Most of my own writing about Access has been on the snarky or light side, but I've shared unhappy Access stories here before as well, such as on this October 2009 post. People are still writing to me because they are concerned about a friend or family member who has become involved in Access, and they want to present that person with hard, clear evidence that Access is a scam. Virtually the only critical information they can find on the Internet is my blog, and while I raise the questions (and, of course, serve a heapin' helpin' of snark), I don't necessarily provide concrete answers that they can print out and wave under their Access-infatuated loved one's nose.
My emphasis on the crazy Rasputin origins of Access, for example, and my commentary about all of the concomitant silliness, don't seem to carry the same weight as a more careful critical analysis might, and I really can't expect that. Still, I try to be as helpful as I can, knowing full well that the task may be, as one of my favorite Anon detractors recently pointed out, utterly Sisyphean. Consider this post yet another one of many attempts to push that boulder up the mountain.
Dear Cosmic Connie...
I received an email last month that I'm printing verbatim because it has nothing that would identify the sender. I'm also including my reply to this correspondent, with a few added notes and links not in my original response. Those additions are indented and in italics:
Q. How much do you know about Access? Do you know anyone that has done the classes and then quit on them? I have a family member that is taking the classes and yes it does cost a lot of money. And they already bought their tickets to the event in Costa Rica. I don't know what to think about this. I'm scared about a lot of things that I read. My family member tells me it's not a cult and they don't do sex things. Can you help me with this? Thanks.
A. I've pretty much written everything I know about Access on my blog, but I hear from ex-Access people (and from worried friends and relatives of Access people) fairly frequently. The ex-Access folks generally feel that they wasted time and lots of money on the various classes, and in some cases they blame Access, at least in part, for destroying their relationships.
I'm not saying or implying that Access members "do sex things" in their actual classes, but Access does seem to have a free-and-easy attitude about sex; the general philosophy, as I understand it, is that people should experiment sexually with as many partners as they want to (and can get away with). It doesn't matter if they or the partner(s) are married to or in a committed relationship with others. I have heard this from numerous people who have been involved with Access.
Access also offers some classes specifically about sexuality, and while there's nothing intrinsically wrong with that, if you look at it in the context of their general teachings about sex, then I would say that someone who is NOT in Access -- but who is in a close, committed relationship with a person taking an Access class -- might have reason to worry about the future of their relationship.
Is Access a cult? It depends on your definition. Access founder Gary Douglas actually wrote a comment to my blog at one time and insisted that Access isn't a cult.
[Note: Although I didn't include this in my email response to this person, here's the link....Access may not be a "cult" in the classic sense of requiring that members leave home, shave their heads, dress a certain way, or recite some holy scripture or whatever. But there are many cult-like aspects to Access, not to mention a lot of utter nonsense that is being taught in those very expensive classes.
As I noted to my new friend Citizen Noir on a recent thread, I may have erred on the side of civility in my response to Gary, but commenters who followed were more direct. ~CC]
Also, while Access doesn't require that you give up all of your worldly goods to join (as many classic cults do), they apparently DO try to dip into your bank account as much as possible. Like so many similar organizations, Access is good at the upsell -- at manipulating members into believing they "need" the next [and more expensive] level.
Furthermore, there does seem to be a lot of "hero worship" of Gary Douglas and, especially, his younger sidekick Dain Heer. Dain apparently has his own constantly changing harem of very willing women; it would appear that, like so many New-Wage or pseudo-spiritual leaders, he is taking advantage of his position of "leadership," such as it is.
So, although some may argue with my use of the word, I've frequently referred to Access as a "cult" on my blog, or, alternatively, as a "cult-like" organization (or something similar to that description).
I think the main point here is that an organization doesn't have to be a classic "cult" in order to be silly at best and harmful at worst -- harmful to relationships, harmful to one's financial stability, and possibly harmful to one's health. (From what I have heard, for example, some Accessories don't believe "safe sex" practices are necessary; they apparently believe that the mind tricks they learn through Access will keep them from unwanted pregnancies or sexually transmitted diseases.)Two other recent messages I received were similarly problematic because I couldn't really offer any resources beyond what I have already presented on my blog. Here's the first one, and my answer. Once again, my additions for the purpose of this blog post are indented and in italics:
Not surprisingly, I have been told by Access believers that I am making too big a deal out of all of this, and that I am being too judgmental, and so forth.
[Here, for example, is one recent comment from someone who claims to be having a positive experience with Access. This person wrote in response to my 2009 post, "The Incredible lightness of boinking," in which I shared the story of a man who believes Access had rung the death knell for his already challenged marriage. ~CC]Although everyone's experiences are different, it seems to me that the effects of Access are a big deal to those who have been hurt in some way by it.
I have a feeling that as Access gets more popular, which seems to be happening now, I will be hearing from more disillusioned ex-Access members, and worried friends and relatives of Access members such as you. I wish I could give you advice about what to do about a family member who is apparently getting sucked into the big Access money machine. If the person has reached the legal age of consent there probably isn't much you can do. But perhaps this is just a passing fancy and your relative will tire of it.
Meanwhile, even though a lot of what I've written about Access is pure snark, you might be able to get some insight from my blog posts. If you haven't read all of my Access-related posts, here's the link to the Google search results (which seem to work better than Blogger's internal search or the post labels): http://tinyurl.com/69neth7
I hope this was helpful. Keep in touch. And I'll be keeping my fingers crossed that your relative will see the light before too much money -- and possibly important relationships -- go down the drain.
Q. I have a friend that has recently began doing ACCESS groups [locally]. She picked up this ACCESS stuff [in another state] where it is quite big with the alt. medicine crowd. I am so glad I found your page, because I was invited to a group and did my research before going! My friend is slightly overweight, just got out of a bad break-up, and is financially unstable (perfect candidate, right?) ... This ACCESS thing is being marketed as a legitimate science, like chiropractic, or massage. I'm not sure what other resources (besides your blog) that I can share with people to show them it is a scam? I feel like the only person who knows it's a scam here, and anyone I tell thinks I'm ridiculous or doesn't believe me! Any help would be much appreciated!
A. I'm sorry to hear about your friend... I think you are correct in your assessment that she is in just the right state of vulnerability -- probably having self-esteem/body-image issues, being on the mend from a bad relationship, AND being financially unstable -- to make her ripe for the picking. These factors will possibly make her highly vulnerable to sexual manipulation from Access members, and certainly vulnerable to financial manipulation. If she has any money left at all I have little doubt that Access will find some way to persuade her to part with it...
...To me... the very silliness of Access is enough of a red flag to lead to the conclusion that the whole thing is a scam. However, I am painfully aware that to people who want to believe -- who NEED to believe -- it's going to take a lot more than snarking, or pointing out irrationalities and inconsistencies in Access' teachings, to convince them that Access is a sex-and-money scheme that really only benefits its very small group of leaders.
I have no doubt that there is a body of scientific research that would point to the ineffectiveness of Access tools such as "The Bars," other than a placebo effect. But I cannot point you to any particular source right now (though you have inspired me to go on a search). Certainly there is a dearth of critical information specifically about Access. I suspect that they're just not "big enough" yet to have captured the attention of serious journalists and scientific researchers.
And I suppose Gary Douglas' own claims that he originally received the information about "The Bars" from the very late Russian "holy" man Rasputin and other disembodied entities via channeling (here's the link, in case you haven't read it) will do very little to dissuade those who are into alt-healing in a big way and are all too willing to accept pseudoscience as the real deal. This is especially true because Gary and gang seem to be doing everything they can to bury the alleged Rasputin origins as they try to go more mainstream.
[Note: The sanitized version of Access' history, as it currently appears on their Web site, simply says, "Access was generated as a series of insights and awareness developed by Gary starting in 1990, to process people energetically to release their limitations and generate their lives from choice. The target is to bring as much consciousness to as many people who are willing to have it." Not one mention of Rasputin or the other otherworldly sources.]People who want to believe that, for example, Gary and properly trained Accessories can transform bad wine into good, or can otherwise manipulate objects at the molecular level simply by using Access mind tools, are probably going to believe that no matter how much rational, scientific evidence to the contrary you show them. The placebo effect can be powerful indeed, and someone who truly wants to believe in the power of Access will take a sip of bad wine that has been properly "treated" by Access mumbo-jumbo, and will say, "What do you know, it DOES taste better!"
Someone who wants to believe that a "Bars" session revived them, or that Dain Heer has magic hands and a gift for "energy work," will also believe it. (Never underestimate the power of lust, either. There are apparently plenty of horny and willing women who will gladly offer positive testimonials about Dain's work and Access.)
Perhaps more difficult to demonstrate will be the Access claim that those great gobs of plastic in an area of the Pacific Ocean, which Access' Ocean 300 project intends to tackle, will be "demanifested" by the group of Accessories who are planning to go out on a boat and work their magic. But I have no doubt that if and when that boat trip ever occurs, Accessories will find some way to fudge measurements or otherwise rationalize about it.Yet another email came from a European concerned about a sibling who had gone off the deep end with Access. I won't print this one verbatim; I'll just summarize. The person's sibling, who had just turned forty, had been married for more than a decade and a half and was the parent of two young children. Apparently the sibling had undergone a radical personality/behavioral change since attending an Access weekend event. The whole family was worried. One of the correspondent's other family members had paid a visit to the infatuated Accessory's home and reported that throughout the visit, the latter remained sequestered in a locked room in the house, "ignoring the children, just reading these weird books and CD's from the Access Consciousness...laughing strangely and behav[ing] as if on drugs."
[Note: A friend pointed out that the bulk of the plastic out there is on a molecular scale, "Not the big glops of baggies and fishnet they show on the website. That means, if they ever get out there, that the results will be as imperceptible as ever." Here's more information.]So in a way we're kind of fighting an uphill battle when it comes to demonstrating that Access or any other similar group or teaching is indeed a scam.
I am also more than aware that many eager believers have their shields up when it comes to snarky or critical bloggers... Many simply say, "Consider the source!" and are likely to dismiss [criticism as the product of] a hater, a negative thinker, a naysayer, an envious soul, an overly judgmental person, someone who is too closed-minded or fearful to look at things from the Access perspective -- or all of the above. Unfortunately many of these people have the same attitude towards more somber, scientific, and credentialed sources as well. They have a tendency to lump all critics and skeptics into one big category, looking upon the whole lot as a force whose closed-mindedness and naysaying are keeping the human race (or the humanoid race, as Access would have it) from progressing.
Although there's been a great deal of arguing back and forth over whether Access (or any other group I've written about) is actually a cult, I do think that the Rick Ross Cult Education Forums are a valuable general resource about influential groups...
I am in contact with other people who are either ex-Access members or who are worried or concerned about family members or friends who are members. I will get in touch with some of them and see if they can offer you any advice, support, or resources. Again, though, they may not be able to offer the hard-core proof you seek that Access is a scam.
I'm sorry I can't be of more help right now, but do know that you're NOT ridiculous, and you're certainly not alone. I hope you'll stay in touch.
And this was apparently after only a relatively brief involvement with Access. The sibling was now also demanding a divorce and reportedly wouldn't even talk to the dismayed spouse without first calling Access buddies so they could give advice over the phone about what the sibling should say to the spouse. The new Accessory had already spent thousands of euros on Access courses, books, and videos -- and even worse, was taking the young kids to some Access youth classes.
That last part is pretty disturbing but not surprising. Access is trying to capture the kiddie market in a big way, as indicated, for example, here and here and here. (That last link is to the Access True Knowledge Foundation, which includes among its Board of Directors Houston heiress Curry Glassell. There's a sad story right there, to which I've alluded several times on this blog, and will eventually go into more detail, but now is not the time.)
Anyway, my correspondent tried to reason with the sibling in an email, but only received a strange reply, the main message of which seemed to be that the Accessory's kids "had never been happier" after being told about the divorce.
"I am horrified to discover how much a person can be brain washed only after spending such a short time with these people," wrote my correspondent.
The writer wanted recommendations of support groups or groups that work against cults and groups like Access. I recommended Rick Ross's site as a resource, wishing there were a dedicated, Access-specific group. [Note: There is now; see addendum at the end of this post. ~CC] Apart from that, my response was much like the ones I printed above, except I also suggested that maybe the sibling was unhappy to begin with or at least discontented -- suffering from a bit of a midlife crisis, perhaps -- and it was possible that Access merely provided a convenient stepping stone out of the old life and into a new one. Had it not been Access, it might very well have been someone or something else. I added that I knew the point was moot since it was, after all, Access that the person had chosen, but I wanted to gently help put things in a larger perspective for my correspondent.
Anyone who knows anything about cults or cult-like groups knows that the story my European correspondent shared is a very common one, as are the Access tales I've heard from others. There is nothing extraordinary about these stories, nothing really shocking to cult experts or observers. And whatever damage Access may have done, it certainly isn't on the large scale of, say, Scientology (from which Access founder Gary Douglas almost certainly got some of his inspiration).
Moreover, Access probably has not yet wreaked the financial havoc of the boiler-room operations that lurk behind scammy TV infomercials and Internet marketing hustles. Of course the commonality of the stories, and the fact that the financial damage is on a smaller scale than that of boiler rooms, do not make the situations any less disturbing or even shocking to the individuals who are experiencing them.
Still, it's easy for some folks to dismiss stories like these by noting that people often go off the deep end when they get enthusiastic about anything, be it an LGAT method, a rock singer, a church group, a sports team, or what have you. When discussing these matters, it's also inevitable that someone will point out that if there weren't a willing market, the scammers and cult leaders (or leaders of cult-like organizations) would have to find another way to make a living. All of this is true. Yet charismatic leaders and groups take full advantage of people's weaknesses and vulnerability -- their desperation or discontent, their fears and longings -- so I think that in most cases the lion's share of the responsibility/blame is on them.
Said Sir Salty:
I like the word cult.
This is a very serious situation … a loaded word is called for. Plus :: using it maintains a kind of consanguinity with the long running fight against group manipulation. This problem didn’t just appear out of thin air :: it’s an evolution of darkness....
That said :: I like to say “cult-tactics” instead. Keep the word … but make it a verb. Label the leader :: not the group members. Cause there is nothing special about the people in the group :: they are just people doing what people do in groups. The aberrant :: and abhorrent :: behaviors are those of the leader/s.
You can lead Accessories to facts, but you can't make 'em think.
I was discussing some of these matters with a friend who for several very good reasons is no fan of Access. I expressed my frustration at not really having a one-stop source for correspondents who request it -- a source that could scientifically or rationally debunk Access. My friend responded:
How can you scientifically debunk it? It is channeled from Rasputin. What else does somebody need to know? If a three-headed flaming goat coughs up a copy of "rules to live by" I know enough right there. I don't need to study them to see if they "work."... For many people there is an irresistible yearning for something greater that they want to be connected to. It might be religion or who knows what. And along comes Access and "it's easy" and they go for it. Then all the usual cult stuff and group think takes over. You get deeper in as you've invested $$ in it, of course.
Well, actually, Access could be scientifically debunked. Not hard at all. Gary Douglas claims he can change matter and transport matter, etc. So demonstrate it in public. If he did that he could get the $1,000,000 Randi prize, and LOTS of attention for his group. I mean a real test, not changing "bad wine" into "not as bad wine" as confirmed by cleavaged accessories and his hotel host in Costa Rica.I like my friend's suggestion of a formal test, with or without James Randi, but of course Accessories could always protest that changing a pencil into a pen is a useless waste of energy and time -- a cheap parlor trick unworthy of an infinite being -- and that the REAL transformations Access creates are beyond the perception of us Muggles...er... humans.
Change a pencil into a pen; that would do it. Not hard at all. I could write the test protocol in 5 minutes; Randi's group would run it.
Lots of his other BS is easily dubunked, like the claim that dictionaries changed the meaning of the word "want" around 1946 and caused no end of problems for humanoid-kind. You can check a Middle English dictionary and find the meaning he claims was the incorrect one for "want" that fooled the universe into not helping us after 1946.
At any rate, Gary and his sidekick Dain Heer are joyfully going forth with their claims -- or strong implications -- that the consciousness tricks they teach really "work." They are, for example, implying that Gary's mighty gift for asking questions of the Universe was responsible for helping to clean up the disastrous BP oil spill -- as noted in this blog post. It's all about the molecules, don't you know:
How could consciousness change the world? Douglas and Heer have been marshalling their forces to create some deliberate changes to our challenged physical environment. When the disastrous oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico occurred, Douglas asked for weeks if anything could be done to assist the earth in recovering from its effects. For weeks and weeks, the answer he got was no. Finally, one day he got a yes—and that turned out to be the day when the gushing well was successfully capped.
Douglas then invited all his clients to collaborate with him on a coordinated effort to change the ecological devastation happening in the gulf at a specified time. Three days later, the New York Times revealed the discovery of the microbe, which was devouring the oil, resulting in much less remaining to damage the environment.
Thousands of people worldwide who have taken live or virtual seminars with Douglas and Heer have learned to do a method called “de-molecular manifestation and molecular de-manifestation.” Douglas calls this “talking to the molecules and asking them to show up differently.”
De-molecular manifestation is asking something which doesn’t show up to appear, while molecular de-manifestation is asking something which does exist to disappear something else can appear.
Sound woo-woo? Perhaps to some, however this method has been taught to complete novices with no prior exposure to Access Consciousness or other trainings, all over the world. Many witness changes in the pH of water—measured by an objective pH test strip. Others, including those who walked into the room after the changing process occurred, have tasted changes in cheap wine and the British gourmet delicacy, Marmite.Marmite?!?
Changing marmite and cheap wine into something tasty is entertaining, and potentially life changing when the people who are participating realize they have that potency with energy. If major pollution situation, such as a nuclear accident that polluted huge portions of the food supply, were to occur, this process could be a potentially lifesaver for many people. Are the environmental affects of the on-going radiation leaks following March’s tsunami and earthquake in Japan fully known or revealed?
I guess my speculation, earlier this year, that Access would find a way to take credit for helping clean up the spill was not far off base. (Here's the link to the post; scroll down to "A Course in Methane Miracles.") On the other hand, it could be that the Magickal Clearing Audio from the Wimberliars was responsible for the mess being cleared up. But I digress.
Bidness is booming (sez Gary, anyway)
While the last of the BP oil molecules continue to de-manifest, Gary Douglas and Dain Heer and their giggly followers just keep spewing their own (snake) oil into more areas -- not just into the kiddie and education market, but also the business world. This July 2011 blog post talks about Gary's astonishing business acumen.
Business is just one of the topics on which Douglas consults with clients worldwide. At a time when most seminars are dropping in attendance by 75%, Douglas’s seminars and product sales are booming.But wait... doesn't exactness require thought and judgment, both of which are apparently frowned on in Access? Or maybe Access has changed its view about thought since this 2007 blurb about the effect of Access workshops on participants (originally quoted on my first Access post back in June 2007):
The exactness of his questions is legendary. It’s in your best interest to be exact in business, Douglas observes. Many people talk around their issues in an attempt to create confusion.
...The more precise you can be about what the deal is, what you require to be delivered, and what the other person will deliver, the more you will avoid the misunderstandings about how much you’ve paid and what you will receive. Precision usually includes numbers and other details like “how much of x will you provide, for what cost, by what time?”
Once his exact questions have elicited a figure in a deal, Douglas has protected himself against someone coming back with a demand for more money for various “extras.”
Douglas always asks, “Exactly what is this going to cost me? Exactly what are you going to deliver it, when will you deliver it, and what do I have to deliver in order for you to make this work?”
At the end of most workshops, the facilitator usually asks the audience if they have any thoughts or activity in their head. The participants of the class are often surprised to realize that they not only have no thoughts in their heads, they can't easily form any. From that place of no thought, they can create from infinite possibility. And that is the aim of ACCESS: to give you the freedom and the awareness AND THE TOOLS to be the infinite you.Since Access is constantly changing and evolving, no-thinking may no longer be a desirable state for Accessories. Or maybe Gary and Dain preach about the importance of thought and precision when doing "business consulting," especially with men, and they downplay the importance of these things when leading Access classes filled with giggly, cleavage-baring women. Oh, well...whatever works to get Dain laid, or to persuade the wealthy gals to give all of their money to Gary.
Judging from some of the current copy on the Access Web site, however, there's still a place in Access for non-thinking:
Access is about facilitating people to be in oneness and to perceive, know, be and receive everything. It is not about teaching, proving or instructing. Many modalities and philosophies create teachers and gurus who have answers; the "knowing" of everyone else is diminished. Access empowers you to claim, own and acknowledge what you know what is right and true for you. You can choose for you as the energy, space, consciousness, generation and change you are. You do not have to embody solidity, form and structure. You can live a life of infinite possibility. What would it look like to generate your relationships, your business, your body, your sexualness, your finances and your life from consciousness?Whew. That makes my brain hurt just to think about it. So I'm trying to non-think about it. Just give me a moment... Okay, I feel a little better, though I still seem to be embodying solidity, form, and structure. Then again, I'm only a human, as opposed to a humanoid and Infinite Being.
But getting back to Gary's stunning business smarts, as described in the blog post mentioned above: I wonder how the whole demanding-exact-answers routine fits into Access' teachings that only questions are useful, and answers are too limiting. Access is all about "Living in the Question." And one of Gary Douglas' favorite sayings, repeated time and again by Accessories, is, "A question empowers, an answer dis-empowers."
So is the person to whom you're asking the questions supposed to answer with another question? Wouldn't an answer be too limiting and judgmental?
Also, what about that Access practice of "living in 10-second increments" (as elucidated by that great non-thinking Access spokes-blond, Rikka, in this vid)? If someone seals a business deal with Gary and then that person changes his or her mind ten seconds later, is Gary cool with it? Apropos of that, I've heard from people who have been screwed (in a business sense) by Gary Douglas and his dodgy strategies of using inexact language, or living in 10-second increments, or what have you. Maybe the real deal is that he demands exactness from others but doesn't feel a need to deliver it himself.
I do wonder, though, if potential Accessories would be advised to ask, before paying for an Access class, “Exactly what is this going to cost me? Exactly what are you going to deliver it, when will you deliver it, and what do I have to deliver in order for you to make this work?”
I wonder too about the accuracy of the claim that Gary Douglas's seminars and product sales are "booming." The idea that Access might actually be trying to make any significant inroads in corporate consulting or seminars is a little disgusting, and not as far-fetched as it might seem, given the corporate world's longstanding willingness to embrace cult-like LGATs and questionable gurus (think Landmark Education, Tony Robbins, etc).*
Access is already peddling business-related frauducts and workshops, as indicated on the "business" tagged page on the Access Web site. Is the next step a series of corporate workshops? Will decision makers in otherwise respectable, rational companies actually try to send their employees to Access classes?
MEMO TO CORPORATE MANAGERS WHO ARE EVEN REMOTELY CONSIDERING BRINGING ACCESS CONSCIOUSNESS TO YOUR WORKPLACE: Don't waste your company's money or your employees' time with this scammy organization that was founded by an ex-real estate agent and antiques dealer who originally claimed he received his information from Rasputin. Do your homework. Here is a link, once again.In any case it does seem that Access is popping up in more and more places, and as I said to one of my correspondents above, as it continues to grow, I expect that I will be receiving more distress calls. And I wish I could do more to help.
Meanwhile, I invite any ex-Accessories to comment publicly on this blog for the benefit of those who are looking for information. Be a resource for someone who needs it. You don't have to use your real name, of course, and you can be completely anonymous.
If you don't want to publicly comment but would like to help someone via private correspondence, contact me off-blog with an email address I can share (privately) with those in need. That's is potentially a little more cumbersome, but I do want to respect everyone's privacy.**
My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. And thank you in advance for your help. The whole effort may indeed be Sisyphean, but I still think it's worthwhile.
Addendum, 27 June 2012: There are now two Access threads on the Rick Ross Forum:
Both make reference to a very promising new site, Access Schism, which was founded by a person who knows much more about Access than he ever wanted to know. Access Schism also addresses other LGAT organizations such as Landmark, Lifespring, etc., but there is a lot of focus on Access. I applaud the founder for starting this site and plan to contribute myself as well.
* Here's more about Landmark and similar LGATs from SHAMblog's Steve Salerno. And here's a very good thread on the Rick Ross forum about the potential harm of LGATs.).** There are some ex-Access insiders who have on several occasions offered help and information when I asked, but they are understandably very intent on preserving their anonymity when acting as Access critics, so I have to contact them privately, and ask their permission to share their email addresses privately, each time someone asks for help. I understand the need for this but as I noted, it gets a little cumbersome. Also, these people have their own self-help seminar businesses, and given the fact that I am not a fan of such things I do not feel entirely comfortable referring those who need information about Access to sources who might have a marketing agenda of their own. Even so, these folks have been helpful in the past and I appreciate the information they have shared.
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