Friday, November 1, 2013

#776: Jean Houston

Jean Houston is a new-age self-help guru and former president of the Association for Humanistic Psychology, who runs the “Mystery School”. The purpose of the Mystery School, a typical brand of New Thought, is, according to Houston, “to engender the passion for the ‘possible’ in our human and global development while discovering ways of transcending and transforming the local self so that extraordinary life can arise!” Pure nonsense, in other words. “Your energies, your powers, your stamina, your moral force seem limited only because you and your habituations and the habituations and expectations of your culture set limits. Therefore, what Mystery School tries to do here, is to go beyond the limits and create a consensual reality in which the horizon of the limits is greatly expandable and More becomes possible,” says Houston, and charges you $140 to learn it. “It is my 20th Century version of an ancient and honorable tradition, the study of the world’s spiritual mysteries,” which could in fact be correct, but doesn’t exactly confer credibility even if it were – she claims that her school is part of a tradition that has probably existed ever “since humans have been humans,” a claim that implies that the mystery schools have made very little progress. As Robert Carroll points out, “[t]here is ample evidence she is correct about that.” She doesn’t emphasize that implication, however.

As she puts it “The traditional question of all Mystery Schools is - How do you place the local self, your local historical self, in the service of the Self? How do you place it in the psyche where the Immanent God resides? How do you respond to the Lure of Becoming and keep up sufficient energy, passion, momentum, delight, engagement, fascination, that you agree to be constantly lured? Unfortunately the stuff of everyday life often inhibits the Lure.”

Houston has been caught claiming to be in possession of several doctorates, though the one she has is a PhD in Philosophy of Religion from Union College. Indeed, her biography makes several strikingly big claims about her life story (that she was friends with Einstein and Teilhard de Chardin, for instance), which it might be worth to consider in light of her claims about her doctorate, as well as in light of the observation that according to Houston’s New Age drivel “deep” truth is something you create, not something which is discovered empirically. That is, she is permitted to make up whatever she wants and claim that it’s true.

Houston is a prolific author of New Age junk (much of it co-authored with one Robert Masters), and also the inventor of what she calls “sacred psychology”, which adorably enough seems to have mistaken Kierkegaard for Rhonda Byrne.

Diagnosis: Total fluffbot. Indeed, Houston is one of the brightest and clearest examples of promoters of snowflake rubbish you will ever encounter. She seems to have some influence, but it also appears to be rather local and limited.


  1. Before I forget, Walter Hoye of Issues4Life, an anti-abortion activist and disciple of pseudo-historian David Barton.

  2. oh and can you guys do an entry for Johanna Michaelsen she was the one who brought Mike Waranke into the spotlight and she claimed she worked with a "real" psychic surgeon as well