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Freedom of Mind Group Database Search
Alphabetical Group Listing
Group Information
Title USM - MSIA
Founder John-Roger (born Roger Delano Hinkins)

Yelp Review by Sue D. (This source is verified even though identity is a pseudonym.) I attended this program, graduated, and then stayed in the community several years volunteering. Recently, I talked about my experiences with a therapist who happens to have experience with cult members, and he recommended a book, Combatting Cult Mind Control. I was like, seriously? But it freaked me the hell out. It describes how cults operate and the techniques they use to recruit and ensnare people, and it fit USM in many, many ways. It's so incredibly messed up to realize it now. I feel like an idiot. The book also describes how destructive cults often have front organizations, and I now see that USM is just a front for the cult MSIA (Movement of Spiritual Inner Awareness). The founder/chancellor of the school, Jon-Roger, is also the founder/guru of MSIA, and from what I could tell, every faculty member at USM is an initiated member of MSIA, not to mention most of the staff. That Jon-Roger is a lunatic. I saw him speak at a special USM event several years ago, and he's seriously crazy, but the USM faculty are into him. That always seemed weird to me. Now it's worse than weird, it's just wrong. But then, at USM, there's no such thing as right & wrong. Look Jon-Roger up online and read about his crimes before you consider a program that financially benefits him. There's a culture within USM of never criticizing the school or the leaders, so it's very difficult for me to write this. I did feel I learned a lot about myself in the program, but looking back, it freaks me out to see how they're using cult influence techniques and also having amateurs use real counseling skills on each other. That seems irresponsible. Also, I witnessed people have meltdowns and seizure-like fits (and I've heard about psychotic breaks) during the school sessions, but they give a line about it being 'karma' and 'energy healing' (which I bought at the time). They may have been dangerous situations, at least some of them, in retrospect, but they have an MSIA-initiated doctor on site, so they never had to call an ambulance. Back to that thing about not criticizing... Part of why there aren't more mixed or negative reviews here is because it's pretty deeply programmed into USMers not to say anything bad about the program or teachers, or to dissent in any way. In this way, as my therapist helped me see, it's not a university at all. Real universities encourage critical thinking. USM is a personal growth program and their mission is to spread the dogma of their parent cult, MSIA. Their mission statement pretty much says so. People often leave the program less functional than when they started -- they quit their jobs and start ill-conceived businesses (usually life coaching) and hang around the school for years, like I did (but at least I was employed). Also, within the teachings is a principle that says anytime you are upset, it's your own fault because of 'unresolved material' in your consciousness. So, anytime the school or any staff member/volunteer/faculty member does anything upsetting, it gets turned back on you and you're told to 'work your process.' This is another cult technique. There are lots of them at play. Taking personal responsibility is a good lesson, but they take it too far and it becomes a mind-screw because the school doesn't practice what they preach. There is a lot of hypocrisy, and they're slippery about it. I feel bad posting this (I am a former USMer after all, and I drank the kool-aid about not criticizing), but I feel a responsibility to those who are considering spending their time & money on the program. Do your own research and think critically about it. Then, even if you decide to go for it, you'll be better informed and less likely to get sucked into the cult or have your life derailed in the process. One last thing. The author of the cult book, Steve Hassan, has a website with info about cults, and he recently posted a "Benchmark Analysis" that compares USM to a couple small, spiritually based schools based on publicly available records, and the results are pretty damning. It reveals some pretty unsavory facts about the place. You can Google it. I hope this is helpful.