3.6.18

KEN WILBER: A very interesting essay on the predilection of the Integral Bandit Leader to assassinate his enemies with fatal scorn!

This is an essay by one of Wilber's fiercest critics Geoffrey Falk nabbed from Frank Vissers Integral site  I've searched for him online without success to seek permission to publish this very interesting and well written article for my readers delectation.
But I can't find him-just broken links and empty websites.  If you see this Geoff give me a shout!
Thanks!
PS:  I am also bald!  And proud!

NormanEinsteinBook.com

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CHAPTER IX

BALD NARCISSISM



A few years ago, a book honoring Wilber, Ken Wilber in Dialogue, collected the views of many ... critics, allowing Wilber to engage them all. But I found it illuminating that he did not concede a single substantive point to any of these critics, and that he identified a single writer out of them [i.e., his close friend Roger Walsh] whom he felt completely understood his system—the only writer who made no real criticisms of his system at all (Smith, 2004).
[T]he believers of a purported synthesis [by Wilber] will have to work overtime and employ a great deal of cognitive dissonance not to see the facts and theories that don’t fit into their integral embrace (Meyerhoff, 2006).

ON JUNE 8 OF 2006, Ken Wilber posted a very revealing entry on his blog, exhibiting something of a “Wyatt Earp” complex. That is, as an underappreciated gunslinger/sheriff/savior, out to save the Wild West according to his own version of the Kosmic Law. From that embarrassing rant:
In short, it’s just ridiculous to say that I try to hide from this criticism, I live on it!.... This is what second tier does automatically anyway, it takes new truths wherever it finds them and weaves them into larger tapestries. It can’t help doing so! If I find one, I am ecstatic! So mark this well: Only a first-tier mentality would even think that one would run away from good criticism.
Wilber, however, does indeed run away from competent, thorough criticism like vampires flee from the sunlight. Mark that well. You do not need to be first-, second-, or nth-tier to see that; all you need to be able to do is recognize competent research when you see it, and then note kw’s derogatory response to (or freezing-out of) that. You will not find anything resembling the same academic competence in Wilber’s own writings, which is exactly why he needs to so hysterically marginalize people who can think and research far more clearly and thoroughly than he has ever been able to do.
If you read that full rant, you will notice that nowhere in it does Wilber address the reality that a large percentage of the criticisms which he brushes off as being “first tier” are taking him to task for having provably misrepresented the purported “established facts” in the fields which he claims (falsely) to be integrating. Whether or not developmental studies are in “complete disarray,” for example, Wilber has brutally misrepresented the purported agreement regarding Piaget’s stages of psychological development. There is no way around that fact; so, not surprisingly, all kw can do in response is to claim that he understands the relevant fields much better than his harshest critics do ... thus apparently licensing him to utterly/unprofessionally misrepresent the ideas in those same fields ... and thus actually showing, for anyone who wishes to see, that he either hasn’t understood them or is deliberately and dishonestly misleading his readers.
I am not going to keep responding to the lunatics, nuts, fakes, and frauds.
But, into which group does the present author fit? Lunatic, nut, fake, or (well-footnoted) fraud? Or maybe a “perv” (Wilber’s word) instead? (Yet, both Huston Smith and James Fadiman endorsed my since-disowned first book on Eastern philosophy with far greater enthusiasm than they have ever given publicly to any of Wilber’s own attempts at scholarship. That, after all, is one good reason why he cannot openly include me in the “first-tier” category of those who purportedly cannot, even in principle, understand his ideas.)
From the same blog entry, this is a partial list of Wilber’s fertile imaginings regarding the purported shortcomings of persons such as myself, who dare not only to have no use for his philosophy but to further point out, in reasoned detail, why his conjectures make so very little sense:
lunatic and cacophonous ... so deranged as to be laughable ... suck my dick ... level of scholarship is so mediocre ... worthless ... you morons ... lame criticism ... painfully sluggish critics, dragging their bloated bellies across the ground at a snail’s pace of gray dreariness, can frankly just eat my dust and bite my ass ... nonsensical ... neither true nor false but empty ... criticism so deranged you just stare at it wide-eyed and dumbfounded ... criticism so absolutely loopy you just stare in disbelief for minutes, pie-eyed, slack-jawed, say whaaaaaat? ... numb-nut young Turks and no-nut old Turks, many of whom have studied [my] work for up to 3 full hours....
As a wise man noted, all that one would have to do is read that blog by Wilber (and nothing else) to see why he is losing respect even from those academics who used to think he deserved his high standing in the transpersonal/integral community. Indeed, kw’s childish response makes him look much worse, in his character, than any criticism of him by others could ever have done.
Regardless, if you have to “rape and pillage” the details in any field in order to get them to “fit” with your grand theorizings—as Wilber has done throughout his entire career, and without which intellectual abuse there would not be any AQAL or the like—you are not integrating anything.Conversely, when people see details to which you (kw) are “legally blind,” and correspondingly reject your supposed “integrations,” it is not because they are seeing less than you are, but rather because they are seeing more.
Ironic, to be sure. But the reality is that if you simply pay proper attention to details and to elementary research, you cannot be “integral,” by Wilber’s use of the term. Because it is exactly that attention to detail and broad knowledge-base which proves that things do not fit together—and most probably never will—in anything resembling the fashion which kw pretends they do. And then, because you will not accept his detail-ignoring claims, you can only be “first tier.”
The whole kit and caboodle of recent criticism just reeks of Nietzschean resentiment[sic]—in plain English, resentment, deep and long and ugly resentment (Wilber, 2006).
KW is royally fooling himself if he imagines that any of the recent criticisms by myself or Meyerhoff, for example, are based in envy, lack of “second-tier” perspective, or resentment deriving from his (ill-gotten) “success.” Anyone who wants to deceive others by presenting fairy-tale ideas which have no real hope of being true is indeed on a well-traveled road to “success” in this world. But there are still those of us who would rather get our recognition the honest way.
If you are even a competent undergraduate student with a conscience, there is next to nothing for you to envy in Ken Wilber’s work or character: you already have more of what makes a decent human being in you than kw will ever even want to recover from his own wasted life. All you can really learn from the likes of him is what not to do with your life, and how not to behave in attempting to make a name for yourself.
On June 11 of 2006, Wilber published a “Part II” to his previous diatribe, claiming to have only posted the earlier scolding as a “test.”
First, from one of his fans, as quoted in that follow-up (2006a) piece:
NEVER in over two years have I witnessed anything like this. THIS IS NOT WHAT YOU [KW] ARE REALLY LIKE. I repeat, I have NEVER seen you act like this.
Bauwens and Dallman, however, long ago saw that side of kw. He has shown enough of it in his mistreatment of the late David Bohm, too, the latter of which is in black and white by his own hand, as noted in the appendix to this book.
From another quoted Fan of Ken:
Sometimes the most compassionate thing one can do is to cut down dangerous and terrorist egos.
Is that what we are now to Wilber’s loyal followers? Dangerous “terrorist” egos? Being cut down “compassionately”? For trying to warn people that Wilber’s teachings and community are not what they appear to be?
Another Fan:
I read Meyerhoff’s MS a couple of years ago. There were some interesting points here and there, but even these I assumed you would be capable of rebutting with little problem.
Why would Wilber’s admirers assume that? On what possible grounds? And why would kw publish this excerpt, when it really only shows how little actual questioning his friends and followers are capable of?
In the same letter, Wilber and his quoted friends touched on the “big picture” nature of their ideas; the need to deeply understand integral notions before criticizing them; and the supposed responsibility of critics to provide reasonable alternatives to the ideas they are critiquing. They also suggested that anyone, particularly business executives and politicians, would first do an appropriate level of “due diligence” before becoming involved with the integral ideology.
First, note that details are not mere “gotchas,” nor does taking a “50,000-foot view” release you from the obligation of squaring your overarching principles with an honest representation of each and every detail. It was exactly because of the confirmation (to within experimental accuracy) of the predictions of Einstein’s theories that he and his ideas became famous. Without that precise validation, no one would even know his name today, much less care about the elegance of the core ideas underlying those theories. In the integral world, by contrast, you can trip over details, and even actively misrepresent them, as much as you like, and the followers in that field will only defend your reasons for doing so, rather than taking you to task for that gross unprofessionalism.
Further, when one can prove that the principles on which a theory is founded are false (or grossly misrepresented), one actually doesn’t need to separately debunk its conclusions. If the premises are wrong, the conclusions will be wrong, too. (Of course, by pure chance, someone like Wilber may still manage to get a few conclusions right—as even Velikovsky did, in astronomy.)
In any case, in fields of real scholarship there has always been room for persons who merely gave harsh criticisms of the prevailing ideas, even without being able to offer better alternatives themselves. Never mind that, in the integral world, having an alternative will only be held against you, via the claim that in tearing kw’s ideas down you are just trying to get your own work noticed.
Meyerhoff has done an appropriate level of due diligence, in going back to the original sources which Wilber claims support his view, to prove that they regularly do not. How has he been treated by the integral community for doing so? And, how many people who get interested in kw’s ideas would even be able to find the time, much less the interest, to do the same? Without that, all they can do is trust that the community wouldn’t let incompetent or dishonest work rise to the top. That trust, as we have seen, is very misplaced.
As to the politicians in the UN, or our world’s corporate executives, as targets for integral proselytizing: They would not do even one-tenth of that work. Rather, they will just look at the roster of “big names” endorsing the fallacious integral ideas, and then proceed in the confidence that “a hundred thousand Wilber fans can’t be wrong.” Those are people, after all, who cannot look past an executive summary to the details in the first place.
Wilber himself:
I got several calls from spiritual teachers around the country, and they all said almost exactly the same thing: “I wish I had the nerve to do this.” That was a very common response, and many teachers went on to lament the “green swamp” their own sanghas[i.e., spiritual communities] seemed to be, “and what can I do about it?”
Yes, the “green swamp,” after all, wants democracy and dialog in what is inherently a dictatorship. “What can I do about it?” Indeed: Any guru would like nothing better than to suppress that disrespectful talking-back.
KW again:
you don’t like us, you hate us, you hate I-I, you hate wilber, you hate this and you hate that—we heard you loud and clear. And we saw you. And now we know each other, don’t we? But was that you or your shadow responding?
Personally, until around half a dozen years ago I was still considering donating money to the Integral Institute; it was only in documenting Wilber’s provable and gross misrepresentations of David Bohm’s work that I began to sour on him, and since then to find his life’s work throughout exhibiting exactly the same dismal caliber of thought and research. If you can look at that simple following-of-the-evidence and see only projection or hatred ... well, as Wilber says, “What We Are, That We See.”
More from a couple of Ken’s admirers, in support of his “compassionate rage”:
I trust the meta-vision you see of human and social evolution, and if this posting as is serves the Kosmos, then so be it.
I couldn’t list all your third-tier reasons for this, but I deeply know that Integral resonates with, and works for, those who are ready for it. It is a truth that doesn’t need a prop to stand.
Of course Wilber must be “third tier,” uniquely able to judge the effect of his actions on the Kosmos. That should have been obvious by now. After all, the first thing any spiritual leader must learn is that you must always keep at least one step (in purported spiritual evolution) ahead of the followers. But, when a pandit/guru tries to tell you that you are “first tier” and shadow-projecting simply because you won’t stand for being manipulated or misled, or that “second tier would get it, and that is who it was meant for”—well, “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.”
Another Fan:
Yes I was pissed off about [Integral University] hosts being referred to as minions ... fuck the crazy critic.
First “terrorist egos,” and now “crazy,” too. Would the most committed members of any cult behave any differently?
Personally, I had never publicly referred to Wilber’s close followers as “minions.” But, truth be told, that is exactly what I regard them as being. Their thoughts as included on the “I was only kidding” blog by kw have only confirmed that for me.
Yet another admirer of Ken:
[D]oes telling a group of mental masturbators that they’re off the mark actually legitimize them in a way? If their intent is simply (!) to fantasize, they are unlikely to have the decency to be embarrassed at being caught once again with their pants down around their knees.
First, does the integral community not realize that they are seen by skeptics as being every bit as “crazy,” and unworthy of legitimization, as they now view Wilber’s critics? No, of course they don’t realize that. But it is nevertheless true.
And how ironic, that they reduce cogent criticism to the status of fantasy, while elevating their own transpersonal fairy tales and outright delusions to the status of “reality.” Myself, Meyerhoff, and other solid critics have nothing to be “embarrassed” about, if the previous lacking-in-substance blog entry by kw is the best that he can offer in terms of trying to prove us to be “mental masturbators.”
And where is Wilber’s own “decency”? Or his sense of embarrassment at having been caught, repeatedly, with his own “pants down,” blatantly and unconscionably fabricating information? Or his understanding of humor, or of group dynamics/laughter, for that matter?
The best response actually came from Wilber’s close friend, Stuart Davis:
it’s fantastic, it’s overdue, and i feel it is appropriate and proportionate in tone and content. i laughed out loud half a dozen times, and it’s right on the money. how fucking LONG are you supposed to sit back without comment while these toxic, petty fuckers make preposterous attacks on work that’s ten years old? and only one in a hundred even knows what the fuck they’re talking about, because like it or not YOU’RE RIGHT TO SAY it is a cross-altitude issue. these green shits take pot shots at 2nd tier morning, noon, and night, and they are literally not capable of registering the content, the locations, the addresses, the altitude of 2nd tier. it’s insane, and i’m relieved to see you calling a spade a spade in this way.
Speaking of psychological shadows, Davis could hardly be showing his own more clearly.
Still, all that he and Wilber’s other anonymously quoted supporters are really doing, throughout the above, is to parrot what Ken has previously told them about the “first-tier, green, wanna-be,” etc., nature of his critics. And in doing so, they are acting as very effective mouthpieces for kw, to voice on his behalf what he himself could not say without completely blowing his reputation as a “compassionate, spiritually evolved scholar.”
In any case, even work a decade old is certainly worth debunking, particularly for how the provable dishonesties and/or incompetencies in it reflect on the character of its author; and also, for how the same shortcomings suggest the (un)likelihood that his current work will stand up to future criticism. (See Smith, 20032006; and 2006a.) Not to mention that, as others have noted, if Wilber-5 “transcends and includes” the decade-old Wilber-4, the debunking of the latter will still be directly relevant even to kw’s current ideas.
The point of putting these criticisms of Wilber’s work into print is to do what one can to prevent others, not merely from wasting their time on Wilber’s fabrications, and not merely from meditating to the point of developing clinical psychoses when they think they are working toward psychological stage-growth. For, as if those issues were not enough, with Wilber’s continuing endorsements of various “problematic” gurus, surely more than one person has already thrown his/her life away on exactly those “Great Realizers.” If one were working for the integral movement, attempting to stop such dangerous foolishness would rightly be called “compassion.” Here, however, it gets you branded as a “petty fucker.”
Davis himself, as per his “Universe Communion” song from the Self-Untitled album, genuinely believes that the “Dagon” (sic) tribal people received their purported knowledge of astronomy from extraterrestrials. He actually says (1998) that the song was “inspired by John E. Mack’s wonderful book Abduction, which I recommend to anyone open to new possibilities of what we perceive as reality.”
The late Dr. Mack was, of course, Harvard University’s embarrassingly credulous “UFO expert” (Carroll, 2004).
And Wilber proudly puts all of the above pandering into (online) print, without so much as a twinge of realization as to how it looks to the real world.
KW again:
I should mention that when IU opens we will be having specific classes, for those who want, where we analyze various forum responses for their altitude, their levels and lines, and their shadow elements.
Yes, nothing bonds an in-group like laughing together at the flaws of their out-group critics, who just cannot see things as clearly as they, the “special ones,” do. And that will be done at a “university,” no less.
Another Fan of Ken:
all we have to do now is send people to that [initial, “Wyatt Earpy”] blog and watch their response. if it freaks them out, it’s unlikely they would do very well in any type of second-tier work. so at least we know. the thing is, K loves these people, I’ve seen him work with them because he’ll work with anybody.
Yes, so will every guru-figure who has ever been caught in a web of deceits, and been publicly exposed for it. They all still “love” you, and would like nothing more than to see you cave to their terms, so they can “work with” you at making you a better person. That is, at teaching you how to progress spiritually by becoming “more like them.” (Also, note that the all-lower-case writing style of these supporters of Wilber exactly mirrors his own use of that affectation. It would be interesting to know how many of them wrote in that way prior to becoming part of kw’s inner circle, would it not?)
And through all of that, has Wilber offered any cogent, intelligent response to any of his recent critics ... never mind to David Lane’s critique from 1996? No, of course not. What he has posted could rather just as well have all been a deliberate smoke screen, to distract from the real issue. That is, to obscure the fact that his ideas consistently do not stand up to any kind of thorough questioning—a point which is hardly mitigated by him trotting out a few anonymous “experts” who naïvely imagine the contrary.
Frank Visser—author of Ken Wilber: Thought As Passion (with a foreword by kw) and at one time, with Michel Bauwens, a founding member of the Integral Institute—gave his own (2006) response to Wilber’s bloggings:
Wilber writes: “Have you noticed that the people who complain the most about the concept of boomeritis almost always have the worst cases of it?” So what about the #1 crusader against boomeritis himself? Looks like he has a particularly bad case of it. Even jokingly mentioning “I am at the center of the vanguard of the greatest social transformation in the history of humankind” is telling. Sure, it’s a joke. Or is it? Why mention?....
I will not get caught in this game of praise and condemnation, so reminiscent of cultic milieus I have been in before. Instead, I will tirelessly go on publishing writings which I consider helpful in understanding integral philosophy. I may be wrong, I may be right—but that’s not the issue. [T]he issue is that there should be an open, public forum where all voices can be heard. That’s why Integral World is valuable.
Bauwens, too, posted several excellent responses to Wilber’s “integral meltdown.” From “On the Logic of Cultism at the Integral Institutes” (2006):
Being integral is increasingly being defined as: “agreeing with Ken Wilber.” This is the only critique being accepted within the movement. And basically it takes the form of: yes you are a genius, but wouldn’t you consider that xxx. Such a form of self-denigrating critique is the only one acceptable, and it can only serve to strengthen the edifice and the influence of the master....
[Even without Joe Firmage’s money in the founding of I-I, and Don Beck’s reinforcement of kw’s narcissism] the totalizing edifice and the particular personality of Wilber would in all likel[i]hood have evolved in this way eventually....
Can there be any hope for such a movement? In my opinion: none whatsoever. The point of no-return has long passed.
And, from “Ken Wilber is Losing It” (2006a):
[Wilber’s rant and Boomeritis, plus, I would add, kw’s telephone interviews as featured on Integral Naked] sounds like the expression of a man desperately in need of confirmation by the young, attempting to be “cool,” but not quite knowing how to do it, and revealing his own immaturity in the process....
At one point in our lives, we may seek a system of systems that may put to rest of fears of paradoxes and contradictions, showing how different truth claims can nevertheless be all true at some higher level of integration. But at another point in your life, if you are not intellectually and spiritually lazy, you have to learn again to live with the uncertainty of knowledge, and then, frankly, any reliance of a total edifice a la Wilber becomes counterproductive.
Personally, I agree strongly with nearly all of the points made in both of those fine postings.
Visser then published a truly excellent “companion article” to his own response to kw. From Chamberlain’s (2006a) “Sorry, It’s Just Over Your Head”:
I read many responses to Wilber’s part I, and the only person who speaks as if he might actually feel anything remotely like actual “hate” toward Wilber is Geoffrey Falk, and I think that calling Falk “hateful” would require us to read more into Falk’s way of expressing himself than may be there. But let’s say for sake of argument that Falk hates Wilber and I-I.
I cannot quarrel with any of that. But, of course, we should always leave open the possibility that I, too, have been deliberately trying to “push the buttons” of Ken and his followers. You know, in addition to obviously enjoying saucily “calling a spade a spade” when it comes to leaders and followers with whom one sadly cannot reason. So, one might as well (generally justifiably) insult them (after having first proved them to be in the wrong) and hope that something gets through in all that.
Still, love or hate the way in which I express myself, it makes no difference to the validity of the criticisms I have made of kw’s ideas (and character). And really, without those solid critiques, which the members of the integral world cannot counter even were they disposed to responding cogently rather than reflexively, would Wilber have been pushed to his embarrassing meltdown, with that being very damaging to I-I’s grandiose “mission” in the world? Perhaps ... but perhaps not.
(I don’t want to take too much “credit,” since Meyerhoff’s outstanding work seems to be bothering kw much more than mine, at least by name. Probably a significant part of the reason for that, though, is that my own previous work has again been endorsed by the respected likes of David Lane, John Horgan, Len Oakes and Susan Blackmore—not to mention Smith and Fadiman—whom Wilber cannot easily dismiss without undercutting his own high position in the world.)
It is an open question as to whether or not I personally “hate the sinner” in any of my irreverent (“Eighth Deadly Sin”) criticisms of our world’s gurus and pandits. But I certainly “hate the sin,” no question about that! Anyone who tells me half-truths or worse to try to get me to cave to his ideas, in religion or otherwise, has picked the wrong person to try to deceive.
During the same period of these responses to Wilber’s “Wyatt Earpy” postings, an anonymous blogger gave a fantastic analysis (reprinted in [Chamberlain, 2006a]) of kw’s guru-like “card-playing”—in his claims that his behavior constituted a skillful teaching, that people failed to see that only for not having evolved to his high level, and that the objections to that “teaching” were based simply on his critics’ psychological projections:
Folks, outlining how and why this is classic cultic behavior is too elementary to even go into. Just pick up any book on the subject, or go read about the true root of all this: Adi Da....
In the end, Ken is trying to silence critics/outsiders by asking that they simply STOP, which is all he really wants at this point. He asks that they take a moratorium on judging others, on loathing and condemning him. Notice that none of this addresses anything of any real substance; it’s just an attempt to bring it to an end, with him still on top as the teacher. He is the game-master, after all. In real academic and/or spiritual circles (or within an adult community) such cards are considered completely and totally out of bounds. They only work in guru and cultic environments. Ken, PLEASE, you are the one who needs to STOP.
Is there anyone at I-I with the courage to tell him this?....
The herd mentality that Wilber should concern himself with is the herd mentality he encourages in his young followers, the groupthink, the in-group versus out-group dynamic, the loading of the language with jargon and psychobabble, the arrogance, narcissism, and grandiosity.
Is it not amazing that all of that cultic behavior has become so clear, through kw’s own actions, that only people in complete denial (of which there are, sadly, plenty) could fail to see it?
More from Wilber (2006b):
I want to be hated for the real me! I am perfectly capable of generating massive irritation all by myself—I don’t need your shadow to do it. So please do me the honor of hating the real me!
Yes, that is precisely what I have been doing, though the “hating” thing is still an open question.
Okay, jokes aside: Let’s forgive and forget the past, and start afresh. And let’s see who honestly wishes to deal with this, and who wants to continue gun-fighting their own shadows....
Both sides could use a little confession, repentance, and forgiveness. I can say that, right here and now, I fully forgive any and all hurt that has been inflicted on me by unfair and unwarranted accusations, criticisms, and condemnations. With full heart, I sincerely mean that.
Yes, the magnanimous Wilber “forgives” his critics. Particularly the ones whose criticism is clearly warranted and inarguably valid, but which he can only deal with by absurdly pretending that he is being misunderstood by first-tier “morons” who have treated him unfairly.
How unbelievably self-centered of the man—to offer such “forgiveness” to others without asking, nay begging, for the same from them.
Wikipedia (2006b), then, has this to say on the subject of narcissism:
While in regression, the person displays childish, immature behaviors. He feels that he is omnipotent, and misjudges his power and that of his opposition. He underestimates challenges facing him and pretends to be “Mr. Know-All.” His sensitivity to the needs and emotions of others and his ability to empathize with them deteriorate sharply. He becomes intolerably haughty and arrogant, with sadistic and paranoid tendencies. Above all, he then seeks unconditional admiration, even when others with more objective views perceive that he does not deserve it. He is preoccupied with fantastic, magical thinking and daydreams. In this mode he tends to exploit others, to envy them, and to be explosive.
That, of course, matches Wilber’s behaviors point-by-point. From his childish bloggings, to his misjudging of his most cogent critics as “morons” compared to his own “brilliance,” to his know-it-all nature, to his insensitive “forgiving” of others (and simultaneous failure to ask for forgiveness himself) when he is clearly the one in the wrong. And more, to his haughtiness and arrogance, to his paranoid (i.e., disproportionate to reality) feelings of being loathed and condemned, to his obvious need for undeserved unconditional admiration. And from there to his certainty, from his own misinterpreted experiences, that paranormal phenomena and mystical winds exist—implying the magical ability of his thoughts to influence the world around him. And finally to his unconscionable manipulation and exploitation of others to ensure his own “greatness.”
Completely consistent with that diagnosis, Matthew Dallman (2005a) has independently noted, of Wilber:
I have ... never met a more self-absorbed person....
Any real teacher is someone abundant in their help; in my experience, and according to accounts of several long-time associates, Wilber helps no one unless it serves to help him and his reputation....
It also turned out that what I thought was a think-tank [i.e., the Integral Institute] was, in reality, a company, which went on to produce products like any company would. Those products include self-help DVDs, for-pay websites promising exclusive access to him, as well as expensive seminars and experiential workshops. Essentially, the whole thing is to sell Wilber as well as his model, even if advertised otherwise.
And to what may kw look forward, in his own “psychological development”?
A personality disorder arises only when repeated attacks on the obstacle continue to fail—especially if this recurrent failure happens during the formative stages (0–6 years of age). The contrast between the fantastic world (temporarily) occupied by the individual and the real world in which he keeps being frustrated (the grandiosity gap) is too acute to countenance for long. The dissonance gives rise to the unconscious “decision” to go on living in the world of fantasy, grandiosity and entitlement (Wikipedia, 2006b).
Of course, Wilber is blessed to not have to retreat into complete fantasy in order to live all that out: He has already created the “reality” of the Integral Institute in which to act out his delusions of greatness and entitlement.
Len Oakes wrote an entire book (Prophetic Charisma) on the typically narcissistic personality structure of cult leaders. What we are seeing with kw is just par for the course and would, as Bauwens has noted, have happened eventually even without any “critical” provocation: Wilber was always an “institute” waiting to happen.
On June 22, 2006, in the third installment of his “Wyatt Earp” series of blog postings, Wilber (2006c) gave his best yet still embarrassingly limping arguments, as to why his Integral Institute is supposedly not a cult:
Based on a year-long study ... we arrived at this 3-variable, 8-box grid, which has continued to be highly accurate in spotting and predicting cultic behavior, because it is based, not on making judgments like “it doesn’t allow criticism” (which is meaningless), but rather on several nonjudgmental variables that have been found empirically to be associated with behavior that injures groups and individuals. (This stops people who don’t like a movement from labeling it cultic by coming up with checklists of things they don’t like, which are just tautological.) It was, and is indeed, a landmark publication.
[Actually, a lot has happened over the past twenty years in the cult-studies field and elsewhere; what was (wrongly) regarded as being insightful back then, hasn’t necessarily stood the test of time. Who in the cult-studies field actually uses the ideas in kw’s co-written Spiritual Choices today? No one that I am aware of; I cannot recall even having seen the book cited, and have read it only because it is part of kw’s “canon” of supposedly “landmark” works.]
I am glad to report that both the structure and beliefs of Integral Institute fall in the box (out of 8 boxes) that, in the past, has had the lowest number of cultic behaviors.... There are all sorts of other integral philosophies, integral forums, and arenas where somebody can play if they reject our approach, and I support the existence of those other forums and always have.
Yes, you are welcome to go and “play,” as children do, with some other guru or organization if you cannot take the heat at I-I, or if you are simply too unevolved to understand the Great Work they imagine themselves to be doing. “So long, Failure. You never even existed here.” Ask Matthew Dallman (2005a): “I was the first composer featured on that site, but any reference to me was removed after I resigned from IU.” Plus, kw’s previously reported regard for “arenas” such as the California Institute of Integral Studies as being “cesspools” can hardly be reconciled with his more recent, strategic equanimity.
In any case, I already have a whole chapter in Stripping the Gurus pointedly titled “Spiritual Choices,” debunking the false claims to excellence of Wilber’s book of the same name. Have the “8 boxes” of kw and his co-authors really “continued to be highly accurate in spotting and predicting cultic behavior”? No, they have not. From STG, as published well over a year prior to Wilber’s self-endorsement of Spiritual Choices:
Incredibly, most of the “enlightened” individuals and ashrams included herein would have been considered to fall close to the “safest” of the categories in the typologies of Dick Anthony (1987), et al., via the Spiritual Choices book. That is, nearly all of the spiritual teachers we have met thus far (not including the leaders of the Hare Krishnas, Moonies, or Jim Jones) were:
  • Monistic rather than dualistic—i.e., working toward realizing a state of inherent conscious oneness with all things, as opposed to placing God as inexorably separate from creation and approachable only through a unique savior such as Jesus, with the failure to follow the appropriate savior leading to eternal damnation (exceptions: none)
  • Multilevel—i.e., having a “distinct hierarchy of spiritual authority,” in gnosis versus teachings versus interpretations (unilevel exceptions, which “confuse real and pseudo-transcendence of mundane consciousness,” include Findhorn, Scientology, Rajneesh and TM [notwithstanding that the Maharishi’s teachings themselves are rooted in the Vedas]), and
  • Non-charismatic—i.e., emphasizing techniques of spiritual transformation (e.g., meditation), rather than relying on a personal relationship between disciple and teacher as the means of evolution/enlightenment of the former (exceptions: Ramakrishna, Meher Baba, Neem Karoli Baba, Adi Da, Muktananda, Ma Jaya Sati Bhagavati, Jetsunma, Cohen, and Sai Baba and Chinmoy to lesser degrees)
TrungpaSatchidananda and Zen Buddhism were all explicitly placed in Anthony’s “safest” category—of “multilevel, technical monism.” In his second-safest grouping (“multilevel, charismatic monism”) we find Meher BabaNeem Karoli Baba,MuktanandaChinmoy and Adi Da.
If those are “safe” spiritual leaders and communities, though, one shudders to think what “dangerous” ones might look like. One’s jaw drops further to find that, as late as 2003, Wilber has still been recommending Spiritual Choices to others as a means of distinguishing “safe” groups from potentially “problematic” ones. That such recommendations are coming years after the central thesis (as documented above) of the text has been wholly discredited in practice, is astounding.
Fooled by the arguments of Anthony, et al., I myself had endorsed Spiritual Choices at one point in a previous work. Obviously, however, my opinion of that book and of its authors’ ideas has matured significantly since then. Indeed, by this point I very much regret that previous naïvete on my part, particularly when it is coupled with ideas such as the following, from the same group of “experts”:
[Tom] Robbins and [Dick] Anthony’s own contribution [to In Gods We Trust (1982)] includes a superb introduction—perhaps the best single chapter in the anthology; a complete and devastating critique of the brainwashing model; and an insightful report on the Meher Baba community (Wilber, 1983b).
The relevant meager, twelve-page, utterly simplistic chapter on brainwashing, however, is anything but a “complete” critique, much less a “devastating” one. Whatever one may think of the brainwashing and mind-control debate, how could a five-thousand word treatment of that complex subject possibly be “complete”? Entire books have been written from both sides of the controversy without exhausting it; entire Library of Congress Cataloguing in Publication designations exist for the subject! Even if the short paper in question were the greatest ever written, it could not possibly be “complete”!
For myself, I have found the chapter in question to be utterly unimpressive. Indeed, it shows near-zero understanding of the psychological factors influencing one’s “voluntary joining,” and later difficulty in leaving, such environments. There is nothing whatsoever “devastating” about the text, whether one agrees or disagrees with Anthony’s overall perspective.
For a revealing example of Anthony’s own wilber-esque attempts at critiquing other scholars’ ideas, see Zablocki (2001).
Further, it is well-known that destructive cults also form around political and psychological leaders. In those cases, the “important” dichotomies of monistic vs. dualistic, and of multilevel vs. unilevel, are completely absent. That is, Wilber and Anthony’s “matrix” reduces to simply whether the group follows techniques of (political?) transformation, or relies on a personal relationship between follower and leader! So, in any non-spiritual context, their “landmark” contributions there reduce to merely two boxes. One could hardly do better for exhibiting binary, black-or-white thinking.
Thus, even if the matrix worked in terms of reliably evaluating spiritual communities, it would be all-but-useless in any of the other contexts in which one needs to evaluate whether or not a given group is a destructive cult. That should be a glaring indication that the criteria given by Wilber and Anthony for spotting potentially destructive spiritual groups have little relevance indeed to reality.
Plus, in terms of tautologies, we have Wilber using his own past theorizings to “prove” that his current community is okay. But those previous theorizings (by himself and the utterly misled “cult-apologist” Dick Anthony [see Ross, 2003]) were, of course, created from within exactly the same psychological blinders which have produced his current community.
If “it doesn’t allow criticism” is a meaningless criterion for defining what a cult is, then how about “it doesn’t allow persons to make competent, thorough and valid criticisms of its leaders’ teachings or character, which the leaders cannot refute, while still permitting the questioners to remain members in good standing of the community”? That, at any rate, is exactly how one could reasonably describe Wilber’s institute and surroundings.
KW again:
Ordinarily you would tell somebody that their capacity to love is wonderful, something to be nurtured and increased. The more they love, the better. EXCEPT if they love me. If they feel any sort of love for me and say so, then they are a cultic idiot. So apparently if anybody loves me, they are sick.
If, after becoming aware of Meyerhoff’s and my own work (etc.) in exposing Wilber for the manipulative spiritual leader that he is, you still don’t get what kw is up to, well, then yes, I cannot see any other conclusion than that there must be powerful factors in your own psychology blinding you to that reality. And those are indeed some of the same factors which get people into, and life-long stuck in, even the worst recognized cults.
And if, after having had it demonstrated to you that a person’s “philosophy” cannot manage to be self-consistent even in the midst of its gross and inexcusable violations of truth, you still continue to accept that worldview as being valid ... well, in any non-spiritual field of knowledge you certainly would not be regarded as thinking clearly or competently.
Nevertheless, those of us who have been through cults ourselves don’t generally refer to other people, who in the absence of proper debunking of their leaders may simply be as gullible as we once were, as being “cultic idiots.” (In the cult-studies field, with its emphasis on coercive persuasive, a.k.a. “brainwashing,” they would never refer to followers in that way.) I have indeed used the phrase “integral idiots” to describe followers of Wilber who go out intent on teaching (or censoring) me, for example, without having first done their homework; I have even referred to the same people as “dumb FOKs” (Fans of Ken). But that is very different from viewing anyone as being a “cultic idiot” simply for “loving” Wilber.
If you can love a raging narcissist, who by all believable reports will “love” you back only so long as you are useful to him, more power to you. But even then, don’t get fooled by his “theories,” because as soon as you go back to primary sources to verify their supporting claims, it all falls apart, and the manipulations of their author become obvious for anyone with eyes to see.
Far too many of the individuals fawningly expressing their “love” for kw in the wake of his “Wyatt Earpy” bloggings were, I think, not merely “loving the sinner” but also “loving the sin.” That is, lapping up the clear manipulation in which Wilber was overtly indulging, and correspondingly being utterly unwilling or unable to evaluate that critically and see it for what it really is.
As anyone familiar with Wilber’s work knows, the context in which such needy “love” is expressed matters immensely; kw “skillfully” omits that fact from his above “analysis.” The problem is not that his followers “love” him and openly express that sentiment in spite of his glaring character flaws and the near-worthlessness of his “theories.” Rather, the worrisome thing is how they feel the need to gushingly express how they were moved to tears by his great and “compassionate” teaching methods in the very midst of being blatantly manipulated, with that unsettling reaction being presented as proof of their own “second-tier,” “saved” status in the unquestioning community. And yes, when “love” is expressed in that context it is indeed disturbingly cultic.
All of that is a far cry from Wilber’s simplistic, sadly controlling and narcissistically paranoid framing of the issue as being “if anybody loves me, they are sick.” But then, kw didn’t get to where he is today by paying attention to nuances.
[Wilber] may have footnotes galore, but he is no scholar. He is a speculator who co-opts the insights of others.... He is the parasite, not his critics, and not the thinkers/scholars whose shoulders he wants to stand on. As demonstrated by this [“Wyatt Earpy”] “essay,” this man’s ideas are sick, his intentions laughably irrelevant. Seeing some of his endorsed defenders in their ghastly display of non-thinking, it is clear that he infects the thoughts and words of others like a virus ... baldly embodying all that he criticizes in others (Dallman, 2006).
Sad, but very true. Or, as Meyerhoff (2006c) noted:
The way I see it, my critique and that of others has left so little of Wilber’s integral synthesis standing that he has to devise ways to avoid responding to them in order to fool his followers, and probably himself, into thinking that his system is the best integration of contemporary knowledge available. Wilber’s techniques of avoidance are long and getting longer....
My conclusion is that the emperor has few clothes. The cowboy is circling the wagons to better defend an untenable position. He’s been exposed and can’t confront it nor admit it, and so he avoids critical engagement through an array of diversions.
But then, we could have anticipated no small part of all that simply from Wilber’s longstanding, gross misrepresentations of the positions of even his mildest critics, as in Rothberg and Kelly’s aforementioned (1998) Ken Wilber in Dialogue.
First, Michael Washburn:
Wilber’s exposition of my ideas in his response is marred by egregious misrepresentations....
Wilber formulates my view backwards ... [and] attributes his own metaphysical assumptions to me.
Then, Stanislav Grof:
[S]ome of the concepts or statements that Ken attributes to me and criticizes me for, have not been part of any stage of my intellectual evolution.
And finally, Peggy Wright:
I have found Wilber’s presentation [in SES] in the area of human evolution and development to be at odds with a number of sources that are listed in his bibliography....
So, the pattern has always been there, in terms of Wilber’s despicably unprofessional methods of responding to even his most overly respectful critics. It has been there, too, in his egregious misrepresentations of the ideas of his sources, being always twisted only as to support his own position.

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Copyright © June, 2018 by Geoffrey D. Falk
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COMMENT:  Well that's a big WOW!  I hate to see a fellow bald man cut to pieces like this.  And KW has long been a source of inspiration and intellectual excitement to me through his books.  However I do see a thread of emotional immaturity in the writing that bursts out in anger, sarcasm and bellitling of critics or anyone who dares to chip away at his edifice, which in any case, could be said to have simply repeated the same old lines for the past twenty years.  In particular the Wilberian crew's use of spiral dynamics colour shorthand is patently simplistic and absurd.  'George W Bush is red but Obama was green merging into upper tier turquoise.'  The obvious implication of all these good Wilberian integralists that they are up there in Teal-land is also self-referential and inescapably arrogant.  It's a shame!  There's a lot of good stuff out there in Integral and many good well-meaning folks too.  My advice is that Grace and Grit is a great book.  Take SES with a large pinch of salt.  No Boundary is ok.  The later stuff is dodgy.  Keep an eye on Visser's Integral World site and Integral Naked and Integral University has some good stuff but needs to be paid for.
There is also something incredibly funny about a pre-eminent intellectual shouting out at all his critics-'Just suck my dick!'


Help stop the vile network Rail from selling off one of the most vibrant parts of London-The Arches


Whether you are a small business owner, customer or a supporter of thriving local communities, sign our open letter to the Secretary of State for Transport and help us guard the arches.

Dear Mr Grayling,
There are thousands of small businesses based in railway arches all over the country. We are committed and energetic businesspeople – motorcycle mechanics, café owners, furniture restorers, garage owners, textile manufacturers, bakers and much else besides – who work hard to make a living and provide a service. We are the beating heart of the places where we’re based, powering local economies and giving life and energy to local communities.
But our future is in grave danger. By August this year, our landlord Network Rail wants to sell off all of the 5,500 railway arches in its possession to the highest bidder. Network Rail have valued the arches at around £1bn, and already the sharks are circling. Some of the biggest names in property and financial speculation are lining up bids, from Goldman Sachs to Terra Firma. Somehow we do not believe these companies have our interests at heart.
We are already under huge pressure from Network Rail. Many of us have faced in-year rent rises of as much as 500%, as our landowner seeks to increase the long-term ‘value’ of the arches. Some of us have already been forced to close as a result. Others have had to move out of places they’ve been doing business in for decades, with terrible consequences for their own businesses and for the places and communities they have had to leave behind.
This has to stop.
It’s easy to forget this, but Network Rail is publicly owned. And the land it owns is public too. That means they have a responsibility to serve the public good. They say the Government is forcing them to balance the books, so they have to sell off their assets – including the arches. But how many small businesses will go under as a result? How many entrepreneurs will lose the will to carry on when they’re facing unpayable rent demands? And how many of the communities who rely on these businesspeople will suffer as a result? Is that really serving the public good?
We are at the sharp end of this sell-off. We are the human cost of this approach. We are:
  • A garage owner whose 92-year-old dad ran the business for 60 years but couldn’t carry on when faced with a 500% rent rise
  • A nationally renowned bakery concerned that the neighbourhood which sustains the business will collapse because nearby firms are being driven out one by one
  • A motorcycle repair shop facing a 300% in-year rent increase after Network Rail took away their security of tenure
And many, many more.
We have a simple request. Stop this sale of the railway arches. Stop the unnecessary destruction of local businesses and local economies all over the country. Instead, meet us and talk to us about how we can reach a settlement for the future.
We are business people – we are reasonable and we know how to reach a deal. So before you let this damaging sale go through, talk to us about how the arches should be owned and managed.
We are the Guardians of the Arches. We won’t quit until the future of the railway arches – and the businesses and communities which rely on them – is secure.

10.5.18

THURSDAY POEM TURDIS KHAN

TURDIS KHAN

Reading Wallace Shawn's 'Night Thoughts' on the loo.
About the lucky and the unlucky.
Please READ IT!
But I am skeptical about his admonitions to the filthy rich.

I rise & notice my huge,
Intransigent-yes my Prussian-Turd,
Wedging itself implacably
In the elbow of the bowl.

Like the brave three hundred
Straining at the pass.
Brownly staring down all comers-

I have created Turdis Khan-
Who will found the Empire
Of Turdistan.

From abject despair suddenly
A godlike saviour has been birthed!

Thus do heroes arrive from Nowhere-
I have shat out an Achilles!
For the Greeks and the Chinese.

I do not flush.

7.5.18

Hidden Treasures of St Giles Church Horsten Keynes and memories of the Norman Holocaust.




The Norman Church of St Giles located in the pretty village of Horsten Keynes in Sussex.  Built by the Normans as they blitzkrieged their way from the battlesite of Hastings across Southern England as the latest holocaust to hit this Island, exterminating the Anglo Saxon culture as they came and instituting a tyranny under William the Bastard whose effects still can be felt today.  For further excellent juice on this topic try this:
Written in a initially strange Olde English hybrid, it becomes familiar just a few pages in leading to a wonderful immersion in the sense of fully inhabiting the books narrative.  Hereward The Wake was one of my early heroes as I had a book about him in my early library when I was about 8 years old though I seem to recall his battles were with the Romans not the Normans.  Lets quickly look right now.

Life & Times of Hereward the Wake
By Geoff Boxell
H E R E W A R D
T H E      W A K E
Legendary Fenland Hero
Most English know of Hereward the Wake (meaning 'wary'), the Fenland's most famous hero, who led a revolt against Duke William the Bastard of Normandy, who had usurped the English throne after defeating the English army at the Battle of Hastings, and killing the last king of the English, Harold Godwinson, and the flower of the English nobility in the process. But what is fact and what is legend?
The real Hereward held lands in Warwickshire and Lincolnshire at the time of Edward the Confessor, left England some time after 1062, and later reappeared to plunder the Abbey of Peterborough (1070) - the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (at this time being written at Peterborough) says simply that among those at the sack of Peterborough were 'Hereward and his crew'. At the time, or shortly after, he was holding the Isle of Ely, with its Camp of Refuge, against the Normans (1071). During this time Hereward sometimes had Danish help. He also attracted many dissidents such as the Earl Morkar, and Siward Bain. The isle took a lot of Norman effort to capture. Hereward was one of those to escape. He continued the struggle for sometime, operating in and near the Fens. Eventually he made his peace with King William.
From these sparse facts has grown the legend of Hereward, son of Leofric, Earl of Mercia (or Leofric of Bourne, Lincolnshire). In his youth he kept wild company, and when he was fourteen his father persuaded King Edward to make him an outlaw. He was brought back to England by the news that the Normans had seized his father's estates. On his return he found that the new Norman owners had not only taken the land, but also slain his brother, whose head was set above the door of the house. Like an avenging thunderbolt, he descended upon the killers and slew them all. Next day 14 Norman heads had replaced that of his brother above the door. News of Hereward's exploits spread and he became the leader of a mixed band of English and Danish warriors, who flocked to join him at his new base at the great Abbey of Ely.
William the Conqueror led his army to Ely, then an island in the Fens, and was three times foiled by Hereward in the attempt to build a causeway across the marshes. The third time, while William was encamped at Brandon, Hereward rode there on his horse, a noble beast called Swallow, on the way meeting a potter, who agreed to exchange clothes with him and lend him his wares. In this disguise Hereward got into William's camp and overheard his plans (as according to legend King Alfred disguised himself as a harper to enter the camp of the Danes). When William built his third causeway, and proceeded to send his soldiers along it to attack Ely, Hereward's men, hidden in the reeds, set fire to the vegetation. The Normans were engulfed by the flames, and those who tried to escape were either drowned in the marsh or picked off by English arrows.
But the monks of Ely grew tired of the siege and let the Normans in by a secret path. Hereward escaped with a handful of men and was soon leading a new resistance. Whilst mounting an attack on Stamford, Hereward and his men became hopelessly lost in Rockingham Forest. Then St Peter sent a wolf (St Peter animal) to show them the way, and as darkness fell, lighted candles appeared on every tree and on every man's shield, burning steadily no matter how the wind blew. This was a token of the apostle's gratitude for Hereward sparing the abbot and returning part of the treasure to the saint's own abbey of Peterborough.
Eventually William made peace with him, but he still had other enemies. One day a chaplain, whom he had asked to keep watch while he slept, betrayed him and sixteen Normans broke into the house. Though he slew fifteen of his attackers with his lance or his famous sword Brainbiter, and a sixteenth with his shield, he fell when four more knights entered and stabbed him in the back with their spears.
Like Edric the Wild, it was as a resistance leader that he first became famous, but soon frankly fabulous stories were attracted to his name. Within eighty years of the real Hereward's death, the Hereward of legend was in full cry, in the Estorie des Engles of Geoffrey Gaimar from around 1140, and the Gesta Herewardii Saxonis ('Deeds of Hereward the Saxon'). The author of the Gesta, writing no more than fifty years after William's assault on Ely, tells us on the one hand that he remembers seeing fishermen dredging Norman skeletons, still in their rusty armour, out of the fen; on the other, that Hereward once slew a Cornish giant!
Songs were being sung about Hereward in taverns a hundred years after his death; and in the thirteenth century people still visited a ruined wooden castle in the Fens which was known as Hereward's Castle. But later he was supplanted by another outlaw-hero, Robin Hood, as a symbol of resistance to oppression.
Geoff Boxell is author of the novel: "Woden's Wolf" that deals with the English resistance to the Norman Conquest.

So then lets forget the Romans!  That was an earlier holocaust!

As for Horsten Keynes a pretty village but full of signs telling you what you can't do and the countryside tied down like a military training ground.  Like all communities of the rich it seems to scream GET OFF MY LAND!!!!

No wild swimming here mate!


How did Supermac get here?  WELL HE WASN'T SUPERMAC BECAUSE HE WAS A TORY!  Best known for his 'Night of the long Knives' when he decimated his increasingly rebellious cabinet.


A strange and warlike carving of a Bishop's staff or sceptre.  Very magical.


A tiny little ancient sculpture looking like a child's tomb.



From the back page of the great little magazine-'The Baffler'.  No I have no idea why it is here!


EXTREME CUT OFF JEANS


Apparently normal humans are queuing up to order these extreme cut-out jeans.  Am I alone in considering this complete madness?  THEN AGAIN YOU SAW IT HERE FIRST!



4.5.18

SOURDOUGH BREAD SCHOOL

Best for... sourdough

The Sourdough School, Northampton, Northamptonshire
I’ve long dreamt of making my own sourdough bread (I love the tang and the open texture), and after just a day with Vanessa Kimbell I was on my way. Kimbell demystifies the process with inimitable humour and sends you home with a starter, flour and a banneton in which to prove your bread. Forty-eight hours later my first sourdough loaf came out of the oven. And that was just the beginning. Kimbell’s 'after-care’ is five-star. You become part of her Sourdough Club (with access to advice and recipes) and can send her pictures of your loaves – crumb as well as crust – until you get it right. These aren’t just courses; Kimbell wants to change the bread we eat, one loaf at a time. Sourdough baking is a journey. Book your passage. Diana Henry 
£175 for a 10am-4pm beginner’s course (sourdough.co.uk; 07813 308301) 

WILLIE WONKA BY ALIE DOUGAN

WILLY WONKA BY ALIE DOUGAN

17.4.18

How do you create a great Social Work Team? Or any kind of great team? By Tony Dougan


A recent Social Work Essay was invited by the Recruitment Company-Liquid Personnel with a £1000 first prize so I entered.  I was not shortlisted but here are some of my less bizarre thoughts on the subject below.
“The average ‘career lifespan’ of a social worker is just 8 years.  What can be done to increase engagement among social workers and keep them in the profession for longer?”
My title is:
How to lead, care for, and inspire great work in a social work team.

Mirror a loving family under pressure.
Train, support, develop, stretch, and trust.
Use authority with great care and sparingly.
Continually recognise and celebrate good work and achievements.
Make lots of space for laughter.  Share food a lot.
Make lots of space to meet and share.
Continually emphasise-service-to service users and each other.
Resist cultures of overwork and presenteeism.
Always accompany a negative criticism with a positive solution.
Insist that negative feelings are shared and talked through.
Continually emphasise personal and professional safety.
Grow and invest in your workers over time.
Be clear about the team’s Mission Statement.
Have whiteboards everywhere-magnetic ones!
Encourage familiarity and pleasure in research.
Create the practice of always cascading training.
Insist upon loyalty to the team as a basic expectation.
Sometimes play music in the office.
Shared lunch is positive but never obligatory.
Encourage your social workers to take breaks and go for walks.
Have regular group supervisions on complex cases.

Train your social workers to be at ease with authority in safeguarding cases and to project it with confidence but also with compassion and understanding.
Make supervision an exciting, challenging but ultimately affirming experience.

Be a leader-servant.

Encourage the keeping of a professional journal and file-including all training, qualifications and Continued Professional Development hours.

Treat all bullying and disrespect, racism, sexism and oppression as if it were a disease from whatever source.
Have Friday lunch together in the pub regularly.
Treat all students as custodians of the future of the profession.  They are treasure!

Create gold stars and Employee of the Week Awards but with much humour and laughter while subversively celebrating outstanding work.

Stand up for Social Work as a profession for heroes and wounded healers.

Have at least one suit for court-the best you can buy-Navy blue is best.

Teach yourself and your team to become the best possible writers.
Read and critique each other’s written work.  Remember the best writers are always the best readers.

Always, always carry a notebook and pen.
Learn to be and teach everyone to become, great note takers.

Become an expert in using technology.
Use Evernote.  Scrivenor.  Devonthink.  Ulysses.  Todoist.  Wunderlist.  Word.  Mindjet.  Pages.  Powerpoint.  Keynote.  Excel.

Always ask for the other point of view, likewise advice.  One of the most common things to hear in a social work office should be ‘what do you think?’  Director or Social Worker-No matter what your role.

Meditate every day.
Physically exercise and take care of your body through fitness and nutrition.  Have a hobby that you love!

Every social worker of eight years experience should be a highly trained and confident:

·     Meetings chair
·     Minute-taker
·     Report writer
·     Counsellor and therapist-Child or adult or both
·     Events organiser
·     Coach
·     Trainer
·     Presentations specialist
·     Theoretician
·     Self-organiser
·     Possessor of brilliantly developed interpersonal skills
·     Court Expert
·     Mediator and negotiator

Pessimism is not a good mind-set for a Social Worker.  Be always open to the almost miraculous potential for humans to undergo transformation.  Always be compassionate before your analytical brain kicks in-use both.

Practice the facial expressionism of a good actor so that from the back of a Court you leave a judge in no doubt of your feelings!

A successfully managed worker is one who is excited about coming to work in the morning.

Be proud of being a Social Worker.  Encourage pride in the profession.

Consider your Senior Leadership Team as having the best of motives.  Understand the hugely difficult decisions they must make in this time of Austerity.

Senior managers!  You need to communicate Austerity much more effectively.

Be a master and mistress of Email courtesy.

Too high caseloads mean low quality work-understand it is an inevitable equation that will lead to the loss of good people.

Review all your professional priorities at least weekly.
In order for doing to be effective it must be preceded by thinking and planning.

Never, ever, sign your name to anything you don’t believe in.

If anyone ever tells you Social Work is about covering your arse, they don’t understand it.  You can ignore them.

Regard vulnerable children and adults as priceless works of art are regarded by museums.  Not problems but the reason for your professional existence.

Avoid management-speak like the plague.  Use language to be clearly understood.  Avoid acronyms and abbreviations.

Social work skills are gradually accrued over years of practice and study.  At about eight years a social worker is coming into their power to make excellent independent decisions.  If they leave the profession at this point you lose not only them but all the knowledge that is in their heads when they walk out the door including the mysterious value of their intuition.  It is irreplaceable and to lose it is to fail as an organisation and as a profession.  Staff retention needs the profession’s best minds. NOTE: staff retention needs a better title more descriptive of its various elements.  How about- ‘The joy in the job Project?’

Social Work is not about processing forms-it is about transforming lives.

Regard an Ofsted Inspection as an opportunity to show off!  Celebrate it!  There’s nothing worse for social workers than to be contaminated with the fear of a Senior Management Team on the brink of an Ofsted visit!

Let us articulate as a whole profession what we see as our future role in our society.  Let’s be a bit more pushy about it!
Join the British Association of Social Workers (BASW).  Get involved!

We don’t do this bizarre and wonderful job for the money.  Certainly not for the prestige.  Not for the popular acclaim!
Maybe we just want to do something valuable and worthwhile? To give back something?  Maybe we love humanity?  Maybe we have traces of brokenness in our own lives that spurred us on?
A myriad of reasons and maybe no reason we can articulate yet.
But it’s a damn fine, even heroic thing to do, this Social Work!  

We should be proud of ourselves!  We should be proud of each other!  If you are a social worker reading this and resonating with it, then I am proud of YOU!

Quite simply, when we speak the truth of what we do, that is how we will keep on doing it. 

Go well, dear hearts, and shine brightly!

Tony Dougan 

December 2016



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