique. This is best for people who have to hold their bodies in a certain way for a long time, such as musicians and typists. It's also about how to optimize your posture in walking and running. The key to Alexander is the head position and how it functions with the rest of the body. Watch the standing posture of a normal five-year-old kid then compare it with that of a forty-year-old overweighted person. Alexander can help that older person restores his natural posture. (2) Feldenkrais. Its sessions involve being gently guided through basic movement patterns which provide the foundation for improving balance and freedom of movement. With hands-on feedback you begin to recognize habitual patterns of movement which are restricting or hurting you. You are then introduced to small, effortless movement options which are more effective and efficient. (3) Rolfing. It's a system of body restructuring and movement education. In a hands-on series of deep tissue manipulations (can be very painful for some people), Rolfing releases chronic tensions and habitual holding patterns. It helps to strengthen and open up your restricted body parts.

(4) Various forms of messages. These are done for relaxation and energizing your body. However, they are not the same as other bodywork disciplines. - Eye Sight Improvement (1) Biofeedback The Bates method is probably the most well-known. It's is a set of vision improvement techniques originally developed by William H. Bates, MD, back in the 1910's and 1920's. Many people have expanded on the techniques since then. There are at least a dozen books in print. The basic theory is that we develop excess tension in the muscles in and around the eyes, and it is this tension which causes poor vision. The vision improvement techniques are designed to relax the muscles in the eyes and to allow us to see better. There are 3 basic techniques for relaxing the eyes: -1- "Sunning" is shining a bright light on your closed eyes. Use as bright a light as you can stand without squinting. Concentrate on relaxing the eyes while you do this. Eventually you will be able to increase the intensity of the light and use the sun as your light source. This technique is done for 5 to 20 minutes (no more than 5 minutes facing the sun). It is best if you can follow your sunning with palming. -2- "Palming" is covering your eyes with your cupped palms. Try to cut off all light from your eyes. Relax and think of something pleasant. Do this technique for at least 5 minutes. You can do this as much as you like. The record is 20 hours. Twenty minutes a day is good. -3- The "long standing swing" is standing in the middle of a room and turning back and forth from 90 degrees left to 90 degrees right. Turn your head with your body and keep the eyes looking forward. Start with the eyes lifted and looking at the line where the wall meets the ceiling, and lower your gaze with each pass. Do not try to focus on everything that passes in front of your eyes; just let your gaze fall where it will. Start with 30 swings, and work your way up to 100 swings. This should take no more than 4 minutes. All the techniques should be done with the eyes relaxed. If you feel tension around your eyes and you can't relax it, stop the technique. There are other techniques to correct vision defects like astigmatism and poor left-right fusion. Two good books to read are "Do You Really Need Eyeglasses" by Marilyn B. Rosanes-Berrett and "Seeing Beyond 20/20" by Robert-Michael Kaplan. There is some empirical evidence to support the Bates method, and there's a limited amount of experimental evidence. Bates documented many successes, and each of the other books documents many successes. There are reports of patients who were brought to 20/20 vision and had astigmatism corrected. Lastly, check out Alex Eulenberg's (aeulenbe@ezinfo.ucs.indiana.edu) homepage: http://silver.ucs.indiana.edu/~aeulenbe/i_see/against_glasses.html (2) Surgical Radial Keratotomy (RK) and Automated Lamellar Keratotomy (ALK) are the most widely used surgical procedures to instantly improve your eyesight.

-1- RK. It's for the correction of nearsightedness and astigmatism and works best for low diopters, say under -6.00, to achieve the best result. RK attempts to correct vision by surgically altering the shape of the cornea. Tiny incisions are made around the center of the cornea (in radial spike patterns), causing the cornea to flatten to a more normal shape. This allows the light rays to focus on the retina to produce a sharp image. RK is done by hand. -2- ALK. This is an alternative and is usually recommended for higher diopters, say above -6.00. Instead of making incisions on the surface of the cornea as RK does, ALK attempts to flip open the surface layer of the cornea and shave the top tissues inside through the use of an automated microkeratome, an instrument capable of shavings within 10 microns of accuracy (that means it can slice a human hair into 5 equal pieces). Often, both RK and ALK are used (separately) to achieve the maximum correction. * Editor Thomas's Note: I had ALK done on my left eye in Houston, Texas in 1994. My vision improved from -8.50 to -2.00. I paid $2,000 and the whole surgery lasted only twenty minutes and I could see better instantly. The overall vision was blurry for a few months, especially at night time. When I looked at a street light at night, I saw multiple images (up to four at one point) as my eye was healing. Now (15 months later), I've no trouble seeing in the daylight, but at night, my left eye (-2.00) is not as sharp as my right eye (-4.50). Overall, I'm happy with the procedure because it's a big improvement for me. My advice to those who are interested in either RK or ALK is to find the most experienced doctor and talked to as many as his/her patients as possible about their recovery. RK or ALK does not have a 100% success rate for many people. - Health Food You may have noticed the mental lethargy that tends to set in after eating a large starchy meal. Carbohydrates have been found to raise brain chemicals that retard the firing of neurons and promote relaxation. That is fine if you plan on taking a nap, but not if you want to engage in a challenging mental activity. A better meal for mental performance might favor a chicken salad over French fries, according to several mental researches. Another diet effect on brain activity is when you find yourself lightheaded and unable to concentrate after skipping a meal. You're experiencing a temporary case of hypoglycemia, or low blood glucose. The brain is highly susceptible to changes in the blood glucose level, because it tends to consume nutrients quickly and stores very little fuel. Would it be better then if we ate a lot of sugary and starchy foods? The answer is no. A diet high in sugar and refined carbohydrate can foul up the delicate mechanism that keeps the blood glucose level in balance. The mind-altering effects of foods are subtle, and because of that we tend to overlook them. Studies have confirmed some of these effects, particularly those that follow a meal or an overnight fast. If you learn to recognize your reactions to certain foods, you can consciously plan your menus and meal times to favor mental work or to settle the mind for a nap. Since not everyone reacts in the same way to the nutritional effects of a particular food, you will have to attend to your own experience. Do a survey to find out when your mind is particularly sharp or sluggish, and note what was on your plate for the past meal or two. Just as athletes watch their diets for the sake of peak performance when training, you can learn to alter your diet for the sake of optimum mental output.

Dietary inadequacy of vitamins and minerals can alter general health and brain metabolism, although the exact effect of these inadequacies is still unclear. Your thinking power and emotional well-being can be adversely altered if some of the essential nutrients are missing. Use your common sense and eat according to your own needs. Cut down your consumption of alcoholic beverages, caffeinated foods, red meat, canned or preserved food, excess dairy products, and junk food. Instead, increase salads, freshly prepared foods, and fruit juice consumption in your diet. In order to comprehend how to eat food well, you must understand, at the simplist level, how the body metabolizes macronutrients -- ie: fats, sugars, and proteins (from jimw@netcome.com, Jim Whitaker). CARBOHYDRATES (aka glucose sugar): A Carbohydrate is simply a long or short chain chemical built up out of sugars. These sugar chains are composed of Glucose, Sucrose, Fructose, and Galactose. The body uses Glucose. Foods made of carbohydrates include primarily vegetables, fruits, grains, and milk sugars. Carbohydrates are broken down by the digestive system into glucose sugar, which then enters the blood stream. Various forms of carbohydrates break down into glucose faster than others. The primary factors governing the absorbtion speed of sugars are fat content, fiber content, and complexity of the sugars. Fructose sugar takes a long time to break down into the bodies favored glucose. Anything made of glucose chains (such as grains) gets broken down almost instantly in the stomach acids. The primary consumers of glucose are the brain (which burns it in vast quantities), and the muscles. Muscles absorb glucose and don't release stored glucose into the blood stream -- glucose absorbed by a muscle can only be burned by that cell that absorbed it. The liver has a small approximately 80 milliliter reserve store of glucose which it can release into the blood stream when levels get too low - which doesn't last very long. The primary regulator of blood sugar is insulin. Insulin is secreted by the pancreas which, when it sees a high rate of insulin absorption into the body will boost the insulin level to a level comensurate with that rate. If you eat something like straight glucose sugar, your body will expect that rate of glucose absorbtion to continue. Your insulin level will rise to meet that challenge, telling fat cells to absorb this excess glucose for the next hour or more. If you cease your blood glucose absorption at that initial rate, you no longer have an adequate level of glucose in your blood to keep up with the insulin level -- and your fat cells suck you dry of brain fuel and you get sleepy, bleary, fuzzy headed, angry, lose dexterity etc. >From this, it is rather obvious that the goal of keeping your brain clear, and your muscles primed with glucose involves maintaining your blood sugar levels. In order to insure insulin levels stay low, to keep blood sugar levels reasonable -- you have to eat carbohydrates that get converted into glucose SLOWLY. Bread, pasta, rice, wheat, and other grains are made of long glucose chains that turn

into instant glucose in the stomach. Starchy foods such as potatoes and bananas are nasty too. Almost all fruit juices are bereft of the fiber content that buffers their absorption, making them problematical as well. On the good side, you will find grapefruit, cantelope, green leafy vegetables, most legumes and most fruits. Some people have a remarkable natural ability to buffer this glucose overload naturally, as if their intenstines were made of fat or something and they can eat pasta all day long -- but more commonly it turns into glucose, gets dumped quickly into the bloodstream, and insulin slams on the brakes. If you are one of those people, you need to take care of your carbohydrates. PROTIEN: Most of your body is made up of protiens. Just take one look at a peice of meat. Does it look like it was put together out of glucose chains from broken down carbohydrates? NO! You MUST eat protien in your diet to maintain your body. The USDA now recommends a diet with a calorie breakdown of 70% carbohydrate, 15% fat, and 15% protein. That is an insulin overload, and protein starved. The primary regulator of fat in the blood is glucagon, sort of the counterpart of insulin. It signals fat cells to "release the grease" so that the body can use the grease for fuel. Glucagon is stiumlated by protein intake. It is inhibited by Insulin levels. If you eat foods that stimulate insulin and not glucagon, you cannot lose fat -- your body thinks it has enough fuel (glucose) to run on when it sees elevated Insulin levels and gets absolutely resolute about not releasing fat. Too much protein (more than 28 grams) at a meal or too much sugar at a meal will crash your insulin levels. Your body will start storing the aminos from your protein as fats. Misery. When you balance protiens and carbohydrates correctly, you will get fats and sugars in your bloodstream without complications created by insulin and glucagon levels. The first time I fixed my diet, my pain threshhold jumped by a factor of at least 100, and I could carry large heavy objects for long distances without breaking a sweat, getting winded, or even really noticing the muscle twangs three minutes after I put the load down. In Doctor Barry Sears book, _Entering the Zone_ he advocates a balance of 9 calories of carbohydrates to 7 calories of protein to 1.5 grams of fat as the ideal diet. Optimum seems to vary from person to person. (I work best at 10.5 cal:7 cal:2 gm). He also advocates limiting protein to a strict formula based on lean body weight. It is pointless to include it here, because there is two much involved to support it. While sticking to his diet seems a little impractical for most people in the long term, it is my opinion that knowing what he has to say probably improve your life. It did for the Stanford Swimming team in 1992. Those on his diet brought back 8 Olympic Gold Medals from Barcelona. FATS:

Fats are the most efficient fuel the body has. While you are sitting there, your body warmth is maintained by fat, not by carbohydrates. You NEED fat in your system to keep you alive. I have seen dramatic videos of capallaries clogged by fats, with the platelets unable to get through because they stick together, carrying the fat on the outside of their bodies like glue. I swore off fat in my diet at that moment. However, THAT is fat overload. That was an idiot probably eating two ounces of lard or something. It is not what I am talking about here. Here we are talking about 5 grams or so with your typical meal -- 5-10 olives. Fat calories in your diet will stimulate your body to use fat. If you add fats to your diet, they slow down the absorbtion of carbohydrates into the body and help control insulin levels. Eating fats does not make you fat. You actually have to eat fat to stimulate fat release from your body and fat metabolism. Most of the modern weight loss (they don't call themselves fat lot diets... there is a reason for that) diets are absolutely flat wrong when they say to boost the carbohydrates (insulin and hence fat accumulation) and lower protein and fat. All they do is tear down muscle tissue, screw up body chemistry and finally strip fat down when the body is haggard and desperate. With that kind of starvation situation, people wonder why the body has a memory and people gain weight back? It has to prepare for next winter's famine, expecting it to be a little bit worse next time around. You guessed it -- a half a cup of Fat Laden Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream is healthier for your body than a peice of bread or plate of pasta. Why? Because the fat controls the release of sucrose sugar into the body. Sucrose sugar takes time to break down into glucose. You get a nice long protracted, insulin damping high (as long as you include protein in the same sitting...). The Fat provides efficient fuel, floating around in the bloodstream. Pasta just puts an instant hike to your insulin and throws your body chemistry out of balance. Don't go out of your way to make Ice Cream a staple of your diet -- but I hope I have made my point. In "Your Body Knows Best," the author suggests that you design your eating around three factors: your ancestry eating patterns, your blood type, and how fast you consume your food (fast or slow burner). Type O, for example, is the oldest and would do well with a higher protein and fat intake. The message is that no one diet can fit everyone. You are an unique individual and your nutrition needs are subjective to your own body chemistry. REFERENCES: 1. Dr Barry Sears Phd, Enter The Zone. 2. Your Body Knows Best, Ann Louise Gittleman. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------6. Relationship / Social

- Men and Women Three of the best work are done by Dr. Deborah Tanen, Dr. Lillian Glass, and John Grey. (1) Dr. Deborah Tanen. Read her book, "That's Not What I meant." In it she describes the subjective, meta conversation styles of men and women. Dr. Tanen emphasizes that because of our unique conditioning and upbringing, what is consider as appropriate to one person may be offensive to another. A good example is your speaking rate or volume. People may perceive you or interpret your message wrong if your rate or volume differs greatly from their own. This is a linguistic approach. (2) Dr. Lillian Glass. Her book, "He Said, She Said," listed the differences of men and women and how they affect their communication with each other. She provided a lot of techniques to help each other communicate better. This is a communication approach. (3) John Grey. Best known for his book, "Men Are from Mars, Women are from Venus." He took a more psychological approach to help men and women relate to each other. For example, he described men's emotions as "cave dwellers" and women's emotions as "wave surfers." ----------------------------------------------------------------------------7. Spiritual - Religion and Self-Esteem (from Craig Davis, craighd@pegasus.rutgers.edu) Historically, religion has been used to a sense of disconnections from God. The priest, rabbi, imam, etc. for spiritual the capacity within yourself to connect of course, there's the Christian notion give members of a governed population idea that you have to go to the communion means that you don't have directly with higher power. And that everyone is a born sinner.

This is unfortunate, because our spirituality is an important part of ourselves and our lives. And it can take a lot of time and effort for us to get to the point where we really trust ourselves enough to look within for guidance. This doesn't mean that we never seek the advice or expertise or another. It means that we don't give all of our power away. If there really is such a thing as sin, then it's our refusal to accept the good in ourselves. It's our unwillingness to see that we are directly connected to God as God's creations. Often when we make mistakes, we look at it as proof that we are dirty or sinful or spiritually inferior. We don't realize that making mistakes is the opportunity to learn and grow into our greater potential. - Magic and Pseudo-Paranormal Phenomena James Randi (the Amazing Randi) is best known for his work in this area. He has challenged the spoon-bending hype of Uri Geller, exposed the scams of many self-acclaimed psychics, and caught the fraud of the famous faith healer Peter Popoff. Just like in the Steve Martin's recent movie "Leap of Faith," Popoff used electronic devices to make him appear as having God's power. He collected as much as $6 million/year from his TV ministry at one point, but after Randi played Peter's tapes on "The Tonight Show" in 1986, Peter's contributions dried up and he filed for bankruptcy.

Randi uses his training in magic to detect the tricks being used. Frequently, psychics are victims of their false beliefs. His book, "Flim-Flam: Psychics, ESP, Unicorns, and other Delusions" is a must-read for anyone who wants to learn more about the under-informed side of paranormal phenomena. His other books include "The Faith Healer," "The Mask of Nostradamus," and "An Encyclopedia of Claims, Frauds and Hoaxes of the Occult and Supernatural." These books can be ordered from Skeptics Magazine at (818) 794-1301. * $500,000 Psychi Challenge The former $10,000 psychic challenge (for the past 10-20 years) offered by Randi has now been increased to half a million dollars through a brilliant fund-raising pledge campaign by Randi on the Internet, where participants pledge a mininum of $1,000 but only pay if claimants can prove they have psychic powers under scientific conditions. Contact Randi by fax at 305-370-1129 or email at <76702.3507@compuserve.com>. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------B/ Established Disciplines 1. Anti-Cult Movements (1) Beware of therapy cults masquerading as self help groups. (From: richard@rjprice.demon.co.uk, Richard Price). Here're some resources: UK: FUSS (Families Under Scientology Stress), BM Box 3506, London WC1N 3XX This group organized demonstrations against Scientology on the 12th and 13th of July. They are campaigning for recommendations in the Foster Report (1971) to be put in place (Sir John wanted a Psychological Practices Act to protect people from unscrupulous, unethical purveyors of "therapy") UK: Cult Information Center, BCM Cults, London WC1N 3XX, 0181 6513322 These people give lectures, media interviews, research assistance and support for cult victims and their families. They also produce an excellent "Cults on Campus" leaflet. CIC is a registered charity (no. 1012914). US: American Family Foundation, P.O. Box 2265, Bonita Springs, FL 33959. (212) 533-5420. US: Cult Awareness Network, 2421 West Pratt Blvd, Suite 1173, Chicago, IL 60645. (312) 267-7777 US: reFocus (recovering Former Cultists Support), P.O. Box 2180, Flagler Beach, FL 32136. (904) 439-7541. US: Stop Abuse By Counsellors, P.O. Box 68292, Seattle, Washington 98168. (206) 243 2723 US: False Memory Syndrome Foundation, 3401 Market Street-suite 130, Philadelphia, PA 19104. (215) 387-1865. US: Read the newsgroup "alt.support.ex-cult". (2) How to avoid cults (edited from: tilman@berlin.snafu.de, Tilman Hausherr).

When you feel alone, isolated or lonely, when you feel totally overwhelmed by a decision you need to make and find yourself wishing that someone would just tell you what to do, when you feel like the world used to make sense and now everything's falling apart around you, YOU'RE VULNERABLE. When you're hurting (or even when you're not), beware of people with answers to life's problems; Beware of religious groups of people who pressure you because they know what's right for you; No one has the right to pressure you about a religious decision. Beware of religious friends who claim to know you and your needs better than your family and old friends; Religious groups should not degrade or exclude outside friendships. Beware of people who are excessively or inappropriately flattering or friendly. Relationships of real love are not instant; a group which surrounds you with immediate concern may be practicing "love-bombing", a form of deceptive recruitment. (Just say "NO") Beware of groups that recruit through guilt. Guilt produced by others is rarely a productive emotion. Beware of invitations to isolated weekend workshops which have nebulous goals; There is no reason to be vague unless there is something to hide. A cult group is usually characterized by some of the followings: A leader who claims divinity or an extraordinary relationship with God. A leader who is the sole judge of a member's actions or faith. Totalitarian governance and totalistic control over members' lifestyles. Exclusivity and isolation. Development of unhealthy emotional dependence. Prohibition of critical analysis and independent thinking. Utilization of methods of ego-destruction and mind control. Exploitation of a member's finances. Exploitative conditions which discourage the full use of one's abilities. Discouragement of free and independent pursuit of education.

You should also know the two basic principles of mind control ("brainwashing"): -1- If you can get a person to behave the way you want relatively, you can get that person to believe what you want. Small requests are the most dangerous. For example, if you want someone on the street to give you money, your chance is better if you can get them to stop walking and offer a bill for change, and then ask for an extra quarter or two. -2- Sudden, drastic changes in a situation (issue or environment) can lead to heightened sensitivity to suggestion and to drastic changes in attitude and beliefs. Maintain support when you are going through some emotional experiences (death of a loved one, financial crisis, moving to a new place, etc.). Your past resources are safer at these moments. In any event, your defense to a cult is to SAY NO and THINK IT OVER, then REACH OUT TO SOMEONE YOU TRUST! For example, you can talk to a trusted friend, your college professor that knows you well, a parent, a therapist, a pastor, or a consultant. Some cult groups attempt, through pressure, to lure an individual to a belief which she or he does not already practice. Observe the group's responses to you and how you feel. If you are sometimes uncomfortable, or find any three of the following statements true about a group with which you are involved, you should seek advice from a trusted person, outside of this group, and reconsider your involvement.

-1- The group seems to be perfect. Everyone agrees and follows all orders cheerfully. -2- The group claims to have "all the answers" to your problems. -3- You are asked to recruit new members soon after joining. -4- You begin to feel guilty and ashamed, unworthy as a person. -5- The group encourages you to put their meetings and activities before all other commitments, including studying or working. -6- The group speaks in a derogatory way about your past affiliation. -7- Your parents and friends are defined as unable to understand and help you. -8- Doubts and questions are seen as signs of weak faith. You are shunned if you persist in these doubts. -9- Males are believed to have more rights and abilities than females. 10- You are invited on an activity with the group, but they refuse to give you an overview of the purpose, theme, or activities before you go. An excellent book that explores this subject in details is "Combatting Cult Mind Control" by Steven Hassan. In it, several mind programming and identity change techniques are discussed. Steven also teaches you how to identify cult organizations and protect yourself from them. One fascinating subject that he brings out is the obvious manifestation of "subpersonalities." Cult members seem to become someone else when they access their programmed beliefs either by talking about them or by practicing the programmed behaviors. Often, parts of them know that something was wrong but these parts are too weak to combat the stronger subpersonality. Many of them showed the subpersonalities conflict described by authors Hal Stone & Sidra Winkelman in "Embracing Our Selves--The Voice Dialogue Manual." To help your friends or your loved ones get out of a cult, Steve suggests that you get professional help and use these eight steps: (1) Build rapport and trust. (2) Use goal-oriented communications. (3) Develop models of identity. (4) Access the pre-cult identity. (5) Get them to look at reality from many different perspectives. (6) Side-step the thought-stopping process by giving information in an indirect way. (7) Visualize a happy future to undo phobia indoctrination. (8) Offer the cult member concrete definitions of mind control and characteristics of a destructive cult. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------2. Est Est (Erhard Seminars Training) was started by Werner Erhard and was one of the most popular and influential self-improvement movements of the 1970's. It's no longer taught in its original form, but a number of groups have evolved from Est and their current teachings borrow heavily from the original Est. The most prominent is Landmark Education which offers The Forum. According to Charles Jackson (charlesj@eng.sun.com), a good book to read about Est and the roots of Forum is "Outrageous Betrayal - The Dark Journey of Werner Erhard from Est to Exile" by Steven Pressman. -----------------------------------------------------------------------------

3. Landmark (The Forum) (Editor note: The following two questions about The Forum are from an email conversation between Loren and an alt.self-improve reader, Rex Ballard). Q. The promises of Est are basically the same as every other self improvement program ever devised. How does it work? Why does it get results where others fail? A. Transformation - the "fruit" of a "self-help" program, comes, not from telling or talking to, but from the inquiry. Transformation comes as the result of a conversation for fulfilling a possibility. It is much like learning to ride a bicycle, I can tell you how to ride a bicycle: "grab the handlebars, push off, and pedal". But it is only in the inquiry that one actually discovers balance. Without the experience of balance, there is no riding a bicycle. Without the inquiry, the distinctions are just "interesting information". From the inquiry, the participant can expect a breakthrough - the fulfillment of possibilities that would not otherwise happen. A major alteration in relationships, confidence, effectiveness, or decision making that they may have been putting up with, resisting, or trying to change for years with no significant effect. Landmark offers free introductory seminars nearly every day at their various centers and sites throughout the country. In these seminars, the introduction leader will explain some of the key distinctions of the Forum. Many people who never do the Forum still end up taking on their lives in a new way out of going to a 3 hour introduction. About 1/3 will register for the Forum itself which lasts 3 days and an evening, usually Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 9 AM to 11 PM or 1 AM (If there are a bunch of Lawyers in the room, plan on a long night friday). By the end of each night, you will not be tired until you want to be. Tuesday night, you return to complete the homework. The course is actually 5 days, but two of them are "laboratory" days. In the 3 day program, a highly trained leader leads an inquiry in a room with 100-200 successful people who are highly committed to having a breakthrough. The leader will describe a distinction and then ask people to share their experience. In a room of 150+ people, there are several who want to share. As that person shares, the Forum leader asks questions, soon the whole room is seeing how this conversation can impact their lives. By the end of the conversation, everyone in the room not only has an insight, but also sees an opening for action at the first opportunity. Q. Can you provide any details about the process that occurs at a seminar? My understanding is that in the early days of Est, participants were not allowed to give out details of what went on at the seminars. Is that still the case in Landmark Education? A. I could give you detailed descriptions of the entire Forum, but it wouldn't really make a difference. The process is actually a series of distinctions that create the foundation for other distinctions. The structure is such that an inquiry that would normally take 20 years (I had been DOING the 12 steps for 10 years and was astonished by Saturday Morning) is conducted with the intended result in 3 days. Sunday afternoon seems like a course in advanced Zen. By Sunday night, there is what I call (personal opinion here - not Landmark's) a spiritual awakening.

The key distinctions of Landmark based on that we have a past consisting of what happened, and our interpretations/opinions/feelings/judgments about what happened. For example, what happened is that the first girl I ever dated through a cup full of soda pop in my face and 50 people laughed. What I made it mean was that I was ugly and unattractive. The problem is that I didn't separate the two. I now interacted with all women, for the next 26 years as if I was Short, Fat, Bald, Cross-eyed, with Polka-dot zit and scab covered skin. In fact, by the time I was 18, I was 6'1" tall, 155 to 180 pounds, a professional dancer, model, and actor, and going to a school with 900 women and 5 heterosexual men (another 20 were gay). I had men pursuing me every day. I was about as tall dark and handsome as a man could get, but when it came to asking a woman for a date, I was ugly and unattractive. Of course, this communicated to the women in the form of avoiding romantic intimacy, only having arms-length friendships. I actually became a bit disgusting, not bathing for days, not grooming, wearing big, baggy overalls, and acting like a sex pervert (more evidence to be ugly). I even married a woman who I was not attracted so that I wouldn't be hurt when she discovered that I was ugly and unattractive, it took her 9 years to finally agree with me, (she married a man 10 years younger than me, a Tom Sellek type). In the Forum, I realized that all this woman did was throw a glass of pop at someone who, at that time, was not well liked by most of her friends. She may have been trying to impress them, she may have been insulted by my being late, she may not have liked the ring I gave her (that she asked me to give her). This brings up the other major distinction. Psychology tells us that we are the way we are because of our past. This was a better model than the one that preceded it which was "Circular" (as the seasons come and go, we just suffer through whatever comes). At Landmark, we say that we are the way we are because of the Future we are living into. If I told you that I talked to your boss and he was going to have to let you go, you would act and think a certain way (looking for another job, fear, anxiety). If I just handed you a winning lottery ticket, for which the number was announced an hour ago, you would live very differently (what color shoes go with a black Mercedes) even though you hadn't received a penny of the money yet. Why it LOOKS as if we are given by the past is that we keep putting the past into our future. Every time I would go to ask a woman to dance, every other rejection by women would be right there with me, I eventually never got more than two steps toward the woman I wanted. That night, I saw that I was not a bad looking guy, and went to a dance and danced with several women (who were astonished and pleased that I asked them to dance). One of them told me that women thought I was stuck-up and a snob because I was so aloof. Which brings up a third key distinction of the Forum. Though the inquiry may be useful, and the insights may be interesting, even exciting, there is little value in any of that unless there is an opening for immediate action. We have many reasons for not doing what we really want to do, but that is not the same as doing something worthwhile. In the Forum, we look to see what actions are worthy of taking (expressing love to another person, parents, spouses, children...) and take appropriate actions even when it may not be "convenient." We can call someone at 1:00 A.M. to tell them someone died, but we can't call them to tell someone we love them, even though this may be the first time we've said it in many years). In the introduction seminars, guests reach the end in one of four places. They are ready to register, they know that they never want

to do the Forum work out (time, "I just need to that is usually decisive.

(very rarely), they have something they need to money, babysitters). They have something intangible: think about it", "I need to check this out" something familiar, these are usually the ones who want to be more

The time and money can be worked out, but for the maximum value out of the Forum (the Forum begins when you register), one of the most powerful distinctions is to register that night, not knowing how it's going to work out, but committed to having it work out. Those are the people who not only end up being able to say how their own lives go, but can actually become leaders in their community and simply cause things to happen when no one knows if it will work out. If you were madly in love with your wife, and I threw your wedding ring over a brick wall and told you that if you didn't give it back it would be delivered to your wife by a beautiful blonde, you would find a way to get over the wall to save your marriage. Most people come to the introduction with something at stake, they want to save/revitalize a relationship with their spouse, kids they love, parents they haven't spoken to, bosses they hate, or jobs they dread. Everything else is just great though. The weird thing about the Forum is that when I did the Forum, EVERYONE ELSE CHANGED. My boss was nicer, I was promoted and my coworkers wanted to work for me, my girlfriend wanted me back, my ex-wife wanted to talk to me when I came to see the kids, her husband even invited me to spend Christmas with them. I even had more time and money to spend on things I wanted. What each person gets out of the Forum is different. Part of the application to do the Forum is that you have to specify 3 things that you want to get out of the Forum. These are things that wouldn't happen anyway, and that you do not presently know how to do. * Note 1: The personal change work you've just read about is not unique to Landmark. People who are involved with other kinds of selfimprovement programs can go through the same kind of experiences. * Note 2: Landmark is considered by some people as a cult organization. The Cult Awareness Network offers a wealth of information on this matter at <http://www.xnet.com/~can/can.html>. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------4. Life-Long Learning Association This association is a source of self improvement products. It sends you the product of the month (usually a 6 audio or video seminar) or you can choose an alternate selection if the program doesn't suit your interests. You also get a subscription to the world premiere audio magazine "Inside Edge" which covers current trends in development, etc. and a subscription to "The Destiny Report" newsletter. The above is sent to you monthly for U$50. The association was set up to make LLL affordable on the monthly basis which it is required for results. The retail of what you get is close to $100. A good portion of the product comes from Nightingale-Conant, a company it recently merged with. See the References and Resources section for contact information if you are interested.

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