Almost two years after Jane started ‘personal development’ course Access Consciousness, she realized she was no longer “thinking for herself.” Nearly £20,000 out of pocket and horrified at the group leader’s claim “children are sexy,” although not to be abused, she cut herself loose.
Access Consciousness claims to be about self-improvement – promising to assist people with their health, weight, money, sex, relationships and anxiety by helping members, known as ‘Accessories,’ to become more “conscious.”
Since Access Consciousness was created in America in the 1990s, thousands of people worldwide say it has transformed their lives. A quick internet search, however, dredges up accusations by some that it is a scam cooked up by a conman to rinse the vulnerable of their savings, a “scientology knock-off,” and even a cult.
Speaking exclusively to RT, one ex-Accessory, known here as Jane, says the group “programs its members to think like robots.” She says Access works to change its members’ “points of references” on ingrained ideas around sex, intimacy and family.
Members who ask too many questions can be rebuked, Jane says.
“You are trapped and you are afraid to say anything that is seen as judgement of Access.
“It is very clever how it is done. Because it’s not like any other ‘cult’ but it is mind control, very much mind control, and it’s very much, ‘Do as I tell you although I’m not telling you.’"
"People think that they are free, but mentally they are not free.”
Accessories are not human, according to the group’s leader. They’re “humanoid.”
They chose their moments of conception and their parents from another “reality” and will keep returning to Earth until they fully understand “the greatness of embodiment.”
To fully “get it,” Accessories should take part in ‘Access Bars’ classes. There they have 32 points on their heads “lightly touched” to help them let go of all the “thoughts, ideas [and] emotions” stored in any lifetime. In each 90-minute session, which costs up to £240 ($300), 5,000 to 10,000 years of “limitations” are released, it is claimed.
By reciting a ‘clearing statement’ – “Right and Wrong, Good and Bad, Pod and Poc, All Nine, Shorts, Boys and Beyonds” – Accessories are able to “uncreate” memories of the past, or preconceived ideas picked up “throughout all lifetimes.”
As with Scientology, members progress through various classes to unlock new information. They pay between £200 and £3,000 ($252 - $3,792) for each course.
Jane, who made it to the highest ‘facilitator’ level, which means she could teach her own classes, says she spent nearly £20,000 ($25,284) and even quit her job for Access.
Courses on offer include ‘Demolecular Manifestation and Molecular Demanifestation,’ where participants are taught how to “talk” to molecules to ask them to change, for example, to make wine tastier, to get rid of tumours or terminate unwanted pregnancies.
In another class, ‘Lies, Lines and Manipulation,’ Accessories are instructed how to lie to get what they want and “have fun doing it” for £2,029 ($2,500).
Facilitators take a hands-on approach in some courses. In an over-18s meet-up called ‘The Joys of Orgasm,’ which costs £405 ($500), participants are told they will be touched.
Access also claims to help victims of abuse through its ‘Abuse Hold’ class, which it describes as a “potent energetic hands-on technique” to release feelings “locked up due to abuse.”
Jane says at first she liked Access’s ideas on “no judgment” and “being you.” But as time went on, she felt pushed to do more classes and pay more money as new “knowledge” came to leaders.
“There is a lot of people in Access who live from class to class. They really just try to create the money to go to the next class. It’s totally submerging. People seem to live around it; it’s their only goal,” she says.
Access tells members that ‘family’ stands for “F**cked up And Mainly Interested in Limiting You,” and ‘nasty’ people are referred to as “ELFS” – “Evil Little F**ckers.”
“They talk about committing to yourself. And that’s fine,” Jane says.
“But then it’s suddenly committing to Access. And when I heard that, I thought, ‘No.’ Because committing to Access means leaving anyone who will not go along with me behind – and that’s leaving my family behind.”
Jane says she was “shocked” when she heard the group’s founder, Gary Douglas, refer to children as “sexy” during an online course in 2015. His feelings are further explained in one of the group’s blogs on family.
“Young children are incredibly sexy,” Douglas, a father and grandfather, is quoted as saying.
“Instead of acknowledging this and allowing themselves to enjoy the energy without acting on it, parents most often judge themselves for being wrong for having these feelings about their children.
“The parents’ own feelings of sexualness towards their children can be terrifying to those parents, who are afraid they will end up abusing their own children.”
Jane says members are taught sexuality is “the energy of life.” She added: “If you are able to receive the sexualness … then you are able to receive anything and that means you have full awareness.”
She says she has never heard of any allegations of sexual abuse in the group.
Access Consciousness was founded by US-based Douglas, a former Scientologist. Douglas claims that after his body was overtaken by the spirit of Grigory Rasputin, the Russian mystical faith healer who was assassinated in 1916, he discovered his channeling powers and set up the group.
Douglas also claims to have been inhabited by other spirits, including an ancient Chinese man called Tchia Tsin and a group of alien beings called the Novian.
Up to 10,000 people have completed courses in England and Northern Ireland, according to Access. It says there are about 150 ‘facilitators’ in the UK.
‘Access Consciousness is not a cult’
Access Consciousness might seem strange to outsiders because its ideas are not explained in their “whole context,” its European director Jonas Svensson says.
Svensson says Access is not a scam; it’s views are an alternative to what is believed “in this reality” and have helped thousands of people realize their full potential.
“We are aiming for having consciousness on the planet, and don’t judge anything, and empower people to be more them. And get people to the sense that they do have choice, and they do have possibility.
Svensson says Access Consciousness is as “far from a cult that you can possibly get” and does not brainwash its members.
“A cult is really something totally different – where an organization is sort of trying to get a person to change in a way that they would desire them to change, or to become something in a way that they would desire, or they tell them how they should be.
“We more go on a different route, where we are actually empowering people to be what they desire to be, and what they are actually truly being.”
He says no one is ever held in Access or stopped from leaving. “We don’t see that anyone belongs to Access. So we think everybody can come and go as they desire, basically.”
“We are never trying to use or abuse anyone. We’re actually just allowing people and encouraging people to choose what would work for them.”
Svensson says he has not heard anyone in Access say “children are sexy” and is unaware of the group’s blog post on the subject.
When pushed on the issue, he said: “We are talking about whatever needs to be talked about. And we always do that in a humorous, honest, pragmatic and practical way. It’s never from judging anything, it’s actually all conversations is to create freedom, never to judge people about anything or make anything right or wrong.”
“When it comes to other things we are a lot of times using jokes and making fun of different things in a comical way to actually lighten up the subject of it.”
When asked about the acronym for family, Svensson laughs and says the group has “sometimes” said ‘family’ stands for “F**cked up and Mainly Interested in Limiting You,” but it is said in a “comical” way.
He says Access would never attempt to separate people from their families and that his relationship with his family is “better than ever.”
“It’s totally taken out of perspective and context when it’s just looked at like that. In reality the only thing we are talking about with family is how sometimes ... how you ‘should’ be with your family might limit you from being the freedom of being you.”
When asked what the ‘Joy of Orgasm’ class entails, he said: “Orgasm for us is something very different from the perspective in this reality, where most people would define orgasm and ejaculation as the same thing.
“For us, orgasm is this energy of being alive, being vibrating, you can basically have an orgasmic sensation in your body when you’re having a piece of food or when you’re drinking something really good, or when somebody is just touching you on your arm.”
Svensson says of the thousands of people who have taken Access’s courses, “definitely less than a handful” have made complaints like Jane’s.
Are the rise in ‘personal development’ groups of concern?
Ian Haworth, the founder of the Cult Information Centre, which supports ex-members of various cults and provides information to the public on “groups of concern,” says he receives dozens of calls from people worried about friends or family members taking personal development courses.
“People tell me someone has taken a course, made all kinds of claims about what a positive experience it was. But the experience the family is having with that person isn’t positive at all.
“It’s quite frightening for family and friends when they see this change in personality. They finish up married to a complete stranger all of a sudden.”
Haworth, a former cult member, once part of the now non-existent PSI Mind Development Institute, added: “These groups will cash in on anything that’s popular. If people are interested in personal development, and why shouldn’t they be, then they’ll offer that … if people want something that’s going to be invented , then they’ll offer that too.”
Dr Alexandra Stein, a London-based writer and educator specializing in the social psychology of ideological extremism, says she has seen how people are “sucked in” by such courses, which appear to have a “fixed methodology” on getting people involved.
Stein says people go along to their first class intrigued, having been told the course will provide them with tools to help them be a more “effective, efficient, assertive” person. Sometimes, corporate workplaces even send employees along after programs sell them package deals.
The courses are often high-intensity, and can run for 10 hours a day for three days in a row, Stein says. Participants often leave having experienced ‘collective effervescence’ – a sense of community and shared experiences.
Stein says some of the training courses have ‘plants’ sitting in on them – people who have already done the course and who are ready to vouch for “how much it has changed their lives.” At the end of a course, participants are likely to be upsold a new course to reach the next ‘level’ of personal development.
“You have all these levels that cost money and take time, but most of all they start engulfing you in the system, and you have to keep going,” Stein says.
“It’s seductive. Not everyone, but quite a few people that have money in situational moments in their lives where they may be at a bit of a loose end, it’s very easy for people to get sucked in. You know, a few years later they wake up and say, ‘oops, I spent my life savings.’”
Stein was part of a cult in the 1980s – a secretive left wing political group called ‘O.’ For 10 years, it deprived her of all personal freedom, alienated her from friends and family and even told her who to have children with.
She urges anyone thinking of joining any group – from yoga to karate – to do an internet search to find out other people’s experiences of it.
Stein has formulated a five-point definition of what a ‘cult’ is for people to consider before joining any group.
Cults are started by a leader. That leader must have charisma in order to pull people in, and are also authoritarian.
Stein says the stereotype that “needy, vulnerable” people are the ones recruited to cults is incorrect. “In a lot of cults you’ll find intelligent, educated people. These are not poor, miserable, oppressed people. A lot of them are highly educated. Education and intelligence are not protected.”