From Abracadabra to Zombies | View All
MJB Seminars is a large group self-awareness training program directed by Mitchell J. Behan and Angela Carroll-Behan in Western Australia. In addition to the usual stuff about helping you find your true potential, fulfill your dreams, and achieve maximum happiness, the Behans have two unique twists. "The foundation of our work," they say, "is based on the fundamental universal laws and principles that govern humanity and is derived from the study of quantum mechanics and quantum physics." And, they have a travel department.
Naturally MJB has plenty of testimonials about how wonderful they are and you can visit their website to read them. They also have some dissatisfied customers. For their stories, however, you'll have to go elsewhere. One of them has posted several messages on the Rick Ross cult education forum.
It is rather sad to see normally intelligent people going so far out of their way to follow ... Mitch J. Behan who is using Cognitive Psychotherapy in a most unethical way on unsuspecting and uninformed people who think they are doing Self-Improvement Seminars that will "Transform their life in 48 hours."
It is a mishmash of Quantum Physics/Quantum mechanics pseudoscience gobbledygook to impress, and Dr. Demartini/est/Scientology/Landmark methodology that traps people in a situation where the Seminar facilitator takes control of everything (toilet breaks, permission to speak, etc.) and they do not realise what is being done to them. The hissy fit thrown by these people when they finally realised they could not get me to attend any Seminars was phenomenal.
Normal close family relationships are broken and I have been told that all communication is to cease. There has definitely been a "Transformation" in their lives in 48 hours as per the promises on the internet site for MJB. It is impossible to get them to even consider that the MJB doctrines may be flawed in some way. (Rozzanne)
Another person has written me about her concerns:
There is a group in Western Australia called MJB Seminars. They are run by a Michael [sic] J. Behan who originated in Ireland. I have been unable to find anything out about him other than the spin that this group originates.
They have a Facebook page called "MJB Seminars." [There you'll find some positive feedback, for what it's worth.] They claim to be teaching something based on Quantum Physics and Quantum Mathematics and to be "educating" people.
They teach that the "Universe" loves you, and every bad thing that happened to you was meant to happen and is a result of the Universe teaching you a lesson you had to learn.
I have been told that being a victim of rape and sexual abuse "was love". I said to the person who was trying to coax me into attending an "Information night" and a "Relationships and you" course that if an experience like that in my life was "love" then someone could rape their (the person's) children and it would be "love" also. Their glib reply was "Yes". They did not hesitate in giving me that reply. I find that shocking for a parent to say such a thing.
They are trying to convince me that I am damaged, faulty, broken, etc., and need to attend the course as it will set me free from my past. I know that very few people on this earth are intelligent enough to understand the complexities of Quantum Physics and Quantum Mathematics, and I cannot understand how anyone can be so stupid as to think that this is the answer to everyone's problems etc.
Their tactics are similar to Landmark Forum: the Graduation night and invitations to friends and family to attend; the lack of information; "You have to do it to understand it," "It won't work properly if you know what to expect," "If you don't pay for the course you won't value what you are being taught."
Some months ago I read one woman's message on the Facebook "Mitch and Mills" site where she claimed the course helped her to see the "love" in her sexual abuse experience, and that she was able to thank the abuser and to see the "love" in what happened. I find that quite SICK! Sexual abuse is about power and control and humiliation of the victim, and for someone to be so brainwashed that they see it as a "love" experience, whether it is because they are convinced the "Universe" loved them so much it wanted them to have this traumatic experience to mould their character into what it is today or whatever the sick, twisted reasoning, something is wrong with what this group is teaching.
There may be something wrong with teaching that the Universe loves you and everything that happens to you happens for a reason, but this message is not unique to MJB. It's a message many religious people make: the creator of the universe is perfect love or power or some other noble attribute. From that belief some of these holy, loving people derive a conclusion that makes their creator appear to be the maddest being ever, madder than the maddest hatter, the mad one beyond madness.
The MJB site has a rotating set of quotations. The first time I visited, the following came up (attributed to Einstein):
If this being ‘God’ (Generator, Orchestrator, Designer) is omnipotent, then every occurrence--including every human action, every human thought, every human feeling and every human aspiration is also his work.
From this innocuous little quotation one could derive the conclusion that everything that happens is good and an expression of love. Yes, even child abuse, murder, rape, you name it; all is good because all emanates from the Creator who is all-good. There is a certain appeal to this logic, but since the conclusion is clearly absurd, it is obvious there is something wrong here. Even so, this belief is not a strange teaching among Christians or Hindus or many others. What is strange, though, is that MJB somehow connects this idea with quantum physics and the teachings of The Secret and other New Thought notions. MJB calls it Alchemy and You:
No human being, and that includes you, is deprived of the ability to be wealthy. No matter who you are or what you do whether you work for yourself or work for someone else, whether you consider yourself to be one of the rich or one of the poor, whether you have been earning money for forty years or forty days you can have greater wealth than you have ever believed possible and all the financial security your heart desires. How? By understanding the laws and principles that govern wealth, and managing your money accordingly.
And, you can get the gist of it all in just 48 hours. How cool is that?
The following is from The Skeptic's Dictionary Newsletter, September 2015.
Exploiting Human Potential & the Empowerment Delusion
Self-help guru, life coach, mind science master, human potential motivator--call them what you will--they're everywhere, these vivacious, bouncing-off-the-wall happy, exuberant, exceedingly self-confident men and women who want to help all paying customers discover what is hindering them from achieving their full potential and living more satisfying lives. Many of you may think this movement started with Norman Vincent Peale (1898-1993), whose 1952 bestseller, The Power of Positive Thinking, had few original thoughts and what few it did have were errors. It's still not true that positive thinking ever cured a mental disorder or polio. The belief in the power of the mind to control reality began long before Peale's manifesto, but it wasn't until the 19th century that the first mass movement based on this delusion flourished. The New Thought Movement deflowered many a fine mind striving to unlock the secrets of the universe without having to know how nature actually ticks. Thousands of New Age promoters surround us today, all of them banking on the value of Barnum statements like You have considerable unused capacity that you have not turned to your advantage.
Phineas Parkhurst Quimby (1802-1866) is known as the father of New Thought. He was a New England clockmaker and a follower of the methods of Anton Mesmer (1734-1815), one of the masters of controlling people through suggestion and belief. Like Mesmer, Quimby had a substantial number of followers who believed in his powers of healing. Quimby came to believe that the healing ability was due not to animal magnetism, as Mesmer had thought, but to a god, and that they'd stumbled upon the healing technique of Jesus and other faith healers. They probably had. The power of suggestion, the optimism of the healer, the strong motivation of the sick to be rid of their various ailments (many of them transient or psychological), the faith of the patient in the healer and in the cure, and the rituals and theater of the healing all combine to produce what we now loosely call the placebo effect. Quimby called his healing practice by many names, including Christian Science, which was appropriated by one of his patients, Mary Baker Eddy.
In addition to promoting delusions about the ability of people to cure others and themselves of horrible diseases by the power of thought, the New Thought movement encouraged delusions in other areas of life. Outside of the healing arena, New Thought beliefs contribute to what might be called the empowerment delusion: the false belief that feeling empowered, or believing you are empowered, is the same as being empowered. The empowerment delusion leads people to believe that they can create health or wealth or anything material by willing it or asking a god or the universe to will it. A corollary is the delusion that poverty or sickness is their own fault: their bad thoughts, stinkin' thinkin', negative ideas, lack of faith, etc., cause all misery. The empowerment delusion is fed by appeals to nonsense like the law of attraction and the belief that the universe is animate and has desires and goals. Some self-help gurus claim to understand quantum physics and how to apply this science to their gibberish (Deepak Chopra, Rhonda Byrne, & a host of others). A common teaching among these folks is that you must have faith in faith. In this they resemble faith healers and prosperity preachers like Reverend Ike or Joel Osteen. Ultimately, the billion-dollar self-help industry is largely driven by the empowerment delusion.
The previous two paragraphs are based on my article on New Thought. They should serve as sufficient background to understand the two self-help gurus I am about to introduce: Pam Grout and Mitch Behan.
Pam Grout is the author of many books, including E-Squared: Nine Do-It-Yourself Energy Experiments That Prove Your Thoughts Create Your Reality. (The title may be a take-off of Rupert Sheldrake'sSeven Experiments That Could Change the World. Perhaps I should write a book called Eight Experiments that Expose the Delusions that Drive the Self-Help Movement.) Grout seems to be a true believer in notions such as reality is malleable, consciousness trumps matter, and you shape your life with your mind. The Grouts of the world are not philosophical idealists; nor are they concerned with the obvious ways in which consciousness shapes reality, i.e., by constructing perceptions and memories in such a way as to make experience possible.
Behan, on the other hand, runs seminars that are based on preposterous claims that seem to have been simmered for years in cynicism and loathing. Grout represents the chirpy, cheery side of the self-help movement. Behan represents the vipers. Both sides aim to help their paying clients fulfill their hearts' desires and set loose their untapped potential.
I have no quarrel with people who try to help other people achieve their goals or overcome their fears. Teaching others things they don't know that can help them improve their lives is a noble thing. I especially have no quarrel with those who try to help others see that many of their beliefs are toxic. Who could be against encouraging people to throw off the shackles of prejudice and bigotry that various groups in society have forged regarding our gender, our size, our race, our religion or atheism, or our sexual orientation? Who can be against helping people see through the illusions created by advertisers and celebrities that encourage you to believe you should always be happy and that you can't be happy unless you are wealthy, good looking, admired by millions, and possess inordinate amounts of machinery, electronic gadgets, and brand-name articles of clothing?
What I object to is the next step after helping people realize that much of what they believe is in fact preventing them from being happy or successful in relationships, jobs, and life, and in being comfortable with who they are. In my view, the next step should be to provide people with the means to make good decisions about what to believe and what to do. In short, teach people how to think critically. Teach them about the cognitive biases that plague us all. Teach them about logical fallacies that lead us into error. Then teach them coping skills and other useful things. Instead, the Grouts and the Behans of the world pack a whole new set of beliefs into the heads of those they are trying to help. I'm all for the self-help teacher who sees the student as a cup filled to the brim with a hodgepodge of thoughts that needs to be emptied. What I oppose is the next step self-help teachers actually take, which is to fill up the cup with new thoughts that are delusional or toxic. The universe does not care one whit about who you are or what you make of your life. And, no matter what the vipers tell you, it is not generally true that you need to cut yourself off from your family unless they join you in the cult. Yes, some of the gurus, like Behan, run what are called Large Group Awareness Training Programs that seem to be little more than cults. Their "counselors" hound you with phone calls and threatening messages to attend more seminars and to recruit your friends and family members to attend. Behan, in one of his incarnations, encouraged females who had the misfortune to sign up for one his seminars to "lose themselves in sex" because this "is what the Universe wants for you." Any self-help mentor who is encouraging promiscuous sex is probably out to help himself not his paying customers. Behan advises sex-abuse victims to look for the "blessings" in their abuse. The universe wanted this to happen to guide them, just as the universe wanted him to go to jail for drug dealing. It was a way of setting him up for all the great things ahead.
Grout, on the other hand, really believes there is some sort of invisible energy that connects us all and that you can tap into and control to help energize yourself and drive you to positive thoughts and the achievement of happiness, love, health, you name it.Behan claims he believes that sex attack victims secretly desire assault and that rapists should not be condemned because they teach us to love our unloved parts. Behan also claims to believe what most of the self-help coaches believe: that you're responsible for all the bad things that happen to you. For example, Behan claims that cancer is caused by out-of-balance perceptions, whatever that means. External circumstances beyond our control play a large role in whether any of us are successful at anything. To deny this is to live in a delusional world; yet, this notion is encouraged by all those who claim that diseases, unhappiness, failures, and lack of fulfillment could be avoided if only we had the right beliefs.
Whether their intentions are good or sinister, self-help coaches exploit the empowerment delusion that lurks in the hearts of many people who think their lives should be better and that these coaches know the secret way to achieve that better life. What I find most intriguing about self-help coaches is that the only thing they do is motivate others to find success and happiness. I guess that is how they find success and happiness. Their desire is to help others fulfill their desires. They are like Moses, leading people to the Promised Land but not entering, choosing rather to return and lead more people to the edge of success. The vipers among them don't care what happens to those they recruit. They just want their money, their friends' money, and their family members' money.
I don't doubt that some of these hypomanic motivators do some good and have many satisfied customers. Even so, much of what they preach is nonsense. Your thoughts don't create reality, but they certainly affect how you live and deal with people and events. Your thoughts can hold you back from achieving your goals, but your thoughts are not the reason you have cancer. Your thoughts did not cause and will not cure your schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. You did not get bullied because you desire to be bullied. You did not get sexually harassed because you wanted to be harassed. There is no body of scientific evidence to back up any of the claims of the self-help coaches that you create reality by your thoughts. Of course you can't cook an omelet without thinking about how to do it, but your thoughts did not create the eggs or the finished product. Only in the most trivial, obvious ways do your thoughts create reality, i.e., you have to think about things if you are going to do them. You're not going to create good health by just thinking about it any more than you are going to solve world hunger or global warming by thinking about it. If you don't think about something, of course you are not going to bring it about. It is obvious that thoughts lead to actions but thoughts don't create actions. If your life coach encourages you in pursuit of your goals, fine. But if she teaches you that your negative thoughts are offending the energy of the universe and until you get in harmony with your energy you will be doomed, she is deluded and so are you if you believe her.
It is unfortunate that in addition to the true believers who are kind and loving like Pam Grout, there are the cynical scumbags like Mitch Behan. It would be easier to dismiss these remnants of the New Thought movement if they were all like Behan whose latest scam involves claiming he knows the "laws of money" and will teach you how to get rich. He says he can do this in one weekend no matter who you are, as long as you are willing to pony up a substantial amount of cash. You might call this the Reverend Ike law of money: you've got to give money to get money and there are no refunds.
For the record, my earliest encounter with self-help garbage was when an aunt gave me a copy of Maxwell Maltz's Psycho-Cybernetics in 1963. I don't remember reading the book, nor do I recall its main message. Wikipedia says that Maltz was a cosmetic surgeon and that the main message of his book is "a person must have an accurate and positive view of him- or herself before setting goals; otherwise he or she will get stuck in a continuing pattern of limiting beliefs." Perhaps Maltz and Peale influenced the self-esteem movement, a pony that one of our California legislators rode into the ground. I can't really say that I have ever been a fan of the self-image or self-esteem movement. I remember somebody once noting that Stalin, Hitler, and Saddam Hussein didn't seem to suffer from lack of self-esteem or from not having an accurate or positive image of themselves. I don't think this is much of an issue for Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, either. In a way, I suppose, you could say that these evil characters created their own reality with their thoughts...and words and deeds and the help of their minions and satisfied customers.
books and articles
Barry, Dave. "Altered States" in The Miami Herald, April 13, 1997. (Humorist Dave Barry takes Peter Lowe's SUCCESS 1997 12-hour success seminar featuring Anthony Robbins, Elizabeth Dole, Rabbi Harold Kushner, Brian Tracy, Lou Holtz, Jim Morris, Peter Lowe, Pat Riley, Dr. Ted Broer, George Bush, and Dan Kennedy.)
The Awareness Page - everything you wanted to know about various LGATs
Jamal Mazrui's Empowerment Zone an amazingly extensive list of Internet links for "helping individuals and communities achieve self-actualization and full citizenship"
List of self-help authors (by their fruits ye will know them!)
[new] MJB Seminars life coach tells sex abuse victims to look for ‘blessings’ A PERTH “life coach” with no qualifications wants sexual assault and domestic violence victims to pay him thousands of dollars so he can use “quantum physics” to show them how to find the “blessings” in their trauma.
Behan, a former drug dealer, calls himself a "master teacher." Master deceiver would be more accurate.
MJB head facilitator Emilia Tomeo said the group did not need qualifications in counselling or psychology to help abuse victims.
“We are not therapists, this is not a form of therapy and we don’t claim to be therapists of any sort,” she said. “We simply help people to help themselves.”
MJB Seminars charges $2,695 (Australian) for a weekend course that will take you through the seven steps that will “transform your mind and your wealth.” The first step, it seems, would be to recognize that you are being duped when told the $2,695 is non-refundable.
WA life coach Mitch Behan condemned after teaching sex attack victims ‘desire’ assault A WA “life coach” with thousands of followers is teaching clients that sex attack victims secretly desire assault, cancer is caused by out-of-balance perceptions and that rapists should not be condemned because they teach us to “love our unloved parts.” Following The Sunday Times story that revealed Balcatta life coach Mitch Behan was telling victims of sexual assault to be grateful for the “love the universe had shown them”, a number of his former followers have come forward to air their concerns.
Quantum Quackery by Derryn Hinch "MEET THE DIRTBAG of the week. This man, ‘master educator’ Mitchell Behan, is trying to make money out of the suffering of traumatised sexual abuse and domestic violence victims....This is exploitation of the worst kind."
Thanks, From Mitch by Derryn Hinch "Self-described: arsehole, thief, fake THAT FLIM-FLAM MAN I called a scumbag and ‘lowlife of the week’ yesterday, wants to thank me. Well, not directly, but I’ve been reading up a bit more on ‘Master Educator’ Mitch Behan. And he says he embraces criticism and insults. The more the merrier."[/new]