Byron Katie’s Domination Technique: a Case Study
Enough people have asked me my thoughts about Byron Katie and “The Work” that I’ll give a few here in relation to the following video.
In it, Katie “helps” a woman understand that her fears of the Trump administration are unwise, with an undercurrent of “deluded”. Katie does this using several techniques of charismatic dominance. This is ironic, to say the least.
A few caveats:
1) No, I’ve never attended a $5000 intensive with Katie. No, I’ve not made an exhaustive study of her books or video catalogue. But these thresholds are not necessary for pointing out mechanisms of domination at play in her popularity. In fact, the retreat price tag and endless repetitive content are features of that domination. The sunk-cost fallacy means that the higher the buy-in in terms of money and attention, the less likely one is to see a thing independently of one’s investment. (This is true for any costly spirituality or personal development experience, btw.)
2) Not knowing everything about Katie means that I can’t say that this video is completely representative of what she does. But this doesn’t mean she isn’t responsible for what happens in it.
3) Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) – of which Katie’s material is totally derivative – is a well-established therapeutic mode. However, evidence that the effectiveness of CBT has been declining has bolstered the growing opinion in clinical psychology that no particular intervention is better than any other, and that the most important predictor of therapeutic success is the quality of the therapeutic relationship. Katie, by contrast, markets her product — “The Work” — as a magic bullet. This helps to conceal the important dynamic of her relational technique. She can always say that it’s about “The Work”, as a way of covering over the fact that the technique’s theatre depends on her domination.
4) I have no idea how Katie treats people in private, what her intentions are, or what her internal landscape is like. These items are irrelevant to the presentation, on YouTube, of her brand and product. My comments here are not about her personhood or personality, but about what she does in this video.
5) This critique can’t discount the fact that many people feel Katie’s technique is helpful. Why it’s helpful and whether the help is sustainable, or whether it retrenches disempowerment – these are separate questions.
Now, two main points about the video:
- Katie subtly bullies the woman into restating her fear in such a way that she can be made to look and feel ridiculous, on a stage, in front of her peers, in deference to authority.
- The cognitive technique is an effective mask for the theatre of a somatic domination that can feel like love.
#1: The dialogue of the technique has to begin with a reframing of the participant’s fear.
Here’s the transcript:
Subject: I am frightened of Donald Trump, because he could start concentration camps, because he could —
Katie: You’re not afraid of him because he could — when you’re writing these worksheets, that doesn’t, it’s not could — “I’m afraid he WILL.”
Subject: [Gets quieter, more deferent] “Yeah, I’m afraid he will…”
It seems innocuous, but Katie’s rephrasing/reframing is crucial. It allows her to override the voice of the subject, to whom she feeds the proper line. The subject speaks Katie’s words, not her own. Without this opening gambit, which co-opts the subject’s emotion to Katie’s interpretive power, the encounter is over.
Any notion that this is therapeutic is completely backward. The encounter begins with a fundamental act of disempowerment that establishes Katie as the expert of the subject’s thoughts and problems, as someone who can say: your assertions about the future are irrational – even though the subject isn’t asserting anything about the future. The subject’s stated fear hinges on uncertainty. Ironically, the technique presents uncertainty as a doorway to divine inevitability. And that’s where the technique moves out of CBT territory and becomes reliant on faith in Katie, which is generated in part by the somatics.
#2: Somatic theatre.
Because Katie is not doing any trained CBT here (which presents itself as a technique, not a pathway to mystical truth brokered by an awakened being), the impact of the scene as a scene must be considered.
Note the benevolent aggression of Katie’s body language. She leans forward, makes intrusive eye contact, smiles in an alpha way that demands a defensive smile – easily confused with relaxation – in response.
Consider the performance pressure on the subject, on a dais in a room filled with a hundred people or more, with whom she must socialize on breaks, to whom she might be looking for relief from social isolation, who might constitute for her the idealized friend group for which she’s longed for years. Imagine the stakes involved in her talking back, refusing the advice, reasserting her original thought, wresting back her agency from Katie.
Note signs of Katie’s somatic control: talking to the subject but really to the crowd, nodding as though she’s heard it all before and nothing could possibly surprise her (grandiosity), the implicit agreement that she can interrupt anyone at any time (because she’s not there to listen but to tell). Even the magical appearance of the subject’s words on the iPad in front of her (keyed in by an invisible assistant?) gives the impression of wizardry in maternal garb.
The basic psychopolitics of the scene are conservative:
- Someone is in charge,
- you are wrong to worry,
- everything is as it should be (and as it was when you were a child), and,
- if you agree you will be socially rewarded.
The overt messaging here is that you are happiest when you surrender to rather than resist conditions. Aggression and violation are not as real as your fear of them.
The gendered aspect of this conservatism (and its regressive reliance on patriarchy) is clearly on display than in this classic post from 2012:
Back in the video, Katie encourages the room to come to similar “give him a chance” conclusions about Trump.
The racist aspect of this conservatism is visible 30 minutes in, where Katie shuts down a WOC who raises the point that 53% of white women voted for Trump, and implies that Katie’s technique is helping them feel better about it.
Katie interrupts her to assert that the expectations of WOC for justice are actually the problem. She conflates the woman’s statistic with “belief”, and even throws in a “sweetheart”. The woman smiles, apparently disarmed.
A concrete reality of oppression is absorbed and neutralized by the technique.
Are sexism and racism values of CBT? No: they’re values of patriarchal control.
If you are in Yogaland, or any field of embodied service work, and you’ve missed all this somatic theatre of dominance stuff, please take a closer look. Think about what it means to people’s bodies to “relax” into the power of someone who doesn’t listen, and who shows in their own bodies and words that their ideas and self-presentation are more important than the experience of anyone else.
Note: I’ve covered similar themes in this analysis of the Tony Robbins documercial “I Am Not Your Guru”.
Sorry, I’m balancing my infant, toddler and two dogs at the moment so I haven’t completely read your post here. I want to chime in though, for what it’s worth, ‘The Work’ worked for me! I accessed it through a conversation with my Auntie over the phone, wrote down the four questions with a pencil and away I went.
I did all this without really learning a thing about Byron Katie; I was simply in need and motivated to get some healing underway. The immediate effectiveness of ‘The Work’ blew me away and some… three journals later, I was recommending the four questions to friends whenever it seemed appropriate. I’ve since learned that my tool for healing isn’t necessarily anyone else’s. How did it work for me? Whatever the ingredients of my particular upbringing and experiences were, they left me ripe for this type of CBT. I won’t bore you with the details but this is my general assessment of ‘what happens’ for me: 1) I write down a belief (this has seriously got to be written down… not even typed but written) 2) I identify if it’s absolutely true (kind of taking the wind out of the sails of the belief) 3) I call out all of the feeling associated with it (I even get into somatic feelings in my body) 4) I flip it for some perspective 5) I guess I kind of micro-meditate on my state without the belief and then Wham-o! I got some new perspective and 100% of the time I’m inching toward healing and integration vs. isolation and contraction.
It’s possible I’m a total crack-pot but I’m not acutely aware of that quality as of yet. Just a human doing my best.
No way in hell would I ever drop $5K to attend anything like this. Mostly because I don’t have $5K to drop. I’m sure there is something that feels incredible in any scene like this; surrounded by like-minded folks looking for ‘the’ answer. I’m not knocking it – to each their own but this ‘work’ of loving what is – is in me, and of me (ya know… like the greater me) and I don’t believe I need hand-holding to find it. But I do dig her audiobooks 🙂
This shit is complicated, healing that is.
Here’s a question for you, since you come across as an intelligent, down to earth person.
Can you resonate with, and benefit from, The Work – and also have an opinion about BK and the environment around her?
You weighed in on the 5k scene – but seemed conflicted.
I’m just curious what you think about the rest of the article.
If there were aspects which concerned, bothered, angered you?
Because not in your case – but one thing that happens in these kinds of communities, is that seekers focus on the good, because it serves them, and ignore the bad.
And because of it, we have seen every kind of train wreck imaginable over the decades.
I think you hit the nail on the head, many troublesome things about her approach.
You are certainly deserving of your opinion but because you admitted early on in your article that you did not really delve into the work of Byron Katie, reviewing only one seminar and focusing heavily on $5000 while you can download her Judge Your Neighbor Worksheet and watch countless seminars on YouTube for free, finishing your article was not worth my time. I don’t feel you could even make a single educated evaluation. I don’t feel you grasp her concept at all from your beginning comments but you don’t need to. There are many teachers and we learn from the ones we resonate with. My opinion.
well considered and written Matthew
sure there are many paths, yet it sure is difficult to watch a person be shamed, and told they are wrong to be afraid
it seems a ‘great’ path for fixing
if it leads to ignoring suffering nothing good will come from this
Byron Katies work is contrary to fixing, it is about sitting with what is, instead of fighting against the things we can’t change.
In this example, “sitting with what is” means deferring to the master, who, presumably, you can’t change.
Yep, the master within you. The inquiry is for each person to sit with their own inquiry their own projections and whats left when identification of our outer story is dropped. Often we use much energy fighting with ourself around what should have happened, or how others should behave …. it plays into the false notion that our happiness is derrived from something outside of us.
You’re really on the wrong thread. This post is about how BK uses her ideology to bully, and you’re just mimicking that.
Oh interesting perspective, I was simply stating my experience.
And also missing the point.
Thanks for sharing your opinion.
Yes Matthew. Look at how you are bullying now, socially too. Oops so did I! Glad I did The Work on myself to see it and find commonality with you, even if we disagree.
sorry, but I don’t see it. What’s interesting to me is – as Heather already pointed out – the work does not require working with Byron Katie, but each individual can do her/his own work. The directive style she uses is common with therapists from CBT/REBT. You can like it or dislike it, but to me it’s one approach to the therapeutic relationship and I know I would prefer this style any time over a, for example, more Rogerian approach. However, I do believe both have their own value.
Just to clarify my understanding of the conversation at the end (because I do find it interesting how we can hear different things). When the girl at the end talks about her experience, it’s not about race, but about the girl’s personal expectation and disappointment. I think Mrs. Byron does not conflate the statistics with belief instead she even affirms the statistics as facts („These women succeeded in the election.“). However, she highlights that just because we expect someone to behave a certain way (i.e. “white women/feminists must vote for Hillary”) they may not. She says: “People are not who we believe them to be just because we believe it.” I don’t see how this is a statement specifically about expectations of WOC for justice? It’s true for all of us.
In regards to the session: it’s a group presentation setting and the subject does not strike me as having been forced into this situation. I find she actually seems confident, relaxed and ready to challenge her own thinking. Group presentations are not uncommon in therapy trainings and group sessions. As long as the context and rules have been made clear for everyone, I don’t see anything wrong with this format.
Finally – you seem to be employing the very patterns, that you disapprove of… “If (…) you’ve missed all this somatic theatre of dominance stuff, please take a closer look.” This sounds pretty patriachial and dominating to me. Essentially you are discrediting any disagreement in advance. I did take a close look and I can see your point. However, it feels to me as if the interpretation of the conversation depends on whether one feels threatened by this style of interviewing or not.
I am not sure how I feel about Byron Katie and “the Work” – would have to put more research and thought into it, but this video resonated with me fairly positively.
Well, all that said – thanks for sharing your thoughts and appologies for challening them like this. My intention is merely to offer another perspective.
Thanks for commenting, Clemens. I don’t mind the challenge at all, but have to say it seems to miss my two core points: 1) Katie changed the woman’s initial statement to fit her model, and 2) engaged a theatre of dominance.
To be clear: I’m not writing about the method. I’m writing about the interpersonal exchange in the video.
That you compare what Katie does to therapy, whether privately or in group format, is highly problematic. Her own literature is explicit that she is not offering therapy. So what is she doing, exactly? What is the scope of practice, and to whom is she responsible?
You’re completely missing the racism of the last interaction. The woman (not a “girl”) explicitly refers to the cohort of white women Trump voters in relation to the whiteness of the gathering. Katie interrupts her and obscures the issue.
Finally, conflating a written critical analysis of a video with what Katie is doing — providing unlicensed therapy that she says isn’t therapy to people from whom she is charging big money — is off. You’ve just compared the readers of this article to the subject of the video. It’s inaccurate, but a good way of closing out a comment that misses key points. The truth is that teaching in the yoga world runs on unacknowledged somatic dominance. I spotlight Katie and Robbins because they make it so easy to see. Thanks again for commenting.
Yes. Finally somebody putting into words my discomfort with Byron Katie. Bravo, well-seen, well-articulated, useful, useful, useful.
M, You mentioned you do not mind being challenged. I challenge you to have an open mind, let go of the name Byron Katie, and attempt to do the worksheet. I did it when your words rubbed me the wrong way. The results were hilarious. I have not attended her seminars or done “her work”. I googled her name because I heard her referenced on another podcast. The results of #3 on the “judge your neighbor” worksheet were….M shouldn’t judge people and put it on the computer. and the “turn around” ” I shouldn’t judge people and put it on the computer.” OOPs. I couldn’t resist. It was a bit humorous. OK, just try doing the worksheet. Thank you for your differing opinion. We all have one right. With much love and sincerity,
Thank-you for this! I signed up for a free somatic summit online and someone mentioned loving BK. I had no idea who she was and looked her up afterwards. I clicked around her beautiful website but felt it was lacking content it felt off. I went to her “about” section and was flabbergasted that she has NO educational training. NOTHING. She’s sitting there giving people mis guided direction, in my gut it felt so wrong. I am thankful for people that calls this out. Thanks so much.
While I’ve attended Byron Katie seminars, I also realize that the basis for her ‘work’ is based on common shifting perspectives therapy styles. The distinction (whether dominant or not) is that her ‘work’ helps someone see a new perspective quickly and takes the edge of uncertainty and fear away.
Personally, I have tweaked her questions quite a bit, but the basis is realistic. If we have a ‘belief’ it CAN’T be THE truth! Period. It’s something that we believe to be true but not everyone on the planet believes it, it isn’t ‘the’ truth. That said, if the ‘belief’ keeps someone fearful or unhappy, then helping a person gain a new perspective is valuable.
It seems that the objection is more to her style and methodology than it is to the outcome/results she achieves. BTW, in person I have found her to be rude and egotistical. Yet, after tweaking her questions, and never using them as a formula per se, there is a definite positive result.
Thanks for commenting. Leaving aside the problem of whether cognitive fixes to emotional states are effective, how do we know anything about the results she achieves? Is there data? Thanks again.
if I understand correctly, you see Byron Katie’s ‘the work’ as a CBT method, which it is not. You really can’t know ‘the work’ without questioning your own thoughts by filling ‘judge your neighbour worksheet’ and meditating on the four simple questions (it’s all free without charge). The thoughts and questions work only, if you write down your straight belief, without leaving any doors open for the mind to play or escape. That is why Byron Katie guides the people with their statements and answers. ‘The work’ stops working, if you let your mind to speculate and if you go through the questions with superficial mind without getting still and letting the answers arise from your heart. First you meditate on the thoughts as objects. You feel your emotions in the body. By answering the questions you end up as awareness, in the is-ness of reality. It is deep work, sometimes you sit days with one worksheet.
I respect your concern and I can see your empathy. It would be hilarious though to hear your comments after putting all your judgements of Byron Katie on ‘the judge your neighbour worksheet’ and working it through with turnarounds. What a gift it would be for you and for us!
Thanks for posting this. I have done The Work and found it very helpful. However, I signed up for a Spirit Rock workshop on The Work led by Byron Katie and was truly taken aback by the degree of egotism she exhibited. I often found her condescending to people who raised questions, and she seemed more focused on maintaining a sense of spiritual superiority than on actually helping the people asking the questions. Where direct, caring responses could have facilitated actual learning, she repeatedly responded in ways that subtly belittled the question being asked (and the questioner) and conveyed the message that although they could not currently even ask their question correctly, with time they might attain some of her wisdom and then be susceptible to being helped. I found the degree and frequency of her egotism and passive-aggressive condescension shocking. I think The Work itself can be a very useful tool for identifying and loosening unhelpful unconscious beliefs, but I also believe it is fairly straightforward. In the end, I was left feeling that Katie was intent on generating an aura of her own spiritual wisdom and that on some unconscious level she knew that providing straight-forward teaching would undercut that (physician heal thyself). Again, I found the degree of egotism she exhibited appalling.
The comments you made about Byron Katie being conceited etc are hilarious thank you. I read it, judged you for it and then made the same judgment and am doing a worksheet on it. It is all so funny. It fills me with Joy to realise how it is impossible for that to be true. I invite you to do a Judge your neighbor Worksheet on those judgements and join me in rapturous laughter in returning to truth and sanity. Much love
Claire, your comment made me smile as I was thinking the same thing! I discovered The Work in the mid-90s when Katie was traveling to small venues/churches and sharing The Work for a donation. Initially, I found her/The Work to be upsetting, even mean, but then I saw how calm people were afterwards, and I could feel a real shift had taken place. For me, Katie’s work is like medicine on a wound. It may sting at first, but eventually you see that it actually makes you feel better, calmer, more peaceful. To me it’s like opening all the windows and doors and breathing fresh air. I have so much gratitude to Katie. And, FYI, everything you need to do The Work is available on her website for free. I’ve never attended an expensive retreat either. 😉 Be well, Matthew.
Rather than simply weigh in directly, honestly, on specific things addressed in the article – like “I agree with x, y isn’t sitting well with me, I find z is not accurate because…
You instead choose to focus on your reaction to the article, and doing the work on the reaction.
Do you see how you avoided the content of the article, and whatever feelings, opinions, reactions you may have to them?
And this underlines for me something which I see with people who are really invested (not financially per say) in BK and/or The Work.
An otherwise potentially helpful tool in the toolbox, somehow becomes adopted as a front – a way of speaking, thinking, being part of something, and so on.
And in particular, I notice it is used – knowingly and not – to avoid, spin, deflect, skew things – even though the idea is to be more willing to look at things in a direct, clear, way.
I also notice, that fascilitators and long-time users can be caught in this broken record trap where they are talking about the same hangups, events, trauma, hurts etc – in the same ways – with the same TW application – and don’t seem to be going anywhere with it.
There is a way that they actually shield themselves from challenges from others (and themselves) – about their story, their pov, what changes may be helpful, etc.
It’s as if they want the appearance of being on the ball – but don’t you dare push me or challenge me.
I would love to see all of the facilitators and hardcore TW people have a retreat where they presented a list of where they think they are at – what their issues are – what their understanding is – how they are dealing with things – day to day – etc, And have an outsider therapist offer their take on it. Without any BK/TW filter or workarounds. And just see how flexible and awake they are.
All communities like this fall into a phenomenon of herd mentality (group speak, think, belief, behavior, etc)
As well as magical thinking, fantasy, etc.
Not to mention teacher/leader worship – in all of it’s varieties.
ANOTHER good critique. Thank you.
The hilarious part of this and the endless hilarity of life is that if you did “the work” on all of your judgements of Katie and this video, everything would melt away. And all you’d be left with is the moment…happiness, peace, love!
Claire, Thank you for sharing. I felt annoyance and a bit of anger reading the judgements and because I do not practice “the work” just felt unsettled. Per your sharing I printed out the worksheet and did it on “M”. It was hilarious! I agree,, I think it would benefit many if “M” did the worksheet for real and shared. But here is the funniest part which I did not abide by….#3 I wrote…” M should not judge people and put it on the computer. Oops. The turnaround “ I should not judge people and put it on the computer”. Oops sorry M , my bad. People are allowed to have different opinions and it shouldn’t upset me ha ha Ha. Working on it and getting better. Thanks for sharing, Jen
Another great critique. Thank you.
Thanks for this article.
You make a reference to “somatic domination” here and it sounds an interesting term, but I can’t find any reference to it anywhere else. Could you elaborate on what you mean by this?
I have spent a lot of time doing ‘the work’. It has been incredible! I could not possibly put into words how much it has assisted my liberation from different issues I was suffering. It is incredibly transformative if understood and applied to yourself as is taught by Byron Katie. It cannot be understood unless experienced. I want to thank you for your article as it gave me another opportunity to complete a worksheet when I felt resistance to your words which was very illuminating. In my eyes Byron Katie is a wonderful human being, compassionate, clear and understanding. When cutting through the illusions your mind can present it is helpful to have the assistance of someone clear and direct… sometimes polite according to some social expectations just doesn’t wake you up in the moment when you are fearful and believing a very convincing mental construct. Compassion and kindness can take on many expressions, if you take the time to look deeply you can see it in the moment and understand what is going on in the video. Unless you have done the work it is likely very difficult to understand what is actually occurring. It is helpful to understand that you are witnessing other people’s business (as Byron Katie puts it) and stay in your own business while witnessing by focusing on “ what is my response, judgment, fear in this moment “ ? As Katie says “whatever I think you are, as soon as I believe it I am that”. I have found this to be so true after doing the work on countless judgements I have made in the past. We are all human, common humanity is an important key in cultivating compassion. Can we witness each other with understanding and honour each of our rights to live and experience freely? If we can do it inside with ourselves we can then do it when facing the world… which is also facing ourselves because that is all we are truly every doing. I wished to share this with whom ever happens to read the above article so you can consider that perhaps Byron Katie is actually a caring human being compassionately helping people and that ‘the work’ is an incredible tool that could ease your suffering or even lead you into the depths of yourself and awaken you. It has done this for me over and over every time I have used it. I am grateful to Byron Katie more than words could express.
Thank you Claire for your comment! I’m happy you shared your experience, which would help anyone who happens to read the above article to be open to ‘the work’ and try it out. I have also found it amazing. ‘The work’ is free and you can do it by yourself. Answering the questions awaken you beyond the personal psychological entity. Cognitive behavioral therapy is far cry of finding who you truly are. That is awareness where ‘the work’ leaves you. Over and over again, when you just put your stressful thought in the paper and answer the questions. I’m willing to do that for the rest of my life.
Thank you for this excellent and very well articulated piece. I have more than one friend who believe that they have been helped by Byron Katie and “The Work.” I also can see through the techniques that Byron Katie uses and fully see how dangerous she is, and especially to people who are deeply hurting and vulnerable. Tragically, this “Work” is incredibly disempowering and shaming, pulling people further away from their their own healing process and inherent truth, discernment, compassion, tenderness, empathy, and wisdom. I am deeply disturbed by the lack of compassion demonstrated repeatedly by Byron Katie. You nailed the many concerns and I am very grateful. And especially as someone who 20 years ago was very vulnerable and pulled in by a very charismatic therapist who ended up doing me great harm. Many lessons hard learned. I hope more and more will awaken to the truths you present here. Thank you again.
I couldn’t agree more 🙂 Wise words.
Incredible how you fall into your own mind traps!
You’re exactly doing what you pretend her to do…
So do all of the other aggressive, judging comments. If I would have doubts about her integrity they would rather shift to the comments, especially those who go like “very interesting but very dangerous ”
Just try a worksheet, rarely saw anything cheaper and more effective than those!
I watched this video online awhile ago when a friend was raving about Byron Katie. It’s almost unbearable for me to watch again. (The laughter of the audience is unsettling). Matthew’s evaluation is insightful and focused on this particular interaction – so why all of the defensive comments about The Work? My favourite response in these comments, by Matthew Remski, is “So what is she doing, exactly? What is the scope of practice, and to whom is she responsible?” This is THE question that everyone should be asking when they purchase a book, watch a video, choose a therapist, attend a yoga class, go on a meditation retreat, etc. My lingering question is about these worksheets everyone is talking about. What sort of skillfulness is developed in The Work if every time something butts up against your ego, story of self or belief system you have to pull out a worksheet in order to noodle out of your reactivity? It smacks of distraction and maybe even dissociation. Oh, and if any authoritative facilitator uses the term “sweetie”, “sweetheart”, “my darling”, “my friend”, “dear” or “dear one” to you to end their argument, that’s your cue to run.
This video is horrifying. Thanks for the work you do–I had no idea.
I find the polarity of readers interesting and relevant. Not that I try to have a middle way but as I have been using “the work” for self inquiry with satisfying results, I understand Katy Byron’s dialogue from a different perspective. And yet I agree with your point of view as Katy, like most of guru entrepreneur don’t invite people to first use/understand their emotions/opinions. We can’t spend our life taming our emotions or thoughts, trying to find a spiritual path, middle way or enlightenment or at least not placing ourselves under someone’s control (here mise en scène). But as long as people think they need a book that says don’t harm your brother or compassion/love is the secret to life, religions and guru will thrive. Thank you for your insight Matthew.
Matthew – a few things in response to your post. To your first assertion, did you ask the woman if she felt bullied, if she felt shamed or ridiculous as a result of the process? And did you consider that reframing the comment may simply be a time-constrained way of helping her to get to the core of her belief, so as to more effectively go through the work? Have you considered that in the context of that process, there isn’t the expectation of a more drawn out, therapeutic, intimate exchange as is done with one one one sessions with certified fascilitators? Have you considered the feeling of love, stillness, clarity, support that so many experience with Byron, that could be supporting these processes? That she does not pretend to be a CBT therapist in that context, but an experienced fascilitator offering support to people who are in attendance specifically because of that? That she is actually not like most spiritual teachers, from various traditions, with all of the spiritual garb, but rather quite down to earth and avoiding claims of attainment? That what you frame as somatic domination may simply be the way she enthusiastically fascilitates these volunteered processes, which is also for the benefit of all in attendance? That she is human, and has quirks and personality, and that she can still be an effective teacher and fascilitator on the whole? That over many years of giving herself to the work, that you will be able to find videos, and even moments of videos, where she might not handle things as skillfully as she could? That most people who benefit from the work have never even met her, and feel no need to, bc she has made the work clear for them to do, or they have found it clear to do themselves. I think you are too quick to jump to these assertions. And rather than give yourself an out bc you can’t take the time to get familiar with her, the many videos, the work itself, why not choose to do all of that before you weigh in? It was your choice to single out parts of an obviously politically tinged video, and not do your homework. Makes me question your motivation and sincerity.
Thank you so much for this articulate analysis. I have tried to put into words what bugs me so much about BK–and this particular video contains all of the worst aspects of her schtick. The goofy comments above from her fans only underscore how cultish The Work seems to me.
Like a few others I have tried to put my reticence into words with BK. In the most simple of terms I felt demeaned and bullied. I, however, was open to learn and chastised myself to remain open. The idea that all was good and exactly as it should be became too much to bear. Hello no! I won’t travel down another path that tells me my experience at the hands of aggressors is okay. NO. I won’t be made a victim. Or be made to be at fault. That is not true. The work should be done on The Work.
The Work could not be done on an audience of traumatized children….without doing further harm to them. It’s so manipulative and twisted, …..some times if the problem/situation is not so bad, it seems to work. However, DOES IT LAST? And using it on children that are being traumatized right now, ….pushing them, refusing to hear what they say, refusing to listen to their own words….that could be further traumatizing for them. Her Work is cold, flat and calculating. Yes, it might help some people, but it is definitely not for everyone. BK says she sees herself as not real….then don’t charge people $$$ to hear this nonsense. There are too many good Spiritual teachings out there, that are healing, and do not blame everything on the person doing The Work. Children are not to blame if an adult sexually abuses them, and they have no way out. Byron Katie needs to do The Work on The Work. I can see why she said her children find faults in her….cold, uncaring. Her lifestyle, of traveling and selling books, and speaking…..doesn’t mean she has all the answers. I have followed her twice, did the work…..until I see her Quote “No one can ever do anything to hurt us….we did it to ourself”…..now tell that to a child. BK has no formal education ….a roach ran over her foot, and why she thinks that’s impressive is beyond me. Every person on the planet needs healing, or they would no longer be here in their bodies….including BK….lol
Very insightful. The coldness and blame are what got me wondering about her approach—and then i wondered why I hadn’t seen it before. It’s because her method urges you not to trust anything you think. But we are asked to trust her and her approach without question. And you are very right, I would never speak that way to a child who has experienced trauma. It’s rather obvious to me now. Thanks for posting!
For years I have been trying to figure out BK as applied to childhood sexual abuse.
And I have been unable to see the Turnaround applied to an adult survivor of childhood sexual abuse in any meaningful sort of way. If anything, it seems to trigger trauma, rather than resolve it.
But I am open to understanding otherwise, if anyone can explain how the turnaround works when addressing childhood sexual abuse.
I was stuck in a cult from age 11 to 28. Brainwashed. Abused. The only thing I could do to make sense of a child abuser as a turnaround is He abused me. I abused me. Only because I thought there was something wrong with me. And the fact I took that notion with me beyond the cult and thru life is the actual self abuse. The way I see it is people who do terrible things to others aren’t on any karmic path. So you will NEVER get your answers and healing from that person no matter if you go to the grave raging at them or mourning til you die. So turning it around and saying I’m the one that now torments myself since every day after the actual even occurred. It’s not taking the fault of another’s actions…it’s taking your power back and realizing it’s in your hands to no longer feel hopeless and trespassed and beaten down with horrible memories. Because as many times as another can say it’s not your fault it still feels like the universe made a terrible mistake and allowed this to happen. I will never take the blame for an adult that abused me in the innocent years of childhood but I will take the responsibility to be easy on myself and do what it takes to heal including blaming until it’s out of my system
Meghan: I don’t follow BK The work. I have explored other modes of healing that have been helpful. My turnaround take away from childhood abuse is the following. It affected my mental, emotional, physical and spiritual aspects of being. I need to heal, I can work on facing repressed feelings, learn to relax my body and mind, and reinterpret what happened to heal a stunted and negative ego by revisiting what happened. With the eyes of a loving a mother, I see the innocence of the child, and how my negative self image was rooted in the false belief of unworthiness and a feeling of being flawed. I replace that with the truth that I am so valuable and that value does not change in changing circumstances. When that is deeply felt, it is easier to let go of self proving. This is not an end, it is a beginning, as Thomas Campbell author of My Big Toe says, unending effort is required in the path toward freedom. There is no arrival point. I don’t believe it is a good thing to ‘get rid’ of our ego. I think for me it is important not to over identify with it, so I remain flexible, sometimes the ego assessment is necessary and sometimes it is not. I respect my need for both emotional healing and spiritual insight, there is a dance between the two that is dynamic in nature I find. The most important thing though is to see through the lie we internalized as children that ‘we are not good enough unless….’ That is the most freeing thing of all in the context of my own experience.
Really appreciated the analytical thoughtfulness about the socially and psychologically complex phenomenon of guru-ism as displayed by Byron. The creepiness of her approach is that it is cloaked in superficial displays of kindness yet is highly coercive. I really hate seeing people get taken advantage of and I am particularly disturbed by how she handles people’s deeply painful experiences of trauma. I would hate to hear her take on children getting killed in war zones. It would disgust and anger me I’m sure.
It was a relief to hear such clarity about BK. When I first watched her videos, I felt uneasy. It took me several days of pondering what I’d seen to realize how vicious she was.
Hi Matthew, I came across your critique when I Googled “Critiques of Byron Katie”. Someone introduced me to “The Work” recently and I felt really uncomfortable with what I regarded as victim blaming. The I saw a video of her responding to someone’s real pain and I was very angry, but was having difficulty putting my reaction into words, except that she smothered them with a poisonous honey. Eva put it better and your analysis helped – thank you,
Thanks for the insights. I’ve watched quite a few of her videos and have also felt uncomfortable. She certainly does dominate, subtly bully and even subtly humiliate her subjects. She may in fact still be mentally ill or have a personality disorder (perhaps from trauma she can’t access). She seems to have empathy on a cognitive level….as in she accepts when it is an appropriate response, but she doesn’t appear to FEEL empathy. I think her approach invalidates victims of trauma and might cause them to disassociate even more than they already do. I watched another one with a young woman who was clearly traumatized by a mother who never acted loving towards her, and I could see her struggling between trusting her own voice and truth, and uttering the *correct* words that BK was relentlessly guiding her towards. It was very difficult to witness.
I completely agree with you Matthew. She’s an extremely aggressive, patronising & manipulative lady.
She cojoles and mimicks. She dismisses what is expressed and her tone is angry – she looks to the audience to join in the ridiculing. ‘Delicious’ etc – her tone & language change dramatically when the participant states what she wants to hear.
Highly aggressive woman. She’s make an excellent dictator!
I just want to thank Matthew for this helpful article and all the comments in support of it. Thank you all for putting my own feelings into words. You’ve bolstered my courage.
I’ve got to add my two cents because so often Katie gets associated with others like Eckhart Tolle, etc. But her “work” is very different than that of Tolle or the Buddhists in general but very few point it out. No one notices that Katie is basically saying that the recommendations of Tolle or Buddha regarding just watching thought do not work. She says that thoughts drop you after “understanding”, and that you cannot drop, or learn to step away from thought. She claims thoughts have to be met with understanding. But Tolle is saying that one must completely step away from thought. Richard Carlson’s teachings, from “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff” for instance, go 100% against that of Byron Katie. Carlson points out that more thought does not somehow cure existing thought. Carlson does indeed recommending letting go of thoughts with NO analysis whatsoever on the thoughts themselves. Tolle basically seems to be very parallel to Carlson. Yet all these “new agers” want Byron Katie sitting side by side with Tolle on stage so that they can have their warm and fuzzies. And that’s where I agree with the author here. It’s like getting cured by “group think” watching Byron Katie do her work on someone in front of an endearing audience. It’s like damn you if you actually tell Katie that, “…yes, I’m 100% sure my husband acted like an ass hole when he slept with another woman.” And then, finally, there is the question Byron Katie asks “….so who would you be if you could not think the thought?” Huh, this CAN’T possibly be answered! We don’t get to be the choosers of the thoughts generated by our mind. I can’t begin to wrap my head around the answer to this key question in Bryon Katie’s process. It’s not possible to even answer that question, but Katie would expect, in the example I sited above about the gal with the cheating husband to say, “….well, if I could not think angry thoughts about my husband, I guess I would be happy as a clam.” This is not intelligent therapy in my mind. But I’m so glad I added here for the population this note that the work of Byron Katie is not in fact parallel to the work of Eckhart Tolle. Their advice is completely different, as I allude to above. I can’t say how refreshing it was to read this article taking a critical stance on the work of Byron Katie.
I JUST came from a Byron Katie workshop at Esalen so I have something to say about my personal experience. I have listened to many many BK videos and read her book, “Loving What Is”. I thought that she was very inspirational and had wonderful insights about how the mind works from a spiritual perspective. I’m glad that I had the opportunity to see her in person for a whole weekend because I really got to see her in action, instead of just seeing snippets of her sessions online. Even though I went into this workshop really wanting to feel enlightened and uplifted, I came out with an “off” feeling from this experience. I easily could have been one of the people in this blog defending her but now, after seeing her for a day, I agree with a lot of what you said, Matthew, about Byron.
First of all, you have to realize that Byron was sitting on a stage above the audience. The room is filled with many people who are in a vulnerable state. They are either suffering from some trauma or troubled by some personal issue. Others are just there for some spiritual wisdom and enlightenment. But most, if not all of them, are looking to Byron for answers. I have never been in a setting like this but if you have ever heard of the term “Large Group Awareness Training” or “LGAT”, look it up online and you will get a sense for what this is. I never heard of the term until after going to the BK workshop.
Byron started out the workshop in the morning with her eyes closed, in a peaceful happy state as people settled in. They have soothing Enya-like music playing. Everyone starts out in a state of peaceful meditation. You feel good, relaxed and a part of a group. Then when she opened her eyes and began the workshop, she clearly exuded a presence about her that was very powerful and intriguing. She speaks like a wise old sage with calm kindness and you may be drawn in by the things that she says because it feels like “truth”.
Then she calls people up to do “The Work”. Ok so, BK has a formula for solving your problems, which is called “The Work”. If the problem the person is working on fits snugly into her method, it can look great on stage and also be a positive transformation for that person. I witnessed some people really being helped by “The Work”. One man was troubled by his 3 yr old child’s Autism diagnosis and Byron guided him to accept his son’s unconventional behavior and find a way to love him as he is. I also saw Byron help a woman feel more at peace about her mother’s surgery and death.
But I also witnessed some thinks that made me question Byron’s style and feel uncomfortable. For instance, one woman stood up in the audience and stated that she’s having trouble with “The Work” on her issue. Her problem was that her mother was not there for her at all when she had a miscarriage. The mother sent her flowers but never called or visited, even though she lives close by. She called her mom on the phone and her mom was very cold to her. This woman was clearly distraught. She was sobbing and looked very desperate for help. Byron did her turn-arounds. First of all, she pointed out that her mom sent her flowers, so that was her way showing that she cared. To me that’s a stretch but ok, whatever. But then, the woman said, “She really wanted a grandchild”. Byron said, “Aha! There you have it. She was suffering because you did not provide her a grandchild. I wonder what would happen if YOU called her up and said, ‘Mom, what was it like for you when I didn’t give you your grandchild? When I had my miscarriage. I bet it was hard for you.” Byron thanked the woman for sharing and sat her back down. I was stunned. This poor woman was distraught and vulnerable and Byron turned the shame around onto HER! This is what the turnarounds can sometimes do.
There was also another situation that rubbed me the wrong way. A man talked about his wife’s difficult struggles with cancer and her eventual death. It was heartbreaking. So, after he describes this horrifying story, and he’s in tears, she says to him with this deep, loud, unemotional voice, “So your wife is dead. Is that true?” He says, “yes”. She says it again, “Your wife is dead. Is it true?” He says “yes”. She says “How do you know?” And he says, “I know that she is in heaven.” And I couldn’t believe Byron’s reaction. She shouts out in a theatrically cynical way, “Oh really? Well, I would question that!” Then she gets into a lofty spiritual talk about her beliefs of what heaven is, and how it is the separation between mind and body. She basically then dismissed this man, in his most vulnerable state, with a harsh, insensitive gesture of self-importance.
You have to realize that people are emotionally exposed in these workshops and they are surrounded by a large group of followers. They are either afraid to challenge her because they know that she will challenge them right back (I witnessed that too) or their views will be unwelcomed by their peers. Or, they don’t even feel they are in the position to say that something isn’t right because they are either confused or brainwashed by the twisted logic that has been presented to them.
Byron grooms her audience with what appears to be ultimate love, compassion and kindness, and I do believe some of it is. But she also uses her angelic guru-like persona to manipulate people. I must say too that her philosophy on the mind, which I sometimes find to be intriguing, can turn into a form of logic twisting too. You are told over and over again that you are to question your thoughts, detatch from your beliefs and eventually, become completely fearless. This way of thinking brings you to a state of relaxed peacefulness. BUT, what you may not realize when you are there in the moment is that this mode of thinking makes it easier for the leader to manipulate their audience if they want to. You might even feel uneasy about something she said or did and then brush it off as just a “belief” that you need to question until the thought is either turned around or just let go.
This workshop was the closest thing I have ever experienced to cult-behavior. I went into the seminar saying to my husband that his is not a cult. I still don’t think it’s a “cult” but this experience led me to understand how a cult-mentality works. I could also find similarities between Byron Katie and evangelism. That, or a magic show.
If you have never been to one of her workshops and have only seen her videos or heard her podcast, keep in mind that what you are seeing or hearing is basically her “best of” collection. At the workshop, I saw situations where people’s problems did not fit into “The Work” and they really went nowhere. In those cases, she thanked the person, had them sit down and told them they still have more work to do. Others, like the woman who had a miscarriage, couldn’t find a turnaround that worked for her so she had the blame turn back on her, in order to to make the formula fit for her story. And many people walked out feeling more enlightened and happy and maybe even ready to buy her book in the gift shop or sign up for her advertised 9-day intensive in Ojai. But also I should note, that I have seen a lot of her videos, so after a while, a lot of her answers to people’s problems are repetitive, formulaic and therefore become predictable. Her words of wisdom are also repetitive.
Basically, I think “The Work” can help and has helped a lot of people. I found it to be helpful for some of my problems. But this experience made me aware that one should always be wary in an LGAT setting like this. I have no doubt that there is an undercurrent of manipulation there and if you go in as vulnerable, needy or too trusting, you could get yourself into some deeper emotional trouble or more confusion. And then, as a result, you may come back for more. She always says, if you have a problem, that’s another worksheet. For Byron, people’s problems=more books sold, more workshops to host, more podcasts to be featured on, etc. I don’t know what Byron’s real motives are in doing what she does. I just think it’s important for people to be fully aware of what they may be getting into when they are immersed in a setting like BK’s workshops.
Questioning everything is good –as many Greek sages have said: KNOW THYSELF, and as the philosopher Alexander Pope once wrote, “the proper study of Mankind is Man.” I like to question self appointed authorities and experts on any subject. I see Byron Katie borrow much from Buddhism (her husband/co-writer’s field of study).
Here are my comments and impressions–from reading about and listening to videos by BK these past few days:
–BK had an epiphany (or realization) after reaching a very low point in her life. The realization was that everything “just is” and she became very happy in that knowledge.
–She started questioning her thoughts and came up with the four questions. I believe self inquiry is a good thing–but I question ANY method used as a one size fits all “fix-it” formula.
— We think for a reason, and while it is good to examine our thoughts–to find out why we think them, I question abandoning all thought get rid of the supposedly erroneous or uncomfortable thoughts– and then embrace ignorance, as in “ignorance is bliss” –so all will be well.
–.a five to ten minute guided analysis in front of an audience members who chime in with their various opinions is not what I call therapeutic,
— the attendee featured in the above video indeed is being coerced (or strongly persuaded) to think or believe a certain way, and appears to be chastised if she did not respond in a way that’s expected.
–which leads me to say, there’s an apparent lack of critical thinking or examination going on here (interrupting the subject is problematic) e.g. the exchange is too fast and shallow. People are complicated– their experiences are complicated.The head psychiatrist of a mental health department told me that everyone is unique in their physical and mental make-up and that fact requires therapists to employ a variety of techniques/methods/medicines in order to help people and that can take time. Granted sometimes self-awareness and healing happens faster for some than for others. But suffering or mentally ill people need nurturing and healing that might take years (or not– depending on their own willingness and the skill of the therapist)
— I happen to distrust teachers/gurus/workshop leaders who employ the word “fuck” (seems like a new trend) –but to what purpose? To shock? To impress? To prove they are “one of us”?
–Putting your mental or psychological heath into the hands of a stranger is problematic on the face of it. How well do you know and trust the person you are sharing your most intimate thoughts and problems with? Scientology seemed like a good thing until it was proved otherwise.
–No one has a monopoly on the truth –just like the cheese in song “The Farmer in the Dell”, the truth, like the cheese, STANDS ALONE. The truth needs no teachers to teach it, nor interpreters to interpret it, nor cheerleaders to appreciate it, nor retailers to sell it. The truth simply exists by itself, with no assistance necessary.
–If you want better thoughts I like this paragraph from the Gospels:
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatsoever is true, whatsoever is noble, whatsoever is right, whatsoever is pure, whatsoever is lovely, whatsoever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think on these things.”
Also, here’s another set of FOUR QUESTIONS created in 1932 by Rotarian Herbert J. Taylor after he was asked to take charge of a company facing bankruptcy. The survival of the company was credited to this simple philosophy that asks the following four questions “Of the things we think, say or do:
Is it the TRUTH?
Is it FAIR to all concerned?
Will it build GOODWILL and BETTER FRIENDSHIPS?
Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?”
–Lastly, rather than ditching your difficult or challenging thoughts just so you are not hampered by them, consider the AA prayer: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.”
And yes, question everything.. including your teachers, your gurus, your pastor, your leaders, your family members–that’s a good thing for everyone to do. Think for yourself–and have your own epiphany!
I found this a very interesting discussion. I want to address your two key points: that
1. Katie ‘subtly bullies’ the woman into restating her fear in such a way that she can be made to look and feel ridiculous, on a stage, in front of her peers, in deference to authority.
2. The cognitive technique is an effective mask for the theatre of a ‘somatic domination’ that can feel like love.
I have watched online sessions with Katie Byron- and have had similar reservations about ‘The Work’ and the mind twisting head stuff that appears to encourage denying what you are feeling.
At the same time, I found this session quite powerful -and I did not see people being suppressed or disempowered, or bullied; in fact, quite the opposite. I’d like you to explain more carefully what you mean by ‘somatic dominance’.
What I notice – from past videos- and using a few of the techniques a few times- is that ‘the work’ (at its best) is not about denying your feelings, or your thoughts, it seems to be more about examining them, questioning and looking at them from all points of view.
Whether you like Katie Byrons’ style or not (sometimes I do- sometimes I don’t), I didn’t think in this instance she was harsh, or unkind, and she was not forcing the woman to go along with her point of view- as you implied – she was just nudging her to get unstuck*from her fear. Any therapists would do the same thing. And the woman on the stage in the end seem to be liberated from something – she admitted that her family were in WW11 (and possible in camps – i cant remember) so she grew up with those fears that she was now projecting onto Trump. She seemed quite content by the end as she let go of her fear and owned her own agency- and the humor Katie brought was shared by her not forced on her or ask her. It never seemed unkind (to me)- it seemed very helpful for shifting the energy. Katie did not love her she left with her (I got the sense she laughed with that kind of humor when you see yourself in somebody else’s dilemma).
It seems that what Byron is trying to do is get people to shift and to question rigid mindsets. The interaction between the woman and the Trump supporter was very poignant and focused on the fact that we’re all human beings in the end. That seemed a very positive outcome Karen
Matthew I found a few of your responses to peoples remarks quite aggressive, and I wonder if your not projecting a little here. You speak about Katies ‘benevolent aggression’ and said “any notion that this is therapeutic is ‘completely backward’. You also say that “The encounter begins with a fundamental act of disempowerment that establishes Katie as the expert of the subject’s thoughts and problems, as someone who can say: your assertions about the future are irrational – even though the subject isn’t asserting anything about the future.”
I found that a very strange distortion to what I saw and experienced of that conversation; the woman did not express unhappiness with the process, and because I read your article before I watched it I was looking for signs of that, and I didn’t see any. What I saw was a grown adult reflecting on her own process, utilizing Katie’s expertise as a catalyst for her own self-awareness. I have watched other videos that made me more uncomfortable, where I think Katie pushed too hard or too quickly and seemed to deny the person’s feelings- so I get what you are saying, but I think one has to be careful not to project.
It’s often something in ourselves we dislike that we focus so intently on in others. You’ve been quite dismissive of Some of the responses soon what’s makes you seem just like what you’re accusing her of. That doesn’t mean Katie some kind of saint. I don’t always like her style – I’m not a devotee, and I don’t do ‘the Work’ per se, but I’ve taken things from it that have helped me in my life. (Especially when I am stuck in a reaction or belief- I ask myself ‘is this true?’ Can I be 100% sure this is true? I think it’s quite a helpful tool. )
I agree there’s a danger of people glossing over their feelings and jumping to solution too quickly. Often when we just acknowledge what we feel, accept those feelings, and sit with them- Solutions and alternate points of view due arise. I can see if you do this kind of work just from your head – there’s a potential of harm. I liked what Katie said about when you let go of your stories you develop a curiosity about events rather than preconceived notions. That sounds very healthy to me
All therapy it Involves a certain amount of projection, transference, counter-transference – it’s part of the process of learning. I still think there’s much benefit to this process and I think Katie is a cathartic force. Take what you like and leave the rest.
p.s. I just want to say again that I appreciate this discussion and the examination of how people give their power away to teachers gurus group think etc. I believe it is an important discussion, and healthy to question dysfunctional systems. I also think we must take things into context. I am not part of the yoga culture but have been exposed to it, and I’ve had my own group experiences(group think is not limited to the yoga community). I think it’s tricky critiquing the yogic Indian culture – in India children touch the parents feet as a sign of respect and having a guru is a part of life there- after all the word Guru came from India. I think the problem comes in transplanting the culture to the west- we have a fierce individualism that comes into stark contrast with the concept of being a devotee. You’ve possibly written about all this so I apologize if I’m covering the old material.
I have had enough experience of old school authoritarian teaching styles ( I am a trained adult ed teacher with a focus on student led learning)-and before that worked in Waldorf education where there is a strong religious deference to Ward Rudolf Steiner and a kind of group think (even though its an ‘education toward freedom’). Nonetheless I gained a lot from that experience.
I have been interested in this sort of dynamic and the dichotomy between the deep desire to be led/guided/ taught – alongside the ultimate need for personal agency. I personally believe a good teacher or master will ultimately encourage a person to that autonomy, or at a certain stage the student will breakaway. I haven’t read a lot of your work – I imagine you take that culture clash of east/west into consideration.
What I see is people want to belong, they want to believe in something, most people truly want to learn and grow. I’ve recently been exposed to ‘Landmark’ – personal development courses- which are fundamentally rooted in Werner Erharts EST – which was an encounter group type dynamic that emerged in the 60s that was very confrontational as a way to disarm ego defenses. It is been repackaged now, and I have been approached with a fair bit of fervor to join take the classes etc.. It has a rather cultlike feel (strong drive to recruit people), and I don’t believe that sort of confrontational style is ultimately our best way to learn. I think the ego just gets trickier and craftier in response (sort of like the dissociation you suggested was happening with Katie Byron’s work).
Then again, it’s often in a crisis or reality check that forces us to shift out of our dysfunctional behavior – which I believe is the underlying premise of the landmark work.
So I think what I’m saying is – don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. Be willing to question authority – but at the same time – recognize your own ignorance and need to except there are people that can act as teachers and catalysts. My philosophy is that everyone is my teacher. I think the Katie Byron would agree with that!
Dear Mr Remski, I was very happy to find another person who shares my thoughts about this Katie Byron ! I happened to watch one of her videos since I was looking for some psychological insight on the complicated relationship of a friend of mine and his mother, and Mrs Byron’s video popped up since she has an item on that subject. After a few minutes into the video I started to be uncomfortable in the way she treated the man who came up with his problem and with a gutfeeling of distrust. Because although she does hit some true points, it is all the time as if she wants to impress the audience more than that she wants to help the guy with his problem. Then I wanted to see some more videos just to find out if my intuition was right or wrong, and also watched this video you have commented above… which was even worse than the other. Over the years (am now 63) I have experienced that my first impression of people is generally the right one, although when i was younger i didn’t trust my “impression” and also still nowadays always want to be sure and double check. So I googled on Katie Byron and found your article. Thank you.
Listening to the questioning format of Byron, I see that she denies real possibility She is leading her followers to think positively, to substitute any bad or negative thought for a good or positive thought. Absent is analysis of a real life problem and the possibilities that may result unless a concrete intervention takes place (e.g. a strong/active political campaign, or impeachment process, etc.) It’s easier to think sunny thoughts or disengage from reality, rather that think (or do something about) of the possible results a leader’s real political power. What if these conversations were taking place in Germany prior to WWII and Byron was questioning the fears of the citizens of Germany who were having trouble with the direction and ideas of Hitler. What if these people were told –don’t worry or be concerned about this person (HITLER) his ideas and he is just a figment of your mind.