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Title The Hoffman Quadrinity Process - New Age Miracle or Fraud
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The Hoffman - New Age Miracle or Fraud New Age Miracle or Fraud? In the 70 s California seemed awash in spiritual awakening. We imported Indian gurus, Tibetan tulku s, zen masters from Japan and Korea, plus there were a slew of home grown American hybrids, Werner Erhard s est, Scientology, psychic readers, Seth speaks, the Course in Miracles the list goes on. The sea changes of the 60 s had left my generation with a yearning for religious experience that the faiths of our fathers, and mothers, did not satisfy. Now more than 30 years later, I am trying to step back and assess the current state of our spiritual life. The pews of most mainline churches are, at best, sparsely filled. Here in California only the elderly and immigrants attend with any regularity. Whatever became of the New Age born-again s? Perhaps they just faded into the culture supplying raw spiritual perspective, devoid of religious garb. The most interesting innovation in that awakening, to my eyes, was the proposed marriage of spiritual practice and psychological work. If the workings of the mind could be assessed and treated in a scientific way, paying attention to the spiritual dimension, then, perhaps, years of spiritual training could be compressed. However, along with this promise came the drawback of distinguishing spiritual practice from psychological work. Are they really the same reality hiding under different masks? Meditation practitioners were suddenly getting professional degrees as therapists and old line therapists began a meditation practice, but do they know what s what? A quicker Path is so appealing to the American psyche no mumbo jumbo, precise/technical language, measurable results. There were promises made, results that you expected to create, or would appear, in your life. One teacher said that everyone who worked with him doubled their real income. Another promised harmonious and satisfying relationships. I actually heard the president of one human potential enterprise hustle a gay man with AIDS, promising that his fear of death would disappear after 6 days of working with him at the cost of several thousand dollars. Enlightenment, though lacking a clear definition, is certainly a column on the spreadsheet. Any exaggerated claim to entice you to put your money down is fraud, pure and simple, and as the price goes up, the insult becomes more egregious. When I paid somewhere around $300 to hear Werner Erhard say to me after two weekends of marathon sessions, that s it, there s nothing to get, get it? I didn t feel ripped off. I actually got it. If it had cost thousands, I might have been so resentful that I never would have been able to hear a thing. Most of these short experiential workshops were not based on good science or professional practice, and, as a result, any scientific test for lasting effects is extremely difficult, if not impossible. What I have proposed for myself is a case study is the development and creation of the Quadrinity Process, then known as Fisher-Hoffman Psychic Therapy, created by Bob Hoffman between 1968 and 1974. I do think that there is something of real value available in the experience that is created during the Process, but it is so overlaid with garbage science and the unsubstantiated trappings of the Spiritualist Church, that its value is at best obscured. A quick anecdote about a scientific hoax might demonstrate part of my thesis. In 1972, when I was working with Hoffman in the first group he took through the 13 week Process, National Geographic published an article about the discovery of a Stone Age tribe in the Philippines called the Tasady. Hoffman, with the enthusiasm of a latter day Jean Jacques Rousseau, was convinced that he had found the noble savage who proved that the natural condition of humankind was uninhibited love, the free exchange of emotional feelings, with no blockage from parental conditioning. In Hoffman s defense, he was not the only person duped by this elaborate hoax created at the end of the Marcos regime. Roderic Gorney, M.D., Ph.D., writing about the Tasady in the Journal of American Academy of Psychoanalysis (1981), postulated (1) that during the last ten thousand years the psychosocial identity and self-esteem of the human species have increasingly grown out of conditions of competition and low social synergy, leading to the conflict, terrorism, and war that now jeopardize us, and (2) that there is on the human agenda a current shift toward greater cooperation and high social synergy� There is not one shred of evidence that this group was really pre-clothing, pre-fire-making, pre-anything cave-dwelling family unchanged since prehistoric times, who had no words for War or Anger, never fought among themselves & burst into tears if you brought up the subject of death. Their cave (pictured above) was only 8 miles from the nearest village, an easy trek for a steady steam of celebrities eager to connect with their pristine roots. Bad science and the complete disrespect for professional practice went hand in hand with the naive conjecture that was the origin of the Fischer-Hoffman Psychic Therapy. That it was eventually rooted in the scientifically tested techniques of psychotherapy is entirely the work of Naranjo and other mental health professionals who worked with Hoffman. My case study traces the development and creation of the Quadrinity Process, between 1968 and 1974, when it was know as the Fisher-Hoffman Psychic Therapy. After I examine Hoffman s version of his other worldly experience with Dr. Siegfried Fisher, I deconstruct the psychic therapy that Hoffman practiced in his Oakland tailor shop to sort out the borrowings from the Spiritualist Church. Then I detail Claudio Naranjo s major contribution, adding professional psychotherapy to the mix, but I also touch on the contributions of Miriam and Julius Brandstatter, Ernie Pecci, and Ron Kayne. I freely admit to having a horse in this race. I began a meditation practice in the early 70 s that continues to this day. I also explored every new offering that I found interesting. I began this exploration with Claudio Naranjo in 1972 and worked in his group until he took a sabbatical from teaching in 1976. I also knew Hoffman and offered a version of the Process for almost three years in the late 70 s with mixed results. I began my paper, The Ontological Odd Couple, when the current owners of the intellectual property developed by Hoffman began to rewrite their copy, recasting Hoffman and his Process, and editing out the contributions of many people who worked hard and selflessly to create an effective tool for insight and growth. Republished here with the kind permission of the author, Ken Ireland.