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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.

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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."

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7. Spiritual

- Religion and Self-Esteem (from Craig Davis, craighd@pegasus.rutgers.edu)

Historically, religion has been used to give members of a governed population


a sense of disconnections from God. The idea that you have to go to the
priest, rabbi, imam, etc. for spiritual communion means that you don't have
the capacity within yourself to connect directly with higher power. And
of course, there's the Christian notion 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>.

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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.

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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.

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

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 self-
improvement 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>.

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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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