– Psychiatrist doctor
– Member of the “Health, Ethics and Ideologies” Commission of the Espace Ethique Méditerranéen.

– Chairman of the GEMPPI, steering association for the “Health, Ethics and Ideologies”, Commission of the Espace Ethique Méditerranéen

Psychotherapeutic deviation
The use psychotherapy in the case of cult influence

a) What is the link between a cult or a manipulative guru and a psychotherapist ?

An answer to this question was given in the 2001 report of the Interministerial Mission Campaign against Cults (Mission Interministérielle de Lutte contre les Sectes – MILS) given to the Prime Minister. This contains a warning on the subject of psychotherapists’ activities:

“Along with professional training, psychotherapy is a privileged field besieged by small sectarian groups, in which frauds and gurus capable of enormous damage to vulnerable people hold sway”.

In an interview, Anne Fournier, a representative of Miviludes, stated that:

“the services on offer attract a lot of individual consumers. People who leave themselves open to temptation to various kinds of therapy, by tarot readings, communications courses to learn to manage your emotions, and who devour New Age publications. Of course, not all of them join a cult, but they do hover around the sidelines… Traditional doctors have occasionally been known to do so.”

In a report of 27th September 1996, the Council of the Order of Doctors estimated that 3000 French doctors were involved in cults.

“Health professionals and liberals turn to cults after ten or fifteen years of practising. Just when they are looking to breathe new life into their careers”, explains Maryline Deuxdeniers, a Health Adviser with MIVILUDES.

“During training courses, they can come across a cult organisation, and allow themselves to become trapped. Doctors’ financial position kindles the greed of sectarian groups.”

Cults are in the process of massively investing themselves in the health and well-being sector, particularly in the psychotherapy niche. According to some people, this is a result of the profession having no legal controls in most European countries, and when there is some form of regulation, it is not able to compensate for problems arising from some kinds of abuse, particularly mental manipulation, made easier by this type of activity. For others, this phenomenon arises from the fact that some countries give support to alternative medicine (it is sometimes strange when they are not considered superstitions), through the creation of State Certificate, or through granting them legal status.

All commentators point to their growing success, singling out a technological pseudo-Buddhism or pantheism known under the New Age label. In this kind of scenario, the master or guru often bears the title of psychotherapist. They adorn their “New Age” doctrine and beliefs with scientific and psychological vocabulary. This is usually a kind of psycho-sectarianism using psychological principles known throughout the profession, mixed in with superstitious or religious beliefs. Generally speaking, this is about making a connection between the soul of the patient-follower, easily mixed up in their mind, and a universal energy or awareness. This higher energy is supposed to be capable of granting knowledge, well-being, power and complete cures.

However, access to this energy is virtually impossible for non-believers, who are “overly conditioned by their education and by society, too mentally polluted to gain an awareness of its profound reality” and to reach this other dimension of life (an illusion often put forward to be Maya Hindu). But success is guaranteed when directed at a total holistic insider, a channel, a mediator for transcendental reality. Whether he puts himself forward as a guru or a psychotherapist, he claims to have complete knowledge of what we are made of – body, mind and soul – and he therefore knows how to resolve problems with neuroses, psychopathologies and other illnesses… For him, medicine and psychotherapy do not treat symptoms. He treats real, deep-seated causes. These “true” causes are supposedly spiritual, astral or psychic.

We therefore find ourselves with a system where we have to believe, as nothing can be scientifically proven.
It cannot be proven, for example, that illnesses arise from psychological trauma. The “guru-therapist”, often alone in his view on things and in his doctrine, therefore becomes essential, as these “initial causes” are generally unknown to scientists. It would be more honest for these holistic therapists to put themselves forward as healers, clairvoyants, etc.

b) Some definite examples of psycho-sectarianism

Kryeon and EMF Balancing

This is a new psycho-ufological product that is currently very much in fashion, originating in the United States. Entities, archangels, revelations from beyond the grave and extra-terrestrials, Hinduism with a New Age flavour, psychotherapy, alternative medicine, gene supremacy and peculiar ideas about human genetics are all included.
It presents itself under various different names: Kryeon, Kryon and EMF Balancing. Its founder, Lee Carroll has a very unusual doctrine for children’s education, wherein an indigo-coloured aura designates them as superhuman or gods. The ordinary essence of human beings can be of any colour, whereas the spiritual race of geniuses is set apart by its blue indigo aura. Adult followers are trained to detect this superhuman children and to steer their parents to their highly unusual form of education. TheseIndigo children must not mix with other children, who are deemed inferior. Another problem to fear in the distressing induction of children into these psychic beliefs is that the parents are led to believe that if they do not agree to follow the teachings of the Kryeon entity, their “indigo” children run the risk of developing suicidal tendancies. (See: Exploration of cults and Religions No. 54 – GEMPPI2002)

“He backed up his psychotherapeutic speech by a syncretistic jumble of Catholicism, mixed with a karmic approach”

A man told us about his experience with a psychological guru: “Following a work-related move and the death of my partner’s younger brother, she ended up physically tired and psychologically depressed. An acquaintance referred her to a psychotherapist/magnetic healer: After two sessions, my partner told me that the therapist saw me through her and wanted to meet me urgently, because our relationship was in danger. Upon meeting the therapist, he set about trying to ruin me and encourage feelings of guilt. Instead of consolidating our relationship, he tried his best to belittle my wife. He backed up his psychotherapeutic speech by a syncretistic jumble of Catholicism, mixed with a karmic approach. He had no humanity in him whatsoever, and tried to persuade my wife to leave me.”

Another man came up against a team of “holistic” therapists who tried to seduce his wife, and who built their business by passing their customers to one another:

“An osteopath attracts people who have suffered accidents, ill or stressed people and, after having taken their payment for his services, sends them to see one of his partner psychotherapists, or rebirth-relaxologist-relaxation therapist-hypnotherapist partners. The problem is particularly that the psychotherapist, thanks to his gift of divination and the clairvoyance of his partner, sees a malicious being in all his patients/customers that plunges them into their state of stress. After a number of hyperventilation sessions (rebirth), the therapist made my wife relive her birth (this practice can cause hallucinations) and his divination partner put her through several spell-breaking sessions, using: prayer, photographs, candles, locks of burnt hair, wax dolls billed at 600 euros and a kind of electrical current tester to measure stress (looking strangely like a Scientologist’s electrometer).

A whole list of New Age books, and sometimes sectarian books was offered to the patient/customer, who had become a follower. The hallucinations are interpreted and result in instructions being given by the therapist, who invents a false suggested memory for his customer/follower and convictions leading my wife to practice Feng Shui (another paying service) and to leave the family home with our child to be guided by this therapist and Jesus…Our relationship obviously did not survive this treatment, particularly given that my scepticism made me the evil cause of all my wife’s problems.”

A “transactional analysis, psycho-energetic osteopath, philosophy” cocktail

Here is the content of two letters we received some time ago about a similar case:

“Dear Sir, every weekend, my sister goes to see Mr….to undergo transactional psychotherapy. She has become very touchy, and jumps down everyone’s throat – particularly with her husband and children. Since this has been happening, she has been vocally anti-medical, anti-vaccinations and anti-allopathic medicines (antibiotics, etc). Be it the asthmatic bronchitis of her son (9 years old) or the whooping cough of her daughter (8 years old), it is impossible to treat them without her making a scene. My sister will only swear by homeopathy, naturopathy, crystal therapy (amongst other things, meant to clear the garden of moles). And to top it all off, my sister is an osteopath and believes she belongs to a spiritual elite of the human race. Only the osteopathic treatment she gives to her daughter can clear up her problems of academic underachievement, and prevent her from becoming autistic. (This is, in fact, a healthy child, lively and in good shape). Since all this started, she has asked her husband to mortgage his personal assets. She follows a course with an association that practices therapy marathons of transactional analysis and osteopathy.”

The husband’s letter: “Dear Sir, after training as an osteopath, my wife has taken lessons in energy techniques. Since this time, she has devoted herself to what I can only describe as psycho-energetic osteopathy, putting into practice certain philosophical concepts she has been taught – what has particularly led her to plan a “retirement” in the desert. Her personality has changed a great deal. Our relationship has crumbled as a result. »

Psycho-genealogy and the Hamer Method

In February 2001, a gentleman came to see us because his son and his daughter-in-law would not allow him to see his granddaughter any more, who had a rare illness that was difficult to treat. Up to that time, the grandfather had helped his son and his daughter-in-law, babysitting for the child when they were out at work. We could go so far as to say the child was half brought up by her grandfather. The parents were obviously deeply troubled by their child’s illness, and in their distress, turned to whoever promised the best cure. In particular, they turned to a doctor who modelled himself on Dr. Hamer, and who was a follower of psycho-genealogy. However, the grandfather’s mistrust of the simplistic solutions offered by this form of psycho-genealogy incurred the wrath of the “transgenerational specialist”, who decided that the cause of the child’s illness came from her ascendants – in this case from her grandfather. As the grandfather was raising a fuss about this, he was forbidden from seeing the child, for her own good, otherwise the family therapy would stand no chance of success. Result: The grandfather can no longer see his granddaughter. His son and his daughter-in-law are very cold towards him. This creates problems for them, as they are forced to find another solution for looking after the child, who remains ill. Thankfully, for the time being at least, the psycho genealogist in question has not decided to contraindicate traditional medical treatment.In psycho-genealogy, this situation is called a “nest conflict”. “This conflict corresponds to problems with people who live in our home….everybody we want to have under our wing….grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins”….So say the psycho-genealogists.

The American Senate bans Rebirth Therapy

Associated Press – Tuesday, 17th September 2002. WASHINGTON – The Senate voted on Tuesday to ban a therapy technique known as ‘rebirth’, giving the reason that is dangerous and harmful and it encouraged all US states to introduce laws banning this practice. (Various New Age movements draw inspiration from Rebirth, some of which have been designated as cults by French parliamentary reports). Rebirth is a form of therapy mainly used to treat relational problems in some adopted children who resist any attachment to their new parents. Children are placed under pillows, eiderdowns and covers supposed to represent the womb, and they are encouraged to find their own way out – to emerge “reborn”, with their adopted parents. In 2000, a 10 year old child from Colorado was suffocated during a rebirth session. Four adults were sitting on pillows and covers covering the small girl, applying a pressure of hundreds of kilos on her. Two of the therapists were sentenced to sixteen years in prison following the death of Candace Newmaker. Colorado has since banned rebirth therapy. The resolution notes that four children have died in different ways during this therapy.

A “Buddhist” psychotherapist, his tantric methods and a perverse guru

Under the pretext of “spiritual therapy”, a Buddhist psychotherapist trained Valérie over a three-year period to perform degrading sexual acts and cheated her out of a large sum of money.

Another case: Nicolas and his partner Anne were going through a difficult period, and they decided to do something about it themselves. They came across a book by Paul S….. and started to develop an interest in its Hindu-inspired philosophy. They met him at his ashram and decided to go and live close by. Didier, the right-hand man of Paul S….. took responsibility for their spiritual wellbeing. He became both their therapist and their initiatory teacher. But after several years of intensive work, Didier decreed that Anna would be “Mother” to his ashram and therefore his new partner. (From “Sortir d’une secte”, pages 91 and 126, Tobie Nathan and Jean Luc Swertvaegher, Les empêcheurs de penser en rond, Seuil 2003)

Some groups cited as cults in the two latest French parliamentary reports (1995 and 1999) using psychotherapy

Anthropos (Mental Activation), Avatar (Star’Edge), Innergy , Eckankar, MSIA, Insight training seminar, La Maison de Jean, Méthode Silva, Body Mirror System, Vital Harmony, Gnostic Study Centre, Energy and Creation, Evolutionary Research Therapy and Teaching, Nazareth Family (Existential psychoanalysis workshop), Transcendental Meditation, The Tree in the Middle, Landmark Education, Mind Science (Psycho/spiritual practice), Humanist Movement, Know how to change now, Scientology (Dianetics), Silva, International Society of Analytical Trilogy, Spiritual Emergence Network (Holotropic breathing) ETC.

Cults and healing gurus often use several psychotherapy techniques simultaneously (see below) and add occult and magic practices to them, such as Reiki and alternative medicine and very fashionable things such as kinesiology, which claims to be able to interpret stress and psychological moods by touching muscular tensions. (On the subject of Reiki, please see GEMPPI bulletin no. 43)

c) Is it possible to give a precise definition of any form of psychotherapy?

While it is true that psychological gurus are not in short supply, the majority of psychotherapists (often trained psychiatrists or psychologists) are honest and conscientious, and would benefit from psychotherapy having to meet strict guidelines for being more open which would, we believe, be more effective than merely issuing diplomas or introducing laws.

We could place all psychological therapists under this heading, based in, qualified by and recognised by the scientific community. They may be verbal or physical bodily therapy that does not use medicines.

They are not psychism treatments, but rather treatments implementing psychic methods. Be it verbal or physical, above all else psychotherapy is a technique that uses speech, is given on the subject’s request, used for their well-being, while respecting their wishes and their freedom. As with all techniques, it should be used with expertise and in accordance with ethics.

Using this definition means that we accept the current diversity in the many forms of psychotherapy, from the most “verbal” kind (psychoanalysis) to the most physical, on the condition that they meet this definition: they are a technique and not an ideology, requested by the subject for their own well-being (and not necessarily to treat an illness, according to the World Health Organisation), they respect the subject’s wishes and freedoms, they have proven abilities and a clearly-defined ethical rules.

Conversely, psychotherapy performed by a guru would mostly be a mixture of beliefs (past lives, etc.) and scientific data resulting in dependency on the guru, who has a hold over his patient.

d) What different types of psychotherapy exist, and what do they have to offer?

We are currently witnessing an ever-growing number of different forms of psychotherapy which draw on the theories described above to a greater or lesser extent, and which are sometimes qualified a little too hastily. There is no shortage of journals and magazines offering psychotherapy services where no training or qualification is mentioned. This is the object of our recommendations.

The classifications we give only refer to a certain number of the two to three hundred existing techniques. As it is not possible to provide an exhaustive list, we shall show broad classes of psychotherapy (there are other classifications!). For example:

Support psychotherapy, psychoanalytic psychotherapy, Berne’s new transactional analysis psychotherapy, meeting movements, deep meditation, psychodramas (Moreno, Lebovici, Diatkine, Kestenberg), verbal group psychotherapy, physical psychotherapy, behavioural psychotherapy, retroactive psychotherapy.

These kinds of psychotherapy can also be defined as much by the people at which they are aimed (groups, family, couples, institutions) as by the procedures they use: art therapy, music therapy, occupational therapy – and also by their use of more physical methods: relaxation, etc.

But we prefer to make classifications according to the psychological theory employed by the therapist to this highly technical way of classifying, and the conceptual models for understanding the psychic dynamics of their actions. Because it depends on this type of theory choice that the therapist can carry out his work and form the kind of relationship that he seeks with his patients.

With this in mind, we can distinguish:

a) Psychotherapy inspired by psychoanalysis

This is a practice derived from psychoanalysis. In its most common form, this is practised on a one-on-one basis, using a different timetable of sessions than a typical course of treatment (averaging one or two sessions per week instead of three). The process of change expected from this course of treatment rests on the reconstruction of unconscious facts granting access to hitherto repressed, denied or inaccessible perceptions. Transference and counter-transference form the foundation of this treatment process.

Taking into account the ever-growing needs for psychotherapy, the analytic course model has diversified and relaxed and given rise to the variety of applications in the form of psychoanalytical-inspired psychotherapy described above.

b) Other forms of psychotherapy

Behavioural and Cognitive Trends

This is the dominant trend at the moment, and the one which has seen the best therapeutic results. These kinds of therapy have just undergone significant evaluation by INSERM, which has been contested by advocates of psychodynamic psychotherapy. It grew out of the application of experimental psychology in the clinical field in order to understand, evaluate and treat mental disorders – particularly behavioural problems. It applies information from responsive, operative, social and cognitive tests and seeks to modify daily medicine through updated methods by clinical experimental research. It refers to a theory of the mind linked to the cognitive sciences in which the ultimate goal is to determine the conditions under which mental disorders develop, from neuro-physiological and neuropsychological procedures. What is more, cognitivism takes into consideration disorders involving proper conduct and behaviour, as well as apparently neurotic symptoms that arise from faults in learning programmes. Its aim is to objectify processes at work in the mind and to treat disturbances according to identifiable and reproducible procedures

The Systemic Trend

This is based on theoretical conceptions inspired by both anthropology and general systems theory. Established in the 1950s in Palo Alto by an American psychologist, Gregory Bateson, systemic therapy is based on the theory of original communication. In this theory, the patient is considered one of the elements in a communications network who provides a link between his social group and his family. Systemic modelling mainly looks at interaction within the family and at social contextual indicators in which the patient has more involvement than any subjective factors of his problems. Identifying family problems thereby enables us to correct negative effects and encourage the creative impulses of the patient and his friends and family. Change is expected to arise from the creation of new contexts, modifications in communicational mechanisms and the establishment of procedures compatible with the mental disorders detected.

The Humanist Trend

Humanist psychotherapy is centred around the individual, and seeks to promote self-reliance in him. It also aims to do this without any prior theorising. It promotes a helping relationship based on reciprocal understanding and on the therapist’s empathy with his patient. It was Carl Rogers, an American psychologist who first defined the concepts of humanist psychotherapy and detailed the technique. Aside from empathy, it is founded on the notion of “congruence”, or the intuitive parallel feelings of the therapist with those of his patient. Congruence reveals itself through the reformulation of affects as the psychotherapist feels them – i.e.: with a certain interval enabling the therapist to evaluate the negative feelings experienced by the patient. Humanist psychotherapy is also practised in groups. This form of psychotherapy therefore concentrates on “the beneficial aspects of the encounter and on the areas of freedom this opens up”. Humanist psychotherapy is principally aimed at individuals looking for their “personality to blossom”.

“Eclectic and Integrative” Trends

This came about after noting the multiplicity of techniques, the lack of coherence and the weakness of some theories, the dogmatism and ostracism of many divisive schools of though opposing each other in rival cliques. It aims to introduce a more thorough approach to the field, based on scientific studies. For example, studies have shown that, without exception, all these theories and techniques use the same factors, in varying degrees, known as “common factors”, such as combination therapy, patient motivation, therapist motivation, a desire for change, affect regulation, links between affects and cognitions, etc.

These benchmark theories are all used in psychotherapy performed in other situations, such as institutional, group, family and relationship psychotherapy.

Among the many forms of psychotherapy, we can cite hypnosis, and particularly Ericksonian hypnosis at the moment, and also Gestalt therapy, Bioenergy, Transactional analysis, etc.

Some psycho-cults or forms of psychotherapy occasionally misused or which easily lend themselves to sectarian deviations

NB: With the exception of Scientology, the forms of therapy quoted below are not cults. They are included because they lend themselves to sectarian infiltration by some spiritualist or aberrant aspects more easily than others.

Hostile analyses

According to Jean-Marie Abgrall (see bibliography below), in “La Mécanique des Sectes” in contrast to therapeutic analysis, which concentrates on controlling transference and makes it an element of relational balance between the psychoanalyst and his patient through the use of counter-transference, cults increase the perverse effects of transference and push towards a caricature of identifications, thereby encouraging dependency and a fear of breaking off the treatment. The guru is no longer a mere surrogate father – he becomes the father.”

Bio-energy – bio-energetic analysis

Method created by Alexander Lowen, who drew his inspiration from Wilhelm Reich. According to Lowen, a fundamental energy is present in the body, manifesting itself in the form of psychic and somatic phenomena: bio-energy. Some exercises consist of hitting the couch with the feet, while shouting. This goes some way towards Janov’s primal scream. More recently, Lowen added an idea of spirituality into his body/psyche equation, which paves the way for cults.


In the USA during the 1960s, New Age, a powerful mystical trend threw itself into yoga, meditation and relaxation techniques. Some movements such asTranscendental Meditation (listed as a cult by MPs in 1995) mixed together spiritual beliefs with psychological techniques, offering huge success (leading names in show business were great converts) with methods for modifying the frequency of certain brainwaves.

At the same time, some researchers were creating equipment for measuring activity and electrical impulses in muscles and the brain (alpha waves), through amplification, favouring internal work within the subject: an electronic device transforms a physiological parameter (blood pressure, electromyogram, skin resistance, skin temperature, etc.) into a signal (audio and visual). Using this information, the subject will attempt to change his physiological state, and receives notice of his success or his failure as a proportion of the result. This is an “operating conditioning” of the independent nervous and neuromuscular system.


According to this idea, we are governed by three cycles of twenty-three days: physical, emotive and intellectual cycles. Once we gain familiarity with the process, we can use these cycles to better understand and recover (after surgery, for example). However, some exponents push this method to extremes and arrive at a virtually divinatory system where the time and date of birth of the practitioners determines the choices and decisions they must take in their lives at any given moment. For the time being, biorhythms cannot predict the future…

Channelling – a new version of spiritualism

This represents a return to good old-fashioned spiritualism brought up to date by a modern, catchy vocabulary. This concept is all about communicating with the hereafter (the deceased, angels, extra-terrestrials, entities, etc). While in a trance, the channel-medium appears to relinquish their body to a spirit who speaks through their mouth. One of the best known of these mediums was Edgard Cayce. Other people have also exploited the system, such as the Maguy Lebrun groups (whoseA.P.R.E.S. organisation was listed as a cult in the parliamentary report of 1995). But where is the therapy in all this? In fact, the therapists are the entities or spirits which, through the channel-medium, prescribe treatment or ways for psychological calm to follow.


Where the psychological profile of an individual is painted through reading the lines on their hand.

Glaudianism (catharsis)

This is a form of psychotherapy invented by Albert Glaude which aims to “revive blacked out periods responsible for ill health…using a symbolic tunnel”, but in fact, this method very often culminates in suggested false memories regularly and arbitrarily diagnosing parental rape or sexual abuse in the first months or years of life as being the cause of psychological problems. (see GEMPPI bulletin no. 56)

Lying and past lives

A method more spiritual than psychological. This is used by a number of cults, such as Scientology, which draw their inspiration from the religions of the Far East. Members regress into the history of their past lives. These so-called past lives are particularly suited to suggest false memories and therefore to give orders on therapy or how to lead your life.

Metamorphics (techniques)

Techniques with close links to reflexology and invented by Robert Saint John, who drew his inspiration from Chinese beliefs, philosophy and medicine. A lot of therapists and healers work in this field, concentrating on “life force” or “energies”.

P. H. R. (Personnalité et Relations Humaines) (Character and Human Relations)

A psychological method used by some charismatic Catholic groups. A unpleasant mixture of religion and psychology (see bibliography: Shipwrecks of the Mind – Les naufragés de l’esprit)

Psycho-genealogy and the Hamer Method

See above, in the chapter on “Some definite examples to illustrate our position”

Reich Wilhelm – Reichian Therapy

Therapy founded by Wilhelm Reich, who broke away from Freudian philosophy. Reich made the sexual orgasm the prototype for the functioning of the body, which goes from tension to relaxation, from bio-energy charge to release. He named this concept: orgone. This orgone appears in the body, in plants and in the atmosphere (it is easy to imagine the interest this theory presents for psycho-cults that advocate pantheistic and tantric beliefs). All psychosomatic problems arise from orgastic dysfunction. The establishment of full orgastic powers can therefore bring about the healing of mental imbalances. For Reich, sexual repression (social, moral, education) lies at the heart of orgastic dysfunction. The prevention of neuroses is therefore accomplished through sexual, cultural and political revolution. This sexual revolution causes not only a barrier for the personality, but also the creation of a barrier for muscular tension. This barrier, this muscular stiffness contains the whole story and meaning behind the origins of each of us. The orgastic way of thinking must therefore be re-established by first of all identifying the seven zones of bodily inhibition (representing the seven chakras of yoga) in order to enable the orgone – orgastic energy – to circulate properly. Massages are performed, accompanied by breathing exercises. Finally, Reich tried to directly affect bodily energy concentration through the use of orgone accumulators meant to catch and store atmospheric orgone (atmospheric vital, or sexual, energy). These accumulators were boxes made up of alternate layers of metal and organic materials. To try and find a cure for cancer and to attract this mysterious Orgone, he carried out experiments on nuclear irradiation, which caused him and his collaborators to develop serious illnesses. Obviously, science has not recognised the existence of any Orgone. Reich did, however, inspire lot of creators of various forms of psychotherapy. Tantric-inspired cults were to find justification for their practices in Reich’s way of thinking. We can see a particularly close link between this psychological doctrine and kinesiology, which is very fashionable at the moment.


This came out of 1960s California and was created by Ida Rolf, who claimed to be able to modify the individual’s body structure through deep massaging, in order to “create harmony between the gravitational field and the earth”. – Many healing cults have taken hold of this kind of harmonisation concept, because nothing can be verified about it (IVI, ETC)

Scientology, or Dianetics

A movement listed as a cult in all parliamentary reports. Its founder, L. Ron Hubbard, was sentenced for fraud in France in 1983. Scientology presents itself to be absolute psychotherapy. It is about reliving traumatic memories in order to rid ourselves of them. When the client is ready, he is trained to re-remember traumatic memories from his past lives. After a whole life devoted to this and thousands of euros’ worth of training and auditions (a kind of confession, sometimes assisted by a kind of lie detector), he can eventually gain access to the big secrets of humanity, as summarised here: millions of years ago, the evil Xenu, a dictator from the galactic federation, threw all the dissenting voices of his regime into the earth’s volcanoes and killed them all with atomic bombs. The disembodied spirits of these dissidents, the Thetans, possess us like demons. They therefore have to be tamed through the use of Dianetics, or Scientology. This is, in fact, a kind of permanent ritual of exorcism of the Thetans that possess us. Ron Hubbard is also an author of science fiction, which certainly explains a lot.

Transpersonal (psychology)

This provides a bridge between all sorts of human disciplines: the body, the mind, the conscience and eventually the soul. Generally speaking, this is about using and interpreting mystical states or occurrences. During the 1960s, users of hallucinogenic drugs and Carl Gustave Jung thought along these lines. Conversely, Freud defined these states as “oceanic experiences”, or “regressions to the mother’s womb”. These practices are similar to those performed in Raja yoga Brahmâ Kumari, another cult listed in the parliamentary report of 1995.

Tunnel (therapy)

See Glaudian Catharsis, above. For more information, see also “La thérapie par le tunnel” (Tunnel Therapy), by Jean Côté, published by Carte Blanche 1997 – Quebec. “To pass through a tunnel is to have access to information – past, hidden and forgotten experiences, obscured in the night-time of my early childhood which had a determining influence on my life as it stands”. This method draws its inspiration from the “Waking Dream” and lends itself to the induction of false memories and mental manipulation – everything depends on the therapist.

Astral voyage – leaving the body

These techniques are much more spiritual than psychological, and are used by many movements listed as cults (the followers of Samaël Aun Wéor, for example). These therapists mimic Hindu beliefs, while caricaturing them, consisting of making the spirit or the astral body break free of the physical body. This is what some New Age followers believed when they experimented with psychedelic drugs (LDS, magic mushrooms) as was the fashion in the USA during the 1970s. South American hallucinogenic plants are currently coming back into fashion in certain cults, which claim to have an initiatory practice using these drugs, like shamanism. There are plenty of shaman-therapists or psychotherapists on the psycho-spirituality market at the moment. Inspiration is drawn from both Native Americans and Tibetan lamas. But some people who have tried the astral voyage had the painful surprise of not recovering their mind and stayed in distress in the ethereal world (a psychiatric hospital, for example). There are certain connections between these methods and techniques of assisted waking dreams – therapy based on the patient’s imagination.

e) What deviations from this are possible and what are their dangers ?

Each technique has very particular deviations, not least through incompetence, lack of respect for proper practice and a lack of ethics of the practitioner.

But for us, the main deviation lies in the use made of transference and its corollary, counter-transference.

A reminder: in psychoanalysis, transference is the process where unconscious desires come to the fore on some objects, within the framework of a certain type of relationship established between them and above all within the context of an interpersonal therapeutic relationship. This is all about the repetition of childish prototypes with a marked sense of the here-and-now. Defined in this manner, we can understand its use by the psychotherapist in a relationship entirely about psychotherapy, even in any kind of relationship.

Another reminder: inherent to any relational approach, a competent and ethical therapist has to react to this transference with counter-transference. This means to understand, analyse what this transferential message means for both the patient and for himself and to use it in therapy. This is a far cry from the initial listening or mirroring stage that some badly trained psychotherapists call therapeutic.

We can understand what deviations we are exposed to:

When an incompetent psychotherapist does not understand the information supplied by transference or uses counter-transference badly – or doesn’t use it at all; when a psychotherapist uses his patient’s transference for non-therapeutic ends (financial gain, the flattering of his own ego on a psychological and/or sexual level); when a pseudo-therapist uses transference – and encourages it – in order to manipulate a weak patient with a view to steering them towards a cult or small pseudo-therapeutic group.

f) Can we improve this situation? If so, how?

How can we mark out the route in order to avoid deviations that encourage cult influence, without using an unacceptably high level of authority that would run contrary to a psychotherapeutic approach?

Several perfectly acceptable proposals already exist which, in our opinion, do not sufficiently take into account the disadvantages of fixing this kind of activity within diplomas and laws. Here are a few examples:


    1. Report from the Academy of Medicine in their session of 1st July 2003. Too corporatist for our taste.


    1. Proposals contained in a book by Martine MAURER, please see the bibliography below.


    1. Analysis of European projects for defining the title of psychotherapist.


Introduction of a European diploma. We believe this to be dangerous. Who is going to give official recognition to psychotherapists, some of whose work arises from superstitious beliefs? (Scientology or Dianetics, astral voyage under its various names, regression to past lives in order to fix the problems of the present, or Lying, suggested false memories, or False Memory Syndrome, Glaudian Catharsis,
Psycho-genealogy, Rebirth, Silva Method, EMF Balancing, Landmark, etc). How can such a diploma be granted? Therefore, the risk of giving approval to dubious or far-fetched forms of psychotherapy is obvious. Thesis by Isabelle Robard (see bibliography below)


  1. ACCOYER Amendment,

This draft Public Health Law put before Parliament proposed in 2003 in its

final version, and following strong reactions from psychotherapists, was modified on 19th January 2004,
as follows:

“The use of the title of psychotherapist is reserved for professionals listed in the national registry of psychotherapists. Registration is listed on a list drawn up by a representative of the State in the département (county) of their professional residence. People with a diploma for a doctor in medicine, psychologists with a State Diploma and psychoanalysts fully registered in their relevant association directories are relieved from registration.”

This ACCOYER amendment has provoked extremely violent reactions from a lot of associations representing psychotherapy to a greater or lesser extent.

Except as concerned citizens, we have no intention of entering into this debate with its multiple and mixed accusations that are only of relevance to professionals, patients and ruling politicians. Our sole objective, as assigned, is to protect people from the clutches of cults through deviations of psychotherapy. This leads us to give some proposals.

One could legitimately ask if the title of doctor of medicine or certified psychologist is enough to competently practice psychotherapy. Furthermore, this plan would not resolve the issue of people carrying out psychotherapeutic activities under a different name (psychotoner, psycho-energizer, dianetician, etc). In this case, should there be a committee of experts be set up to rule on illegal psychotherapy practices? Should there be a law to punish such actions?

Our proposals for remedying these deviations


  • The creation of a psychotherapists’ registry where psychotherapists can register voluntarily, including those doctors and psychologists. They would have to supply a CV (indicating, obviously, their education, training, methods of therapy that they plan to use, means, objectives, etc.), answer a detailed questionnaire and sign a charter wherein they undertake to respect ethical rules (these rules remain to be detailed, but would be resemble doctors’ ethical rules).


  • The list of signatories would be publicly available through the regional authorities (Internet, register).
    The signatory would therefore benefit from a certain degree of openness – particularly so if he fails in any of these commitments, in which case he would be struck off. The user could therefore be sure that the psychotherapist he has chosen is registered.


  • A multidisciplinary committee (executives from cult and mental manipulation prevention associations, lawyers, trade unions, civil servants from the social security ministry and the Ministry of Health, and a third party designated by the signatory doctors and psychotherapists, in order to avoid any allegations of corporatism) shall meet in order to study cases of psychotherapists infringing charter articles and their commitments, where any wrongdoing has been signalled.

These proposals are only in the draft stages – they have to be broadened, studied, clarified, tested and subjected to a committee of experts from a range of disciplines. They have the advantage of avoiding having disciplines which a difficult to describe or impossible to scientifically recognise being endorsed through an official diploma, which may later come under sectarian influence. It would also be useful not to let the situation described above deteriorate through inaction.

This is why we can sympathise with the thinking behind the initial draft law put forward by Mr. Accoyer, which does not authorise therapy and psychotherapy to be performed outside a demonstrable educational framework, with dialogue between the parties, monitored by a committee under public authority which is itself dependent on democratic leaders. We would like to reiterate that in our opinion, only democracy confers a level of legitimacy acceptable in modern society.

Marseilles March 27-28 2004


Some useful specialized organisms

CIPPAD. Centre d’information et de prévention sur les psychothérapies abusives déviantes. Groupe Million – 6, rue de la Roirie 49500 Segré – France. Tel. 02 41 61 38 52 – cippad@unimedia.fr

ANCAS CPPS. Association nationale contre les abus sexuels commis par les professionnels de la santé (Paris) : http://perso.wanadoo.fr/ancas.cpps/

Psychothérapie Vigilance. BP 2 bis 65290 Juillan – France. Tel/fax : 05 62 32 03 70. Site : www.PsyVig.com Psychotherapie.Vigilance@wanadoo.fr

AVPIM, Association des victimes de pratiques illégales de la médecine. 49-24 av. de Botendael 1180 Bruxelles Belgique – Tel. (xx) 32 2 343 81 78

France-FMS (False Memory Syndrom). Site : http//www.francefms.com – Claude.amblard@caramail.com

AFIS. Association française pour l’information scientifique. Site : www.spafis.org

Commission « Santé, éthique, idéologies » de l’Espace Ethique Méditerranéen (www.medethique.com) C/o GEMPPI BP 95 13192 Marseille Cedex 20 – France. Tel/fax : 04 91 08 72 22. gemppi@wanadoo.fr

CCMM- Centre de documentation, d’éducation et d’action Contre les Manipulations Mentales, 3, rue Lespagnol 75020 Paris. Tel. 01 44 64 02 40

UNADFI 130, rue de Clignancourt 75018 Paris – Tel. 01 44 92 35 92 – www.unadfi.org

Brief bibliography

– Comment choisir son psychothérapeute : attention risques de pratiques déviantes. Martine Maurer. Editions hommes et perspectives 2001, Martin Media 12, rue Raymond Poincaré 55800 Revigny-sur-O

– Les pseudo médecines – un serment d’hypocrites. Jean Brissonnet. E.Book 2003. Pour plus de renseignements vous pouvez consulter le site http://www.pseudo-médecines.org ou le site de l’éditeurhttp://www.book-e-book.com.

– Mon voyage avec la vierge dans l’apocalypse. Anne Edelstam (sociologue). Un témoignage de manipulation mentale au travers de la secte de Maud Pison, l’Institut de recherche psychanalytique.

Ouvrage disponible aux éditions PubliBook (2001). Pour se le procurer commander à PubliBook.com Républic Alley 18, rue du Faubourg du Temple 75011 Paris, ou sur Internet : http://www.publibook.com , ou par téléphone : 01 47 00 05 07

– Syndrome des faux souvenirs, le mythe des souvenirs retrouvés. Elisabeth Loftus, Katherine Ketcham – Editions Exergue 1997. (The myth of repressed memory – 1994)

– Les sectes à l’assaut de la santé. Paul Ariès – Golias 1999

– Guide des techniques du mieux-être ; M.Borrel, R.Mary – Presse Pocket 1993

– Le new age, son histoire, ses pratiques, ses arnaques. Renaud Marhic. Le Castor Astral 1999

– Les sectes dans l’entreprise. Thomas Lardeur. Éditions d’organisation 1999

– La mécanique des sectes. Jean-Marie Abgrall. Paillot 1996. Paris

– Les charlatans de la santé. Jean-Marie Abgrall – Payot 1998.

– Les psychothérapies, dictionnaire critique. Nathalie Sinelnikoff. ESF éditeur 1998 – Paris.

– Le guide pratique des nouvelles thérapies. Edmond Marc. Retz 1995

– Les naufragés de l’esprit. Thierry Baffoy, Antoine Delestre, Jean Paul Sauzet – Seuil 1996.

– Découvertes sur les sectes et religions (bulletin du GEMPPI : gemppi@wanadoo.fr), n° 31 (Landmark Education), n° 33 (psychothérapie ou secte ?), n° 43(le Reiki), n° 49(méthode Hamer et psycho généalogie), n° 54(kryeon), n° 56 (FMS-Faux souvenirs induits)…

– Scientologie : vol au dessus d’un nid de gourous. José Lenzini. Ed. Plein Sud 1996.

– La soumission librement consentie. Robert-Vincent Joule, Jean-Léon Beauvois – PUF 1998

– Science et pseudo-sciences. Revue de l’AFIS (voir coordonnées ci-dessus)

– Sortir d’une secte. Tobie Nathan, Jean-Luc Swertvaegher. Seuil 2003.

– Droit et psychiatrie. S. Tribolet, G.Desous. Ed. Heures de France 1995

– Les sectes : état d’urgence. CCMM Centre Roger Ikor. Albin Michel 1995

La biologie de Dieu, comment les sciences du cerveau expliquent la religion et la foi. Ed. Noémis 2003.