I apologize. My intention was to be very relevant to this topic. I agree Hoffman doesn't use traditional psychologists and pychiatrists. However- throughout the years their board is full of them. My wife was addicted to amphetamines and heroine and it wasn't until she went through Hoffman that she made a fundamental change. She really didn't benefit from any traditional therapy and in fact, I am pretty convinced the traditional methods made things worse. I suspect alot of other people if they were honest would say the same thing.
Thanks for the correction I will try to follow your lead but just wasn't sure what topic you wish to discuss in relation to Hoffman.
Stay on topic.
The topic is the Hoffman Institute, which as you point out "doesn't use traditional psychologists and psychiatrists" and is not a licensed mental health faciltiy.
In this paper by a psychologist that participated in a mass marathon training (large group awareness training LGAT) program, he notes 13 liabilities of encounter groups, some of which are similar to characteristics of most current mass marathon psychotherapy training sessions:
1. They lack adequate participant-selection criteria.
2. They lack reliable norms, supervision, and adequate training for leaders.
3. They lack clearly defined responsibility.
4. They sometimes foster pseudoauthenticity and pseudoreality.
5. They sometimes foster inappropriate patterns of relationships.
6. They sometimes ignore the necessity and utility of ego defenses.
7. They sometimes teach the covert value of total exposure instead of valuing personal differences.
8. They sometimes foster impulsive personality styles and behavioral strategies.
9. They sometimes devalue critical thinking in favor of "experiencing" without self-analysis or reflection.
10. They sometimes ignore stated goals, misrepresent their actual techniques, and obfuscate their real agenda.
11. They sometimes focus too much on structural self-awareness techniques and misplace the goal of democratic education; as a result participants may learn more about themselves and less about group process.
12. They pay inadequate attention to decisions regarding time limitations. This may lead to increased pressure on some participants to unconsciously "fabricate" a cure.
13. They fail to adequately consider the "psychonoxious" or deleterious effects of group participation (or] adverse countertransference reactions.
The groups were determined to be dangerous when:
1. Leaders had rigid, unbending beliefs about what participants should experience and believe, how they should behave in the group. and when they should change.
2. Leaders had no sense of differential diagnosis and assessment skills, valued cathartic emotional breakthroughs as the ultimate therapeutic experience, and sadistically pressed to create or force a breakthrough in every participant.
3. Leaders had an evangelical system of belief that was the one single pathway to salvation.
4. Leaders were true believers and sealed their doctrine off from discomforting data or disquieting results and tended to discount a poor result by, "blaming the victim."
Also see [www.rickross.com]
Frequently LGATs use what can be seen as "coercive persuasion" techniques to gain influence over participants.
The key factors that distinguish coercive persuasion from other training and socialization schemes are:
1. The reliance on intense interpersonal and psychological attack to destabilize an individual's sense of self to promote compliance
2. The use of an organized peer group
3. Applying interpersonal pressure to promote conformity
4. The manipulation of the totality of the person's social environment to stabilize behavior once modified
"Though the firm hand of Hoffman was always present during this period, he sought input from many sources (who sometimes did not even know that Hoffman was talking to others about the same issue). But he attributed final changes to his spirit guide, Dr. Fisher, which, I will argue, was part of the story he created to make a plausible claim that a tailor from Oakland could be the source of a complete psychological treatment."
"Despite his claims to the contrary, Hoffman made ample use of the more nasty tricks with complete impunity, always taking the higher ground. (He was, for example, never angry with anyone, but ‘righteously indignant.”) But when it comes to actually seeing if his results were lasting, the evidence is scarce or relies very heavily on anecdotal evidence. Many people say that the experience was powerful, but if they made real changes in their lives, if they were happier and not living under another despotism, however benevolent, the majority of those I interviewed had found a sustainable spiritual practice and devoted themselves to it.
Quoted from "The Ontological Odd Couple" reproduced in full length below.
Here are an article published on a blog. It is one man's story, but nevertheless may be of interest to journalists who may later want to trace the history of Hoffman Institute.
From Google cache accessed February 20, 2012 at 7:27 PST
Bob Hoffman & the Quadrinity Process
At the outset I warn the reader that though I have tried to be as objective as I can be, I find it impossible to take a entirely disinterested position with regard to my own process and a difficult friendship. My experience with "the Process" was long and personal. I was Bob's on-again, off-again friend from the time I first worked with him in 1972 until his death in 1997. I have tried to include all the aspects of our relationship. When Bob was generous towards me, it came with expectations—most of which I was unwilling to fulfill. It was a bumpy road.
I first experienced the Fisher-Hoffman Psychic Therapy when Bob formulated the group process under the guidance of Claudio Naranjo in his Berkeley SAT groups. I remained connected to the Process after Bob's death as a staff person at the Hoffman Institute.
The men in the picture are Claudio (R) and Bob (L). Though I never ever saw Bob wear a tee shirt, the text on Naranjo’s website confirms that it’s Bob. So, as a salute to their collaboration I am including it.
This website is for people who did NOT benefit from Hoffman Process and who want to be able to discuss this without being interrupted.
If anyone has been happy with Hoffman, rejoice in your good fortune. Just be fair and allow persons who have not benefitted from Hoffman to exercise their First Amendment rights as citizens and resident aliens and be able to discuss what they went through here.
For a small thread this has drawn a lot of apologists and an insistence on mere testimonial. Lets look at the names:
Feelings and even vivid experiences can may not represent reality. Years ago I had several days of 103 F fevers and experienced myself as ice cold. I shivered violently, craved warmth, was desperate to wrap myself in blankets. But to my surprise, the clinical thermometer read that my body was 103 F -- that I was too warm, not cold at all. Contrary to what I felt, I needed to cool down, not wrap up in blankets.
So repeat, feelings and experiences can be manipulated and not reflect actual reality at all.
Next, there is cognitive dissonance. If a person pays a lot of money or puts a huge charge on the credit card, there is automatic inner pressure to convince oneself that the expenditure is worth it.
There is such a thing as attribution bias. One tends to ignore information that doesnt support one's beliefs and focuses on what does support belief.
Why hasnt Hoffman Process done what John Kabat Zinn has done and arrange for scientific testing of its methods, eh?
Its not enough to say that 'professionals' are on the board of directors. One has to walk the walk.
That is why the real test of whether something (especially something that costs thousands of dollars) is beneficial and worth the expense, is to do double blind trials, with subjects randomly assigned to control groups.
This is what is considered standard of care when assessing any treatment methodology.
And its against the law in most states to practice medicine and or psychotherapy without a license if one charges this kind of money. And as noted in the California case from 1997, 'aiding and abetting in the illegal practice of psychology' can be grounds for having one's license revoked or suspended.
No amount of shrill testimonial can cancel out what is in the lawbooks. And what is already in public record.
There are plenty pf laws which do not reflect reality and plenty of dysfunction within "legally" approved processes and methods. If you truly respect First Admendment rights then you should respect all input. In the field of psychiatry, it is well known that all treatments (especially involving prescription drugs in conjunction with Psychotherapy) is an "educated guess" at best and a crime of humanity at worst. Yes- this can all be backed up by the "scientific method"
However, to your point, it appears you only desire some scientific study as a means to consider an investment into the Hoffman process. Here is something to consider;
The study doesn't seem to offer anything objective, but rather subjective results based upon feelings and opinion.
A meaningful scientific study would objectively measure the program's actually improvement regarding a person’s subsequent life through after the training.
Instead, Hoffman has apparently chosen to fund what essentially can be seen as surveys and polls, which report the subjective feelings and perception of its graduates.
LGAT critics have never disputed that training employs effective persuasion techniques, which can directly affect the feelings and perception of its program participants.
But a meaningful study based upon objective results could measure such things as a sustained higher grade point average, notably lower divorce rate, increased income and/or less reliance upon professional counseling over a period of years after completing LE programs.
Such a scientific study could then compare the Hoffman graduates against an outside control group, which had not attended Hoffman programs. And then of course to validate the study the results would then be submitted for peer-review and perhaps then be published within a respected and credible journal.
Here is an item that was published, with the authors permission.
It was published on the Freedom of Mind website.
Here is the text.
The Hoffman - Science vs. Spooks: Skepticism, scientific research and the Nostradamus effect
Science vs. Spooks: Skepticism, scientific research and the Nostradamus effect
In certain quarters here, in New Age California, it is believed that the uniquely western contribution to ¡°spiritual¡± efforts will be the application of the scientific method to the eandeavor.
Perhaps this is just another chapter of the age-old science vs. religion debate, or even a new path to understanding.
But I would like to examine a shadier side of this undertaking, the bias of those who sponsor the research: who¡¯s buying and why, and what does any of this have to do with science? I call it ¡°Science vs. Spooks and the Nostradamus Effect.¡±
In the mid to late 70¡äs, there were a few straightforward attempts by serious practitioners to use standard tests, psychological and psysiological, to measure the effects of meditation. A second wave of this type of objective investigation was to apply standard psychological instruments to measure changes in persons who did some workshop or training ¡ª were the ¡°benefits¡± real change that lasted, or just a kind of workshop high?
And it was not long before the producers of the various trainings and workshops saw that positive results would be a great marketing tool. These were people connected to the world of psychology, some professionals and some who had transformative experiences, and they wanted to present them to a larger audience. Of course it takes money to support these projects.
I worked on staff at two human potential companies, Landmark Education and the Hoffman Institute, when ¡°scientific¡± studies undertaken. I participated in the creation and execution of one.
This was the scenario: The company found money, just as drug companies do when testing a new product. Then in the case I know best, a PhD psychologist on staff shopped around university graduate psychology departments for grant-hungry professors willing to design and execute a study. The instruments of measurement, assessment of the results were negotiated. The size of the sample and a time table were set. A fee was paid. There was also a promise to have the results, if they are positive, published in a professional peer-reviewed journal.
Though the usual requirements to insure that the results are impartial and not stacked were in place, there are three areas where, in my view, the participation of the company skewed the ¡°scientific investigation.¡±
The researchers were charged to look for the positive psychological results and determine if they were lasting. As a ¡®graduate¡¯ of the course I was one of several people who pre-tested the instrument that the researchers designed. Then, through the in-house psychologist, there were ¡®adjustments¡¯ in what was measured with an eye to the marketing.
The testing began.
At some point, perhaps three months into the process, the researchers began to worry that the sample would not be large enough to support ¡°significant results,¡± and staff members began telephoning participants, using a carefully designed script to encourage them to complete the questionnaires.
Though I was not asked to make any calls, I overheard them, and to be totally honest, I did not detect any kind of coercion other than to complete and return the questionnaire.
But there were also a series of support¡¯ calls to graduates at specific intervals, so the plea to return the evaluation was not extraordinary.
Now if I got a support call, reinforcing my positive experience, and then, a few weeks later, another making sure I completed a questionnaire for the study, well, you get the picture.
Though this kind of action might be ethical ¡ª falling within the conditions of impartiality ¡ª it seems to me that if I did not feel strongly enough to send my report back to the researchers, my lack of enthusiasm indicated something.
And the final, and most flagrant area of manipulation was in publication of the results. It bordered on out deception. Although the researchers themselves were to write up the final results submitted to professional journals, perhaps even a presentation at some conference (I left the company before it was complete), there were interim reports: ¡°After six months, participants report more confident and loving conversations with their spouses and children.¡±
This assessment of initial data was written by the in-house psychologist to ¡°report¡± the results of the study to graduates. But when the president of the company read the report, he claimed that this was just too much scientific ¡°jargon.¡± In my view it was not the overwhelming positive result he thought he¡¯d paid for.
I actually stood around his desk with a group of staff as he reworked every sentence, striking any word or phrase that seemed too guarded, asking us as witnesses, ¡°I think that this (his punched-up phrase) says the same thing, doesn¡¯t it?¡± When I asked the in-house psychologist himself about the revisions, he was non-committal, ¡°I suppose that could be said about X,¡± and turned the conversation to the cost of his new home in the foothills. (end of exerpt)
Republished here with the kind permission of the author, Ken Ireland.
There is nothing criminal or even terribly important in this manipulation of scientific inquiry¨Cdrug companies do it all the time and we pay for it when you factor in the cost of their malpractice insurance. And what has this to do with our friend Nostradamus, a 17th century French seer and astrologer whose puzzling riddles have a cult-like following? In 1654 he wrote: ¡°In the City of God there will be a great thunder, Two brothers torn apart by Chaos, while the fortress endures, the great leader will succumb. ¡ The third big war will begin when the big city is burning.¡± Well, obviously he predicted the terrorist attack on the Twin Towers.
Did that phrase about the two giants collapsing really ¡®foretell¡¯ the attack on the World Trade Center towers? I bet we could find a rich paranormal enthusiast to fund a study that proves¨Cbeyond a shadow of a doubt¨Cthat a certain percentage of the American public, after hearing those sentences read to them in a carefully scripted phone survey, believe that Nostradamus really predicted 9/11.
This is one way to defend against the terror of the unpredictable. I choose to remain skeptical.
Republished here with the kind permission of the author, Ken Ireland. The original article can be found here.
It appears the point of delineation is the strong adherence to the scientific method as the only proof source from which to evaluate results. The science of the brain proves that we create neuropathways as a result of reinforced thinking. So it appears the real scientific conclusion here is that if you elminate the noise- what you "believe" you get out of therapy is more important than the techniques of the therapy itself. This is science.
I think I truly understand and appreciate the scientific method and appreciate it's application for certain uses. However, like Maslow argues in "The psychology of science"- the scientific method absolutely falls short on a bigger reality in life, in part, because the scientific method doesn't apply to subconscious realities. So this is a foundational issue which means we can't by definition get on the name page if you limit your view to a scientific method only. That is ok, but very incomplete to me (and people like Maslow/Jung)
On another note- i predict the APA and their collusion with the big pharma industry will make abestos and tobacco corruption look like child's play. Via licensed professionals they are dealing addictive drugs that truly control the minds and bodies of their victims. I think I understand why this forum exists, but in it's current form- I believe it cannot be responsible in giving people objective feedback based on this type of fixed mindset.
It's equivalent to arguing the 12 step program is a cult because it lacks true scientific studies. To people who do it- it works but a pure scientific method has to ignore these anecdotes. I get it. But it's a silly debate to argue a scientific method with something that is subjective to begin with.
As noted, this essay, given above, was posted already on the Freedom of Mind website.
Now...a wee lesson on how genuine scientific research is actually done.
Scientific method is very much more than skepticism. Skepticism is an attitude.
Scientific method is not 'tradition'. To call scientific method 'traditional' is not adequate. This means one can semantically blur scientific method in with other traditions that, unlike science, offer no safeguards against attribution bias.
Scientific method is in a different catagory than tradition, because scientific method, honestly applied, using double blind methods and in acceptance of findings that disappoint ones expectations offers a way to reject personally cherished hypotheses that cannot be supported by evidence.
Feelings of 'satisfaction' and 'growth' or 'self fulfillment' are subjective. These can be defined in various ways.
To design a scientific test one has to define what the outcome is and select outcomes that are quantifiable.
If it is considered enough that persons going through Hoffman merely report satisfaction following participation, this calls into question why one even needs to have psychotherapists on staff or use therapeutic terminology. If HP is merely dedicated to 'personal growth' this is something that cannot be defined scientifically and any attempt to validate it by scientific research is meaningless.
Thats the power of rules.
You can adore and be passionately loyal to your favorite sports team. But if your team cannot score enough points against an opponent according to the rules of the game, the team supporters have to accept that their team has lost a game. One doesnt have to like that outcome but one has to admit its part of the record.
Now...let us look at the rules of science. Not the rituals of science, and not the tradition of science--the rules of science.
Why didnt the Hoffman people do what John Kabat-Zinn has done?
Arrange for different teams to construct some good research design protocols, and then test Hoffman Process and outcomes using double blind testing?
And test this repeatedly with different groups of graduates to see whether the findings are not only statistically significant, compared with controls, but also whether the findings are 'robust' - that is reproducible in different groups.
Thing is genuine scientific testing operates according to null hypothesis: one goes on the assumption that the treatment is no better than what could be produced by random outcomes--that is, it is in effective. For persons in the cult mindset, who cant admit that their darling therapy is anything other than wonderful, even imagining the null hypothesis (this treatment is no better than random effect) -- is cognitively repugnant.
Two, the best research on treatment methododology has a triple hurdle.
a) Disprove null hypothesis
b) Prove that the intervention exceeds placebo effect
c) Prove that the intervention (especially if it is expensive) has better outcomes than existing, less expensive therapies that have already passed scientific testing.
Extra-ordinary claims (or expensive workshops ) require statistically overwhelming validation.
A properly designed study would do the following.
Make it clear in your mind whether Hoffman Process is a treatment for an identifiable and definable ailment. (Or something that fits criteria for the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual. (Current edition of the DSM is the DSM-4(revised). Examples of a condition that can be validated by the DSM and by additional tests would be depression.
If the HP to assist in 'personal growth', that is a vague outcome. Instead, one can tie 'personal growth' to measurable social outcomes such as income level, increased educational attainment (outside of the Hoffman Process community) in the years following participation in HP. If one only increases status by moving from a Hoffman student to becoming, over the years, a Hoffman Process teacher, this may feel satisfying, but is not an indication that HP brings full personal autonomy and skills that are applicable outside of the Hoffman Process social circuit.
Mere reported feelings of 'satisfaction' are not entirely reliable. People who spend a couple thousand dollars will through cognitive dissonance feel an inner pressure to justify the expense by reporting satisfaction.
1) Disprove the null hypothesis (Hoffman Process is no better than random outcome) Create the research design by hypothesizing that HP is nothing better than a random outcome
2) Hoffman Process is no better than a placebo (A control group assigned to a group set up that is merely a series of social get togethers, but with no agenda. Many of us feel better if we are given a group to hang out with, especially in this lonely and hectic world.)
3) Is HP not only as good as but significantly better (statistically speaking) than existing group therapy modalities that have already passed this kind of test and been reported in peer reviewed journals?
To create a research design based on the null hypothesis means one must be able to imagine that ones modality might be ineffective.
That is why subjects have to be assigned randomly to control groups vs intervention groups and in such as way that no one involved with the study knows how people have been assigned.
If people have been processed through somethign that leaves their minds in unconscious 'primary process states of mind', they will have great difficulty imagining that their workshop experience was nothing better than what could have happened in any other social group.
Feelings of 'satisfaction' and 'growth' or 'self fulfillment' are subjective.
If it is considered enough that persons going through Hoffman merely report satisfaction following participation, this calls into question why it is considered necessary to have psychotherapists on staff or use therapeutic terminology.
To do scientific method, (not scientific tradition, scientific method) requires application of conscious and adult logic.
And no, this does not have to take the wonder or excitement out of life.
Not at all.
Baseball follows rules and has its methods, too. It is not only possible to win a game, it is possible to lose a game.
You can love your team and yet if your team cannot score enough points, according to the rules of baseball against the opposite team, you have to face the pain of seeing your team lose a game--and in some cases, feel the lingering agony of your team losing its chance to play the World Series.
But does honoring the rules of baseball take the wonder out of it?
Not at all. People whose teams lose a game or even lose out on a World Series still appreciate baseball and its rules.
The drama and sheer wonder of baseball remains intact, not in spite of its rules but because of its rules.
Ditto for scientific method.
Apparently when your arguments fail you spin conspiracy theories about "the APA" and "big pharma".
This and your general attmept to discredit "the scientific method" only serves to demonstrate to anyone reading this thread that you have no objective evidence regarding any of your claims concerning Hoffman.
You appear to be here as simply an apologist and supporter of Hoffman.
Again, you are going off topic. The topic at this thread is the Hoffman Institute, not the APA, pharmaceutical companies or AA.
What in your opinion does Hoffman do wrong?
What mistakes has the organization made that hurt people?
How do you think Hoffman should change to correct past mistakes and improve itself?
Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 02/21/2012 12:41PM by rrmoderator.