Lifestyle ‘guru’ who claims to help youngsters pass exams, for €18,000

September 25, 2005

The Sunday Times

Lifestyle ‘guru’ who claims to help youngsters pass exams, for €18,000
Richard Oakley and Enda Leahy

TONY QUINN, Ireland’s self-proclaimed lifestyle guru, is attempting to expand his cult-like organisation to Britain.

Quinn, a former mind-coach to the boxer Steve Collins who, he claims, he helped to win fights, is trying to convince people in London to spend £12,000 (€17,700) on two-week “life-changing” seminars. Up to 30 British residents have attended introductory meetings, and his organisation is building a following with weekly “top-up” sessions where new members have been recruited.

A Sunday Times reporter who infiltrated a meeting last week found Quinn’s organisation was not only promoting the same material that has caused controversy in Ireland but is now advising parents to include the “scientifically proven success system” in their children’s education.

Complaints about Quinn’s techniques surfaced in Ireland in 2001 and his teachings have been dismissed by experts. Claims about his research and qualifications have been shown to be exaggerated, and relatives of course participants have complained that family members have been brainwashed.

Quinn, a qualified hypnotherapist, promises people “the life of their dreams” with great material riches. Each week in the Jurys Great Russell hotel in London, Quinn’s most recent promotional film is shown for new members — who are brought in by invitation only.

The film shows a teenager who is at first unable to recall material for a history exam, and who suddenly remembers all about the Spanish civil war after a few minutes’ hypnosis by Quinn. The narrator says the Quinn system can “offer you the chance to create the life you want for your child”.

One of the organisers said about 2,000 people around the world have now attended Quinn’s seminars, and she defended their cost.

Members pay into a sort of pyramid-selling system that involves commission payments for recruiting others. To get commission, they must pay for one seminar a year, which ties them into a circle of paying out large sums and having to find more people to recruit.

Quinn’s seminars, attended by up to 70 people a time, have been running since the early 1990s in resorts in the Bahamas and Egypt. Participants are introduced to Quinn’s Educo life-system and are believed to undergo hypnosis.

At last week’s meeting in London, our reporter was encouraged to borrow the cost of a seminar when he said he couldn’t afford it. “It costs €18,000 — about the price of a small Japanese car,” said one of Quinn’s disciples. “Which would you prefer, a new life or a small Japanese car?”

Quinn tells people they use only a small percentage of their mental capacity and he can help them discover how to use more of their mind. He calls this “unconscious attention” and claims it “enables the mind to function at its ultimate potential effortlessly”.

Families of those who have attended seminars have complained that their relatives developed a strange devotion to his organisation that they say is “cult-like”. They listened to a tape of Quinn each day and devote large amounts of time to convincing others to attend his seminars. Quinn’s tapes tells them that the best way for his teachings to work is if a person sells his seminars to others.

Quinn’s theories have been criticised by leading psychologists. Ciaran Benson, a professor of psychology at University College Dublin, said some of his claims were “simplistic in the extreme and without any acceptable research”. Professor Ian Robertson of Trinity College said the idea that humans only use a small amount of their minds was a modern myth.

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