TranceNet: Anonymous TM Victim #1I was a TMer for 18 years, living in Fairfield for the last 15 of them. I left the group about 3 years ago. I'd like to tell you what happened to me as a result of TM.
I was initiated in 1974 in New Haven, Connecticut, after seeing a poster in a grocery store. I was hoping to get more relaxed. Little did I know where it would lead.
I became a gung-ho TMer right off the bat and tried to get everyone I knew to start. I had some success, but only managed to get one family member to learn. I'm glad now that she quit early on.
I moved to Fairfield in '79 to work on volunteer staff at MIU to earn the sidhis. I worked my butt off, anticipating getting to take the course 6 months into my stint there. (Most volunteers got to take the sidhis after 6 months of service, then would fin ish off another 6 months to complete the year's work required to get the course.)
I was turned down for the course the first time I applied. I assume it was because I'd seen a counselor a few times over the breakup with a boyfriend. I was told to apply again in a year. I worked my butt off for another year thinking this was it.
Bobby Warren, the dynamic fund-raiser for MIU, had the bright idea to have the largest fund-raiser in MIU's history. A banquet for 1800 people in six dining halls, using both the MIU and Capital kitchens. I was put in charge of the whole thing. I had a st aff of up to 100 people working for me after their regular staff jobs each night for two weeks.
If I say so myself, it was my crowning achievement. The most organized, deliciously luxurious banquet in the history of the university. We raised $1 million that night. I'd been promoted to a position that only the Council of Executive Governors had ever held at MIU. It was unheard of for a lowly meditator to have that much responsibility. I was still only making $40 per month. I was still working many more hours than the sidhas. And I was still waiting to apply again for the course.
I kept seeing my friends and co-workers go off to take the course and then get to fly in the domes. Their monthly stipend went up after becoming sidhas, and they worked less. I continued working at least 6 days a week, for 40 bucks per month, for 2 1/2 ye ars. I kept getting promoted and became very popular with Bevan and the Administrative Board for my outstanding work on staff. But I couldn't get on the damn sidhis course.
Finally the year was up. I reapplied, confident I'd get on this time. I mean I was Bevan's darling.... But to my shock and devastation -- I was turned down again. I was told to wait another year. No explanation. I found Bevan at a banquet and asked him if he could get me on the course. His previous approval of me turned to ice as he told me I had to abide by the decision of the sidhis administrators.
Little did I know that this was the beginning of the ostracization I would experience over the next decade in the Movement.
I was married to a sidha at the time -- which was hard on our marriage because I couldn't do my program with him, and he had this spiritual secret from me.
Finally after waiting the second year they accepted me for the course. I waited the year -- took the sidhis -- unstressed my brains out, and became a faithful dome goer. My dream come true.
I didn't know how lucky I'd been not to have the sidhis. Two years after doing my program faithfully in the dome twice a day, I had a psychotic breakdown (1984).
MIU Security had me committed to Mt. Pleasant Mental Health Institute -- a mental hospital converted from a prison. I was restrained in 5 point leather restraints in a secluded room on a bed bolted to the floor. There were bars on the only window -- which of course I could barely see because I was flat on my back staring at a single bare light bulb.
It was a hellish experience. My psychosis worsened. I came to believe that I'd died and gone to hell, my fate being to be alone in this room, restrained on this metal bed for eternity....
By federal regulation, they're supposed to see if you need to use the bathroom and make sure that the restraints aren't harming you. They're supposed to come in every 15 minutes. They didn't check on me for at least 12 hours. When they finally checked on me, they not only didn't ask if I was comfortable -- they tightened th e restraints. They didn't notice that red welts were forming where the straps were digging into my ankles and wrists.
I was diagnosed with manic depressive illness. This began 10 years of emotional hell. I continued practicing the sidhis and had another psychotic break 4 years after the first one. Eventually I began having problems with chronic depression, went on medica tion, saw a therapist (a TMer of course), and became further ostracized by the Movement.
I wasn't allowed on courses. Eventually I was barred from the dome. People didn't talk to me about it, but it was a deep source of shame. I was a failure on the spiritual path -- I thought. I became more and more isolated and desperate to cure myself. Of course the Movement conditioned me to believe that it was my stress that was causing the illness, and all I needed to do was purify it -- and stick to the program.
A man I was involved with paid the $3000 for me to do a month at the ayurvedic clinic. I was promised a cure. It was 4 months later that I was in the hospital again for that second psychotic break.
Then a girlfriend paid the $700 for the Primordial Sound technique. I received the technique personally from the now well-known Deepak Chopra. Another "cure." But all the daily technique did was take up my precious lunch hour.
I'd begun therapy in 1987 hoping to cure my depression and understand my two psychotic experiences. It was frowned upon to see a therapist, but I felt I had no other choice. Since she was a TMer, of course she couldn't see the obvious -- that it was the T M itself causing the damage.
After two years with this therapist, she thought we'd gone as far as we could together. But I was still depressed, so I started seeing a new hotshot therapist who had just moved with her physician husband from New York. I thought she'd have the latest tec hniques. I heard that she specialized in working with incest victims. I knew that wasn't an issue for me and only hoped she'd take me on as a general client.
I was still deeply disturbed by the two times I'd been restrained in the hospital. We were using a session to work through my feelings about it. She used a guided imagery technique with me to help me get in touch with my feelings about the incidents. (I l ater learned that guided imagery is a form of hypnosis.) During the guided imagery session, I saw an image in my mind that was dream-like to me. I'd been in therapy long enough to know that images are interpreted -- and used as psychological insights, not taken literally.
But after being brought out of the guided imagery, the therapist informed me that my father had raped me when I was a child. And this was the missing piece to the puzzle of my life that would cure me of my mental illness.
Actually, the image that had come to me was the memory of a delusion I'd had during one of the hospitalizations. I thought I'd been strapped to the bed in preparation for Bevan to come in and impregnate me with a baby guru who would take Maharishi's place when he dropped the body. What I saw was Bevan over me -- which was all delusion anyway. During the guided imagery, Bevan's face had turned into my father's face. (Bevan had been like a father figure to me.) The therapist interpreted this literally-- tha t I had a real memory of seeing my father over me as he was raping me.
Well, I was highly disassociated by this time in my TM career and easily swayed by authority figures. She offered me an explanation, a cure, a way to get back in good graces with my community. She promised that by working through the incest, I would be cu red. I remember feeling resistance for a few minutes during that session, but she was so confident -- and I followed....
This was a turning point into hell for me. Over the next 4 years I was hospitalized 14 times for depression and suicidal ideation. I came to believe that I had been satanically sexually and physically abused by my father, mother, grandfather, and neighbor s. I became incredibly paranoid, suspecting anyone and everyone to be a possible perpetrator of incest.
I disclosed these "realizations" to my family, which tore us apart. My younger sister took the ball and ran with it, and is still in satanic abuse therapy with a therapist even more unethical and unprofessional than the one I was seeing. I left TM about 3 years ago, and in the process of learning about mind control realized that I was a victim of False Memory Syndrome. All the doubts that had haunted me surfaced, and one day I woke up sure that I had never been sexually abused -- by anyone!
I recanted my accusations and am now close to my father, but my mother and I will never be close. And I've lost my sister and her family. My parents will probably never see my sister's children again -- their only grandchildren. I feel guilty about that, even though I know I was a victim of this therapy cult, and my sister is too.
I felt caught between the "real" world that my TM view made me feel was inferior -- and the TM world which didn't completely accept me. What I know now is that my mental instability was most likely a result of the side effects of the meditation and mind c ontrol. I was disassociating big time.
I left the Movement about 3 years ago and have had persistent problems with feeling numb, disconnected from people, lack of humor, anxiety, depression, difficulty making decisions, etc. I finally got myself to Wellspring Retreat and Resource Center in Alb any, Ohio. It's the only cult recovery program in the country. I spent 3 weeks there and got a lot of questions answered, plus good therapy.
I was at a miserable, miserable place in my life right before leaving Fairfield. I'd accidentally happened upon Steve Hassan's book, Combating Cult Mind Control, and knew immediately that TM was a cult. I'd become jaded about the Movement whi le still in it, but when I realized it was a cult, I also knew that I wouldn't hold on to my loyalty to Maharishi. So I embarked on a research study of my own and tried to get help from a therapist, but wasn't making enough progress fast enough. That's wh en I decided to go to Wellspring.
Paul Martin and Ron Burks at Wellspring affirmed my intuitive feeling that I probably don't have a biochemical mental illness. More recovery time will tell for sure. They explained how Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can cause psychotic breaks. And I certainly had good reason to be depressed. But added to the indoctrination from TM and repressed memory therapy is the mind control so insidious to the mental health system. This is particularly obvious in inpatient situations -- such as being a patient in a mental hospital or a psych ward.
Paul Martin asked me in one session which I thought was more damaging -- TM or the mental health system. I'm still not sure. I was made to feel like a second-class citizen -- damaged goods -- because I had a psychiatric diagnosis. Before moving to Fairfie ld, and in my early days there, I was a dynamic employee -- always being promoted to management. Sharp -- decisive --I could make things happen.
Over the years of my deterioration I had worsening problems with my memory, concentration, anxiety, decision-making ability -- which greatly hampered my work capabilities. I was fired once, and threatened to be fired two other times. Eventually a therapis t talked me into applying for Social Security benefits. I didn't want to because I'd seen others lose their confidence and motivation while on benefits. But I applied out of desperation, because it became more and more difficult for me to work.
I've been on disability for over 2 years now and still have my difficulties. But the psychologists at Wellspring believe I can make a full recovery -- I just need to pace myself and be patient. So I'm working on getting my brain working again -- and doing the emotional processing necessary to put all this behind me.
I still get anxious, especially in social situations. I'm having trouble trusting people, so making friends is difficult for me. I had my own business for the last year, but have decided to put that aside for simpler work for the time being. I feel isolated and lonely a lot, but -- finally -- I'm creating the life I want for myself.
I still feel emotionally disconnected from the abuse I took in the Movement. Although reading the posts to "amt" from active TMers is starting to get me angry. And I'm just beginning to feel anger towards Maharishi and the Movement. I can appreciate many good things that came out of my years in Fairfield, but I can't help wondering what my life would have been, had I not lost so many years going in and out of mental hospitals. I resent that deeply.
Now I know that my true enlightenment was realizing the insanity I lived nearly half my life in the TM Movement.
Copyright ©1995 by the author. All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission of the author.