Anyone heard of Berkeley Psychic Institute?

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skeptic2girl
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Anyone heard of Berkeley Psychic Institute?

Post by skeptic2girl » Sun Mar 20, 2011 6:01 pm

The subject line says it all -- admittedly, the connection to OCMB is tenuous, but a good friend of mine who has taken an interest in the Scientology critics movement and might even attend a protest with me (!) asked me about this organization last night.

I know people here have had some experience with/have researched other cults so I thought I would ask.

Of course, I also directed her to Steve Hassan's Freedom of Mind website...

Apparently the deal with this "institute" is that it gives meditation classes but also calls itself a church. It sounds to me like a New Age cult. My friend said she'd like to check out one of the meditation classes there, but I advised her against it. Why involve yourself with any organization you suspect is a cult?

s2g

PS: Just checked the A to Z listing on www.freedomofmind.org but couldn't find the Berkeley Psychic Institute listed
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sekh
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Re: Anyone heard of Berkeley Psychic Institute?

Post by sekh » Sun Mar 20, 2011 7:21 pm

I never heard of the institute, but it sounds like the run-of-the-mill New Age/self-awareness cult to me. Usually these guys just want your money, not your soul. Or only part of it. Sell a book, sell a course, the happy few go to the expensive teachers-course and get the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to buy their license to teach the method themselves. Spiritual franchises, so to speak. Most of these "cults" are relatively harmless. Another useless and to expensive self-improvement book to put on the shelf and some money lost on worthless meditation classes.
But that's how scientology once started too, books and courses and spiritual franchise opportunities. Always keep an eye open for less benign developments within these groups. The BITE-model dr.Hassan proposes seems like a good checklist for them.

Slightly off topic, but I happened to look on the Freedom of mind-site earlier today. To my surprise a banner-ad from scientology appeared out of nowhere. A new one, as far as I know.

They had the audacity to start with "Slave labour? Every hour(or minute or whatever) 26 people are liberated." At first I thought it was a critics ad and 26 people were liberated from scientology every hour by learning the facts.
I was wrong. It was a Co$' Human Rights action group that liberated all those people from indentured service and slavery all over the world. The thing ended with "click here for more information", and a link to the CoS website. Then it disappeared back into oblivion. Very weird.

That they have the guts to start about forced labour, with the FBI investigating their organization just for that crime right now. While they're running their banner on the web-site of one of the most outspoken anti-cult experts. Unbelievable.
"If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them."
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Wieber
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Re: Anyone heard of Berkeley Psychic Institute?

Post by Wieber » Sun Mar 20, 2011 8:54 pm

I went to the Berkeley Pshychic Institute's web site and snooped around.

http://www.berkeleypsychic.com/ShowPage.asp?id=163

I clicked on the "Divine Church of Man" button and found the membership levels one could purchase.

Among the items involved with the three levels of membership there is a "Spiritual Path Agreement" (SPA).

I also found that the founder of this organization is now deceased: VRR Dr. Lewis Bostiwck and it is now run by Vr. Rt. Rev. Dr. Susan Hull Bostwick who is the leader and executive director.

The public workshops run from free to $100.

There is a public workshop that involves going to a retreat in Calistoga.

From a cursory look it seems like the point is to make "mock-ups" and then "bring them in."

An advanced class fir clairvoyant (CV) students and graduates is $200.

There are graduate programs. Those that are described do not have much detail in their description and do not have prices quoted. The time involved in these runs from three to fifteen months.

There are other programs named but not described and again on the page about the graduate programs there is the "Spiritual Path Agreement."

Steven Hassan doesn't list this organization on his site but what I see there is . . . C U L T

My advice about that organization and its programs is, stay away.

They offer a free BPI mug to their graduates. Scientology, take note.
“Think wrongly if you please, but in all cases think for yourself.”
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skeptic2girl
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Re: Anyone heard of Berkeley Psychic Institute?

Post by skeptic2girl » Mon Mar 21, 2011 1:18 am

Thank you, Sekh and Wieber! I'm going to pass this info along to my friend.

She had checked out the site website and not found too much there -- I didn't check it myself but just took her word for it (kind of dumb of me).

Thank you specially, Wieber, for looking into it so thoroughly.

The alarming part is that my friend's acupuncturist told her about the Berkeley Psychic Institute: the acupuncturist took a class there, just one I guess (so far). My friend was going to maybe go, but when she did an internet search for Berkeley Pscyhic Institute, the first thing that came up was, "Berkeley Psychic Institute" is a CULT!" But there was only blog-like opinion stuff available and then their own website which she didn't find very helpful.

This acupuncturist may unwittingly - or wittingly - be sending her patients to a cult!

(It's interesting about the internet search coming up with the "it's a cult" info. I've had experience looking up stuff like this - mostly employment service stuff - and results will come up saying things like, "Such and such is a scam!" And so many similar results come up that I'm prone to believe them, at least after reading the identical experiences to mine that others have posted about. No doubt there are truly legit things that someone, somewhere labels as a cult. But I sometimes wonder if "It's a cult!!" or "It's a scam!!" ever comes up so prevalently in an internent search for stuff that's actually on the up-and-up. Then again... cult... scam... potatoes... tomatoes, etc.)
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Columbian
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Re: Anyone heard of Berkeley Psychic Institute?

Post by Columbian » Mon Mar 21, 2011 3:38 am

Skeptic2girl, Hassan was or is involved in deprogramming Christians. Some people are offended by that.

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Re: Anyone heard of Berkeley Psychic Institute?

Post by operatingwog » Mon Mar 21, 2011 4:57 am

Columbian wrote:Skeptic2girl, Hassan was or is involved in deprogramming Christians. Some people are offended by that.
Yeah, right.
“These guys are crazy. And all of this shit is straight out of the L. Ron Hubbard playbook. That’s their scriptures. They say they’re not a turn-the-other-cheek religion. No. They’re a knock-you-down-and-kick-you-in-the-balls religion.” Jason Beghe

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skeptic2girl
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Re: Anyone heard of Berkeley Psychic Institute?

Post by skeptic2girl » Mon Mar 21, 2011 6:09 am

Columbian wrote:Skeptic2girl, Hassan was or is involved in deprogramming Christians. Some people are offended by that.
Christianity is a pretty wide sweep. There are plenty of "Christian" cults, in addition to the legitimate churches. Talking of Christian cults, the Boston Movement is one I know of, aka the Boston Church of Christ, Sacramento Church of Christ, etc.
"The truth is out there."

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sekh
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Re: Anyone heard of Berkeley Psychic Institute?

Post by sekh » Mon Mar 21, 2011 11:10 am

Westboro baptist church? I wouldn't call them Christian, but they themselves sure do. In my eyes it's a cult and if my kid was involved in a christian group like that, i'd be glad if Steve Hassan was willing to help him get out.
"If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them."
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operatingwog
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Re: Anyone heard of Berkeley Psychic Institute?

Post by operatingwog » Mon Mar 21, 2011 2:16 pm

Columbian wrote:Skeptic2girl, Hassan was or is involved in deprogramming Christians. Some people are offended by that.
Steve Hassan does not deprogram anyone, "Christian" cult member or otherwise.

Are you a deprogrammer or exit-counselor?

Steve Hassan:

If the term deprogramming means abducting people and holding them against their wills to help them exit a cult, the answer is NO!

Some people like to use the term deprogrammer in a positive way – as someone who helps people get out of cults. I feel that the term has become too associated with negatives. Besides, I do not think brainwashing and mind control is like computer programming. I think it is a “dissociative disorder.” Helping a person recover from detrimental effects requires much more than counter-programming. My approach empowers the person to regain control of their own mind, rather than just attacking the cult belief system or the cult identity.

When I wrote my first book, Combatting Cult Mind Control in 1988, I described what I did as exit-counseling. But I ran into trouble with this terminology when working with active cult members. When they would agree to meet with me, often at the request of a family member, I would tell them that I was there to help them with information and counseling to decide if they wanted to reevaluate and leave their group. When they asked me why it was called exit-counseling, I realized that they had a point. It could be called exit-counseling at the point that a person was asking for help to leave a group, but not before. I also decided to abandon this term because people who were still doing involuntary deprogramming started calling themselves exit-counselors. I wanted nothing to do with them.

NOTE: Please understand that there are individuals who still call themselves exit-counselors who are reputable and will only do voluntary cases. In addition there is a new term that several people who prefer the term Thought-Reform consultants. Most of these people are former cult members and are not mental health professionals. Nevertheless, they are excellent at providing information and most do valuable work.

I am a licensed mental health counselor. I received my Master’s degree from Cambridge College in 1985, and have taken the time and undertaken the expense to receive counseling training from some of the top people in America and the world. I have experience doing individual, couple and family counseling. I teach communications techniques and strategies. I advocate respectful, loving, compassionate and legal method of influence. I call it the “Strategic Interaction Approach (SIA).”
“These guys are crazy. And all of this shit is straight out of the L. Ron Hubbard playbook. That’s their scriptures. They say they’re not a turn-the-other-cheek religion. No. They’re a knock-you-down-and-kick-you-in-the-balls religion.” Jason Beghe

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El Jefe'
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Re: Anyone heard of Berkeley Psychic Institute?

Post by El Jefe' » Tue Mar 22, 2011 9:32 am

I took a meditation class at BPI about 15 years ago. They seemed like your normal everyday new-age guys. They are organized as a church which I did not like at all. You see, any moron can do the paper work, make up some mumbo jumbo and say that they are a church. Instead of a Grand Poohbha you have The Reverand Doctor Grand Poobha who no longer has to pay taxes.

I did learn something from the meditation class and got my hundred bucks worth and then we went our seperate ways. They have not called me to ask me to go back nor have they "fair gamed" me! They are really not hurting anyone so if your friend does take a class there it really isn't that big a deal. There are however places on the web where she could download guided meditations for free.

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Wieber
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Re: Anyone heard of Berkeley Psychic Institute?

Post by Wieber » Tue Mar 22, 2011 9:54 am

I think meditation leads to a trance state and a trance state can make a person very suggestible. Someone going into a trance state knowing that will be, to some extent, inoculated from becoming suggestible. If the organization does not immediately follow the meditation sessions with high pressure sales they might be on the side of being benign.

For me the session at the retreat, the higher level long term courses and the single leader are red flags. If the person interested in what they offer goes into it I would recommend that if the group comes up with an end of days scenario, has hidden things that aren't revealed until further in, or makes demands on time or money then it's time to run away fast.
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Blinkie
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Re: Anyone heard of Berkeley Psychic Institute?

Post by Blinkie » Tue Mar 22, 2011 12:02 pm

skeptic2girl wrote:The subject line says it all -- admittedly, the connection to OCMB is tenuous, but a good friend of mine who has taken an interest in the Scientology critics movement and might even attend a protest with me (!) asked me about this organization last night.

I know people here have had some experience with/have researched other cults so I thought I would ask.

Of course, I also directed her to Steve Hassan's Freedom of Mind website...

Apparently the deal with this "institute" is that it gives meditation classes but also calls itself a church. It sounds to me like a New Age cult. My friend said she'd like to check out one of the meditation classes there, but I advised her against it. Why involve yourself with any organization you suspect is a cult?

s2g

PS: Just checked the A to Z listing on http://www.freedomofmind.org but couldn't find the Berkeley Psychic Institute listed
Even I have never heard of this institute...! What is this from and what specialties are that they offer... I want to know more about it.
Blinkie

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El Jefe'
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Re: Anyone heard of Berkeley Psychic Institute?

Post by El Jefe' » Tue Mar 22, 2011 2:35 pm

In my case, they did not follow up with any high pressure sales. I don't even remember any low pressure sales either.

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skeptic2girl
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Re: Anyone heard of Berkeley Psychic Institute?

Post by skeptic2girl » Tue Mar 29, 2011 7:02 am

Welcome, Blinkie! :)

***

Update: I was disappointed to here that my friend still wants to attend the class at the BPI thank you, El Jefe', for posting about your experience! (I might do a cut-and-paste in an email to my friend).

I think she is really just curious about what the thing was about -- I think the fact that she's going in there knowing that people call it a cult and therefore being alert to the warning signs is a good thing, but I wish she wasn't going, because I think she's going BECAUSE of the cultish associations: out of curiousity. Believe me, I understand the fascination. And she's big girl, and smart, too. But of course you can be a genius and still be recruited. Weber once advised to just not go in an org at all -- and although I of course don't blindly follow advice -- I realized I shouldn't consider myself above the power of being sucked in by professional recruiters. (And what's the point of going into an org anyway? Why make the place appear at all popular?)

The disturbing thing to me that I believe the BPI is playing on reminds me of why people might enter an org... just because they're curious. My ex got recruited like that. The mystery angle works in any cult's favor, including, of course, Scientology's... especially since things might seem normal-ish inside (Where are the people with the shaved heads? Where's the guy who resembles Jesus? Why are they working out of an office instead of a compound? This doesn't look like a cult to me!?).

I'm pretty sure that my friend won't come back and report that she's taking on a series of classes at BPI or heaven forbid, going on some sort of retreat, but it peeves me to no end, this mystery that cults seem to play on. Or as Tommy Davis is fond of saying, "Drop by a 'church' and see what we're all about!"
"The truth is out there."

RedPill
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Re: Anyone heard of Berkeley Psychic Institute?

Post by RedPill » Tue Mar 29, 2011 4:54 pm

Wieber wrote:I went to the Berkeley Pshychic Institute's web site and snooped around.

http://www.berkeleypsychic.com/ShowPage.asp?id=163

I clicked on the "Divine Church of Man" button and found the membership levels one could purchase.

Among the items involved with the three levels of membership there is a "Spiritual Path Agreement" (SPA).

I also found that the founder of this organization is now deceased: VRR Dr. Lewis Bostiwck and it is now run by Vr. Rt. Rev. Dr. Susan Hull Bostwick who is the leader and executive director.

The public workshops run from free to $100.

There is a public workshop that involves going to a retreat in Calistoga.

From a cursory look it seems like the point is to make "mock-ups" and then "bring them in."

An advanced class fir clairvoyant (CV) students and graduates is $200.

There are graduate programs. Those that are described do not have much detail in their description and do not have prices quoted. The time involved in these runs from three to fifteen months.

There are other programs named but not described and again on the page about the graduate programs there is the "Spiritual Path Agreement."

Steven Hassan doesn't list this organization on his site but what I see there is . . . C U L T

My advice about that organization and its programs is, stay away.

They offer a free BPI mug to their graduates. Scientology, take note.

Considering Cof$ prices, it is a bargain basement cult by comparison. Even the korporate seminar cultz are higher priced, with the opening weekend seminar deal usually around 400 bux, generally priced attractively at, say, $398.50. Their doctrine may be a horsebag full of roadapples, but they look relatively benign compared to Cof$.

Pete

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