|Title||Midwest Psychic Institute|
Alternate Names: InVision, The Mystic Within
(Note: The following information was submitted by a former member):
"Based on the teachings of the Berkeley Psychic Institute, which was founded by Lewis Bostwick. Bostwick was a reportedly a Scientologist and friends with L. Ron Hubbard. They had a falling out, and Bostwick started his own “church.” The group primarily uses psychic readings as way to “clear” energy and de-energize mental image pictures. Scientology also refers to mental image pictures, and uses a process called “auditing.” Heavy on meditation. No chanting."
"I was thinking about a retreat I went on with them when I was still a “basic” level student and how happy I was. I mean, I thought I had found the answer and I felt special, like I was part of this exclusive, non-judgmental group. I remember feeling free for the first time in my life and more certain of myself and empowered. I had a few friends calling me saying they liked the changes in me, as I felt empowered to use these psychic “tools” to make changes in my life. I didn’t feel like a victim any longer. What my friends didn’t see was the stress I was under and how dependent upon the group I was becoming.
But then it got bad, especially when I joined the clairvoyant training. I think I’m just now, after six months departure, beginning to understand what the term “spiritual rape” means. Their teachings became infused in my being so that I really couldn’t make a move without them. And I found myself mysteriously imbued with a “burning desire” to carry on the teachings. I thought that desire was coming from inside me and didn’t realize it was cult programming until after I left."
Behavior1. Regulation of individual's physical reality
a. Where, how and with whom the member lives and associates with
b. What clothes, colors, hairstyles the person wears
c. What food the person eats, drinks, adopts, and rejects
d. How much sleep the person is able to have
e. Financial dependence
f. Little or no time spent on leisure, entertainment, vacations
2. Major time commitment required for indoctrination sessions and group rituals
3. Need to ask permission for major decisions
4. Need to report thoughts, feelings and activities to superiors
5. Rewards and punishments (behavior modification techniques- positive and negative).
6. Individualism discouraged; group think prevails
7. Rigid rules and regulations
8. Need for obedience and dependency.
|Basic level classes on meditation are not as intensive (one night a week). The year-long “clairvoyant training” (cv) requires a signed contract not to do drugs, must do 7-10 work hours, and students are not allowed to see a therapist during the cv training (or any other type of healing practitioner, because the student might pick up some bad energy or end up with a being in there space). Being = a spirit without a body. The cv training is $3000, with a down payment and monthly payments made. Most working professionals can afford it. Students are told they don’t have to quit their jobs, but most students end up leaving their jobs or experiencing severe work conflicts (as well as numerous other interpersonal conflicts). Students who leave are disparaged as quitters who “can’t blow their pictures”. Suggestions are made during the cv training if you “hit some bad energy” to come to more psychic readings, i.e., the cure is to be with the group more and more. Questions are tolerated, but discouraged. Some cult leaders will take a certain amount of questions, then seem to snap and order the students to “go into trance” because they “you’re getting inside my head”. Rude behavior from cult leaders is the norm. Rules abound about who can do what and are always in flux. One person, Ken Jones, is in charge. When he’s not around, his director is in charge, but Ken remains the ultimate authority. Students, especially the cv students, are lauded by the staff as “special” because they’re opening up to their psychic abilities and are committed to their spiritual path. In reality, the students are opening up to being programmed by the staff and groupthink. Whoever takes orders best and doesn’t question receives much praise and admiration from the staff. Questioners are suspect and subject to ridicule, being ignored, etc.|
Information1. Use of deception
a. Deliberately holding back information
b. Distorting information to make it acceptable
c. Outright lying
2. Access to non-cult sources of information minimized or discouraged
a. Books, articles, newspapers, magazines, TV, radio
b. Critical information
c. Former members
d. Keep members so busy they don’t have time to think
3. Compartmentalization of information; Outsider vs. Insider doctrines
a. Information is not freely accessible
b. Information varies at different levels and missions within pyramid
c. Leadership decides who “needs to know” what
4. Spying on other members is encouraged
a. Pairing up with “buddy” system to monitor and control
b. Reporting deviant thoughts, feelings, and actions to leadership
5. Extensive use of cult generated information and propaganda
a. Newsletters, magazines, journals, audio tapes, videotapes, etc.
b. Misquotations, statements taken out of context from non-cult sources
6. Unethical use of confession
a. Information about “sins” used to abolish identity boundaries
b. Past “sins” used to manipulate and control; no forgiveness or absolution
|Information is controlled in that the more classes a student takes, the more they have access to the inner sanctum. Some students were pulled out of class to do “special” readings and help out the staff, inciting jealousy and competition amongst the students. Cv students aren’t allowed to have other psychic readings, see a therapist, or do any other type of energy work during the cv training. Basic level students are not as controlled.|
Thought1. Need to internalize the group's doctrine as "Truth"
a. Map = Reality
b. Black and White thinking
c. Good vs. evil
d. Us vs. them (inside vs. outside)
2. Adopt "loaded" language (characterized by "thought-terminating clichés"). Words are the tools we use to think with. These "special" words constrict rather than expand understanding. They function to reduce complexities of experience into trite, platitudinous "buzz words".
3. Only "good" and "proper" thoughts are encouraged.
4. Thought-stopping techniques (to shut down "reality testing" by stopping "negative" thoughts and allowing only "good" thoughts); rejection of rational analysis, critical thinking, constructive criticism.
a. Denial, rationalization, justification, wishful thinking
e. Speaking in "tongues"
f. Singing or humming
5. No critical questions about leader, doctrine, or policy seen as legitimate
6. No alternative belief systems viewed as legitimate, good, or useful
|During psychic readings, an us vs. them mentality was often created as the entire goal was to look at how other people’s energy influences (family, friends, co-workers) a person’s ability to create their life for themselves. For example, I come in and I have a problem with my job. A psychic reader would look at the energy and help me “clear” the energy by reading the mental image pictures associated with my job. If they saw someone trying to control me with an energy cord, the psychic reader would cut the cord, thereby helping me to find my freedom. Then they might suggest I get a psychic healing. The solution is always to get more readings and healings, but no one can ever be clear. Meditation is used extensively.|
Emotional1. Manipulate and narrow the range of a person's feelings.
2. Make the person feel like if there are ever any problems it is always their fault, never the leader's or the group's.
3. Feeling-stopping. Like thought-stopping, this is the automatic suppression or blocking of feelings that are not acceptable by the cult identity- such as feeling "homesick" or feeling "depressed" or feeling "resentful".
4. Excessive use of guilt
a. Identity guilt
1. Who you are (not living up to your potential)
2. Your family
3. Your past
4. Your affiliations
5. Your thoughts, feelings, actions
6. Social guilt
7. Historical guilt
5. Excessive use of fear
a. Fear of thinking independently
b. Fear of the "outside" world
c. Fear of enemies
d. Fear of losing one's "salvation"
e. Fear of leaving the group or being shunned by group
f. Fear of disapproval
6. Extremes of emotional highs and lows.
7. Ritual and often public confession of "sins".
8. Phobia indoctrination: programming of irrational fears of ever leaving the group or even questioning the leader's authority. The person under mind control cannot visualize a positive, fulfilled future without being in the group.
a. No happiness or fulfillment "outside"of the group
b. Terrible consequences will take place if you leave: "hell"; "demon possession"; "incurable diseases"; "accidents"; "suicide"; "insanity"; "10,000 reincarnations"; etc.
c. Shunning of leave takers. Fear of being rejected by friends, peers, and family.
d. Never a legitimate reason to leave. From the group's perspective, people who leave are: "weak"; "undisciplined"; "unspiritual"; "worldly"; "brainwashed by family, counselors"; seduced by money, sex, rock and roll.
Public confession of sins consisted of doing psychic readings in class in dyads. We looked at how we “gave up our space” and to whom. Emphasis was on being neutral to any information given, including negative information. We were also expected to be neutral (i.e., have no emotional response) when our teachers and other cult leaders were rude to us.
In class, people would break down and cry, get up and leave, etc. All this was looked at as “clearing energy” from their space, instead of people experiencing extreme levels of cognitive dissonance. Students who left were affected by “other people’s energy” and were bad because they “wouldn’t blow their pictures”. When I myself tried to leave, I was told that my family wanted the old me back, and they were trying to control me. I was told that this [psychic] training is for me, and what did I think would happen if I left? (Implying bad things would happen). The fact that I was being pressured not to leave, well, that sealed the deal for me to want to leave.
Several students gained weight due to the biochemical changes in the brain caused by prolonged meditation. This phenomenon was explained as a “growth period” and seen as a positive indication that the spirit was integrating new spiritual information (cult teachings) into the body.
Graduating students often had trouble functioning outside of the cult environment; the rule was you couldn’t return for at least a month after graduating. Due to the borrowed ego structure, several students (including myself) floundered. I know of a couple students who ended up in psych. wards midway through the cv training, and one student who got in trouble with the law.
Finally, the Director and some of the other male AND female teachers have been known to have sexual relationships with former and even current female students, thereby taking advantage of the inherent power dynamic of student/teacher relationships. There are no ethics nor sense of personal responsibility.
The concept of “mystical manipulation” abounds. For instance, if I got a raise at my job, that was due to me using my psychic “tools” to get what I wanted, and I was therefore a good student. Normal coincidences were attributed to using psychic tools and creating events “as a spirit in a body”. As you can tell, they have an entire language that baffles newcomers and makes the group seem exclusive and seductive to vulnerable newcomers seeking validation and acceptance. As I progressed in the group, my status increased and I became “in the know”. It became more and more seductive to use and abuse my power over newcomers. New people would look up to me. There were many reasons I left, but becoming aware of having power over people also influenced me to want to leave.
Suicide. Sexual misconduct. Bankruptcy. Divorce. A Berkeley/ San Jose cult promises heaven-- and delivers hell.
(articles, videos, information)
Spiritual Rights Foundation
Berkeley Psychic Institute
Psychic Horizons Center