DevInContext The Case For Personal Growth


Thoughts On The ManKind Project Lawsuit

Many of you probably read the recent story about the attorney who sued his law firm, claiming his boss demanded that he attend the ManKind Project’s New Warrior Training Adventure, a weekend workshop for men, and penalized him when he refused.

I won’t comment on the merits of the suit, or the specifics of the workshop (I haven’t taken it).  I think the press coverage, and what it says about our culture’s attitudes toward self-development and sexuality, raise much more interesting issues.

This Is Headline News?

Predictably, reporters have focused on what they see as the most salacious part of the weekend — an exercise where the men sit naked in a circle, pass around a wooden phallus, and talk about an episode from their sexual histories.

Okay, without even getting into the purpose of this exercise, let’s take a step back and notice exactly what the media is riled up about:  men, without clothes on, touching and exchanging a wooden representation of part of the male anatomy.

A Reality Check

Let’s start with the object.  Would anyone be hot under the collar if it were a wooden hand or foot?  Maybe outsiders would think this was odd, but it wouldn’t be national news.  The so-called “problem” results from the fact that the object is a wooden penis.

Now, some people may feel instinctively uncomfortable when they imagine this object, but is there any clear reason why passing it around is immoral or harmful?

After all, I haven’t exhaustively reviewed the scientific literature, but as far as I know, there’s no evidence that touching a wooden penis ever maimed or killed anyone — unlike many things men do more often, such as driving cars and playing football.

What about the nudity?  Again, thinking about this creates discomfort for many people.  However, like many stories about the lawsuit have (shockingly) admitted, men get naked in front of each other in locker rooms all the time.

Finally, how about describing a sexual episode from the past?  Men do this frequently (often with liberal embellishment) over a beer — why isn’t it okay in the context of this exercise?

A Weird Paradox

At this point, it may seem like I’m playing dumb.  It should be obvious to me what the problem is, right?  The ritual is about sex! The penis is a sexual organ!  People usually get naked together when they’re about to have sex!

But again, so what?  Are genitals wrong?  Is sex wrong?  Is sex between men (which the exercise didn’t involve) wrong?  Most people I know -- though, admittedly, I'm in a very liberal part of the U.S. -- would say “no” on all counts.

Here’s more food for thought.  Suppose a group of homosexual men decided to go on a wilderness retreat, during which they took off their clothes and had sex with each other.  Would ABC News be all over this story?  Of course not.  But somehow, this ritual -- which contains no sex at all -- is seen as scandalous.

Sexuality Without The Snark?

This is why I think the real “problem” with this exercise is that it involves talking about, and exploring, men’s relationship to sex, without actually engaging in the act, or cracking “dirty jokes” about it.  In other words, it’s sober, emotionally open discussions of sex that seem to be taboo in our society, not the sex act itself.

This gets me thinking:  Wouldn’t it be nice if, say, parents in our society could have sober, emotionally open discussions of sexuality with their children?  If they could introduce their kids to the subject without a lot of shaming, hesitation and nervous laughter?  If their children didn't have to just figure it out all by themselves?

I imagine this would help create a less sexually neurotic and shame-ridden culture than the one we live in today, and I suspect the purpose of this exercise is to do just that:  to introduce men — and, by extension, the culture — to a healthier, and less crazy-making, way of relating to sexuality.

Ooh, I can’t wait for the comments — let’s get ready to rrrrrumble!  :)

Comments (34) Trackbacks (0)
  1. Thanks Chris. Foucault pointed out that the Victorian taboo about sex wasn’t talking about it – but that you had to talk (incessantly) about how you weren’t allowed to talk about it (I think this may be his one useful insight on this topic).

    In the West we are still uncomfortable with male sexuality. I’d like to see what the coverage would be like of naked women passing around a wooden representation of a vagina. It would be interesting to see the differences.

    A friend of a friend worked in props at a film school – for one student sci-fi film she built a prop that was a representation of a vagina – big enough for adults to fit inside. It was the women who were most uncomfortable.

    I think this topic sets off lots of different thoughts in lots of different directions – because it is about something that is close to the centre of our cultural myth(s). Thanks for raising the questions.

  2. is there any clear reason why passing it around is immoral or harmful?

    Yes there is a clear reason. The intensive format of LGAT’s like ManKind project, facilitated by men who are not qualified psychotherapists mind you, can resurface trauma that can be overwhelming and re-traumatizing. This can lead to psychosis or other psychological harm (search the Rick Ross forums for “Mankind Project” for many such reports). If a man has a history of being a victim of sexual abuse, this exercise could be very triggering and perhaps even traumatizing. It is not simply this one exercise, but this exercise in the context of a highly structured and controlled environment that makes exercises like this unsafe and even coercive. The fact that this man was coerced into attending is a frequent part of the LGAT recruitment model.

  3. The issue is coercion—men can of course organize of their own free will to sit around naked or not and talk about sex. But to be coerced to do so under threat of termination is equivalent to psychological rape.

  4. Anything can be triggering Duff. Coercion is certainly counter-productive. I don’t know the group so can’t say how healthy the group dynamic is. Lack of coercion would have interesting effects in our society eg on behaviour at work for instance.

  5. Evan,

    This group is highly controversial for the psychological effects it has on men. It is of a class of weekend workshops called Large Group Awareness Trainings that overloads participants with intensive exercises. Many compare LGATs with cults. Triggering something within the context of an LGAT is very different than triggering something within the context of an optional, clothed workshop, etc. Context is key here.

  6. Futhermore, this guy did his research. The ABC article says he went online and found out that MKP is controversial, that there are reports of men being asked to touch each others penises while naked in a sweat lodge, etc. and decided he wanted none of it. I think he is well within his rights to object to such a thing without being then terminated, but that is up to the courts to determine.

  7. Hi Evan — yes, I get the sense that groups like this are working on changing that cultural norm, or maybe multiple norms. One is that, if you are naked in the presence of another man, that means you must be homosexual, and that in turn means you’re not a “real man.” I noticed that even news reporters who, in other contexts, claim to be socially liberal seem to buy into this idea [edit]. Another, like you said, is the common association of male sexuality with rape and other ways of harming women, which I think has left many men confused.

  8. Hi Duff — your comment raises some interesting questions for me. I get the sense from talking to people who have taken the MKP weekend, although I don’t of course have statistics, that men consciously take this kind of workshop because they are seeking a significant shift in their identity — or, perhaps, we might say, releasing unconscious material that’s limiting them. (I don’t think you’d claim that they’re all there on the boss’s orders. :) )

    The catch is that, when a workshop tries to create such a shift, it probably runs the risk of causing its participants some emotional pain, and some men may take that pain with them out into the world after the workshop. I’m using “pain” instead of “retraumatization,” because I’m wary of the latter word — I don’t get the sense that there is a firm consensus among psychologists about what trauma, or “re-trauma,” really means, what can trigger it, and even whether it’s a bad thing to trigger it.

    (Speaking of vague terms, is there a clear understanding of what an LGAT is? I see the term thrown around a lot but I’m not sure it’s completely understood. I assume it means something more than just a group weekend workshop.)

    So then the question becomes: how much of that risk are we willing to tolerate? For example, if I somehow knew with certainty (which I cannot) that there was a 30% chance that I would find the “identity shift” I’m looking for if I take the workshop, and a 5% chance of “retraumatization,” should I take it? And who gets to make that decision — the individual man who’s deciding whether to take the workshop, the government, a board of Jungian analysts, or someone else?

    I would tend to side with the individual consumer on this one, except in cases where the workshop makes misrepresentations to the public about what it offers or what its past results have been, etc. But I think the deeper point is that simply knowing that there’s some risk of injury in an activity, whether “psychological” or “physical,” doesn’t really settle the issue.

  9. Those are good questions Chris. When it comes to pharmaceutical drugs, the drug companies are required to post a long list of side-effects in their advertisements and promotional material, for instance that anti-depressants increase the risk of suicide. What are the side effects of extremely intense weekend workshops like MKP? What is the suicide risk for instance? Or the percentage of participants that experience psychosis versus a control group? Nobody knows. A consumer can only make an informed choice if the information is available. My personal opinion is that MKP specifically, and related LGATs are absolutely not worth the risks. Shifts in identity should be undertaken with great care, slowly, and within a context which doesn’t have a preference as to how your identity changes (vs. a context in which a group is attempting to recreate a new identity according to their model).

  10. On LGAT’s, straight from Margaret Singer:

    And a rundown of the LGAT experience:

  11. What can be upsetting to certain people in such LGAT sessions is that, in these four or five intense, exhausting days, they become flooded with more emotion and conflict than they can handle all at once. Up until this time, they’ve handled their lives in their own way, but at these training sessions they’ve had to look at their entire past, in a brief but enforced way. This is quite different from psychotherapy, for instance, where the therapist and the patient progress more slowly in order to allow the patient to deal with whatever she or he wants or needs to at a manageable pace.

    If they had known ahead of time the intensity and psychological depth of some of these exercises, many have told me, they never would have bought or gone to the training. They had no true idea of the intensity of the situation, the effects of group pressure, or the personal fatigue that comes from LGAT sessions, and they simply expected an ordinary educational experience.

    ~Margaret Singer, Cults in Our Midst

  12. So the guy checked it out and still went? Hmmm.

    If there is no evidence I guess we are dealing with anecdotes. I’m sure Margaret has a collection of them.

    Shifts in identity. I prefer step by step and staying within comfort zones. Others are quite different and are entitled to do things there way – though I won’t be attending the events they organise.

    I haven’t been to an LGAT type thing. I’ve never felt bad about being a man so haven’t felt the need (this is a bit strange as I was bought up white, middle class and Evangelical). I don’t know what agenda they would have for male identity – many people have these.

    I’d like to see schools organised around not imposing a particular model of identity on the participants. I completely agree with the idea of supporting people to discover their own identity. I would like to see our cultures organised on this basis.

  13. Duff, you appear to have made some assumptions in forming your comments. By way of full disclosure, I have attended an MKP weekend in 2006, the New Warrior Training Adventure. I have not had any kind of ongoing relationship with the organization since, although many graduates do.

    My own experience does not mesh with Chris’ comment that attendees are “seeking a significant shift in their identity”. I went because I wanted a new perspective on my life, so I could develop some new approaches to issues and relationships because my old ones weren’t working. I also wanted more self-awareness so I could stand my ground more firmly when needed.

    For example, your assumption of four or five days is double the actual time involved. Regarding touching another man’s penis, or being coerced to do anything in the actual workshop, that does not match my experience at all. Those suggestions sound to me more like products of a fear-filled imagination than reality.

    I do agree that Large Group Awareness Trainings are not for everyone, and for an employer to pressure an employee to attend one seems inappropriate. For what it’s worth, from my experience it is also not consistent with MKP policies. My guess is there is a lot more to the story than the reporter uncovered or the paper printed.

    FYI, from mkp’s website ( man):
    “Is the NWTA for Every Man?

    No. This training is not intended for men with active mental health issues that might lead to self harming or violent behaviors. Please seek professional mental health counseling. If you have been involved in ongoing treatment, talk to your provider about whether an intense men’s weekend could be valuable to you. “

  14. Steve,

    I did not assume four or five days—that is a quote from a Margaret Singer book on LGATs, which vary in length from several hours to a week or more.

    Certainly people attend LGATs for various reasons, and many report that they are happy with their experiences. That’s not the point here which is about being coerced to attend a controversial weekend workshop/LGAT and then being terminated for not participating.

    The report of forced sexual touching is from an actual attendee of the retreat. I don’t think this is standard protocol for MKP Warrior Weekends, but it happened to one group at least, and this information is what the lawyer found online.

    All LGATs have similar statements to cover their asses, er, assets—even as they engage in what is equivalent to unlicensed group psychotherapy.

  15. hi everyone – I went through the New Warrior Training Adventure in 1997 and found it very helpful. I have helped produce other such events, but not for that organization – . I believe it is highly inappropriate for any boss to require any kind of experience like this as a condition of continued employment. That is in direct contrast to the culture of this experience, one which I will not comment on specifically. I will say that, during the event, if any man wished to opt out of any part of it, whether a meal or a discussion, they had the right to do so.

    I think it is really easy for people to hear accounts like this one (the naked men w/ the phallus talking about sex) and demonize it as dangerous / weird / etc. I think that if one were to understand the intentions of the people who put these events on and to see the larger event and witness its content, it would make a lot more sense.

    Also, to say that these people aren’t trained is not true. They may not be licensed therapists but I would say that they are equipped to handle whatever might come up as people work through the issues they confront in such events. I am sure you can find people who will testify the coffee was too hot or that they were traumatized by the experience, but really, does that surprise you in this litigious society of ours? Really?

  16. I did the NWTA in 2002. I took it because I was the current leader of a mens organization of which about half the members had taken this course, and I was encouraged to experience it firsthand. My experience didn’t include any touching of other men, nor a wooden phallus. There was nudity, but I find that happens quite frequently in any mens circles that include sweat lodges, so that was no big deal. I don’t think anyone should be coerced to take a weekend they aren’t ready for, but I don’t think there’s anything weird about the MKP organization nor their NWTA. It’s a weekend devoted to clarifying your life’s purpose, and to identifying and hopefully discarding the baggage you are carrying that keeps you from reaching your potential. It’s an initiation, and those are hard to find in today’s culture outside of the LGAT sphere.

  17. Initiations primarily serve to initiate the individual into the specific group performing such a ritual. I often consider lack of initiation rites the modern initiation into an adulthood where flexibility between groups, values, and cultures is a key aspect.

  18. @ Steve — I’m glad you shared your experience as someone who’s actually been through the MKP, and clarified that MKP recognizes that there are men for whom this training is not appropriate.

    @ John — yes, as a lawyer, I’ve definitely learned to be skeptical of the allegations people will make in a complaint, or in the press for that matter. In the complaint in the lawsuit I’m talking about here, for instance, it looks like a lot of the allegations about the MKP were thrown in for “shock value” to make sure the case got a lot of media attention, but weren’t that relevant to the plaintiff’s claims.

    @ Mark — yes, the opportunities for male initiation our society offers generally don’t seem too promising to me — which I guess would include activities like playing on the football team, serving in the military, or joining a fraternity.

  19. Hi Duff — thanks for the continued engagement. On the issue of inadequate public information about transformational workshops, that raises the question of what the “optimal” amount of information about those workshops would be — put differently, what level of public information is necessary for those workshops do more good than harm?

    Can we trust the media, the tort system, and word of mouth/Internet to provide that level of information, as we are currently doing? Or do we need an all-out ban, a licensing scheme, or an FDA-like approval process that would last years, cost millions of dollars and almost certainly put all of these workshops out of business?

    The three latter choices, to me, seem like the (drastic) exceptions to the rule, but I wouldn’t claim to be able to answer this question definitively. One thing that is clear, though, is that just knowing that a few people didn’t like the results they got from the workshop isn’t enough to answer this question.

    Some critics assume that the benefit of transformational workshops or coaching or even therapy is obviously zero, and it’s all a scam to make money (or, I don’t know, intentionally hurt people for fun), and if that’s the case I suppose the FDA-like process or a total ban would be justified. But the “zero-benefit” theory, at least in the case of the MKP, seems to be false, as we can see from what we’ve heard from the MKP guys who have shown up here, and from many other men.

    The issue of the MKP guys being unlicensed is a juicy one too, I think, and the analysis we need to do there is similar to what I’ve already said. I don’t know enough to say whether the MKP basically does group therapy, but even assuming it does, is that enough to prove that its leaders should get Ph.D.s in clinical psychology and be licensed? I don’t think we can always assume that licensing requirements are created solely for the “public good” — in many cases there is an element of economic protectionism in them in that they raise the price of the service being provided. I think the whole licensing issue would be an interesting one to discuss in more depth here.

  20. what level of public information is necessary for those workshops do more good than harm?

    Well, the internet its nice for that. One can quickly find both pro and con information on well-known workshops like MKP (thanks to Rick Ross who continually fights back against many legal teams who would like to silence dissent).

    Can we trust the media, the tort system, and word of mouth/Internet to provide that level of information, as we are currently doing? Or do we need an all-out ban, a licensing scheme, or an FDA-like approval process that would last years, cost millions of dollars and almost certainly put all of these workshops out of business?

    Depends on context here. Some groups should absolutely be put out of business forever (Scientology comes to mind here). Others are reasonably safe and self-policing from insiders and reports from unhappy participants on the internet are good measures. Personally I would never recommend MKP or similar groups, but I don’t know that they constitute illegal activity. Some regulation of this level of group might be nice though, depending on number of complaints, etc. The major thing I want to make room for is for people to come forward who have had bad experiences, since these views tend to get marginalized or outright crushed through legal pressure.

    Benefit is irrelevant in cases of harm. If an individual says “I was harmed by this workshop,” claiming that they benefited is insulting, and claiming that others benefited is dismissive. We must deal with the harm directly, not brush it under the rug! These workshops claim to deal with dark and hidden aspects of our psyches, yet actively deny and repress hidden side-effects of their own workshops. This is unacceptable!

    In Colorado where I live, one can practice as an unlicensed psychotherapist. I think that’s a good thing in some respects, even though it does open the door to abuse and fraud. But other states have much more strict regulations and groups like this are a loophole to a law these states have determined for themselves. They are already borderline illegal. Now that said, many psychoprofessionals who are licensed still don’t know what the hell they are doing and don’t believe radical transformation is possible, so they overmedicate etc. I like the boldness of radical groups, but they need to be tempered with wisdom, patience, and flexibility.

  21. One more thought: we shouldn’t have to heal from our healing. There are ways of changing and transforming that have far fewer side-effects, that are much more gentle and subtle. I know of many such approaches, but since they are less flashy and dramatic, they get less emphasis.

  22. Re: Licensing.

    Q: What do you get when you educate a devil?
    A: A smarter devil!
    Licensing confuses intellectual understanding with moral trustworthiness.

    It’s a know fact that correct footnoting is vital to helping people heal from emotional wounds and to develop their potential. If it isn’t I wonder why we do our education of therapists in an academic way?

  23. Like most of the media hype on any issue, the media focuses on really non-issues so no real intelligent debate can be heard. The sex talk in MKP I view as positive, open and healing. But there are really aspects of MKP that deserve real scrutiny. For example how MKP over looks the real difficulties of men with mental disabilities like severe trauma, personality disorders, biploar, depression etc. MKP is pretty grandiose at times in their attempts to address such severe issues believing their methods can heal such severe conditions. The results are in. MKP can harm men inadvertantly out of their ignorance of psychology and the nature of trauma. When MKP directly addresses these issues helping men find the help they need and admit that some practices have been harmful then MKP will begin to win my respect.

  24. Hi Everyone, I did NWTA my experience was mixed. Although I can appreciate the stated intentions of MKP the results and effects are a different story. It is not just that some were traumatized, some men were seriously retraumatized. And it is not that some men were not trained the fact that many men were not trained adequately and trauma and abuse occurred is. I knew many men in MKP. Some were achieving emotional health. Others, well there were men there that achieved leadership positions with serious personality disorders, given training, permitted to use tools in igroups and seriosly abused others and were not held accountable until the sh*t hit the fan, after a lot of harm was done. MKP did hold some of these men accountable but guess what it lasted for years that they were allowed to abuse, manipulate, and exploit! Yes not all men MKP are like that but I can name several leaders who were and many men who followed the leaders and were complicite in the abuse and abused by example. This was bad news. I have no idea if these tendencies have changed but it was truly bad when I was there. And many men were in denial, codependent and coluded with abusers, just like certain members of a dysfunctional family may colude with an alcoholic or narcissitic abuser.

  25. Hi Matthew — thanks for commenting — it looks like I missed what you wrote before. It sounds like you have some anger and feelings of being unsafe around the weekend you did, and the stories you heard from the MKP guys you knew, and a lot of views about where the other men were coming from psychologically. And, I find myself curious about what the experience you personally had was like.

  26. Chris, I think you’re missing the point. Matthew did share his experience.

  27. I participated for over 4 years. To write all that I experienced would be quite long. If you would like I can search my digital files for a letter I wrote to the safety committe. Anger is not exactly the right word as I processed much in therapy over ten years. Conviction is the right word. The weekend was not a problem for me as much as what happened after the weekend in the various igroups: group projections and bullying of the most vulnerable members in a group, leaders who would use pop-psychological language to manipulate others in their pursuit of power and position, men slipping out of any meaningful accountability to name just a few things. I would characterize it like this, Men come to this work from various places in their life. Some after doing MKP then inflate their grandiocity and operated in insidious ways. My therapist has described my report of some of these men as psychotoxic and narcissistic and borderline personalities who managed to claim positions of power. Most of the leaders I am describing were either eventually called out by the community at large, eventually dropped out completely, and in one case died of a drug overdose. The grandiocity I am describing would make these men seem vital they would claim enlightenment, your version of reality was wrong theirs was right. A typical facilitation by these individuals would be characterized by them providing their version of reality and even demanding that you conform to it, and their followers would join in for example huddling around a single man in a group intimidation of a man who exhibited deep anxieties. I have heard from these men “we are going to make you do the work and we are doing this because we love you.” This was nothing less than group harassment of the men who exhibited the strongest emotional affects and vulnerabilities like crying or nervous fear. Of course these vulnerable men would then eventually leave. MKP indiscriminately gives depth psychological tools to any man who will pay for it, and then permission to use the tools in the igroups. The result is many groups may by themselves create safe egalitarian containers for men to process (I have seen this too) while other groups will be dominated by bullies and tyrants, men with sadistic tendencies and narcissistic personalities. I would just say that although I have appreciated some aspects of MKP the lack of oversight by MKP as an institution means much of their practices were performed recklessly and abusively. Part of the problem is MKP as an institution has decided to sweep all these instances under the proverbial carpet because it tarnishes the ideal image of the organization. I would trust the organization much more if they aired their dirty laundry and said, yes this happened, and this happened, because believe me this is no secret to some. In fact it is a bit ironic that an institution dedicated to shadow work has done so much hard work hidding their institutional shadow in the name of good appealing Public Relations.

  28. Thank you Michael. That’s exactly what I’ve seen in numerous organizations and in the culture of personal development at large, time and time again. The irony of being unable to look at the group shadow in a group dedicated to shadow work is not lost on me.

  29. I will add that I experienced this form of sadistic facilitation performed on me and have seen it performed on others. And when speaking out about it I was gaslighted ” that didn’t happen” or “This is the warrior way” or “you want the easy way the warrior way is the hard way” or even “it’s your own fault, you let it happen” or various other ways of defense. The last one is perhaps the most insidious because the techniques used has you regress to abuses you experienced at 5 or 4 years old. In such a regression It is hard to articulate anything much less protest against a dozen men acting out their sadism. I am a very big man 6′ 3″ 220lbs and remember thinking if I fight back right now I will seriously hurt someone, and believe me as a former football player I would know how. The experience in this instance was really sick, I would never wish it anyone.

  30. This is from wikipedia (not necessarily the most academic reference but may get the point accross):

    Narcissistic leadership is a common form of leadership. The narcissism may be healthy or destructive although there is a continuum between the two. A study published in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin suggests that when a group is without a leader, you can often count on a narcissist to take charge. Researchers found that people who score high in narcissism tend to take control of leaderless groups.[41]

    MKP has created an “egalitarian” igroup structure which means “there is no leader” but also provides leader training and certification. What I found in MKP is simple the men doing the most depth psychological work for themselves tend not to become the leaders because such work is long arduous humble introspective etc. The men in MKP who become “leaders” often have little insight into themselves or others they are the least qualified to being psychological fascilitators but learn all the jargon, all the dogma, etc. and do so to self aggrandize, to get kudos, admiration, attention, etc. Some of these narcissistic leaders are laughable in their lack of insight but relatively benign, simply a charactature of the incompetant, but others as stated were truly abusive. So the issue for me is the very structure of the institution creates a scenario where the most narcissistic men rise to power. Instead of authorizing the most qualified MKP authorizes the least qualified, their standards for becoming a leader and facilitator are pretty low.

  31. In reflection on this topic, before I left MKP many men there protested these abusive trends, an recognized how dysfunctional some of the igroups were. The positive aspects of MKP, I believe, to be a truly important pursuit for men and people today, but I aggree with Duff that much of the work done in MKP was “for show” and was not actually real depth psychological work. At best it was catharsis at worst traumatizing. My hope is that someday MKP takes these criticisms seriously and minimizes retraumatization, and really looks at all of it’s many problems and dysfunctions. To put it bluntly, when a person who has experienced trauma is retraumatized or his recovery and growth work is RUSHED real dangers emerge. He may fall into the traumatized victim pattern again and not function well at all. Or as I saw often in MKP he may also fall into the traumatized abuser pattern if he can’t make good cognitive distinctions, this is actually worse because he is then acting out the trauma on those he loves. MKP had once written in their promo material saying their work was “a quantum leap”, this is just stupid grandiocity and reckless, there is no such thing in this sort of work. Truly transcendent work requires a man to see both poles of the victim/abuser paradigm and not fall into either one. Such work is slow, painful, arduous and is not accomplished on one weekend or in a poorly facilitated igroup psychodrama. If there is one consistent problem with MKP it is grandiosity, and in relationship to the work they do it is very very dangerous.

  32. Matthew, I definitely get that you’re unhappy with MKP. I think you’ve made your point clearly enough for others to evaluate what you’re saying.

  33. Hi Matthew, I think I get your problem with the group. A lot of ‘warrior’ stuff I find grandiose. Perhaps we need the figure of the sage – more open to patient and methodical approaches. I once wrote a post called What Doesn’t Kill You Can Leave You Maimed, which was having a shot at what I see as the grandiosity of the Warrior stuff.

    I hope you have found some good therapy (I do think that there is lots of it about). I’d be interested to hear if you have found a therapy that works for you and if so what it is.

  34. Thanks, you know my mentor in MKP was very understanding and concurred with these issues but I felt it was so rampent that I needed to take care of myself and leave MKP behind. I found a good therapist who does not follow a particular “style” but he has used Jungian based ideas. He was a therapist that specifically has worked with traumatized people; War vets, people from Isreal who lived in war bomb zones, and victims of inner city gang violence. I think what was affirming about his therapy was that there was an understanding of deep trauma and it’s effects. So a lot of work was about creating boundaries and cognitive work. In MKP I was in one group that was working for a while, they were kind and empathetic, but when I told of the trauma I experienced of an alcoholic father and schizophrenic mother (and not through guts psychodrama) no one there could even comprehend what I had experienced, I appreciated their honesty. That group disbanded when I moved temporarily and that’s when I encountered one group after another of what I wrote about. My therapy now continues and we talk a lot about Jung’s transcendent function of seeing both sides of situation, and Von Franz and Eddinger’s ideas of “the inferior type” and working on assimilating the aspects of myself that I am not good at: extraverting, sensing, and deciding. This may give a clue as to how we have been working.

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