Monday, May 24, 2010

Digging into the ManKind Project's Initiation Program - The Cult Beneath the Concept

I recently posted an interview with the Chairman of the ManKind Project, George Daranyi, from the Blog Talk Radio program "The Secret Lives of Men," with Chris Blazina, Ph.D.

Before getting into the interesting stuff, here is a lengthy summary of their initiation program:
A premise of the New Warrior Training Adventure was an introductory, experiential, weekend-long men’s gathering and initiation focusing on deep self-examination. This initiatory training was modeled - unconsciously, at first, and later intentionally - largely on Joseph Campbell’s cross-cultural research, and uses his stages of initiation: separation, descent, ordeal and welcoming back into the community of initiated men. Integral to the New Warrior Training Adventure was that part of initiation referred to by Campbell as the Hero’s Journey[12] and referred to by the New Warrior Training Adventure as both the Hero’s Journey and "GUTS." The Hero’s Journey, as used in this context, was an internal quest to fight one’s own internal dragons. The premise was that a man could not fight the demons of the world until he had fought and conquered his own. At the New Warrior Training Adventure, those demons were represented as "shadow." In Jungian psychology, "shadow" is that part of a person that is hidden, repressed and denied.[13] The myths of Gilgamesh, Odysseus and Perceval are often seen as symbolic of the journey of everyman. The New Warrior Training Adventure took place in a safe container in ritual space. Container is meant as a metaphor for the alchemist’s crucible, a vessel capable of containing the energetic processes of transformation. These processes had to be emotionally safe, psychologically evocative of ritual space. Ritual space is an area, removed from the mundane or ordinary reality, which has been given symbolic or sacred intent by the container. In men’s healing work, it is an area, often in a natural setting outdoors, where men can meet free from the influences of civilization within a container that feels safe and blessed, often through ritual.

The work of initiation and other men’s healing is physically, emotionally and spiritually energetic, which requires a substantial container. Initiation of men, as used here, means a process used to transmit and model a healthy understanding of what it means to be a man. It includes rituals, activities and ceremonies designed to create a meaningful sense of inclusion and identity as a man. This is distinct from the term "rites of passage," which connotes a focus on the societal and cultural functions of rituals and ceremonies, as written about by Van Gennep in his 1909 seminal work Rites of Passage. Initiation, as used to describe the New Warrior Training Adventure, focuses on the personal and psychological impact of the process on the individual.[14]

When Kauth, Tosi and Hering first explored creating a workshop, there was no consideration that it would have been an initiatory process. Whatever else any of them thought it might be or might become, none thought in terms of "initiation." As Tosi said regarding the development of the New Warrior Training Adventure in 1984, "We never heard the word ‘initiation."[15] When asked about initiation and if he was aware the New Warrior Training Adventure was an initiatory process, Kauth offered, "That’s really a key question … because I don’t remember any of us thinking in those terms. All we knew was that, intuitively, this was something important to do."[16]

The founders did not understand they were reinventing initiation for their time. Joseph Henderson wrote in 1967, "Initiation, more than any other body of knowledge, has suffered throughout history from the fate of continually being forgotten and having to be rediscovered."[17]

That those involved in the New Warrior Training Adventure later came to understand the concept of initiation, and how they came to understand it, is beyond the scope of this paper. However, an understanding of the nature of initiation and the New Warrior Training Adventure as an initiatory experience is critical to placing the New Warrior Training Adventure in an historical context. As the New Warrior Training Adventure was an initiatory experience, it should be recognized that the men who offered the experience were initiators, in this case, initiators of men.

This is all very basic information.

However, an anonymous reader/commenter on the original post suggested I might want to dig a little deeper into The ManKind Project before endorsing them or giving them exposure here.

I said I would, and that I would post about what I found. He sent me to the Rick Ross site's page on the ManKind Project - the Rick Ross site is devoted to exposing cults and pseudo-cults.

Before getting into that, here is a piece from the Daily Mail (UK) about one guy's experience in the initiation weekend - the New Warriors Training Adventure (NWTA).

My (very) weird weekend with the naked woodland warriors who travel to remote England to 'reclaim their masculinity'

By Tom Mitchelson
Last updated at 1:53 AM on 13th March 2010

How our man found himself with 65 naked men chanting, drumming - and screaming their rage against women to 'reclaim' their lost masculinity...

The temperature has plunged to freezing. I am deep in a remote English woodland outside Exeter.

I have been blindfolded and I am standing, holding hands, with a long line of men - who, until about 24 hours ago, I'd never met before.

Together, we are stumbling through the scrub as beating tribal drums guide our way. Oh yes, and we are naked. Totally naked.

Wild man: Tom Mitchelson embraces his inner warrior

Wild man: Tom Mitchelson embraces his inner warrior

Abruptly, my blindfold is ripped off and I see we have been led to a shadowy candle-lit room. There are about 65 of us in a double horseshoe formation.

This is a ceremony where we are to become 'new warriors'. And then the dancing begins.

I wish I were somewhere else. Anywhere else. So why on earth am I here?

I have signed up to the ManKind Project, an all-male group boasting 1,700 UK members that aims to release men's 'inner warrior' and reclaim their masculinity. I am about to graduate from their New Warrior training course.

It was launched in 1985 in the U.S. by a former marine, Rich Tosi, a therapist, Bill Kauth, and a university professor, Ron Hering, under the guise of providing 'educational services'.

They claim to be a not-for-profit company and nearly 40,000 men have attended their courses worldwide.

But things haven't been going well. Five years ago one of their recruits, Michael Scinto, made a complaint to the Madison County Sheriff in Texas that he'd been abused during a traumatic weekend with the project.

He subsequently committed suicide and his relatives filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the ManKind Project, which eventually settled out of court and claimed it would change certain of its practices.

I had also been tipped off by a number of concerned wives - who'd noticed disturbing changes in their husbands' behaviour since attending one of ManKind's UK weekends away.

Tom signed up to the ManKind Project, an all-male group boasting  1,700 UK members that aims to release men's 'inner warrior' and reclaim  their masculinity

Tom signed up to the ManKind Project, an all-male group boasting 1,700 UK members that aims to release men's 'inner warrior' and reclaim their masculinity

My aim is to go undercover to find out just how serious these allegations against them are - or whether they're just a bunch of misguided men who need a break from their women.

My first experience of the organisation is not pleasant. After signing up online to attend their initiation weekend, I am sent an intimidating amount of paperwork - including a confidentiality agreement. Of course, they have no idea I'm a journalist, and it's costing me £500 for the privilege.

Everything I read from them is baffling non-speak. They claim the weekend is a 'process of initiation and self-examination that is crucial to the development of a healthy and mature male self'.

They claim they help move men away from the 'comforting embrace' of their mother - something, on the face of it, some wives might even encourage. Then I am told I will 'confront' my 'dependence on women', to help me move into the 'masculine kingdom'.

To be honest, it all sounds absolutely ludicrous. But nothing as ludicrous as what I discover when I arrive at the training centre in the West Country.

As I enter, I am asked to line up with my fellow recruits and we are ordered to 'observe the sacred silence'.

This is all before we've been shown to where we're staying. It's all rather bizarre, as they begin a strange game where I am asked to walk up to a man who stares at me, with black camouflage paint on his face. The process is repeated again, and again.

Then I am ordered into a Dutch barn, where yet another confidentiality agreement is thrust in front of me, forbidding me to mention anything that happens over the weekend.

They seem to have a paranoid fear of anything getting out. This, I suppose, should have set even more alarm bells ringing.

Next, I am shouted at to hand over all the food I've been ordered to bring - any food, but enough for three men. I feel as if I'm on a military boot camp, although I suspect most of the participants are really just accountants from Slough.

We are all told that we are on a 'journey' and we 'will never be the same again'. Then we are led into a darkened room, where more people shout random words at us.

I seem to have wondered into a Marx Brothers film, but without the laughs.

The unnamed men, dressed in black with their black face paint, want me to hand over my mobile phone, watch, books and food. I do, but I am subjected to a complete search of my bag and my body.

They discover half a bottle of rum, notebook and pen. The faux commando is livid. He shrieks: 'Do you have problems following orders?' I nod guiltily, stunning him into silence.

We are directed to another dark room, where all the new recruits and I sit for more than an hour. In silence. At this point, I'm just wondering what on earth is going to happen next.

Suddenly, three men burst in, give me a bandana for a blindfold and take me to a place where drums are beating. I remove the blindfold to see I am surrounded by what I can only describe as the Men In Black.

Many of the men talk about their relationships, work and feelings  of anger and regret

Many of the men in the group talk about their relationships, work and feelings of anger and regret

A leader holding a wooden staff decorated with feathers rambles on about the mission of the weekend, using the pompous jargon that would later become very familiar: words like 'shadow', 'warriors', 'masculine', 'commitment' and 'responsibility'.

He tells us how to be a man. It's hard to take from a man wearing face paint, carrying a feathered stick.

Having finished his speech, he calls upon men at random to stand up and explain why they were there. Hard to say why, but people are starting to open their hearts.

One man cries as he answers questions about his unhappy marriage. The guards stand in a threatening circle around us, staring aggressively in silence.

I am starting to feel very uncomfortable. When I signed up for the course, they told me I couldn't drive there because there was a shortage of car-parking spaces.

Instead, I was told I should join the others on their minibus to travel several miles from the station, so it is with a sinking feeling that I realise I am stranded.

Many of the men talk about their relationships, work and feelings of anger and regret. 'Sharing', they call it. They all appeared sincere and open. Not buttoned up and repressed, but here-it-is, take-it-all, heart-on-my-sleeve types.

It is here that I learn a piece of warrior etiquette. When a brother 'shares', the correct response is to raise both hands as if surrendering and waggle your hands. At the same time, you say ' Ahho'. At first, I mishear and say 'Ahoy'.

Until the early hours of the morning, we engage in a series of exercises. I have to tell one man what makes me a man, and then wait while he tells me what makes him one, too. We are asked to describe how we fail to stand up to women.

When Tom signed up for the course, they told him he couldn't drive  there because there was a shortage of car-parking spaces

When Tom signed up for the course, they told him he couldn't drive there because there was a shortage of car-parking spaces

'They're always getting at you to put the seat down on the loo,' one of the staff men explains by way of example. For a supposed female reign of terror, this seems a weirdly banal example.

We are told to explain to each other what type of man we are. One of my 'brothers' tells me he is a liar and cheat. I suspect he means he has had affairs.

Another tells how he feels worthless, a third man explains he doesn't know how to control his anger, and another tells me his wife won't let him ride his bike.

It's not long before the blindfold is back on and we are asked to imagine we're in an African village. To assist this illusion, the Men In Black rattle pots, flick water at us and make vocal noises to represent a bustling settlement.

It's not entirely convincing. We are asked to imagine capturing a wild man who terrorises villagers and cage him. We then have to set him free.

We have been asked to visualise meeting an animal along the way. This becomes our 'warrior' name. And I spend the rest of the time with Mighty Condor, Courageous Wolf and Intrepid Panther.

It is odd that no one opts for a sheep, wombat or guinea pig. I, however, become Relaxed Penguin. Oh Lord. Now I've written that, they can identify their Judas.

It's very late. I am tired and hungry and even my sleeping bag in a freezing yurt with strangers seems attractive. It's not. I don't sleep because, a couple of hours later, the rhythmic banging of drums begins.

A man appears at the door: 'Men, we have work to do.' We are ordered to strip and line up for a cold shower. While each man steps under the water, the others watch and count to 60.

I manage to get a few words with some of the participants and they are mostly between the ages of 35 and 45.

They are not all - as I'd supposed - saddos. They work in careers such as banking, IT, education and business and all strike me as intelligent, articulate and enthusiastic about their participation in the project. The majority seem to feel that their lives are not going as they wish.

After breakfast (a handful of nuts and a spoonful of porridge) we spend the morning sharing how we feel. We roar like lions. We talk to our childhood selves and watch the staff men act out scenes such as where one man says yes and the other says no.

Over and over. It was like watching a section of a Pinter play performed by nine-year-olds.

Then it is time for what I found one of the most disturbing parts of the weekend - where we are effectively 'broken free' of our emotional past.

We are divided into three groups, each of which has a so-called 'sacred carpet', and for about an hour each man is subjected to emotionally manipulative questioning, on the carpet, that probes into his past.

Some of the staff are very skilled at reading visual signs of hidden emotion. At times, three inquisitors demand the answers to questions that eventually leave a man weeping and apparently broken.

This is happening simultaneously on all three mats. At times, it is impossible to hear what was happening on my own mat because of the wails and screams from the other groups.

The majority of the men who participate in this spectacle positively welcome this treatment. Others appear less keen. The objective seems to be to provoke a violent reaction from the person in the circle.

One man of about 40 has an issue with his mother. He felt she had treated him badly when he was younger.

A staff man is chosen to represent the mother and, while other men stand in front of him, he is goaded to confront her by pushing through a human barrier.

Instead, he flies into an uncontrolled rage. Staff become panicked and shout 'safety' as they try to immobilise him. If these staff men have any professional training, I am unaware of it.

The qualification they seem to share is that they are graduates of the course I am now on. ManKind deny that any therapy takes place. They call it training.

Another man sobs as he is told to act out beating his stepfather and mother to death. Again, he feels that they ignored him as a child and treated him with disdain.

A third man is pinned to the floor by six men and has to wrestle his way out from under a blanket, cheered on by the watching men. It is extremely disturbing to watch.

Many of the men seem to feel they suffered mental or physical abuse from their parents. They all appear to be functioning in day-to-day life, but these horrors appear easily released under the persistent and intimate questioning of their inquisitors.

I make up a story about feeling guilty for hurting a former girlfriend. I give no specific examples, but feign deep upset. They suggest my behaviour had started in childhood. I tell them it hadn't.


Deprived of food and sleep and subjected to the raging emotions of people around him, Tom is instructed to strip, put his blindfold back on and hold the hand of the man next to him

They talk of regressing me. I don't know if these amateur psychiatrists could achieve that or not, but they opt for getting me to wrench the guilt from my stomach by wrestling a rope up through my legs being held by four men.

Most of the men I speak to afterwards seem delighted by this experience. In fact, this is a point at which some men seem to embrace the Warrior Brotherhood.

To me it seems like a way of initiating people into a kind of cult. This session is clearly designed to be the pivotal moment in the weekend.

Now comes the time when we are awarded our warrior's insignia.

Deprived of food and sleep and subjected to the raging emotions of people around me, I am instructed to strip, put my blindfold back on and hold the hand of the man next to me.

It is now we begin the walk in the woods that leads to that candle-lit ceremony where we become New Warriors.

As I am led, blindfolded, naked and freezing, I am strangely resigned to this new, weird way of life. The other men in the group are all relaxed about such a journey.

In the candle-lit room, we are led by hand around the circle of men. Our animal names are called and all the men cheer.

With horribly vivid images playing in my mind of pot-bellies, male genitalia and saggy bums, I return to my yurt and sleep for a couple of hours.

Morning arrives and, after standing in a field 'reclaiming my paternal name', we begin 'sharing' again.

At this point, we're sprayed with burning sage and instructed - naked again - to get in the sweat lodge. This is a tent heated by burning coals.

It is pitch black inside and we are told to shout blessings, make noise, howl, quote poems and sing songs. We are finally given a meal consisting of the food we brought, and then we say our goodbyes by silently staring at each staff man.

The participants hug one another and proclaim their love to their fellow brothers. They give blessings and thank each other for the 'strength' and 'joy' they have received.

I get home and close the door behind me. I have never felt so relieved to be back in the real world. It takes me two full days to get the strange mantras and patterns of speech out of my head.

The overriding message of the course seemed confused: That we were suppressed warriors and had become emasculated; that we had to reconnect with the wild man; and to get in touch with our feelings. It was 21st-century New Age meets Neanderthal man.

The cult-like intensity with which some of my fellow warriors converted to the brotherhood astonished me.

I had been given a chilling lesson in how easily - and how fast - the kind of men I rub shoulders with every day can alter: can become aggressive and subservient by turns; and gripped by something strange.

And something else shocked me. This was an organisation that aimed to tell me how to be a man.

Yet not once during that weird and frightening weekend did I ever hear it acknowledged that we men share a world. With women.

OK, so this all sounds very silly, and very "New Age men beating drums in the woods" comical, but there is something disturbing here.

This description, and in one series of posts at the Rick Ross site, seems like some nasty combination of military basic training, older forms of baptismal (which required extended study and contemplation), and Robert Bly's psychological mythology and shadow work.

What all of this has in common to me is the breakdown of individuality so that it can be reshaped through peer pressure and repetitive behaviors. This is cult-like reprogramming to me. It's worth noting that the co-founders are an ex-marine and a masters level psychotherapist. Scary combination.

I also have issues with the homophobic "reparative therapists and their supporters (e.g., Joe Nicolosi, Richard Cohen, Arthur Goldberg, Paul Miller) [who] recommend NWTA as a way to reduce same-sex attractions" (via Warren Throckmorton). These people are evil - and if they are promoting this program (even though MKP claims to be gay/bi friendly), it makes me even more wary of what they are doing.

They say all the right things on the surface, which is how they attract what can only be called "victims." I know one man who has done this program and leads a MKP group - he is now divorced after repeated affairs (he is likely a sex addict), but until now I did not connect the MKP training to his behavior (he never gave details on the training, although he did invite me to attend a NWTA weekend). I do not think this is coincidence.

These two articles from Warren Throckmorton look at some of the initiation procedures they use (I encourage readers to check them out - these techniques should not be used in this format - it's no wonder Michael Scinto killed himself after a training in 1997):

Mankind Project technique – “Bucketing,” Part One
Mankind Project technique – “Bucketing,” Part One

Both of these techniques are therapy - and the people doing this are NOT trained therapists.

There is nothing here that I can endorse. For men who are fragile or stuck in transitional space already, these weekends could result in brain-washing or emotional breakdown - this type of group shadow work is not to be messed with by amateurs in this way. I'm guessing they are doing a lot of damage without being aware of it.

Avoid the ManKind Project - or participate with full awareness of what you are getting into.


Anonymous said...

I did the MKP NWTA weekend because I wanted to know what they were doing and how it related to my work. I found the opening night extremely patriarchal, but they worked away from it over the next two days. Still, even at the end there was a left over feeling of "not being enough" in their eyes. Even so, my experience was good and I think the MKP process needs to be looked at in a developmental context.

I thought it was particularly effective in moving men from David Deida's 1st stage masculine to 2nd stage (getting in touch with feelings, the feminine side, etc.). I did not think it was good with helping men relate to the outer feminine, as there were patriarchal references to women, wives, and girlfriends.

I've also read a lot of horror stories and personally know one man who was extremely judged after leaving the first night when it triggered abuse issues. Like a lot of organizations, there seem to be good MKP local groups and not-so-good local groups. We are all, after, human. I would choose a local group carefully, if that's possible, or be invited by someone you trust implicitly, as I was.

william harryman said...

Thanks for sharing your experience on this - I have heard similar comments from others at Facebook and on Twitter.

It doesn't sound right for me, but I'm sure for some men it might be a good way to move out of more stagnant traditional models of masculinity.

You are right in that developmental stage is crucial - for people coming out of authoritarian, mythic religion, this might perfect.


Anonymous said...

It really doesn't take much for you to backpedal, does it, Bill?

One very lukewarm endorsement from a dude, and all the psychological safety concerns drop away. MKP could be "perfect" for some men! Notwithstanding the damage it does to others.

I was surprised and pleased that you took an uncompromising stand against MKP's tactics after reading in detail about them, but clearly you can't sustain this for more than a more few seconds in the face of even mild opposition from other men (though you'll be very energetic in opposing feminist critiques, no matter how loopy your logic).

That backpedaling problem seems to be generally true about men's movement types, including those who imagine themselves at the "progressive" end of the spectrum. It's kind of what "patriarchy" means: you'll criticize, but only up to the point that you risk being cast out of the boy's club. Which isn't very far at all, in most cases--and when you do go out on a limb momentarily, you'll compensate with a stretch of antifeminist posts and links to prove your male bona fides (as you do following the MKP post).

It's hard to find much to admire about that.

william harryman said...


I don't think people who post anonymous comments, such as yours, have much room to talk about integrity. But that's another issue.

As part of researching this post, I talked to a lot of guys who have been though those weekends - none of them had anything harsh to say, and several of them did not get involved with MKP in an on-going way.

I don't like the stuff I read about them - and I do not endorse their methods.

Some guys, however, seem to get a lot out of MKP - and just because you or I think their approach is crap does not give us the right to tell other guys that they cannot do it - we can warn them of the dangers (real or perceived), and that is all we can do.

There are also issues of developmental stages - people are at different stages of development and have different needs for growth. What is good for you or me may not be right for someone raised as a Southern Baptist in a conservative family trying to become a better man, as just one example.

So, who are you, anonymous?
What are your "male bona fides"?

Gary Stamper said...

Hi Bill,

I just finished the Introductory weekend of "The Integral Warrior: Embodying the New Masculne" in a midwest city and took five men through the first weekend of my 6-part process. Four of them were initiated MKP men. I have to say it's a much bigger challenge to do this work with men who have been "doing their work" than it is with men who have not done men's work before.

I found each of the four of them very different from one another, even after having been through the same MKP process. One thing they all shared in common was that they were all "on the carpet," doing the work. They were trying to be better, fuller expressions of being men.

A recent MKP NWTA attendee, I have decided not to join an i-group... And while not for me, I have seen first hand how the MKP work is sorely needed in the developmental model of the maturing masculine. I will continue, however, to try to work with MKP men as what I think is the next step in their journey toward the fullness that some of us are reaching for.

Read a review of the weekend from one of the men at my blog:

Keep up the good work.

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

FOR ALL THE WOMEN who have husbands or boyfriends in this cult, I advise you to get out of the relationship NOW if he does not willingly quit immediately.

The pain you will endure while HE is 'transforming' into the guidlines or whatever of this Mankind Project CULT, will just not be worth it to you!

It is a horrible cult that bashes women, wives, girlfriends, mothers, sisters... Blames us for all the problem the MAN is having. It is not worth your time, effort or tears. If he doesn't immediately get out and respect you and your request... Just leave him as quickly and efficiently as you can!

Anonymous said...

My husband committed suicide 5 months after the "training". He was never the same after. It is brainwashing, followed by more brainwashing in the "PIT" groups. They re-wounded his childhood trauma in the "Guts" work, and manipulated him into a place of huge confusion about who he was and promoted alot of egocentric behaviours and thoughts. The I-group where they recruited him was nothing like what he experienced later in the Closed groups. He tried to break away from them and couldn't do it, so he took his life to finally get away from them.
If you love your man, your relationship and your serenity, avoid this group. Intimate relationships are not meant to be discussed in public and especially when one partner is absent because it is only a snapshot of a moving picture and not valid. Intimate relationships are sacred and should be respected as such and never discussed as they are in the nude Sunday morning "Cock talk". This group triangulates relationships. Men if you have a problem with your wife or mother, be a man and deal with her directly, and don't rehearse your rage over and over again in these groups. There is a difference between acknowledging one's shadow and actually invoking it and feeding it. Of course a well-fed ego does not want to suddenly be starved.
The focus on getting angry and bashing women or others in order to get power, is actually a big loss of power and puts men into the position of victim (of evil women)
This groups philosophy is not in alignment with genuine spiritual truth. The truth is that humanity needs to evolve and adopt values of peace, non-violence, truth, love and right-living. This group attracts men with the lure of power and secrecy. It requires the men who attend to lie about their wives, mothers and girlfriends, and then to lie to them about what they have been doing on the weekend. Really it preys on vulnerable souls. If this saves even one more soul, this has been worth my time. My heart goes out to all the families who have lost someone to this group or who are suffering from the abusive men this group evolves men into.

Anonymous said...

Notice how Harryman’s belief in “Spiral Dynamics” ideology makes him reverse his original critique.

When confronted with MKP’s secretive, irresponsible, traumatizing tactics as documented on the Rick Ross website, he at first rejects the group and its practices wholeheartedly. This is informed not just by his natural empathy for any abused man who might be subjected to these practices, but his sense of professional ethics as someone who is training to be a counselor.

Then someone reframes the weekend in “Spiral Dynamics” terms. Despite the reckless est-style confrontation, despite the post-meeting suicides, the objector says—still, wouldn’t this be an effective set of practices for someone in a “lower” level of development? Might it not be just the thing to push them forward into a slightly higher level of complexity?

Harryman reconsiders the reports of reckless psychodrama practices through the simplistic SD hierarchy. Now he considers that it might be “good for” someone in the “lower” levels of development,-- a necessarily violent and risky rite of passage into the middle levels. Suddenly he actually approves of the training for the “lower levels.” He even says it would be “perfect” – for them.

What dropped away—suddenly—when SD was evoked was the empathic relation to, and professional obligation to protect, the hypothetical man with an abuse history who was exposed to these defense-busting practices.

Nothing changed about the contents of the practices. Nothing changed about MKP’s policy of secrecy about the contents of the weekend. Nothing changed about the fact that it’s impossible for any man to have informed consent about what he will be subjected to before he attends.

What changed was the evocation of a psychological hierarchy in which Harryman imagines himself to occupy one of the upper tiers. It’s as if the prospect of retraumatization—-or even the potential to have been traumatized in childhood in the first place—-was re-imagined as belonging only to the delicate sensibilities of the upper levels. It’s outrageous that they should be exposed to damage. But the primitives at the lower levels might benefit. The imaginary power of presiding over other mens' ‘levels of development’ trumps identification with the wounded or even simple professional responsibility.

recent mkp gradute said...

I just did the MKP introductory weekend and there was absolutely no anti-women content whatsoever. If a few people out of 40,000 graduates have committed suicide in the months after a training this does not prove any correlation with the training. All the guys I spoke to about the weekend were happy they'd done it.

Anonymous said...

Scott Ekhart,
I have been involved with MKP for eight years. I find it to be a very good support group for a variety of men. I will have to go back and read your initial blog. From the comments I assume you were not pleased with the training. My basic assessment is the people that remain in MKP are men genuinely interested in knowing themselves and supporting other men in knowing themselves. I would say to the people that think of it as a cult look up the definition of cult. There is no central control figure and every man is encouraged to be part of the leadership. Also each man is encouraged to be responsible for his own safety and the safety of the group. I have heard men say that there is to much blame put on women in the group. My experience is the men saying that are often the very ones that will not accept there anger at women. The group encourages that each man feel his true feelings sad, mad, glad, and shame and then take irrespons ibility for that emotion. ie.. That can help someone who is angry at a woman relies that he is sad or visa verse. The group is there to help you get under the surface and understand the deeper self and root out what drives you. It is like many kinds of therapy it works for those that are willing to look at some hard things. There are very clear safety guideline. I would encourage any man to take the training and reap the reward. Men come and go, I have never seen any man get damaged by the work they have done there. As always any man can pass on any process.

Anonymous said...

All I will say here is, this organization is a mind altering CULT and they are destroying my family. They ARE woman hating. There is no doubt about that! If you are a woman living with a MKP cult member you will know what I mean.
It's horrific.

Anonymous said...

MKP are a cult!

Good thing any moron can write a comment, thanks internet!

I'm off to get a free personality test now by a REAL SUPPORT NETWORK!


Anonymous said...

I did MKP in 1998. There was nothing "cultish" about it having once lived in a spiritual community that had cultish overtones. Never once did I feel that I was being gratuitously abused and mind-controlled by the mentors there who operated with deep integrity. Like any program that demands deep participation, you get out of it whatever you put in. It changed my life for the better.

babaregi said...

I did the MKP training back in 2001 and thought it was pretty good. I didn't hear any women or gay bashing there. Then I was in a weekly group for about 8 years and saw a bunch of guys work on straightening out their lives with a fair amount of success.
Many of these guys would never do formal therapy so this was better than nothing for most of the men.
I didn't care for the boot camp initiation rites that are modeled a bit like the military to break recruits down. Our society is toxic to boys and men, IMO. It lacks a cultural vehicle to move men through healthy transitions toward maturity. A emotionally healthy man doesn't abuse others to make himself feel whole.
I left the group because the men I knew were mostly interested in their personal feelings (maybe for the first time) and didn't want to confront the political corruption in our community. Of course, this is true of most of the American citizenry. So, is it a cult? Well, maybe a little but there isn't any guru or group getting rich off of it so it's not that bad compared to any other organized group you can join. Hell, even the Boy Scouts protect boy rapists in their midst.

Anonymous said...

I completed the MKP weekend in 2002 as well as the I group work in London over 8 weeks. It delivered great value to me personally and I saw many of the other people there get similar benefits. I am a chartered psychologist and trained psychotherapist I work hard to be objective and found absolutely no practices or programming that was anti women or that constituted cult practices. Clearly there is methodology and ritual that are not to everyones taste and if that is the case people have the choice to leave. I am no longer involved with the project but I do believe it has value to help people break through personal barriers.

meowbie said...

Excellent comment, babaregi. I did the NWTA weekend this year and also did not care for the boot-camp practices on the first day. MKP is not a cult, although I can kind of understand why some people say this. It's really an LGAT (Large Group Awareness Training), which places it in the same lineage as other human potential seminars such as est (Erhard Seminar Trainings). And like est, people will be polarised about what that means and what they get out of it.

Given the strong manualisation of MKP processes, my guess is that the average experience of MKP (particularly the I-Groups) will be something like a kind of "secular church". Some will feel comfortable with the belief framework, some will not, and some will view it with outright hostility. I think this last group are the ones accusing it of being a "cult", and if the material is applied too zealously and secretively, then maybe they have a point. On the other hand, I know a lot of guys who found solid support to work on their issues, and as babarega aptly said, these are often men who wouldn't otherwise engage formally in therapy.

I sit somewhere in the middle of all of this, as someone who enjoyed the weekend training immensely, but who then wanted to put the King-Warrior-Lover-Magician archetype stuff aside and work in an "agnostic" mode with other men. I couldn't find an I-Group like this unfortunately, so I have opted out of further involvement with MKP.

meowbie said...

PS. I'd like to clarify my comment. I meant to say that the NWTA weekend - MKP's centrepiece - is arguably an LGAT or New Age Transformational Training. At the very very least, NWTA is made of LGAT, including its Landmark-style graduation night.

MKP itself strikes me more as a loose fraternal organisation. While the organisation styles itself as "non-profit", someone is making a nice bit of coin out of it. It's hard to know what to make of it all.

Anonymous said...

I did the training in 1998 and one of the thing they want is more recruits. I did get some benefit. It is therapy and they are not trained to do what they do. If you could film the weekend secretly it would look a very strange event.

Anonymous said...

I was invited to participate in a 'new warrior training' by a friend who's admitted to me that he's got rage issues. I declined, as I'm not really much of a 'joiner' to begin with, but more to the point, my instincts told me it was best avoided (I am only just now reading this website and looks like my gut was correct).
To make a long story short, after a year of being loyally there for him, and listening to his woes, as friends do, he's decided that I 'bitch' too much (any amount, no matter how fleeting, is 'too much').
As of this writing, I've been subjected to 'the silent treatment' for weeks now. My gentle query as to why earned me a condescending email, dripping with anger that I don't honor his 'wants'.
He's also told me he ultimately finds it hard to trust any man who's not been thru the 'warrior training'.

The guy was raised in an atmosphere of guilt-ridden religion... I would hazard a guess that he's merely swapped one form of insular thinking for another. Is it a cult? The evidence seems to suggest so, to me.

Anonymous said...

I am 33 years old and did the NWTA at a friend's recommendation in July 2014. The weekend was definitely challenging (emotionally and psychologically, although not physically). I definitely felt uncomfortable at times, because men challenged me to take a hard look at myself, but did not feel coerced, guilted, or shamed - and I grew up in a conservative Christian home and know very well what the latter look like.

Post weekend, I have plugged into an "Integration group" aka "I group" (a weekly men's circle where we continue the work of "shadow" exploration and provide safe, loving, constructive support to one another) and it's been really helpful. My brother (who is not initiated) has started attending and he really finds it helpful as well. I also recently attended a MKP training session designed to prepare men to staff the NWTA weekend effectively and the trainer said a very thoughtful thing there: similar to a cult, we intentionally put a man into a vulnerable emotional and psychological state on the weekend. The crucial difference is that we don't then use that as an opportunity to inject that man with our bullshit, hitch his sense of self worth to compliance with the organization's protocol, etc - instead, we provide him with a safe space (the so-called "container") to explore and understand his own past wounds and to grow and heal based on that understanding. I thought that was a very thoughtful and responsible approach to engaging in transformative psychological work - modern society freaks out anytime we make someone "uncomfortable," but modern society also features unprecedented isolation, depression, fakeness, violence, etc. Something is very wrong with the status quo and I think it's really great that there are men willing to forge ahead on the "road less traveled" and offer an opportunity for healing and growth to others. I am completely against programming, guilting, shaming, etc and will be on the proverbial warpath if I ever encounter that in MKP. Certainly, in any large organization there will undoubtedly be some individuals who are bad actors and those individuals should be exposed and rooted out for the safety of everyone else. But overall, my experience with MKP has been profoundly positive. It's not the end-all be-all, and the weekend is not for everyone (especially if someone is in a very fragile or suicidal mental state, as some deep shit gets stirred up), but for men who feel stuck or want to grow towards their potential I think it's really great.

Anonymous said...

NWTA is absolutely a cult. Our therapist pressured my husband for over a year to attend this. Without disclosing it in advance, they took all of my husband's possessions including his phone, used food and sleep deprivation, and refused to let men come on their own as they know it will make it hard to leave. Along with that, they forced them to stand in line naked to take cold showers, and their sole focus was to get men to say their mothers and wives emasculated them and that their fathers emotionally traumatized them. Several men including my husband left the "training" after getting sick of the intimidation tactics, disrespect towards women, and overall creepy Scientology-like nature of the entire event. Our therapist miraculously showed up, 8500 miles from where he lives, to conduct this particular one, and when my husband left the therapist personally insulted me to my husband. This is a bunch of sickos running a cult and a pyramid scheme, that takes advantage of vulnerable men who are looking for answers. My husband saw "groupthink" taking over, even in himself, doing things because of the enormous peer pressure even though everything felt wrong about it.

Women are taught to learn to listen to their instincts more and take better care of themselves in retreats. Men deserve the same - not a bunch of men telling them to push and shove and scream at each other, wearing faux tribal makeup while starving men and forcing them to walk through the freezing cold while they confiscate things like wedding rings and prescription drugs.

MKP is SICK and needs to be exposed so that other men are protected from this manipulation.

Not only have men committed suicide, women have talked about how abusive and cold their husbands became after this and oh yea - did you know the co-founder was murdered after he was discovered to be a child molester?

Researching those on the attendee list, my husband learned they had a registered sex offender and the editor of a pro-rape website in attendance. And they say this is a safe place for men?


Jimbob said...

I've seen this blog commentary several times in the past few years. Today I finally decided to write my own commentary here. I first learned of MKP several years ago. I considered attending their New Warrior Training Adventure back then. I got scared after reading this blog and several other websites like Rick Ross's, Cult, saying “MKP is a cult.” Since then, I've done a great deal more research about MKP. After about 6 months of deliberation, I finally attended the NWTA with MKP. I know now that this blog and the internet are filled with rumors about MKP that have no factual basis in reality.

On Tom Mitchelson—If I went into an NWTA (or most any other event) with the goal of lampooning it, I could certainly do that. If I knew I was going to earn more money by making it look more twisted and silly to more readers, then I'd have made the NWTA appear far more ridiculous than Mitchelson ever dreamed. But having participated in the NWTA, with the goal of understanding it and seeing if I got anything out of it, I now see that Mitchelson could obviously care less about anything but his own career as a tabloid journalist.

On the rumors that MKP is a cult—There is no charismatic leader of MKP. MKP seeks to help men become positive leaders of their own, individual lives and to enhance the positive leadership characteristics of men who are already positive leaders. In MKP, there is no single specific teaching of the way things should be. All men of all religions are welcome. Atheists and agnostics are welcome. MKP does not try to change any man's religion or non-beliefs either. Many traditions are honored. There are aspects of the NWTA that might make it possible for some men to find spirituality, if desired. Each man creates his own life path. I'm sure not following anyone else or any other persons program for me!

On gay bashing and homophobia commentary—All men are welcome in MKP. There are straight men, bi men, gay men and asexual men. Some men in MKP leadership are gay or bi. As in the general population—most MKP men are straight. There is no program to “reduce same sex attraction”, just as there is not one to reduce heterosexual attraction. Even homophobes are welcome. They might be honestly asked whether their prejudices were making our world better. They might be fiercely confronted, but they're still welcome.

Jimbob said...

Regarding commentary on MKP “does unlicensed therapy”--Having worked in the past at 3 of the world's largest providers of psychiatric care, I can unequivocally say, MKP does not do therapy. On the first night of the NWTA, this is clearly explained. It's not therapy, it is an educational piece not found in any other place in society. Men in therapy, psychiatric care or 12-step groups are encouraged to continue participation in those support systems. Regarding the discussion above on “Bucketing”--a completely voluntary I-Group process. No man would ever be forced to do this. A man would only take part in bucketing, if he wanted to look at an issue in his life using that technique. Any man may pass on any MKP process or any part of the NWTA. If someone wants to call this therapy, they're simply twisting these processes to jibe with their own preconceived frame of reference. A huge difference between therapy and MKP processes is a person goes to therapy expecting the therapist to do something to or for him/her; whereas, in MKP a man is given the opportunity to select what he might do to or for help himself. Rather than a therapist choosing and taking me into some type of “therapy”, for instance, I might choose to take myself into “bucketing” (with group support), or I might not desire any “bucketing” at all. It's still no replacement for therapy, if someone wants therapy. They very regretable incident of the highly publicized suicide of Michael Sinto occurred at a time when MKP was so eager to accept any man into the NWTA, they did not screen men for medical/psychiatric histories. Michael Sinto had concealed a long history of issues for MKP, dating up to just days before his NWTA. MKP learned this lesson with great sadness and now requires a comprehensive, confidential medical/mental health questionaire for all NWTA participants. MKP also has a 24 hour Mental Health Resource Team, of licensed therapists, to refer people to mental health services if they need them.

Jimbob said...

Regarding relationships women and the anonymous women (or woman) who keep(s) posting how “the MKP cult ruined her marriage”. Maybe MKP helped her husband finally gain the courage to leave her repeated verbal assaults of untruths. For my relationships with women, MKP helped me vastly improve my relationship with my girlfriend, my sister, my mother, my ex-wife and even random women I encounter every day. If a man bashed women, he would be fiercely challenged about why he had those negative beliefs. He'd be given the opportunity to examine whether they were all in his head. If he opened his masculine heart, he might find that his negative beliefs came from his own judgments that had grown into prejudices. He also might find that he could change them all...if he wanted to.

I've also learned not believe everything I read on the internet, but I guess I already knew that...

Jimbob said...

Corrections to my post above: "... in MKP a man is given the opportunity to select what he might do to or for himself to help himself."

"...The very regrettable incident of the highly publicized suicide of Michael Scinto occurred at a time when MKP was so eager to accept any man into the NWTA, they did not screen men well for medical/psychiatric histories. Michael Scinto had concealed a long history of issues from MKP, dating up to just days before his NWTA."

I wanted to make my statements very clear.

Unknown said...

I attented a new warrior weekend a year ago. Had a similar experience to the one John Mitchelson described in his article.

I also had to make up stuff to get out of the carpet session. Felt guilty about it, but what was I suppose to say... "What's at risk..." ... how should I know.

Haven't changed after the weekend and also not attending the i-group sessions.

I moved on...


DWD said...

Very enlightening on both sides of the discussion. I was about to do an event but decided to opt out. The initial red flag was that they couldn't seem to get my registration right. If I'm throwing down the kind of cash they ask for an event the should be able to fix such issues pretty quickly. I also really did not like the idea of paying a lot and traveling far to be part of something that was so hard to get an idea about. It definitely doesn't seem like the kind of thing one can really get a picture of until you've done it, but the price tag is just too steep to go into something with such a cloak of secrecy around it.

From what was described, I doubt I would have felt like I got my money's worth. The pseudo-boot camp style would probably have been both irritating and laughable to me, and the overall weekend, as described in different accounts, seems like it would have felt rather ham-fisted. I did take part in a similar project facilitated by a couple of people that had been to MKP events and used them as a model for their own project. There were things that were handled nicely and others that were handled poorly. I had hoped it would be similar but with a more professionalism, but after the registration problem and some of the accounts I've read I'm not so sure about that.

The main thing that concerns me with the tone of those standing up for the NWTA is the attitude some present that those that decide it isn't/wasn't for them are unprepared for the challenge, unwilling to tackle the challenge, too fragile, and so on. While I very much support the efforts to create space in which to allow men to be vulnerable and become empowered, it is not a one-size-fits-all movement, and those that decide the NWTA events do not resonate with them should not be belittled for that.

Perhaps it's because, as a Pagan, I already do shadow work, introspection, and such that what is described about a NWTA weekend seems like it might be a little pointless for myself... especially for $650 dollars. $300 maybe. I get the idea of it being something of a facilitated vision quest with semi-boot camp model, and that's great for some. But it's not the only model for opening up and paving the way for self healing. There are different ways to challenge a person's edge, so it's a bit of a red flag when one is hailed as being an end-all-be-all to others. It sounds like a great jump-start for those that have never faced their shadow self, but for those already doing some of the work an event may not feel worth it. The various accounts of the weekend's events I've read sound kind of like a jumbled mess.

And that's probably where the cult accusations stem from. Those who have profound experiences will definitely speak quite positively of the event. But when someone occasionally asserts that someone is afraid, unready, fragile, etc. because they say it's not for them it starts to come off as regurgitating Kool-Aid.

It seems like their vision is a good one, and support of a men's healing movement is something I wholeheartedly agree with. I'm just not entirely sure about or impressed with what has been revealed about their approach. It may start some men on the path to healing, and that's great. It just seems like for many it runs the risk of opening them up but then spitting them out at the end of the weekend- like a therapist that makes a breakthrough with a client that has them weeping on the floor just in time to say, "I'm afraid our time is up."

HEAR- Kathy Peck said...

The He Man Women Hater Club...
Joseph Campbell would be rolling over in his grave.

Anonymous said...

I initially supported my then live-in boyfriend now ex-husband to participate in the NWTA and later MKP. I encouraged him to go to the NWTA. It seemed like it was a helpful addition to his life and thus our relationship. However, his mentor always unnerved me but my boyfriend encouraged me to be more open. His mentor who is now a leader in MKP out West (in the U.S.) told me he was once arrested for battery and spent a night or week in jail. He gave me the impression that this was before MKP and MKP has since given him the support he needed to curb his violent behavior. This is such a huge red flag but I'm amazed how the right type of person can skillfully avert this alarm in others. He wasn't a huge part of our relationship so I let it go. Trouble became more apparent after we married. I later found out that his mentor, who was at our wedding and who I thought supported our marriage, thinks marriage and monogamy are a joke.I found this out directly from him after my ex and I divorced. I also found out he's very negative and considers himself to be the center of the universe - per a conversation we had. Other times prior to our divorce, my ex's mentor was respectful and could even be shy around me. It was all an act. I consider both of these men to be frauds.

This mentor also said in front of me that he wants his i-group to have such a tight container (MKP speak) that if someone murdered someone that information would stay in the i-group. There was a part of me that just didn't believe him and wondering how much of this is shock value. At this point he scares me - they both do. MKP just made the mentor a better con, kinda like our prison system. MKP also uses shamanistic rituals and if you read up on it (I've had both good and bad experiences dabbling in shamanism per living out west) there can be some pretty scary/dangerous abuse from it.

On the mentor's website my ex vouches for him as he is a life coach. MKP is a networking club for some pretty fucked up dudes who cover for each other. So how was I affected? You could look-up love fraud, that would pretty much some it up. Most of my friends and family were duped, too. They didn't know my ex's mentor personally and my ex, well, he's a genius. I just thought he was a kind genius. I found myself isolated, scared, emotionally and psychologically distraught and in shock. There wasn't a tangible moment to cling to and say look at what they did. It was a quiet assault on me that very few recognized and perhaps still don't.

Unfortunately WW (women within)is an outgrowth of MKP and it seems it exists to support MKP indirectly. I don't know if I support men's and women's groups anymore. It seems like we're better off finding a trusted confidant organically. Men have a long history of secret societies that don't allow women. Perhaps this isn't really that different. I couldn't say for sure. So I couldn't seek out help there. And b/c there is a secretism about it I started wondering how much male bonding goes on there and if they spy or test their gf/wives with other members the women may not know. I certainly don't think everyone in the organization is like this but I do think my ex and his mentor fit in the category.

Overall, in my experience MKP is a misogynistic organization on the inside masked by compassion and strength on the outside. It encourages and teaches men to hide their vulnerability especially towards women. Women can be misogynistic and sociopathic, too, but I'm seeing high-levels of manipulation coming from MKP. It's time for Anonymous to hit the new-age cult scene........there are a lot of them!

Greg McGary said...

I just returned from NWTA at Camp Augusta just north of Grass Valley, California. My experience bore little resemblance to that of Tom Mitchelson as documented in his article referenced above. I agree with Jimbob's comments. I observed no cult mind-control devices employed during NWTA. We were never sworn to secrecy. We were only required to protect the confidentiality of others: we could tell our own stories about our own processes, but it not those of other men. That's standard procedure for any group process. We were explicitly told we can talk about all the activities of the weekend if we like. We were not deprived of sleep, though some men didn't sleep long or well at night due to their own responses to bedding-down in a large hall with dozens of other men. I slept like a rock and never felt especially fatigued. I didn't have access to a time piece, but it felt like we had 6-7 hours of lights-out on both Friday and Saturday nights. We were not deprived of food either, though what was served was very simple: only oatmeal, nuts & seeds, hard-boiled eggs & chili in various combinations for each meal. We drank water plus tepid coffee in the mornings.

The staff men were kind and respectful throughout and were never heavy-handed or coercive. Initial intake was by men dressed in black, but without facepaint. They were direct and no-nonsense, but made no effort to intimidate. There was absolutely no homophobia or misogyny in evidence--actually the contrary. Several gay & queer participants and staff were present, and all were welcomed, respected and included. All in all, it was really quite an excellent weekend. All events throughout the 48 hours of the training were conducted professionally with very few bobbles. They did screw-up some of the IT tasks: i.e., there were numerous errors in the spreadsheet they distributed with names & contact info for all participants and staff, but I chalk that up to the fact that these are just average dudes with regard to technological sophistication.

I'm not saying Tom Mitchelson's article is BS--I don't know because I wasn't there. Perhaps the discrepancy is regional or historical. Maybe all that shit happened 5 years ago, but no longer. Maybe it happens in the UK, but not in California. I don't know. All I can do is to emphatically assert that none of that shit happened last weekend at Camp Augusta. I was consistently and repeatedly impressed by the openness, integrity, and good-heartedness of all the men I met, and I look forward to spending more time with them.

FYI, I have direct experience with cults, and have acute spidey-senses regarding cultish behavior. I am not invested in protecting MKP's image and made no promise to do so. If they disappoint me in the future, I absolutely will speak-up about it.

Unknown said...

That's what you get for joining a group run by self-styled intellectuals out of touch with normal people.

Unknown said...

I loved the weekend. However I felt many of the I-groups were dysfunctional. I also question if this is really the best way to do shadow work. I support some aspects of MKP but not all, such is life, take what you can use or learn from and leave the rest.

Anonymous said...

My partner attended a Gateway GBTQ in April 2017. We were both leery about the weekend as there is no information about what happens on or is involved with the weekends. The descriptions on the various MKP websites provide no real substance. All the information provided is vague and superficial. The personal stories that are relayed vary in such degree from wonderful to demoralizing, from men-mentoring-men to cult, from freeing to psychologically traumatizing, from improvement in relationships to destroying marriages, from becoming the man "I've always wanted to be" to suicides, and more. It is the inconsistent and mostly lacking response from the MKP organization to these personal stories that leads to the belief this is a group of men cloaked in ritualistic secrecy to be treated with suspect.

I did see a change in my partner upon his return from the weekend. He seemed more sure of himself and knew what he wanted and needed in his life. However, he would not speak to me about the weekend even though I was more interested in how it had impacted him personally and not the process. He was told to not speak of the weekend as it could diminish the benefit of me experiencing it first hand. This secrecy only served to make me less likely to attend. We did not speak further about the weekend for a few days. In fact, I asked him not to refer to the weekend or MKP when talking about how he was changing and growing more into the man he wanted to be.

As time has passed, he has spoken more about the activities and processes of the weekend, shown me some of the tasks he completed, spoken of the experiences and how he has changed as a result of what he learned including what he learned about himself. As he and I have been growing, learning and healing in becoming better men and a better couple, I would agree his experience on the weekend contributed to these changes but was not the overwhelming or sole factor that initiated or perpetuated them, contrary to what MKP would subscribe.

While I would not recommend or discourage anyone from going on a weekend or being involved in MKP, I have gained enough knowledge about them to conclude they are not for me at this point in my life. I will continue to support my partner if he chooses to continue his involvement with the organization but it is with the understanding that I do not wish to speak of it so as not to endorse or condemn.

I have learned over the years that every personal story and experience contains elements of truth about whatever organization or group an individual is involved in. No matter what the organization or group or individuals involved in them may say will be biased. They cannot with any integrity discount, dismiss or undermine what an individual knows to be true for themselves and those who know them most intimately.

My comment to anyone considering MKP and any of their groups or activities is to ask questions and seek out information before committing time, money and energy. If they are not forthcoming and you feel unsafe or unsure, practice self-care and don't become involved. I have found this has served me the best and made me a better and stronger man, something that takes time and a combination of individuals, groups, organizations, supports, therapies, life-style changes, etc. Not one of these can work solely or independently from the others no matter what claims are made to the contrary.

Anonymous said...

I just broke off a potential relationship with someone deeply embedded in this group. Under the guise of being an "awakened" man, he was controlling, micro-managing, manipulative and misogynistic. He would speak to me like he was reading out of a techhelp manual. It was robotic and creepy. He spent an inordinate amount of time bashing his ex wife, sent me that gross book "a woman within" to read. I flipped thru the pages and immediately saw it was b.s. Stepford wife shit. His comments were men need to be able to cry and hug. Well then, cry and hug each other, who really is stopping you but yourself. Maybe I'm nuts, but just like a room full of white old men determining what women do with their bodies, perhaps men trying to fix themselves, isn't the way to go. Einstein calls that the definition of insanity, doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result. Until they make peace with the mother, whether it be a woman or the earth, nothing will get fixed. I dodged a bullet. The initiation is cult like, no way around that and secret societies need to go the way of skull and bones. Its now a litmus test, you're involved with this group, I run.

Anonymous said...

I did the NWTA a couple of years ago. I went there just for a new experience, without any expectations. I was completely cycnical about the chances of any positive tranformation. However, it was extremely tranformative for me and it has lead to a path of self improvement that has completely changed my life for the better.

Two things to know about the NWTA and MKP in general:

A) It has hardly any messages. It basically provides you with tools for self exploration. You choose your topic of work and you reach your own conclusions. MKP just supplies you with the toolkit to reach a deeper understanding of your issues and effective ways to commit to change, if you want it and in any way you want it.
In my opinion, the main ingredient in the toolkit is indeed simply the group dynamic, which forms a container within which you are able to lower your shield and explore yourself in earnest.

B) It is run by volunteers and the staff members of an NWTA actually pay for the priviledge of helping other men. The volunteer pool is composed of all initiated men, which is a far too large and diverse a group and is run too democratically to have a single voice and opinion regarding any issue. The one common denominator they have is that they all have been impacted positively by this method and wish to share it with others.

However, I must admit that immediately after the NWTA, there was an adverse effect on my relationship. I was not influenced by any message from MKP or have been in any contact with any MKP man at the time. I was simply in a new, unfamiliar state of mind, building myself new and healthier ways to cope with life, and I was going through a sort of "adolescent" phase. I overcorrected and replaced humility with a bloated ego. I got over it quickly and we eventually got married and we are very happy. She was very suspicious at first, but she now adores the changes in me and the positive effects on our mutual life, and I adore her.

MKP does not have the means to control each initiate's process after the training. So every man must control his own process of change, and make sure it is done in moderation and with care. For me, personally, taking a short time out to process the change after the weekend might have been beneficial.

JP said...

So many wild posts on this site about the Mankind Project (MKP)! And thoughtful posts too. I attended the NWTA 5 years ago and have benefited greatly. Let me say first that it in no way meets the criteria of a "CULT." I've met men of all backgrounds and religions in MKP. There is no Leader to follow or a set of beliefs to adhere to. The focus is on men determining for themselves what works for them. It's about taking responsibility for your own life. No doubt at some centers there are men trying to tell others what to believe or how to act, this can occur in an organization made mostly of volunteers. My experience in southern California is of caring, heart-connected men holding up a mirror so I can identify unproductive behaviors and make choices on how to live a more authentic and joyful life.
If someone has serious mental problems MKP is probably not the best venue. It could be of some support along with individual counseling and doctor prescribed medication. But for reasonably adjusted individual this organization is blessing, providing community, support and insight.

Anonymous said...

I truly believe that you are mistaken, misinformed and misguided when it comes to the MKP weekend and I groups. If focuses on becoming an integrated man. I believe I grew as a human being going through the weekend. Yes I revisited that childhood trauma that was destroying my life, I faced it, I acknowledged it, and dealt with it with the encouragement and support of other men. The weekend is not a end all fix all, men have to continue on their own to heal whether in a group, therapy, or alone. I believe most men that attend the weekend are already looking for something that will help them heal, overcome or grow. I'm a complete different person now that I was 3 years ago when I attended, a much better human being. On my weekend though there was a man that was complete distraught, hurt, traumatized and unwilling to let go or move past his wound that I don't think he got anything out of it. He couldn't deal with his issues/traumas and needed alot of therapy, MKP NWTA did nothing for him even though he stuck around, it probably just agitated him some more, but that was a personal issue nothing the men could do to help him. We all can learn from any experience when we are open to it. Not wanting to get through deepp personal wounds is what keeps traumas alive. A 3 day weekend is not going to that for a man unless he is willing. To hear about these men that go through MKP NWTA and commit suicide or become more isolated, or seem more agitated... I believe there was nothing anyone could do to help them, their traumas are so deep, these men already made the decision. Going through the weekend could have been one last attempt to save themselves from themselves. Sounds terrible but it true, whiteness a man with deep wounds that was deeply disturbed and traumatized that it's hard to say if anything would have helped this particular man. Men go into MKP NWTA wounded and they get out of it what they are open to. It could be a flash of light or it could be a man's realization that they are fucked (as false as that is) they could have gone to church hears a sermon and went home to out themselves. We hear about all the negatives but hardly do we hear stories of the men who MKP NWTA saved, personally I'm one of them and know of many other men who have began the journey to healing themselves. MKP is not perfect but it's a helpful resource many men.