Cult psychologist Brendan Mooney talks us through cult conversion

In this 20 minute promotional video ‘Healing Chronic Pain’, psychologist Brendan Mooney tells how his journey to find pain relief delivered him into the clutches of New Age charlatan, Serge Benhayon. The eventual pain relief was unrelated to Serge’s meddling, in spite of cult stalwart, Dr Rachel Hall calling it ‘a miracle’. Esoteric healing merely succeeded in transforming Mooney into a vocal cultist, willing to breach his professional codes of conduct to promote the Universal Medicine business.

In this interview Psychologist Brendan Mooney shares his experience of healing chronic shoulder and arm nerve pain with the support of Sacred Esoteric Healing sessions from Serge Benhayon and the philosophies of Universal Medicine in daily life.

Brendan Mooney’s story illustrates the cult conversion stages of debilitation, deception, dependency and dread, and follows a similar trajectory to many other UM ‘students’ similarly ensnared.


The first eight minutes consist of Mooney’s account of chronic, agonizing pain resulting from his schedule of full time study, learning and practicing piano several hours per day and work playing and teaching violin. He tried a number of therapies, including physiotherapy with his UK based brother, Andrew, but achieved no relief. His desperation to find a remedy after three years in pain placed him a similarly vulnerable position as many patients with difficult conditions who become prey to charlatans.


Unfortunately, Andrew Mooney referred his brother to Serge Benhayon, who told Brendan his pain was caused by anger.

Having experienced Esoteric healing with Serge Benhayon, I know the technique consists of hands on trance induction. Benhayon places his hands on the client, instructs them on how to breathe and tells them to empty their mind. On trance induction, Brendan’s preferred cult expert, Margaret Thaler Singer, states:

When this method is used in a cultic environment, it becomes a form of psychological manipulation and coercion because the cult leader implants suggestions aimed at his own agenda while the person is in a vulnerable state. (Singer, 2003, p.151)

Desperate for relief and softened by the referral from his brother and the gentle trance induction, Brendan swallowed Benhayon’s suggestion.

(9:30 minute mark) In my first session with Serge he mentioned to me that the cause of my pain was anger and that it was congregating in my arm. And so I needed to deal with my anger. That was the first time anybody had ever mentioned that I had anger – because I was the sort of person who was nice and polite to people. I never screamed or yelled at anyone…I didn’t agree with him. I didn’t disagree but I was defensive. I said to Serge, not my family, not my friends, not my partner have ever mentioned I have any anger.

Most likely because he didn’t, or certainly not in comparison with people who have genuine issues with anger that result in self harm or harm to others. The seed of suggestion however, germinated and grew.

After my session with Serge I started to notice that little things annoy me. Little things irritate me, and it didn’t take me long, a couple of weeks when I started to realize there were a lot of little things that I felt angry about, and I started to realize I had this undercurrent of anger that was always there. I started to realize I was angry all the time. It was this undercurrent that was in my life, that was actually fuelling my life and fuelling the activities I did, but I never expressed it. It was very internal.

Very internal, or very minimal. The problem with simplistically attributing his lifestyle imbalance to anger that no one had ever noticed, except for Serge Benhayon, is that it was a missed opportunity to examine the real physical cause of Brendan’s neuralgia, and the genuine and more complex psychological drivers for his compulsion to overwork. Both of which, if they’d been acknowledged, would have spared Mooney the indignity of becoming a cult apologist, and might have spared some vulnerable targets being lured by the endorsement of a registered psychologist.

Once I realized that I did have anger, I thought maybe there’s something in this, maybe this could be cause of my pain.

The cause of Brendan’s pain was nerve damage from prolonged overuse. However, he was so deceived by his cult conversion he now deceives himself about that cause, saying of previous therapists, including his brother: ‘no one could tell me what was going on.’

The reality is any qualified therapist could have recognized it was nerve damage, and would have told him nerve damage takes a long time to heal, even with the best treatment. While healing, the affected area needs to be rested. Breathing techniques and relaxation are well known to be helpful for pain. Patients don’t have to go to Serge to learn that or join his cult.

It’s not rocket science.

Dependency & Dread

And I started to bring responsibility into my life and start to talk about my reaction to what was going on, rather than start to blame other people and so forth. And in that, for the first time ever, after three years, it was the very first time I felt that I’m onto something here. 

He was onto something utterly unrelated to his original problem or the solution. He introduced UM’s ‘self-loving choices and gentleness’, and started to go to bed early. Although the video’s title is ‘healing chronic pain’, and Mooney says ‘for me it was a matter of making very simple choices,’ when he did get pain relief it had nothing to do with Benhayon’s trickery.

(15:22) So it took quite a long time for my body to respond to the daily self loving choices I was making. It was probably about a year, maybe longer before I felt a significant reduction in my pain. I would have little periods where I didn’t feel pain, but they were sort of little windows. But I still had a lot of intense pain for quite a long time after I made those choices.

Yet, the cult’s affiliated health professionals insist on making irresponsibly hyperbolic and misleading comments in the YouTube comments area, such as Mystic Dentist, Dr Rachel Hall, calling it ‘a miracle’. And this from exercise physiologist, Dr Daniele Pirera: ‘This is such a simple explanation of chronic pain and how to truly heal it.’

Um, no, it’s not. It’s magical thinking that does not bear out in clinical practice. It’s also attaching moral judgements to health problems – instilling the dread that keeps followers trapped in cults.

So the pain was the end result of all the choices I had made up until that point. It was like I was living in a momentum. I’d been very driven, fuelled by anger and that had basically crippled my body. 

The inference is that thoughts and emotional responses that would wake one up to being conned and mobilize one to resist becoming a cult clone, are the same ones that cause pain or impede pain from healing. It takes us back to Singer’s statement about implanting suggestions to further the cult leader’s agenda.

Hence Mooney and colleagues believe they must never get angry, never feel emotion and must adhere to Benhayon’s costly behavioural reforms in order to avoid pain and disease. The dependency kicks in when the cult leader cons them into thinking his mediocre doctrines and practices are divine Universal ‘truth’ and the exclusive means of remaining free of pain and disease.

When the regime doesn’t work, magical thinking becomes a convenient means to disguise therapeutic incompetence and inefficacy. Blame the patient.

To the death, if necessary.

Furthermore, the faithful are conned into believing UM’s trademark dietary hazards and ludicrous, mind frying rituals, are healthy ‘self-loving choices’. At 18 minutes, Mooney talks about how living ‘gently’ allows him to work 6 days a week, some of which is spent spruiking for the cult from the same business premises as Serge.

A typical day is from 3 am in the morning to 9 pm at night straight through. Sometimes I have a lunch break and sometimes I won’t…That’s a lifestyle choice that I’ve made and it keeps life easy. 

Code breaches

Brendan Mooney’s misrepresentation of the causes and solutions to chronic pain in his publicly advertised capacity as a registered psychologist is a departure from the established knowledge and discipline of his profession, and exploits clients’ lack of knowledge. In misleading members of the public on the efficacy of Esoteric Healing, he is in breach of advertising guidelines for registered healthcare professionals – creating unrealistic expectations about its benefits and safety. In addition, the claim that emotions are the cause of all disease, and preventative health and health management is contingent on eliminating emotions cannot be substantiated.

His provision of a testimonial for Benhayon’s untested rubbish, with reinforcement from six medical professionals in the comments area is particularly reprehensible, when testimonials are prohibited in advertising for regulated health services under the national law.

Testimonials are prohibited in order to protect patients from unscrupulous operators who prey on the vulnerable by making exaggerated or misleading claims. Yet, as we’ve seen, patient welfare is of secondary importance to allegiance to Serge.

Finally, Brendan Mooney, like many converts, was preyed upon while debilitated and lured into a devotion to Serge that has distorted his critical capacities and damaged his professional integrity.

Mooney has a PhD in psychology and should know better. His case demonstrates that if cult conversion can happen to an otherwise intelligent person like him, it can happen to almost anyone.

Singer, M. T. Cults In Our Midst, Jossey Bass, San Francisco, 2003

Universal Medicine is Habit Forming Part One: Thought reform in the UM cult conversion process

Universal Medicine is SO not a cult says cult psychologist Brendan Mooney

10 thoughts on “Cult psychologist Brendan Mooney talks us through cult conversion

  1. A few weeks back Brendan Mooney was walking towards me in car park in Ballina. For a moment I thought it was Serge, then because he looked too young, I thought it was Michael Benhayon- but then I realised it was Brendan. He had morphed into a Serge-clone, adopting his gait, posture, facial expression and even haircut. It gave me the creeps.

    I observed him as he made his way to Spa supermarket- apparently unaware that a chief member of the Dark Lodge lingered nearby (mundanely to pay vehicle registration on the chariot of doom)- and noticed that he emanated “cult-vibes” (or was that fiery energy?). While I was contemplating that, a lady in her 30’s next to me who must have seen the object of my scrutiny, volunteered. “Weirdo” I thought to tell her the story, but demurred because she too looked like a weirdo of a different kind.

    Brendan floated past me with a rather blank look in his snappy slacks and pressed shirt neatly tucked around his emaciated frame then disappeared into the supermarket. Probably to purchase a packet of pea’s and two chillies. I was left with a cold shudder and a horrible sense of how powerful Serge’s transformations are once he implants his numbskull suggestions into the brains of his followers.

    Then about a week later I saw the above video. The babble and glazed look say it all. Now, I don’t know what is more paradoxical; A PHD psychologist who promulgates Serge’s non-sense without any self awareness of his own flawed magical thinking, or the fact that their testimonials strip away any doubt that Universal Medicine is a cult, and that its members are under the evil spell of its self-proclaimed master. A former junior tennis coach who spent the 90’s up to all sort of shenanigans before he had the brilliant idea to start a cult.

    After this cracker of a testimonial to what we’ve been saying, I’m looking forward to Tanya Curtis and Marianna Marioski’s efforts. It should be an absolute hoot.

  2. Cue another 4,500 pages of esoteric hot air to the ACCC.

    I think Brendan will find that Serge was projecting his own issues when he gave his diagnosis. Serge likes to claim he has no problem with anger at all, but certain incidents in his past suggests otherwise. And just because the idea that he could reinvent himself as a New Age messiah struck him during a bowel movement doesn’t mean that Serge has completely flushed those aggressive personality traits from his system.

    • Toxic! Suppress it right away and go into a state of denial. If you do it long enough you will actually have an irreversible neurological effect on the limbic system-where you process emotions in your brain- and be able to walk around in a dissociative state and call yourself enlightened and in the livingness. You’ll even benefit from a reduced ability to empathize- saving you time getting involved with other people’s bullshit- you know, like your partner’s problems or your family’s petty shit that is pulling you down and stopping you living in your glory.

      Anger. Pfft. That’s for the pranic fools who are under the influence of prana and the astral. Just look at Brendan’s bright eyes and you will know that what I am saying is the truth…

  3. Brendan, the whites of your eyes are supposed to be white. Unless that’s a pre-existing condition you’re aware of, you need a blood test.

  4. Poor Brendan can’t recognise his own flawed thinking, that he’s now in a cult and a major apologist, and that his arm pain was obviously brought on by playing his instrument. I thought the point of UM is to learn how to be in your body and recognise the truth of how you ‘feel? (spherical and one-unified though it may be)

    This seems like a testament to the art of willful self-deception. Watch the titles carefully and consider how unrelated his waffle is to what that segment is supposed to be about. For those who can’t bear to watch, there’s very little relationship; much like the way Serge deceives people with how he names his courses or what he declares he is pontificating about. It’s classic bait and switch. They think they are getting “self-loving choices” when they are really getting “occult 101”. He tells them they are learning to be more “loving, and in service” when they are learning how to be self-absorbed and small-minded.

    The production of this piece exemplifies that, just as Brendan’s lack of awareness brings the worthlessness of Serge’s piffle into sharp-focus.

  5. I have a friend involved with Universal Medicine who has been led to believe that the sexual abuse she suffered as a child was karmic payback for being a child abuser in a past life.

    I tried to politely broach this issue to Cynthia Hickman on one of the pro-UM blogs but unfortunately the moderators there do not allow such questions, unfortunately, so I’ll ask direct the same question to Brendan Mooney here:

    As a registered psychologist, what is your professional opinion about Serge teaching victims of rape and molestation that they were sexual abusers in previous incarnations, and that the trauma they suffered was a necessary balancing of their karma?

    Moreover, how can you, as a professional psychologist, promote a man who claims to be the sole arbiter of a divine plan for mankind, which he claims is communicated to him by a group of spirits who used to be murderers and pedophiles in past lives?

    • Thank you Sylvia.

      We welcome any of the group’s psychologists – Marianna Masiorski, Brendan Mooney, Cynthia Hickman and Caroline Raphael to come here and discuss their endorsement of Benhayon’s teachings on supernatural entities and the karma of sexual violence.

      I’ll be blogging soon about a cult member who called to ‘connect’ with me the other day and tried to persuade me that all that entity bullshit is helping to ‘clear the energy of sexual abuse’ from her friends in the group. I asked her if anyone had been sucessfully cleared of the hypothetical ‘energy’ her guru is selling. I got the spherical version of No. She’s been involved for years.

      While I’m here, I’ve noticed some followers are becoming dangerously underweight. One of them is top rung and publicly lecturing on self-loving choices. If she doesn’t wake up, she’ll still be trying to sell Serge’s message from a hospital bed.

  6. Brendan, Brendan, Brendan, you’re nowhere near angry enough, Precious.

    And I started to bring responsibility into my life and start to talk about my reaction to what was going on, rather than start to blame other people and so forth.


    What a fucking joke.

    How about your responsibility as a health professional? To protect vulnerable patients from predators. Or does self-care preclude that?

    How do you not get angry about Serge performing stage exorcisms on kids. Or cult parents sending their little girls to stay at Serge’s house? Or Serge’s ridiculous mindfuck on supernatural entities raping children at night if their parents have consumed liquor?


    • Imagine if we got in a time machine and went back to the time of the Druids? We’d see human sacrifice to ward off evil spirits, and all sorts of blood letting and hocus pocus to cure ills and bad luck, while living hard and hellish lives wrapped in the fog of ignorance. You can sort of forgive them because what else did they have to explain their world? When the Romans appeared from their (relatively) more sophisticated society they were shocked. They’d pushed back enough of their supernatural explanations to conquer the ancient world, build cities, create trade, a political system, wealth, and technology. The druids were still rubbing sticks together and praying to elemental beings.

      My point is, the sort of beliefs that the UM members accept is akin to the sort of supernatural explanations that these tribes would have accepted readily. But I bet Brendan stepping out of that time machine would have a shock and want to rush back to his modern world of hospitals, electricity, internet, liberty, health and long lives.

      The reason he accepts the mind-fuck is because he’s lost in an unconsidered fog and he doesn’t have the intellectual or moral courage to discern what really makes sense and what is really right- in the sense that it increases the well being of himself or those around him. The only test of moral truth.

      And so it goes for all the members.

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