I went back and reread all of your posts here on the board since I don't remember replying to any of them. I've taken a few quotes from you here and then I've responded. First I'll respond to your last post, and then some others.
"Do you recollect any of these visits? What was it really like? What was their attitude? I have some absolute pearls of quotes from McClaren himself about what he thought of his provinces, his peoples, and the shortcomings of the great mass of unenlightened peoples around the world. They're probably wildly inaccurate and not indicative of how it really was, so I was wondering how the touring parties came across to you guys on these visits? "
I joined the school as an "adult" at age 15 and stayed until I was 19, so I attended quite a few weekend and weekly residentials, which were visited by those touring parties. I had the extreme privelege of serving Mr. MacLaren on one of his last US tours before dying. I also got to experience my parents talking about their residentials with said parties.
I did not experience the money as you did, in that when these people visited, they would stay at the houses of rich US students, who would give up their houses for whatever duration the party was visiting for. A group of students on residential would stay at or near that house and serve the visitors. Sounds fine enough on the surface. I shudder to think of what they thought of us Yanks. Just a few thoughts for now:
-before he became the current head, Mr. Boddy was the "ladies expert". I'm not sure that he has any more qualifications for that than he does to run St. James although he did serve as Prime Minister Thatcher's press secretary. I guess if lying for an evil hag who barely counts as a human being is experience with women, than he is qualified. Anyhow, I remember certain females gushing about how wonderful he was and how much he understood women, and thinking what a sad thing that was.
-the US school treated the UK leaders and senior members as gods. As did the Trinidadian school. Nothing was more important than Mr. MacLaren having everything perfect. And I've posted a nice anecdote here about going to the Emergency Room and calling my mother who was in a meeting with Mr. M and how the man wouldn't get her to talk to me.
Whether the leaders felt they should be treated that way or not, the atmosphere at the school lead to it happening. But of course only special people were allowed to meet with the leaders for "real" conversations. Even though I scrubbed Mr. M's toilet, I never even met him.
-money money money indeed is quite flowing at the top levels of the organization. I don't think it's anything like $cientology in that it really is all volunteer-based, and that those with little money, like myself, could attend just as much as those with a million dollar building or two to donate.
-nothing like a bunch of way overdressed upperclass, rich white people sitting at the front of a group of people telling them how to get in touch with God. As if. Holier than thou is rampant, and woe be it to anyone from out of the school to have to talk to people in the school. It's exhausting and humiliating.
"Anyway, if you have any ideas about why they, our parents and teachers, allowed themselves to become so submissive to the organisation, or why or how they allowed the consequences of that weakness to impinge upon our well-being then speak up with courage and confidence."
In my experience, many of the people who became submissive to the organization were have mental issues already and needed some therapy. Instead, they sought refuge in a religious organization that claimed to help people find enlightenment - boy, doesn't that sound better than therapy! And the emotional atmosphere at the school, and the way the teaching causes people to deal with their emotions, allowed those people to bury their emotional problems instead of dealing with them. Remember, neti, neti? Not this, not this? That sure comes in handy when you don't want to face your demons.
"Right now I'm looking into the universally acknowledged culture of bullying that exists in the SES, with a particular focus on the misogynist bullying. My mum was a victim of one of those public humiliation exercises that you recall. She was left to hang by her friends (the whole of the XYZ-Ladies), including Laura Hyde (senior tutor) and Donald Lambie (leader-in-waiting) while McClaren tore into her. They all sat and watched his filibustering character assassination of my mum while she wept in the face of such naked aggression. Utterly spineless. If that man were alive today!
I wonder if you could elaborate on the groupthink that allowed events like this one to occur. You mentioned that you drew on the notion of a practical dichotomy between the ahankara and the true self in order to pretend that it was acceptable for you to tolerate such behaviour. Were you alone in that? Did you and others talk about this type of bullying and explain it in this way? Was this justification widespread? What do you think would have happened if you had challenged this type of behaviour? What do you now think caused such weakness?"
In my opinion, the entire organization is misogynist. As I've mentioned earlier, I think it's possible that MacLaren was a closeted homosexual in a society and class which did not accept gays. I think his obvious hatred of women and the school's take on homosexuality might be a reaction to his situation. Either way, he was a bitter, angry man, who hated women and anyone spending a weekend on residential can see that clearly. All of the rules that apply to women but not men; the responsibility that women are "given" regarding male sexuality; the way that men and women's "nature" is taught and how different it is presented; the dress code; the attitude towards sex and marriage, etc. Then you have an organization in which a hierarchy is set up that supports those with power as being more "enlightened" and having much more control than those below. And their whims and ego is catered to, with the supposition that those below are letting go of theirs. And the teaching that you must totally let go of your personal self in order to be one with god. Add this stuff together, and who would be surprised that women are bullied! And people accept it because it was obviously a way to help the bullied let go of their egos.
"I have stressed the continuity of the processes because the object of my investigation is the continuum of my own experience. In other words, I'm not interested in the agenda-led trench warfare for the no-man's-land of a universally accredited version of "the truth" of St. James. I was inculcated with that method of critical analysis at school and, so far, my experience of its application has been consistently negative. It seems to occlude rather than illuminate but with the insidious twist of appearing to do the opposite.
I hope I haven't offended anyone with these remarks. I only wish to say that as I become increasingly aware just how bizarre my experience of St. James and the SES was, the more I realise that I have to genuinely understand it for myself. As welcome as they are, official apologies or the findings of the finest legal minds of our time will never provide an adequate explanation or description of how it was for me. It is likely that my investigation will not yield direct answers to the questions in the second paragraph but they seem to me to be good to think with at this stage. But I lack experience and fully expect manifold re-workings of investigative direction in pursuit of my goal.
At long last the point: How am I going to go about it? How might I analyse the recollections of the people involved in the specific events and systems which governed my experience?
Most importantly, what are people's thoughts on different types of dialectical approach I might adopt when I speak to people? Spanish-Inquisition-soft-cushions-and-comfy-chairs style probably won't work but then neither will the rapier filibustering of the Paxman. Maybe a â€œRichard and Judyâ€ deep and meaningful but strictly brain-lite approach?"
It has also been my experience that the school's version of "critical" analysis leads to occlusion. Neither accept nor reject. Boy, that will get you far in life! It really does wonders for one's sex life. Especially for a young woman who had absolutely no experience in asserting her opinion or getting her wants met, and who had also had a really skewed teaching about love and sex. Nothing like being in the position of not wanting to have sex because you aren't supposed to if you don't love the person, or just because you don't want to, but also not being able to say no. Sigh!
It took me several years after that before I really began to investigate how bizarre my experience was as well, and how much it had affected so many areas of my personality and emotional development (or stiflement, as it were.) I'm not sure what the best way to go about talking to people about it. One thing is to really explore yourself first - figure out what is you and what was the school talking through you, what problems you would have had anyway, and what you wouldn't have had, and also what problems you would have had anyway but that were multiplied by your experience in the school. Figure out what people you might talk to who are still enmeshed might say - it's kind of like preparing to debate a right-wing conservative here in the US. You can figure out their talking points and responses ahead of time so that you are ready with a great reply. And always remember that your experience was in no way unique. So many of our generation went through the exact same situations and feelings. And remember that those in the school are really good at avoiding questions, like a presidential secretary. So keep on asking the same question in different words until you get an anwer and don't let them go off on some tangent about pottery!