Ep.69 - Intersectional Advocacy: Including Racialized, Queer, & Neurodiverse Perspectives In Cult Recovery | Priscilla EylesThis week, Candice welcomes Priscilla Eyles for a discussion on intersectional cult recovery. Priscilla, who comes to us from the UK, is a DEI/JEDI consultant who shares about their time spent in two different cults: Landmark, an LGAT offshoot of est, and OneTaste, a wellness organization that is currently under FBI investigation for sexual exploitation and forced labor practices. When Priscilla stepped away and began grappling with their back-to-back cult experiences, they immediately noticed how cult recovery spaces often overlook the perspectives of marginalized folks. As a neurodiverse, racialized, queer cult survivor, they have since become an intersectional anti-cult activist/advocate who centers the perspectives of multiply-marginalized survivors. Priscilla generously agreed to join the pod to help Candice and TDP listeners better understand how to respectfully platform marginalized voices - without being tokenistic or extractive. Priscilla speaks candidly about their own neurodiversity, how multiple marginalizations can complicate the process of cult recovery, and why culty groups can be so attractive to those who have been systematically marginalized. Victim blaming is once again discussed, only this time from an intersectional perspective. This is an eye-opening conversation, and a reminder than there really is no such thing as homogenous cult survivorship.

Priscilla Eyles (she/her, they/them) is passionate about enabling the social acceptance of multiply marginalized neurodivergent (ND) people and cult survivors like themselves, as well as increasing understanding of the great value of lived experience wisdom and the importance of trauma-informed approaches. As a cult survivor who is a biracial, ADHD/autistic (AuDHD), queer femme/AFAB (assigned female at birth), they are equally passionate about normalizing conversations around cult abuse and foregrounding how cults can prey on and retraumatize people like them. Priscilla was formerly a Project Coordinator managing an intersectional disability project and is a DEI/JEDI trainer and consultant specializing in neurodivergence in the workplace. with Resolve Evolve, who has trained in DEI practice with the Sarah Jane Academy. As an intersectional ND & cult awareness advocate & activist, she has spoken at various major panel/campaign events and written for numerous publications/organizations as a freelance writer.

Twitter: @PriscillaEyles | Insta: @CulturalLiasons | priscillaeyles@gmail.com

Referenced in this episode:

Ep.69 - Intersectional Advocacy: Including Racialized, Queer, & Neurodiverse Perspectives In Cult Recovery | Priscilla Eyles

Candice Schutter : [00:00:00] Welcome to another episode of The Deeper Pulse. We're in the final few weeks of the 'cult'ure series, which is scheduled to wrap just before the holidays, continuing with a closer look at capital 'C' cult dynamics. If you missed the last few episodes, consider circling back after tuning in today, as they provide added context to today's nuanced conversation.
And just another quick reminder that bonus convos are still dropping regularly over on Patreon.
If you'd like to gain access to Deconstructing Dogma extras and show your support for this work, head over to patreon.com/thedeeperpulse to learn more. Okay, let's get right to it.
The stories and opinions shared here are based on personal [00:01:00] experience and are not intended to malign any individual, group, or organization.
 This week, I'm recording an intro from my mother's finished basement. Let me paint you a quick picture.
It's a large, open, carpeted space. The walls are decorated with colorful barn quilts. There's a desk, an ironing board, and a large cutting table to my left. And to my right, a long arm quilting machine mounted to a 12 foot table that spans almost the entire length of the wall. It's my mother's sewing studio and needless to say we both like to go all in on our hobbies.
I've been here a couple of weeks now, doing all that I can to support her as she recovers from a knee replacement. And I'm very happy to report she's doing really well. She's bouncing back with typical good humor and tenacity.[00:02:00] And I'm so grateful that I've been able to be here to support her during these past couple of weeks.
And if by now you're wondering where here is, I'm smack dab in the middle of the country in Topeka, the capital of Kansas.
Topeka's a small city that I suppose I could technically call home due to the fact that I recently spent an entire day in the waiting room at Stormont Vail, the hospital where my mom and I were both born.
But in reality, Topeka is a 45 minute drive from the tiny farm community where my mom and her four siblings grew up. And she and I left the area with my stepdad when I was just five, spending a half a dozen years towing our trailer through various small towns in California and Arizona before boomeranging back to Wichita, Kansas, the summer before my sophomore year of high school.
I've been gathering my thoughts for this intro to this week's episode, which, to be honest, feels a bit daunting given all the important places we go in this one hour chat, and it [00:03:00] occurred to me just how fitting it is that I'm here, in Topeka, as we turn greater attention toward the unique and often exponential challenges marginalized folks face when it comes to navigating all that puts the cult in culture.
Why do I say that? Because when I think of Topeka, at least as it relates to the 'cult'ure series, two cult-ural references immediately come to mind.
The first relates to Linda Brown.
A lifelong resident of Topeka, Linda Brown, was eight years old when she was denied admission to a white elementary school near her family home. Her father, Oliver Brown, took on a grave risk, challenging the cult of whiteness by joining a handful of other families across the nation in a civil rights lawsuit led by the NAACP.
In 1954, in the case of Brown versus the Board of Education of Topeka, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously, that racial segregation [00:04:00] in public schools was unconstitutional.
It was a ruling that set a very important precedent, to be sure. And yet, as we know, cult norms can be insidious shapeshifters. They're notorious for rebranding. And the culty practice of segregation continues to this day, albeit in disguise. Race and class divisions in schools are still regularly reinforced. Most notably through the privatization of education.
If you're skeptical, I highly recommend you read the book, Caste, by Isabel Wilkerson.
Next up on my cult culture Topeka top two list, Westboro Baptist Church. Westboro is a family based cult, and here I use the word cult unflinchingly. Westboro is truly infamous for its virulent, homophobic, racist, and anti Semitic [00:05:00] rhetoric. The church, and I struggle to even call it that, is less than 4 miles from where I currently sit. In a residential area on SW 12th Street. It's impossible to miss, even on a quick drive-by, because WBCs hateful slogan is printed on a massive banner that hangs across the front of the building.
It's so big in fact that it would easily be legible from a half block away. And it reads, and honest to God, I can hardly say these words, godhatesfags.com. My stomach churns even uttering those words out loud, but I'm doing it because it's important we understand just how shameless and dehumanizing the cult mindset can become.
According to the Anti Defamation League, "WBCs members say that God's hatred is one of his holy attributes, and that their picketing is a form of preaching to a doomed country unable to hear their message in any [00:06:00] other way."
God's hatred? Wow. And no other way?
As we all know, there are many other ways to go about getting a critical message across. Ways that don't involve dehumanization.
Case in point, in 2012, the house directly across the street from WBC went up for sale. It was purchased by Aaron Jackson, the founder of plantingpeace.Org. And a few months later, it was painted in the brilliant and bold colors of the Pride flag.
The Equality House, as it's known, now stands in striking contrast and within a stone's throw distance from Westboro's towering rhetoric. Rainbow bright, painted from top to bottom, it's emblematic of peaceful resistance.
In 2016, The Equality House was vandalized, with bullet holes and homophobic slurs. And since then, visitors have been invited to drown out the hate, decorating the [00:07:00] exterior with LGBTQ+ affirming words and graffiti. Still painted in its bright colors, it's now also heartfully adorned with countless messages of love and support. And according to their website, The Equality House averages about 150 visitors a day.
In June of that same year, the house next door was purchased and painted the colors of the transgender flag. It was known as The Transgender House until 2019 when it was renamed The Mott House, following the death of transgender activist, Stephanie Mott.
And I'll be sure to include a link in the show notes to photos so you can see both of these beauties with your own eyes.
Acts like these of collective solidarity are essential, when anyone is being dehumanized for who they are. And for marginalized folks, cult dynamics are an insidious aspect of everyday life.
I would argue that bigotry in all its forms, that this [00:08:00] is a cult mindset. And sadly, it's an epidemic in modern culture.
At WBC, they express their hate blatantly. They wear it like a badge of courage. But in the majority of instances, bigotry is running parallel to subtle everyday cult dynamics. And expressions of prejudice are far more implicit.
And some might even argue that subtle biases can be even more maddening. Because they are invisible undercurrents, it makes them more difficult to call out and constructively address. Implicit biases that marginalize are very often socially sanctioned. Cloaked in denial, good intentions, and a gaslighting insistence that, well, it's not what you think it is. Microaggression? No, it's just a misunderstanding.
Worse yet, activism and efforts to address systemic inequality are distorted and reframed as discriminatory toward[00:09:00] those who stand to lose unearned status and privilege.
If you're confused by anything I just said, please see Episodes 59 and 67 for more on how the language of the oppressed is so very often co opted and misused to further justify culty behavior.
If you have been listening in, at this point in the series, none of this should come as a surprise. Because we know that colts are the microcosmic offshoots of the unwell cultures they're striving to break free from.
In a recent Facebook post, somatic specialist and recent guest of the pod, Magdalena Weinstein reminds us: "The most vulnerable population to propaganda, charisma, persuasion, and indoctrination are those of us who have a history of complex and developmental trauma."
And as a complex trauma survivor, I got to say, that tracks.
I see this a bit with 'the Org', which attracts mostly [00:10:00] femme identifying folks. Many of which I am now learning, like me, have a history of abuse.
If you're not familiar with the Org, it's an alias I use for the mind body fitness practice I was once a part of, that many of my guests and I have been critiquing since the launch of the 'cult'ure series.
In an off the record conversation a few months back, I was talking with a new friend and former Org'er via Zoom. And she and I wondered aloud together, why exactly is the Org so appealing to trauma survivors? And she observed how the practice provided so many of us an opportunity to finally, safely, re inhabit our bodies; movement in a safe space, offering profound healing for those of us who are recovering from emotional and or sexual abuse. When you've been dissociating for most of your life, embodiment can feel like a godsend.
And then my friend and I reflected on our later years in the organization, trainings, staff meetings, and personal [00:11:00] interactions with Org leaders, retraumatized while in a space of renewed openness and trust, diminished by leaders who were doing their best, but nevertheless, were passing along the same hurts that they themselves had experienced.
Moral injuries are very common when we separate from a high demand group or relationship, for many reasons, including the fact that the group promised to be a safe haven of belonging, a refuge from the harsh realities of the outside world.
Because so many of us have grown up in unwell cultures, abuse can become familiar, a disorienting, and disorganized attachment that can be difficult to walk away from. Especially when, and this is key when it comes to deconstructing culty wellness culture, especially when we're continually being told that the distress that plagues us is a universally intended opportunity for us to grow. And that walking away would be a failure on our path of personal development.[00:12:00]
The more isolated we are in the outside world, the more shame we internalize. And the more we yearn for spaces of belonging. And so, when we're taught that the more shame we carry, the more we've suffered in life, that even more self corrective action is required. Well, it's not at all hard to see why folks who've had it harder than most might be attracted to culty environments.
Gender norms, racialization, ableism, class and caste hierarchies, chronic illness, all of these marginalizing forces, and many others, drive people into wellness spaces, seeking alternatives to the mainstream.
But unfortunately, and despite loads of lip service, capital C cult biases are very often replicated and even amplified in culty environments, making the intensity and impact of high demand experience all the more devastating and harmful to marginalized folks.[00:13:00]
 In November, 2022, the BBC World Service released an episode on their Heart and Soul series featuring Richard Turner, a man who over the course of a few years, bought into the prosperity gospel promise of God's blessings, giving away nearly all of his money to a UK church.
Upon exiting the organization, he entered into the process of cult recovery and was soon after diagnosed with autism. In the BBC interview, he speaks about how he thinks his neurodivergence made him more susceptible to cultic influence.
He describes how it's in his very nature to go all in, to devote himself unflinchingly to any area of interest, to take people at their word, to believe they mean what they say and say what they mean. And he reflects on how, given the isolation he'd experienced over the course of his life, by the time he encountered the church, he'd long been hungry for belonging. The leaders of the [00:14:00] organization had been able to leverage his yearning for security and community, putting money directly into their own pockets.
Evvie Orman is a racialized Black woman and second generation survivor of a fundamentalist religious cult. Evvie hosts a YouTube channel, and there you'll find a 53 minute talk entitled "Visioning the Invisible, the Traumatized Bodies of Racialized Cult Members."
Evvie shares, and I'm quoting here:
" In the cult survivor and cult expert space, there's a noticeable lack of visibility of racialized bodies. So little mention about racialization of bodies within cults. How racialized experience impacts the risk of cult recruitment and the racialized identities of survivors of color who exit cults into a world that is often nearly as hostile and authoritarian toward their ethnically identified bodies as the coercive groups they left behind."[00:15:00]
I'm going to link to Evvie's talk and to the BBC interview in the show notes in case you want to check them out.
Evvie was a presenter at the 2022 International Cultic Studies Conference, along with this week's guest, Priscilla Eyles, who has an intimate understanding of what it is to be queer, neurodivergent, racialized, and a cult survivor. \
Priscilla has agreed to join us today to share how multiple marginalizations have shaped their experiences in life, and specifically around cult recovery.
Priscilla Eyles is passionate about enabling the social acceptance of multiply marginalized divergent people and cult survivors like themselves. As well as increasing understanding of the great value of lived-experience wisdom and the importance of trauma-informed approaches.
As a cult survivor who is a biracial, ADHD/autistic, queer femme, assigned female at birth, they are equally passionate about normalizing [00:16:00] conversations around cult abuse and foregrounding how cults can prey on and re-traumatize people like them.
Priscilla was formally a project coordinator managing an intersectional disability project, and is a DEI/JEDI trainer and consultant with Resolve Evolve, specializing in neurodivergence in the workplace. Priscilla has trained in DEI practice with the Sarah Jane Academy.
As an intersectional, neurodiverse, cult awareness advocate and activist, Priscilla has spoken at various major panel campaign events and written for numerous publications and organizations as a freelance writer. Their speaking and training experience includes working with organizations, media and groups, and guest appearances on podcasts such as this.
As a lead into our discussion, Priscilla shares a bit about time spent in two cults, the first of which if you've been dabbling in the world of wellness for as long as I have, you've likely heard of.
Landmark is an [00:17:00] offspring of est, or the Erhart Seminars Training, a large group awareness training program that operated throughout the 70s and in the early 80s.
It was in the early 80s that the est program became highly criticized for accusations of mind control. And it was labeled as a cult by many. And so, Earhart and his associates revised the curriculum in 1985, rebranding it as The Forum, which in 1991 became Landmark Education Worldwide.
In this episode, Priscilla shares about their experiences in Landmark and how and why they chose to step away, and into another organization that promised transformation and self empowerment, OneTaste.
The 2022 Netflix documentary, Orgasm Inc., offers a peek behind the scenes of OneTaste, a wellness company founded by Nicole Daedone, who is now at the center of an FBI investigation on charges for, according [00:18:00] to a Wikipedia page, prostitution, sex trafficking, and violations of labor law.
OneTaste essentially appropriated, and in some instances perverted, ancient sex positive tantric practices, repackaging them into a high end product known as Orgasmic Meditation.
And as with any wellness cult, there's likely some pretty great stuff happening in OneTaste workshops. But all that good is happening right alongside patriarchal hierarchies and a capitalistic hunger for power and influence. Sound familiar?
Earlier this year, Nicole Daedone and her former head of sales rep were both indicted on charges of forced labor. The investigation into OneTaste is ongoing.
I offer this very abbreviated sneak peek of both of these culty programs because, while Priscilla will touch upon each of them, we spend most of our time speaking about the unique [00:19:00] challenges multiply marginalized folks are facing in culty groups and spaces of recovery.
Now I've only just had the pleasure of meeting Priscilla, but this is a dialogue I've been yearning to have since the very onset of this series, and I'm so thrilled to be sharing it with you now.
And please keep in mind, I am learning and unlearning right alongside you.
Here's my conversation with Priscilla Eyles.
Priscilla Eyles: Yeah, no, it's really good listening to your podcast and, um, hearing the guests you've had, um, really interesting conversations.
Candice Schutter : Thank you. Thank you so much for listening and being willing to, to jump on at the last minute. I really, I'm so grateful to have you. I've heard so wonderful things about you, and I've really enjoyed listening to your other interviews in preparation for this, and I'm excited.
Priscilla Eyles: I need to go traveling with all these people I've met through cult [00:20:00] recovery world.
Candice Schutter : Yeah. You'll have to come stay with all of us.
Priscilla Eyles: Yeah. Yeah. Because it's like, oh, I just wanna meet up. But I'm in London, and you're in America. But one day.
Candice Schutter : Well, it's so good to meet you, and you are a very unique voice, as a human and also in the cult recovery space. I haven't really found, quite frankly, anyone who's specifically talking about marginalized communities and the unique experiences that they have in cult environments and just bringing that vantage point. And I've just been hungry to have a conversation with someone like you. And then alas, you appeared, and I'm very excited to do that.
Priscilla Eyles: Yeah, no, I'm, I'm happy to be here and I'm happy to be having this conversation.
You know, the more, and the more I have conversations like this, the more I realize how much it's needed. So, you know, I'm just glad I'm, I'm glad that, you know what I'm saying is making a difference and, and helping people. Um, yeah.
I think I'm always, I'm always the sort of person that [00:21:00] goes, well, no one's doing this. Why not? Okay, I'll do it then.
Candice Schutter : I love it.
Priscilla Eyles: So, yeah.
Candice Schutter : Fantastic.
And in a way that probably is kind of a perfect segue to you introducing yourself the listeners out there who don't know you and, and tell us a little bit about you.
Priscilla Eyles: So I, my name's Priscilla Eyles. I like to call myself a JEDI consultant, which sounds very Star Warsie, but what it, what I, what it stands for actually is justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion. And I think that justice part is a really important piece.
'Cause I believe in, in sort of the interplay between social justice work and inclusion work, because there's a lot of DEI work that can be very, um, very much not about actually changing systems, but actually part of the status quo. And sort of, very tokenizing work.
So I'm, really about, and I think another guest did it on your show, uh, with Aleyah. I feel my activism is part of my work. And that they, they [00:22:00] intermingle in ways that, um, I think are really helpful and may allows me to make connections that maybe other people don't make.
Um, so yeah, so that's what I do for my sort of main job as a consultant doing that with the Resolve Evolve consultancy. And I do sort of, um, writing and speaking and things like that. But I also, I call myself an intersectional neurodivergent and cult awareness activist, um, or advocate.
Yeah, and so that's why I like, so what I said before about intermingling those conversations around inclusion and cult awareness and seeing the gaps, I guess, where, where I've not seen them talking about social justice work in cult recovery spaces. And I see the connection so clearly.
So that's, that's how really I got into this work. And my, and my, you know, being a cult survivor as well.
Candice Schutter : Can you tell us a little bit about, you said that part of the reason you do this work is you can see those connections really [00:23:00] clearly, the intersectionality and, and social justice, like where the blind spots are.
And can you tell us just a, a little bit about your background that might help us to understand why it is that you have such a savvy sense around these things.
Priscilla Eyles: Oh, thank you. Um.
So I, yeah, I was in two cults. I was in, um, Landmark in and OneTaste, an LGAT, so a large group awareness therapy training cult, and a more of a sort of a sexuality wellness cult. And after getting out of those, I started to explore my neurodivergence.
Before I'd been in the, been in these groups, I didn't know about my neurodivergence, um, my autism and my ADHD, specifically. So it took me a while to realize, realize that I was neurodivergent not until my late twenties, early thirties when I went traveling for, um, I think about nine months in Southeast Asia, sort of discovering oneself. And, [00:24:00] um, loads of things happening like losing my passport and then why is this happening? And then Googling and then realizing, oh, this ADHD could be a thing.
And that started me on a journey of, of self-discovery. And then during the lockdown, I started reading up on, well, I, I started listening to this BBC a podcast about the cult that I was in, OneTaste, uh, called the Orgasm Cult.
And I start, then I, I really started, I'd thought about Landmark before and I'd had these feelings of anger about the cult, like both of my experiences. But I hadn't really actually thought they were cults. And it wasn't until lockdown, and I was doing some, a lot of research around it that I started to see, oh, okay, yeah, these were definitely, these were cults. Um.
But when I was reading the cult recovery literature, I kept seeing the same things coming up. And I know this is tied to the [00:25:00] stigma of being a cult survivor, but it was stuff around we are just normal people. It was the emphasis on being normal. It was the emphasis on anyone can be in a cult. It said something like, we are not scatterbrained kooks.
And for me, for me, that was really quite triggering. Because these are sort of names that I've, you know, neurodivergent people like me get called on a regular basis, if, you know. And that's why when people say, oh, why, why do you wanna be labeled with ADHD autism?
Well, I'm gonna get another label, you know. I'm gonna get another, like ditzy, unreliable. Um, do you know what I mean?
So, so when I saw, when I saw stuff like that written in the cult recovery books, I just thought, no, that's not right. I don't relate to that. And even in the same book it was saying about, oh, cults don't take on disabled people 'cause they're too much of a burden. And just thought, what? That's not my experience at all.
And [00:26:00] it just felt so, it's such a massive blind spot to me, 'cause when I, I was in the cult, for me, I just, I just saw so many people that I, I thought were neurodivergent. I just felt like it was such a, a massive thing, the connection between those two things. And I didn't see anyone making that connection. And this emphasis on normal, being normal, it, it was quite alienating to me. I really didn't identify with that.
So that's why I really started speaking out, and I did a talk at International Cultic Studies Association actually just looking at sort of intersectional analysis of the, of the cult experience and making those connections between the social, the social justice and inclusion work I was doing. And, and talking about, you know, cults are just microcosms of what's going on in the larger world, macrocosm, of very, uh, you know, for me I feel especially something like [00:27:00] Landmark is like hyper capitalist, neoliberal ideology. It's nothing new. It's just very, it's pushed to the extreme.
So that's what, I started talking about that. So it's a very long-winded answer, but, yeah, that's, that's how I got into it really.
Candice Schutter : Yeah. So it's fascinating. So you didn't really begin to understand it sounds like your neurodivergence until after you came out of the cult experiences. So looking back, how has that changed the way that you see the experience? Like, can you, I know in some of the interviews that I've heard you in, you've gone more in depth to, and we can link to some of those. You had a more in depth interview specifically where you talked about Landmark with Rachel Bernstein and, in IndoctriNation. And I remember one thing that really jumped out at me that you were speaking about in that which really speaks to the core of your work, the way that certain experiences you were having in the cult were framed, around say, your sense of integrity or timeliness or, or what have you. [00:28:00] And how the blind spots around all the different ways that we can show up as humans was making it such that, that you were being labeled as the things you said before. Like, like that there was something wrong with you essentially if you weren't able to adhere to these guidelines.
Is that like an example of how you look back and see your neurodivergence was showing up in the cults and the way that it was responded to?
I guess, I'm curious to hear from you, because I'm thinking of listeners out there who are in other groups and are saying like, how can I look through a new lens in terms of the experiences that I had in these environments or that I'm still having in these environments?
Priscilla Eyles: Yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah.
I mean, part of it as well, which I didn't mention before, is that I think you go into these things. It's basically like for me, wanting to fix myself, you know, quote unquote fix myself. And thinking, you know, what is wrong with me? Why can I talk about pre-raphaelite art and Victorian literature, but lose my keys?
Um, or that, you know, not, [00:29:00] um, not remember to close the door. Or forget to buy the milk. Or, you know, all of these things that are, uh, seen as basic, you know. And social niceties as well. Like, oh, when you're visiting a relative, bring a present. You know, I don't think about that. It's not something that comes natural to me.
So there's all these things, social scripts and things, that I just didn't understand. And so going into the group, part of the attraction is feeling like, oh, maybe they'll be able to like fix me. Maybe they'll be able to tell me what to do and give me a sense of structure, because it's just chaos in my head. And I don't feel like I'm understood by anyone. I don't know what's going on with me. I don't know how I can help myself. And it's like this sort of learned helplessness. And, and wanting to almost have this group just be your guiding sort of light to like, you know, basically give you some sense of meaning and some sense of like, that you are [00:30:00] valuable and that, you know, you have some tools that you can use to sort of survive almost, survive and thrive. But, you know, I think at that point I was just trying to survive.
And in the cults that it was in, especially, you know, what you said about the integrity piece.
Yeah, that was a hard, that was a hard one. Because it, they had this whole thing around being on time, and it was a massive thing. And so you would see people running down the street to get to the, to the class on time, literally running. And when and if you were late, you had to, you know, stand up in front of the room and restore integrity, they called it.
Uh, I think there's something they did maybe in Scientology as well. I think they stole it from Scientology.
But you had to, um, I can't even remember exactly what I said, but it was something like, I'm out of integrity and I need to restore it with everyone here, or something along those lines. And basically it was very shaming. And [00:31:00] it was very much turning you into someone who, it's like, you're spotlighted because you can't actually conform and you can't actually follow the rules. And therefore we need to highlight, you know, how much people need to not be like this. And you need to, yeah. It's like you can't hide behind. You can't just sneak in and no, you have to, you have to expose yourself every time, every time you're not following their rules.
So yeah, that, that was a, that was a big thing. And then for, and for those a period of time when I, where I could be on time. But then I would just, it would just go out again and then, and then I would feel, yeah, a lot of shame about it. And not knowing why I couldn't just be on time.
Candice Schutter : Mm-hmm.
Priscilla Eyles: Um, yeah, it was pretty stressful thing.
Candice Schutter : Yeah.
Priscilla Eyles: Actually. Yeah.
So it just ingrained a lot of shame that was already there, I think. Yeah.
Candice Schutter : Sure, sure. Yeah.
Well, which is the, I mean, you mentioned before [00:32:00] about why, why do I want those labels? On one hand, well, other people are gonna label me if I don't, you know, claim and own the label that fits.
But also it's about, I think it's, what I'm hearing you say also is, I feel like the taking of the label is also a way to combat that internalized shame. Like, that's not my shame. There's nothing wrong with me. It's yours. I'm giving it back to you.
Priscilla Eyles: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.
And it's, it's, it explains, it explains so much about myself and finding that community. I think that was so important actually, realizing that I was neurodivergent and finding that community. I, I do often wonder if I had found out that I was neurodivergent before I found that community, would I even felt the need to go into any of these groups? Because I would've had that community. I would've had that sense of acceptance.
Um, you know, I'm not saying everyone in the community is great. And, um, you know, we're like any other community. We have its issues. Uh, you know, people can be ignorant and everything else. [00:33:00] But, you know, to find that community within the community that is accepting and having that supportive thing of, well, I'm not alone. You know, there are other people like me. There are other people that think like me in this way. And there are other people that struggle with the similar issues that I have. That was, that was so key.
And because, you know, at the end of the day, I think ultimately with these groups, it's like wanting to have that sense of community and sense of belonging.
Candice Schutter : Yes.
Priscilla Eyles: And, so when it, when you are being pointed out and being made to, you know, stand up in front of the room, you are immediately feeling like you don't belong again.
Candice Schutter : That's right.
Priscilla Eyles: And that's what cults really are good at doing, is making you feel like you belong with the love bombing. And then if you go out of line, then okay, you know, there's a threat here that you could lose this sense of belonging and community if you don't fall in line.
Candice Schutter : Definitely.
Priscilla Eyles: Yeah. And I think that's what, that, that's what makes you stay a lot of the time.
Candice Schutter : [00:34:00] Yeah.
Priscilla Eyles: And that what made me stay. Yeah.
Candice Schutter : Yeah, I think you're right. That definitely tracks for me and my experience, too.
What, if you could describe, in a nutshell, pushed you out of Landmark? When you shifted away from Landmark and then you moved into OneTaste. And, as I understand it, they were pretty close together as it tends to be for most of us who were cult hoppers. Raises hand.
Priscilla Eyles: Yeah.
Candice Schutter : Um, what was that transition like? And what was it that made you leave Landmark? And then why do you think it is that OneTaste was so appealing to you?
Priscilla Eyles: So I really subscribe to this idea of embodied trauma and the idea of your body knowing before your mind does. And I really think with Landmark it was really my body. It just exhaustion, you know, it was really just physical exhaustion. And it was my body saying, you actually can't do this anymore.
Because I, I, you know, I was on this, what they call the Introduction Leaders Program which is like six months and a half of pure indoctrination [00:35:00] and telemarketing, basically free telemarketing.
So sitting in their office and calling up people and trying to get 'em to register and attend events and calling up your friends. And it was, it was relentless. And it felt like being in a prison. And I just didn't, I didn't wanna do it anymore. And I did have one call where someone told me on the phone that their partner had died as a result of being on The Forum.
And, and, you know, that just, it really, it really got to me. It, it really was like an upsetting thing to hear. And to also feel like, this was on the call list.
And they talk about integrity. There's no integrity there in having someone on your to-call list whose partner has died as a result of your course.
And how traumatizing would that be to have people from Landmark calling you?
Candice Schutter : Oh my God.
Priscilla Eyles: they, and what struck me though was that she was so calm. She wasn't even angry at me. And I just felt like, I would've [00:36:00] just been, what the hell? Why are you calling? You know, so furious, you know?
But she said it so calmly. And it really stuck with me. And I mean, it would, but you know, it just really, I. I don't know, it just really affected me very badly.
And, and I just remember the support afterwards was just, it was just nothing. It was like, I, you know, we have a coach who you're meant to, after your session assisting, volunteering at the office, you're meant to go and sort of, uh, go back to your coach and just, you know, review how it went and things like this and, you know, any problems, whatever.
And so, you know, when I told them about what had happened, you know, all they could say was, "oh, well, all you could say was, sorry. You know, that's all you could say."
Candice Schutter : Wow.
Priscilla Eyles: And there was, there was nothing beyond that. Nothing.
And that's a really traumatizing thing to have happened. And that, to be the only thing that they say, oh, well, all you could have said was sorry.[00:37:00]
Candice Schutter : Mm-hmm.
Priscilla Eyles: I mean, you know, the cognitive dissonance.
Candice Schutter : I'll say. Yeah, exactly. That's right.
Priscilla Eyles: That is not even gonna go there with maybe there's something wrong with being here and doing this work.
Candice Schutter : Yeah.
Priscilla Eyles: So that was part of it, definitely.
But I think it just took a while of.
You know, I just got sick also of, there was this pressure that accelerates as you get, you know, as you sort of do all these courses to register people into the, um, Forum and into doing the introduction evenings, and it just gets so intense and it's unrelenting. And you have people who are meant to be your buddies, you know, keeping track on you to see how you're doing. You have to, you put in these stats every week about how many people you've registered. And then you get, people ask you if you are, you know, oh, like you, you've had zero again this week, you know, almost, what's that about?
You know, you said you were gonna talk to this person this week and [00:38:00] you still haven't registered. What's happening there? You know.
It's just a relentless, relentless pressure. And I got, so, I got so sick of it. I would call people 'cause you're meant to go through your sort of all your, like basically your phone book, your contacts list on your phone, calling all these people. People that I never even spoke to hardly before.
And as an, and as an autistic person speaking on the phone is actually quite, it's not my best thing anyway. So to then have to call people up and try to sell them on this course.
And people would just be, by the end of it, people would just be, you're calling about Landmark again, aren't you? And, know, and, and so I just was this person that became known as, oh, she's gonna talk about Landmark. You know?
And I just, I just was sick of it. I was really sick of it. It became so manipulative. Because you just, you're just finding all these ways to try and talk about Landmark and try to get them to talk about what's important to them and everything else. And.
Candice Schutter : Did you find [00:39:00] you were doing this in your personal lives? Was it, was it impacting your personal relationships?
Priscilla Eyles: Yeah. Because it's like there's this guilt that if I don't talk to someone about Landmark, oh well I'm not being a stand for them, that's what they called it. You know, not playing a bigger game. Um, and if you really love someone, why wouldn't you talk to this person about it? That thing that transforms your life and all this stuff. How selfish can you be if you're not doing that?
So anyone I would talk to it is like, okay, I'm gonna have to try and think of way to talk about this thing.
And, and it, and it's just, I didn't wanna do it anymore. And I just, after I left, I just didn't talk about it to anyone hardly. Because I so sick of it. I sick, I was just had enough. It was just like 15 hours a week on top of a full-time job.
And so I think it was that and everything else that I described, that it just, my body just being like this too much.
Candice Schutter : And so OneTaste was all about the body, right? So you're going from this, okay, I've just completely beat [00:40:00] down my body in this one group, so I'm gonna move over here. And it doesn't feel like a lateral move at all. It feels like progression, because it's like, oh this is about the body.
Priscilla Eyles: Yeah, yeah, exactly. It's like people described it. Well, there's a lot of people that went from Landmark to, to OneTaste, 'cause they said, oh, you know how they described it in OneTaste? Oh Landmark's very dry, you know. We're about sort of, um, I dunno, just it, yeah, it's more embodied and it's more to do with celebrating feminine sexuality and all this kind of stuff.
And for me, I guess I was intrigued by that as, you know, someone who was friendly with sort, who I was friends with at Landmark who had talked to me about it. And I was, yeah, I was just intrigued, I guess.
And I think there was a lot of shame around my sexuality and, 'cause I am queer, I'm, I'm pansexual. And it didn't really go down well with my family, with my mom. And it's better now, but it, you know, so there's a lot of shame there. And a lot of like, stuff that's inherited, I think from, you know, my mom's upbringing [00:41:00] and being Black in the sort of evangelical religion and the way they treat sex, the way it's seen as sacred and, you know, don't do it outside of marriage. Or it is, you know, all of this stuff.
So I had a lot there going on for me around sex and feeling like I wasn't really in touch with my body. And I didn't know, I didn't feel like I could really release. And like enough to like, 'cause their whole thing is about the energy of orgasm. And how it will, you know, reinvigorate you and like change your life.
And, and I felt like I'd never even had one maybe. I'm not even sure if I'd had one. And I'm not even sure I could relax enough to have one. And so I think I was interested in that, and I was just intrigued. And, that was the hook for me. And, and I went to a, what they call demonstration. And it's like a live demonstration where they have someone demonstrating the orgasmic meditation method. And this woman is like having an orgasm in front of [00:42:00] you. And it's just very, like, upfront and just very visceral.
And I actually cried during that demonstration. And then, person who was leading it was like, the orgasm is coming out of you. It's so beautiful. And all this stuff, right?
And you know, I, I talked about, to Rachel Bernstein about that, and she's like, oh yeah, they're reframing your experience for you.
That's what.
Candice Schutter : I was just thinking that.
Priscilla Eyles: Yeah.
Candice Schutter : That's
Priscilla Eyles: Yeah. Yeah.
Candice Schutter : That's right.
Priscilla Eyles: Um, yeah.
Candice Schutter : They're giving you the meaning.
Well, that's the thing. I think that's important just to pause to say that's a really important thing. I think that's part of these cults is that they define the meaning for you. And when we're in, we're in this like living in this uncertain world and we're like, somebody tell me what it all means.
Priscilla Eyles: Mmhmm.
Candice Schutter : Then there's, there's sort of a relief in that. Especially if you're, you just lost a sense of belonging. You just left a group.
Priscilla Eyles: Yeah.
Candice Schutter : And you want to connect to your body. And then you go to this space and they tell you this is the way, this is the path to that connection. I can understand why that would be so appealing.[00:43:00]
Priscilla Eyles: Yeah.
Candice Schutter : So How long were you with OneTaste then?
Priscilla Eyles: Um, for about three years. Three years. I never really entered as deeply as I did with Landmark. Just because I think I'd been a bit burnt by my experience and the way I got so heavily involved. And with OneTaste, it was a lot more expensive. And I was already immediately, almost immediately wary of that, the fact that it was so expensive.
And you know, the coaching course was about, I think it was like 10,000 pounds or $10,000 or so, something. It was like, it was like the cost of doing a MA almost. It felt like. And for what? To get like a little certificate that says you can work for them. And there's no sort of standard or like governing body, or it's just them, saying that can do this thing.
And yeah, so [00:44:00] that was suspicious to me, especially when they're talking about how important this work is. And how it's gonna like, change, sort of change people's world and transform people's connections and relationships. And it's like, well, why is it so expensive then? If you think this work is so important, why is it only people that can afford it?
Um, or as I later learned, only people that are willing to do what it takes to get the money. Which involves, you know, sleeping with people who have money and all this kind of stuff, and getting out bank loans and getting out credit cards and all of that stuff. Doing Kickstarters. Um, yeah.
So that, that to me was too much. I think that's just like, nah, I can't do this.
Candice Schutter : Oh, okay? separated then.
Priscilla Eyles: Yeah.
Candice Schutter : Yeah.
And so you said when, after you left the cults that you started doing this research. And do you feel like you have entered into this conversation not just to center the experience of, of folks who've been [00:45:00] marginalized, but also to help create a language around how we talk about these things?
Because one of the things that really appeals to me about your work is, you know, when I first started this 'cult'ure series over a year ago, you know, I put the word cult in brackets cult-ure, because I really had this sense. I didn't have the language for it yet. And I feel like you have a lot of the language around this isn't a matter of there's these cults over here periferally. It's about these dynamics that exist in our everyday cultures are just amplified in these environments. And I feel like the work you do speaks to that beautifully, specifically as it relates to these systemic issues that are ignored in the cults, that then create these dynamics where the hierarchies that exist in our everyday life are just reinforced and just amplified in these environments.
So, I guess the question really is can you say more about what you feel like is missing from these conversations that we're having as we're coming out of these environments? Like where do we need to go [00:46:00] with this that we're not reflexively going?
Priscilla Eyles: Yeah, I think it's a bit of what I'm saying before. I think it's understanding that, you know, cult survivor experience isn't homogenous. That, you know, everyone has a different experience based on their identity, based on even their position within the group, based on whether, I guess, you know, whether they're second generation, first generation. There's all these differences.
And, you know, there, there is some, people do speak about a bit about that sort of difference more in terms of first generation, second generation and how high up you got in the group. But there's no sense of, okay, but how is it different, say...
you know, because for example, for OneTaste, I think the, the experience is very different if you're queer, um, than if you are heterosexual. Because the practice, it was, you know, usually it was the man stroking and the, you're the woman who's having the stroking. And how is that then, if you're two men? How's that gonna work? You know, how [00:47:00] could they even be in this group? Could they even feel like they belonged in this group?
And talking about things in such a gendered, heteronormative way. Men do this. Women do this. This is how women orgasm. This is how women feel. You know, you need to touch this particular place. And that's how it works for women. And then men like this when it comes to sex. They just want something quickly.
And, you know, so it's very like, simplistic.
And so if you're coming at it and you're trans or you're non-binary or you know, anything like that, that's gonna be a very different experience to if you are cis white man or a cis white woman, for example.
And so I think it's needing to understand that difference and how it can be retraumatizing, to either then come out of that cultic experience and not only have you not really analyzed or been able to understand your experience as a marginalized person, if you haven't done that work beforehand. But also coming out of it, you are not able to understand it any better reading the cult recovery literature, [00:48:00] because they're not speaking to that.
And so part of the work that you need to do to do cult recovery is, is totally missing. And how can you truly recover if we are, we're still in this system which is marginalizing you. Which is, which is again, retraumatizing. Meaning that, you know, maybe you'll find it harder to get a job. You'll find it harder to, to earn a living. You'll find it harder to trust anything. Um, you'll find it harder to go to the police. You'll find it harder if you wanna take your group to court. I mean, who's the money and time for that?
Like, if you're a marginalized person, if you are say a, you know, a Black person or you know, a working class person, it's gonna be a lot harder to be able to even get any legal justice. And, and a lot of the times you wouldn't even try to.
And so when, you know, they talk about, oh, this is, here's how you can change the law. Here's how you can. And, and I'm all for changing the law and making it better [00:49:00] to prosecute cults. But also understanding that it's not the, an easy route for people who are marginalized either. Um, because there's a lot of talk about that as well. And understanding that maybe there needs to be other forms of, you know, re restorative justice.
Or talking about, you know, when we talk about abolition, no, I don't, I don't see how it's any different from saying, look, here's how the prison system works. Here's how asylums work. Here's how, when you're segregating people like that. That it's just like cults. And I think that's, it's just so intertwined with all of that conversation. And so for me it's an easy connection to make. And we have to be able to look at those systems that we're living in, if we are gonna have any sense of being able to like, provide for people who are marginalized. To understand that like, we need to actually look at these systems 'cause they're not help, they're not helping anyone.
And that's the bigger, bigger cult.
Candice Schutter : That's right.
Priscilla Eyles: If you will.
Candice Schutter : That's right. Absolutely. I [00:50:00] agree. I call 'em the capital C cults.
Priscilla Eyles: Yeah. I love that.
Candice Schutter : Like, small C and the capital C, 'cause it's, it's really all just, yeah, it's all tied together.
Which is why I was so excited to find you and your work. I'm like, ah, you're doing this. It's so beautiful.
Um, so as someone who has come out of, like, the cults that I was involved in were new age wellness cults, primarily. Um, And I, white women in wellness, was pretty much the circles that I ran in for a really long time. And yet, within those groups there were marginalized people that were made invisible, quite honestly, in those cultures.
And as I am having more and more conversations with people like, unpacking our experiences, the experiences we had in the groups that I was in, I am wondering if you have any thoughts or advice as to how to center marginalized voices more in these conversations. And how to, I wanna understand better the [00:51:00] experience of BIPOC folks in the circles that I ran. And I also don't wanna tokenize people by asking them to tell me.
Um, and so I'm, you know, I'm doing what I can to learn from BIPOC educators in lots of different arenas, in anti-racism and all of that. And I also want to shift the cultures that I'm creating and being a part of collaboratively so that they are inclusive and they do feel welcome.
And so how do we, is it about doing the larger capital C cult work to help create new systems? Or is it about having conversations about cult survivorship as it relates specifically to marginalized people? Or is it both?
Priscilla Eyles: I think it's both. It's both. Yeah.
I think there's some work that can be done on, you know, say the individual level, in terms of being in the cult recovery space. And, you know, it's stuff that I've been talking about with people in terms of, you know, for example, um, XR and their annual conference. And, and [00:52:00] you know, how could that actually have a more intersectional approach?
You know, instead of just having a whole roster of white people, for example. How can we actually platform marginalized survivors? And look at that and have a more social justice, anti-oppression lens and understand how it's all interconnected. And actually maybe have speakers from outside of the usual. Like, 'cause you know, I feel like when you get into a sort of group like this, which can be quite, seem quite small, it does seem like the same speakers and the same people get called to speak on all the podcasts, all the events and everything else.
And so it's about, okay, maybe we need to actually look beyond who the we know, um, and who's, who's well known as an expert, and actually look beyond expert and, and, and look at more at lived experience. And look at more at who are the people actually talking about this already and writing about it. And, and maybe they're, you know, they might not be [00:53:00] on your radar yet. But, you know, it just takes asking around and actually being creative and, you know, looking at social media. And, and looking at forums and, and things like that to see the kind of conversations that are being had.
You know, not just like, another talk about the neuroscience of being a cult survivor. I love that. But also what about the intersectionality of being a cult survivor? That's why I wanted to do that talk, um, at ICSA, because I just thought, this is su, such an important topic, and it's not being addressed in any of the other talks. There was maybe one speaker, Evvie Ormon, who was talking about being a racialized cult survivor. Uh, but, no one was talking about neurodivergence. No one.
Uh, and to me it was so obvious. It was so obvious to me that you would go in and be more likely to be influenced, more likely to take people at their word, more likely to think this is something that is, you know, who they say they are. And why would people be [00:54:00] malevolent or deceptive?
And more likely to stay in cults as well. That there's a difference between people who go in and only, like, they last maybe one course and then they're out. And then the people who stay five, 10 years, 20 years, you know. There's a difference there too.
Candice Schutter : Right.
Priscilla Eyles: And to answer your question about, I guess the wider thing. Yeah, it is just making those connections. I mean, like I said, about abolition. It, for me, that's such an easy connection to make. And doing the work of, you know, reading Angela Davis. Reading Audre Lorde. Reading bell hooks, you know. Um, reading Patricia Hill Collins. You know, all of these people and more. There's so many good books out there right now. There's such a wealth of material and resources.
Intersectional framework is such an applicable framework. And it just, I think it just really helps people to understand the needs, more specifically, of what's need, like what do people need when they're looking for recovery?[00:55:00]
You know, what are we not, what are we missing? What is, you know, if we're gonna do a cult recovery support group, how are we gonna make people who are marginalized feel welcome? How can we be upfront about that? Because, you know, I've seen, I've seen people make, okay, I've seen people attempt to do this. But then all the moderators or all the people leading it have been white, you know?
And it's not free, it's you have to pay. And you know, fair enough. But like also that's gonna affect things, right? And maybe you can email to get a discount or whatever. But it's like, how do you frame it so that you're making this a welcoming space and you're not thinking, I'm just gonna turn up, and there's just gonna be a lot of white women there, because that's what they think marginalization is, you know?
Candice Schutter : Right? Yeah.
Priscilla Eyles: Right. That's the only framework. Oh, we've got women. So that's it, you know.
Candice Schutter : Exactly. Exactly. Yeah, for sure.
Yeah, it's interesting. The, the group that I was [00:56:00] a part of, that was the, had the most, the greatest impact on me that I left was a mind-body fitness company. And in recent years, well after I left, they started a DEI committee. And, apparently they did some really great work from what I've heard. But then as soon as they started to go to leadership for accountability, the group was disbanded.
Because it was a matter of optics. And at the same time, I will also note that I went online around this same time 'cause I was getting ready, preparing to do this podcast and to tell my story about this organization. And I went online and it was, just happened to be Black History Month. And they had stock photos of Black teachers and trainers to make it look as though there's representation in group in a way that there absolutely is not.
And so, I'm wondering if you could speak to this, especially since 2020, this thing that's really happened a lot I see in wellness culture where the optics of we are doing a DEI thing to. Is this, is this why you say you're a Jedi? That justice piece?
Priscilla Eyles: Yeah.
Candice Schutter : Am I [00:57:00] starting to get my finger on the pulse?
Priscilla Eyles: Yeah, Yeah, yeah, exactly. Yeah. Yeah. Well exactly that.
And you know, it's funny 'cause cults do this too, right? Um, like Landmark released a statement. It was their Black Lives Matter statement. And I just felt like, are you kidding me? Are you actually kidding me? Like really?
Candice Schutter : Mm-hmm.
Priscilla Eyles: I remember seeing a, I think it was a Glass Door review from some sort of reviewer. They were saying that they'd, they'd sort of got this one Black leader that they had to come out and talk about how diverse they were or something or how much they cared about Black Lives Matter. And it's like, you really don't. You really don't.
And then like, I totally totally slammed them for it on the Facebook page, and they took it down. So, you know, um.
Candice Schutter : Good for you, and of course they did.
Priscilla Eyles: It's it's like, not having this, I'm not having this. So, yeah.
So like, it's like, okay, if you wanna do cult recovery work, and you wanna do it well. Okay, let's look at how we can not be like the cults that people came [00:58:00] from, right?
And also, you know, if you're gonna do an event for marginalized people, maybe consult with marginalized people first. And I, because I think that, that the issue also is, is that there's this knee jerk reaction that happens when, you know, we talk about George Floyd and we talk about, you know, wanting to do the right thing or wanting to do something, you know.
But that then the issue with that is that this isn't short-term work. This isn't just something that, okay, let's just do this event, right. You know, let's have a, a circle and we'll just talk about racism and we'll have Black people share their experience. You know, that's, that's not it, you know?
It really is about taking time and not worrying about what that looks like. Because I think people are worried that if they take their time with stuff, then it looks like they're not doing anything. And that's bad, right?
But what's worse is if then you do something really quickly, and it's not trauma informed. It's [00:59:00] not, there's no consultation process that's happened. It's what you think people want, but it's not what they really want. And then no Black people show up. Or Black people do show up, and they're just re-traumatized or they're upset. You know, you haven't consciously thought about the space and how you're gonna make this, like, a psychologically safer space for people.
So it takes time. It can involve making a lot of mistakes on the way. But if people have your trust. And if people see that you're really trying and you're really trying to do this work well and conscientiously, that, that goes so far. That really goes so far in, in, in having people on board with you. But you need to gain people's trust first. I think doing some quick event is not gonna, it's gonna just make people cynical. That's what 'cause like, well, you're just doing that because you know, you're jumping on board. And like you feel you have to do it now, otherwise you look bad.
You know, and people are very wary of that. Very wary. I'm wary of it. So, yeah. [01:00:00]
Candice Schutter : As you should be.
Priscilla Eyles: Yeah.
It's like, it really does take a, a long time to actually get to that place where you gain people's trust and you are doing the, you are doing deep work that's not just tokenistic, you know. And that involves yourself and your own biases and all all that.
It's a long answer, but.
Candice Schutter : Well, it's beautiful answer though. It's the right answer. It's a beautiful answer. And the, even me using the word right, it's the right answer. It's funny 'cause it leads into this next question 'cause I wish I had choose, chosen different words.
Um, I think you listened to the conversation I had with Aleyah-Erin Lennon on decolonizing identity and this word decolonize.
What do you have to say about this word decolonize and how it fits into this conversation?
Priscilla Eyles: I think it's just, it's systematic approach, again. It's like being able to look at things from, in a wider cultural lens. And seeing things in terms of also intergenerational trauma. I think that's what it means to me anyway. And understanding [01:01:00] the history that, you know, things didn't just happen suddenly. Like, this is a hundred and hundreds of years of racism and eugenics and violence and narratives about Black people and, and lesser races and all of, all of that stuff.
So that's why I say this is long-term, lifelong work. You're not gonna do away with hundreds of years of social conditioning in one panel event, right.
So, um, so the yeah, the decolonizing perspective, it's a lot about looking at what we take for granted. And like I said, like we go to the same people to be our talking heads, to be our experts. And we don't even question it. We don't even think, well, why don't I actually look at who else we could get on for this event or this conference or write in this journal or whatever it is. Um, why don't we [01:02:00] actually have some outreach work going on where it, where we're actually commissioning work to center marginalized perspectives.
Because when you look at decolonization in sort of universities and things like that, it's all about looking at stuff like the canon, right? The, things like in English literature or academia. Who do we study? Are they all old white men? Why is that? Why do we only value their opinions and their ideas and their, and where did those ideas actually come from, right? So a lot them, like they culturally appropriate ideas and they steal ideas, and don't even recognize that.
Yeah. And I think it's also to do with the environment. I think it's respecting the environment and, and understanding how that ties in with marginalized cultures. You know, I think of Native American cultures and the, and the importance of the nature and wildlife and the respect for land. And, and how that's all tied in. And how environmental disasters are affecting the global [01:03:00] south on a much urgent, a much more urgent scale than it is in, you know, western countries. And having the infrastructure.
And, you know, it's looking at so many different things and how affects people. And, and, you know, you may not think it is related, but if your aim is to make the world a better place, you know, and that's a very general aim. But it's all part of the same thing, right?
You know, this cult recovery work, this cult awareness work is about making, it's like making the world a safer place for me. And part of that is, is all of what we've talked about.
Candice Schutter : Yeah.
Priscilla Eyles: looking at that and understanding that.
Candice Schutter : I feel like it kind of circles back to the neurodivergent piece, because if we're looking to decolonize, we're talking about intergenerational trauma. We're talking about imprints that live within us, all that we're [01:04:00] reenacting, these cultural scripts that we're reenacting over and over and over again.
And so I just can't help but notice that even the word neurodivergent, is like divergent. We need to do differently than the norm. And you know, like you were talking about in the beginning, like, this sort of idea of 'the normal' being positioned as better in the hierarchy. When in reality the normal in many ways, I guess I would argue, is more prone to repeat the same patterns. And that folks who think and move differently and look differently and don't fit those idealistic norms as established by white supremacy and eugenics and all that BS, are actually more equipped to create change in the world, I would argue.
So how do you think neurodivergence, since we're talking micro macro. Like the micro of the neurodivergence in your life and taking a more neurodivergent approach to this collective change. Do you see a parallel there in terms of how we can do differently?
Priscilla Eyles: Yeah. Yeah, definitely.
And I, [01:05:00] I think actually it's my sort of, uh, I guess autistic ADHD neurodivergent thinking that enables me to make those connections, for me quite easily. Um.
Candice Schutter : Yes.
Priscilla Eyles: For me, I am looking at, I hate to use the word pattern seeking 'cause I, I feel like that's such an autistic stereotype, but in one sense of the word, it is true. I, I, I like to seek these connections between different modalities and understand how they can help each other and compliment each other.
And so I think if you're doing things in a divergent way, you are looking to so many different things for inspiration, you know. And you are able to draw from so much. And I think when you have so much to draw from that makes the work more rich. It makes it more meaningful. It makes it more welcoming. It makes it more just interesting. I think it's just much more interesting. It's much more interesting, you know, if you are working [01:06:00] in this cult recovery field and all you're reading it is like books about cults, um, you are gonna be limited in your knowledge. You are.
And I think, the fact that, you know, I do this reading around intersectionality, around, you know, whatever it is, I am, I'm reading Women Race & Class at the moment by Angela Davis and it's absolutely amazing. But, you know, just making all these connections between historical racism and then the way people get into cults. And the way they try and seek belonging there, when they haven't had belonging in the world. And, you know, that divergent thinking of like, I can connect these dots. And I can see how this will help each other. And this, how this reinforces another and everything else.
And it's just being able to point out stuff that it's like, well, why aren't we talking about this?
You know, one of the things that I noticed was the way we talk about cults that have a Black majority membership. And I, I look at that and I think [01:07:00] why, why are we treating them as if either they're sort of radical political groups or they're just sort of fringe religions? What, what is that that like, makes us shy away from even naming them as cults? Is it something where we think we're gonna be called racist? Or that's just how Black people are? Or what, you know, what is that? Because I've noticed that a lot, is that people shy away from it and then they call groups like MOVE, oh, they're just Black radicals. Or, you know, um, Nation of Islam, they were just, you know, helping Black people.
They were cults. You know, they're cults. And, and I find that just really interesting. And for me, maybe that's my neuro divergent way of thinking. It's just like, why aren't we talking about this?
And I am, I have to speak out about stuff like that. Because it's like, it's, it's a bugbear otherwise, you know.
Candice Schutter : Yeah.
Priscilla Eyles: And other people might just let it go, and they might just be like, oh, okay. But me, I'm like, no, why, why aren't we talking about this? That's weird. What, what's that about?
[01:08:00] And, and it's that kind of thinking that will make you sort of wanna look into that and research stuff further. And, and, yeah.
I think it's being curious, basically,
Candice Schutter : Well, I'm glad that your brain works the way it does. I find it so fascinating, and I'm learning a lot.
Is there anything in terms of this beautiful mind of yours and the way that it's making these connections that we might not otherwise see, is there anything that you wish that I had asked you that you want to talk about that you really think needs to be present in this conversation that we haven't really touched upon?
Priscilla Eyles: Yeah, I do wanna say something about victim blaming.
Because that's a piece that I, I think it's such a common thing about cults, that I've noticed. And when people talk about the stories that I've read. And it seems to be such a massive thing, this victim blaming.
And that's why I think part of the reason why I feel like experience [01:09:00] of something like Landmark was so, so harmful, is because you know, if I hadn't done the work myself to look into what does racism actually mean? 'Cause you know, I didn't really understand before going into this group. I kind of thought like other people might think, oh, it's just some ignorant people, you know. And that's usually classist as well. It's usually people say ignorant working class people or, you know, things this. And I had a very limited view of that. And actually it was my book group who we started reading and I started to understand a lot more, and, and, actually just was like, okay, there's all this, these authors and people I haven't even read, because I hadn't connected to that part of myself before.
So going into Landmark, if I'd just been in Landmark and not done any of that work, I just feel like I would've blamed, you know, anything that would happen to me that was a result of racism, a result of ableism, misogyny, anything [01:10:00] like that, you know, they can all tie it back to that's your fault. You know, that's what you did to yourself. You called it into your being somehow. You take, you have to take full responsibility for that. Which is why I found their Black Lives Matter statement so laughable, as well, is there's no conversation around actually how, how do we allow for and acknowledge things that are actually beyond our control?
Because it seems to be all about, the appeal seems to be all about giving people this sense of you have control over your life and that includes full responsibility for anything that happens to you. You know, which is then that double-edged sword of anything bad, that's your fault. So you can't criticize us if we, if we say something that could be actually quite racist or.
Candice Schutter : Mm-hmm.
Priscilla Eyles: Yeah. Again, victim blaming. You saying, oh, if you have sexual abuse, that's your fault. You know?
So[01:11:00] I think that's another point to understand why it, it can be so much more harmful than, you know, maybe if you're a cis white man. Or, and you, you know, you don't have to really think about these things. Or you should, but like maybe you don't have to as much. You don't have to worry about that.
And so it ends up with a lot of internalized bigotry.
Candice Schutter : Yeah.
Priscilla Eyles: And that's there already, but you know, these cults can really exacerbate that and really make that worse. And you start to, like, you gaslight and even say race light, race light yourself. Which is oh, I'm just being too sensitive, you know, if something racist happens, oh, you know. Because I, I find myself doing this even now. Was that racist? Is that just me? Am I being too sensitive? they mean that? I need to check this with someone else? Is this racist?
You know, because so, so used to feeling like, especially with the neurodivergence piece, and this is why intersectionality is so important, this understanding of the way the marginalizations impact on each other is like, you can go from [01:12:00] feeling like, oh, this is because I'm autistic or 'cause I'm ADHD, I'm just too sensitive. Or is it because, oh yeah, I'm overly sensitive and I've been taught to feel like, you know, everything is just racist. Maybe I'm just being too much here.
Or, you know, like there's so much of like, which part of you you, you attacking? Or what part of it is my sensitivity, you know, my rejection sensitivity or just my sensitivity to any injustice or, you know. So you are already halfway there when you get into cults, because cults are like there to sort confuse you and make you doubt yourself.
But you are, you, you're already doing that.
Candice Schutter : Exactly.
Priscilla Eyles: Before you get in, right?
Candice Schutter : That's right.
Priscilla Eyles: When you're coming from this marginalized perspective, and so half of the work is already done for them. And they're, just building on top of that.
Candice Schutter : That's right.
I'm here because I'm broken, and you're gonna help me fix me, because it's always about me. It's never about the systems around me. It's all about me, me, me.
Priscilla Eyles: Yeah, exactly. Exactly. And that's what the appeal is, is like, oh, you're gonna give me this sense of control. [01:13:00] And, and you're saying that my thoughts are not real. And you can create your own story. And that's great.
But you know, if you ever try to talk about racism or how hard things can be, well, don't be a victim. That's your victim story.
Candice Schutter : That's right.
Priscilla Eyles: You don't wanna be a victim. Yeah.
Candice Schutter : I have yet to meet a cult survivor from any group where that's not like one of the number one techniques where that's just, it's hammered in.
I mean, it's, and it's part of, you know, that gaslighting of ourselves. The cult leader starts to live inside of our own minds. It's like, they condition us to such a degree where we don't even need them to gaslight us. We're doing it ourselves day in and day out. Yeah.
Priscilla Eyles: Exactly. Exactly. And it's just, it's hard to undo that work. Again, like I say, if you're then not looking at the racism part and the everything else part, the multiply marginalized experiences, it's really hard to undo that completely if you're not looking at that.
Candice Schutter : And the socioeconomic piece. You know, you were talking about class terms of the intersectionality.
[01:14:00] But I know for me, when I was in a cult environment. And there was a lot of about law of attraction and sort of new age prosperity gospel. And, and my inability to manifest the wealth and abundance that I was being promised based on these exercises.
And I was struggling so much financially, and it was just this continual thing where I'm comparing myself to people who have disposable income, who systemically were set in a different way than me. They came into this with more, then I'm, I'm shaming myself.
It's clearly about me. It's clearly about.
Priscilla Eyles: Yeah. What's your negative conversation about money, Candice? Yeah.
Candice Schutter : Yeah. That's it.
Priscilla Eyles: What's that about, Candice. Let's look at that.
Candice Schutter : Wait, were you in my group?
Oh my gosh, so good.
Priscilla Eyles: I think, [01:15:00] I think there is something around the way people get into cults and groups like this. Especially like the wellness arena actually. Around the way, around marginalized people might be attracted to this. cause I mean there's, that's something I didn't talk about so much. Because I, I, do sense there is this, um, striving for an alternative to the mainstream in terms of like, the provision of services that we get.
And how I see that connecting to the marginalized experience is the fact that, there's so much racism. There's so much medical racism, right? And there's so much distrust of doctors and of Western medicine. And I think that's why Black churches can be such a source of support for people, or a source of community.
But, um, there's that sense that these systems weren't set up to serve us. And, you know, even looking at the way they treat Black people, it's like they have different [01:16:00] calculations for Black people. And that goes back to racism, you know, that people, they think Black people have a higher pain threshold, stuff like this. It's crazy. You know, it's the stuff that, it's just not even true. But it's just been, you talk about the intergenerational trauma again, you know, it comes from slavery.
So I can really see why particularly a marginalized people could get involved in these, these sort of cultic wellness groups. Because they might be seeing something that, this could be, this could be an alternative to the racism I experience in the system, the care I cannot get in the mainstream system. And what's so retraumatizing about that is then, I think you've talked about this, a lot of them end up culturally appropriating.
Candice Schutter : Yeah.
Priscilla Eyles: Indigenous cultures and marginalized cultures and passing it off as their own.
And so if you don't even know that coming into it, you could be thinking, well, white people are the source of all this sort of spiritual healing [01:17:00] almost, you know?
Candice Schutter : Yeah.
Priscilla Eyles: And so I think that is a very, um, important point to think about. And so people understand why cultural appropriation can be so harmful as well.
It feels like it's almost appealing to someone who's marginalized. But then, you know, we're just gonna like, take on the attributes that we like and then, you know, reject the things we don't and then pass it off as our own, basically.
Candice Schutter : Yeah. Once again, that, that macro, micro.
I really just, I wanna celebrate what you're bringing into this conversation and just how absolutely essential and necessary it is and what a wonderful discovery to have met you.
This is again, a conversation I've been wanting to have and, and not fully having language around and like just the fact that you're doing this consulting work for folks who are, are trying to bring these conversations forefront, to me, is just so, so very needed. And it sounds like you kind of stumbled into it and it's taking
Priscilla Eyles: Yeah.
Candice Schutter : On a of [01:18:00] its own.
Priscilla Eyles: Yeah, no, totally.
It just sort of organically happened. It was never my intention. Um, I dunno if I could have created that intention. I just imagine me being in primary school. Yeah. I wanna be an intersectional cult activist. Like, um, okay, Priscilla.
Candice Schutter : Yeah. Yeah. That's not it came to be.
Priscilla Eyles: Yeah, no, but it's just, I find it so fascinating and, and so interesting and the conversations that are happening, you know, I know you talk about Conspirituality as well, that podcast and Matthew Remski and all the connections they're making between wellness and AltRight Theory and Covid anti-vax.
I mean, I just find that stuff fascinating.
Candice Schutter : Same.
Priscilla Eyles: I just, it's so interesting. Endlessly interesting really.
Candice Schutter : Mm-hmm.
Priscilla Eyles: I could talk about this for hours.
Candice Schutter : Yeah. Me, if you ever wanna chat off the record, ring me up because I'm
Priscilla Eyles: Yeah.
Candice Schutter : all about it.
Priscilla Eyles: Yeah. No, and I'm happy to be a resource. And I think, um, some people, you know, might say, oh, like I don't, I don't wanna [01:19:00] bother you this or anything like that. But, you know, it's like, it's work that I'm really happy to do. And I think as long as, the point is just not being extractive, right?
It's like being mutually supportive. And that's, that's good, that's the good work to do. You know? And,
Candice Schutter : Mm-hmm.
Priscilla Eyles: And people will know when it's extractive, I think.
But when you meet someone who's that, you know, at that same sort of wavelength and you, you are working towards the same goals, then it doesn't feel like work as much. You know? It just feels like something that you wanna do anyway, you know?
And oh, great, you could get paid for it, you know? Um, and Great. Yeah. Yeah. I will ask for the money. Money I'm valued for.
Candice Schutter : Absolutely. Absolutely.
So speaking of that, how can people find you, stay connected to you?
Priscilla Eyles: So I'm on LinkedIn, uh, under my name, Priscilla Eyles. And I'm on Twi, I'm on Twitter quite a lot. I'm on Instagram.
But yeah, I guess Twitter and LinkedIn would probably be the main way to get in touch with me if people wanna [01:20:00] me for consulting or work or anything like that, you know, I'm available for presentations and talks.
Candice Schutter : Absolutely.
Priscilla Eyles: And consulting. Yeah.
Candice Schutter : Absolutely. Yeah.
Well, thank you so much for offering your time. It's a real honor to interview you. And I love your perspective and appreciate what you're doing out there. Keep at it. It's really important work.
Priscilla Eyles: Thank you.
Candice Schutter : If you want to learn more about Priscilla and their groundbreaking work, please visit the show notes for links.
I'd like to thank Priscilla once again for showing up with us here today and all of you for tuning in till the end.
Thanks for listening to today's episode, and I'll be back straight away next week with another 'cult'ure series convo.
I'll see you then. [01:21:00]
© The Deeper Pulse, Candice Schutter