When seeking to evaluate the experience of Training In Power for yourself, it’s easy and natural to feel doubt that you could, right now, be in a cult. After all, you’ve had good experiences, right? You’ve met some lovely people. And you’ve been told directly in the Training that maybe the word “cult” can be reclaimed, and “after all, Oprah was called a cult leader”.

Cults undoubtedly can provide good or even profound experiences. And being duped by a cult has nothing to do with one’s level of intelligence. Many people around the world have been where you’ve been, and were equally skeptical (or even convinced) that they were not in a cult. To adapt a quote by Upton Sinclair for the context of cults: it’s difficult to get a person to understand something when their self-identity depends on them not understanding it.

Once you’re in any cult-like group long enough, your brain will do everything it can to fight the idea that you could be in a toxic environment, that you may have been subject to brainwashing, that you could have been manipulated or deceived. Because understanding that risks your sense of identity, community, and core beliefs, your mind will purposely filter out anything you personally witnessed that made you doubt the authenticity of your experience, or anything negative about that experience. In Training In Power, you’ve been trained against negativity, after all, and first and foremost, you’ve been trained to reject negativity primarily about the Training itself.

What may be useful then, is to start by asking some simple questions of yourself. Are there similarities to other cults? Are there people who have spoken out about abuses in the Training? Do the reasons you’ve been given for rejecting their testimonials hold up? (They’re lying, they’re exaggerating, they’ve fallen to evil, it’s a coordinated “hit”.)

There are also a number of useful guides for evaluating whether or not you’re in a cult. One such guide is 10 Signs You’re Probably In A Cult.

Here are those 10 signs with some examples of each:

1. The leader is the ultimate authority

If you’re not allowed to criticize your leader, even if the criticism is true, you’re probably in a cult.

Cults begin with a charismatic leader who claims some supreme knowledge. They may call themselves a prophet, messiah, messenger, or an enlightened teacher. They can also be CEOs, military officials, politicians, and self-help gurus.

Cult leaders convince members to forfeit their critical thinking ability in return for a sense of belonging, authority, and purpose. To members, it doesn’t matter what the evidence or logic may suggest, the leader is always right, and their misdeeds are always justified. Criticism of the leader is forbidden.

Faye Fitzgerald calls herself The Rememberer, among other things which allegedly provide her with supreme knowledge. She calls herself an impeccable psychic. If her predictions are wrong? There’s a reason for it. Or her predictions were still right, just in a different way than you “wrongfully” interpreted her to mean. If someone says she was abusive, she claims it was pathology, either “clouding” that person’s sight from seeing her actions, or pathology on the person themselves. There is no possible framework for her having been in the wrong, ever.

2. The group suppresses skepticism

If you’re only allowed to study your organization through approved sources, you’re probably in a cult.

Cults view critical thinking as an infectious disease and every effort is made to suppress it. Doubting members are encouraged to isolate themselves from outside influences and focus solely on the doctrine of the cult.

Criticism is forbidden. People who contradict the group are viewed as persecutors and are often given labels like “anti,” “apostate,” or “suppressive person.” Members are discouraged from consuming any material that is critical of the group.

Any information critical of the Training, including this website, is warned against. It’s not simply refuted; superstitions and fear are added on top of engaging in anything critical of the organization. “Just don’t read it,” Faye will say. “It will take you out.” She will refer to it as “courting evil”. You begin to absorb this “instruction” in the form of: when you see something critical, your instinct is to reject it, and to reject it fast, before you can think about it. Doing otherwise, you are told, is to risk your spiritual journey.

3. The group delegitimizes former members

If you can’t think of a legitimate reason for leaving your group, you’re probably in a cult.

If Training In Power is an academy, why is there an expectation that you stay indefinitely? Why are levels added and course work is never completed? Can you think of any other academic setting that has this expectation? Why would you be told that people leave because the work is too “hard” (or given other more nefarious reasons), and not because they’ve learned what they need to?

4. The group is paranoid about the outside world

If your group insists the end of the world is near, you’re probably in a cult.

Cults position themselves as the sole refuge from an evil outside world that is intent on their destruction. Cults thrive on conspiracy theories, catastrophic thinking, and persecution complexes.

In an effort to draw in more paying members, cults are often very aggressive in their recruitment efforts which are usually justified as “saving” people from the evil world.

Training In Power doesn’t promote an “end of the world” theology, but from Level 6 up, teaching that the purpose of the training is to save the world and save others is explicit. It’s often implied that the training is the only organization equipped to do this.

Paranoia of evil is also a core teaching, and members are often instructed to be on guard from constant attack.

5. The group relies on shame cycles

If you need your group in order to feel worthy, loved, or sufficient, you’re probably in a cult.

Cult leaders trap members in shame cycles by imposing abnormally strict codes of conduct (usually prescriptions about diet, appearance, sex, relationships, media), guilting members for their shortcomings, and then positioning themselves as the unique remedy to the feelings of guilt which they themselves created.

The training is less focused on shame of the external than shame of the internal. Members are routinely shamed for not teaching enough or performing their spiritual journey adequately, and what is deemed “adequate” is defined by the founder/organization. Are you using this/that tool enough? Are you healing in this way enough? You’re not? Well, no wonder you’re experiencing the challenges that you are.

6. The leader is above the law 

If you’re held to a different moral standard, specifically in regard to sex, you’re probably in a cult.

A prevalent idea among cult leaders is that they are above the law, be it human or divine….When confronted, they do not confess, but create justifications for their impropriety.

Have you ever heard Faye (or other leaders, modelling the same behavior) confess to impropriety, inappropriate or abuse behavior, despite many witnesses to that behavior? Have you instead heard lots of explanations that amount to, “Who are you going to believe? Me or your lying eyes?” Have you instead heard people attacked for calling out impropriety? If you have not, there are numerous testimonials on this site. Or have you been given reason to believe that all such stories from ex-members are not legitimate? (See #3 from this list.)

7. The group uses “thought reform” methods

If your serious questions are answered with cliches, you’re probably in a cult.

Indoctrination or “brainwashing” is the process through which a cult slowly breaks down a person’s sense of identity and ability to think rationally. Behaviors like excessive fasting, prayer, hypnosis, scripture reading, chanting, meditation, or drug usage can all be used to increase a person’s vulnerability to the leader’s suggestions.

You might not be aware of this, but meditations given in Training In Power are not typical guided meditations. They may sound similar to guided meditations, but traditional guided meditations usually offer little direction, except to get a person to a state where they can find their own answers. In the training, meditations are extremely intricate and detailed, setting up specific touchstones of ideas and imagery to train your mind (in a very receptive state) into specific patterns of thought. You are guided on what to do, how to respond to specific types of scenarios, how to understand power, leadership, and intuition, and all of this conforming to belief systems you’ve been taught in TIP courses, so it all seems very natural.

Because you continue to follow those prescriptive meditations on your own, performing various tasks in a specific order to produce a specific outcome, it’s understandable to not see it as a form of brainwashing; after all, you’re doing this on your own time, in your own mind. But put the question to yourself a different way: if you wanted to brainwash someone, what could be more effective than convincing someone to produce patterns of thought for themselves that conform to the beliefs of the group? If you view it as a method of self-empowerment, you’re very unlikely to reject the system of conformity that you’re training yourself into.

One other small note: a common scenario in other guides for identifying cults that relates here is sleep deprivation. At the Level 6 conference, how often have you heard Faye claim she sleeps an hour a night, and repeat often that you don’t need sleep? As a student, did you take her at her word and get less sleep that week? Sleep deprivation is a common way that organizations make a student’s / recruit’s mind more susceptible to suggestion, and makes brainwashing a more likely outcome. If that seems like an unfair misreading, again, ask yourself the question in a different way. Since sleep deprivation is a known way to misuse / abuse a student, is suggesting someone sleep an hour a night the safest suggestion? Is it treating someone with care? If you don’t view this suggestion as nefarious, can you get to how this, at the least, would be incompetent or careless?

8. The group is elitist

If your group is the solution for all the world’s problems, you’re probably in a cult.

Cults see themselves as the enlightened, chosen, and elect organization tasked with radically transforming individual lives and the entire world.

Of all the items on this list, this is probably the most explicitly related to Training In Power. Members routinely refer to non-members as “muggles” (non-wizards in the Harry Potter universe). Faye will often explicitly say that the knowledge she shares is either the first time it’s existed on the earth plane, or hasn’t existed on earth for some ancient amount of time. Saving the entire world is the explicit purpose of particular rituals or “tools”, and Faye will often say there’s no one else who’s close to doing the “work”. If they are, they’re not doing it as effectively.

It’s quite a lucky coincidence, isn’t it? That you happened to find the one organization that is uniquely equipped to save the world? Do you know that many other cults make (or have made) the same claim, and their members have felt exactly as you do? It can feel absolutely wonderful and empowering to be part of an organization tasked with so divine a purpose, and uniquely equipped with ready and willing members to fulfill that purpose. Many would do almost anything to defend such an organization from destruction or even criticism, including from their own doubts. The only thing that can protect that feeling inside you is that you continue to believe that it’s true, and ignore anything that tells you that it isn’t. Ask yourself this: if it wasn’t true, would there possibly be a very human reason for you to believe it anyway? Is “evidence” really the reason you believe it?

9. There is no financial transparency

If you’re not allowed to know what the group does with their money, you’re probably in a cult.

A group that refuses to disclose its finances is a huge red flag. Ethical organizations have nothing to hide. Cult leaders tend to live opulently while their followers are required to make financial sacrifices.

This one is probably a personal judgment call. You may or may not feel the leader lives opulently, or that you’ve been required to make financial sacrifices. Certainly there is pressure to continue to take classes or come to the Level 6 conference every year, but that may not be significant for some.

Not all cults will strongly resonate with every item of this list. It’s just something to note and ask of yourself.

10. The group performs secret rites

If there are secret teachings or ceremonies you didn’t discover until after you joined, you’re probably in a cult.

Cults use secret rituals as rites of passage that solidify a member’s loyalty to the group. Initiation into these rites usually only comes after a member has undergone certain tests or made adequate financial contributions.

One only has to have attended the Level 6 conference to answer this honestly. Did you have an inkling of what would be asked of you, what rituals you would perform, or what would be shared with you at Level 6 when you took Level 1? Did you feel more “included” or part of the group and community after that week? Did it solidify your loyalty to a greater degree? Did you hear stories that created a sense of kinship with everyone else there?

What was the reason given that you were sworn to secrecy? How did it feel to know something about the nature of humanity that was unknown to the rest of humanity?

Finally: the stories you heard, did it make sense, scientifically? Or did it seem to match common misconceptions of geological history? One thing you may want to do is keep those stories in mind and watch the incredible Cosmos series hosted by Neil deGrasse Tyson. Do they still make sense?

One way Faye “proves” those stories is to say that everyone arrives at the same stories independently. Is that really the case? Do new students share the same kinds of stories as those who’ve been there for years? How might the phrase, “Remember who you really are?”, repeated to you often ever since Level 1, affect your sense of self-identity? (See #7.)

Again, ask yourself this question in a different way. If someone wanted to help retrieve (accurately) a repressed memory, would it be helpful to repeat a phrase over and over to them that their self-identity was not accurate? Would it be helpful for them to hear over and over, every year, a story from many other members, and suggest to them that they carried the same story internally? Would you say this when that person was sleep-deprived, after having received hours and hours of prescriptive guided meditations?

Put another way, if you wanted to avoid, at the least, the appearance of brainwashing, is this the way you would go about it? If you wanted to have firm ground to say you were not a cult, is this the sort of safe environment you would create for people, to get to their own truth?

If Training In Power is not a cult, what explains these practices that are so susceptible for abuse? What explains the common stories of abuse and trauma? Conspiracy? “Physics”? If the basic is scientific, as claimed, do these claims hold up to the rigors of science? Or is scientific method rejected when its not convenient to organizational claims?

Deprogramming from a cult experience is hard work, and sometimes takes a lifetime. You may reject some or all of this out of hand. Some may resonate for you and some may not. Whatever the outcome, may you find peace.