Just help yourself Tom Farrell Magill © March 2006

Just help yourself

Tom Farrell Magill © March 2006

Tom Farrell warns that the growing self-help culture is threatening to undermine our freedom

Blueprint for Living –Tony Quinn

“Only in America.” we have a tendency to snicker, beholding the phenomenon of the onstage guru spouting Christmas cracker-mottoes, so hilariously spoofed in an episode of the BBC sitcom The Office.
(The ever-pretentious David Brent turns a motivational seminar in Slough into a stream-of-conch ramble, culminating in him high clapping before his stony-faced audience while Tina Turner’s ‘Simply the Best’ blasts from a stereo).
But one of the oldest and most audacious exponents of human potential is no child of 1970s West Coast fads.
Tony Quinn was born in Dublin’s Arbour Hill in 1947 and after stints as a butcher’s apprentice and bouncer, began to involve himself in bodybuilding and yoga during the 1970s.
An associate of Quinn’s from these times, when he based himself in houses in Howth and Kilbarrick, remembers him as a magnetic but autocratic character, who was already evolving a belief-system that amalgamated yoga and the New Age.
“By talking to early members, it’s clear he had a view of himself as having some kind of divine mission and that he himself was some kind of a Christ-figure,” says Mike Garde of Dialogue Ireland, an organisation which provides ‘exit-counselling’ for individuals and families affected by controlling movements, both religious and human potential.
“And they studied the Aquarian Gospel of Jesus Christ which is a New Age text from the early 20th century. But generally, he tends to tailor his message to what you want so that if you’re just looking for a rise in your profitability, you’ll get that end of it.”
Twenty years on, the by-word was ‘Educo,’ the Latin word from which ‘education’ is derived.
The organisation’s Blueprint for Successful Living newspaper features long articles on the positive goals to be achieved by censoring negative thinking, plus gushing testimonies from Irish people who have acquired near miraculous healing or success in business.
Based in Eccles Street, Tony Quinn’s health stores offer courses in yoga, ki massage and sell innumerable health supplements.
It is also the place to send your ‘postal requests,’ a form together with a photograph and E30 (E50 for a family) where one of Tony’s acolytes will ‘achieve positive results through prayer and positive thinking.’
‘Distance healing’ of course, is not an exclusively Quinn phenomenon but while in 2003, the Irish Medicines Board warned the organisation against the extravagant claims being made for its food supplements, postal requests rely on a form of ad hoc religiosity.
Yet the organisation always insists ‘Educo’ is mandated by science. BFSL’s articles claim the ‘findings’ of Quinn, endowed with numerous qualifications in nutrition, hypnotherapy, psychotherapy and holistic medicine, are causing ‘a major stir’ in medical circles.
A Sunday Independent investigation in 2004   found that Quinn attended the British College of Naturopathy and Osteopathy in London in the 1970s but there is no record of him graduating.
His doctorate in clinical hypnotherapy was awarded by the Hawaii-based American Pacific University, which specialises in distance learning.
Tony pays no taxes on his revenues from Educo products, as they are channelled through an offshore company called Human Potential Research, based in Jersey.
But like Chopra, Robbins et al, he can command hefty fees for personal appearances: a one-on-one session can cost €100,000.
His €18,500 a pop ‘seminars’ in such locations as Cairo, The Bahamas and Monte Carlo have already attracted media scrutiny and the accusation that the pressure (including payments) to bring in new participants constitutes a form of pyramid scheme.
One participant, who spoke to Magill on condition of anonymity, was persuaded to take out a loan from her credit union to pay for her seminar.
She was less than impressed upon seeing Tony onstage:
“In reality, he didn’t fit the bill of what was being projected about Tony Quinn,” says Caroline.
“And I remember (an employee) saying ‘wait ’til you see his aura, his aura comes into a room before he does. And I’m looking for it and even when he gets there, I’m still looking for it.”
Says Dr Sean Collins of the Irish Institute of Counselling and Hypnotherapy, who has counselled former Educo seminar participants:
“Wouldn’t you like the idea of somebody providing you with a Blueprint for Living?” he says.
“Life is a rough place: people die, lovers leave us, we get sick, and children are killed. Life goes on and it’s very seductive, the idea that there will be somebody there with open arms to help you through that, to provide you with a user’s manual.”
A seductive idea can survive repeated dowsing with cold water. An RTE ‘True Lives’ documentary highlighted the lamentable failure of one young Educo seminar participant to achieve pop stardom; it emerged in 2004 that another, Galway builder Brian Cunningham, owed First Active €29 million.
“Any philosophy that promotes: ‘Trust me, I’m a good guy, I will do everything for you, just do what I say,’ is a very disempowering approach and fosters a dependency,” says Sean Collins.
“Now if people have a pre-disposition to dependency, then they’re seriously at risk.”

One Response

  1. I just want to make everyone aware that Dialogue Ireland have recently completed an investigation into the educational qualifications of “Dr” SEAN COLLINS. Their investigations have revealed that Sean Collins’s qualfications are unaccredited. In fact, in most USA states, Sean Collins would be commiting a CRIMINAL OFFENCE if he were to use the title “Doctor”.

    In light of this, Dialogue Ireland have posted a clarification statement on their website. Please click on the link below for full details of the statement about Sean Collins:
    http://dialogueireland.org/dicontent/resources/conferences/2001conference.html

    Like

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