Esther Rockett has come out from behind the cloak of anonymity – interestingly her tone has changed – from self described Pranic Princess, Cult Basher and Nobody’s Bitch she has now attempted to call herself a Health Care Activist and we hear she is also attempting to sell herself as a cult expert.
So who is Esther Rockett Health Care Activist?
In a desperate attempt to distance herself from her most lurid accusations Esther Rockett is attempting to frame herself as the responsible citizen – in the recesses of her own mind perhaps that is what she really believes.
Although it is perhaps of interest to the public purse that she has made at least 10 unfounded complaints to government authorities that have been soundly rejected as having no basis and even writing of herself that the HCCC described her to the Minister of Health as a ‘windbag nuisance’. Although this is too kind a description for the woman who has disseminated extreme lies about Serge Benhayon, implying tax fraud, accusing him of paedophilia, that he teaches sexual abuse at workshops and also that he is a dangerous and charismatic cult leader.
What evidence does she have? None whatsoever – in regards to the paedophilia allegation even Esther Rockett has attempted to distance herself once she had to write under her own name – illustrating, as we have shown on this site, that anonymity has allowed Ms Rockett to say many things that she would not have said if she had to put her own name to them. Now stating as Esther Rockett ‘I don’t know if he’s a paedophile either.’
Interestingly Esther Rockett fabricates so many lies she appears to have lost touch with reality.
In a recent email to the UM Facts Team Esther asks ‘How do you plan to substantiate anything you’ve written about me here? I don’t see any evidence for your allegations.’ The irony was not lost on the UM Facts Team – so many allegations from Esther with not a scrap of evidence, innuendo after innuendo, and intense vitriol with labels thrown around without a shred of truth. Esther you now say you don’t know if Serge is a paedophile – perhaps you better clean up your site – since you have acknowledged you have no true belief in the statements you have published and propagated.
We can say to all our readers that every word we have written is factually accurate and meticulously researched. Esther Rockett’s website has flourished on lies and filth, whereas we are bringing the truth. Esther Rockett has been fairly described as a cyber-bully and internet troll. We are able to substantiate every word we have stated – all the facts about Esther’s sessions with Serge Benhayon were conveniently provided by Esther Rockett herself on her website – we just joined the dots – there never was a treatment called an ovarian reading in 2006, there never was any inappropriate touching (Esther admits that herself) and what is more there were no complaints to other practitioners at the time. Esther Rockett appears to reframe her history to fit a story, some would call that lying. But Esther, let’s not let honesty get in the way of self-deception.
Recently Esther Rockett wrote to us with a hysterical complaint that she was being misquoted by us – indeed there was no misquoting, every word attributed to Esther (or to things she has published) on her sites was word for word accurate. Esther appears to be concerned about context. Esther I am not sure there is a context for falsely naming someone as a paedophile and sexual predator, and nor is there a context for branding all those within a hairs breadth of Serge Benhayon as enabling and participating in that conduct.
There is indeed an irony to Esther Rockett’s protestations about being misquoted on our blogsites – since she has made an art out of misquoting material out of context. In contrast to the lies she has spun about Universal Medicine and all those she has targeted we have simply presented the words Esther Rockett ‘Health Care Activist’ published and then suggested that the reader might consider them false, offensive and threatening, which they are to most reasonable eyes.
Interestingly Esther Rockett, who has been so scathing about Universal Medicine students feelings about energy, actually suggests she FELT ENERGY in her sessions with Serge and in that context appear to make the ridiculous suggestion that Serge Benhayon would have somehow manipulated her into accepting his sexual advances if she had allowed it. Of course she can make up whatever lurid lies she likes, and she does. What makes her think that he would have had any interest in her whatsoever? It suggests more of the same Narcissism she has exhibited in her view of herself as cult activist who is saving the world.
Esther Rockett has become very skilled at manipulating others, drawing on primal fears around exploitation.
She has pursued this in her wild allegations of sexual misconduct and also worked up a lot of bile over Serge Benhayon’s business success. Esther Rockett, aided and abetted by her source Lance Martin, makes much of Serge Benhayon being a successful business man and this is used as part of her ‘cult’ evidence – a fascinating, if implausible, link that she makes.
Many business owners are successful and build a property portfolio – does this provide evidence that they are running a cult? Usually not, but this would not stop Esther Rockett. She seeks to draw alarm and make connection with peoples deepest fears about exploitation – a narrative that has been well worked in the media relating to unscrupulous gurus who accumulated vast and ridiculous wealth from their followers, in one example many hundreds of Rolls Royce cars. An analogy that has no connection with Universal Medicine’s simple business of offering health and well-being courses and also developing resources to support that. In fact, Serge Benhayon’s private charitable work is a model for many to emulate. It is a simple model –
(a) give back and give others support and opportunities and
(b) share your success so that others can benefit from it.
It is perhaps the success of Universal Medicine as a business that bothers Esther, given that her own business appears to be languishing. We assume that Esther Rockett does not have a client list that has more than a one-year waiting list?
Esther Rockett, apparently incapable of looking at the truth regarding the spurious and biased psychobabble presented by Margaret Singer, has recently made much of my personal emails to students. Indeed she appears to enjoy quoting me at length. In a recent offering she uses a personal email sent to a selected group of students in the student body to ridicule my references to energy and the impact of the energy of words on the body and the use of healing symbols as a support. Perhaps it bothers Esther Rockett that I can write emails to my fellow student body with a depth and honesty that she appears to be missing in her life?
Esther Rockett and Lance Martin have a few favourite writers that they like to refer to – Singer, Lifton and in third place Louise Samways author of Dangerous Persuaders. That book was the first Australian offering of its ilk, but was very much like many others published by the anti-cult movement in the US – a reporting of a series of ‘atrocity tales’ by ex-participants allegedly gathered by Samways in her practice. She attacked groups by name and made ‘bizarre claims that seemed obviously untrue.’ (Richardson, 1996).
It might surprise Esther Rockett that before Louise Samways got on the anti-cult brainwashing bandwagon and wrote Dangerous Persuaders, she wrote another book, Your Mindbody Energy (1992). It might make Esther a little uncomfortable, as it is a book about energy, and not the scientific kind. This book is about alternative healing by energy and is a strong proponent of its many benefits.
In Your Mindbody Energy (1992) Samways presents her ability to heal with her hands describing attempts to find materials that would block her hands from impacting her patients – she tried wooden chopping boards and cooking trays as shields (p. 25), she claimed that her grandmother could adjust the dial of a radio without touching it (p.43), she claimed to be telepathic (p. 90) heal across distances (p. 39), that the human body was an aerial transmitting and receiving energy from the cosmos (p. 47), she was also a proponent of neuro-linguistic programming, amongst other things. She suggests that we need to be aware that ‘we are really vibrating bundles of energy’ so we should be careful what music we listen to as it can have a toxic effect or a healing one, depending on what it is (p. 94). She also presents a guide on hands on healing (see p. 84 onwards). Her claims go on and on. Not far away from those teachings on energy that Esther Rockett derides so strongly.
It is not so much a critique of Samways earlier work that interests me here – it is that Esther Rockett can so blatantly seek to attack my credibility in a pathetic attempt to ridicule me for my energetic understanding of the world, yet seems quite willing to refer to Samways when she likes with apparently no issue with Samways presentation of her beliefs. Why is that? Is it that it is convenient to ignore such things, since Samways later work serves Esther Rockett’s agenda?
It appears that my religious and personal beliefs and understandings are to be attacked merely because Esther Rockett has no way of challenging the cogent and clear research that I present.
Simply because the anti-cult movement has lauded the work of Singer and Lifton does not mean that it is true. Nor does it mean that it is effective in clinical practice.
Esther Rockett’s claims that the work of Singer and Lifton on cults is widely used in practice is not born out. It is not widely used in clinical practice except by the anti-cult lobby in its ‘deprogramming’ ventures. These are largely administered by non-professionally trained ‘deprogrammers’.
Indeed, in Australia at least, registered health providers (were they to utilise such methods) might be challenged by their professional associations for applying methods upon clients that do not have an established scientific basis. What is more, there is evidence that such methods are largely ineffective and potentially harmful. The very symptoms that individuals are described as suffering by Margaret Singer on leaving a so called ‘cult’ may actually be a result of the ‘therapy’ that they receive from anti-cult organisations. Lewis and Bromley (1987) found that the exit process from a group and the involvement in ‘cult counselling’ was the cause of the emotional turbulence experienced post-involvement and not the involvement in the religious group. Given the requirement of professional associations (the APA or the ACA) that psychologists and counsellors do nothing to cause harm to a client emotionally, mentally or physically, this should be born in mind.
Furthermore, the American Psychological Association rejected the application of the thesis of coercive persuasion applying to religious cults (Memorandum Opinion, 1990, p.11; Anthony and Robbins, 1992) and suggested that such application ‘lacked scientific merit’ (Memorandum Opinion, 1990, p.10). Thus any assertion that Singer and Lifton’s so called theories are being applied by professionals (as Esther Rockett presents) is gravely misleading. You would be hard pressed to find a substantial group of professionals who would advocate forcible removal by coercion and extreme tactics to re-programme their victims. Kidnapping is also a crime Esther Rockett.
Furthermore, an indictment of the brainwashing theory is that de-programming is largely unsuccessful, even its proponents warn of its limited success rate (Aaron, 1999) – surely if the theories of mind control they espouse are so effective they could persuade their subjects to change their beliefs. It is perhaps incumbent on any change of belief that there is a requirement of free-will.
It is a curious thing about the anti-cult movement that its skeptics play favours with the religious right and generally ignore those beliefs of their allies whilst attacking the beliefs of those they have mutually decided they do not like.
Now Esther Rockett, again in the tawdry and limited way that she has with intellectual debate, preferring to rely upon lies that shock and false allegations to impose fear, has mixed up my personal religious beliefs, that I am certainly at liberty to have, as a way of challenging my academic rigour in presenting her (Esther Rockett) as a rather gullible victim of the anti-cult movement’s propaganda on brainwashing.
Now there are many great thinkers who have had religious beliefs that have not accorded with a majority view. Einstein himself had an unorthodox view of religion, although refuting the existence of a personal God he espoused that the order of the Universe left so much beyond what our human minds could encompass that it was impossible not to have a sense of something greater at work. He often referred to his deeply religious nature but his expression and experience of it was quite unique, he said in an interview:
‘God is a mystery. But a comprehensible mystery. I have nothing but awe when I observe the laws of nature. There are not laws without a lawgiver, but how does this lawgiver look? Certainly not like a man magnified.’
Then Einstein added with a smile:
‘some centuries ago I would have been burned or hanged. Nonetheless, I would have been in good company’ (Hermanns, 1983).
Einstein was not ridiculed for his sense of wonderment that there was something more, he was criticised philosophically by members of the major religions, but his profound intellect was not. Why is that? Because it seems that his observers and his biographers understood the distinction between the private man and the man of science.
It is a limited mind that seeks to discredit their critics on the basis of belief. It is the vilest form of bigotry and this is what Esther Rockett engages in. Indeed, Esther Rockett, (Nobody’s Bitch), appears to be conducting her own pogrom here.
In another small matter, that surely calls further into question Esther Rockett’s moral compass, is that her critique of me (across a number of blogs) has been based upon extracts from personal correspondence that have been stolen and published. Most would balk at this – journalists are required to get their material by lawful means and behave ethically – but ethics and Ms Rockett do not appear to have had a close collaboration for quite some time.
Esther Rockett gained access to private emails (sent by me to a closed group) by illicit means. As far as we know, they were stolen from a recipient’s computer, by someone who secretly took screenshots and sent them to Esther Rockett (or to someone that Esther Rockett knows). She then published them without my consent. What is the moral compass of someone who does this? Sadly, with the lies Esther Rockett has spread under the guise of Pranic Princess and Darkly Venus there appears to be no moral compass. She has liberally spread lies about Serge Benhayon, although in her most recent blogs the most outrageous, that he is a paedophile, appears to have been recanted by Esther.
Esther Rockett appears to have difficulty comprehending that Singer’s theory on brainwashing and Lifton’s analysis of mind control are dead in the water as far as cults are concerned. I guess she is not a lawyer, and as someone without scientific or psychology training doesn’t understand the requirements of verifying a theory before it is actually regarded as plausible or applicable, and has missed the US court’s decision in US v Fishman – perhaps we can appraise her of her lack in understanding and knowledge.
A history of the anti-cult movement and brainwashing theory especially for Esther Rockett
Between 1970 and 1990 there were numerous cases brought before the United States courts where the anti-cult movement attempted to have ‘brainwashing’ accepted for a number of very spurious reasons:
- as a defence to kidnapping (where ‘deprogrammers’ had forcibly taken adults against their will from religious groups); and
- to criminal charges (where defendants would claim that they had not acted voluntarily when they committed crimes); and
- then later in cases of negligence (where claims were made against religious groups for the so-called harmful practices associated with ‘brainwashing’ of new recruits).
There is a vast literature on these cases, the arguments from the anti-cult groups were either based upon the discredited CIA theory of brainwashing or upon Lifton’s theory of mind-control developed in his 1961 work. Unsurprisingly, the American courts were eventually unequivocal in their rejection of brainwashing theories applying to new religious movements. In particular they rejected the application of Lifton’s theory in situations where physical coercion was absent (U.S. v Fishman, 743 F Supp. 713 (N.D. Cal. 1990).
In the Fishman case, in which an ex-scientologist was tried for mail fraud, the anti-cultists (with Singer) argued that he was not capable of the crime due to thought reform by the Church of Scientology. What is instructive is that the court accepted that there was no scientific basis for arguments that there could be a deprivation of free will in non-physically coercive circumstances. Fishman was convicted of 10 counts of mail fraud.
There are numerous cases that followed which rejected the idea that thought reform could occur in the absence of physical threats or coercion and perhaps Esther Rockett should consider that the court would have considered every angle and every aspect of Singer’s theory and its application.
That threat of force or death is necessary was clearly supported by Schein and Lifton’s early research that demonstrated that ‘thought reform techniques’ were ineffective at doing much more than modifying behaviour (obtaining compliance) in the short term whilst subjects had a ‘gun to their head’ (Richardson, 1996; Anthony and Robbins, 1992). Indeed, Singer and Ofshe (1986, p 20), proponents of the so called cultic-brainwashing theory acknowledge ‘coercive persuasion’ connotes a substantial reliance on physical abuse and imprisonment.’ It seems obvious, but since Esther Rockett appears to miss the point on so many matters we had better state it anyway – there is no physical abuse or imprisonment of the Universal Medicine student body. There is no physical confinement whatsoever, students live across the globe in their own homes, free to attend courses if they wish, eat whatever they choose and listen to whatever music they enjoy and read whatever they want. There are no restrictions. What is chosen is a personal choice.
That religious practice could ever amount to such coercion has been formally rejected by the United States courts. As one judge stated:
‘The premise… that the religious rituals, daily activities and teachings of the Hare Krishna religion constitute a form of intimidation to maintain restraint over …alleged victims…is fraught with danger in its potential for utilisation in the suppression – if not outright destruction- of our citizen’s rights to pursue, join and practice the religion of their choice…’
(People v Murphy,1977).
Furthermore, in Knight v Knight it was made clear that it was impermissible to assert the nature of the belief as evidence of coercion. Just because the beliefs of an organisation may seem outlandish or unorthodox does not a priori show that someone must have been coerced to believe it (Anthony and Robbins, 1995)
It is worth a note that Singer’s advocacy of brainwashing theory left her largely discredited. The impact on her career is evidenced by her failed attempt to sue Dick Anthony for destroying her career. She sued him after the Fishman case effectively left her ‘cult-expert’ career in tatters. Unsurprisingly this did not succeed. Thereafter she was not seen much and not drawn upon to give evidence.
Esther Rockett makes much of Lifton’s work Destroying the World to Save It: Aum Sinrikyo, Apocalyptic Violence and the New Global Terrorism (2000). In that work Lifton supposedly analyses Aum as an example of a totalistic community. However, his research is woefully lacking – he interviewed only 10 former low level Aum members with interviews through translators that would only have provided a small amount of evidence. One commentator has pointed out that the participants were low-level adherents of the organisation and that the meagre number (and information gleaned) is completely insufficient for Lifton to develop an acceptable theory (Gardner, 2001). Indeed, even the most basic of scientifically acceptable research requires a modest 30 participants to have any credibility. Gardner (2001) describes the book as ‘woefully undocumented’ (p. 126) and that Lifton’s sources (mainly discussions with religious academics and his research assistants) are entirely inadequate. Although Lifton presents what he considers a model and theory to totalistic religious groups it can be dismissed as a merely plausible narrative of the material rather than a theory with predictive value (Gardner, 2001).
The study made of Aum by Lifton was an inadequate study for any foundation of a theory. Lifton himself made comment that he doubted the veracity of the brainwashing theory espoused by Singer and co – indeed he was far more concerned with the sociological processes.
Esther Rockett also appears to be confused about the distinction between applying a definition of a cult and the separate consideration of the application of brainwashing theory. Esther Rockett has difficulty with Brendan Mooney’s earlier writing where he goes through Singer’s criteria of a cult to illustrate why Universal Medicine is not a cult in contrast to my suggestions that her theory of brainwashing is bunkum. This is merely an indication of Esther Rockett’s meagre intellectual understanding.
Brendan Mooney showed how Singer’s definition of a cult did not apply to Universal Medicine, showing Universal Medicine falls outside the totalistic groups that she has pursued. This is one approach. However, as is suggested on Universal Medicine Facts and also supported in research, there are actually no true criteria for a ‘cult’ – it is a malleable label that is affixed to any group that someone has decided that they do not like. As Esther Rockett has shown so clearly in her blogs, you can make up whatever you like to make the criteria fit, and furthermore Esther Rockett’s malicious writing supports the suggestion that often a group gets the ‘cult’ label because someone has decided they do not like it, not because there are relevant criteria showing it is one.
Esther Rockett’s approach appears very like that of the witch-hunters of medieval times. If you had someone you had decided was a witch you only need drown her to prove she was not a witch, but if she did not drown then you had the satisfaction of burning her. Esther has adopted this approach – we say we are not a cult, but we are damned if we are thought of as a cult and damned if we prove we are not. Perhaps a refresher course on reality is called for – a lie is a lie no matter how many times it is repeated, shaped or styled. Take that back to your source Esther.
Before anyone accepts Esther Rockett Health Care Activist as having any credibility it is worth reflecting upon her ethics, morals and her poor record when it comes to the veracity of any of the claims she has made. Esther Rockett, Pranic Princess, Nobody’s Bitch or Health Care Activist? You decide.
Aaron, R. Cults: Too Good To Be True (1999)
Anthony, D, and Robbins, T., Law, Social Science and the “Brainwashing” Exception to the First Amendment, Behavioral Sciences and the Law, (1992), Vol 10, pp 5-29.
Anthony, D, and Robbins, T., ‘Negligence, Coercion, and the Protection of Religious Belief.’ Journal of Church and State,(1995) Vol 37 (3) pp 509-536.
Gardner, R. (2001). ‘Destroying the World to Save It: Aum Sinrikyo, Apocalyptic Violence and the New Global Terrorism by Robert J Lifton.’ Monumenta Nipponica, (2001). Pp 125-128.
Hermanns, W. (1983). Einstein and the Poet: in search of cosmic man. Brookline Village MA: Branden Books, p. 60
Knight v Knight, In the Marriage of Judy and Jeffrey Knight, Superior Ct, Wash., Pierce County No. 88-3-03873-1 (1992).
Lewis, J. and Bromley, D. (1987). ‘The Cult Withdrawal Syndrome: A Case of Misattribution of a Cause?’ Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion. Volume 26(4), pp. 508-522.
Lifton, RJ. (1961). Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism: A Study of Brainwashin g in Red China. New York: WW Norton.
Lifton, RJ (2000). Destroying the World to Save It: Aum Sinrikyo, Apocalyptic Violence and the New Global Terrorism (2000),
Memorandum Opinion of Judge Jensen in US. v Fishman (1990). Case No. CR-88-0616-DLJ. No. Cal. (see US v Fishman).
People v Murphy, 98 Misc. 2d 234, 240, 413 N.Y.S.2d 540, 543-44 (Sup. Ct, 1977)
Richardson, J.T. (1996). ‘Journalistic bias toward new religious movements in Australia’, Journal of Contemporary Religion, 11:3, 289-302
Samways, L. Your Mindbody Energy. Penguin: Melbourne, 1992.
Samways, L. Dangerous Persuaders. Penguin: Melbourne, 1994.
Singer, M., & Ofshe, R. (1990). Thought Reform Programs and the production of psychiatric casualties., Psychiatric Annals 20(4), 188-193
US v Fishman (1990). Case No. CR-88-0616-DLJ. No. Cal