Friday, May 21, 2010

George Daranyi (The ManKind Project) Interviewed on The Secret Lives of Men Podcast

I'm not sure how I feel about the Mankind Project - and since I have never done one of their initiation weekends (which are quite expensive by a student's standards), I'll have to reserve judgment.

So anyway, here is the leader of the organization being interviewed by Chris Blazina, Ph.D at The Secret Lives of Men podcast.

The Chairman of the ManKind Project, George Daranyi, was interviewed on Blog Talk Radio's program "The Secret Lives of Men" with Chris Blazina, Ph.D - a notable and published Psychologist, Researcher and Author. Chris's show archives are available at The Secret Lives of Men, along with the book of the same name.

This interview with George covers a broad spectrum. Chris and George explore why initiation and male-only spaces help men evolve in their emotional skills and are a valuable and needed resources in a society that still expects men to 'hang tough' in the face of growing uncertainty and fear. Developing healthy relational attitudes, beliefs and responsibility for actions and feelings helps men improve all the relationships in their lives. A healthy way to develop these competencies is with other men committed to mentoring one another through all the stages of their lives, a mission which the ManKind Project has been doing for 25 years.

George speaks to the 'calling' that men feel to engage with other men and the fear that prevents many men from reaching out to get the support and the challenge they need to be successful in life. The ManKind Project is the largest male training and education support network in the United States - with 30 communities hosting regular men's groups and New Warrior Training Adventures throughout the year. The ManKind Project International also represents 7 other independent global regions, in German speaking and French speaking Europe, the UK, South Africa, New Zealand, Australia and Canada.

If you're ready to find your place in a circle of men - contact someone in your local community to learn more.

Listen to the Interview:

Download the Interview: RIGHT CLICK HERE


Anonymous said...

Mankind Project has elicited one of the larger threads at Rick Ross's anti-cult site. There are numerous testimonials about the destructive nature of the confrontational, EST-style group encounter tactics (performed by people with no therapeutic licensing or accountability), and their multi-level marketing aggression about having members recruit new applicants--often vulnerable men with low ego strength from recovery centers like AlAnon. Several ex-members have broken the heavy-handed confidentiality agreement to expose what the intitation ceremony is actually like. There are about half a dozen accounts which corrobate each other and corroborate the training manual, which is extensively summarized at the beginning of the thread. (Its original posting in full was taken down after MKP threatened legal action.)

The central problem is that MKP refused to tell applicants ahead of time any details of what the ritual involved because this would supposedly compromise its effectiveness. So there could be no informed consent to procedures involving things like abusive confrontation, sleep deprivation or nudity, which applicants with heavy trauma loads would have known to avoid. Nor was there any psychological screening to ensure that everyone admitted is sufficiently free of mental health issues or trauma load to handle the ceremony. Insofar as MKP now divulges any hint of what the initation involves on its website or in its literature, it's because of the Scinto suicide case, for which MKP settled out of court. Despite years of complaints, they only capitulated to basic safety procedures after their "initiation" triggered a suicide and the courts forced them to give applicants fair warning of what they getting into. Even then, they maintained as much secrecy as they could.

Take a day and read the *entire* archive at Rick Ross. I don't think it's possible to read the details of the infantilizing "initiation" that applicants were put through and come away thinking that it's psychologically responsible or politically progressive in any way. Pay particular attention to the MKP boosters who appear in the threads to defend the program. They're uniformly unimpressive. They claim that their own experiences were not so extreme and call the critics liars, or they shrug and say that not everybody can handle it, so not everybody should sign up. When asked by the moderator how applicants were supposed to make an informed decision about attending, since the details of the ceremony were withheld, they have no answer. When told that the issue is precisely that there are no responsible mental-health screening procedures, they blink and continue complaining about the assault on their beloved program. It's as if they haven't reached the Piagetian stage of formal operations. They simply can't grasp the ethical issue of informed consent as an abstract concept. It just doesn't register for them. The only ethical issue they can grasp is that ex-members broke the fraternity pledge of secrecy. In their minds, men who "couldn't handle" the ceremony are not particularly worth considering; they're weak, their wound is sad but it's their problem and has nothing to do with the program.

In one man's account, when he chose to leave the weekend early because of objections to its procedures, he was shamed before the group as someone who "wasn't going to graduate as a man."

In my opinion, no one who is training to be a therapist should come anywhere near endorsing this herd-mind, hazing- "initiation" stuff. It's an evasive position to say that you can't render judgment until you've done a weekend yourself. There's plenty of public domain information about the organization and the damage it's done to some people.

WH said...

Thanks for the comments - I actually did NOT know about this - I hadn't come across the thread and hadn't thought to search for it as a cult.

The men I know who have done the program have not tried to recruit me (although they have offered more info if I want it) and they have not mentioned anything about feeling the coercive procedures.

It is honest to say I couldn't render judgment because I didn't have this info - I'll check it out and if it feels valid, I'll post a warning to stay away from it.

Again, thanks for the comments.