Mar 3, 2023

CultNEWS101 Articles 3/3/2023 (Shaman, Donner, ICSA History, Cult Recovery, Larry Ray)

Shaman, Donner, ICSA History, Cult Recovery, Larry Ray

"Browsing through an antique bookstore in Quito, I stumbled on a book called Shabono: A Visit to a Remote and Magical World in the South American Rainforest, written by an anthropologist named Florinda Donner. Published in 1982, I expected it to be like most academic texts: interesting but long-winded and dusty. Instead, I got a gripping adventure that puts even Indiana Jones to shame.

The book opens with Donner, a German immigrant studying anthropology in California, feeling hopeless. She's spent weeks on the border between Venezuela and Brazil shadowing Indigenous healers who refuse to reveal the secrets of their trade. Preparing to return to the U.S. empty-handed, she befriends a kind but crazy old woman who wants to introduce her to her village, located deep inside the rainforest. The woman dies on the journey, and when Donner arrives at the village, she joins a ceremony where she drinks banana soup seasoned with the woman's ashes.

And that's just the first couple chapters. Later, Donner experiences existential hallucinations after snuffing epená, a tryptamine derivative, and narrowly avoids getting kidnapped by another tribe.

The story of Shabono is so compelling I found it hard to believe it was true, which – it turns out – it wasn't. While the book was praised for its writing, it was torn apart for lack of academic rigor. Some anthropologists believe Donner made everything up, claiming she never left the U.S. and plagiarized the account of a Brazilian woman who had once been held captive in the same region of the Amazon.

As shocked as I was to learn all this, the rabbit hole proved to go much, much deeper.

It's hard to separate the story of Florinda Donner from that of Carlos Castenada. Castenada, like Donner, was a California-based anthropologist accused of fabricating his studies on Indigenous healing. He claims to have met Don Juan Matus, the Yaqui sorcerer at the center of his bestselling 1968 book The Teachings of Don Juan, whilst waiting for a Greyhound bus in Arizona. Critics questioned Don Juan's existence, and Castenada, who didn't like being questioned, offered no help in trying to locate him.

Although The Teachings was shunned in academic circles, it made a huge impact on the general population. Castenada's recollections of inhaling the dust of psilocybin mushrooms and turning into a crow after smoking devil's weed were required reading for anyone involved in the sex and drugs culture of the late 60s.

Though he might have been a lousy anthropologist, Castenada was a masterful storyteller who knew how to use his gift to bewitch those around him. Following the publication of his third Don Juan book, Castenada – by then a multimillionaire – purchased a two-story house in Los Angeles' Westwood Village. This is where his personal writerly following would flourish into what some would now consider to have been a full-blown cult.

One of Castenada's followers was Gloria Garvin, who sought him out after reading The Teachings under the influence of pumpkin pie laced with hashish."
Robert E. Schecter, PhD, interviewed three exit counselors, David Clark, Joseph Kelly, and Patrick Ryan, on October 27, 2018 as part of a series of interviews designed to illuminate ICSA's history. The three men discuss the changes they have seen over the many years of their involvement in the field.

Lorna Goldberg (Author), William Goldberg (Author), Rosanne Henry & Michael Langone
"People are different, and different people will respond to the same environment in different ways. That is why the first clinical rule in working with former cult members and families is to remain flexible and not rigidly adhere to a clinical ideology. The chapters in this book reflect this attitude of openness, while describing how different experts approach the kinds of problems that might confront therapists working with former cult members and those with affected loved ones.

Though primarily aimed at helpers, the clearly written chapters of this 500-page book can help family members and former members of cultic situations, including those born or raised in such environments."
"For years, Lawrence V. Ray manipulated and exploited a group of young people who had lived with his daughter in a dormitory at Sarah Lawrence College. He didn't do it alone, prosecutors say: Among them was an enforcer.

Isabella Pollok became Mr. Ray's "trusted lieutenant," prosecutors have said, helping abuse her one time roommates. Descriptions of how she played a part in keeping Mr. Ray's followers' complaint and terrified emerged last year as former students testified at his trial, which led to a 60-year sentence for extortion, sex trafficking, racketeering conspiracy and other charges.

Ms. Pollok ran the accounts and meted out discipline, prosecutors said, pushing group members to serve and fund Mr. Ray across a decade and several states. One former student testified that Ms. Pollok and Mr. Ray showed up to a hotel room where she had been earning money for them by working as a prostitute. Ms. Pollok taunted her, the former student, Claudia Drury, said, and Mr. Ray assaulted her for as long as eight hours, placing a plastic bag over her head and threatening to kill her.

On Wednesday, a judge in Manhattan sentenced Ms. Pollok, who pleaded guilty last fall to a single count of conspiracy to launder money, to four and a half years in prison. That ends a case that began on the campus of an elite college in Westchester County with a progressive intellectual tradition then devolved into squalid scenes of abuse and domination played out in hotel rooms and homes in New York City and beyond.

When Ms. Pollok pleaded guilty, she offered no public explanation of why she had become devoted to Mr. Ray. Her lawyers since had argued that Ms. Pollok was "brainwashed" and that she had been too fully in Mr. Ray's thrall to act independently.

Among those who seem to have arrived at a similar view was Ms. Drury, who wrote to the court that, although she still puzzled over Ms. Pollok's behavior, she believed that her former roommate had lacked agency and deserved lenience.
Federal prosecutors had asked the judge, Lewis J. Liman of U.S. District Court, to impose a sentence of five years, writing that Ms. Pollok "held a privileged position" within what they called "the Ray family." They added that she was "responsible for managing Ray's finances, enforcing Ray's rules" and making and maintaining recordings of false confessions he elicited from followers, then used as leverage to demand payments."

News, Education, Intervention, Recovery to help families and friends understand and effectively respond to the complexity of a loved one's cult involvement. assists group members and their families make the sometimes difficult transition from coercion to renewed individual choice. news, links, resources.




Instagram resources about cults, cultic groups, abusive relationships, movements, religions, political organizations and related topics.

Selection of articles for CultNEWS101 does not mean that Patrick Ryan or Joseph Kelly agree with the content. We provide information from many points of view in order to promote dialogue.

Please forward articles that you think we should add to

No comments: