Aesthetic Realism is a cult

  Who they are, how they operate • Written by former members

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Aesthetic Realism in the media

and help for journalists covering AR scandals

 

Interviews

I'm happy to do phone interviews 24/7: (512) 402-4364. 

 

References in the media about AR being a cult

  • New York Times: "This is less a book than a collection of pietistic snippets by Believers." (review of AR's first gay cure book, Sept. 12, 1971)
  • New York Magazine: "[Aesthetic Realism is a] cult of messianic nothingness that hangs out somewhere in the Village." (1976, excerpt)  Also, in a private letter on NY Magazine letterhead, the Arts Editor called AR "a crackpot cult lodged in the woodwork down in Greenwich Village."
  • New York Native: "Aesthetic Realism is a cult...employing all the subtle and manipulative techniques of mind control used by such masters of the genre as the Moonies [and] the Scientologists.... Like all cults, Aesthetic Realism reduces the wonder and complexity of the world to a strict polarity of black-or-white reality. By cultivating an individual's sense of negative identity, the program weakens the ego enough to gain admittance and eventual control over a person's mind. Put most succinctly by a woman whose friend had made the change: 'I liked him when he was gay. At least then he was a person. Now he's just an Aesthetic Realist.'" ("The Victims of Aesthetic Realism", 1981, full article)
  • Harper's Magazine: "'Fair' is a word favored by the Aesthetic Realists, a.k.a. the Embattled Disciples of Eli Siegel and, in some of their incarnations, the Moonies of Poetry." ("The guru of Aesthetic Realism", April 1982, by Hugh Kenner; see excerpt)
  • Literary Times associate editor:  "[The Aesthetic Realists] should be considered liars.  I made my appraisal of Aesthetic Realism only after extensive thought, research, and field trips.  I could only conclude that as philosophy it is primitive and, as religion, worse than having none at all.  I sadly decided most people who think about aesthetics, ethics, or the cosmos do far better than the AR devotees or even the guru himself, assuming he believes in his system.  The absurdity of the movement is well illustrated by its propaganda." (Harry Smith, Associate Editor of Literary Times, in a letter to the editor in the Village Voice, Dec. 24, 1964, p. 4)
  • Psychology Today: "[T]oday cults are not limited to religious groups but include EST, Scientology, yoga cults, psychotherapy cults, and philosophy cults such as Aesthetic Realism." (July 19, 2014)
  • Virginian-Pilot: "[A] woman with a curious button on her chest sat down beside us. Her button read: 'Victim of the Press.'  She looked safe enough to ask questions. Some ruse. As she spoke of her cause, she began to emerge as, well, deranged. ... Clearly, she had memorized the tracts she was passing out....We looked at her blankly, as if she were across from us on a subway train." ("A media 'victim' meets the press", Teresa Annas, The Virginian-Pilot, June 30, 1991, p. G6)
  • New York Magazine: "The Aesthetic Realists: An oddball presence in SoHo for more than twenty years..." (by Tom Roston, Jan. 2, 1995, p. 27, link)
  • Commentary Magazine: "It reminds me of those screwball buttons an odd New York psychiatric cult used to send out, protesting the New York Times’s refusal to acknowledge them, insisting on 'Aesthetic Realism’s Right to Be Known.'" (by Stephen Hunter, Pulitzer-Prize winning writer, July/August 2009; link)
  • ICSA Today (International Journal of Cultic Studies): "Because I left, my parents [who are still in AR] cut me off.  The exception was in 1998 when critical statements I made about Aesthetic Realism were quoted in an article in The New York Post, and I received a five-page vitriolic letter, most likely written in committee, but over my parents' signatures.  The letter compared me to Brutus assassinating Julius Caesar, and to Benedict Arnold.  Today, if I pass former colleagues on the street, they look past me as if I do not exist." (by Ann Stamler, Ex-Member Editor, April 2012; link)
  • New York Blade: "Anti-Gay Cult Pulls Fast One....Until the mid-1990s, AR members wore buttons that read 'Victims of the Press.' Feelings of persecution, intolerance of criticism, slavish devotion to a leader, a belief that only they know the one true path to enlightenment—these are distinguishing characteristics of a cult." (by Bill Schoell, Apr. 25, 2008, link)

References in books:

  • Wrestling with God and Men: "In the early eighties a young man at Yeshiva University, troubled by his homosexual desires, came out to a religious studies teacher and was sent to Aesthetic Realism, the once popular philosophic cult of Eli Siegel, who had a theory for healing homosexuals. The therapy enforced his self-blame and made his situation worse. Six months later the young man attempted suicide and was sent home by the university, never to return." (2005, Steven Greenberg, p. 293, Amazon page)

Other references to AR being a cult in the print media

  • Jewish Times: "I never believed it was a cult. I didn't see my parents for 15 years, and I thought nothing of it. I used to plan trips to go home, and all the cult members would get around you and talk you out of it."  "This is one of the characteristics of the organization that is cult-like -- you can't have reservations. Either it is the most important thing you have ever known and you have to devote your life to them, or you are an enemy."  (2003, full article)
  • Boston Globe: "Gay individuals and organizations trying to change anti- homosexual attitudes in society view Aesthetic Realism as a hostile and antagonistic fringe group.... New York psychotherapist Jack Doren, immediate past president of the National Assn. of Gay Psychologists, said: 'If they want to be a group helping people who have a preference not to be gay, fine, but they are very antagonistic. They are more of a cult than anything else. If they made the statements as theory, fine, but they make them as fact. They say homosexuality is based on antagonism to women, with its foundation as hatred toward Mother. That's not responsible . . . It's an archaic view.'"  ("Aesthetic Realism and Homosexuality" by Kay Longcope, April 18, 1981)
  • Albany Times Union: "Grant recipient alleged to be a cult." (2008; full article)
  • Village Voice: "Typically, you were excoriated in the public meetings if they didn't like what you were doing," he says. "Your decisions had to be made [on the basis of] what was best for the group." Mali says he was pressured to break up with his girlfriend, who wasn't part of the group, and to bypass college because everything he needed to know could be learned at the foundation. "My father is still in there, and he doesn't talk to me anymore because he thinks I betrayed the group, " Mali says....Steve Hassan, a former Moonie and the author of two books on controversial religious groups, describes Aesthetic Realism as a "psychotherapy cult." He has counseled eight former Aesthetic Realism students over the last two decades and says the foundation employs all the typical methods of undue influence: "The group was cutting people off from loved ones, regulating all aspects of behavior—their thoughts and feelings—and encouraging the idolization of Eli Siegel. (2008, full article)
  • Gay City News: "The Aesthetic Realism Foundation has attracted particular attention, partly because the group has long been viewed as a small cult and also because of its past claims that its members were able to change their sexual orientation from homosexual to heterosexual." (2008, full article) 
  • New York Post: "Former followers of Aesthetic Realism brand it a "cult" that controlled their minds and manipulated every aspect of their lives -- from money to sex. They told The Post that their innermost feelings were scrutinized and condemned -- and that they were pushed to submit to the group's beliefs ultimately losing their free will. They said Aesthetic Realism leaders told them where they should live and with whom, what friends and relatives to talk to, and how to use their spare time -- all to ensure complete devotion to the group's beliefs and its charismatic founder, Eli Siegel." (1998, full article)
  • Wilmington Daily Star: "Among the offerings in my mail box was a pitch for a group in the form of a newsletter entitled The Right of Aesthetic Realism to be Known....It seemed to boil down to a diatribe against Katherine Graham and the Washington Post.  Seems The Post won't publish the columns submitted regularly by 'Aesthetic Realism'." (1981, full article)
  • The Globe and Mail:  "Pity the lot of the Aesthetic Realists, a New York-based group with fewer than 200 members who are mad at the New York Times because the Times, they claim, refuses to print a story that 123 homosexuals have changed (to heterosexuality) through Aesthetic Realism." (April 28, 1978, p. 8, excerpt)

In online media:

On the radio:

I did a radio interview with OutQ on Sirius about the AR scandal covered by the Albany Times Union. (2008)

The one favorable treament of AR that I found:

Note:  The AR people like to point to the many favorable reviews of Siegel's poetry and literary work that exist, as though that legitimizes the mind control group devoted that follows his teachings. We have no truck with Siegel's philosophy (except the bit about homosexuality being a form of insanity). Our criticism is about the group that promotes his philosophy, not the philosophy itself.

 

What is all this, in a nutshell?

Aesthetic Realism is a philosophy about how to live your life. The primary teaching is that one should value the world and the people in it, and avoid having contempt for them, because "contempt causes insanity". AR also teaches that "beauty is the making one of opposites", in art, music, life, and everything else.

The philosophy itself isn't scandalous or crazy, but the way the Aesthetic Realists practice it is.They believe that AR is the one and only true answer to universal peace and happiness, and they essentially worship the founder as the most important person who ever lived (which are the two defining qualities of cults).

AR also promoted its "cure" for homosexuality for decades, which is what the media usually focuses on, but AR's scandals run much deeper than that. Focusing on the gay cure misses the point that AR is a dangerous mind-control cult which strips people of their ability to think independently and tears families apart. That's a story that's rarely been told, but needs to be. AR's cult aspects include.

  • Fanatical devotion to the founder or leader. They believe the founder, Eli Siegel, was the greatest person ever to live, period. They think his writings trump the Bible and Shakespeare.
  • The ultimate purpose is to recruit new members. Whether it's writing guest editorials or doing public presentations about the beauty of architecture, you can be sure there will be lavish praise for AR and Eli Siegel. Everything they do is done with the hope of luring someone else in.
  • Paranoid feeling of persecution. They believe there is a conspiracy in the media to avoid reporting about their one true answer to universal peace and happiness. For years they were buttons proclaiming "Victim of the Press", and stopped in the 90's after being embarrassed by an article in the New York Post which mentioned that.
  • Control over members' lives, right down to whom they can marry. See a former member's story about the level of control over members of the group, especially the section "Controlling students' personal relationships".
  • Cutting off ties with friends and family, if they aren't believers as well. This one is mentioned over and over by the various former members in both the media (see list above) and in articles contributed to this site.
  • The cult founder/leader killed himself. That's almost a cliché with cults, and this one is no exception.
  • Hysterical reaction to criticism. The AR site Countering the Lies (ironically named) is chock full of screeching hysterics about their critics. Here's one of my favorite quotes there, written about me by AR member Marvin Mondlin: "So much for the stupid lying of Mali, Bluejay and the other liars.... Why is he doing this? Feeling himself to be a failure in his own life, and joining with others also seeking revenge for essentially the same reason--notably Adam Mali--'Michael Bluejay' seeks the triumph of making himself important by looking down upon others. He is attempting to assuage his feeling of unimportance by attacking the persons and philosophy he very well realizes best represent truth and beauty." I couldn't make up stuff this good!

 

Okay, so they're a little weird. Isn't that harmless?

No. If they merely had some unconventional beliefs, there would be no problem. But they do hurt people. The people involved lose their ability to think independently. They cut off ties with friends and family if those people aren't also believers. And former members have said that it's taken them years of therapy to get over their involvement with the group. Some of them attempted suicide after leaving the group. And there have been at least three suicides of people in the group that we know about.

 

Tell me about the gay cure

According to AR, homosexuality is a result of one's contempt for the world. Their answer? Study Aesthetic Realism, which will show you how to like the world, and therefore you won't be homosexual any more. Actually, a big part of the "cure" is expressing your undying allegiance to Aesthetic Realism and its founder, Eli Siegel. Here's a transcript of an AR therapy session in which AR people tried to cure an AR student of his gayness. What's interesting about this session is the amount of time the AR people spend chastising the student for not demonstrating enough "respect" and "gratitude" for AR and Eli Siegel.

The group actively promoted its "cure" in the 70's & 80's but abandoned it in the 90's, for two reasons. One, society was becoming more tolerant of homosexuality, and the idea of a gay cure just didn't fly as easily as it had in the past. And perhaps more significantly, the "cure" didn't really work, with most of the "cured" deciding they were really still gay after all and leaving the group. That was mighty embarrassing when the media came calling and asked about the status of their high-publicized success stories.

AR didn't just say it had a gay cure, it actively promoted it:

  • They published two books on the subject, including the infamous The H Persuasion in 1971. That book chronicled the success stories about four men who had supposedly been cured of their gayness. But in point of fact, three of them decided they were really still gay and left the group, and the fourth one is dead.
  • They made a film about it called We Have Changed.
  • They took out big ads in major newspapers like the New York Times, trumpeting the gay cure. (See the top right of this page.)
  • They held vigils in front of the New York Times building because the Times refused to report about the gay cure. (This was one of the things I'm embarrassed to say I participated in when I was still a member.)
  • Perhaps most significantly, they held therapy sessions ("consultations") for people who wanted to stop being gay. Here's a transcript of one such therapy session. Some of the former counselors of the gay cure are still active with the group, such as Dale Laurin.

If you talk to the AR people now, they'll deny they had a gay cure. They're really clever with their words, so you have to know how to ask your questions, and how to interpret their answers. Here's a guide to their answers, and what they're leaving out.

Journalist's question

Aesthetic Realist's answer

What they're not telling you

So you show people how to change from homosexuality?

No, the Aesthetic Realism Foundation absolutely does not counsel people on how to not be gay.

This was our main business in the 70's and 80's, but we don't do it any more.

Did you claim to have a cure for homosexuality?

No, Aesthetic Realism never claimed to have a cure for homosexuality.

We simply never used the word "cure". We said we could show people how to change from homosexuality, but we cleverly never used the "cure" word itself.

What's your current position about this?

We stopped helping people change long ago. We're for "full civil rights for everyone".

The reason we abandoned the cure wasn't because we realized it was wrong, but because it wasn't working. We've never admitted we were wrong, and have certainly never apologized for our efforts to change gays. That is, we still hold the same opinions, we just don't make them public any more. Saying we believe in "full civil rights" is true and masks the fact that we continue to believe that homosexuality is a psychological disorder caused by contempt.

Can people change from homosexuality as a result of studying Aesthetic Realism?

Yes, it is a fact that people have changed as a result of studying AR.

In fact, the overwhelming majority of people who underwent the cure couldn't stay "changed" and decided they were really gay after all (and left the group).

Whenever someone brings up the gay care, the AR people shriek, "That was in the past! That was a long time ago!" But what they're not admitting is that while they no longer offer their program for change, their opinions haven't changed at all. Here's what one of the AR teachers said on Wikipedia:
The Aesthetic Realism Foundation formally discontinued this single aspect of study because it was being sucked into the culture wars--with the far Right trying to use it to promote their bigoted agenda against homosexuality and the far Left furious at anything that even remotely suggested homosexuality was not biological. In such an atmosphere Aesthetic Realism's sensible, philosophic approach to the subject didn't stand a chance of being considered reasonably. (emphasis mine; source)

   

Who are you?

I'm Michael Bluejay, a former member. I was born into it, just like my mother was. (My maternal grandparents were members too.) I had at least one "lesson" with the cult leader when I was two years old. I also had "consultations" at the cult headquarters when I was 12. My family didn't completely end its involvement completely until I was a teenager. However, the majority of writing on this website is not my own, it's that of over a dozen other former members like me, as well as coverage in the mainstream media.

 

AR says you're not credible. How do you respond to that?

It's not just me saying this. This site contains the voices of nearly twenty different former members who all say pretty much the same thing. And noted cult experts like Steve Hassan and Arnold Markowitz also agree that Aesthetic Realism is a cult. Heck, people were calling AR a cult before I was born, as this ad in the Village Voice shows. The founder Eli Siegel referenced that others think AR is a cult, in a lesson I had with him when I was two years old. And above you can see sources like the New York Times, Harper's, New York Magazine, etc. referring to AR as a cult.  So it's not just me [Michael Bluejay] saying this. Not by a longshot.

Another thing the AR people like to claim is that my family left the group when I was two years old, which is simply not true. Take a look at the pictures on this page, where I'm dutifully wearing my Aesthetic Realism button. How old do I look to you? (In those photos, I'm 12.) That same summer I had multiple "consultations" (therapy sessions) at AR's headquarters, participated in an AR vigil in front of the NY Times building, and attended other classes and presentations at AR's headquarters. Back in Texas, I attended the AR study group that my mother put together.

And if the AR people are so sure I'm wrong, why are they so afraid to debate me? I first invited them to debate years ago and since then I've had a standing offer to debate. But they won't even acknowledge it, much less accept. Here's a video where I confront Arnold Perey and ask him to debate (after he claimed on Wikipedia that I'm afraid to debate!). Perey wouldn't even acknowledge me.

At least one AR person told someone they won't debate me because I'm just some unimportant nobody who's not worth their time. If that's the case, why did they put together a 119-page website (!) whose primary purpose is to combat the things I'm saying? How much effort did that take?!

 

What about AR's claim that all their critics are anonymous?

They wish!  Here are former members who have all gone on record with their real names, telling about their experiences in the group:
  1. Michael Bluejay
  2. Paul Grossman
  3. Gerri-Ellen Harmon
  4. Heide Krakauer
  5. Hal Lanse, Ph.D.
  6. Adam Mali
  7. Ron Schmidt
  8. Wayne Smith
  9. Ann Stamler

The AR people mount a fierce defense on Countering the Lies. How do you respond to that?

The devil is in the details. For example, they cleverly say they never had a gay cure. In fact they did profess to have a gay cure, but they just never used the actual word "cure" to describe it. So they deceive by omission. Nearly everything else on that site falls into the same category. I could write a book....

But fortunately I don't have to. After Countering the Lies went up, a former member sent me a veritable tome about their experience in the group, explaining along the way exactly what the AR people are cleverly leaving out of their answers on Countering the Lies.

 

How did Eli Siegel die?

Eli Siegel killed himself. He was 76 years old and unhappy with the results of his prostate surgery. The current AR people of course say that he was in "unbearable pain", though others who left dispute this. In any event, he took his own life with an intentional overdose of prescription drugs after careful consultation and planning with his students. Some of them attended. But no doctor attended, so it wasn't euthanasia.

We know all this because of two reasons: One, enough former members have come forward to tell this story and corroborate it. Second, the AR people typically have refused to say exactly how Siegel died, but have alluded to suicide saying things like "Eli Siegel died with dignity.... What death with dignity means to people today, thanks to the Hemlock Society and other Death with Dignity organizations, is that one has died by his own hand."

For the record, I respect anyone's desire to end their own life. What makes Siegel's case unique is that he had previously railed against suicide as a form of contempt. And when the man who says he has the one true answer to universal peace and happiness takes his own life, that does give you pause. But really, the biggest part of the scandal is that Siegel is that the AR people won't even admit that Siegel killed himself. They say I'm a "liar" for saying he did. Meanwhile, they won't say exactly how he died. They say alternately that he "died with dignity" or that he "died of a broken heart" or that his death was "the result of an operation" -- the latter being another clever twisting of words. "The result" being that Siegel decided to take his life after being dissatisfied with the operation, not that the operation itself killed him.

 

Tell me about the $4,000 NY state grant in April 2008

NY Assemblyman Felix Ortiz awarded the AR Foundation $4,000 from the State budget, to support some art classes the group holds. I don't want to be hard on Ortiz, since he likely had no idea what the AR people are all about. And they do indeed give art classes, though in reality those classes are an opportunity for recruitment. In fact, a former member describes clearly how he was sucked into the group one small step at a time, starting with art classes.

AR should operate on their own dime. Taxpayer money shouldn't be used to give a handout to a group which hurts people.

In any event, when Ortiz learned about the true background of the group, he apparently revoked their grant.

 

Questions to ask the Aesthetic Realists

When talking to AR people, you have to word your questions carefully and interpret their answers carefully if you want your questioning to be successful. If they can find a technicality that gives them an out to deceive you about something they'd rather not admit, they will. Since I'm familiar with their most frequent obfuscations, I can suggest some pointed questions to ask them.

Was Eli Siegel the greatest person ever to live? They believe this, and they'll probably readily admit to it. But that's pretty good proof about how fanatic they are in their beliefs.

Did the Aesthetic Realism Foundation offer consultations to help people change from homosexuality? If you word it this way you'll likely get the accurate answer -- yes. If you word it any other way then you'll probably get the wrong answer, "No".

Did Eli Siegel say that homosexuality was a form of selfishness? He did, in the 1971 book The H Persuasion.

Did Eli Siegel's life end after he intentionally took an overdose of prescription medications? This is the way you have to ask this question, leaving no room for error, though they will still probably deny it anyway. The spokesperson might say something like "I don't know, I wasn't there," which is an obvious way to avoid answering. But if they claim they don't know how he died because they weren't there, then the obvious followup is:

How can you say that Bluejay et al are lying when they say that Siegel killed himself, if you're telling me that you don't know how he died because you weren't there?

 

Aesthetic Realism glossary / groupspeak

Every cult has its own internal language, and AR is no exception. Here's a list of special AR terms and what they mean.

 

Excerpts of certain articles

"Contempt causes insanity: The guru of aesthetic realism" (Harpers, April 1982, by Hugh Kenner)

"When rumor got out that [this article] had been scheduled, someone rang Harper's to ask if it would be 'fair'..... 'Fair' is a word favored by the Aesthetic Realists, a.k.a. the Embattled Disciples of Eli Siegel and, in some of their incarnations, the Moonies of Poetry. They also favor impersonal constructions, world like "large" and "good," boiler plate like "having-to-do-with." What they push isn't poetry, though poetry is part of it; they push Aesthetic Realism, the banner of a way to psychic wholeness taught by Eli Siegel for forty years. They will testify that he changed their lives, and they cannot get over it. A few months ago some of them rushed a talk show on homosexuality and gave Phil Donahue a hard time. (Are you whole and serene if you stay obsessed with your deliverance? Donahue was too flustered to ask.) ... Thus the title, Self and World, of a posthumous prose 'Explanation of Aesthetic Realism,' from which we (and the press) can at last learn what the press has been Unfair to. Not that we're allowed to forget the intensity of discipleship that pickets, flaunts buttons, and testifies in chorus. At the book's threshold you bang your head on an introductory note by Martha Baird Siegel, who says Self and World is 'the greatest book ever to have been written. If you think I am saying greater than the Bible or Shakespeare--yes, I am.' After that, you'll not be blamed for walking warily. ... Sentence by sentence [Siegel] can be sweetly credible, and you'll not miss what he's overlooking till you come up for reflection. ... The introductory note laments what [Siegel's] isolation may have cost us: 'He thought, for example, if he had been able to work with doctors, he could have found the cause of cancer.' I'm afraid he did think that."

"FYI Put those fears away, all citizens-to-be" (Robin Green, The Globe and Mail, Toronto, Ont.: Apr 28, 1978. p.8)
"Pity the lot of the Aesthetic Realists, a New York-based group with fewer than 200 members who are mad at the New York Times because the Times, they claim, refuses to print a story that 123 homosexuals have changed (to heterosexuality) through Aesthetic Realism. In fact, the AR people are so mad they've been bombarding the Times' city desk with more than 65 calls a day demanding that the story be run. Not just that - they have also taken to holding vigils in front of publisher C. L. Punch Sulzberger's home and those of other top Times officials, and to staging little protests in the Times news room. It's really quite funny, in a sad sort of way, a friend at the Times tells us. They come in a couple of times a week - three sorry-looking guys flanked by two women. The guys wear signs around their necks saying something like 'I used to be a homosexual but Eli Segal (founder of the AR movement) saved me.' At least they had an identity when they were gay; now they look as if they've been put through the laundry. The Times, we understand, is holding to its rise-above-it-all stance and has no plans to publish the story."
The New York Times' review of AR's first gay cure book (Sept. 12, 1971)
"This is less a book than a collection of pietistic snippets by Believers. There is no reason to believe or disbelieve these ex-homosexuals who claim that Eli Siegel put them on the straight and narrow by showing that homosexuality was unaesthetic and therefore contemptuous of life. By the aesthetic realization that Beauty lies in Opposites, they were cured. Nor is there reason to believe that anyone reading this volume would be moved, intrigued, or piqued enough to try the cure." (This is actually the full text of the review, not an excerpt.)

(back to the list of articles)

 

Former members describe Aesthetic Realism

This page last updated September 2015


 

Aesthetic Realism at a Glance

Name

The Aesthetic Realism Foundation

Founded

1941

Founder

Eli Siegel, poet and art/literary critic.
Committed suicide in 1978

Purpose

To get the world to realize that Eli Siegel was the greatest person who ever lived, and that Aesthetic Realism is the most important knowledge, ever.


Philosophy

The key to all social ills is for people to learn to like the world. Having contempt for the world leads to unhappiness and even insanity. (Their slogan is "Contempt causes insanity".) For example, homosexuality is a form of insanity caused by not liking the world sufficiently.

Also teaches that "beauty is the making one of opposites".

Location

New York City (SoHo)


Membership

About 106 (33 teachers, 44 training to be teachers, and 29 regular students). Has failed to grow appreciably even after 70 years of existence, and is currently shrinking.

All members call themselves "students", even the leaders/teachers. Advanced members who teach others are called "consultants".

Method of study

Public seminars/lectures at their headquarters (in lower Manhattan), group classes, and individual consultations (three consultants vs. one student).


Cult aspects

  • Fanatical devotion to their leader/founder
  • Belief that they have the one true answer to universal happiness
  • Ultimate purpose is to recruit new members
  • Feeling that they are being persecuted
  • Wild, paranoid reactions to criticism
  • Non-communication (or at least very limited communication) with those who have left the group
  • Odd, specialized language.

  • More about cult aspects...

 


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Photo of Eli Siegel's gravestone from Find A Grave