A PSYCHIATRIST'S STORY OF
HIS BRIEF INVOLVEMENT IN RE-EVALUATION COUNSELING
HISTORIA DE LA BREVE IMPLICACION DE UN
PSIQUIATRA EN RC
(This article translated into spanish)
By Richard M. Childs
Because of the attitudes toward psychology and psychiatry that Harvey Jackins shares
with his mentor, L. Ron Hubbard, it is uncommon for clinical psychologists or
psychiatrists to become involved in Re-evaluation Counseling at all.
In THE DOCUMENTARY HISTORY of the CAREER of HARVEY JACKINS and RE-EVALUATION
COUNSELING: A Study of the Origins, Evolution and Prospects of a "Successful"
Psychotherapy Cult contains a 1991 letter form David C. Tinling, MD, a psychiatrist in
Honeoye Falls, NY, who in the 1970s had initially admired Jackins, only later to learn
that clients he had referred to Seattle were used sexually by Jackins. Dr. Tinling's
letter and my own are the only documents written by psychiatrists I have seen in the
documentary history assembled by "The Study Group on Psychotherapy Cults (Groupe
D`Études des Cultes PsychothÈrapeutiques)" of Brussels, Belgium.
There are virtually no references to RC in the professional mental health or academic
literature. Two exceptions are the articles by
Bernard J. Somers, PhD and Thomas J. Scheff, PhD. In 1972, these
scholars wrote articles about RC that appeared in the Journal of
Humanistic Psychology. Both men have since repudiated and dropped
It is little wonder that few competent mental health professionals would be attracted
to Jackins when he writes so condescendingly and arrogantly about them, as he did in his
introduction to a re-printing of the two articles by Scheff and Somers in his pamphlet
printed by Rational Island Publishers. In his introduction, Jackins wrote:
"Substantial numbers of professionals from the 'helping professions' [quotation
marks in the original] have been attracted to Re-evaluation Counseling and its communities
in recent times. These professionals are most welcome because of their dedication and
their opportunities to involve segments of the population that would otherwise be
difficult to reach.
[Jackins continues] Difficulties in communication have appeared,
however. What has been simple for the housewife or the technician to understand has often
been difficult for the professional. Apparently prior training and assimilated
vocabularies [in other words, they're too impaired to understand RC's jargon!] must be
taken into account for communication to be effective. We are especially grateful,
therefore, to Professor Scheff and to Professor Somers for serving as ambassadors and
interpreters to these important people." [Isn't it interesting that neither of these
two "ambassadors" has ever been heard from in RC again?]
My own brief career in RC began with Charlie Kreiner. At that time, I had never heard
of Harvey Jackins or RC. The denouement to my story began to unfold with my 1990 "Letter from Richard Childs, former Kansas City RC leader"
that is now posted on this website. The letter was taken up by the Study Group on
Psychotherapy Cults, and excerpts from it were included in the group's collection of RC
documents. From the Documentary History booklet, my letter was evidently scanned as an
image, along with the address on my letterhead, and was posted here on the Internet. A
review of this letter will provide the context necessary for understanding the following
When Harvey Jackins did not respond to the respectful letter I had
written to him, I gave up any expectation that his organization could be changed or
salvaged. Consequently, I experienced it as an honor when the enraged St. Louis
"Regional Reference Person" telephoned and accused me of "running a bad
distress pattern against leadership". Actually she had never even seen my letter to
Jackins, but following the orders she received from Seattle, she banished me from all RC
At the time I wrote to Jackins, I foolishly thought that I might be the only person who
had ever seriously confronted him about his behavior with clients. I even believed that he
would answer my letter. Rather grandiosely, I had allowed myself to think that I could
persuade him to shape up and change.
I soon learned how naive and pathetic my expectations had been. Jackins has always
refused to face his misdeeds, and he purposely organizes things to keep anyone from
confronting him effectively. The same methods are employed by his son and successor, Tim
Jackins, as well as by all other top RC leaders. (Soon we will probably see more evidence
for this statement.)
This same tactic is used by other cults and also by criminal organizations where
grandiose, narcissistic and unscrupulous leaders seize control and forbid any critical
discussion of their misdeeds. Many people involved in these groups may recognize, and some
of them may even genuinely regret, what their leaders are doing, but they feel powerless
to do anything about it. So they just go along passively and, by their silence, let
themselves be compromised by their leader's actions. Even good guys like Charlie Kreiner
(about whom more later) badly discredit themselves by their capitulation to this corrupt
and hypocritical "policy".
Not long after writing to Jackins, I became fully disabused of my naivetè. I learned
that many, many other persons had already written remarkably similar letters to him,
nearly always with the hope of salvaging something of what they liked about RC. I was
unaware of it, but well before I wrote my letter, The Study Group on Psychotherapy Cults
had collected a significant number of comparable letters that had been sent to Jackins
during the past thirty years. His transparent defense strategy has always been to label
them as "attacks" brought on by the "distresses" of those who
Anyone who accepts this notion is well on the way toward becoming caught up in the RC
psychotherapy cult and its distorted mindset. Those on this list who whine about
"trashing HJ" are simply following RC's Policy on Attacks whether they admit it
As I learned more about Jackins and his history, I, like so many others, was appalled
to find that RC was actually a spin-off from L. Ron Hubbard's Dianetics/Scientology. This
fact is completely at odds with the "official" story Jackins routinely tells
about how he "discovered" it himself. In his 1994 pamphlet "How
Re-evaluation Counseling Began", Jackins repeats and reworks the same self-serving
myth about how he stumbled upon this counseling technique all by himself. He begins his
pamphlet with the sentence "The activity known as Re-evaluation Counseling began
almost as an accident." This statement is contradicted by Jackins' own words in his
letter, entitled "Letter from Harvey Jackins on Dianetics" that can be found in
the DOCUMENTS section of this website. In this letter he presents "a popular summary
of eighteen months experience in using Dianetic Processing here in Seattle."
Readers will note that Jackins' letter (written in about 1952) appears on stationery
from the DIANETICS INSTITUTE OF SEATTLE, which at the time was also called PERSONAL
COUNSELORS, INC. Not long afterward, Jackins dropped Dianetics (or, more likely, they
dropped him!). The Seattle headquarters of RC are still called "Personal Counselors,
Inc." and Jackins keeps silent about his earlier Dianetics connection. The origin of
RC with Dianetics is not an irrelevant matter as some have claimed.
Several contributors to this list have pointed out how the attack policy in RC is
similar to the techniques Scientology uses to deal with so-called "suppressive
persons" and "potential troublemakers". A paranoid sensitivity to being
challenged is only one of the several ways in which Jackins resembles his mentor Hubbard.
Personal grandiosity, outrageous self-promotion, lack of truthfulness, and a hatred of
most "mental health professionals" are other shared traits.
The suppressed facts about the origin of RC are clearly presented in the Documentary
History (i.e., a history consisting of original source documents). The materials
reproduced include a 1952 photograph of a smiling Harvey Jackins, at age 36, as a member
of the "Hubbard Dianetic Foundation, Inc." He is one of eleven pictured top
leaders of Dianetics. The photo was taken at the Dianetic Foundation "International
Conference." [Do these grand terms ? "International Conference" and
"Foundation" - sound similar to RC's organizational vocabulary?]
There is also a chapter-by-chapter comparison of Jackins' 1965 book "The Human
Side of Human Beings" with Hubbard's 1950 book "Dianetics, A Handbook of
Dianetic Procedure". Jackins plagiarized Hubbard's book and called the result RC. He
paraphrased Hubbard's terms by recasting them in his own jargon. Hubbard's
"Engrams" became Jackins' "distress patterns", "release"
became "discharge", and "to become clear" became RC's "to
re-emerge". The interested reader will find some of this material here on LRC.
The origin more than forty years ago of RC from Hubbard's Dianetics (both names were
commercially trademarked for profit-making motives) is not without relevance to some of
the discussions on this list. At least one RC apologist who contributes here has spoken
favorably of Dianetics and Scientology. Many would agree that this fact alone illustrates
an impaired capacity for informed and rational discernment.
Anyone who does not hold Jackins and all other RC leaders accountable for their actions
also suffers from a diminished ethical capacity. When they prattle on and on about
"how much good Harvey and RC have done for the world" they diminish themselves
even more. Those who talk hopefully of reforming the "guidelines" simply do not
grasp the point that Jackins has made it impossible to achieve an honest and ethical
organization that can live up to the high principles he hypocritically espouses and fails
BACK TO MY OWN STORY:
During the two weekend-long re-evaluation counseling workshops held at my home (the
workshops referred to in the letter), my wife and son participated in some of the
activities. While both of them were tolerant and supportive of my enthusiasm, they each
said "some of it seems kind of cult-like to me". At the time, I was annoyed by
their remarks. Whatever could make my family think that something I saw merit in could be
a cult? Later I would realize how accurate their observations had been and how my initial
enthusiasm had momentarily blinded me to what should have been obvious.
For several years during the 1980s I had been a co-leader of support groups at my
mainline Protestant church (Presbyterian) for a national organization called
Fundamentalists Anonymous. The group's meetings were attended by many persons who had been
involved in the Jehovah's Witnesses sect. Many of these poor souls were now being shunned
and vilified by their former friends and even by their own family members. (The JWs call
this kind of disconnection "disfellowshipping". It is what happens to those who
are critical of JW theology and won't keep quiet about it.) These ex-Jehovah's Witnesses
all described how potential recruits into the sect were at first treated to
"lovebombing" to soften them up for joining the group.
This lavish affection and concern shown them, along with the warm and seemingly open
fellowship the group seemed to promise, were deeply appealing to certain needy and
tender-minded persons. Only later did they discover that this love and camaraderie were
conditional upon their quietly accepting all the group's doctrines and upon their never
mentioning any inconvenient facts about JW's shady and well-documented history.
RCers, too, when they set out to recruit potential members, are always loving and full
of patronizing "appreciation" for the converts. This is RC's version of
"lovebombing". It lasts until someone asks forbidden questions about Harvey
Jackins that make the leaders feel frightened. This is called an "attack", and
it calls for a mindless application of the attack policy. One of the consequences is that
the errant member is threatened with the loss of "the resources of the
community." If anyone wants to stay in RC he must keep silent about certain major
issues. He also runs the risk of being subtly "brainwashed" by this seemingly
open, loving, progressive group.
Because of my experience leading support groups for ex-fundamentalists, I had
mistakenly thought that I knew more about cults than I really did. I could not yet see how
the group to which Charlie Kreiner had introduced me could be a cult. I had attended
several of Charlie's non-RC (i.e., "naturalized" RC") workshops and had not
yet heard of Re-evaluation Counseling or of its "founder and leading
theoretician", Harvey Jackins.
Others in my family had also attended some of Charlie's week-long "naturalized
RC" workshops in Oregon. Charlie and I began an active mail and telephone
communication. He corresponded with my youngest son. I helped arrange several local non-RC
workshops in Kansas City for Charlie; and he stayed at my home when he led them. It had
seemed to me that we had a substantial and authentic relationship.
But when I asked Charlie Kreiner about the "rumors" circulating about Jackins
and about RC's connection to Dianetics, he abruptly disconnected from me. He wrote me a
very distant and formal letter that accused me of being "divisive, destructive,
disruptive and negative." In the letter he celebrated Harvey Jackins for having
"done more for women's liberation" than anyone else had ever done. Kreiner
refused to discuss any aspect of the concerns I had raised.
After receiving his close-to-bizarre letter, I never heard from Charlie Kreiner again.
He did not answer any of my subsequent letters or phone calls. (This was long before he
became ill with hepatic cirrhosis and had a liver transplant.) I was both surprised and
disappointed at his behavior toward me. His actions were similar to the Jehovah's
Witnesses and their "disfellowshipping" of those who asked forbidden questions
about the JW organization.
While there had seemed to be much to admire about Kreiner, this behavior legitimately
calls into question both his discernment and his integrity. I do not know what his current
position regarding RC is, now that he himself has been deposed. Many ex-RCers have a habit
of not really facing up to the implications of the facts. It can be difficult for any of
us to admit that we got involved with a psychotherapy cult.
Charlie's disconnection from me occurred about a year after the two well-attended
official RC workshops I had convened at my home. I had invited a number of my friends and
professional colleagues to these workshops. Several of them shared some of my initial
enthusiasm for RC. You can probably imagine how this well-nigh seventy-year-old
psychiatrist and university clinical professor was a bit chagrined to report how little he
had actually known about RC and to have to tell of his being summarily excommunicated from
the "community" he himself had organized.
The collapse of the nascent Kansas City RC Community notwithstanding, several of us
have continued to participate in a reciprocal talking and listening group that is still
functioning today. Needless to say, we do not regard it as "RC", and we do not
use any of its jargon. You might say we function like a gestalt support group influenced
by the ideas of Carl Jung ("active imagination"), Carl Rogers
("unconditional positive regard") and Dorothy Tennov (reciprocal talking and
listening among peers). But the organized talking/listening activities of the group did
start with our brief involvement in RC.
At the time of the RC workshops I convened at my home, I had not yet appreciated the
rigidity, pomposity and inaccuracies in so much of Harvey Jackins' much-vaunted
theorizing. I had evaluated RC ideas solely on the basis of the fuzzy and sanitized
version of them offered by Charlie Kreiner. I was unaware of the absurd and inflated
claims Jackins was in the habit of making for this simple talking/listening procedure. I
had never heard the claim that RC might enable one "to become physically
immortal", a claim Jackins repeats in his latest book, THE LIST. Charlie had never
mentioned any of this.
As many correspondents on this website already know, Kreiner himself was later relieved
of his years-long position as RC's "International Liberation Reference Person for
Men". Although no one has made any official announcement about it, my suspicion is
that Harvey Jackins and his heir-apparent, Timothy Jackins, were glad to rid themselves of
this articulate, charismatic leader who might well have threatened their dominance of RC.
Charlie Kreiner is a much more appealing and attractive leader than either of these two
domineering and manipulative men.
Before being blacklisted, I had attended a number of RC workshops, including three led
by Jackins himself. I had visited Personal Counselors. Inc. in Seattle. The last RC
workshop I attended was the "INTERNATIONAL WORKSHOP FOR PSYCHIATRISTS, PSYCHOLOGISTS
& PSYCHOTHERAPISTS" led by Jackins in 1990. It was attended by only one other
psychiatrist, a man from Sweden who knew very little about RC and who had been persuaded
to attend the workshop because his expenses were paid by Jackins. I later learned that the
"international" flavor of many Jackins workshops is enhanced by subsidizing
foreign attendees. Not that there is necessarily anything sinister about this, but it does
illustrate how important it is to Jackins for RC to be seen as a cosmopolitan and
"international" movement. (See the European resignation letter on this website
for more examples of how Jackins tries to embellish and inflate his own and RC's image,
often by telling outright lies.)
[Here in a good example of Jackins' tendency to inflate and exaggerate. RC's official
September 1994 membership roster, entitled "GENERALISTS BY NAME" (i.e., RC
members who are not teachers), lists a grand total of 26,151 names and addresses. The list
includes everyone known to have had any connection to RC. Although I had been officially
ex-communicated in January 1991, my name is still listed in the 1994 publication. The
entry is accompanied by the notation "NO LONGER IN RC 93/04/12", a date more
than two years after I had been formally expelled!. A number of names and addresses from
more than a decade ago include notations like "WRONG INFORMATION, 86/06/02". Not
surprisingly, Jackins does not indicate which among the 26,151 names refer to the
thousands of persons he has expelled from RC or who have resigned in protest against his
hypocrisy. Nor does he indicate those whose sole involvement was to attend but a single
meeting of an RC class or "gather in". He does not hesitate to embellish the
numbers in order to make RC appear more significant and influential than the facts
A recent contributor to this discussion speculated that "around 10,000"
persons are currently active in RC. I don't know the true figure, but I suspect it is not
nearly that large. It would mean that over one third of all those who had ever
participated in RC are still active. This is unlikely. Seattle no longer publishes any
numbers, and probably they don't even know for sure.
The Documentary History reprints Jackins' letter from Present Time that he wrote just
after the defection of the entire Francophone group in Europe. It is a splendid example of
his evasive and dissembling style.
Everything he says about "the attacks" is absurdly distorted. I suspect that
he may actually be deluding himself when he talks like this. To persons with little
capacity for discernment, Harvey Jackins' spurious self-confidence might also seem
convincing. But it should not take too much gumption to recognize his hypocrisy and
At the WORKSHOP FOR PSYCHOTHERAPISTS, I was surprised to observe how even the casual
mention of any topic other than RC was immediately and angrily discouraged by Jackins. Any
view of therapy other than RC was firmly discounted, usually with a tone of belittling
contempt. Jackins refused to allow the comparison of RC with ANY other theoretical system.
He was clearly in a praise-seeking mood, and all those who spoke at the meeting were
obliged to give credit to him for anything that was good about their work or their
One cannot fail to notice the effusive "appreciation" true-believing RCers
express for some of the trite statements uttered by Jackins. Some of his trivial
pronouncements are treated as if they were Pearls-of-Great-Wisdom. Much of the nicey-nice
"appreciation" RCers express for each other amounts to little more than treating
each other like naive children who are not expected to be capable of appropriate
self-criticism or matter-of-factness about themselves or others. This kind of empty
patronizing encourages a rank and profoundly debilitating narcissism. Hypocrisy becomes
the order of the day.
Several of us who attended the Jackins psychotherapists workshop talked together and
agreed that this was a kind of "professional" meeting such as we had never
attended before. I became increasingly puzzled that such a limited, self-centered and
pretentious man could retain the loyalty of rational persons.
The explanation for this seeming appearance of loyalty is probably as follows: Jackins
has in fact lost the loyalty of the great majority of those with whom he has come into
contact. Over the years, far more persons have quit RC in disgust or have been expelled by
him than there have ever been active long-term members. The RC organizational process
selects out those susceptible persons who have the required peculiarities and
vulnerabilities that allow them to remain loyal to a corrupt leader like Jackins. Nearly
all well-informed and truly rational persons either leave or get themselves kicked out.
Although at the therapists workshop I had not yet heard the "rumors" about
Jackins' customary sexual use of the women he "counsels", I was increasingly
uncomfortable with what I saw there. Neither had I yet recognized how clearly the RC
organization qualified to be called a "psychotherapy cult" [This term is used in
the sense of the definitive article entitled "Psychotherapy Cults: An Iatrogenic
Perversion" from the American Psychological Association's journal PSYCHOTHERAPY, Vol.
19, No. 2. The reader should see also the long article on this website by Tourish and
Irving of the University of Ulster (U.K.) that deals with the topic of "cultism in
RC". Those who keep quibbling about calling RC a cult should read this material
before belaboring us further with their opinions.]
At the end of his "psychotherapists" workshop, Jackins ceremoniously
announced who was to be the next "International Liberation Reference Person for
Therapists." I had not known that there even was such a position. When Jackins
announced that the job would remain in the hands of Jane Bunker (who herself had
apparently not yet been told of his decision), several of us were surprised at how oddly
she behaved. She squealed with joy, clapped her hands, jumped up and down and ran to
Jackins and gave him a big hug and kiss. Her behavior was so fawning that many of us
looked at each other with shared and embarrassed amazement. A number of the other women
participants, however, seemed highly pleased with this great news and clapped their hands
in excited approval.
It was clear that Jackins had many well-selected, loyal female supporters at his
workshop. Similar claques are observed at many RC events. Some commentators on LRC (see
the Vermont material) have expressed the opinion that Jackins appoints to leadership only
women who have been intimate with him. Over the years, RC has more and more come to
operate like an incest family where it is forbidden ever to mention the perpetrator's
THE AFTERMATH OF MY EXPULSION FROM RC
Either as a consequence of finding my name on the letterhead in the Documentary History
or upon having been referred by the Study Group on Psychotherapy Cults, persons from all
over the world soon began to contact me with their own individual concerns about RC.
I soon became an involuntary and non-soliciting consultant sought by those who were
upset by what they were learning about RC. Other than having a slight lingering chagrin
about my own initial excessive and undiscerning enthusiasm, neither I nor any of my
friends in Kansas City had suffered any specific harm from our brief exposure to RC.
However, from the literally scores of persons (almost a hundred) who have called or
written to me during the last seven years, I have learned that many persons have indeed
been harmed by RC. Some became disillusioned after only a short time, others left after
many years when they finally learned the truth Jackins tries to conceal. A few of those
who felt harmed were women who had gotten involved in sexual liaisons that they later
regretted. Some of these RC-sex affairs had led to divorce or had other harmful life
A few of those who sought me out were psychologically more-or-less seriously disturbed
persons who had mistakenly thought that RC might be a short-cut to therapy for them.
Others who called me were "just mad" at the hypocrisy, lying, deception and
abuse they had encountered. From my own experience in RC, I found it easy to empathize
with this latter group.
For documentation of a number of specific instances of sexual abuse, see the following
material on this website: "STATEMENT BY FORMER RC LEADER", Lawsuit filed by
Deborah Curren", Letter from Pat Pearson", "Letter from Michael
Sweringen", and the Vermont researches. Several of these reports describe "first
hand" experiences; others report "second hand" experiences that have a
reliable consistency. The documentary history provides many more examples.
For more that a half decade now, I have been fielding questions from many persons who
continue to seek me out. I have provided information, offered support, and made
appropriate referrals when necessary. I have also met a number of other former RCers who
are similarly active in providing information and support to those who consult them. Like
me, some of them have spent a great deal of time counseling RC "survivors".
There is by now a large group of persons who at one time or another, and to one degree
or another, have been troubled to learn how corrupt the RC organization and its leaders
are. This website is the first easily available source of up-to-date information for the
growing number of persons who seek accurate information about Jackins and RC. Many of them
wish to share their concerns and to learn about the experiences of others. It is a relief
for many of us to have this web site to which we may now refer those who consult us. The
increasing number of "hits" on LIBERATE RC! (now well over 5000) reveals the
burgeoning interest in learning the suppressed truth about Harvey Jackins and his claque.
BURN-OUT IS A RISK
From the foregoing remarks, you might correctly conclude that one could get burned-out
from listening to all this anguished talking about RC. I submit that this kind of
"burnout" accounts for my more cantankerous contributions to this list. But
dammit, I get sick and tired of the lame, uninformed, inflated, self-righteous and
pathetically hopeful remarks made by those who refuse to accept the facts about RC. And I
must add that it is troubling to think that Harvey Jackins and his fellow perpetrators
might escape from being effectively confronted and continue with their abusive actions. By
persuading uninformed or compromised believers to stick up for them, they simply stonewall
until the "attackers" give up and go away. I believe that the entire RC
organization deserves to be held accountable for the actions of its top leaders, and I
strongly disagree with those who hold otherwise. Apologizing for RC amounts to complicity
with its deceptive cover-up of the truth and contributes to the misleading of many people.
Probably some of Jackins' apologists are persons who have gotten so deeply involved in
the group that their entire world would collapse without RC. Some of them experienced the
thrill of "leadership" for the first time in RC. But most only think they are
"leading". [Words referring to leadership are put in quotes to emphasize that
"leadership" in RC has nothing to do with authentic leadership in the world.]
Instead, they get hooked on the patronizing praise lavished upon them if they follow the
"policies". This kind of dependency on a cult-like organization has nearly
crippled some of RC's leaders for living in "the wide world". The same thing
happens in the Jehovah's Witnesses and to members of other abusive groups.
In a manner similar to the televangelists and perhaps a few Scientology executives too,
some of RC's apologists make money from teaching and leading workshops under Jackins'
aegis. Others enjoy a lot of ego-inflation from being RC "leaders". Many
confused persons have persuaded themselves to overlook the flagrantly repeated abuses
perpetrated against women who give varying degrees of consent to what happens to them in
"counseling" sessions with Jackins and other RC leaders. And probably there are
some in RC who simply welcome the company of women who will have sex with their
counselors. It is sad to see anyone try to explain or excuse this exploitative situation
merely by saying "everyone has a lot of distress around sex". Saying this has
become a kind of a paranoid mantra used by true-believers to ward off any thoughtful
reflection on the sordid facts.
A number of badly-informed persons endlessly repeat Jackins' inflated dogmas about how
good RC is for everyone and for the world. It is irritating to keep hearing these
commonly-known and widely-used psychotherapy methods referred to as if they were unique to
RC because they are cloaked in Jackins-jargon. It is also sad to hear these useful methods
touted as if they are all one needs to resolve the world's problems. This kind of inflated
ignorance and gullibility reveals how pathetically compromised and bankrupt the whole
"RC Community" and its mindset have become.
Community members are encouraged to believe that the messianic Jackins has found the
only valid way to save the world and that nobody else truly understands the nature of
human beings or even of reality itself. Maybe it is the simplistic and shallow nature of
his doctrines that appeals to those who are unable to face the reality of human
The word "messianic" is fully appropriate to describe Jackins' doctrines
since he has actually suggested that "complete re-emergence" can lead to
"physical immortality". While some don't like the term "cult", the
word is, nevertheless, commonly used to refer to a number of other groups that promise to
outwit death (viz. the recent Heaven's Gate group). In the opinion of many of us, this
claim regarding immortality alone warrants calling RC a psychotherapy cult.
Some correspondents on this list seem only to fuss about the term "cult" in
their pointless postings. Apparently they do so in order to escape having to confront
anything relevant about the actual situation in RC.
Lest the reader think the notion of living forever is not a tenet of RC, let him
consult Jackins' latest 1997 book, THE LIST. Its 272 pages are, just like the Bible,
organized into numbered chapters and verses. It is breathlessly and grandly described as
"a summary of everything known about the theory and practice of Re-evaluation
Counseling up to the present." It refers in all seriousness to "the attainment
of immortality." The book is available for $50 from Rational Island Publishers in
For all of the forgoing reasons, when I read on this RC discussion list that somebody
or other is offended by vigorous and less-than-friendly confrontation, or by the word
"cult", or by expressed anger & outrage, or who is "scared
shitless" (as one writer actually wrote) by the tone of the discussion, then I feel
like saying: "Oh Shit! Come off it!". Climb down from RC's lofty position of
superiority and feigned goodness. Just discuss frankly the issues raised. Isn't that the
purpose of this list?"
It has seemed to me that some of those who claim to be offended by the tone of a
critical discussion are like the satisfied Germans during the Third Reich who disapproved
of any criticism of Hitler. They refused to listen to or learn anything bad about him.
Evidently they found his policies and tactics close enough to their own views that they
continued to support him, even as the rest of the "wide world" was learning the
truth about him. Maybe they, too, wanted to spare the leader and his followers the
"painful re-stimulation of being confronted with their own material
out-of-session". (Sadly, a lot of RCers really do talk like this!)
I still find it worthwhile to stay in touch with those who are interested in a serious,
honest and robust discussion of this interesting phenomenon. I used to be in contact with
members of the Study Group on Psychotherapy Cults, and I have seen much of the group's
accumulated documentary material about Jackins and RC. Much of it consists of letters and
reports about the activities of the top leaders. The material assembled by the Study Group
contains many compromising letters to and from Harvey Jackins, letters that he no doubt
wishes had never been preserved. He is understandably unhappy when they come back to haunt
him. Regrettably, many of these letters were not included in the Study Group's excellent
Apparently the Study Group has now largely disbanded. It is easy to see why its members
could get tired of the enduring hypocrisy shown by Jackins and his supporters. Like Jane
(a former subscriber to this list) said in her last post when she quit "I'm washing
my hands of the IRCC's problems. I'm tired of thinking about them." Yet, the purpose
of this list is the discussion of these very problems.
Some of the Study Group's erstwhile members have no doubt found this Website and are
lurking out there now. It would be good to hear from them. Some of them may have
additional documentary material or other information that no one else has seen yet. I hope
those who have such information will make it available here.
Because of the nature of the abuse sustained by some RC participants, it is easy to
understand why they might be reluctant or even fearful to reveal their personal
experiences. Occasionally RCers have been very nasty in their treatment of so-called
"attackers". (See comments in the Hurwitz/Dickens investigation on LRC under
"ARTICLES".) The anonymity and pseudonymousness of this list provide some
protection. While it could also make mendacious hit-and-run tactics possible. I have never
seen any grossly irresponsible postings by RC's critics.
LET RC's DEFENDERS RESPOND TO THE REAL ISSUES
Some (but not all) of the correspondents on this list refuse to address the
uncomfortable facts about Jackins and RC, and they appear to minimize the significance of
the information about his abuses and his hypocrisy. They try to explain the situation by
grandly proclaiming "Harvey is only human and therefore has some patterns, too. He
does not deserve to be attacked for them." According to this standard, no liar,
hypocrite or abuser could ever be confronted about the mischief he does.
It is easy to recognize these apologists by their evasiveness and their tendency to
discount those who demand relevant answers. They have a tone of sanctimonious piety that
exceeds even my own. Such persons usually begin with praise for one or another aspect of
RC. They talk about how much it has helped them. They usually embroider their remarks with
jargon terms such as "re-stimulation", "patterns",
"dramatizing", "clienting", "having enough slack", and
"talking about somebody's material out of session". They counterattack by
focusing on the style of pointed criticisms and thereby evade their content. They never
explain how RC's leaders could still practice such hypocrisy, other than to say
"Nobody's perfect; leaders have their patterns too". For some easily-satisfied
persons, this all-excusing formula is all that needs to be said.
A recent contributor like a good many other RCers, full of dogmatic and jargon-laced
advice for everybody else wrote: "There is so much about RC that is valuable and
wise." I believe there is a crucial problem with the writer's words "about
RC". The writers of sweeping and empty statements like this are usually persons who
have gotten excited about the few useful techniques they have been introduced to. Since RC
was their only exposure to these widely used techniques, they have bought Harvey Jackins'
flatus that these commonly held ideas are unique to RC and originated with him. They
become RC's "true believers".
Such misguided persons believe that the benefits of these psychological techniques are
available only in RC. The truth is that the Jackinses have perverted them in the service
of their own unhealed addictions to sex and power. But HJ & Co. must be given credit
for being successful in convincing gullible persons to stick up for them.
Like L. Ron Hubbard, Harvey Jackins and his followers make a lot of outrageous and
stupid remarks on issues they know nothing about. They pontificate about philosophy,
politics, psychology and psychiatry. They denigrate all non-RC approaches to healing or to
anything else. They are particularly hard on traditional mental health approaches, and
even then, mostly for the wrong reasons.
RC has a special support group with its own "journal" for "MENTAL HEALTH
SYSTEM SURVIVORS (MHSS)". The journal contains little but paranoid ranting. The MHSS
group totally ignores the large constituency of persons who have been deceived and injured
by RC itself. Those who speak up about what has happened to them in RC are dismissively
relegated to the category of "re-stimulated attackers". Joan Karp, an RC
workshop leader referred to in earlier postings on this list, is a frequent spokeswoman
for this MHSS group. Karp often joins forces with those who speak like Scientologists.
A group of letters written by a former RC Area Reference Person from Somerville,
Massachusetts, Jassy Kowalski, is included in the Final Supplement (October 1997) to the
Documentary History. In Kowalski's resignation letter to her RRP, Joan Karp, and to those
RCers she formerly led, Kowalski describes the reasons for her resignation. She is one of
many former RCers to resign in disgust. One sees no discussion of these events in Present
Psychological "catharsis" (meaning to cleanse or purify as with a cathartic
for a blocked-up colon) has long been understood as sometimes (and ONLY sometimes)
healing. The ancient Greeks and Sigmund Freud used it. Today, the practitioners of gestalt
therapy and psychodrama continue to explore and exploit its therapeutic potential. There
is a large and sophisticated professional literature on the topic. Harvey Jackins'
"hydraulic" view of catharsis ("discharge of dammed-up distress") is
only a pale shadow of the real thing.
I suggest that there is nothing good "about RC" that is not also broadly
known and practiced in the "wide world". Those who don't know anything about
psychotherapy and the rich variety of techniques currently practiced are the ones most
likely to be taken in by HJ. They are also often the ones who scream the loudest about
"the abuses perpetrated by THE MENTAL HEALTH SYSTEM". (There are, of course,
some abuses in this "system". But, unlike the situation in RC, the ethical
mental health system is very often successful in exposing and eliminating the kinds of
abuses rampant in RC.). RC's eccentric Mental-Health-System-survivors turn a blind eye to
survivors of the flagrant abuse perpetrated right under their noses in RC.
Interested persons would profit from reading the book "Sexual Exploitation on
Professional Relationships" by Glen O. Gabbard, MD, published by American Psychiatric
Press, Inc., 1989. Gabbard discusses the extreme damage done to the sexually exploited
client and how both client and counselor may deny this to themselves. The
"lovesick" therapist is illustrated in thoughtful detail as an emotionally
dependent man, plagued by middle-age woes. Readers of Gabbard's book will find an accurate
and sophisticated psychological picture of men like the Jackinses.
The "Open Letter To The RC Communities" written by Jackins' personal
secretary Katie Kauffman, is a pathetic example of the type of denial referred to by Dr.
Gabbard. Her letter appeared in Present Time No. 41, October, 1981. It is one of the many
original RC documents assembled in the Documentary History.
A recent posting here is relevant to Gabbard's book. An Anonymous Contributor wrote:
"I've been to several of Harvey's workshops. Probably 3 / 4 or more of the Caucasians
he has used in demos were young women who would be considered attractive by society's
standards of beauty. He carried on an ongoing conversation with the women and three of
them were eventually given reference person positions. He bullied and humiliated most of
the Caucasian men who attempted to get his attention (not me - I had an instant intuitive
distrust of him and tried to avoid him). He had a completely different manner when talking
with women. He was curt and sometimes sarcastic with men." Many others, including
myself, have made similar observations.
There is nothing good "about RC" that is unique to it, but there is a lot
about RC that is really bad. RC's "policies" are geared toward protecting errant
leaders, like the Jackinses and others, from having to take responsibility for their
actions. There is nothing unique "about RC" that ought to be preserved.
There are good reasons to argue that the RC name, along with all of RC's top leaders,
and most of its "policies" are best gotten rid of entirely. Merely to gratify
the nostalgia of misinformed enthusiasts is a poor reason to perpetuate a deceptive and
hypocritical group. It would be better to start over again, with a clean slate and a
In spite of all the reliable information available on this web site and elsewhere,
there will always be some who accept Jackins' evasions and his paranoid explanations
(e.g., about involvement of the FBI, the CIA, etc.). Such persons refuse to acknowledge
the complexity of life, and they sadly cling to their leader's grandiose and simplistic ó
but reassuring ó pronouncements that "discharge" brings
"re-emergence". We see this same phenomenon in other cult-like groups.
Simplistic answers to complex human problems are deeply appealing, even when they fail as
dismally as they have failed for Jackins himself. (The ".ex-cult Archive" web
page is recommended as a source of information about other groups with characteristics
similar to RC's, but those who wear RC's blinders are unable to recognize the many
I assert categorically that I am not and have never been an agent of the FBI. the CIA,
or a "repressive Government Agency" of any kind. I doubt that any members of the
Study Group on Psychotherapy Cults are connected with "Government agencies"
either. I know at first hand that the so-called "Kansas City people" (another
term used by the same defensive RRP referred to earlier) are not government-affiliated
Jackins has been able to convince a few conspiracy-theory fans that he is being
persecuted by "U S Government Agencies". The reason he gives for the
government's enmity is that RC is such a revolutionary and overwhelmingly successful
enterprise (remember, it can solve the world's problems and lead to immortality!) that the
very Government itself is threatened by RC's power and magnificence. Consequently, the
government's leaders are envious and frightened of him and of RC. I suspect that Harvey
Jackins may even believe this preposterous fable himself. His capacity for self-deception
is matched only by his followers gullibility and their eccentric mindset.
Many persons will no doubt continue to report nothing but wonderful experiences from
their RC involvement. But such satisfaction is far from universal. Although RC's defenders
resent having to hear it, many persons say that continued support for the organization is
contrary to RC's own stated principles. The pitiable and uninformed (but much-encouraged
by Jackins) belief in the uniqueness and marvelousness of RC keeps the fires of loyalty
burning brightly in the minds of dim thinkers.
Any person who is involved or considers getting involved in RC deserves to know the
truth about the organization. Those who know the facts and who are still committed to RC
have no right to prevent others from finding out the truth. It is merely manipulative to
define these facts as "an organized illegitimate attack" (an RRP's actual words
in a letter to one of her flock who had begun to ask questions).
It is interesting to read on this Liberate RC! website about experiences that one could
never learn about from official RC sources where one finds only puffed up testimonials to
Harvey Jackins. While LRC provides a hypertext link to the IRCC's official Seattle
Internet site, Jackins provides no links to anywhere else. His is one of the few pages on
the World Wide Web that offers no links to any other site. This fact alone says something
significant about him and about his attitudes. Those who refuse to see it are deluding