The following was sent to me by a correpsondent back in 2006, in the course of an email discussion I no longer remember regarding Andrew Cohen. Nor do I remember who wrote this. Nevertheless it is worth including, because of the light it sheds on the whole "abusive guru" phenomenon and what happens when naive seekers hand all responsibility over to a well-meaning but incompetent person who thinks he is enlightened and obviously still has his own issues to work through.
"A friend of mine pondered the Andrew Cohen mess and said, 'My God, this is like an out of control BDSM (bondage-domination-sadomasochism) situation.'
Have you read my essay? I mention the sado-masochistic relationship (even use that term) Cohen has with his devotees
People in BDSM play with power and with power imbalance but they do it consciously. As far as I know (as a non participant in these matters) the only way BDSM power play can be made to work is when all parties are 100 percent conscious, all know this is what they want, everyone has consented, bondaries are negotiated clearly in advance and any one is free to leave the scene with dignity intact if he or she finds it too much and calls a halt.
I once met someone who was into that scene and that's similar to what she told me. If someone is freaking out too much they can call a halt any time [MAK: this is wjhat I have been told too, by someone who has been involved in the scene as a "dominatrix"]. But you are exactly right, with Cohen the safeguards are no longer there."
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