As a result of widespread gross violations of ethical norms and professional principles of work in the last decade, personal growth trainings have become increasingly unsafe for participants. This is confirmed by numerous Internet forums of ex-lifespringists and communities of assistance to injured participants in trainings. The most famous of them is the information project “Open Consciousness” on the site www.sektam.net. Among the psychological effects of personal growth training described there are:
- “post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms”
- “persistent memory impairment”
- “decreased intelligence”
- “emotional insanity”
- and “protracted depressions”.
All this applies to people who have realized the harm done. With those who “remained in the training”, the situation is more categorical: there is a formalism and stereotyped judgments, a constant feeling of euphoria, an obsession with group ideas and social projects from “fundraising” to “changing life on the planet”. Among the delayed results of long-term immersion in training are sleep disturbances, complete physical exhaustion, job loss, complete or partial loss of the former social status and environment, partnership conflicts and the breakdown of established family relationships with the rapid formation of a couple with one of the group members obsessed with the same ” the general idea of the reorganization of the world.
“The real goal of the impact is not the initially declared “personal growth” of the individual, but the methodical and consistent erasure of his bright individuality through the obligatory and unified participation of everyone in an extremely charged and dramatically pumped up” mass psychosis “(Ispolatova E.N. Psychiatric aspect of “Lifespring”, or Recipes as old as the world “new life”).
One of the most authoritative experts in criminal cases related to psychological violence in the post-Soviet space, Yevgeny Volkov, explains the scheme of psychotraining activities “for dummies” – people who are little knowledgeable in sociology and psychology, who constitute the main risk group for becoming a victim of deception and manipulation.
“Lifespring” and its clones are “traps” (fraud) only somewhat more complicated than, for example, the game of “thimbles”. Their action does not end with a one-time withdrawal of money and a one-time infliction of socio-psychological damage, but is built into the life of the victim for the regular collection of “tribute”. Property and financial damage – during the involvement in the training as an ordinary member, socio-psychological damage – during the rest of life, if rehabilitation does not occur. The selfish goal of personal growth trainings is more than obvious – these are significant amounts that the organizers and leaders receive from each group (from 5 to 20 thousand dollars, depending on the level and size of the group).
The money is collected as donations of two types: for courses and for so-called “social projects”. “Social projects” are usually very limited – clean up the garbage in the park, paint the benches, “for an operation” or most often “for an orphanage”. Such social cult rituals allow the “puppeteer” to control your life outside the walls of the Lifespring. Such nuances that operations collect 2-3 times more money than necessary and there is no reporting on them, we omit. In addition, “social projects” are “good advertising”, “PR-actions” and a cover for the activities of a psychocult. “(E.N. Volkov, M.V. Vershinin. Sources of Life” or parasites of illusions? lifespring training).