The use of dietary restrictions to induce suggestibility is covered in the e-book Dangerous Persuaders by Louise Samways. Both Catholic and Buddhist monks have used of this tool for millennia to clear their minds of unnecessary distractions. Samways describes how it works:
Vegan diets, which eliminate all sources of animal protein and dairy foods so that the diet consists of cereals, fruits, vegetables and nuts, can change the pH balance (acidity) of the body. This is said to result in a subtle increase in carbon dioxide levels within the brain and a small decrease in available oxygen levels. It is thought such a situation makes it much easier for the brain to produce alpha waves, entering a state where it is more receptive to different beliefs and values.....
A diet lower in fat and animal protein than normal, and with less tea and coffee, may be desirable for your health, and therefore can be successfully rationalized by the leader. However, it should be remembered that extreme versions of such a diet [e.g. the Gerson therapy] may also affect your level of critical thinking, especially if the dietary change is a significant one for you and if you are under the circumstances of group psychological processes.
Very interesting! This may explain why Betty Geftakys was so eager to recruit people to the Gerson therapy, a regimen developed very specifically to fight terminal cancer.
Betty was 'on the Gerson' for years, and recommended it for various maladies, most of which were probably the result of Assembly stress. Very early in the Assembly Dan Notti and Jim Hayman were moved into the Geftakys home in order to be on the therapy. Quite a few folks were induced to go on it - Gay (Mau) Walker and Keith, Karen (Krusich) Ing, and Beth A., among others. Ginger Geftakys successfully refused to do it, but Betty commented to me, "She just doesn't want to go the way of the cross."
This assessment of Ginger was influential in my life a short time later, when Betty summoned Steve and me to her study and advised me to go on the Gerson for undiagnosed symptoms of pain and fatigue. Before the session, we had suspected this might be her 'recommendation', and I told Steve I definitely did not want to do the Gerson. But when this turned out to indeed be her counsel, there was an unspoken decision to obey counsel, and we went straight to the Norwalk store to buy a juicer, lest we too be accused of refusing to go the way of the cross.
Subsequently Betty invited herself to our house every Wednesday for an extended three-hour Gerson lunch and indoctrination session. Now that I look back, I think her strategy worked in my case. I have always thought that the reason she wanted me on the therapy was to give her an excuse to be in our home to indoctrinate me and Beth, and also to interfere with how our home was run and how our children were being trained.
But also the therapy was very debilitating in the initial stages and was guaranteed to bring independent-minded persons to their knees in total weakness and mental fog, with Betty the caring authoritarian rescuer.
Worked on me. The effects of the change in brain chemistry broke down my defenses and make me more amenable to the Assembly program. I will never forget being in Santa Barbara at Linda Patrick's mother's guest house with Betty and Gay during my first three weeks of the Gerson, Betty on her knees on the bathroom floor rubbing my feet while I threw up my guts. I was so touched....Yeah, right. Isn't that what cult leaders do, make you grateful that they've rescued you?? Arrrgh!
August, 2008, Anonymous: I have to confess that I am just now slowly making my way through Dangerous Persuaders- things have been rather busy. I got to the part where the author is talking about how people who have survived life-threatening illnesses sometimes become proseletyzers for some wacky "healing" technique or regimen. Did Betty G. really have cancer? Is this why she pushed the Gerson therapy so hard? For a while now I thought that was all a dodge on her part to reinforce the idea in our minds that Betty was some "special" person.
Ed.: Betty never told me she had a cancer diagnosis. It was some blood thing, she said. Personally, I think she was debilitated from living with a sociopathic nacissist for so long. Jeannie Magnuson did have advanced thyroid cancer, of course, and had a solid remission because of the Gerson therapy.
Betty confided once that she should have never married and should have continued her course in missionary medicine and become a doctor. She was forever handing out 'medical' advice in the Assembly. When I was exhausted after the first two years of the Assembly, she told me I needed to take 500 mg. of pantothenic acid (a B vitamin) to give me energy - instead of suggesting that maybe the stress of the crazy busy lifestyle was the cause.