What Is Personal Transformation?

Artwork by Gerhard Gellinger

In the last few weeks, we've been exploring the historical roots of personal transformation. We've looked at New Age religions and philosophies as well as allegedly channeled wisdom, before delving into the concept of psychic alchemy. In that last post, we traced the roots of these clusters of personal development and practices to an ancient Egyptian religion known as Hermeticism. The influence of Hermeticism on the Western...


The Power of Love in Psychic Alchemy

Love is an extremely powerful force in human life and it has a very special place in mind management systems. Long before neuroscientists could corroborate the soothing effects of forgiveness on our bodies and in our brains, Louise L. Hay fashioned a technique centered on loving and forgiving as an avenue to healing. Before her, Buddhist meditations on love and compassion had been practiced for millennia, with the understanding that this activity is conducive...


How to Build a Cult

Not all Mind Management Systems are equal. Some have spawned religions, others have flourished into cults.  Quite a few of these involve some rather supernatural claims. A recurring theme is channeling. Channeling is the claim that the information obtained comes from disembodied entities through the claimant.

In the 1930s, Edna and Guy Ballard claimed to be receiving wisdom from St. Germaine, an 18th century saint, after he appeared to them on Mount Shasta in California. A community...


Scientology and the Engram: Fact and Fiction

In this article I elucidate the scientific underpinnings of the engram and how it was mythologized and used in Dianetics -- a mind management system which later became the basis for the Church of Scientology.

First, let's explore what an Engram in Scientology is. According to :
ngrams are a complete recording, down to the last accurate detail, of every perception present in a moment of partial or full “unconsciousness.”

This is an example of an engram: A woman is...


Can Humans See the Future?

Why do so many mind management systems assume and implicate the existence of the paranormal or supernatural? 

Well, for one thing, if the systems are geared toward helping the practitioner achieve the seemingly impossible, they have to install in her a paradigm for reality where her will and choices can make the improbable happen. The systems have to imbue her with a sense of control in arenas where, classically and rationally, she has no control. 


Future-Focus as a Technique for Peak Performance

Landmark Education (LE) is a school for personal development that evolved out of the Erhard Seminar Training (EST) camps, designed and taught by Werner Erhard in the 1970s. The Landmark bootcamps have been adjusted to suit cultural and social changes but many of the philosophies and training components have remained the same.

One common idea that occurs in LE, EST and some other New Age systems like them, involves the alignment of the practitioner with...


How and Why Trauma Rewiring and Reprocessing Works

There are a number of non-medicinal therapeutic techniques for dealing with traumatic memories. In the world of Mind Management Systems, these are sometimes subtly packaged variations on hypnotherapy and cognitive behavioral therapy. Take for example Tad James' Time Line Therapy, a trademarked technique that uses a combination of temporal-spatial awareness, visualization, and a semi-hypnotic trance, to guide clients through a process of recalling and releasing unwanted emotions like anger, sadness or fear.

There is also the practice...


Spiritual Psychology and Mental Health

The New Thought Movement emerged in 19th century US, in part as a response to the doctrine of materialism, challenging the view that the psyche has no measurable impact on matter. A heterogeneous set of ideas and practices made the movement impossible to define, and over time it moved away from its foundations in Christian theology, toward a more abstract conception of God as the unconscious mind.

Two foundational thinkers in second-generation New Thought are Ernest Holmes,...


Being More Successful With People

Erhard Seminar Training (EST), Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), and A Course in Miracles (ACIM), are three mind management systems that share a fundamental idea about how we should relate to people.

The idea is simple: don't believe the stories you tell yourself about people's intentions.

In NLP the concept is explained by emphasizing that we can never really know exactly what someone means. Words have different meanings for different people. We can only experience our projections of others, not...