Esther Rockett is now presenting herself not only as a health-care activist but also Esther Rockett Anti-cult Activist. Esther Rockett has certainly adopted the spurious and dangerous ideas of the American Anti-cult network, seeded and developed no doubt by her dabbling on the web site of twice convicted felon Rick Ross. A site that is a breeding ground for hatred and misinformation, where labelling an organisation as a ‘cult’ justifies bigotry of every kind.
The Rick Ross site (now renamed, since Rick Ross sold his name to a rapper) has dishonestly tried to keep alive the debate over discredited psychological theories of the anti-cult movement associated with the writings of RJ Lifton and Margaret Singer. As we have reported, the courts and relevant professional associations and scientific communities in the United States have accepted that there is no scientific evidence, based upon methodologically sound research that supports the brainwashing theories advanced by the anti-cult movement (Richardson, 2009).
It is Ross (conscientiously copied by Esther Rockett) who cites the work of Lifton as ‘perhaps the foremost authority on mind control in the world today’ obviously ignoring that the work has been discredited and rejected as unscientifically based. Why? Ross has built his reputation and lucrative deprogramming business upon the anti-cult mind-control model, a model that includes kidnapping. Debase the model and he’s out of a job.
Esther Rockett is also conveniently ignoring the facts that have been presented so clearly on this site – complaining that we have criticised her foremost authorities. However, she has not addressed those criticisms. If she did, her self-constructed fantasy as anti-cult activist and self-proclaimed expert might fall apart.
Esther Rockett’s spurious ‘anti-cult’ themes are repeated again and again on her blog-sites – she uses a well-worn technique of the anti-cult movement to repeat and repeat attacks, since repetition appears to give the lies spread an appearance of validity. This is just the first form of deception, there are many others.
We note that Esther Rockett has become an expert in deceiving her readers in many, many ways, from outright lies to carefully crafted malicious attacks disguised in innuendos.
So what is Esther Rockett really up to? Misleading and deceiving her audience and the public is the simple answer.
In previous blogs we have outlined how Esther Rockett has falsely presented herself as having expertise in ‘cults’ and has used false theories of mind control to present her own and Lance Martin’s fabricated narrative that Universal Medicine is a cult.
It is clear that any group can be labelled a cult – there are no criteria that distinguish one group from another except that someone has taken exception to what the group believes or does.
In the case of Universal Medicine it is difficult to understand why anyone would take offence at a group that advocates living in a way that promotes the healthiest of lifestyles. Esther Rockett’s main concerns appear to be about food, diet, avoidance of alcohol, dairy and gluten and the facilitation of relaxation by meditation and hands on healing techniques – all of which have sound scientific and medical grounds to suggest they are a preventative measure for many diseases. She also asserts, be it a scheming tactic, that those who choose to adopt the healthy lifestyle choice are somehow ‘conned’.
There is no clear description or proof simply because it is not true that anyone is ‘conned’ by Serge Benhayon’s doctrines – indeed if anyone listened, it would be apparent that suggestions made by Serge Benhayon are only that. It is left to the audience to decide what feels true for them or not.
It is a peculiarity of her approach to Universal Medicine that Esther Rockett has an issue with what she refers to as ‘healthy ’self-loving choices’. The rates of illness and disease as a result of lifestyle choices are increasing at an alarming rate with predictions that diabetes alone could bankrupt countries. In spite of enormous efforts by the medical profession and supporting government policy there is no arrest to this momentum. Serge Benhayon has been leading the way with a reversal of this trend with vibrant sustained health for the many hundreds of clients he treats.
It is curious but not surprising, given the extraordinary level of integrity that Serge Benhayon lives and presents, that Universal Medicine is succeeding where these other groups have failed. The changes in lifestyle of the many who have benefitted from Universal Medicine suggest that there is much to be learnt here about what can be done to support true change in these public health trends, rather than Esther Rockett’s cynical and unfounded attacks on healthy life-style choices.
Fact: Students of Universal Medicine are to all indications showing most living in a healthy weight range (in contrast to the general population where 60% are overweight), do not smoke, drink and are healthier and more vital than most in their respective communities. The World Health Organisation has pointed out that most illness and disease is lifestyle related, and indeed that some forms of cancer are directly related to alcohol consumption. Thus we might ask, perhaps the behavioural changes witnessed in Universal Medicine students is a model for all, and certainly there is no evidence of people being ‘conned’ – sensible choices by sensible people do not actually suggest anyone being conned at all.
Esther Rockett also makes broad attacks with no specificity of what she is referring to – in her blatant attacks she refers to ‘ludicrous, mind frying rituals’. There is nothing to explain or even justify the reference to ‘mind-frying rituals’ this is actually because there is no such thing (unless a 10 minute gentle breath meditation fits this description).
It would come as a surprise to the countless scientific researchers in the area of meditation to hear that relaxation and meditative techniques, now standard in psychological practice, are described by Esther Rockett as ‘mind-frying’.
We have to ask where does Esther Rockett find ‘inspiration’ for her lies and vitriol? How did she learn to take something with no apparent negative effect (remember we are referring to 10 minutes of meditation and a healthy diet) and make it seem sinister and dangerous?
Esther Rockett’s literary inspiration is not very highbrow – it is a straight-out copy of the methods used by the American anti-cult networks as disseminated on the Rick Ross forum – a network known for kidnapping, propaganda and spreading vitriol about any group that someone takes a dislike to. Esther Rockett’s rants are typical of the style of attack that the American anti-cult network is famous for. Many groups have fallen foul of the anti-cultists – from AA to the Salvation Army. It is true that there are some groups that are heinous examples that anyone would take offence to, such as the People’s Temple, or Aum Srinrikyo. However, these groups, where devastating violence has indelibly etched them into the popular psyche, are used by the anti-cult movement to tar harmless, peaceful groups with the same brush. Such atrocities serve the anti-cult network’s aim to attack any group that falls outside the narrow compass that they consider acceptable, and as we have noted surprising groups have been targeted by these methods, such as the Salvation Army.
These methods, that are in essence poorly disguised propaganda, are adopted by Esther Rockett when she slips in words such as ‘to the death – if necessary’ in reference to Universal Medicine with no context, no reference point, simply a slimy reference intended to evoke the fear imprinted upon the psyche by the actions of more nefarious groups. She has no basis for such references. Serge Benhayon extolls the virtues of living a long and full life with no exceptions.
Esther Rockett has used this ‘death’ dialogue in attacks upon Consultant Surgeon Eunice Minford – making outrageous suggestions that the dedicated doctor is a ‘doctor of death’ and is the equivalent of a psychopathic Nazi doctor who tortured and killed with impunity. It appears that Dr Eunice Minford’s crime, in Esther Rockett’s world is that she advocates the practice of self-care and self-love that is the cornerstone of the work of Serge Benhayon.
Dr Eunice Minford has twenty years experience as a surgeon; she has worked in the highly skilled and specialised area of organ transplant and currently is a general surgeon dedicated to exceptional patient care. As noted, Esther Rockett has cunningly and deliberately suggested that Eunice Minford’s association with Universal Medicine has transformed this exceptional surgeon into the equivalent of the psychopathic Nazi doctor. In an example of Esther Rockett’s ill intentioned manipulation of facts and her readers, she took an article by Dr Minford that was clearly about promoting the value of life and presented Dr Eunice Minford as a ‘euthanasia enthusiast’ who is promoting death over life. This manipulative presentation is all part of Esther Rockett’s orchestrated campaign to falsely portray Universal Medicine as a dangerous ‘death’ cult. Desperately, she has gone to great lengths to present Serge Benhayon as the leader of such. It would be laughable if the lies were not so preposterous and so clearly deceptive and misleading.
Since Serge Benhayon has advocated nothing but health and healing for over 15 years, there is nothing upon which Esther Rockett can base these affronts, except of course lies.
Yes we might agree that Esther Rockett is an ‘anti-cult’ movement activist, since all she has done is to take a false narrative promulgated by the anti-cult industry and made up a story – a complete fabrication woven of her own lies and deceit – to make it look like there is a cult story when there is none.
The anti-cult industry in the USA is big business – some like Rick Ross have made a lot of money from persuading people to part with large sums of money for him to kidnap and ‘de-programme’ those he has labelled as cult victims. Deprogramming is largely ineffective simply because what people choose to believe is largely a matter of free will and trying to change their beliefs by ‘deprogramming’ is about as effective as its fictional companion ‘brainwashing’.
Even the Australian advocate of this nonsense, Raphael Aron, in his 1999 book Cults too good to be true explains that customers should be aware that his de-programming ventures are costly and may have little chance of success. It appears that even Esther Rockett may have considered that she might make a buck out of her new found interest: she has suggested that since she has such great experience in ‘exposing’ and bringing Universal Medicine to ‘account’, she should perhaps set up a consultancy. We also hear that she has been trying to sell herself as an ‘expert’ in some circles.
If her success can be gauged by 10 plus failed government complaints, along with the others from her like aligned group, and having to scramble to reinvent herself when her identity was exposed, she might have difficulty in persuading those outside her revengeful group of her ‘expertise’.
All of her cult narrative and particularly her ‘death cult’ narrative, are a concoction of baseless lies with no foundation of truth whatsoever – and like the anti-cultists before her, are all derived from Esther Rockett’s deliberate manipulation and twisting of the facts to suit her own agenda.
The anti-cultists in the United States have tended to attack any group that does not fit the profile of the mainstream dominant religions and have imported this unsavoury approach into Australia, finding a media that was all too ready to adopt an angle about groups that its audience could polarise with (Richardson, 1996). Oddly the anti-cult movement is a strange mix of fundamentalist religious zeal from the dominant religions and those whose main tenet is atheism. The latter’s concern is that any adoption of religious belief is an offence to human freedom. They make strange bedfellows.
In essence the anti-cult network challenges religious freedom – since it seeks to attack any or all groups that choose to adopt religious beliefs and attitudes that do not fit with the established and accepted religions, or the view that any choice of religion is somehow bogus.
It is a poor fit in Australian society where we can pride ourselves on a generally open society, where we would not usually adopt the rhetoric of religious zeal we see in society and politics in the United States of America.
Against this background we can see that Esther Rockett’s attack is ultimately (like her source of inspiration) a challenge to freedom of religious practice, since what she calls ‘mind frying rituals’ are no more offensive than meditating for 5 to 10 minutes a day and making choices to lead an exemplary life that some might refer to as ‘religious’. The offence that she takes to what she refers to as ‘dietary hazards’ is perplexing, since it encompasses such simple adjustments as low sugar and a gluten and dairy free diet, all of which have medically proven benefits.
It is unclear where Esther Rockett fits in this strange alliance that makes up the anti-cult network. We assume that the anti-cult narrative simply suits her hate-filled agenda with Universal Medicine, since we note that she is not pursuing any other groups with her self-proclaimed expertise.
This self-proclaimed expertise does not really withstand an objective evaluation of what would commonly be considered ‘expertise’:
Esther Rockett has continuously insinuated that Serge Benhayon uses covert psychological techniques to bring people around to his way of thinking and continues to insinuate that he is somehow taking advantage of the unwary. All these lies are direct copies of the material spread about any and all groups the anti-cult network targets.
She laces her writing with words that describe Universal Medicine students as manipulated and vulnerable. Like all of Esther Rockett’s other fabrications there is not a single person that Esther could produce to prove her allegations.
On all available evidence those who come to Serge Benhayon’s work are not the victims that Esther Rockett paints them as, they are healthy and robust individuals making healthy lifestyle choices.
Esther Rockett has continued her anti-cult theme implying that Serge Benhayon is a charlatan who is extracting money from those who are unable to look after themselves. This narrative draws deceitfully upon the primal fears of exploitation that has formed part of the anti-cult narrative – the idea of charismatic leaders who can manipulate followers to give away their money against their better interests. In the case of Serge Benhayon she has zero evidence of any such exploitation, as there is none. Indeed when all the facts are laid on the table, Serge Benhayon’s charitable activities and generosity to others is far more extensive than any personal gain, but such matters are beyond Esther Rockett’s minimal grasp of the facts or truth.
It is a common theme in Esther Rockett’s writing – as copycat writing of the anti-cult movement – that all Universal Medicine students have to be victims. However, if any observer looked closely, they would see hardworking individuals who are healthy, vital and alive, including many highly successful doctors, lawyers, accountants and trade workers – none of whom could be described as ‘victims’.
These are highly functioning, sound of mind individuals clearly able to discern and make informed choices. It highlights the baseless affront of the anti-cult movement to the individuals right to religious freedom disguised as a ‘concern for hapless victims’.
As a proponent of thought control or mind control (a myth and lie propagated by the anti-cult movement in which Esther Rockett appears to be a firm believer), Esther Rockett has variously argued that Serge Benhayon practices covert hypnosis, techniques that cause dissociation and various other mind control techniques. It might surprise the reader to know, that however persuasive Esther Rockett in the guise of Darkly Venus sounds – all these psychological techniques do not exist, or most definitely do not have the power that she suggests.
In our previous blogs we have shown that mind control to have any effect would require a gun to the head – that is, actual physical threats. When looked at in this way, there is no mind control at all as a scientific fact. And in regards to Universal Medicine, we cannot imagine that Serge Benhayon is going to be accused of holding a gun to people’s heads…. although considering the outlandish accusations Esther Rockett has made thus far, nothing can be certain.
When those associated with the anti-cult movement were attempting to argue their way out of criminal charges for kidnapping and abduction or other felonies, they tried to argue that although there was no ‘gun to the head’, mind control could occur by a process of ‘deception, dependency and dread’.
It has to be said that these arguments were far fetched and relied upon assertions that adherents of religious groups had been deceived into attending a ceremony, group or whatever and then through an undefined process had somehow become debilitated by various means (whether it be eating vegetarian food, singing hymns, chanting or meditating). Basically the argument was that participation in such groups meant that the participants in effect left their minds at the door and were no longer in charge of their faculties.
The USA courts concluded what is here stated again – there is absolutely no foundation for these arguments. They were an extension of the false CIA propaganda of brainwashing that was developed to explain POW conversion to communism in order to ensure that the American public were not disturbed from their confidence in the American way of life.
Esther Rockett relies heavily on the work of Margaret Singer, who attempted to translate this propaganda into a psychological theory. Indeed Esther Rockett is at pains to tell everyone that we are not giving her foremost authorities their due, comfortably ignoring that the psychological theories that Singer advocated are simply fabricated. In this regard it appears Esther Rockett and Margaret Singer are in good company, as like attracts like, so it seems.
The problem for Esther Rockett is that there was and is absolutely no evidence to suggest that mind control can occur by ‘debilitation, deception, dependency and dread’ without the presence of physical coercion. Esther Rockett makes a number of unconvincing attempts to assert that Universal Medicine students have been so affected. Of course she has zero evidence to show this, since it does not and could not exist.
In her deceptive portrayal of Brendan Mooney (in her malicious critique about his video blog on chronic pain) she asserts that she can see this process at work and that other Universal Medicine students have been similarly affected. She writes:
Now what has to be noted is that since there is no such process, these are simply buzzwords with no real meaning, calculated to mislead and deceive. Esther Rockett (writing as Darkly Venus) assumes that there is a ‘cult conversion’ process of ‘debilitation, deception, dependency and dread’. However, there is no such ‘recognised’ process. The three D’s were used to describe ‘thought reform’ of Korean prisoners of war by Farber, Harlow and West (1957). This material was part and parcel of the CIA promulgated material and can be questioned on these grounds alone; furthermore, theories developed around POW’s are not applicable to religious or healing groups and certainly not where there is no physical coercion. Note the process referred to by Farber, Harlow and West required physical threat and the dependence of POW’s upon captors for their very existence. Thus it can hardly be called a generally ‘recognised’ process applying to groups that simply do not bear any relation to a prisoner of war situation. Indeed the POW situations are unique in respect of the extremes that are present, because the norms of human conduct have been removed, and in the case of the Korean POW’s, not even humanitarian treaties for the proper treatment of prisoners were applied.
Margaret Singer attempted to argue that ‘debilitation’ occurred by participation in various activities (chanting, a Hindu vegetarian diet, meditation). This was firmly discredited when the United States courts concluded that this was not coercion and was not ‘debilitation’; what was needed was physical threat, for instance a gun to the head.
In her forays into applying anti-cult propaganda as psychological theory, Esther Rockett attempts to use Singer’s discredited approach, suggesting in one blog that Brendan Mooney (himself a registered psychologist) has been influenced by ‘trance induction by hands on healing’ leaving him in a ‘suggestible state’. This is just another attempt at arguing that participants in Universal Medicine are being influenced by hypnotic suggestion or ‘covert hypnosis’ (a term Esther Rockett uses extensively in other blogs). As we have shown in our previous blogs, there is no such psychological technique as ‘covert hypnosis’, it is yet another fabrication of the anti-cult network used in their self-created ‘cult wars’.
The science fiction fantasy of brainwashing has been promulgated by the anti-cult movement and given many different psychological labels that sound compelling and give an air of credibility. They have been peddling propaganda dressed as psychology for years and it appears that Esther Rockett and Lance Martin, not well versed in psychology, scientific analysis or the legal background to such claims, have fallen for the propaganda with little discernment.
Many of the terms used by the anti-cultists to lend credibility to their human rights violations and law-breaking activities have been liberally thrown around by Esther Rockett in her blogs – she refers to ‘covert hypnosis’, ‘dissociation’, ‘personality change’, amongst others. All these arguments are merely a rehashing of the same discredited brainwashing theory. They all go back to the idea that there is some kind of psycho-technology that allows someone to make another person into a mindless automaton. This is science fiction fantasy, it is not fact. This is what the CIA deceived the American public into believing, this is what the anti-cult movement has spent years making into spin and this is also what Esther Rockett is now trying to peddle. In her foray into this deception she attempts to use yet another discredited arm of Singer’s brainwashing theory – ‘deception, dependency and dread’ – asserting that Universal Medicine students have somehow gone through this fictional process.
Esther Rockett attempts to link the process to the use of hypnosis and in this way attempts to resurrect the completely discredited CIA robot theory of brainwashing.
Anthony (1999) points out that the components of the CIA paradigm (i.e. hypnosis, conditioning, debilitation, defective thought) are vague. They are ‘buzz words’ that imply emotional coercion but provide no clear line between what might be considered ordinary social influence and something beyond that. Similarly the words ‘deception, dependency and dread’ connote emotional coercion without identifying something that would be considered malfeasance. Esther Rockett is counting on these implications when she adopts these buzz words.
The buzz words and the emotionally charged tone are intended to lead a reader to assume that some nefarious process has taken place, when there is:
- No credible psychological process just sleazy terms suggesting there is one; and
- No evidence at all of any such influence taking place.
Religious conversion is a widely researched and studied phenomena and the majority of researchers would not consider the theories espoused by Esther Rockett as having any plausibility. Indeed, even Langone (also a proponent of Singer’s theory) himself has acknowledged that conversion (even in what he calls cults) can occur without manipulation because conversion occurs from experiences that change belief. He admonishes that ‘cognitive therapy is similar to religious conversion in that both are associated with changes in a person’s fundamental assumptions about the world, self and others’ (Langone). Thus religious conversion can be a relatively peaceful, voluntary act. Indeed, research has found that most participants in new religions or groups are seeking to accomplish personal goals, have largely positive reasons for doing so, and also reach positive outcomes (Richardson, 1985, 1996).
Aside from Esther Rockett’s poor attempts at using discredited theories to suggest that those who benefit from Serge Benhayon’s teachings are ‘brainwashed’ or become influenced by an untested hypothesis of ‘debilitation, dependency and dread’, Esther Rockett, Brisbane Acupuncturist, also attempts to suggest that she is engaging in psychological analysis and in this sense implies that she is capable of doing so, however:
- She is not a psychologist and has no skills to apply psychological theories; indeed her approach throws labels and buzzwords around with no real analysis. What is dressed up as psychological analysis is merely propaganda – a shock narrative or atrocity tale of her own making, dressed up to give the appearance of plausibility; and
- She has, possibly due to her ignorance about such matters, or (as described by one expert in the field, holding barely an undergraduate grasp of the literature) misleadingly applied bogus theories as if they were real. They are not, they are science fiction fantasy.
In reference to Brendan Mooney’s description of finding himself pain free after years of failed medical interventions, Esther Rockett makes remarkable suggestions about Serge Benhayon ‘implanting suggestions’ in the minds of those who listen to his talks and that Mooney is relying upon magical thinking.
What is fascinating is Esther Rockett’s assumptions here. It appears to be more fanciful thinking on her part that there is any such thing as implanting suggestions, and it seems extra-ordinary that she would accuse others of magical thinking when the very thing she is describing is someone who has found that the self-care he has adopted most definitely did work in pain reduction – and as far as living with chronic pain, it takes more than magical thinking to live pain free.
Esther Rockett’s anti-cult narrative requires her readers to believe that those who listen to Serge Benhayon or attend Universal Medicine courses end up leaving their critical capacities at the door. She has no evidence of this fact, indeed it would seem that the only person to have abandoned their critical capacity is Esther Rockett herself – for when presented with the facts about the lies of the anti-cult movement, the flaws in her sources and even her own lies she has spread about Serge Benhayon and countless others, she seems incapable of taking stock. The lies fed to her by Lance Martin appear to have taken such a strong hold, and the lies she has chosen to create appear to own her – she has it appears abandoned all semblance of critical thought.
Esther Rockett’s anti-cult propaganda begins (and ends) with her reliance upon Margaret Thale Singer and RJ Lifton. Brisbane Acupuncturist Esther Rockett has made a number of comments that shows that she has taken exception to her heroes being criticised – however she has not made any attempt to look at those criticisms. Is it possible that that is because she cannot? Is it perhaps because if she does, her carefully constructed reality and obsession about Serge Benhayon and mind control would have to crumble and fall apart?
Further Reading in the Myth of Brainwashing and Thought Reform Series:
Anthony, D. (1999). ‘Psuedoscience and Minority Religions: An Evaluation of the Brainwashing Theories of Jean-Marie Abgrall.’ Social Justice Research. Vol 12 Issue 4, pp 421-456
Aron, Raphael (1999), Cults too good to be true. Harper Collins: Australia.
Farber, IE., Harlow, H.F. and West, L.J. (1957). ‘Brainwashing, Conditioning and DDD (Debility, Dependency and Dread).’ Sociometry 29:271-85
Langone, M.D. (as viewed 2014). ‘Inner Experience and Conversion’. http://www.cultmediation.com/infoserv_articles/langone_michael_innerexperienceandconversion.asp
Richardson J.T.(1985). ‘Active vs passive convert: Paradigm Conflict in conversion/recruitment research’. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 24, 163-79.
Richardson J.T. (1996). ‘Sociology and the New Religions: “Brainwashing.” The Courts and Religious Freedom’, in Witnessing for Sociology: Sociologists in Court, Jenkins, P and Kroll-Smith, S. Westport, CT: Praeger. Pp 115 – 134.
Richardson J.T. (2009). “Religion and The Law” in The Oxford Handbook of the Sociology of Religion. Peter Clarke. (ed) Oxford Handbooks Online. p. 426.