9:00 AM – 4:15 PM

All of us are being influenced, either consciously or unconsciously and we often popularly say about someone whose behaviour we do not understand that they have been ‘brainwashed.’ However, in law it is a concept that is not really recognised. Certainly we find it hard to understand the 9/11, 7/7, 21/7 homicide bombers and the doctor bombers who tried bomb nightclubs in London and Glasgow Airport last June. Our speakers will try to grapple with the issues of influence and when this becomes undue influence. John Butler has 30 years of clinical experience working in the field, Steve Kent is not an academic in an ivory tower, but has looked at the darker aspects of human behaviour found in such groups as the Children of God/ The Family and Scientology. John Duignan escaped the prison of undue influence and will chart his journey to freedom.

The reports by Roisin Ingle in the Irish Times and Liveline at the end of October about The Roebuck Counselling and Consultancy services raised very clearly how intelligent people can be mentally manipulated. What may have started as genuine therapy has developed into therapy cult, and now into a wealth and prosperity cult. The original self help and healing impulse has given way to raw exploitation. A graphic case of undue influence has been made. Here we have moved from therapy to cultist attitudes and tendencies. Real people have lost their centre as they handed themselves over in their vulnerability to this monstrous fraud financially, questionable therapy psychologically and violation spiritually.
‘Unbelievable,’ ‘Brainwashing,’ ‘cultish,’ ‘cult-like,’ ‘boundaries violated’ and ‘abuse’ were terms used by those affected. However, in society the general view is that victims of cults are weak, and deserve to lose that kind of money. They are thick etc. Dialogue Ireland believes our Conference could really address these issues of mind control, loss of one’s self to another or to a charismatic figure. Those who have found themselves in this situation will find this day conference a fruitful way to reflect on their experience.

Conference Leaflet
Conference poster

Dr John Butler
Dr Butler who was born in Dublin has taught in higher
education for over 15 years lecturing in medical
psychology, medical neuroscience and other subjects in
medical schools and other university departments. He
trained in many psychological therapies and been a clinical
practitioner of psychological therapies for nearly 30 years
and a clinical trainer for nearly 20 years. He has also
studied the subject of mental influence and persuasion
techniques and investigated the uses and abuses of mental
programming in groups and individuals, the phenomena
of cultist groups and the effects of group dynamics on
individual functioning. He has carried out field work to
investigate cultist groups from an insider perspective and
worked with survivors of abusive groups and their families.
His clinical work was first filmed over 11 years ago and
since then has been reported many times in the media,

including a major BBC television series, ‘Mysteries’, with
Carol Vorderman in 1997. Some of his work has been
featured in ‘Time’ magazine and ‘Science’ magazine. He is
the clinical author of the popular book ‘Secrets of
Hypnotherapy’ (Pub. Dorling Kindersley). Some of his
media appearances include TV and radio interviews on
BBC’s ‘This Morning’ and BBC World Service. Other
television programmes he has contributed to and appeared
on include ‘The Mind Benders’, an Equinox TV
investigation into the field of mind enhancement and
subliminal techniques and ‘Fair Game’, a programme
presented by Greg Dyke investigating uses and abuses of
hypnosis in sport. It specifically examined the relationship
of Tony Quinn to the boxer Steve Collins.

Lecture (1) John Butler: The Uses
and Abuses of the Mind

Cults and Medical Psychology

Dr Stephen A. Kent
Dr Stephen A. Kent Professor of Sociology, University of
Alberta, teaches undergraduate and graduate courses on
the sociology of religion and the sociology of sectarian
groups. He has published articles in numerous sociology
and religious study journals. He researches new and
alternative religions, combining perspectives from
sociology with religious studies. He has published research
on Scientology, the Children of God/The Family,
fundamentalist Mormon polygamy, and other new and
alternative religions operating in Canada, the United
States, and around the world. He has been called as an
expert witness in many cult related cases. In 2003 he was a
witness in relation to the case brought by Mary Johnston
against members of the Scientology Organisation in the
High Court. He will be participating in The Literary &
Historical Society debate on Scientology on 14 November
at UCD

Steve Kent: The
brainwashing debate – Is it a valid
concept? How has it been used
recently: The history of, and debate
about, the concept?

Brainwashing Debate

Steve Kent: Influence,
undue influence in regard to cultist
New Religious Movements, with
particular regard to Scientology.

(Also note relevance to Sogyal Rinpoche in regard to Crazy Wisdom.)

The Mind Benders

Conference lectures (Warning – large mp3’s ≈ 50Mb each):

My exit from the Sea Organisation
of Scientology – John Anthony

2 Responses

  1. I listened, with interest, to the talk given by John Butler on ‘Cults and Medical Psychology’ and it reiterates many of the conclusions I came to during the latter part of my connection with the Tony Quinn group. The effects on the brain and nervous system are debilitating after the initial highly emotional charge brought about, deliberately, to cause change. Attending an exploitative psychotherapist who was aware of my history and attending Eccles Street, put me in a very vulnerable position and it increased the opportunity they had to manipulate and distort past and present events of my life. Part of their influence is to break down the “psychological immune system”. Their methods of suggestion to focus “influence the nervous system to get what they desire” and they do it “deliberately to exploit for destructive purposes”. I have no doubt about this and it was and still is essential to increase what I know about how they were able to manipulate me through the “sensory emotional limbic system and parts of the brain” and not some ‘amazing’ ability that Tony Quinn purports to have.

    The Tony Quinn group use all of the methods John Butler mentions. In particular I recall a questionnaire been given to people attending their psychotherapy course in Eccles Street and who were told to answer all questions and then handed back to the tutor. Reflection is not encouraged. I did notice that some of the questions were geared towards susceptibility to change. There was no feedback on the information given.

    I also think it important to receive treatment from a therapist who does understand and accept that our minds are powerful; to acknowledge the spiritual element that makes us fully human. It is part of humanities evolution and as such deserves respect and proper utilisation in regards to our physical and spiritual wellbeing. This is not to be confused with ‘freedom of religion’ as much of what cultish groups are involved in is exploitative and should not be condoned.

    Lack of knowledge allows the cult group leader to have influence. I am concerned about the proliferation of self-development and hypnotherapy courses on offer to the general public. Unless the public know what to watch out for they may very well be joining a cultish group and the people giving these courses may well have their own agenda that proves destructive. John Butler has made a very valid point when he says we need to come out of “the culture of denial”; educating the public and our children and giving them information that increases self-protection and gives genuine information about making the most of our potential, is essential. It will open the door to a genuine ‘age of enlightenment’.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The video given by the ex-scientologist is a very clear and sometimes harrowing account given by an ex-scientologist that broadened my understanding of scientology. He describes it as “a parasite on the innate goodness of people”. He highlights the methods used and the catastrophic effects brought about by indoctrination. After many years of freedom from this cult the speaker is still emotionally affected by what he saw, and in particular, how children are ill-treated and indoctrinated from a very early age. I would say that the governments who allow the parasitic presence of this group into their countries and their reluctance to enquire into, what is already public knowledge, is grounds for criminal negligence. By doing nothing it gives an impression to the public that they are more interested in the colossal amounts of money generated by Scientology, particularly in America. Pleading ignorance is no longer an option when viewing the very dangerous coercive methods used to indoctrinate people into accepting Hubbard’s “crazy” belief system. ‘Freedom of Religion’ is just an excuse for doing nothing about it. It is imperative to educate the public about cult groups!


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