Legacy of the Kelly Cult

Sat, 24 Feb 1996 14:10:13 -0500

A few years after I and my work had been shunned from the PCP bandwagon, Dr.
Michael Langone asked me to analyze some data he had collected. Michael is
the director of the American Family Foundation- the world's leader in
research on cults. It is only by AFF's generosity that I have acquired this
pentium computer that allows me to try to communicate with you over the net.
But I have gained much more from Michael and AFF than just a nice computer.

Michael sent questionnaires to former cult members. When we analyzed them we
discovered four major factors of cultic abuse: Compliance, Exploitation, Mind
Control, and Anxious Dependency. In retrospect, these varieties of abuse
helped me understand what happened to me and probably others at the fringes
of PCP circles.

In graduate school at the University of Florida I soon learned that the way
to success was to Comply with the bandwagon. Having grown up a liberal in the
Mississippi delta, and consequently having seen evil up close, I was not in
the habit of complying with evil. Criticisms and new ideas were dismissed in
the delta and in PCP circles as "schizy". But many of the established methods
had no logical foundation. They relied heavily on a kind of repetitive word
magic, by which recognized "authorities" used technical sounding terms
without explicit logical and empirical development. Contrary experimental and
theoretical arguments were dismissed by ad hominem arguments. Brian Gaines'
recent reference to "inferiors" criticizing their "superiors" is a less than
subtle version of such. What emerges from all of this is not science, but a
kind of mind control by the supression of free inquiry.

There was also much exploitation. When the PCP bandwagon accepted the theory
that scientific advances in PCP had come from networks of social
affliliations, they officially sanctioned the old boy network. Within this
network students were strongly encouraged to do their MA and PHD work seeking
evidence in support of the "masters" methods. The masters were getting the
"freebies" to the conferences. Kelly was not the master. I recall one
student telling me that he did his dissertaion on Death threat theory simply
because he was sick of the politics and wanted to get out of UF. Some how the
contrary results of that work were twisted around to be in support of death
threat theory. We as students were expected to do foot work on the
Clearinghouse Newsletter and to be hospitable to the various elite who
dropped in from time to time. Our tuition was indirectly used to fund
professor's trips to vacation hot spots. Conference costs were used to
underwrite "freebies" for invited addresses. The same could be said about
the fees paid by therapy clients. I personally knew students who were
subjected to personal and sexual harassment from a UF psychology professor(
not Franz or Greg- but the man we would be sent to if we disagreed enough
with Franz). The up shot is that exploitation was and probably still is

The driving force behind the abuse was anxious dependency.This was especially
hard on me since I had devoted so much of my education to PCP and since I had
a disabled child who spent much of her eleven years of life near death. It
was difficult for me to pursue the truth with all of this happening, but I
did. My reward was banishment. No good job references. Hostile and
unobjective journal reviews. No invited book chapters or invited addresses
and consequently, eventually, no job.

So now you know why I have difficulty making much more than a joke out of the
sweet smug smiles of the bandwagon. It hurts too much to see Kelly' s
wonderful theory being bought and sold by a pack of sophists. I fear that
other bright young people will be similarly abused by the self serving
authoritarians who run PCP. My career is over. Maybe my big mouth can help
prevent someone else from ending up as a PCP personality psychologist
isolated in the woods.

William Chambers, PhD