Confronting the line Between Transformation and Exploitation

After nearly twenty years inside a popular self-help organization, Anne Peterson finally confronted the big lie behind the transformative work she believed in. What she had taught as empowerment, it turned out, was also being used to exploit.


Is This a Cult? offers hope to all who wonder whether their quest for growth has a dark side. If you’ve ever questioned leaders you once believed in, you’ll find insight in Anne’s inspiring tale of rebuilding integrity in the shadow of charismatic leaders.

Hi, I'm Anne

Thanks for Stopping by!

I hope my story shows that redemption through truth & integrity is possible, in spite of the long shadow of figures who distort even the most altruistic message. I am determined to guide others to grow in ways that empower rather than exploit.

My new business, iLumn8.Life, is poised to emerge as the premier marketplace where consumers can find programs, products, and services offered by practitioners who commit to program delivery and business practices that follow the SEEK Safely framework. 

MY story IS about

  • My path from transformed student to inner circle leader – and the red flags I ignored
  • How exhaustion, threats, and violence behind closed doors corroded communities built on making a difference
  • The moments I could no longer rationalize away harm being done in the name of progress
  • Tools I used to resist exploitation when livelihood and reputation are bound up in a leader’s image
  • Ways to separate valuable teachings from the flawed structures and the people who distort them
  • How to foster ethical practices in personal growth after being scarred by spiritual abuse

Chapter 01

Sneak - Peek

Scroll through this sneak peek preview to see if Is This a Cult hooks you like it has so many other readers. If you have ever had this question for yourself about ANY group or organization you have been exposed to this book is for YOU!

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Chapter 01

OH, CRAP … How Did I Get Here?

“Heroes are ordinary people who call on themselves to reach beyond themselves, ordinary men and women who dare to be related to possibilities bigger than themselves.” 

~ Werner Erhard

I am walking the neighborhood, my go-to strategy for dealing with overwhelming anxiety or upset. It is the fall of 2020, and the last couple of months have been insane. In addition to a global pandemic that is shutting down everything, including the relaunch of my business, one of my clients just sued me in federal court to avoid paying his bill. He previously told me his approach to handling problems was to attack. I guess he wasn’t kidding. 

I had just seen undeniable and substantiated evidence that my other primary client, arguably one of the fathers of the human potential movement, is not just verbally abusive (something I had witnessed often) but also physically abusive to his inner circle and regularly didn’t pay them.

To top that off, the company I gave most of my adult life to work for and serve, Landmark, just threatened to shut me down if I emailed anyone who was a graduate of its programs. Additionally, I was told by the two colleagues I was creating my next project with, that they were threatened by Landmark, implying that if they worked with me, they would no longer be welcome at Landmark (and could not do business with them).

The level of heartbreak I feel in this moment is beyond anything I can remember, and I have had a survivor’s life with plenty of heartbreak. It feels so intense because this is an ecosystem I have participated in for more than twenty years and am convinced is about transforming the world so it works for everyone with no one and nothing left out. So, how could they treat one of their own this way? I mean I was one of those everyones, right? This extremely painful moment was the start of my waking up as I began to realize how little I, or anyone, really mattered, neither did transformation. I was just beginning to confront the question, had it all been a lie? 

Upcoming

Interviews & Events

Get to know Anne and more of the story through these interviews & events.

03.11.2024 / Podcast

SEEK Safely Interview #1 

03.18.2024 / Podcasts

SEEK Safely Interview #2 

03.25.2024 / podcast 

A Little Bit Culty Interview #1

04.01.2024 / podcast

A Little Bit Culty Interview #2

04.08.2024 / podcast

A Little Bit Culty Interview w/ Rick Alan Ross 

Chapter 01

OH, CRAP … How Did I Get Here?

“Heroes are ordinary people who call on themselves to reach beyond themselves, ordinary men and women who dare to be related to possibilities bigger than themselves.”   

~ Werner Erhard


Chapter 01

LI am walking the neighborhood, my go-to strategy for dealing with overwhelming anxiety or upset. It is the fall of 2020, and the last couple of months have been insane. In addition to a global pandemic that is shutting down everything, including the relaunch of my business, one of my clients just sued me in federal court to avoid paying his bill. He previously told me his approach to handling problems was to attack. I guess he wasn’t kidding. 

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Honest and Riveting!

Anne Peterson wrote a scorcher! I couldn’t put it down! This book confirmed my own experience with Landmark and other self development organizations that I’ve been a part of over the years.

The biggest contribution she makes here is to open a wonderful dialogue on how to move forward in the personal development industry by adopting safe practices rather than bash or criticize and gossip. I really appreciated reading about that because personal development has greatly helped me grow in my life.

~ George (Verified Purchase)

I couldn't stop reading!

The book is brilliantly written and captivating. Peterson is unflinchingly honest and authentic, showing perceived giants to be self-inflated monsters whose power and control over others is through abuse and manipulation of people’s commitment to contribute and make a difference.

I thought at one point, “this would make a great mini-series!” The courage that it takes to speak truth to power is immeasurable. Accolades to Anne Peterson and wishes for success in anything she undertakes. And thank you for writing this book!

~ Terri (Verified Purchase)

A First person look inside ... 

Peterson reflects on her decades of experience working near the very top of what may be the world’s largest self help organization company. Her account of her experience behind the scenes of impeccable program delivery makes good reading and raises provocative questions for this 40+ year participant in those same programs.

 
The value of this work itself is enormous. For staff, the human vs corporate priorities must be daily choices.

~ Mary Sue (Verified Purchase)