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.
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