Wednesday, November 9, 2016

MLM and Depression

Today's post is about two types of depression that can come from MLM. The first kind of depression is developed from the programming MLMers give consumers while they are installed in their system. Most people post about the roaring energy and excitement of the seminars and major events like the FED (Freedom Enterprise Days) from Amway, but they leave out the downswing in energy after the events are done. The second type of depression is more commonly described after people leave MLM, and have to deal with the wasted monetary resources, the lost or damaged relationships, and the emotional toll of being deceived.

Depression: Clinical depression goes by many names, such as “the blues,” biological depression, and major depression. But all of these names refer to the same thing: feeling sad and depressed for weeks or months on end — not just a passing blue mood of a day or two. This feeling is most often accompanied by a sense of hopelessness, a lack of energy (or feeling “weighed down”), and taking little or no pleasure in things that once gave a person joy in the past. (

The first kind of depression is extremely serious, because this depression develops from the brainwashing MLMers give to their downlines. Part of the reason people get enveloped in MLM is, the excitement and thrill of the events as well as the herd support. The other part is the comedown, which is similar to a drug, after the party meetings and seminars are done. After MLMers denigrate everything about life outside of MLM, it is extremely difficult to maintain a certain level of positive energy for typical daily tasks. Work becomes a chore, or worse a nightmare, because it is getting in the way of the guaranteed freedom. Family events and activities with friends also lose their thrill, because the only goal is to become successful in MLM. As the consumer gets more and more immersed in MLM, the worse and worse they feel when they are outside of the environment.

The second kind of depression comes from the escape from MLM. After they have programmed the consumer to hate and disregard everything unrelated to MLM it is extremely difficult for many consumers to reengage in society. There will be a level of anxiety and distrust in consumers that didn't previously exist, and there will be an irrational fear of bonding with other people. Consumers will have difficulty with their conscience and the amount of damage they had caused while involved in the business. Lost friendships and family will pay a heavy toll, as well as dealing with the personal deception.

Both types of depression are very powerful and very real. MLMers perpetrate serious permanent damage to their victims, and have caused many relationships to end. Consumers must be on guard when entering a business opportunity, and they must understand that a business opportunity is just that and nothing else.

If you have a story involving abuses from your upline and would like me to share it on this blog as a guest post, then please e-mail me and I will be more than happy to post it! Your stories are not as unique as you may think, and your stories are some of the most impactful resources we have to fight MLMs. I will keep your anonymity upon request.


  1. John - As you probably know, the technical/medical name for the co-ordinated devious techniques of social, psychological and physical persuasion (which have been present in blame-the-victim 'MLM income opportunity' cults, and inflicted on millions of transient adherents without their fully-informed consent), is a 'totalistic thought reform program.'

    This phrase was coined by Prof. Robert Jay Lifton - an American military psychiatrist (and author) who studied the effects of 'Communist' brainwashing on Americans held prisoner by the Chinese during the Korean War.

    In effect, Lifton began to formulate the universal system which historically has been used to dissociate human beings from external reality and drive them into a state of unthinking dependence and obedience.

    It is interesting to note that (following WWII) a code of ethics was drawn up which governs all forms of physical and psychological experimentation on human beings, and the USA has always been a signatory of this document.

    1. David,

      Thank you for introducing that term and the history related to the term. I'm not familiar with Lifton or this particular thought reform, my class history stems more from the DSM-V and counseling related courses.

      These subjects tend to be too dark for American classrooms. It is very uncommon for a class to teach history in anything other than rote memory form, and even worse, they dissociate the information from the history making it even harder to grasp. An example of this would be, learning dates and names of wars, generals or presidents, and how many people died, but the main content is left out.

      While I understand history can be difficult to teach, Americans tend to make it as unappealing as possible. I'm not sure if this is due to our government mandated rules, or if the teachers are inept, but the amount of history the average American knows is staggeringly low.

      I have heard from many people that said one or more of the following, "History is boring", "History is hard for me to grasp", "I hate history", "History is lame", "History is isn't important because it is in the past". I believe history is the most important subject, because as Winston Churchill stated, "Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.", and he thought those who lost the past were going to be the most thoughtless with everyday headlines and short views ( I believe his vision is coming to fruition as we speak.

    2. John - Robert Lifton is a very interesting (but quite difficult to read) author who has produced various important books on Totalistic cults including the 'Nazi Doctors.' He was influenced by the work of Eric Voegelin.

      I would describe Lifton as a psychiatrist, and original thinker, who witnessed the effects of totalism first hand whilst woking for the US military. He then worked out how the phenomenon functioned before applying his psychological insights to wider the study of 20th century history.

      Eric Voegelin ( a German academic working in Austria) personally witnessed the rise of the 'Nazi' phenomenon and published two important (but almost impossible to read) books in which he identified 'Italian Fascism,' 'Nazism' and 'Soviet Communsim' as 'political religions' with Messianic leaders peddling a form of Gnostic Paradise on Earth. This led to Voegelin fleeing the 'Nazi' regime and arriving in the USA, where he spent many years compiling a vast philosophical analysis of history. This remained unfinished when he died in 1985.

    3. David,

      I'm not sure if you have ever seen the movie, "The Matrix", but that is what this feels like. These people are plugged into a machine, and everything they see is an illusion that is constructed to meet their desires. It is amazing that very subtle psychological adjustments can completely altar a person and make them into a cog.


    1. The voluntary consent of the human subject is absolutely essential.
    This means that the person involved should have legal capacity to give consent; should be
    so situated as to be able to exercise free power of choice, without the intervention of any element
    of force, fraud, deceit, duress, over-reaching, or other ulterior form of constraint or coercion; and
    should have sufficient knowledge and comprehension of the elements of the subject matter
    involved, as to enable him to make an understanding and enlightened decision. This latter
    element requires that, before the acceptance of an affirmative decision by the experimental
    subject, there should be made known to him the nature, duration, and purpose of the experiment;
    the method and means by which it is to be conducted; all inconveniences and hazards reasonably
    to be expected; and the effects upon his health or person, which may possibly come from his
    participation in the experiment.
    The duty and responsibility for ascertaining the quality of the consent rests upon each
    individual who initiates, directs or engages in the experiment. It is a personal duty and
    responsibility which may not be delegated to another with impunity.
    2. The experiment should be such as to yield fruitful results for the good of society,
    unprocurable by other methods or means of study, and not random and unnecessary in nature.
    3. The experiment should be so designed and based on the results of animal experimentation
    and a knowledge of the natural history of the disease or other problem under study, that the
    anticipated results will justify the performance of the experiment.
    4. The experiment should be so conducted as to avoid all unnecessary physical and mental
    suffering and injury.
    5. No experiment should be conducted, where there is an a priori reason to believe that
    death or disabling injury will occur; except, perhaps, in those experiments where the
    experimental physicians also serve as subjects.
    6. The degree of risk to be taken should never exceed that determined by the humanitarian
    importance of the problem to be solved by the experiment.
    7. Proper preparations should be made and adequate facilities provided to protect the
    experimental subject against even remote possibilities of injury, disability, or death.
    8. The experiment should be conducted only by scientifically qualified persons. The highest
    degree of skill and care should be required through all stages of the experiment of those who
    conduct or engage in the experiment.
    9. During the course of the experiment, the human subject should be at liberty to bring the
    experiment to an end, if he has reached the physical or mental state, where continuation of the
    experiment seemed to him to be impossible.
    10. During the course of the experiment, the scientist in charge must be prepared to terminate
    the experiment at any stage, if he has probable cause to believe, in the exercise of the good faith,
    superior skill and careful judgement required of him, that a continuation of the experiment is
    likely to result in injury, disability, or death to the experimental subject.

  3. To John Doe's comment at 6:10 AM:

    The problem with teaching history (or any of the subjects that fall under the category of the humanities) is that they are subject to the personal bias and prejudice of the teacher. If you have a fanatical left-wing partisan teaching a history class (and our college faculties are filled with these leftist scum) you are going to get a variety of history that has little to do with actual facts. If a feminist teaches a history class, you're going to get a laughably absurd and skewed perspective on the material taught.

    I teach at a major research university in New York City I see that crap happen ALL THE TIME. Students come to complain to me (privately) that they can't stand a history or a literature class that is run by some leftist or liberal or feminist maniac. It's like being in a Communist re-education camp.

    Quite understandably, students don't like to be propagandized by leftists, liberals, and feminists. So more and more of them opt out of taking any history courses at all. And that is the real source of the historical ignorance that you complain about.

    1. Anonymous - I'm greatly encouraged by the fact that you are a professional academic blessed with common-sense and with the capacity to solve the 'MLM' enigma.

      For a long time I've approached the 'MLM' enigma from the (evidence-based) point of view that it is has been a largely-unrecognised (criminogenic) phenomenon of historic significance. Yet as far as I'm aware, not one professional academic has ever made an intellectually-rigorous attempt to examine this phenomenon and formulate it using only accurate deconstructed language.

      The first step towards understanding any problem, is to admit one's own ignorance of it. In my experience, the more-highly educated a person is: the less likely he/she is to want to admit ignorance of the cult phenomenon.

      Apart from the fact that they can be co-opted, another big criticism I have of professional academics, is that their thinking is invariably constrained by their own academic diciplines and habitual vocabulary.

      Thus, academics are perhaps the last peole on Earth who (starting from scratch) would be able to solve a reality-inverting cultic enigma like 'MLM' (which requires an observer to have significant understanding of many different diciplines: history, economics, law, psychology, etc.)

      Above all, the one quality which is required to see beyond cultic BS, is common-sense.

    2. BTW - To demonstrate what I was specifically referring to in my previous comment - the tragicomic jargon-laced document (linked below) was drawn up (at great expense to tax-payers) by a flock of European legal academics led by a certain Prof. Hans-W. Micklitz

      I have had the dubious pleasure of speaking with Prof. Micklitz. He informed me that his 'Direct/Pyramid Selling ' report of 1999 was the most difficult academic study he'd ever undertaken and that he hadn't fully-understood the factors distinguishing legal direct selling and illegal pyramid schemes.

      You will notice that Prof. Micklitz never makes this astonishing admission of confused ignorance in the report itself. Instead, Micklitz' study is a transparent pretence of intellectual authority by a group of demonstrable dunces with diplomas.

  4. It has been my experience, after nearly forty years as an academic, that the great majority of my colleagues at university will only make clear and unambiguous statements privately. In any public forum, or in their printed scholarship, they refuse to do so and will only express the most absurdly intricate and falsely nuanced and mindlessly noncommittal statements. This seems to be the case with Prof. Micklitz.

    This tendency has been exacerbated since the triumph in the 1980s and 90s of a silly pan-relativism and linguistic confusion that stems from French critical theory. You can't get my asshole colleagues to say anything clearly, much less decisively.

    1. Prof. Micklitz was a classic Turing-Test failure - incapable of facing the truth that he'd been easily-duped by 'MLM' cultic racketeers and their agents.

      When I asked Prof; Micklitz my habitual common-sense question:..

      Given the evidence, what would be your personal reaction to a member of your own family signing up with an 'MLM' front company?,

      ... he followed his noncommital programming and switched himself off (i.e. he suddenly "had a pressing appointment' and had to end our telephone conversation).

      Prof. Micklitz seems to have been under the malign influence of a French Legal academic, Prof. Henri Temple, who for years was closely-associated with (i.e. co-opted by) the so-called 'French Direct selling Association.' It's unclear if Micklitz received any financial inducements (directly or indrectly) from 'MLM' racketeers, but from his evasive behaviour towards me, it wouldn't surprise me in the least if he had.

      I have also spoken with Prof. Henri Temple. During our conversation, when Temple couldn't answer the most basic common-sense questions, ironically he told me that he considered me to be mentally ill for imagining 'MLMs' to be frauds and cults.

  5. Both Micklitz and Temple appear to be nothing but paid-up whores on retainer for MLM rackets. Why bother talking to them at all?

    1. Anonymous - Hindsight is a wonderful thing.

      In order to establish that Micklitz is/was a twit, it was necessary to speak with him.

      Temple, however, is/was an intellectual prostitute.

      I first ran into Temple at the trial of 'MLM' racketeers in France 16 years ago - where he made a reality-inverting appearance as a 'DSA' expert-witness assisting the prosecution.

      Again, at that time, it was necessary to speak with Temple to establish exactly what he was up to.

  6. Funnily enough, having depression indirectly has made me a lot more skeptical of these kinds of organizations. Or rather, learning how to cope with depression helped me refine my "it's a cult!" alarm system.

    I grew up Mormon, which is fairly benign when it comes to cults (it got a lot more mainstream, Protestant, and boring after 1920 or so), but still has a lot of culty mindsets. Mormonism is a Christian religion (though many Christians would argue this point), and like most Christian faiths their selling point is "If you join up with us and follow our rules, you will be happier!" Which, ya know, you gotta advertise somehow.

    Anyway. Depression hit me in my teen years, partially just cuz that's how my brain works and partially cuz I didn't much like the life-plan Mormonism laid out for me (WAY too much emphasis for girls on being wives and mothers; practically barefoot-and-in-the-kitchen levels). But I was still a "good Mormon" and keeping all the rules, and yet I still wasn't happy. Because, you know, depression. The serotonin levels in my brain really didn't care if I was abstaining from coffee or paying tithing.

    Hearing talk after talk after talk about how if you Keep The Commandments is the only way for you to be Truly Happy, really got quite tiresome. Once I figured out that I was feeling bad because of brain chemistry and not because I was a bad person, it killed a lot of the magic for me and I eventually left the church altogether.

    The point, though, from that is that I grew to be verrrry suspicious of people who say things like "If you do X, then you will get Y." Sounds like an advertisement to me. My cult-alarm goes off especially loud when someone says "But I TRIED X, and Y didn't happen!" and they are met with the response, "Well, you just didn't do X hard enough." Groups that were actually interested in helping you get "Y" would step back and say "Hmm, let's see what's going on. Maybe our premise is incorrect, or at least incomplete. Let's figure out how to get you to Y." Cults, on the other hand, cannot question the premise of "Do X; get Y" or they lose all credibility.

    Sometimes I miss being Mormon. The feelings of certainty, of belonging, and of having a purpose were very powerful. On the other hand, the premises that led to those feelings of certainty were simply untrue, and were ultimately bad for my mental health. Being a cynical, skeptical snarky person who looks critically at things before accepting them is a lot harder than blind acceptance and feeling like I'm an angel (a depressed, secretly self-loathing angel, but an angel nonetheless), but I'd much rather live in the real world than one I've built up around myself to feel more comfortable.

    1. Ally --

      Thank you for your comment and opening up! That is a truly special thing and I really do appreciate it.

      Arguably, everyone has some sort of mental quirk, so don't feel that you are unique, or worse, less than because of lower energy levels. In my opinion, you would be one of the more highly functioning people because of your awareness. That is something found very rarely these days.

      If you want to learn more about Mormonism and its very cult-like behaviors, then I would recommend reading David Brear. He has written a bit about Mormonism and its craziness. Also, the anonymous that left the comment below is well versed in all things cult. He can probably help explain some of the bizarre features of Mormonism. Finally, I would recommend watching "Religulous". I'm not a huge fan of Bill Maher, but this movie is great and Maher's natural skepticism for all things mystical is perfect.

      I'd be curious to hear about your "red pill moment". Was it during an experience with MLM? Was it during your participation in Mormonism?

      I think you have come to realize, as many of the other commentators on this blog have, that living a life of skepticism and being "snarky" is much more fulfilling that being blind and blissful. You are correct, it is much easier to live a life of unquestioning obedience, but is that really your life at that point? It becomes evident than when you give up your autonomy most people fall into a deep depression, but often, they don't realize why they are depressed.

    2. You're welcome, John. I'm quite enjoying your blog.

      I'm actually pretty well-read up on Mormon-craziness. Mormon history, especially early Mormon history, is extremely entertaining if you aren't trying to force yourself to believe that the prophets are men of God.

      My "red pill moment," I think was more of a gradual thing, and it was definitely more Church-oriented than MLM. Money, while nice to have, has never been a huge motivational factor for me, whereas morality and ethics is.

      Part of it, like I mentioned, came from having my depressive-life experience not align with the Church's emotional expectations. Part of it came from learning truths about my religion that I wasn't being taught at church, like Joseph Smith being a polygamist (and hiding most of his marriages from his first wife--which goes directly against doctrine), and specifically for me, that women used to give each other blessings in the early days of the Church. That one blew me away because I'd always wanted to be able to give blessings (ie, laying hands on a person's head and saying a prayer, essentially) but was told that it's a "priesthood thing" and girls don't get the priesthood. From an outsider's perspective it may not seem like a big deal, but it felt like an immense betrayal. From there, I learned more and more about the Church's history, and the house of cards collapsed. Ultimately, it was the combination of learning the truth (which the Church carefully prunes and sanitizes for Sunday School), and realizing that the teachings were emotionally abusive to me.

      "Religulous" sounds interesting; I may give it a watch if I can find it within myself to stomach voluntary watching of Bill Maher.

  7. To Ally L. --

    You may not agree with this, but I have come to believe it strongly: The world is strangling because of too much mindless enthusiasm, too many wild hopes, too much freaked-out dreaming, too many cultish delusions.

    I honestly believe that the only cure for us is to develop a hard-bitten, cold, contemptuous CYNICISM of nearly everything! We need to reject this stupid, Smiley-Face, "Have-A-Nice-Day" culture that surrounds us like a cloud of asphyxiating gas.

    I mean it. I have come to loathe and distrust anybody with a stupid, enthusiastic smile; or who has "a new idea," or who wants to sell me on some new project. THESE PEOPLE ARE POISON. P-O-I-S-O-N!

    So don't feel bad. Being a "cynical, skeptical, snarky person who looks critically at things" is exactly what you should be, Ally L. We are a small but crucial minority in the world today, and we need to reproduce ourselves and support each other.

    1. Anonymous --

      I completely agree! I would rather live a skeptical life than a controlled life. I'd also rather be wrong, but at least question why, than be correct and never understand why. Sometimes it becomes emotionally draining, but the ability to live an autonomous life is priceless.

    2. I think there needs to be a balance. I've been on the other side of the scale, where I was unwilling to believe in ANYTHING unless it had a peer-reviewed paper behind it-- and that leads to its own set of problems.

      I think the real key is to realize that as humans, we need to believe in unprovable, irrational things. The scientific method doesn't have any opinions about morality; that's an emotional, human, subjective thing. Morality is important, and I think before we all jump on the cynicism train it's a good thing to realize that we all have irrational, unprovable beliefs that guide our decisions.

      THAT BEING SAID. I don't think it's a good thing to believe blindly in whatever feels right. Most claims are provable (claims like how much money people can make in an MLM) or falsifiable. Research and being honest with yourself can save a lot of heartache, instead of just doing what "feels right" all the time.

      I know I'm preaching to the choir here, thank you for indulging me. The best decisions are those based on reality. Or at least that's what my irrational, feelings-based belief is. ;)

    3. Ally --

      You said, "...we all have irrational, unprovable beliefs that guide our decisions."

      I'm not sure I believe that. I believe every opinion is formed based on three criteria, biological, social, and environmental. I also believe that there is a rational explanation for everyone's beliefs, and the idea that people are irrational, at times, is a defense mechanism to prevent the ego from being damaged. When someone's self-esteem is fragile, then they tend to be more irrational, but when the self-esteem is healthy, people tend not to be irrational.

      As far as cynicism goes, that is more about the way society has programmed us to characterize ourselves. I don't believe we are actually being cynical at times, but that is the way I have been taught to describe myself when I am being objective about the people around me. Just because the objective analysis is negative doesn't mean the person is actually being cynical. In fact, I would argue certain people are being cyncial when they are jumping on the irrational train, because they can't handle the truth.

      Just my two cents.

    4. Where does morality fit in? Where do abstract concepts like "right" and "wrong" fit in?

      There's no way I can "prove" that harming someone else is "wrong," even though that's something the vast majority of people think.

      It *may* have a basis in biology, as we evolved as social animals, and harming members of our own species/societies isn't beneficial, but if we use biology as the explanation for why harming others is bad, because it's ultimately harmful for society, that creates a sliding scale of morality. It's less wrong to kill someone who is seen as genetically deficient, or it's not wrong to kill criminals because they're even more harmful for society, and so on and so on.

      Morality, in all its abstract weirdness, is something that society at large agrees upon but isn't something that can be "proven."

      If you've got a different perspective, I'd love to hear it, but that's how I've mentally figured it.


    5. Ally --

      Morality, as you described, is an abstract concept with a subjective interpretation. The reality is, there isn't really a "right" or "wrong", rather these terms were created by humans to keep them peaceful and subjugated. People are naturally programmed to be selfish and unlawful, but we created morality to curb that programming in an effort to have a healthier community, and honestly, it is extremely effective.

      We already think it is less wrong to kill people that are "genetically deficient", or in my opinion flawed. We do it all the time in abortion clinics and in capital punishment cases. Both of these classifications of people could be described as genetically flawed, and we often justify the killing with terms like "mercy" or "justice".

      You are absolutely correct about morality being weird. It is too amorphous to fully conceptualize but we do the best we can. People have argued that morality doesn't belong in a high-functioning society, but I would argue that morality is the reason a society is high-functioning. Without the concept of morality, I believe progress, cohesiveness, teamwork, and safety would all be at jeopardy.

      Now, to bring this back to the original point, morality, much like cynicism, is made-up nonsense to label behaviors. These terms are designed to subjugate people, and make sure they do not act out on their reptilian complex. There isn't really a cynicism in asking for proof and doubting that people are being forthright and honest, just like there isn't really a morality in trying to work together instead of taking advantage of strength over weakness. We have come to understand, through actions and reactions, that it is better to question everything and to try to make as many people as happy as possible, instead of blindly following what someone says and trying to screw your neighbor. Morality, in this regard, is inherently selfish.

    6. Morality (more properly, "ethics") is the understanding of how we should or ought to behave, regardless of our immediate self-interest.

      The operative words are SHOULD and OUGHT. Ethics insists on certain required modes of behavior regardless of circumstance or time. Ethical behavior cannot be forced or compelled externally -- if it is, it isn't really a genuine choice, and therefore is not truly ethical.

      There are only three possible sources of an ethical code. One is a religious sanction, enforced by God or the gods. The second is an inherited code from one's culture and national background. The third is the notion that some sort of "natural law" is engraved in the hearts of all men, regardless of their religion or background, and that this must be the guiding light of proper behavior.

      All three sources can be criticized, and are fatally flawed.

      1) Religious sanction depends on the acceptance of religious belief, which varies widely among human beings. No particular religious sanction is self-evident to everyone.

      2) The same is true for a cultural or national code of ethics, since we all come from different cultures and nations, and the codes can differ widely.

      3) The last (Natural Law, or abstract ethics) is the weakest, since there is no objective proof for it, and the behavior of human beings shows flagrant disregard for its supposed norms. Idiots like Kant tried to get around this by creating some sort of pompous defense of abstract ethics ("act in such a way as to see your acts as constituting a permanent Law"), but it was just a verbal subterfuge.

      The fact is that in a world like ours, where there are scores of conflicting, competing, and savagely confrontational codes of morality, appeals to ethics are essentially meaningless.

  8. "Irrational, unproven beliefs that guide our decisions" are probably the result of long-standing psychological commitments and experiences that go back to our childhood. They might be valid and helpful, or they might be the opposite.

    When you are compelled to "do what FEELS right," you are acting out of the principle that lies behind the words of the French philosopher who wrote "The heart has its reasons, of which the reason knows nothing." This is perfectly human, and is not what I was trying to describe. It used to be called one's "conscience."

    What I find abominable and pathological in the modern world is the deliberate attempt (on the part of governments, businesses, political movements, cults, the media, and the bacterial cesspool called commercial advertising) to generate a huge euphoric cloud of enthusiasm about anything and everything, turning most people into over-hyped freaks who go into a state of manic excitement about all sorts of trivialities.

    This isn't just Amway or the other MLMs. This is EVERYWHERE, like a psychological pandemic. We are constantly told to be upbeat, to be excited, to be on edge, to hit our emoticon buttons, to be "open to new experiences" and to "think outside the box." It's as if we had to be electrically charged up every single minute.

    All of this is manipulative and based solely on the need to sell things (or ideas and attitudes) to a consumerist public. The only defense against all of this crap is a very hard-bitten cynicism.

    1. "What I find abominable and pathological in the modern world is the deliberate attempt (on the part of governments, businesses, political movements, cults, the media, and the bacterial cesspool called commercial advertising) to generate a huge euphoric cloud of enthusiasm about anything and everything, turning most people into over-hyped freaks who go into a state of manic excitement about all sorts of trivialities. "

      Ugh, YES. I think one of the biggest turnoffs from going into business for me was knowing I'd have to learn about and engage with sales and marketing. I'm not willing to sell my soul. Dealing with/pretending to be a positivity banshee sounds like the most soul-crushing work out there.