Call For Media and Government Investigation

of Sathya Sai Baba And his worldwide cult, the Sathya Sai Organization

Posts Tagged ‘Post traumatic stress disorder’

Sathya Sai Baba Abuse Survivors: When ‘Moving On’ Can Be Staying Stuck

Posted by Barry Pittard on December 6, 2010

Some former devotees of Sathya Sai Baba get upset that many survivors of his sexual and other forms of abuse do not go public. They make the same kind of mistaken assumptions that Sai Baba’s defenders make who ask e.g., where is all the proof? Both these reactions are ill-informed, inappropriate and insensitive.  

People who are badly traumatized – very typically – feel acute difficulty in being able to talk about their traumatic experience. One human reaction to trauma is lack of awareness of the extent to which upheaval has occurred.  Psychological denial, and wanting to ‘move on’ are common.  See: 

On Leaving the Sathya Sai Baba Cult (Part 1.)- Ex Leaders and Rank-and-File 

On Leaving A Powerful Global Cult. Sathya Sai Baba Example (Part 2)

On Leaving A Powerful Global Cult. Sathya Sai Baba Example (Part 3)

Refutation of smear allegations against ex-followers of Sathya Sai Baba (Many links)

It is widely found in a great deal of professional literature that a great many survivors endure years in silence and shame at what has happened to them. The case of those who have suffered at the hands of Sathya Sai Baba and some of his servitors is no different. Common experiences are:

  • Fear at being called a liar
  • Depression
  • Loneliness and isolation, e.g., after being shunned by those one has come to love and trust
  • Anger or suppressed anger
  • Self-blame and feelings of worthlessness
  • Flash-backs and other forms of disturbance at recollection of the abusive events
  • Feelings of torn-ness and confusion between positive and negative aspects of the relationship between spiritual teacher and the aspirant
  • Uncertainty about the exact order or nature of events – e.g., this lays an honest individual open to charges of fabricating, and many abuse victims who have faced adversarial lawyers have spoken about the  experience of being ‘raped twice over’.

See below, a list excerpted from:  Post-Cult Problems:  An Exit Counselor’s Perspectiveby Carol Giambalvo.

 A few who allege that Sai Baba has sexually abused them have attempted for a while to expose him and leaders of the Sathya Sai Organization. From many countries, the evidence emerges that the Sathya Sai Organization has repeatedly and profoundly failed in its duty-of-care and its responsibility to act professionally – what to speak of truthfully, honestly and compassionately. Dispirited, many survivors have wanted to ‘move on’. Others have said they are willing to testify so long as there are proper jurisprudential processes and a decent chance of success. Some will speak, and have spoken, with the media but only after the former devotee network, which includes very highly qualified abuse professionals, have carefully gone through the issues involved. An occasional individual like Conny Larsson, the former leader of the Sathya Sai Organization in Sweden – no matter the hatred and ridicule hurled at him by pro Sai Baba antagonists – will write a book. He has be willing to travel at his own expense to various countries, speak at conferences, appear on national radio and television, agitate among government and other movers and shakers, and so on. By far the most prominent author of a book critical of Sathya Sai Baba is Robert Priddy, who taught philosophy and sociology at the University of Oslo, 1968–1985. Of this book (publ. Indian Skeptic/B. Premanand. Podanur, Tamil Nadu, 2004), he has written:

“In 2000 I resigned as National Contact person of the Sathya Sai Organization in Norway after 18 years fulfilling that role. This was no easy decision, since I did not believe that the allegations of sexual abuse could be true, even though I knew that Sathya Sai Baba was deeply involved in the massive cover-up of murders in his own bedroom, and hence an accomplice to the fact.

Having refused to read David Bailey’s account or any of the flood of allegations thereafter for months, I finally felt I must read the sexual allegation testimony.  It took me about another six months of intensive investigation – contacting all the sources I could – before I was forced to arrive at a complete conviction that most of the allegations were both true and accurate. Subsequently I began to look carefully into all aspects of Sathya Sai Baba from the viewpoint of critical questioning and found, to my dismay, deceit after deceit and evidence of a major campaign of deception by him and all those close around him. This resulted in many web pages, which the award-winning rationalist, Basava Premanand, asked permission to publish”.

See also, Priddy on his earlier pro-Sathya Sai Baba book ‘Source of The Dream – My Way to Sathya Sai Baba’ (New revised ed. 1997 Samuel Weiser, Inc. P.O. Box 612. York Beach, ME 03910-0612. U.S.A. ISBN 1-57863-028-2), and the transition to his critical work.

Some survivors of sexual and other abuses by Sathya Sai Baba and some of his close servitors have, despite the great upheaval in their lives, joined our representations to governments, media and many civic institutions. Those who have dared to speak of their experiences on the Internet have been attacked in the extreme by some pro Sai Baba activists.

Many young males from countries around the world have come to our network with compelling accounts of being sexually abused by Sathya Sai Baba. Some much older men  like Mark Roche who shared his ordeals – when very young – in the BBC’s ‘The Secret Swami’ when much older) also speak to us of being seduced by Sai Baba, sometimes when they were in their teens, at others, when still very young men. Repeatedly, we find that survivors have not availed themselves of highly qualified professional counseling – even when it has been offered to them free of any charge.

In short, not debriefing, with proper professional counseling, their experience puts at grave risk an abuse survivor’s chances of health and well-being.

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Excerpted from: 

Post-Cult Problems:  An Exit Counselor’s Perspective

Carol Giambalvo.  (International Cultic Studies Association)

Common Issues in Post-Cult Recovery

Some of the recovery issues that keep recurring in my work with ex-cult members are:

  • Sense of purposelessness, of being disconnected.  They left a group that had a powerful purpose and intense drive; they miss the peak experiences produced from the intensity and the group dynamics.
  • Depression.
  • Grieving for other group members, for a sense of loss in their life.
  •  Guilt.  Former members will feel guilt for having gotten involved in the first place, for the people they recruited into the group, and for the things they did while in the group.
  • Anger.  This will be felt toward the group and/or the leaders.  At times this anger is misdirected toward themselves.
  • Alienation.  They will feel alienation from the group, often from old friends (that is, those who were friends prior to their cult involvement), and sometimes from family.
  • Isolation.  To ex-cult members, no one “out there” seems to understand what they’re going through, especially their families.
  • Distrust.  This extends to group situations, and often to organized religion (if they were in a religious cult) or organizations in general (depending on the type of cult they were in).  There is also a general distrust of their own ability to discern when or if they are being manipulated again.  This dissipates after they learn more about mind control and begin to listen to their own inner voice again.
  • Fear of going crazy.  This is especially common after “floating” experiences (see point 18 below for explanation of floating).
  • Fear that what the cult said would happen to them if they left actually might happen.
  • Tendency to think in terms of black and white, as conditioned by the cult.  They need to practice looking for the gray areas.
  • Spiritualizing everything.  This residual sometimes lasts for quite a while.  Former members need to be encouraged to look for logical reasons why things happen and to deal with reality, to let go of their magical thinking.
  • Inability to make decisions.  This characteristic reflects the dependency that was fostered by the cult.
  • Low self-esteem.  This generally comes from those experiences common to most cults, where time and again members are told that they are worthless.
  • Embarrassment.  This is an expression of the inability to talk about their experience, to explain how or why they got involved or what they had done during that time.  It is often manifested by an intense feeling of being ill at ease in both social and work situations.  Also, often there is a feeling of being out of sync with everyone else, of going through culture shock, from having lived in a closed environment and having been deprived of participating in everyday culture.
  • Employment and/or career problems.  Former members face the dilemma of what to put on a resume to cover the blank years of cult membership.
  • Dissociation.  This also has been fostered by the cult.  Either active or passive, it is a period of not being in touch with reality or those around them, an inability to communicate.
  • Floating.  These are flashbacks into the cult mindset.  It can also take on the effect of an intense emotional reaction that is inappropriate to the particular stimuli.
  • Nightmares.  Some people also experience hallucinations or hearing voices.  A small percentage of former members need hospitalization due to this type of residual.
  • Family issues.
  • Dependency issues.
  • Sexuality issues.
  • Spiritual (or philosophical) issues.  Former members often face difficult questions:  Where can I go to have my spiritual (or belief) needs met?  What do I believe in now?  What is there to believe in, trust in?
  •  Inability to concentrate, short-term memory loss.
  • Re-emergence of pre-cult emotional or psychological issues.
  • Impatience with the recovery process.

Carol Giambalvo is an ex-cult member who has been a Thought Reform Consultant since 1984 and a cofounder of reFOCUS, a national support network for former cult members. She is on ICSA’s Board of Directors, Director of ICSA’s Recovery Programs, and is responsible for its Project Outreach. Author of Exit Counseling: A Family Intervention, co-editor of The Boston Movement: Critical Perspectives on the International Churches of Christ, and co-author of “Ethical Standards for Thought Reform Consultants,” Ms. Giambalvo has written and lectured extensively on cult-related topics. In 2008 Ms. Giambalvo received ICSA’s Margaret T. Singer Award. 

Carol   Giambalvo     ICSA Board

POB 2180   Flagler Beach   FL32136-2180  USA

(386) 439-7541    

affcarol@worldnet.att.net  http://carol.giambalvo.home.att.net/

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General
Excerpt From Public Petition

(Note: You may prefer to proceed straight to the Petition):

Public Petition For Official Investigations of Sathya Sai Baba and His Worldwide Organization

There is a Spanish version available:

PETICIÓN PÚBLICA PARA INVESTIGACIONES OFICIALES DE SATHYA SAI BABA Y SU ORGANIZACIÓN A NIVEL MUNDIAL)

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Robert Priddy On Jaani Drucker, As Sathya Sai Baba Cultist In Denial

Posted by Barry Pittard on May 12, 2010

Robert Priddy has just blogged the article:  Jaani Drucker – wild claims not supported by her actions , Posted by robertpriddy on May 11, 2010. He refers to my series quoting and commenting on correspondence between Jaani Drucker and myself:    

Exchanges of views on how rape and sexual abuse affect the real person or whether they merely affect the body, as is held by rape victim Jaani Drucker.
Reply To Claimer of Enlightenment (Yaani Drucker Correspondance) Part 2
Jaani Drucker continually responds to neither to the spirit or the letter of her claim that ” happy to discuss and debate issues” rather flatly rejecting all points on the ground that she knows the ultimate truth.
Reply To Claimer of Enlightenment (Jaani Drucker Correspondance) Part 3
Jaani Drucker evades Pittard’s contention that those who have had such traumatic experiences need to reach out to an experienced, qualified profession, and that, in terms of public health outcomes, it is a dangerous undertaking to recommend a course of action which relies on faith or notions of enlightenment alone.
Pittard reminds that Jaani Drucker is very evasive on questions she promised to debate openly – instead promoting a self-enhancing narrative about spiritual realization.
Reply To Claimer of Spiritual Enlightenment (Yaani Drucker Correspondence) Part 5
Her many failures of reasoning, and her slips, slides and evasions, evident to commonsense and logic, abound here, and are dealt with
Who can distinguish between those like Jaani who claim realization? How can one get around to testing the plethora of claims? However, there is a body of clinical experience which DOES have testability in application to trauma, and this is being applied day in and day out in hospitals and clinics throughout the world.
Analyzing the belief put forth by Jaani Drucker which Pittard holds is dangerous to vulnerable survivors of rape etc. as supporting a flight into denial. Parents and mental health professionals would never agree with Drucker’s claims.
 
Robert Priddy’s words (below) apply just as well to many who defend not only Sathya Sai Baba but other charismatic figures who have been soundly exposed for egregious, and sometimes criminal, misconduct, and for blatant discrepancy between their teachings and practice. Mind you, Jaani Drucker is in one respect different to most other cultists; for she states that she is fully enlightened. Alas for her, she unconsciously and sharply undermines any such notion by her styles of interaction. Her walls of denial are thick, and her skin is thin. Robert Priddy says:

“That is what she cannot abide, being questioned radically, so she avoids answering the really sensitive points, complaining instead. These reactions show her to be disturbed by any criticism;  no doubt she wants to carry on but escape the consequences of her support for Sathya Sai Baba in all things, and simply brush aside critical comments as not founded in her supposed ‘Truth’”.

A number of those who read and wrote to me about the correspondence (some from professional areas including Psychology) remarked on a recurrent quality of narcissism in her responses, and a veering away from questions that in any way challenged her beliefs. Also oft remarked was her tendency to wrench out-of-context what had been clearly stated. Again, these tendencies are very marked in cultic reactions to even the most courteous of critical questioning.

It is of great concern (and former devotees well-known to the Drucker’s give compelling first-hand testimony) that the Druckers have turned their backs on families and individuals who give harrowing accounts of sexual and other abuses by Sathya Sai Baba. 

Robert Priddy writes:

“Al Drucker admitted – when pressed – to the former Central Coordinator of the UK Sathya Sai Organization, that many parents had complained to him of sexual abuse by Sai Baba while Drucker was resident at the ashram. Jaani is no doubt also well aware that Sai Baba has escaped justice only because the entire Indian system of corrupt topmost politicians and judges who worship him have protected him from all accountability! This is part of the body of lies the Druckers prefer to condone, supposedly to protect their Truth, which would need not protection or even promotion if it really were that immutable and powerful”.

I have written of Drucker’s dereliction of duty of care elsewhere:

Will the Real Professor Alvin Drucker Be Upstanding?

I have written of his wife Jaani Drucker’s attempt to have me remove what I had written:

Reply To Yaani (“Have Truth, Will Travel”) Drucker’s Request To Remove Blog Articles

Robert Priddy writes further: 

“frank and open truthfulness from the Druckers on the sexual abuse issue would be welcome… but they evidently discriminate against those “brothers” who are no longer in the so-called ‘Sai family’. Not least it would help assuage the feelings of the offended persons whom they know to be speaking the truth about their awful experiences. It would also be fair to many of us who we have all reason based on massive, impelling testimony to accept they were so treated by Sai Baba… and not least also for his own sexual satisfaction!”

 Further Reading

The Ways of the Mind – on the issue by a Swedish psychologist

Swedish psychologist Åsa Samsioe challenges Jaani Drucker’s self-perception, and gives a view of self-deception as self-deception

Strawberry Fields Forever? plus comments on Jaani & advaitic doctrine

The Spiritual Search – a philosophical analysis of advaitic solipsism and social narcissism

Jaani Drucker: ‘the Ego’ misunderstood and self-nihilation

 In denying flat out that the ego and entire world are real, Jaani Drucker implies that she herself is unreal, while in fact she is real but totally unrealistic… following Sai Baba, she wants everyone to annihilate their egos and minds!

Barry Pittard Replies To Sathya Sai Center Rape Survivor’s Note To Him

Pittard points out how the Druckers still extol Sathya Sai Baba, yet they know crucial facts about many of his alleged sexual abuses.

Jaani Drucker, The Truth, open inquiry and truthfulness

Examination of some of Jaani Drucker’s claims about herself, Sathya Sai Baba

Advaita – historical flight into abstraction and speculation

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The Public Petition   

Information on the Public Petition for Official Investigations of Sathya Sai Baba and His Worldwide Organization

About the Petition For Official Investigation Into Sathya Sai Baba Cult

(Note: You may prefer to proceed straight to the Petition): Public Petition For Official Investigations of Sathya Sai Baba and His Worldwide Organization   

Posted in New Age, Opinion, Psychiatry, Psychology, Psychotherapy, Religion, South Asia, Spirituality, Uncategorized, World Religions | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Reply To Claimer of Spiritual Enlightenment (Yaani Drucker Correspondence) Part 3

Posted by Barry Pittard on February 24, 2010

Continuing from: Reply To Claimer of Enlightenment (Yaani Drucker Correspondance) Part 2 …. , my response to Yaani Drucker, who claims on her website to be enlightened, and to “Have truth, will travel”. She has explained that her “rape experience happened in 1985, in a house next to the Stanton Sai Center, on the same property as the  Sai center in S. California”. 

I have suggested to Yaani (who, by the way, strikes me as a decent and goodly person, albeit given to a terribly faulty inferences, and a tendency to be rather reactive), that those who have had such traumatic experiences need to reach out to an experienced, qualified profession, and that, in terms of public health outcomes, it is a dangerous undertaking to recommend a course of action which relies on faith or notions of enlightenment alone. She replied:

“Is it necessary for a rape victim to receive professional counseling? This assumes that psychology/ psychotherapy has answers that ABSOLUTE TRUTH does not”.

In one of her emails to me, she says:

“Anyone who has an ego, which everyone has except those who have attained enlightenment,  is in a state of denial, denial about the truth of who they are, and that includes most professionals. Just because someone has a PhD does not make him/her an expert in what is or is not enlightenment …

… I credit Sai Baba for my enlightenment, and it is in part because He was instrumental in my awakening that I am certain beyond a shadow of a doubt that He is who He claims to be”.

In fact, mental health professionals certainly do know a great deal about the mind’s coping tendencies. For example how, as a coping mechanism, it can ‘rationalize’ away painful experiences, such as rape. However, she is very dismissive about the role of psychologists. Would she deny the validity of the intervention of a doctor in the case of a broken arm? I would think not. Even if she were to be in some realized state, it would be proper to cognize these facts, given that she makes public recommendations about how to deal, via faith in a process, with situations like rape. What does this process require? It requires the giving up of ego. See Robert Priddy’s and his wife Reidun’s useful reference to this aspect:  Jaani Drucker: ‘the Ego’ misundertood and self-nihilation

In short, it would surely be responsible of Yaani Drucker to understand that people simply cannot do away with the ego in the way she – I think out of keen compassion – wishes for the rest of humanity. I think she sees the notion of ‘ego’ in a very simplistic, blank-and-white way. People DO need professional assistance in the face of ordeals of the sort that she has passed through, no less that those with broken bones need the services of a doctor, and this fact needs to be reflected in the way in which she promotes, as she does on the internet, her services.

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Note 1. Ms Drucker writes that  “I am happy to discuss and debate issues. I have responded to every issue you raised”. We shall further see, based on her own responses, in the next posts whether she has. I submit that her self-documentation – in which, a number of times, she draws attention to what she views as her own “purity of heart” –  is very exposing of how Sathya Sai Baba so strongly misleads others into misleading still others.

Note 2. Ms Drucker dismisses and scorns ‘clinical psychology’ as 
if that were the whole of it. But there are many branches of 
psychological investigation and professional therapies, all of which 
are aware of  reactions to the traumatic experience she endured. There is 
analytic psychology, ego psychology, existential psychology,  
( Wikipedia lists 66 types of psychological theory) . Common to the 
main branches and many others is an understanding of the nature and 
importance of reactions like ‘rationalization’, ‘repression, 
‘displacement activity’. ‘obsession’ , ‘delusions of grandeur’, ‘post 
traumatic stress disorder’, ‘narcissistic defence’ and a wide range of
cognitive and mental 
disorders which can be triggered by traumas and other hurtful and 
deeply disturbing experiences.

Note 3. Earlier articles on this topic at Call For Media and Government Investigation of Sathya Sai Baba are:

Dangerous to Rationalize Rape. A major Sathya Sai Baba Follower’s Example and

Barry Pittard Replies To Sathya Sai Center Rape Survivor’s Note To Him

Will the Real Professor Alvin Drucker Be Upstanding?

The Ways of the Mind – on the issue by a Swedish psychologist

Strawberry Fields Forever? plus comments on Jaani & advaitic doctrine

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(Yaani Drucker): There are many distortions in your assumptions. I do not rationalize rape.

I am thankful for your comment here – it reminds me that, in my writing, I shall need to make very clear distinction concerning uses of the word ‘rationalization’. It does not mean, of course, justification. That you would never justify it is abundantly clear in your writings on your website, and in your emails to me. Indeed, you fully supported the notion that the man who raped you should face police prosecution. Rather, the ‘rationalization’ process I have in mind is that described in so many schools of psychotherapy, psychology and psychiatry. It is what the mind does when an individual goes through significant trauma. One example is a retreat into euphoric states, with strong presentations that all is well. A quick pointer is the Wiki article entitled: ‘Rationalization (fallacy)’.

You refer to your inimical attitudes towards psychologists in your last email. But my point is this:  even if you were correct in saying that you are spiritually enlightened, and had successfully transcended trauma, is it reasonable to suppose that individuals at large can reach such a state, and can dispense with psychological or other trauma counseling? This is where your quick dispatch of psychologists etc., in your last email is concerning. Is it not a point that you will need to be very clear about? And to discuss with rigorous thinking-through of issues, especially given that you are a public person? I see a danger, and it has nothing to do with any notion of about lying. At the center the rationalization process is a powerful unconsciousness of the contradictions and dissonances.

In the field of psychological trauma, one of the grave concerns is this:  that there are many who genuinely, but mistakenly, think they have – e.g., via ‘higher’ revelation or one sort of ‘awakening’ or another – the answers, and, what is more, thus become role models to others. On your website, you say ‘have truth, will travel’. So many other websites of individuals on so many other paths make like claims. Who can distinguish between those of you who claim realization? How can one get around to testing the plethora of claims? However, there is a body of clinical experience which DOES have testability in application to trauma, and this is being applied day in and day out in hospitals and clinics throughout the world. The question is:  are your pages, in this light, responsible? In your last email, you said: “Is it necessary for a rape victim to receive professional counseling?”

To Be Continued Soon ….. 

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Further Reading

Dangerous to Rationalize Rape. A major Sathya Sai Baba Follower’s Example

Barry Pittard Replies To Sathya Sai Center Rape Survivor’s Note To Him

Will the Real Professor Alvin Drucker Be Upstanding?

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Petition

Public Petition For Official Investigations of Sathya Sai Baba and His Worldwide Organization

There is a Spanish version available:

PETICIÓN PÚBLICA PARA ”INVESTIGACIONES OFICIALES DE SATHYA SAI BABA Y SU ORGANIZACIÓN A NIVEL MUNDIAL

Subscribe to Call for media and government investigation of Sathya Sai Baba

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Posted in New Age, Opinion, Psychiatry, Psychology, Psychotherapy, South Asia, Uncategorized, World Religions | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »