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 When the information becomes a dogma, the committies become courts, the experts become “guru” and people remain, anyway, victim.

(By Raffaella Di Marzio, 22th of February 2008)


 

Article published in  "La Gazzetta del Mezzogiorno", 15th of February 2008, p.2.  >Case cult, roman blitz from police Eighty adepts from the presumed cult "The Sacred ath" surprised in a hotel of the capital: also a priest. The activity of the presumed cult "The sacred path" continues, at least apparently. It proves the blitz, done from the police of Rome, in a hotel of the capital. The agents found the presumed holy man, Vito Carlo Moccia, 55 years, from Bari, together with eighty people, participating to a more or less ritual meeting, with candles. Between them, also a  priest and a psychologist. The agents interrupted the meeting, they asked names and addresses of the presents, confiscated some documents and the candles used. The investigative dossier was transfered to the prosecutor Francesco Bretone, in Bari. Being to the inquiry flowed from the notice of  some informations of  guaranty on last october, the "managing group" of the presumed cult diffused - with a certain consensus and also television popularity - the innovative psychological method "Arkeon".  The head office of "The Sacred Path " is in  Bari.

 


Taking this news as a starting point, I would like to do some remarks as regards four questions that, in this article, have to face simultaneously as they are connected between themselves : 

1) the approximative and/or aggressive way of doing information (as of the article of  "Gazzetta del Mezzogiorno" is only a pale and faded example)

2)  the way of certain media agencies, groups of expert  projectionists and citizens have empowered and are actually managing the Arkeon's case, name given to a experimented and ideated path from Vito Carlo Moccia

3) the consequence generate from a question of conflicts between social systems that does not point to the resolution and composition of the conflicts itself, but to a radical attitude, to the collision from different parts, that in certain cases can produce the organisation of groups of pressure that activate intimidation, threat, anyway, a climate of social tension.

4) the way of confronting the studies and the research about new forms of religions, spirituality and new forms of aggregations that points to stregthen the human capacity and give an answer (religious, philosophic, anthropological) to the questions of the human being about himself, about the sense of life and death.

In this ambient the difficulty of the scholar is to compose and verify the different stories, the ones enthusiastic and the ones not happy, the ones that had benefits and who's felt or have been really abused.

As for me, I am involved in the Arkeon case against my, because, until some months ago, I was not awareness even of the existence of this group. Some times ago I received a strange email from one of the masters of Arkeon, which meetings were suspended since Octobre 2007,  after the opening of the inquiry. Six people, (Vito Carlo Moccia is one of them)  are suspect from the Bari's Republic proxy. One person that identified himself by name and first name asking me help because he, his family and the families of other adherents of the same group were object of some telecasts, news, and forums that describe Arkeon as "psicocult" or "satanic psicocult", its founder "guru" or "cult-chief" and the members, all in together, plagiarized or (worth) accomplice of  the misdeed of the "cult-chief".

This person indicated some links where you could see the registrations, telecasts, news, and forums where some people (we never know how many because they use nick names, pseudonimes) denouncing abuses endured in the ARKEON "psycocult". The Arkeon's master that contacted me asked me explanation of what should be brainwashing and plagiarize (he wanted to know how functioned the process in order to understand if he made a mistake) and I invited him to read some of my articles issued on this website.

The thing that let me perplexed was the reason why this person wrote me: he was asking help  because, as a member of the "cult", he was swept away, together dozens of other people and entire families, from a mediatic wave that he was feeling "undefended", "confused", "astonished", "lost" and "powerless". Because of being defined as a member of a cult, he resulted, as a consequence, "plagiarized" and so whatever he said or do, it would not be taken in consideration from anyone. Who should listen to a plagiarized ? It never happened to receive a letter of help of this way.

The requests of help that I receive are from families of people that joined any group and ask me help for finding their relative. Or they write to me people that left a cult and ask how to do in order to come back to their first life, recovering lost serenity. I receive also simple requests of information about groups of any kind from institutions or privates. It striked me two things: the first was that this person told me that inside of Arkeon begun a process of  reflexion and self-criticism, provoked also from media influence and accusations against them. He told me also that probably there were cases of abuse in some meeting and having known this touched them deeply and pushed them to introspect themselves and to undergo threw an exam of external institution than them.Their  attempt was to understand where they mistook and what they can do to correct and, if possible, to improve the path planned from their founder.

The fact that a "psycocult" showed available to make a self-criticism impressed me becouse, also when they are attacked, the "cults" defend closing themselves and attacking the critics with the same modalities or with main hanger. The self-criticism is the last thing that sectary groups do. The second thing that impressed me was that the master of Arkeon told me is to have contacted me on one’s own initiative and that the founder, the "cult- chief", did not know anything. In the cults it never happens that an adept takes an initiative of this kind (specially during an attack coming from outside) without authorisation of the "chief".

Because he was not an ex-member but a master of Arkeon, near and united with the founder, the thing that astonished me and I begun to ask me: do I find myself in front of a cult ? It is beyond doubt that inside Arkeon someone had mistaken abusing of some people and there were some things not so clear, but could the entire organisation be accused of being a "psycocult"? Over the sham and ridiculous specification of whom affirms that "cult" isn’t a disparaging term, we all know that, when a group is accused to be a "cult" that means a dangerous system, where are perpetrated systematic abuses on people and where people most weak are induced to think and to do actions that, otherwise, they never would have done.

The "cult" tend to absorbe their members separating them from the other groups (family, friends, etc.), the cult drains the material properties and the mental resources of  the people being part of them, a lot of them join the cult  being cheated, without realising what kind of group are they adhering. I  could still continue for long about description of what is a "cult", but I suggest to read authors as Steve Hassan and Margaret Singer and, for a critical vision of their theory, Massimo Introvigne, Mario Aletti and others. For further examination, also in this website you can find many articles on this subject. While initiating to collect information about Arkeon's case I was also searching to think  over and I don’t let myself be influenced from medias and from testimonies that I’ve read, all very critical. The telecasts that I had seen were organized as a process where you know already who's guilty.

The "bads" were prevented from  talking, except in one case: one telecast of Maurizio Costanzo, where two members of Arkeon were invited and talked without being interrupted. I read also the messages of people that in one forum relate their "devastating" experience in Arkeon and, in the same forum, I read also the messages from members of Arkeon that tried to say their opinion and to answer to the critics: they were from time to time ridiculed, or worse, so, at the end, they  stopped writing. At any case, the messages of the critics were very serious : telling arguable and reprehensible episodes, actions and practices also penaly relevant.

After this first recognition of the informations circulating in Internet and the ones diffused in the telecasts, I searched the Web-site of Arkeon to read their version of the facts or at least their way of presenting them, but their website were obscured, so in Internet there were only the critical messages. I searched news about Arkeon in other universitary sphere and study centers, but nobody knew what to tell me about it, only what medias said. I took note of this situation and I thought it was right to listen also the other part of the case, not only because it was a request of help  from a person really suffering (I give an equal value on suffering, that comes from a victim of a "cult" or feeling from a victim of an "anticult") but also and overall while I think that the study of a phenomenon is valid and precise only by listening all people that are involved.

After a while, the founder of Arkeon, Vito Carlo Moccia, contacted me and he put  the results of a research (to be completed) done about Arkeon from an international institutional organization, at my disposal and told me that  he talked with some managers of the GRIS (Group of Research and Information Social and Religious) asking also to them that Arkeon's path be studied to verify all what wrong could it be and is again and how positive it could be found. After I examined  the organization’s report  of which I talked before, and verified that the desire of self- criticism was real and  founder and other members close to him were ready to be known, I accepted the invitation to participate at an informative meeting with  students and masters of Arkeon.

The motivation of this meeting was to present myself and to make me known (naturally they were suspitious and they didn’t rely on "scholars" or journalists), and to ask their collaboration to take over a study about Arkeon. The meeting could also be the right moment to do some interviews and think over of what was happening (included media campaign). That meeting happened on February the 09th 2008 at Rome. There were students, couples, families with children, parents of students, in total about hundred participants.

There were professionists, housewives, psychologists, doctors, etc. The room was prepared with the chairs on circle. After being sitting, a person putted in the  center of the room a beautiful candle almost big, that was lightened. I know that for members of Arkeon the fire has a simbolic signification. That is why I was not astonished that this symbol were there. That remembered me the summer evenings on the beach, some years ago, on evenings, together with other teenagers we had fun to make a fire and to seat all around the fire to tell us our stories. Immediately after we sitted down, Vito Carlo Moccia, shortly presented me and called upon  me to speak. I took the opportunity to come back to the beginning of my studies about cult’s phenomenology, to explain the reason why still today, after 15 years, I continue to work in this sphere of study, research and help, and, particularly, my interest to deepen the  Archeon ‘s case.   

I explained from a very critical view my considerations about how the different media-association-commitees conduced the aggressive campaign against them and I indicated the ones that could be the interpretation  key of the phenomenon. While I spoke I was observing the people around me: I saw people crying while telling the devastating effects and the suffer that the media campaign had on their family, on their children, on their job. I saw people frightened and afraid of talking, not because they did  something wrong, but because they are traumatizing about what was happening. All these people never, in many years, witnessed the scenes described in the forums and did not know anything about abuses that people on television were talking. They were dumbstruck.

During the morning, while I was listening and sometimes discussed, I observed the way of place oneself  of the "adepts" in front of the "guru". Vito Carlo Moccia was, during the meeting, greeted from everybody with affection and gratitude but was also strongly criticized from someone, after supported from others, that, even they renovate him esteem and gratitude, they did not reticent on telling him what they did think of him, of Arkeon and of what was happening, asking the entire "circle" to do something to clear and define the Arkeon  path in order to avoid  further misunderstanding and, mainly, the serious facts as the ones somebody is accused. While was happening this I observed the reactions: I could clearly see that in this "circle" and in this context Moccia wasn’t the undisputed leader.

Nobody asked him: what do we have to do? Who wanted to talk did it by expressing with personal reflections about what is happening to Arkeon, nobody was censored and nobody offered solutions.  Vito Carlo Moccia didn’t search to answer, but he looked like, instead, listening and thinking over. Another element that, I think, is significant is this: even though the consternation and suffer that I could feel in present people, I didn’t hear ANYONE, to denigrate, to offend or to reveal secrets of the ones Arkeon’s ex members, that today are diffusing their experiences and testimonies to media. The gossip against the ex members and the revelation of secrets to put them in a bad light are other typical aspects of the "cults".

Talking about their "enemies" the presents showed almost a deep displeasure for the possibility that someone has been abused in meetings and incredulity in front of the anger of some of the ex member. With regard to this, I even heard to tell physical violences and I saw with my eyes letters of thread, intimidation, etc. In the last two years anyone kept in contact with Arkeon, gave hospitality (before they was  suspended in October 2007) the people that took part in meetings, begun studies about Arkeon (not directed to speak ill of it), talked in public positive judgements about the path etc., suffered intimidations and threats of any kind. It was also established a committee named "The families of so many victims of the devil Vito Carlo Moccia " that says to be forced to remain anonymous "for protecting their family from negative persecution that would be perpetrated to them from Moccia in reprisal" and that sent long faxes in which  they assert that " to give hospitality to Arkeon's meetings, is like to be accomplice in Moccia’s  misdeeds and probably also liable to prosecution".

Into the defamatory campaign done by the press and the television, two priests were involved  attracted by deception of certain journalists expert in above modalities on doing "information" and shot from  television camera in spite of the protests and before that they could recover from the bitter surprise. It is not necessary underline how these methods of pressure go in disadvantage of all and contribute to do other victims, over the ones already happened. I think that the most correct modality to affront these conflicts is to let each one to do his "job". The proxy, the lawyers and the police forces have specific tasks that are already doing from a while. People investigated will have to defend oneself from the charges and, if they would not be successful, must face the consequences for their crimes, who is convicted to have been damaged did his duty, that was to denounce.

Why they are ruthless, so ? But I return to the 9th of February and to my observation. Another aspect that hit me, knowing that Arkeon is born inside of a Reiki path (that today is completely abandoned) is that a certain number of people, at the moment to share their experiences in Arkeon, they told me to be returned or to be converted to catholic faith. I talked with people separated from many years that married in the church, with people that did a dissolute life and baptized in adult age, I talked with alcoholic and drug addicts that overcamed their dependence and today have a respectable activity, they are married with catholic rite and have children that they chose to baptize. Other people, instead, told me to be agnostics or atheist, but to respect the faith of others. The exchange of informations, reflexions and suggestions was going on until three o’clock in the afternoon when it was decided to make a lunch break.

At this time my impression-sensation was not from one that feels to be inside of a sectary group, it did not seemed to me to have the cult’s characteristics. Of course, it was only a first impression, it was not an experience of Arkeon during a meeting or an intensive, it was only a first contact. However, also this, is a beginning, a plug to build a mosaic capable of improvement, adjustments and checks. I was in front of two realities clearly opposed one to the other: the one described from media and  Internet, and the other that I was seeing with my eyes.

That the truth, as usual, is in the middle ? Maybe the present Arkeon’s members, as usual, were not all under influence of brainwashing? Or, all of them pretend with me in a well organized performance in order to deceive myself? If somebody is keen on conspiracy he could believe this hyipothesis. At the same time it could be  supposed a colossal conspiracy from somebody to cause damage to Arkeon, but also this is pure conspiracy and I don’t like to interpret the reality using hypothesis and conspiracy.

So, I start again speaking about the facts happened on  9th of February. During the lunch break, we saw to come in some people that we immediately identified as agents of the Digos. We were invited to give our documents, the agents confiscated the candle, the manifest of Arkeon hanged outside of the door of the room, a computer, videocassettes and also some manifests of my web-site that I brought this morning (no problem, I am happy to give for free to the Digos of Rome). Immediately after it was asked to us, as we were people informed of the facts, to some of us it will be asked to answer to some questions. I don’t know exactly how many testimonies were signed, but inside of the others it was also mine.

After almost three hours of formalities they gave back the documents and they allowed us to return to the room and continue the meeting. Nobody was gone, except the ones that had to go, and  many people shared their experience. I had listen some testimonies that will be useful for the studies that I began. The meeting finished at 9 p.m. As for me,  I would like to try to be out of the chaos, to come close to the truth, to observe a social phenomenon in order to describe it.  Arkeon, as many others movements and groups that are in Italy and the world, is a path in which some people know themselves  that, like other people that frequent other groups, search answers on themselves, the life, the death, the pain, the suffer.

It is a little social group with  typical dynamics of social groups: inside them there is  always "manipulation". It needs to understand if this manipulation goes over or not a certain level of intensity, if people are respected into their freedom, into their feelings, into their sensibility or not. As for me I learned from my mistakes don’t draw a conclusion hurriedly and don’t give an opinion on Arkeon refusing to be conditioned by emotions,  rancour and  indignation. I proceed, then, with my research about Arkeon, so I wait for testimonies of people feeling damaged from this path, that suffered because of Arkeon as I wait for testimonies of the others.

The 17th February 2008 someone of this web-site posted for the first time in the Forum, inviting to do reflexions about Arkeon. Who is interested,  can read the different opinions that I think useful in order to understand the internal dynamics in the group and also the criticisms that comes from outside [N.D.R.: all the  Forum of this website are closed down from April 2008].

Until now, over the experiences listened during the meeting (fifteen), I received helpfulness by other thirty people that frequented the meetings and  had benefits inside Arkeon and from three people that criticize the path and declare damaged from it. The thirty people of Arkeon gave me their name and surname, the others three people "unhappy", two are ex members (I know from them name and surname), the third is a mother of a member of Arkeon,  but  I do not know her generalities. I thank all of this people for their helpfulness and remain waiting of other information, from any "front"  they come.

 

© 2008 -  Raffaella Di Marzio