The rise of religious fundamentalism springing from traditional religions is increasingly reflected in neglect of medical treatment, although this is not general in monotheistic religions. In Protestant fundamentalism as in Islamic fundamentalism the trend is generally not to do away with medical care, but science is often discredited or perverted to endorse beliefs, as can be seen in creationism, geocentrism and more recently “planism” (belief that the earth is flat). The Bible and the Koran provide the literal foundation for all these beliefs and the (over-) zealous faithful carry out a re-reading intended to ensure the concordance of religious dogmas with scientific data.
In this field, for historical and legal reasons, the United States is the bastion of Protestant fundamentalism. Indeed, sectarian extremism linked to mistrust towards human-centred thinking, and thus medicine, which is an expression of it, and faith in divine healing instead, has recently been noted to have caused child deaths in the United States 1
Protestant fundamentalists, better known as evangelicals, many of whom rely on divine healing and challenge scientific cosmology, have gained considerable ground in South America and Sub-Saharan Africa to the point of sometimes unseating the Catholic Church.
Radical Islam is not left behind with popularisers such as Maurice Bucaille, author of “The Koran, Science and the Bible”, or Harun El Yahya, a Turkish multi- millionaire who distributes luxurious brochures throughout the Western world to demonstrate the emptiness of the theory of evolution compared to Islamic creationism. In this movement of regression to magical thinking, medicine is also in competition with the healing practices of the recitation of verses from the Koran (La Roqia) and by the medicine recommended by the Prophet, although some of his medical recommendations seem somewhat unreliable, such as some from the Sunna “Contagion does not exist”, “Concerning the infection of a beverage by a fly, the right wing contains the disease, the left wing the remedy” or “Camel urine, health treatment”.
This last treatment has also been taken up in the West by the followers of the Amaroli method, i.e. urinotherapy. The therapy consists of drinking one’s own urine every day to prevent diseases.
These followers belong to the New Age movement which has a strong tendency to assimilate and recycle all ancient beliefs by giving them the lustre of modernity thanks to some well-chosen vocabulary.
New Age and its pseudo-scientific beliefs, a contemporary version of sects.
This is a phenomenon that mainly affects Western or Westernised countries. Other countries that still operate traditional societies, where religion and local customs are imposed on all, are little affected.
The New Age movement is not an organized group, but more of a nebula, an ideological backdrop whose beliefs are the source material for many current sects. However, not all these groups are sects in the harmful sense in which we understand them, but almost all have the potential for sectarian deviation. It all depends on the intensity of commitment and the level of aberration in their practices, which differ from one group to another.
New Age is a syncretism of beliefs more or less directly inspired by the Theosophical Society founded by HP Blavatsky a century ago, recycled for adaptation to the Western market in the Sixties in California, and which often allows leaders of this spiritualist movement to conduct a very lucrative and expensive business (internships, seminars, courses, professional training, books, DVDs, therapeutic or other services, initiatory trips…).
The spiritual vocabulary of the New Age movement most often expresses beliefs through deceptive pseudo-scientific or pseudo-psychological styles or terms, which causes a lot of confusion in the minds of the users whose trust has been won over by the style. The terms popular with New Age movements like “vibration, energy, fluid, harmonisation, aura, karma, chakras, meditation, holistic, quantum, letting go, consciousness, paradigm… ” are widely used in the women’s press.
Their customers are often being preached to while they imagine themselves simply to be taking part in a process or a “technique” of well-being, either psychological or therapeutic. New Age also makes it possible to have several affiliations, several gurus, or leaders, sometimes called “life coaches”, with the emergence of a fashion for neo-shamanism and its corollary: hallucinogenic drugs prohibited in certain countries (Ayahuasca, iboga). We have even met non-believers or atheists who had become partial or semi converts to Hinduism unknowingly, and they only discovered it when the pseudo-scientific jargon of the sect was translated into ordinary language.
This type of group is frequented by a number clients/patients/adepts their status depending on the type of service offered, who may have several affiliations (in particular to Far Eastern religions or quasi-religions or even sects). This means always being vigilant when participating in training activities, personal development, yoga, meditation, or “energy, holistic, quantum” therapies from these kinds of movements. The nicest people, because they are appealing, are often followers of sects who take advantage of this “breeding ground” of training to recruit and sometimes this is even done without the knowledge of course organisers.
The typical target of the New Age operator is a person who may be quite cultured, dependent or disillusioned, even depressed following professional burn out, divorce or bereavement, who comes to find benefits that their difficult life or suffering cannot offer.
New Age adepts are often attracted to alternative, holistic, global, spiritualist, alternative medicines which are no less deadly for it sometimes or which do not have scientific validation and which are used by people who do not, most of the time, have real medical skills. Some are also real dogmatic fanatics.
This results, in some unfortunately frequent cases, in real risk to health2, for example the refusals to vaccinate with recent worrying consequences, pushed by lobbies willing to pay fake news peddlars 3, and opportunities for psychological manipulation in pseudo psychotherapeutic or spiritual care.
The New Age movements privilege magical thinking and are broadly inspired by Hinduism and Buddhism with a pinch of pagan religions and occultism, the whole packaged in westernised vocabulary and, more recently, modernised in such a way that beliefs are confused with science. New Age marketing tries to gain credibility by citing numerous diplomas and sometimes university degrees with varying degrees of recognition depending on the country, or none at all, or unrelated to the proposed activity. This credibility takes its rationales from out of context science, pseudo-sciences, metaphysics or non-verifiable concepts.
The New Age surfs across the surface of the questions the scientific community has asked itself over the last few years concerning the nature of the world, the perfect subject matter to assert spiritual truths which are to say the least, cobbled together. So the very popular word “quantum” could be better translated as “spiritual” in the New Age context, which leads to confusion with the scientific meaning of the term.
Similarly for the words “energy, energetic” which are linked to the famous “chakras”, which evoke a monistic spiritual concept (everything is God), which would in our culture best correspond to the “soul”, or the universal soul referring to the Brahma in Hinduism, a homonym which has nothing to do with the energy which physicists work on.
Some New Age therapists have caused the deaths of ill patients by encouraging them to delay or abstain from real medical care 8. These groups are often suspicious of and even frequently opposed to medicine, reason and science, which they generally denigrate in favour of intuition and feeling.
Why is that?
The highest dogma of the New Age movement is unity, i.e. pantheism. The Whole is encompassed within each part. As a result, each one of us carries within us the Whole, the cosmos. It is thus enough to draw from within oneself, to use introspection to reach the absolute, the All. This is the principle of the microcosm and the macrocosm. Even the most tiny element of reality is linked to the whole world, which explains all these “woolly” therapies, laughter, sounds, colours, tapping, rituals, which are supposedly able to act on matter, as the psyche is one with the “Spirit”, the cosmos. This is the ancient magical principle where action on a symbol would be effective on reality. By acting on my microcosm I can enter into connection with the cosmos as a whole and obtain its healing power. I can control the cosmos. I am God because everything is God, there is no separation or differentiation, individuality and ego no longer exist. In this respect New Age is the great enemy of Descartes4 in that it privileges feeling and intuition over reason, investigation or objective study.
This approach to man and the world thus tends towards the disappearance of the ego and the distinction of the self from the surrounding world and has the unfortunate tendency to lead its followers to “let go”. If this idealistic approach may have benefits in certain very specific cases, it has cost many followers very dear, when they were too confident in the fact that the whole universe was aligned to their well being, since they believed they were one with it. It is enough to consult the abundant literature of former followers testifying to their setbacks to convince oneself that this is only a belief.
The New Age adept’s view of the surrounding world is to understand it as an illusion similar to the “Maya” of Hinduism from which one must awaken and become conscious. For this type of adept, salvation comes from the immanent knowledge of this other holistic reality. As a result, the world is demonised because it carries the illusion of material reality, the basis of the work of all classical scientists of course.
So, for New Agers, Descartes’ “dualistic error”, perpetuated by the contemporary scientific community, will be felt at all levels of power: political, medical, educational, etc. Hence a total and sometimes totalitarian concept.
For example, the majority of them imagine that a medico-pharmaceutical plot is at the root of a widespread institutional health scam, at the very least.
We have observed many times that alternative therapists legally cover themselves on their website with wording along the lines of “This procedure should not replace a medical consultation” in total opposition to the anti-medical discourse on the actual website (AIDS denial, chemotherapy kills, etc.)
Confirming our fears, a recent study shows that people with cancer who use alternative medicines decrease their chance of survival.
The holistic and pantheistic approach favouring the eliding of categories greatly facilitates the shift from “technical” care or “well being” practices towards the spiritual since knowledge is confused with spiritual beliefs, as knowledge in New Age thinking is closer to gnosis (infused or immanent science) than to classical science. Thus many followers of Hindu or international Buddhist sects use all these human potential development techniques and alternative therapies as bait for their clients/patients to become followers. In this confusion of genres, this bait and switch is easy to carry out.
One of the precursors of this style is the Church of Scientology, which presents itself as “technological Buddhism”.
Almost all modern New Age organisations are based on the same principles of recruitment, content and structuring, as those of the Church of Scientology. However, if the holistic background to these groups is the same, there are differences in the dosage. It takes about €150,000 to reach the OT3 level in Scientology, while one can become a reiki master after a few weekends and €2000 to €3000.
The usual process of engagement or indoctrination usually takes place in 3 phases:
1-I consult a holistic therapist because I have a health problem and I am suspicious or afraid of mainstream medicine or I am looking for a remedy to take alongside this medicine. I am satisfied with the therapist because he listened to me at length, he seemed to understand everything that was happening to me and he offered me non-violent alternatives. He referred me to many success stories about his method on his website. He confirmed my doubts about mainstream medicine and discouraged me from letting it and the pharmaceutical lobby take me for a ride.
2-Drawn in after several consultations which did not really cure me, but which gave me back a lot of courage and hope, I decide to take a course suggested by my therapist in order to work on myself. It is a very expensive and (sometimes) very long training process, but I am enthusiastic and eager to please my teacher, I am ready to sacrifice all the time and money which also seems a condition of the progress of my own healing. In fact, teaching is close to indoctrination, as explained above, dilution of the ego, letting go, conspiracy, etc. The issue of ego means I can no longer stand my wife who is still in thrall to the dualistic, materialistic spirit of our society, she needs awakening, to enter the consciousness of cosmic reality, but she is incapable of achieving this, I will have to separate from her, as she is holding back my evolution. I will ensure that I take my children out of the completely obsolete public education system and get them into an alternative school or homeschool them. It’s noteworthy that many so-called “alternative” schools are in the hands of or inspired by sectarian movements.
3- After being a practitioner of this school of alternative medicine, I will create my own method amalgamating all that I have learned and collected in the many conferences, New Age therapeutic practices and spiritual circles, meditations, shamans and gurus that I have visited. It is much more lucrative to offer training than to offer therapy because the market is saturated with therapists, and it is difficult to build a loyal clientele, competition is fierce. First, I will write a book to describe my method and what makes it different from other holistic care techniques.
Many of these New Age users only take up the first phase and are only consumers, and a large proportion of them also undergo training. The 3rd phase is intended for the smartest who want to transition from being consumers to being providers.
Over 30 years of observation, we can affirm that this three-phase process has accelerated in recent years and is contributing to the exponential development of the New Age movement.
Not all these groups are sects, at least we cannot claim that due to lack of proof, as there are so many of them and they are made up of many little groups, but taking the general profile described above into account it is necessary to remain very vigilant if one is tempted to get involved with them. We have observed numerous cases of radical and sudden personality changes, of very egocentric withdrawal into oneself following New Age-type training courses which lead to or encourage divorce, indoctrination, abandoning children’s education and sometimes recklessly giving up a paid job to engage, without medical training, in therapeutic activities in an “alternative” health market already saturated with charlatans.
Among the many problems inherent in the New Age philosophy is the position of children within this movement. It is often central because the child is considered as a key element by certain movements or currents of thought. Despite the different labels used to describe these children, there is only one central reality: they are young children who are failing at school because of an education system that is not always able to manage their differences, hyperactive children who also have adjustment difficulties, or children with a disability (autism, for example). In the New Age movement they are known as Indigo or Crystal Children 9 who are divine children who come to transition us into the new age which has been so often heralded. Of course we will have to put ourselves into the hands of gurus to manage the education of these children in the best way. And there’s the rub. What a fantastic way of manipulating someone, reinforced by blackmail about the survival of these children, faced with the risk of suicide because they are so little understood in their environment.
Illustration of our viewpoint with some examples of cases* recently handled by the GEMPPI, just some of the everyday occurrences of sects.
a- My ex-wife was already dabbling in the art of fortunetelling when I met her and she thought she had a gift (tarots, runes…). We were married for 18 years.
Before our son was born, we went to a birth centre where the midwife gave us haptonomy classes (accompaniment and communication with the unborn child). My wife chose a doctor for our son who only prescribed homeopathy and avoided vaccination as much as possible (which is why she refused a pro-vaccine pediatrician). Our child had difficulty sleeping, so his mother took him to an energy therapist (crystals – vibrations – chakras) who was supposed to rebalance everything in our son – and me too (because I had anger in me – certainly unprocessed grief according to her).
Then she brought a geobiologist to our house to solve a problem I couldn’t even understand the nature of. She felt bad vibrations in our son’s room. Maybe that’s why he wasn’t sleeping? The geobiologist got out his candles, incense, a pendulum and a tryskel (one of those things the Bretons are fond of). He drove entities out of the apartment, by means of prayers to angels and various purification rites. I found myself on the kitchen table for an energy cleansing and a farewell ceremony for a dead friend who was blocked because apparently I hadn’t accepted his death.
It was in this highly mystical and New Age period that my wife became very distant with me, I did not exist any more because in my desire to save our family, I did everything to retrieve it… I felt guilty and thought it must have been my fault. My mental state was such that I spent 3 months in a mental hospital. Then she came back and started up again with the business of energeticians and all sorts of other therapeutic charlatans. We continued our marriage and at the age of 10 our son began to have problems at school. He had to see a school psychologist who assessed his IQ at 128, which does not make him gifted – just a little above average. Then my ex-wife tells me he has high potential. I didn’t know the real diagnosis until after the separation – when I could make appointments for my son I was able to talk to the shrink. In her opinion, our son could have been prescribed medication because she felt he was very agitated – possibly hyperactive? TDA? TOC? I didn’t know anything about that. Before she left me in 2015 because she had moved to another higher plane, books on indigo children were “taking root” on my ex-wife’s bedside table.
On the advice of a friend, she brought in another geobiologist who was said to be a miracle worker.
The gentleman in question arrived and we explained the problem to him, especially the obsessive disorders which were tormenting our son. He’d fix the problem, that’s for sure. He writes down our dates of birth, takes out his pendulum, asks us a few questions, holds our hands… takes some stones out of his pocket (some, very rare ones, come from a planet far far away..) Then, he starts to talk, and that’s when my blood freezes.
He feels very high vibration levels in my ex-wife and son, but nothing at all in me.
He tells them that they are among the “chosen few”, a very few, but they are there to bring about a new era, a cosmic paradigm shift.
He wants to see my ex-wife again, alone this time, because he can teach her and explain everything she needs to know.
Short separation, divorce and shared custody. I know she’s still into those things – buying pendulums – tryskel (for my son as well) – and stones supposed be healing… etc.. (2018)
b-A lady contacts us about her daughter who has changed personality and mood since she has been seeing a group of followers of Mother Amma. She became aggressive and depressed like someone bipolar (she went from love to hate in an instant). She has given up her job and lives with her mother whom she now despises because she does not understand her “conscious” approach. (2018)
c-This gentleman is worried because his wife has been taking Acess Bars conscienciousness classes for a year, and his marriage is going from bad to worse, because she has reached the humanoid level while he is still only a human, which is leading her to divorce him. They have 3 young children. (2018)
d- A gentleman would like to file a complaint for abuse of power, because his wife has embarked on reiki, lithotherapy, angelology. She started on this path a year ago, after a burnout, she said she was bullied at work. She went on sick leave for depression. She is unrecognisable as she has changed so much and life has become impossible for her with her husband. Their divorce is underway. They have 3 young children for whom the question of custody therefore arises which the father would like to restrict because of the risk of indoctrination and neglect of medical care. (2018)
e-Hello my name is Valerie and I would like to be helped by a shaman because I have many problems that I would like to solve in my life both physically and psychically. I would also like to be protected from all negative influences and bad luck and have more money. That’s it, if you can help me please. (2018)
f- A woman worries about a friend whose daughter is schizophrenic and is tempted by the treatments proposed by the Sukyo Mahikari movement. (2018)
g-A mother contacts the GEMPPI because her adult daughter, who has a brain tumour, has given up her medicine and the proper treatment in favour of holistic therapies of all kinds. Her condition is worsening, and the size of the tumour increasing. (2018)
h-A lady who has suffered with depression for 2 years went to see a kinesiologist to get better. This kinesiologist spoke to her about her angels and moreover, she made her problem worse by psychologically manipulating her to instill a false memory in her (FMS) leading her to believe that she had been sexually abused in her childhood by her father. She now feels possessed, inhabited by someone. The kinesiologist also encouraged her to reject her family. She’s still under the care of a psychiatrist at present. (2018)
i-An association working to help palliative care for people at the end of life contacts us because it had invited in a doctor who set out to them all the benefits for people at the end of life of Heartfulness (heart meditation) a practice emanating from the SRCM, Sri Ram Chandra Mission. He wondered whether it was appropriate to have invited a speaker representing an association that was in a parliamentary report on sects. (2018
j-A gentleman is very concerned about the fact that his wife is affiliated with New Age groups offering fasting and hiking, energy trails, etc. Having checked on the internet the official site of the alternative clinic which proposes all these things, he found that this establishment says it also works with mainstream medicine for disease screening, before moving on to alternative medicines in a process which culminates in a spiritual level… (2018)
k- A doctor from Paris contacts us about a colleague with curious activities and a worrying New Age profile. The non-serious aspects of the methods he uses attracted attention, notably ELNEPH which “is part of these few extraordinary precious tools of light… which are part of a vast plan to help the awakening of consciousness, developed by beings of a higher dimension called guides of light…” (sic) and was a follower of an American movement whose “team of Elneph guides … discovered a Channel (a medium) in America, a channel necessary for the transmission of this information…”. Proposals which were in fact not in the slightest bit medical and totally imbued with the New Age spirit of magical thinking and profit making. Of course, and especially in France, the site covers itself by saying “The messenger of peace or ELNEPH therapist does not diagnose and is not a replacement for seeing a doctor. People in the care of a health professional are advised to continue their treatment and/or medical follow-up”(2018)
l-Hello, I have a positive rheumatoid arthritis factor and Hashimoto thyroiditis, a positive immunity level which could be the cause of these problems. This led me to consult a doctor recommended by a radiologist during the examinations. I found myself seeing a doctor whose hobby horse is apparently sexual violence. This doctor asked me to see two people:
– an osteopath certified in spinal and Niromathé peripheral reflexology and reiki practitioner. I did two sessions. We were made welcome, he “listened to the body” and it was something to do with fluid. The problem is that there was no manipulation and I don’t really understand the “fluid” explanation. For the moment I haven’t seen any improvement from a health point of view
– a biodynamic psychocorporal therapist. She was very kind, listened to what I told her and then massaged me so that I become aware of my body, so that I could see its limits, so that I could learn to make myself respected and asked me to punch a mattress to express my anger. I did 4 sessions.
I would like to know what you think about Biodynamism and Reiki. Is it a cult? I don’t want to get involved in a cult, as a mother of 3 children and it is true that I have some health concerns and my psychological state is compromised for the reasons I mentioned earlier.
m- A lady contacts us from Belgium about her married daughter who is taking antidepressants following a family bereavement which she is having trouble processing. In a New Age environment, she met a hypnotist-medium, using Tibetan bowls, who gave her a 3 hour session (€150), but who made her feel worse by telling her a lot of nonsense about the deceased person who was the cause of the depressive state. Her daughter’s mother-in-law, who is very into New Age practices, indoctrinated a 13 year old half sister into this unfortunate relationship.
n-A young woman diagnosed with bipolar disorder sought help from a friend. She discovered that he practiced reiki and he offered to heal her remotely and advised her to abandon her medical treatment (Lithium). He is also a shaman, which allowed him to make a diagnosis on the origin of her disease. He would not stand for her expressing doubts about his practice, he is dogmatic and aggressive. (2018)
1) Faith-healing parents plead guilty in death of newborn twin (10.07.2018)
2) The ideology of New Age. Michel Lacroix. Flammarion 1996
3) Cancer: the use of alternative medicines reduces the chances of survival
Complementary Medicine, Refusal of Conventional Cancer Therapy, and Survival Among Patients With Curable Cancers
4) Dr. Guéniot treats cancer with… carrot juice. La Dernière Heure 10-11-2005 (Belgian Press).
5) Paid to create fake news on vaccines – Mélanie Maziere – 23.07.2018
6) The dangers of Dr. Hamer’s theory
7) The murky world of indigo children