How Did Michael Guen Use Members to Manipulate Each Other?
Michael Guen purposefully used members of the group for his overall manipulation, setting each person against another. For example, when Michael did not want me to move in with Karl, he purposefully brought up the topic with an older member of the group with whom I had become close. She and I had a frequent email relationship and I confessed many things to her. The following is an excerpt from an email she wrote me in regards to evaluating my relationship. She wrote this after I had expressed to the group that Karl had serious doubts about the community and had even believed it to be a cult:
“The other night when you were talking about Karl so sorry, you had an odd look on your face. I wanted to blurt out “there is something icky about your relationship, what is it?” BUT I didn’t want to embarrass you. Please write down the things that you love about him. Then write down the things that you don’t LIKE about him. I am so afraid that you are settling so you won’t be alone. Ruth needs to be alone to find out who she is as painful as that may seem.”
Michael said blatantly that he had even gotten the help of this woman in order to save me from making bad decisions. “That was the right decision to not move in with him?” he asked me once. I had to say yes. But in fact, he had set up the whole thing. He made me confess publically to the group what was going on in my relationship and how I had been having fights with Karl about the community. The next day, Michael had one-on-one sessions with two other women who had been in the class the night before. He asked them what they thought about my situation and then labeled the subject heading “compassionate concern”:
“Autonomy is so important for everyone; premature for you because you’ve only been together for 3 months, and the writing is on the wall; he’s causing you a lot of anxiety with his feelings about the community; you’re trying to volley his hits about the community, while you know how you feel about this work: I think it’s too soon.”
It’s important to note here that the woman did not realize that Michael was typing out her answer with the intention of sending it to me. She apologized later over the phone for invading my privacy in a way. This was done all the time in the group. The public confessions were just another way in which Michael could manipulate us. He used other members of the group directly to convince me to make the decision to not move in with Karl. The fact of the matter was that he was threatened by my boyfriend’s concern that I was involved in a cult. He wanted to make sure that his influence was stronger and still the most prominent force in my life.
– Ruth –
Photo Credit: Kathryn via Flickr