After Kirby’s death in Sedona at James Ray’s Spiritual Warrior retreat, one of the many things we learned about was the type of people looking into self-help resources, and also the many misconceptions about these people. As I sifted through articles about what had happened to my sister, I often got sucked into and rather upset by the comments suggesting she was a weak cult follower, an easily preyed-upon and passive person desperate for a quick fix to the problems in her life. I knew none of this was true. And as we learned more about the other victims, Liz Neuman and James Shore, we found that these descriptions wouldn’t be accurate of them either, nor of many of the other survivors of Spiritual Warrior 2009. So, who is seeking good self-help? Most SEEKers are:
- Entrepreneurs looking to expand their businesses and reach the next level of success
- Highly intelligent, reflective and motivated individuals looking for strategies to help make changes in their life
- People who have found success in one area of their life and are looking to be successful in another area
- Business people in a profession that does not have a more traditional professional association, who use self-help retreats as a professional development tool
Dismissing victims of fraudulent self-help as weaklings ignores the dangers of the self-help tool or guru. It was not personal shortcomings that led to the death of Kirby, James and Liz. It was the inexperience of James Ray leading a sweat lodge; it was his negligence when people were suffering; it was his tactics of control that caused participants to ignore their bodies’ distress signals. A safe self-help journey is one that deserves respect: demanding and going after self-improvement is an admirable quality! If you are a seeker, how would you categorize yourself? What is it you are looking for? If you are an observer, what concept of seekers do you have?