Research Project Investigating Manipulation and Abuse in Buddhism

Miriam Anders is conducting a research project investigating manipulation and abuse in Buddhism with a focus on mental health and mental healthcare, funded by German Ministry of Education and Research. It’s great that this is happening, and I encourage anyone who has been abused in a Buddhist context to participate. The results will be used for education for prevention and providing information for treatment to medical doctors and psychotherapists. More details below.

Here’s the project website:

Miriam is using psychological questionnaires to investigate the impact of what people experienced. She sends these through E-Mail Links (and respective TANs) and they can be filled in using a pseudonym. The questionnaire is designed for people to describe their experiences and thoughts. It is especially useful for those who want to communicate their experience while staying protected through using a pseudonym.
She also conducts interviews with those who want to talk and offers them biofeedback. She can travel sometimes.

A few results from Germany can be seen here (in German language): 1.3.

Miriam has studied in a monastic context in Nepal for eight years and conducted interviews with doctors of Tibetan medicine thereafter, finished Buddhist Studies at Kathmandu University and Mag.phil. in Tibetology and Buddhist Studies at Vienna University. She’s analysing words, phrases and concepts used for manipulation and indoctrination and comparing this to what she’s learned in original language contexts, e.g. the concept of “karma-purification” used for manipulating people.

Based on her doctorates in psychology and psychotherapy science, the longterm goal is to understand the effects on people and to build therapeutic aid. She’s started this by informing medical doctors and psychotherapists on what happened to people.

She started the project last August (2018) and the time frame of this project is till July 2021 (3 years).

Another aspect of the project is preservation of knowledge of Tibetan medicine – She’s asking doctors of Tibetan medicine about diagnosis and treatment of mental health issues.

The results should go into teaching of university students (education for prevention), information to medical doctors and psychotherapists (information for treatment), open access publications and sometimes also to the research website. The original design was to compile books towards the end, but it seems the recent developments are much better covered with a more immediate response. Under the rubrique “law” at the project website one can see current investigations and links to current open letters and in this way people may (a bit indirectly) learn how to proceed if something is going wrong and which procedure worked.

I think this is an important study and I’m going to keep in communication with Miriram so we might have some updates over the next few years. I reckon my book, Fallout, will be useful for her research as well since it’s all about the effects of the abuse and group process in healing.

Will you participate?

If you’d like a more private place to chat about your ongoing spiritual path after you’ve left an abusive community, you can join the Beyond the Temple Facebook group. This group is for people who don’t want to talk about abuse, but want to keep in touch and share their discoveries, inspiration and challenges as they move on with their lives.

If you want to talk about abuse, then Rigpa or ex-Rigpa students can join the secret What Now? groupApply via the contact form here, telling us about yourself and why you want to join the group. 

Students from other Vajrayana communities who need somewhere where they can talk about abuse and find survivor support can join the Survivors of Vajrayana Abuse and their Allies group.  

Note that you will not be added to these groups if you don’t answer the questions.

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