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political cult

Posted by Perry on May 28, 2005 at 23:12:56

There's an interesting NY Times story about a political cult at this link:

It's a bit long, so here's a few excerpts from it:

"Dr. Newman, 69, began organizing in the 1960's, a time when young people challenged not only the Vietnam War and the United States government but also concepts of society, family relations and mental health. With a doctorate in philosophy from Stanford University, Dr. Newman fit in with the spirit of the time, challenging many conventional beliefs as he began a career that focused his revolutionary zeal on psychological practices and political organizing."

"Dr. Newman's early work drew from his theories of social therapy, a practice that employed the language of the left - patients were called revolutionaries - and a vision of healing emotional problems by changing patients' relationships to their environment, at least in part through political activism. Some on the left criticized Dr. Newman, saying that he used talk of revolution to seduce young people into his organizations, though Dr. Newman says that the traditional left disliked his work because it presented a threat."

"In some of his works, Dr. Newman's call for political empowerment is seamlessly intertwined with his ideas about psychotherapy. In his 1986 speech in Havana, Dr. Newman described his approach as "Marxist therapy," adding "that human beings are capable of radically reorganizing social structure.""

"Dr. Newman's social therapy has been criticized - and praised - for taking an unconventional approach, for focusing on group therapy and for blurring the boundaries between patients and therapists."

""The social therapy group has been called a cult," said Rick Ross, who has extensively studied cults. "It is a personality driven group, call it what you will, a philosophical sect, the Fred Newman fan club. It centers around, and is driven by, Fred Newman.""

"In the late 1970's, Dr. Newman disbanded the International Workers Party, but its leaders remained behind the scenes, as they do now, helping to create and direct the work of other organizations, like the New Alliance Party, according to former members of the party, and the cadre."