RSE’s ‘Spiritual Experiences’ Can Be Considered Abuse



What is dissociative disorder and why is it relevant to spirituality?

Dissociating is a state of mind when someone’s awareness disconnects from their surroundings. It is usually in response to trauma or sensory deprivation, and common in PTSD. People who were chronically abused as children slip into these states very easily and in severe forms the disconnection occurs intrusively, affecting their sense of self within normal daily activity. Victims of chronic abuse often describe the sensations as: floating; out of body; amnesia; being the passenger in one’s body, not the driver; a sense that they do not recognize themselves in the mirror, recognize their face, or simply feel not “connected” to their bodies in ways which are challenging to articulate; discontinuities in conscious awareness; a feeling of traveling in and out of time; and remembering the future (a first-person narrative reflection on a victim of child abuse:

Many of the “states” that cultist JZ Knight teaches her adherents to achieve are dissociative states, emphasizing that they are “spiritual experiences.” RSE retreats are often prolonged periods of sensory deprivation, referred to as “the disciplines.” However, when similar techniques are used in fascist regimes or on prisoners of war, it is considered abuse.

It is possible that JZ Knight is a victim of repeated childhood abuse and is intimately familiar with those states of mind for that reason. It is possible that she is using sensory deprivation and other mind-numbing techniques, such as repetitive mantras and holotropic-based breathing techniques, to bring others to dissociative states, which only shuts off higher cognitive functions and do not affect external physical reality in any way under the guise of spirituality.

When higher cognitive functions such as evaluating, risk assessment and reasoning are shut off, it is possible that Knight is able to repetitively expose her audience to messages of fear, abuse, unworthiness and self-loathing.

This could explain why the hate speech, released in the now famous video by Virginia Coverdale, was seen by RSE adherents as defensible: They are accustomed to it and are indoctrinated to believe it is for their own good.

It is possible those members are now dependent on Knight for guidance to achieve the states they believe are necessary to evolve beyond their limitations, like detaching from emotions and bodily functions. This is their definition of “enlightenment.” Their salvation lies in now self-imposed sensory deprivation to achieve dissociation.

But it is also possible that they are being led to make an empty grab at magic, and sacrificing their health, well being and lives for it.

For more information, please see related links on the blog

Further info: The Krippner research paper from 1997 that Knight claimed proved she was not “a fake” was simply a psychological assessment for dissociative qualities on a handful of RSE students.

No claims were made about Knight’s authenticity. You can read the complete text at:

Elizabeth Kriesten

New York


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