Nightline story on James Arthur Ray

In anticipation of his imminent indictment, former James Arthur Ray employee Melinda Martin dishes on her ex-boss on ABC’s Nightline. She says that employees weren’t permitted to address Ray directly, who kept himself “on a pedestal”; her fellow staffers forbade her to call 911 when things first started to spiral out of control in Sedona. The area outside the lodge looked like a MASH unit, she says, with people projectile vomiting everywhere. Ray emerged from the lodge as fresh as if he’d spent the day in a spa and made absolutely no effort to help any of the victims. In response to ABC’s story, Ray released statements from participants and employees that painted a starkly different picture:

According to the signed statement of one participant, ‘my impression was that James Ray was stunned about what was happening and was attempting to help as many people as he could. I do not feel there was any more James Ray could have done.’ The signed statement of a second participant said that ‘I realize that what has happened is a horrible tragedy, but I do not feel that James Ray is responsible for what has occurred.’ Finally, the signed statement of a JRI employee indicates that ‘the press reports stating that James abandoned the participants that night are completely false.’

Nightline also addressed the Colleen Conaway controversy, which has been simmering in the blogosphere since the events in Sedona but has received little play in the major media. Conaway commit suicide during a James Ray event in San Diego last summer, while she was pretending to be homeless as part of a role-playing exercise. Conaway, according to her family, was $12,000 in debt to Ray. Her parents believe that Ray behaved callously and irresponsibly; Ray’s organization denies any culpability whatsoever.


4 thoughts on “Nightline story on James Arthur Ray

  1. The lessons of James Ray…

    “The Self-Help Movement has become the Self-Destruct Movement!”

    There was a time when the answers to life’s challenges were simple. We learned to make our own decisions based on common sense, family values and religion, and we learned good judgment from life experience and through the sound advice of family and friends.

    Now, however, Self-Help gurus have brainwashed us into believing that they know what is best for us, our marriages and our families. These self-proclaimed experts make millions while offering up their generic advice without any solid evidence to support their claims.

    The common sense once readily available to all of us has been hijacked. Self-Help has evolved into a “quasi-religious” cult following through the systematic commercialization of positive psychology and sound mental health.

    The Self-Help Movement has become the Self-Destruct Movement by diminishing or destroying our ability to explore, interpret, assess, create, judge, choose and evolve on our own. We have given up the freedom to live life, and build healthy marriages and families based on our unique history, values and life experience. Instead many (desperately) search outside themselves for someone to tell them how to be happy, what they should value and how they should act.

    Being a “happier person” or having a “healthier family,” whatever that means, are often the goals of consumers of Self-Help products. Yet studies continue to show that to be happy and healthy is simple but not necessarily easy. Few of us want to do the hard work necessary to change, so we keep searching for an easier way offered by the latest guru, sometimes with deadly consequences.

    The Solution: A Return to our (Common) Senses! The best way out of this learned “self-helplessness” is to go cold turkey. Stop watching ALL Self-Help shows now, and quit reading any more Self-Help books, at least until you have applied what you read in the last one.

    Begin, instead, to reclaim your natural, God-given ability to think for yourself. The common sense that was once readily available to all of us is still there free of charge and waiting to be applied to just about any challenge we might face in life… all you have to do is use it.

    John Curtis, Ph.D. is the founder of Americans Against Self-Help Fraud –

    1. Excellent points John.

      I would say that the self-help “new-age” movement is a religion, if you define religion as the development and adherence to a ridgid belief-system.

      One such belief that James Ray sold is that if you push yourself to the absolute limit of your capacity (physical and mental), it will somehow beneficially transform you. If this were the case then all top atheletes would be “enlightened” (whatever that word means). Also if Ray himself practiced this concept (and I don’t doubt that he did) then the callousness of his actions that resulted in the tragedy prove the premise false. As Arthur points out, the adjective “sociopath” better describes Ray than “enlightened”, or even “normal, caring human-being” does.

      I agree that thinking for oneself is the answer. The fear of doing so is what leads people to be attracted to religions and gurus. Overcoming this fear is true self-help. I hope this tragedy brings more awareness to this issue.

  2. There is nothing new about James Arthur Ray. He comes at the end of a long line of quasi-scientific, quasi-spiritualist gurus extending back into the nineteenth century’s New Thought movement and is an heir to Emmet Fox, Napoleon Hill, Norman Vincent Peele, and Werner Erhard. What distinguishes him is not the details of his think it and you shall receive it “philosophy” or even the extent of his charlatanry, but his sociopathic tendencies.

  3. For someone who makes millions of dollars a year, you’d think that these reimbursements are but a drop in a bucket. But what I’m seeing is a stingy man who is teaching abundance for all, to all who can afford it.

    For a man banking on the Law of Attraction, you’d think paying out would be the fastest way to solicit a return.

    Those are my short and quick thoughts on the matter. See my blog for more.

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