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ACritiqueofByronKatieandherTherapeuticTechniqueTheWork

Forsomeyearsago,whenIwasfacilitatingaphilosophicalcaf,andwastalkingabout
theimportantinaskingphilosophicalquestionsinameditativeexistentialway,oneof
theparticipantstoldme,thattheAmericanNewAgeguruByronKatiehaddevelopeda
method of self inquiry, that did, that there from now on was no need of therapy,
philosophyandreligionanymore.ThemethodiscalledTheWork,and issaidtobea
revolutionarynewwaytoresolveanyproblematall,sosimplethatevenachildcando
it.

Thisstatementmademycognitivealarmbellsring,becauseIhad heardsuchstatements
before.ItisnamelyatypicalwaythatnewtheorieswithinNewAgearepresented(see
myarticleSixcommontraitsofNewAgethatdistortspirituality. And it made me curious:
whathavetheynowmadeupwithinthismovement?

ByronKathleenReid(orKatieassheisoftencalled)becameseverelydepressedinher
earlythirties.Shewasabusinesswomanandmotherwholivedinasmalltowninthe
highdesertofsouthernCalifornia.AccordingtoKatie,fornearlyadecadeshespiraled
down intoparanoia,rage,selfloathing,andconstantthoughtsofsuicide;forthelast
twoyearsshewasoftenunabletoleaveherbedroom.Then,onemorninginFebruary
1986,whileinahalfwayhouseforwomenwitheatingdisorders,sheexperiencedalife
changing realization. She called it waking up to reality. In that moment of
enlightenment,shesays,

IdiscoveredthatwhenIbelievedmythoughts,Isuffered,butwhenIdidntbelieve
them,Ididntsuffer,andthatthisistrueforeveryhumanbeing.Freedomisassimple
as that. Ifound that suffering is optional. I found a joy within me that has never
disappearred,notforasinglemoment.

AccordingtojournalistAllisonAdato,soonafterwardspeoplestartedseekingKatieout
andaskinghowtheycouldfindthefreedomthattheysawinher.Peoplefromherown
town,andeventuallyfromelsewhere,cametomeether,andsomeevenlivewithher.

Katieisnotalignedwithanyparticularreligionortradition.Sheismarriedtothewriter
andtranslatorStephenMitchell,whocowroteherfirstbook,LovingWhatIsandher
thirdbook,AThousandNamesForJoy.

KatiecallshermethodofselfinquiryTheWork.Shedescribesitasanembodiment,in
words,ofthewordlessquestioningthathadwokenupinherthatFebruarymorning.
Adatofurtherwritesthatasreportsspreadaboutthetransformationspeoplefelt
they wereexperiencingthroughTheWork,Katiewasinvitedtopresentitpublicly
elsewhereinCalifornia,thenthroughouttheUnitedStates,eneventuallyinEurope
andacrosstheworld.Shehastaughthermethodtopeopleatfreepublicevents,in
prisons,hospitals,churches,corporations,sheltersforsurvivorsofdomesticviolence,
universitiesand schools,atweekendintensives,andatherninedaySchoolforThe
Work.

In the following article I will show how The Work is a simplified and biased form of
therapytakenfromCognitiveTherapy:asinglecausesinglecureapproachtotherapy,
which has led many a therapist down a deadend trail and has created no end of
problemsforclients.Thetypicalsceneis,thattheinnovatorsfoundthemselvesdoing
something:sittinginahottub,beratingpatients,orfeedingthemoutofbabybottles.
Itfeltgoodorworkedforthetherapists,sotheymadesomeassumptionsinorderto
createanideologythatwouldsupportpracticingthemethodonothers.Withoutmuch

thought,andlittleornoproof,thetechniquewasexpandedtobecomeacureallfor
allpeople.

ThisispreciselyhowtheinnovationoftheWorkhappened.Asmentioned,Katiesaid:I
discovered that when I believed my thoughts, I suffered, but when I didnt believe
them,Ididntsuffer,andthatthisistrueforeveryhumanbeing.Freedomisassimple
as that. Ifound that suffering is optional. I found a joy within me that has never
disappearred,notforasinglemoment.

Anothertypicalsceneisthattheinnovationisbasedontherapistobservationofthe
conduct of one patient. The therapist then teaches the method to countless others,
professingthatthisisthebestandonlyusefultherapytocurementalillness.

Iwillshowtheproblematicinthis.Inlifetherecanbemanycausesandcontributing
factorsthatmightleadapersontoseektherapy.Eachpersonsproblemsareunique.

Iwillalsoshowthismoregeneral,andpeculiarly,phenomenonwithinNewAge,where
new theories are exposed to have been taken (stolen) from something else,
simplified/distorted, and then presented as something holy, new and revolutionary,
often received in divine visions; that is: the illusion that a simplied psychotherapy
should be a spiritual/philosophical practice. Besides the inspiration from cognitive
therapy,IwillshowanothersourcefromwhereKatiehasgotherideas,almostword
forword.

Veryshortlysaid,thentheWorkendsupasasinglecausesinglecuremixbetween
Catharticpsychotherapyandpositivethinking.

There is of course no need for psychotherapy if you are not mentally ill; on the
contrary, it wouldbeharmfultothinkso(seemyarticleTheemotionalpainbodyandwhy
psychotherapycanthealit).

I will use quotations from former Byron Katie devotee Janaki. Finally I will show an
examplefromCognitiveTherapythatexposeswhereTheWorkcomesfrom.

ProblemswithTheWork

TheWorkconsistsinfourquestionsyouhavetoasktoaproblematicthoughtofyours,
andaturnaroundtechnique.Thefourquestionsare:

1. Isittrue?
2. Areyouabsolutelysureitistrue?
3. Howdoyoureactwhenyouthinkthisthought?
4. Whowouldyoubewithoutthisthought?

Thesequestionscanbeagoodideatoaskyourselfifaproblematicthoughtofyours
actually is false. And there is nothing new in it. As mentioned they also use such
questionsinCognitiveTherapy,butnotsosimplified.Sowhynotusethatinstead,or
takeafewlessonsinphilosophy?

BecausetheproblemwithTheWorkisthatithasaconclusioninadvance,namelythat
thethoughtisfalse,andtherewithitisinprogress,aswithotherNewAgedirections,of

eliminating peoples ability of critical thinking. Problematic, because the training of


criticalthinkingisthefirststepinatruespiritualproces,andonthewholeaprimary
conditionforahealthymind.InCognitiveTherapyforexample,theyalsohavequestions
toasktoproblematicthoughts,thatactuallyhavesometruthinthem(examplesinthe
endofthisarticle).

WhentheconclusionisgiveninadvancethenTheWorksfourquestionsbecomesso
calledrhetoricalquestions;thatis:questionswhichareaskedpurelyforeffectrather
thanasrequestsforanswers.Inthatcasethefourquestionsfunctioninpreciselythe
samewayaspersuaderwordsseemybookAdictionaryofthoughtdistortions(.

Itiscomparativelyeasy,andcertainlyunhelpful,toraisefourseeminglydeepquestions
on any problem (called pseudoprofundity) and where the conclusion is given in
advance.ButthatispreciselywhatTheWorkisdoing.Itissaidtoworkonanyproblem,
andthatithastobeusedpreciselyasByronKatieherselfisdoingit.Butwhatisdifficult
and important is to investigate problems, and find answers. In a true philosophical
investigation a problematic thought can very well be true, but the problematic in it
couldbegeneratedby,thatthepersonforinstancecantfindanyanswers,anyfurther
solutions, or ways out. The investigation could then begin with finding other
philosophicalquestionsinvolvedintheproblem,forinstanceWhatdoIoughttodo,or
nottodo?,HowshouldIliveinsociety?,Whatarefeelings?,Isthereameaningof
life?,WhoamI?

Thatisphilosophicalcriticalthinking,andsuchacriticalwayofthinkingiseliminatedin
TheWork.

Former devotees even say that The Work can get quite nasty with its turnaround
technique.Afterthatyou,asexpected,haverealized,thatyourthoughtisnottrue,
then you have to turn it upside down; you so to speak have to think the opposite
thoughtAgainitcanbeagoodthingtolookatproblemsfromdifferentsides,butthatis
notwhat you do with the turnaround technique. Theturnaround techniqueactually
soundabitlikethethoughtdistortioncalledConversiontotheopposite(again:seemy
bookAdictionaryofthoughtdistortions).Theturnaroundtechniquemustbeadreamfor
any bully, liar or manipulator. If you are critical, then this is due to your own false
thoughts.Ifsomeonehavebulliedyou,andyoufeelhurt,thenthispainisbasedonyour
ownwrongwayofthinking.Certainlynotthebullys(thebullyisactuallyakindofguru;
anexampleofthedivine).AndinthatwefindthemainproblemwithTheWork,andthe
reasonwhyIwouldadvicepeopletokeepalongdistancefromit.Itissimilartoother
NewAgetherapieswhereeverythingispsychologized.Ifyouarecritical,thenyouhavea
resistanceproblem,andmustpayforsomemorecourses.Because,asinotherNewAge
directions,thereisalsothetypicalcultaspectinTheWork,whereitisaboutearninga
lotofmoney.

HereisanexampleofKatiesuseoftheturnaroudtechnique.Onpage35,ofLosingthe
Moon, Byron Katie starts talking about Nazi's taking babies from Jewish mothers and
throwingthebabiesintoafirepitneartheendofWWII.

Quote:
IfSomeone(God,whatis),pullsmybabyfrommeifthat'swhatittakes,I'mthere.Take
thebaby.Tearmybabyfromme.Throwitinthefire....MydiscomfortismywarwithGod.
[...]
Yousee,thereareNOchoices.Whatis,is. [...]

But when we get to the baby thing, we're getting down to our sacred little concepts
now....Youtakemybabyfromme,you'remessingwiththeillusionofI'mthemommy,this
isthebaby,there'sthedaddy...

Buttearingthebabyawaythat'sthehigher.That'sthehigher,becauseitsnatchesyour
storyfromyouandmakesitapparentinyourfacenothing'srealshortofreality....

That'sit.That'swhatis.That'slove.That'sabsolutelyUndescribablelove.Thatyou,God,
wouldevengiveme that.

Can you know that Hitler didn't bring more people to realization than Jesus? On your
knees God. God! God! But ourstories of reality keep us from the awareness of God is
Everything.AndGodisGood. [...]

Therehasneverbeenevilandthereneverwillbe.Evilissimplyastoryaboutwhat'snot...
ButIhavetrashedthebabywhenIhavetrashedtheNazi...
Iamthebabygoingintothepit.Iamtheonethrowingthebabyinthe pit...

ByronKatiejustkeepsgoingonandonfromthere.

SoaccordingtoByronKatie,Nazi'smassmurderingJewishwomen'sbabiesbyburning
themtodeathalivewhilethemotherswatch,isthelovingworkofGod.

Asamatteroffact,ByronKatiesaysthatbabykillersare"higher"thantheillusionof
mommy.

ThebookLosingthe Moon fromwhichtheabovequotationhasbeentakenhasnow


been removed (unfortunately for Katie the book still exists on the internet
downloaditontopofthissite),butaspectsofthisjustificationofallkindofunethical
behaviour(inthenameoflove)areseenagainandagaininTheWork.Andthiskindof
subjectivism/relativismcouldofcoursenevercomefromanenlightenedconsciousness
sinceenlightenment(spirituality)ofcourseisabsolutismandnotrelativism.

IfyoudoubtthattheabovekindofargumentationnotarecommoninByronKatie
devoteesIwillhereprovidealinktoSamsara,aKatiedevotee,whoonhisorhersblog
demonstrates it in action. The blog theworkbyronkatie.blogspot.com is called Abusive
PartnerisyourGuru?(Clickheretoreadhowtheexaminationdevelopsinthesameway
asByronKatieherselfcouldhavedoneit.Iftheblogauthorshoulddecidetodeletethe
blog,IhavesaveditonArchive.org(clickhere).Iwillreturntothisbloglater.

IhaveseveraltimesmyselfdiscussedthiskindofexaminationwithKatiedevotees(I
havestoppedwithitnow).Besidesthatitisextremelyannoyingtoheartheirloving
voicesandtheiruseofthewordloveagainandagain,thenitsdirectlysurrealistichow
oblivioustheyarewhendemonstratingthemonstrosityoftheirselfdeceptivework,
howuninterestedtheyareinthetruthandhowindifferenttheyaretopeoplethey
helpdestroywiththeirlovingexaminations.

So,theTurnaroundTechniquealsoinvolvesthethoughtdistortioncalledReductioad
absurdum,whichcoverspositionsthatwouldhaveabsurdconsequencesiftrue.Ifyou
for example preach the relativism of The Work and are believing that everything is
relative and for that reason equally true (or good), you have thereby accepted that
nazism,fascism,dictatorship,popularmurder,terrorandviolence,areasequallygreat
blessingsformankindasdemocracy,negotiationanddialogue.Thenyouhavenobasis

inordertocriticize,becauseyouhaventgotanyrationalframetostartfrom.Youcant
criticize anyone for argumentation bungling, or to replace arguments with machine
guns,becausethispresupposes,thatthereisarationalfoundationinyourarguments.

ManyByronKatiedevoteeswouldprobablydisagreewithme,whenIsaythatTheWork
isaboutrealizingthatyourthoughtsarefalse.BesidesthatthispreciselyiswhatKatie
herselfsays(IdiscoveredthatwhenIbelievedmythoughts,Isuffered,butwhenIdidn
tbelievethem,Ididntsuffer,andthatthisistrueforeveryhumanbeing.)thenI
havetalkedwithseveralKatiedevotees,bothformerandpresentdevotees.Inoticed
howinvolvedtheywereinthethoughtdistortioncalledNondualbias(seemybookA
DictionaryofThoughtDistortions:Clearthinking,andthereforeclearcommunication,
involves,accordingtoTaoism,anepistemological,asocalledgnoseological,dualism(Yin
andYang).Clear,orunambiguous,description,hasthedistinctionbetweensubjectand
object,imageandreality,asanecessaryprecondition.Wehavetodiscriminatebetween
subjectandobject,imageandreality,inordertocommunicateunambiguous.Andwe
havetodiscriminatebetweenalonglineofotheroppositionsaswell(superiorseen:
goodandevil,trueandfalse,beautifulandugly):underonecalledYinandYang.Andthis
discriminationischaracterizedbytheknowledgethatoppositionsarecomplementary
toeachother,becausetheymutuallyexcludeeachotherandatthesamenecessarily
must supplement each other. If your thoughts slip out in one extreme you must
remember theother extreme and bring it in. If you confuse oppositions, you must
separatethem.

WhatInoticedintheseByronKatiedevoteeswastheconstantconfusionofopposites.
They had trained their minds to a constant use of The Turnaround Technique. The
Technique can give a temporary release based on a kind of escape from reality
(escapism),but can of course notremove for example anxiety, depression, anger, or
other problems/negativereactionstochallenges.Thereforetheymuststartusingthe
techniqueagain,often,paradoxically,onaconclusiontheyonlyafewmomentsbefore
hadreachedafterhavingdoneTheWork.

They often spoked in terms like: On the one hand I agree, on the other hand I
disagree!,Ontheonehanditcouldbetrue,ontheotherhanditcouldbefalse!,On
the one hand I consider myself as perfect, on the other hand I consider myself as a
fiasco!Andthentheyalwaysconcludedsuchexaminationswiththefinalstatement
thatconceptssuchasgoodandevil,trueandfalse,beautifulandugly
botharebeinggood;thatis:theevil,thefalseandtheuglyareasequallygoodasthe
good,thetrueandthebeautifulor,saidinanotherway:theevil,thefalseandtheugly
simplydontexist.ItsallapartofWhatIs,andWhatIs,isgood.Thereforeyoushould
loveWhatIs.

SuchstatementsareavariationofthethoughtdistortioncalledFalsedichotomywhich
involvesaContradiction,sincetheycantbothbetrue(orgood)becauseonedeniesthe
other.Inatruephilosophicalargumentationyoudiscriminatebetweengoodandevil,
true
andfalse,beautifulandugly,inordertofindthephilosophicalvirtuestheGood,the
TrueandtheBeautiful.

Anexampleofthevariation:ByronKatiewroteonFacebookJune15,2012:
"Theres never a mistake in the universe. So if your partner is angry, good. If there are
thingsabouthimthatyouconsiderflaws,good,becausetheseflawsareyourown,youre
projecting them, and you can write them down,inquire, and set yourself free. People go
toIndiatofindaguru,butyoudonthaveto:yourelivingwithone.Yourpartnerwillgive

youeverythingyouneedforyourownfreedom."

(ClicktoreaditonFacebookwhereyoualsocanfollowthecomments.Notehowmost
ofthemexceptafewclearsightedcommentscelebratethestatementasanexample
of fantastic wisdom, without even considering the quite obvious terrible
consequencesitwouldhaveifyoutookitfor true).

The blogger Samsara commented on this message on the above mentioned blog
AbusivePartnerisyourGuru? undertitlessuchasYourAbuserisyourGuru? andDid
ByronKatieLoseHerNoodle?Shewrites:

let'stravelthisstatementandseewhatwecanfind.MaybeKatiedidlosehernoodle.And
ifshedid,let'sseeif wecanfindit.Ifshedidnotlosehernoodle,wellthatisgreatnews,
too.

Andsoon...

ManyformerKatiedevoteeshavebeenincounselingforyearsinordertoremovethis
wayofconfusedthinking.

As other selfhelp and New Age theories The Work shows its roots in postmodern
intellectualism(seemyarticleConstructivism:thepostmodernintellectualismbehindNewAge
and the selfhelp industry). For example you see the same in Marshal Rosenbergs
Nonviolent CommunicationseemyarticleNonviolentCommunicationisaninstrumentof
psychicterror.

Many former devotees of Byron Katie precisely describe The Work as a kind of
inquisition,when it is performed. For example when it is used to eliminate peoples
critique,ofteninalargegroup,withByronKatiesittingonthestage,lookingdownat
thecriticwiththewholeaudienceonherside.

AseriousproblemwithTheWorkisthefeelingofguilt,orshame,itiscreating.Not
surprisingly.Formerdevoteesare,asalreadyshown,alsotellingabouthowconfused
theirmindsweregetting,whichagainindicates,thatitisbasedonespeciallytwokinds
of thought distortions, namely Rhetorical questions and Conversion to the opposite.
The problem with Conversion to the opposite is, that it, in connection with the
turnaround technique, triesto eliminateonepartofapairofopposites,namelytrue
thoughts(whichofcoursecanhavenegativityinthem,sincesufferingisareality),and
onlyareworkingwithfalsethoughts.In thiswaywesee,thatTheWorkactuallyisa
specialversionofpositivepsychology(whichtrytoignoreallnegativitybyfocusingonly
onpositivitythereisnoevil),andthereforehasitrootsintheNewThoughtmovement
(seemyarticleTheNewThoughtmovementand theLawofAttraction.Negativityis,
accordingtoTheWork,duetoyourthoughts.Positivityisfirstarisingwhenyourealize
thatyourthoughtsarefalse.

But in this biased way of thinking The Work actually produces a false dichotomy
because it is not possible to eliminate the negative opposition. We have already looked
at the specialvariation of false dichotomy Byron Katie devotees are ending up in. The
variation is thatthe devotees constantly swing from one pole of a pair of opposites to
theother.ThisisduetoConversiontotheopposite (theconstantuseofTheTurnaround
Technique), and theresultisContradiction(aboutopposites,seemybook,thesectionOn
DualisminthechapterTheLifeartistasaRationaBeing).

Youcanforexampleconvertyourinsecurenessandanxietyfornotbeinggoodenough
toexaggeratedselfconfidence.SuchaconversionisofcourseakindofCompensation,
escape,selfdeceit,andwillleadtoafalseandimbalancedwayoflife.

Sadly enough, it seems like the movement of positive psychology (again: see my article
TheNewThoughtmovementandthelawofattractiondirectlyisusingConversiontothe
oppositeasacentralpartofitstraining.
Positive psychology is marked by its attempts, through thinking, to eliminate all
negativityby converting it into something positive, or simply by ignoring it, or saying it
doesnt exist.But a thought is always defined by its negation; that is: what the thought
not is. This meansthat a thought always contains a pair of opposites. So, you cant by
the force of thinking (and therefore not by force of will or choice) convert negativity to
positivity. If you nonetheless try to do this you will end up in focusing on the one
extreme of a pair of opposites, which is an unbalance. The energylaws within the
wholeness willthereforeseektobringthethoughtsbacktothebalanceofmiddle.They
do this through a contra balancing movement; that is: a swing over in the opposite
extreme. Thatis what is meantwithcompensatorykarma(seemyarticleWhatiskarma?.
ExistentiallyseenConversiontotheoppositecausesaconflictbetweenwhatyouare
andwhatyouwanttobecome,orbetweenbeingandbecoming.

Conversiontotheopposite,andtheabovementionedproblems,characterizeTheWork,
andtheTurnaroundtechnique,andarethereasonwhythedevoteesagainandagain
needtodothetechnique.Itactuallyalsoinvolvesanotherthoughtdistortion,namely
Endlesssplitofthethought,becausethatthedevotees,eachtimetheyhaveturneda
thoughtaround,arediscoveringthatthisiscausingnewproblems.Thereforetheyhave
todotheturnaroundonemoretime,andsoon,indefinitely.Ihaveinvestigatedthisin
mybookAPortraitofaLifeartistinthesectionOnAnalysis.

In a true spiritual practice the transformation happens, partly through art of life,
whereyouaredancingbetweentheopposites(asintheteachingofYinandYang),and
throughdeepmeditativeexistentialinquiry.

Falsedichotomyisamisleadingconceptionofpossiblealternatives.Adichotomyisa
division in two alternatives. Often seen in the expressions Either/or If/then, as for
example:Eitheryouarewithus,oryouareagainstusifImnotalwaysasuccess,
thenImafiasco.Similarly,someonewhosaysthatyoumusteitherbelievethatGod
existsorelsethatGoddoesntexistissettingupafalsedichotomysincethereisthe
wellknownthirdoptionoftheagnostic.

Afalsedichotomyappearswhensomebodysetsupadichotomyinsuchaway,thatit
lookslike,thatthereonlyaretwopossibleconclusions,whenthefactsactualare,that
therearemanyotheralternativeswhichnotarebeingmentioned.Manyinappropriate
rules of living and lifestrategies are based on false dichotomy. False dichotomy is
thinking in extremes, and leads to a false and imbalanced way of life. The false
dichotomy,whichtheturnaroundtechniquecreates(theconversiontotheopposite),
is:IfIamthinkingthatsomethingistrue,thenthisthoughtisfalse.And,inconnection
withpositivepsychology:IfIamnotalwayspositive,thenthereissomethingwrong
withmythoughts.,and IfI
am not always a success, then I am a fiasco. And thereby it induces in people a
vulnerabilityforguilt,shameanddepression;thatis:peoplearecertainlynotgetting
happy from using The Work, though the thought distortion Subjective validation
probablywill make many claim that they are. Another aspect of this is the suffering
provokedthroughtheuseofcatharticpsychotherapy(seebelow).


AnotherinterestingaspectofTheWorkisthatitalsoinvolvesthethoughtdistortions
SelfrefutingargumentsandReductioadAbsurdum.Wehavealreadylookedatthe
Reductioadabsurdum,becausewecanseethatTheWorkcouldbeusedbyanybully,
liarormanipulator.IfwetaketheselfrefutingargumentsthenTheWorkinvolvesthe
problem of subjectivism/relativism, which considers all views as
subjectivistic/relativistic,andthereforeequallytrue(orequallygood);whatofcourse
indicatesthattheviewsinabsolutisticsenseisfalse(notgood).TheWorkistherefore
logicalfallacious,becauseitof courseconsidersitselfasbeingtruerememberByron
Katies own words: I discovered that when I believed my thoughts, I suffered, but
whenIdidntbelievethem,Ididntsuffer,andthatthisistrueforeveryhumanbeing.

But it can precisely, in accordance with its own builtin subjectivism, not itself be
regardedasmoretruethanthethoughtsoftheclients.Forthatreasonitisfollowedby
alonglineofselfcontradictions.Theselfcontradictionisthatsubjectivismmakesan
exception of its own position: the very assertion of subjectivism is itself
nonsubjectivistic. IstheWorktrue?Areyouabsolutelysureitistrue?andsoon.And
youcouldmakethesamecontraexaminationsonalmosteveryothersentencemade
byKatieorherdevotees.Theycontradictthemselvesinalmostanywordtheyresaying;
thatis:theyareconstantlytellingwhattheythinkistrueandfalse,goodandbad.

A former devotee writes on the Cult Education Forum (http://forum.rickross.com


(http://forum.rickross.com/)),undertheusernamejj52,howsheattendedKaties9day
school.Theyweresworntosecrecyabouttheeventsthatgoontheresoasnottospoil
it for others who would attend in the future. She offers a small list of things that
happenedthere:

1) Aforced36hourfast.
2) Adaylongoutingwherewewerelefttobegforfoodamonghomelesspeoplein
thestreetsofLosAngeles.WewereinstructednottotakeanyID,oranythingwithus
buttheclotheswehadon.

3) A rich organic diet that sent many peoples bodies into shock. Vomiting was a
regular occurrence, and was offered as evidence of cleansing, and of how powerful
TheWorkreallyis.
4) Longdayswithbriefbreaksformeals.(7amto11:00pmmostdays).
5) Long,intenseconfessionalsessions
6) Deep,excessiveprobingintoones pasttraumas.(SheusedviolentKornmusicto
triggerourworstmemories).

7) No contact with family orthe outside world.(Weturned our cell phones intothe
staff).

8) Notallowedtowearmakeup,toexercise,ortoeatoutsideofthedietgiven.
9) Eatingmealsandtakingbreaksincompletesilence.
10) Goingatleast2fulldaysasasilentone,unallowedtotalkwithothers.
11) Being invited to criticize Katie and The School, and those who did were silently,
subtlyshunnedbythegroupandKatie.
12) HavingeverydoubtandconcernaboutwhatwasgoingonatTheSchoolquestioned
andturnedaround,untilnoonecouldtrusttheirownperceptionsanymore.

In is interesting, that this School is using precisely the same methods as in James

Arthur Rays seminars. In July 2009, Colleen Conaway attended a seminar hosted by
James Ray International in which the attendees were directed to dress as homeless
people.Shefell toherdeathattheHortonPlazaMallinSanDiego.Shediedasaresult
ofinjuries,andaccordingtopolice,shehadnoidentificationonherperson.

Itisalsointeresting,thatthelengthofthefastispreciselythesameasinRaysspiritual
warriorworkshop(36hours),where3peopledied,andseveralwerehospitalized(see
my article JamesArthurRayandthesweatlodgetragedy. It is also interesting that there is
used a combination of cathartic psychotherapy and New Age psychotherapeutic
confessionalsessions(seemyarticlesCatharticpsychotherapy,ThedevastatingNewAgeturn
withinpsychotherapy and A critique of StanislavGrofandHolotropicBreathwork.

WhydoesKatieusethesamemethodsasinnumerousotherNewAgepsychotherapies,
whenclaiminghermethodissounique?Thesemethodsareusedinordertoprovoke
negativefeelingsandthoughts,whichtheparticipantsthenshalluseTheWorkon.Itis
clear enough, that when the participants return to a normal life again, then all the
physiological and psychological negative symptoms are disappearing, and then the
particiapantswillsaythatthishealingisduetoTheWork.Thisisatypicalpersuasion
trickusedinseveralcultenvironments(readmoreaboutthisinmyarticleThedevastating
NewAgeTurnWithinPsychotherapy.

A person tells the following story from a School for The Work. weekend intensive,
which givesapictureofTheSchoolsuseofhumiliationknownfromconfrontational
theories and Attack therapy, and where violation of ethical practices are obviously
(again:seemyarticleCatharticpsychotherapies(:

The participants: In addition to a group (approx. 250) impressive in the number of


newbies to The Work and repeaters (seeking Certification or to reprise their previous
experiences in bliss), there were a remarkable number of people who were obviously
mentallyill. DepressionandAnxiety(Socialphobias,Specificphobias,
GeneralizedAnxiety,etc.)weretobeexpected,aswereafinespreadofthemorebenign
Personality Disorders (ObsessiveCompulsive, Hystrionic, Dependent were all well
represented).Andtherewereparticipantswith milderformsofImpulseControlDisorders
(ADD/ADHD and hypomania). But there were also a scattering of the scarierPersonality
Disorders (AntiSocial, Paranoid, Schizoid and Schizotypal). Bipolar I and II, while not
admitted, were apparent. And there was undoubtedly a few people who were
hallucinating,delusional,ordelirious.

I'dhavethoughtKatiewouldhavescreenedmorecarefullytoreduceherliabilityinthese
cases,butsheactuallyseemedtowelcomethemoreseverelydisturbed.Iwasawarethat
no deliberate or careful screening of mental andphysical problems appeared in online
registration. Signing up involved giving demographic info, sending money thatwouldnot
be refunded, and not much else. We was not asked about diagnosis or medication until
we arrived...a bittoo late to shoo away people who had come from all over the world.
And there was that Surrender exercise at the beginning, where the message was very
mixed: give us your supplements, vitamins, medications you don't really need(as if the
trulysickcouldmakethatdecisionwell)ANDifyouareprescribedmeds,youshouldtake
them. Several people gave up prescribed sleep medications and anxiolytics and this was
applauded with comment from Katie, "If you can't sleep at night, contact the staff
member on call andthey will sit with you. If youexperience discomfort, doithereinthe
room with us during the day. If you have to sleep, do that here, too." It didn't take long
beforemoaning,crying,agitatedbehaviorswerethenormintheroomwellbeforefasting
and 15hour days of intense emotional work took their toll. And most staff and

participantsjustleftthesufferingalone,ignoreditorstaffeditbylisteningtothesufferer
doTheWorkagainandagain.Somepeoplecriedoffandonthroughouttheentireschool.
Oftenpeople
were crying so hard or were so anxious, they could not be understood when they took
the microphone and tried to telltheir experience. And sharing those experiences was an
expectation. If you hadn't taken the mike yet, staff asked youwhy. I'm unclear on this,
butI believeonerepeater either had to gothe mental hospitalduringthis school or had
done so in a previous school. In other words, the mentally ill and the neurotic, alike,
decompensatedandthiswasencouragedunderthephilosophyofThe School.

TheShame modulewasperhapsthemostdisturbingunitintheSchool. Ibelievethis


tookplaceinthemorningofDayThree,althoughIadmittolosingtrackofwhatdayit
was(wewerealwayseitherinthewindowlessconferenceroom,onthe30minutesilent
andledwalksaroundtheblocksnearby,or,briefly,onthegrassylawninfrontofthe
hotelorinthehallsofthehotelwhenweweresetfreetodoTheWorkwithapartner).
IntheShameunit,wewereinstructedtowritedownthethingwe'ddoneinourlivesthat
weweremostashamedof,thentakethemikeandtell thewholegroup,thendoThe
Work on it with a partner. Shaming is a subtle but powerful component of
psychological abuse used in every torture and mind controlprocess. People stoodup
and, sobbing or preening, revealed everything from bestiality and zoophilia to
embarrassing physical features, infidelity to poor parenting that bordered on abuse.
Many people told of having been abused and shamed by that. The reward for
producinganovel orparticularlypainfulshameexperiencewasKatie'scooing,warm
approvalandattention. Thiswassuchapowerfulexercisethat,forthenextfewdays,
Katiewouldinterruptwhateverexercisewasinprocesstosaythatsoandsodesiredto
tell about their shame. Folks who had kept quiet during the Shame module apparently
could not resist being part of it all, taking that microphone, and joining Katie's "family."
AlthoughKatiesaid,aftertheconfessionshadbegun,thatweshouldnotrevealanything
illegal,manyseemednottounderstandthatbestiality,childabuse,etc.,wereillegalinthe
US.

Atalltimes,therewasastaffmemberinthebackoftheroomspeakingverysoftlyintoa
dictophone, recording everystory and event. Katie's books are largely made up of these
stories and a release is signed at the beginning, givingpermission for your stories to be
used. Onecouldliterallyfeelthenextbooktakingshapeinthatroom. Itmighthavebeen
a"voluntary"exploitation,butexploitationitwas, nonetheless.

TheshortconclusiontotheaboveinvestigationisthatTheWorkendsupasasingle
causesinglecuremixbetweenCatharticpsychotherapyandpositivethinking.Thereis
usedconfrontationaltheoriesandattacktherapyinordertoprovokenegativefeelings
andmemories(Catharticpsychotherapy).Positivethinkingisthenintroducedviathe
fourquestionsandtheturnaroundtechnique(TheWork).Thequestionofthetruthof
the evoked negativity is hereby ignored. Subjectivism and relativism justify this
ignorance.

Janaki

On the top of this page you can download a 74 pages long booklet (PDF version) by
former high ranking Byron Katie devotee Janaki, who exposes Byron Katie as a typical
NewAgeguru.

In the following I will repeat the most important aspects of this booklet in order to
showwhatissotypicalaboutNewAgegurus.Thereareespeciallytwotypicaltraits:

1) Truthbyauthority
2) Aclosedworld

1) Truthbyauthority
TruthbyAuthorityisathoughtdistortion(seemybookAdictionaryofthoughtdistortions.
Itisabouttakingstatementstobetruesimplybecauseanallegedauthority(experts,
teachers,divinesources,paranormalabilities,etc.)onthematterhassaid/justifiedthat
they are true. A level of critical thinking is always appropriate in a true spiritual
practice, because the statement may be based on false premises, faulty reasoning,
wishfulthinking,vestedinterests,andalotofotherthoughtdistortions.

Andspiritualteachers,whointheirarguments/teaching,againandagain,havetodefer
tosomeauthority(experts,teachers,divinesources,paranormalabilities)inorderto
justify their arguments/teachings, are hundred procent on the wrong track, even if
they should have some paranormal abilities. In Byron Katie it is her tendency to talk
about herself as perfect and untouchable. True enlightened masters never do this. I
herequotefromJanaki,page3334:

Katiesays,Iamhereforyourprojection,andIamwhatitlookslikeontheotherside(of
doing The Work), and You are what is left of my story. For me this always meant that
shehadrisenaboveandbeyondallearthlyvicesandnegativeemotions(shehasbecome
perfect and untouchable). If she is here for our projection, it surely must meanthat she
no longer projects herself. If she is what it looks like on the other side, it surely must
mean that I still have along way to go, since I am nowhere near that point. Then she
wouldalsosay,ItsnotcalledTheWorkfornothing.Soinallappearances,Istillhadalot
todo.

This is being reinforced by Katies stories about her personal life in A Thousand Names
for Joy and in the variousKatieisms booklets and newsletters. It paints a picture of a
womanwhoisneverunhappy,whohasnonegativeemotionsleftandwhocandealwith
any situation in a peaceful way, because she is the living example of Loving What Is. I
have heard Katie say several times (on stage), that she hasnt been angry ever since her
awakening experience. To prove this she will ask Stephen who sits on the front row,
honey,haveyoueverseenmeangry?.Hisanswerisalwaysthesame,No,Ihavent.

In private, I have rarely seen Katie go in and make turnarounds. Not with any of the
feedbacksheevergaveme,orwithanyofthefeedbackIevergaveher.IfIwouldgiveher
feedback,shewouldimmediatelycallmeontheturnaroundandwantexamples.

ShetoldmeinherfeedbackthattherewasasmellyflavorinthewayIcomparemyselfto
othertrainers,yetshesaysTheSchoolisunlikeanyotherschoolontheplanet.Isthis
notacomparison?

I have seen Katie get irritated and angry at people. I have seen her stressed out. I have
seen how she doesnt stay in her business, every time she gave me feedback, she went
intomine.Ihaveheardherdefend,justifyandexplain.Ihaveoftenseenherassomeone
who goes into a story and doesnt question it. I have experienced how she believesthe
stories reported back to her by her staff members and doesnt question those stories, or
checkswiththepersoninvolved.

Astheabovementionedformerdevotee,jj52,writesontheculteducationforum:


AlthoughTheWorkispresentedasforanyoneofanyreligion,onceIbecameapartof
Katiescaptiveaudience,itbecameveryclearthatwasnoso.Katieclaimstohaveno
beliefs, because she is clear and lives in reality or heaven, her belief system is
actually very strong, very distinct, and very antiChristian. And, anyone whose belief
systemdoesntmatchhersistreatedliketheunenlightenedsapwhoneedstokeep
questioninghis/hersthoughtsuntiltheycanseethingsKatiesway.

Andjj52continues:IkeptintouchwithseveralpeopleafterTheSchool,andwhenI
made the decision to throw out all of my materials and abandon the process
altogether,Imetalotofresistance.ThatwasaboutthetimehernewbookcameoutA
ThousandNamesforJoy.Iboughtit,againoutofdirecuriosity.Ireadthroughitone
evening,andthatwasallittookformetotossitout.Hearinghertellaboutwatchinga
manhavingastroke,andfeelingnoconcernforhiswellbeingbecauseshewasinlove
...wascrazy.Sincewhendidapathybecomelove?

Andjj52endsheraccount:But,Ithinkitwasthepassagewhereshesaidthatshelikes
pretending to be human and called it her disguise that really put the whole thing
overthetop.ApathyIcouldprobablyhandle...butinhumannessisgoingtoofar.Icant
evenexpressthedisturbingwayIvefeltwatchingallofthesepeople(therewereabout
300atTheSchool)throwingawayanormal,healthyrangeofemotionsforbliss.And,
I find itinteresting that none of them have ever actually become like Katie. I guess
psychosisisprettyhardtoselfinduce...?

Another example is about how Byron Katie never has read any books, and that her
teachingcameasakindofawakeninginsideher.HereIagainquotefromJanaki,page28
30:

After these emails, I spoke with to an old friend who used to know Katie from years
beforeImether.Hesaid,AndshegotmostofTheWorkfromtheCourseinMiracles,
becausetheywereallreadingthatinthehalfwayhouse,thatiswheretheturnarounds
comefrom.ShealsotoldusthatshewasreadingbooksbyKenKeyeswhenshewasat
thehalfwayhouse.

IhadneverheardthatnamebeforeandIbecamecurious.IGoogledhim,andlearned
thatKenKeyeshadapersonalgrowthcenterinthe70sinOregon.Ifoundsomequotes
byhimontheinternet,thatcouldhavebeenKatiequotes.Quoteslike,Alovingperson
livesinalovingworld.Ahostilepersonlivesinahostileworld;everyoneyoumeetisyour
mirror. And Everyone and everything around you is your teacher. and I have
everythingIneedtoenjoymyhere and nowunless I amletting my consciousness be
dominatedbydemandsandexpectationsbasedonthedeadpast
ortheimagined future.

I became more curious and ordered some of his books. I was amazed. He called his
process The Inner Work. He worked with worksheets that consist of 6 uncompleted
sentences. I found a list of all the questions that are on theworksheet from The Work: I
want, I need, he should, what I never want to happen again. I also found some of the
questions,especiallythe3rdquestionwasliteral,includingtheanswersthataregivento
that question. I found theturnarounds, exactly the way they are done in The Work. And
therewasalot more.

I scanned everything that is relevant to The Work into a pdf document and sent it to
Katie. I emailed her: Recently someone told me that you were reading books by Ken

Keyes Jr., while you were at the halfway house. Having readseveral of his books, I put
together this document, since it is highly confusing to me. The confusing part being that
youalwaystoldusthatyouneverhadanyteachers,orreadanybooks,andthefactthat
itsaysonyourbioonyourwebsitethat:Katiesprocessofselfinquiry,calledTheWork,
didnt develop from this experience; she says that it woke up with her, as her, that
Februarymorningin1986".Wouldyoupleaseexplainthis?

Katierepliedwith,AstotheKenKeyespages,Ilovethattherearesomanywaysofsaying
thesamethingaswe alljourney through our own experiences. I think the big difference
isthefourquestionsandturnarounds.ThatisTheWork.

Stephenalsowrotemeanote,P.S.fromStephen:DearJanaki,Mygoodness!Anyonewho
knowsKatieknowsthat shedoesn't read books. Furthermore, evenif someone had been
with her at the halfway house, even if that someone had given her homework
assignments from Ken Keyes, how could he know that she actually read the books? Was
hehiding underneath Katie's bed? It must be painful to believe that Katie is a liar and a
ripoff artist. In addition to theKeyes books, I could find a hundred books on spirituality
orcognitivepsychologywherethereareechoesofKatie's
words.AndIcouldfindevenclearerechoesinthewordsoftheBuddha.Butnowhereare
there the four questions andturnarounds, which are The Work. If you can't see Katie's
astoundingoriginalityfromcomparingthepassagesthat
yousentinthepdf,thenyou'renotseeingveryclearly,inmy opinion.Verysurprised,very
amused,andwithlove, Stephen
I answered him with, Hi Stephen, Painful? No. Confused? Yes. That is why I asked. If it
werejustechoes,Iprobablywouldnt be confused. Liar and ripoff artist are your words,
notmine.Ilovethatyouareamused.Janaki

I let Katie know exactly who had given me the Ken Keyes information. After that, I
received an email from my friend,saying that upon reflecting, he and his wife could not
confirmthatKatiehadactuallytoldthemshereadtheKenKeyesbooks.Butthatbackin
theearlydays,theykeptpointingoutthesimilaritiestoher,betweenKeyesworkandher
own.

Inevergotaresponsetomyanswerstoher email.

About half a year after posting this weblog, I spoke to someone who used to live in
Barstow in the early Katie days. This person told me that the basement of one of the
houses was filled with boxes of books. He found all kinds of books: The Course in
Miracles,alltheKenKeyesbooks,booksbyRamanaMaharshi,booksbyRichardBandler,
just toname a few. Many of the books had underlined sentences in them and contained
notesinKatieshandwriting.

So Katie used to read books, and why not? What I dont understand is that Stephen
MitchelltellsmethatanyonewhoknowsKatie,knowsthatshedoesntreadbooks.Sohe
eitherdidntknowaboutthebasementfilledwithbooks,orhejustwantedtomockme
inhisemailresponse.

AnotherinterestingpieceofinformationwasthatPaul(Katiessecondhusband),usedto
talkabouthowshewasreadingallthetimeintheearlyyears.

YoucanfindexamplesonKenKeyesquotesinJanakisbooklet.

2) Aclosedworld

ItisclearenoughthatByronKatiedevoteesmustliveinaveryclosedworldinorderto
maintaintheirbelief.Whataretheydoingifconfrontedwiththerealitiesoftheworld
(which mainly are negative and evil)? Turning them around? I dont think a child
molester,athief,amurderer,apsychopath,aterrorist,etc.,etc.,thenwillstoptheir
activities.

AsinotherNewAgedirectionsitmustbeanincredibleexperienceforanyscholar,to
see the arrogance and incompetence of the people within this area. Here is a quote
fromJanaki,page39:

ItseemstomethatTheWorkhasbecomeareligionthatisnowtakingonglobalforms,
especially when I see how it isbeing marketed through Katies various websites and her
weblog. The four questions have become the holy bible. I getthat thought when I hear
KatiesaythatLovingWhatIsisthetextforTheWork.Igetthefeelingthatthewordtext
has an scriptural association, as in Holy Text. I also get that association with the Judge
yourNeighborworksheet.WhenIneededtotranslatethisphraseintoDutch,ItoldKatie
that we have 2 translations for the word neighbor. One is literal and applies to the guy
livingnextdoor,andtheotherhasabiblicalconnotation.Shechosethebiblicalone.

Many years ago, I sat with Katie in her room one morning. She was talking about the
futureofTheWorkandshesaid,IhaveseenitJanaki,itisgoingtobeliketheSermonon
the Mount. I felt so in awe of her at the time. Here I wassitting with someone equalto
JesusChrist,havingteaonthebalcony.

AsinotherNewAgedirections,asforexampleTheSecret,youalsoseehowtheauthors
arepepperingtheirthoughtswithquotationsfromspiritualtraditions(takenoutof
context),inordertomakeitsoundholy.WhatisincredibleishowByronKatieandher
followersaretotallyobliviousofhowtheyaredemonstratingthemonstrosityoftheir
ignorance about how everything in the Work already is known, and much better
worked out, and also scientifical investigated, in Cognitive Therapy. Here is a quote
fromJanakionpage3436:

Katie emphasizes very strongly that The Work is not therapy. She has always done this.
OntheReleaseofLiabilityformforTheSchoolitsays,Itisnottherapeuticindesign.Iwas
alwayscompletelyinlinewiththis,andwheneveranyonewouldcompareTheWorkwith
therapy, I would argue against it quite strongly. The comparison that I heardmost of all
was with Cognitive Therapy. Last year I realized that I actually had no clue about
Cognitive Therapy, (or any therapy), so I decided to buy a book and see for myself. I
orderedabookcalledFeelingGoodbyDavidBurns.I
was amazed, and I came to the conclusion that The Work indeed comes very close to
CognitiveTherapy.IhavetokeepreferringtoCognitiveTherapy,becauseIknownothing
aboutanyotherkindoftherapy.

Personally I dont see any harm in this, but I can understand why Katie needs to
emphasizethatTheWorkisnottherapy.Afterall,sheisnotalicensedtherapistsand
noraremostpeoplewhoarelicensedbyhertofacilitateotherswithfourquestions,and
AmericaisthecountryoftheSueyou,Suemeculture.Soprecautionsneedtobetaken.

In Cry in the desert, there is a story where Katie would say to Paul, take me to my
people.HewouldthendrivehertoLosAngeles,totheareawherehomelesspeopleused
tohangout.LaterIlearnedthatshewasinfactlookingforaladytherapistthatsheknew

fromthehalfwayhouse.Ialsoheardthatthisladylostherjobatthehalfwayhouseover
Katieandwasnowhomelessandlivingonthestreets.Thislastpieceisjusthearsay,andI
cantknowthatthisisactuallytrue. The story hasitthat Katiewould then stay with her
for a couple of days before Paul would collect her again. During the first Certification
training in the Netherlands, this therapist came and attended. There was a little buzz
goingaroundthestaff,becauseitwasquiteunusualtohavepeoplearoundfromKaties
past. At the end of theCertification Katie stood on the stage. All the participants were
standing in half a circle, waiting for their names to becalled (it was quite small in those
days,only60participants).Whenyournamewascalled,youwouldwalkuptothestage
and Katie would hand you your certificate. When Hannahs name was called, she
remainedwhereshewas.ShelookedatKatieandsaid,Katie,Iwantyoutostepdownto
me. Katie said, Hannah, I already have. Hannah just stood there and didnt say
anything. Katie did the same, but finally stepped down from the stage and handed her
thecertificate.OnlyKatieandHannahknowwhatthereasonwasforthisbehavior.

However, Katie does make a comparison between The Work and therapy. On one of the
forumsontheInstituteforTheWorkwebsite,thereisatopicofthemonthforum.Katie
postsanewstatementeachmonth,andpeoplegettodiscussthis,orreplytoherquestion
whysheissayingthis.InFebruary2009thetopicofthemonthwas,Whathappened? If
someone has had panic attacks for years, and they have done therapy and many self
help methods,and then they do one or two onehour sessions with you and never have
another panic attack, why would this be? From your own experience, internally what
happened?. From what I read here, it seems to me that she is making a direct
comparison between The Work and therapy (and selfhelp methods), by claiming that
TheWorkisfarsuperior,eventhoughitisnotsaidinsomanywords.(Ahthisiswhere
thepowerofliterallisteningandliteralspeakingstepsin!).

Thisisveryinteresting.Whatcomesto mymindisthis:whenIlookataninfomercialon
the television, I hear only thebenefits and all the reasons why I need to have this item
they are advertising. And to be honest, I want to have nearlyeverything that I see on
nearly every infomercial! When I see the little movies, I am fully convinced, the proof is
rightthereinfrontofmyeyes,andallthesepeoplethattelltheirexperience,surelythey
cantbelying?ThenwhenIlookupthesomuchwanteditemonGoogle(andmyhusband
thanksmeforthis!),Igettohearalltheothersidesandthedownfalls.Intheinfomercial
they say, if you get this grill or turbo oven, you can throw away all your other pots and
pans.AndbasicallywhatIhearKatiesayhereis,ifyoudoTheWork,youcanthrowaway
alltherapiesandselfhelpmethods.

Itisalsointeresting,thatwhenJanakiisspeakingabouttherapy(assuch)onpage37,she
isonlymentioningalotofdifferentNewAgetherapies,asforexampleAvatar,NLP,Bio
Energetics,Satsang,theJourney,theGreatFreedom,Deeksha,beinghuggedbyAmma,
Landmark,TonyRobbins,etc.Butsheisnotmentioninganyscientificalbasedtherapy
forms. It seems like this is a closed world, where everybody are reading the same
literature,andareignoringeverythingelse.

It is the same with the Law of Attraction followers, who repeatedly teach people in
wrong interpretations of Quantum mechanics, without seeking any other knowledge
aboutit, thanwhattheyhavereadinNewAgebooks(seemyarticleTheNewThought
movementandthelawofattraction.

Dontthesepeopleevenconsiderthethought,thatiftheirteachingshavetobespread
outtothewholeworld,thentheyhavetomeet,andargue,withpeoplewithscientific
knowledgeaboutthesethings?


InmyarticlesTheSokalHoaxandThenewfeminismandthephilosophyofwomensmagazines,I
showhowdangerousthenaivefaithinsubjectiveattitudesandrejectionofscientifical
methodsandcontentcanprovetobeforall,whoareinvolvedinthesethings.Youcan
mentionavastnumberofcrazyNewAgetherapies,whicharetakenattheirfacevalue.
JusttrytofollowanOprahWinfreyshow.Thesepeopleareoftenbreathtakingintheir
combination of selfconfidence and absurdity, where they with no hesitation are
bullyinghighlyeducatedexpertsandscientistsiftheyarecritical.Subjectivismnamely
opensthemforthedangerofmagicalthinkingandEgoinflation(seemyarticleTheego
inflationintheNewAgeandselfhelpenvironment.

TheSocraticInquiretechniqueusedinCognitiveTherapy

InthefollowingIwillgiveyouanexampleofaSocraticinquiretechnique,whichIuseas
ahelpinmysupportingexerciseThePhilosophicalDiary(seemybookMeditationasanArtofLife
.ThisinquiretechniqueisalsousedinCognitiveTherapy.Asyoucansee,itimpliesByron
Katiesfourquestions,butalsomanyotherquestions,whicharenecessarysothatthe
techniquecanbesoflexible,thatitdoesntendasrhetorical questions.Youcanalso
seewhereKenKeyeshasgothisideasfrom(seeexamplesonKenKeyesquotesinJanakis
booklet).Andeventhisisnotenoughinaspiritualpractice.

In order to understand spirituality, you must focus on the thoughtproces, you must
understand, that spirituality is philosophy and philosophical practice, not psychology
andpsychotherapy(seemyarticlePhilosophicalcounselingasanalternativetopsychotherapy
You must focus on the form of consciousness, not on its content; you must turn your
awareness towards the observer, and not the observed. Therefore spiritual questions
arephilosophicalquestions,suchas

WhoamI?
Toaskphilosophicalquestionsinameditativeexistentialwayhasnothingtodowith
thoseenquiretechniquesusedinpsychotherapyandcoaching.Itsquitecentralthatthe
truemastersofspiritualityareusingphilosophicalquestions,becausesuchquestions
askforwhatiscommontoallmankind,theuniversalwhatyoucouldcalltheessence
ofManandreality.ThisisbecausethattheSource,theessentialinManandinreality,
preciselyissomethingcommontoallmankind,oruniversal.Inotherwords:philosophy
directs itselftowards the essence, and not towards the content. Psychotherapy and
coachingareonlyabletoaskforthepersonal(orthecontent),andthereforetheycan
neveropentheconsciousnessintowardstheSource(theessence).

The following exercise is therefore only a supporting exercise turning around your
personal history, and which you eventually have to leave behind, when you reach the
collective and universal areas of history (see my article Paranormal phenomena seenin
connectionwithspiritualpractice:

Investigativeandtransformingquestions

Questionstoinvestigationandanalysisoftheproblem/situation
1. Whathappenedinthesituation?(whosaid/didwhat,when?)
2. Whatdidyoufeelthen?Howwereyou?(howangry/sadetc.wereyouonascale010?
3. Whatdidyousaytoyourself,immediatelybeforeyoufeltthat?Whatwereyouthinking?
4. Ifitistrue,whatdoesittellaboutyou?Abouttheother?
5. Whatdidyouthendointhesituation?
6. Whichofthesethoughtsarespeciallyaffectingyourfeelings,burdeningyouthemost?Centralthought.

Questionstotransformingandrestructuringthecentralthought
7. Howconvincedareyouthatthisthoughtistrue?

Argumentation
8. Whatdoyoubasethethoughton?Whatsubstancedoyouhaveforit?Whatistheevidenceforit?
9. Isthereanythinginthesituation,whichcanpointinanotherdirection?
10. Isthereanythinginyourlife,whichcanpointinanotherdirection?
11. Doyouhaveexperiences,whichcouldsuggest,thatthisthoughtisnotcompletelytrue?

Alternatives
12. Couldyouthinkdifferentinthissituation?(Moreselfsupportingandconstructive?)
13. Whatwouldamorerealistic/selfsupportingwaytothinkbeinthissituation?
14. Doesitfeeldifferent,whenyouimagine,thatyouwerethinkinginthatway?
15. Whatismostrealistictothink?
16. Whenitfeelsbetter,andalsomorerealistic,tothinkalternately,whatwouldyouthenchoosetothink?

Worstandbest
17. Whatwouldtheworstbe,ifyourthoughtistrue?
18. Woulditbesobad?
19. Whatcouldtherecomeoutofit,thatwouldbebeneficial/goodforyou,ifitistrue,whatyouthink?
Problemsolution
20. Ifyourinterpretation/thoughtistrue,whatcouldyouthendoinordertomanagethesituationbetter?
21. Couldyoulayaplan,sothesituationisgettingbetternow/onwards?

Distancing
22. Whatwouldyoutellyourbestfriend,ifhe,inthesamesituation,wasthinkinginthatway?
23. Howwouldyouperceivethesituationinthreemonths/sixmonths?

Thought distortions
24. Which distortions characterize this thinking?

Dichotom thinking: whichmeansthatyouarrangethesurroundingworldinapairof


opposites(forexamplelifeanddeath,pastandfuture,subjectandobject,goodand
evil,justificationandcondemnation,loveandhate,powerandpowerlessness,perfect
andfiasco).Thisisa degradedandonesideddivision,whichhappenswhentheEgo,
throughevaluations,splitsthemoreuniversalimagesoftimeinpieces.Theseimagesare
inthemselvesakindofsyntheses,becausetheyalwaysincludetheoppositepole.But
thedichotomousthinkingexpelstheoppositepole,removesit,andbydoingsoyouare
comingtoliveon postulates,withoutaskingorsearchingforcontraconceptionsand
alternatives. Dichotom thinking orthinkingin oppositesisthe central thought
distortion.Allthebelowthought distortionsariseonthebackgroundofdichotom
thinking.

Selective abstraction: selections and exclusions which means that you, usually
unconscious,choosetoperceivespecialpartsofrealityandleaveout other.

Generalization:whichmeansthatyouexpect,thatsomething,whichhastakenplacein
one situation, also takes place in other situations, without asking or searching for
contraconceptionsandalternatives.

Personalizing: whichmeansthatyouseeindependentincidents,whichhappeninthe
surroundingworld,asrelatedtoyourself.Totakesomethingpersonally,withoutasking
orsearchingforcontraconceptionsandalternatives.

Enlargementandreductionofelementsinthesurroundingworld:Tomakeaproblem
muchlargerthanit inrealityis,ortomakethenumberofyourlifepossibilitiesmuch
lesser than they in reality are. You overestimate or understate exaggerate or
understate,withoutaskingorsearchingforcontraconceptionsandalternatives.

Catastrophethinking:Unrealisticthoughtsthatarebeingconnectedwithaharmlessfact.
Catastrophethinkingisoutofproportionswithreality,andyoudontask,orseekfor
alternatives.Followsoftenfromblackandwhitethinking,andiscloselyconnectedwith
anxietydevelopment.

Attribution:Misleadingwaytoexplainincidents.Onesidedascribingthereasonfor,or
the responsibility for, negative incidents, to yourself, or to other people or
circumstances,withoutincludingotherelementsinthesituation.Iscloselyconnected
withsenseofguiltoranger.

Blackandwhitethinking:Toclassifyallsituations,incidentsorthings,asanexampleof
oneoftwoextremes,whenthefactsactualare,thattherebetweenthetwoextremes
existsacompletespectrumofotherpossibleviewpoints.Blackandwhitethinkingisa
variationof falsedichotomy.Blackandwhitethinkingariseswhenyoutrytogetthe
worldtofitintoverysimpleprejudicedcategories.Wordscharacterizedbyblackand
whitethinkingarewordssuchasmust,shall,never,always,asforexampleallofitis
hopeless,itcannotpossiblysucceed,Ihavetobebetterthantheothers,nobody
likesme.Oftenthemostbasicassumptionsaboutyourselfandtheworld,arebasedon
blackandwhitethinking.Blackandwhitethinkingisthinkinginextremes,andleadstoa
falseandimbalancedwayoflife.

Youcometoliveonpostulates,withoutaskingorsearchingforcontraconceptionsand
alternatives.

False dichotomy: A misleading conception of possible alternatives. A dichotomy is a


divisionin two alternatives. Often seen in the expressions Either/or If/then, as for
example:Eitheryouarewithus,oryouareagainstusifImnotalwaysasuccess,
thenImafailure.Afalsedichotomyappearswhensomebodysetsupadichotomyin
suchaway,thatitlookslike,thatthereonlyaretwopossibleconclusions,whenthe
factsactualare,thattherearemanyotheralternativeswhichnotarebeingmentioned.
Manyinappropriaterulesoflivingandlifestrategiesarebasedonfalsedichotomy.False
dichotomyisthinkinginextremes,andleadstoafalseandimbalancedwayoflife.

Arbitrary inference: whichmeans,thatyoumakeacausallinkingoffactors,whichis


accidentalandmisleading.

Thoughtreading:Youareconvinced,thatyouknow,whatothersthinkaboutyou.You

dont investigate if you are right by asking or searching for contraconceptions and
alternatives.Withoutdeeperreflectionyoujustconclude,thatothersforexampleare
critical.

Rhetoricorsubjectiveargumentation:anunethicalwaytoconvinceothersaboutyour
opinions,becauseitdoesntshow,whatinreelsenseisappropriateorinappropriate
about a case, but manipulates with it. Contains some of the following elements:
innuendoes,distortions,generalizations,over/understatements,sarcasm,satire,irony,
postulates, emotional affections, coloured diction, choices and exclusions, subjective
style.objectiveargumentationthereforeisamoreethicalwaytoconvinceothersabout
your opinions, because it actually shows, what in reel sense is appropriate or
inappropriate about a case. Contains some of the following elements: summary or
abstract, information, description, reasons, concrete diction, nuanced objective
statement.

Wishfulthinking:Tothink,thatbecauseitwouldbenice,ifsomethingwastrue,thenit
actualmustbetrue.Thisthoughtpatternisverycommon,andveryseductivebecauseit
allowsustoavoidunpleasanttruths.Butit'saformofselfdeceit.Wishfulthinkingfor
exampleoftenignoresthepossibilityofplausiblealternativeexplanationsonexactlythe
sameobservations.

Prejudice: a belief held without good reason or consideration of the evidence for or
aginstitsbeingtrue.Philosophythatis:rationalityandcriticalthinkingisopposedto
prejudice.
We are all riddled with prejudices on a wide range of issues, but it is possible to
eliminatesomeofthembymakinganefforttoexamineevidenceandargumentson
both sides of any question. Human reason is fallible, and most of us are strongly
motivatedtoclingontosomebeliefsevenintheteethofevidenceagainstthem(see
wishful thinking); however, even making small inroads into prejudice can transform
theworldforthebetter.

Ad hominem move: A Latin phrase meaning to the person. The devious move in
debate, where you shift attention from the point in question to some nonrelevant
aspectofthepersonmakingit.Callingsomeonesstatementadhominem isalwaysa
reproach;itinvolvestheclaimthattheaspectsofthearguerspersonalityorbehaviour,
whichhavebecomethefocusofdiscussionareirrelevanttothepointbeingdiscussed.
Oftenadhominemmoveissimplybasedonprejudice.Itcanalsobearhetoricalmove.
Adhominemmoveisaverywidespread,andproblematic,moveamongpsychologists
and psychotherapists, who cant limit their theories to clients, wherefore it can be
verydifficulttohaveanormaldiscussionwiththesepeople.

Couldyoucatchyourselfintheabovedistortions?Trytodoitbyobservingthepain
bodysnegativefeelingsinyourbody.Rememberthatthethoughtdistortionsarefalse,
whilethefeelingsaretrue.Beaware,thatthesethoughtdistortionstrytoleadyouon
thewrongtrack.Ifyoucancatchtheminmisleadingyou,whatcouldyouthendoto
changethem?

Dilemmatraining
Whatcantheadvantagesanddisadvantagesbydoingsoandomittodoso,be?
Use for example a sheet of paper which you with a vertical line divide in the
middle.

Arguments,bothforandagainsttotodo so,arewrittenontherightside,and
arguments,bothforandagainstomittingtodoso,arewrittenontheleftside.

Supplementaryquestionstoinappropriateassumptionsandrulesofliving
Howisthatassumption/liferulegoodforyou?
Howisithinderingorobstructivingforyou?
Howshouldabetter,morefunctional,andlessobstructive,assumption/liferule
be?Setupofbehaviouralexperimenttoinvestigationofthenewassumption/life
rule.

Questionstoactivationofalternativethoughtsbyanxiety

1.Isyourevaluationbasiscorrect?Isthereevidence?
Whatdoyoubaseyourassumptionon?