An Open Letter About Sterling

An Open Letter--posted at alt.mindcontrol/August 1996

The Sterling Institute of Relationships

Who is Justin Sterling and what training has he had to make him a"relationship guru" earning reputedly millions of dollars? His real name is Arthur J. Kasarjian. According to police records, he was arrested in 1974 in San Francisco and pled guilty to grand theft and impersonating to steal money and property (see The Province newspaper of Vancouver-- Dec. 12, 1993 article "Get direct answers or bail out"). This convicted individual has also used the names Arthur Baronoff and Robert Hutchinson. He has admitted to training in EST (another earlier self-awareness program using mind control techniques). [And] Sterling is such an expert on relationships that he is …divorced.

The Sterling Weekend

Sterling members will recruit people for their Weekend programs without providing any information on the content or on Justin Sterling. You will be told that the Weekend will change your life, answer all your questions, solve your relationship problems, etc. You will be told that it cannot be described; you have to "experience" it. Of course, if you knew what was on the agenda before being exposed to their psychological manipulation, you would be horrified! In the Sterling Weekend seminar, men's and women's Weekends are held separately.

Common Elements Between Men's and Women's Weekends

Upon arrival at the "site" you will be handed a form and told to sign it in order to start the "Weekend". This includes a confidentiality agreement and waivers for physical, emotional and mental injuries without limitation including adverse effects that the Weekend may have on your current therapy. Besides signing your life away, you will be giving permission for videotaping and audiotaping your activities and allowing Sterling to use these "in any way they deem appropriate". Of course you will be told that you cannot photograph, audiotape or even take notes!

Upon entering the room/auditorium you will be subjected to the extremely authoritarian and intimidating manner of the Weekend Production Team. Like other cults, all these people are volunteers.

The Weekend is designed to wear you down through sleep deprivation and lack of regular meal breaks. Besides being hungry and tired you will lose your sense of personal control by being told you can't use the washroom except on announced 15 minute breaks. The men are given garbage cans to pee in at the corners of the room. Bodyguards are posted at all doors and to add to the intimidation they have walkie-talkies or headsets on. Production Team members (usually of the opposite sex to you) are stationed around the room videotaping.

To add to the humiliation process women are called "jerks" and during the Men's Weekend, men are asked to walk around the room for 15 minutes yelling over and over again the phrase "When it comes to relationships, I'm a fucking jerk".

The rules are presented by Sterling's assistant and include: No speaking, can't leave the room except during break time, listening carefully, etc.... breaking the rules mean forfeiture of your $500 dollars (US) and expulsion. You will also be told that "the Weekend is ended when Justin says so and not before".

Neither questions, nor time is allowed for any personal reflection on the information being given. You are either chastised or physically punished (push-ups) for being late from the short 15 minute breaks which are given. All these techniques are used to put your critical thinking on hold.

Participants must bring a special dish to serve 8-10 people, "A dish prepared for royalty". After the meal, the dishes are critiqued and participants praised or criticized. According to Justin, the effort one takes to prepare this dish reflects on how the person runs their life.

You will be subjected to long periods of boring, monotonous material with definitions, which are repeated several times. Chanting exercises are also incorporated into the program. This, in combination with sleep deprivation and the authoritarian conditions, sets up the audience to be in a suggestible state ready for hypnotic manipulation and mind control.

After the initial definitions and purpose of the weekend is given by an assistant, your group will be left for about 3 hours to do nothing except get frustrated waiting for "his highness" Justin Sterling. Justin eventually speaks over the loud speakers and says how he has been watching and lectures for 20 minutes then dismisses everyone for a 15 minute break.

Justin then arrives "in the flesh" for a lengthy question and answer period about relationships. However, if a question is asked about his qualifications or it appears that he does not have an answer, He belittles the person asking the questions and avoids giving an answer. For men he often makes the questioner do push-ups.

Usually a supper break occurs at this point followed by more definitions, rules, etc. to about 2:30 a.m. Sunday, when an exercise about venting anger is conducted. You are asked to pair up and to shout at each other making your partner the recipient of your anger. After this intense emotional outburst everyone is drained and sent out for sleep with an order to take a 3 minute cold shower in the morning.

After a few hours, later on Sunday morning, the windows of the room are blackened out and meditation exercises are conducted. "Feel the oneness that we all share, make eye contact and share each other's intimate self. If the feeling gets too intense, close your eyes and continue when you feel ready".

People are asked to share stories of grief to the whole room (video cameras are rolling as usual). You will be told to comfort those who are in pain and to feel each other's anguish if you have none of your own.

People will be hugging and crying. This is followed by group dancing.

More definitions and rules are repeated again by an assistant. Justin arrives to announce that "This is the sex part of the Weekend". People are expected to share personal sexual experiences in graphic detail. This Is usually followed by dinner around 9 p.m. (no food since breakfast) and then the choosing of a team leader and name, with more definitions and droning lectures until about 4 a.m. Monday morning. For the women there is a graduation ceremony with candle holding.

The Men's Weekend has a particularly abusive psychological mind game consisting of having all the men in stand in a circle around the room. Justin states that they should imagine that they are all warriors going to war and that he has given everyone the tools over the Weekend to do this. He asks if anyone has a question before going into battle. Anyone who has is asked to stand in the center. He also asks the group to pick out any man who hasn't "understood the material" and include them in the center.

The minority in the center of these mindless "warriors" are told to think about why they were separated from the others and the small group of questioners are led by guards, out into the night with colored glow sticks around their necks. They are blindfolded and bullied by the guards. They are told not to talk, that they do not belong and to think about why they are there. They hear drums in the distance and are then led single file, blindfolded, towards the drumming. They are told to put their hand on the shoulder of the man in front and if they let go they will let their whole team down.

While this select group is being detained in a small dark room, the remainder form their teams to discuss with their leader what they think the men who were taken out to the room need to do in order to regain their honor and rejoin the group. The leaders confer with one another and devise a plan of action. The lights are dimmed, Indian music is playing and a fog machine pours smoke into the room.

The groups who have been isolated are led back into the auditorium and their blindfolds are removed. They are now standing in the center of a large circle of nude men, marked with war paint, who are beating the drums and yelling. What happens next depends upon the decision of the group on what they have to do in order to rejoin the warriors.

The lesson: Be a follower, do not question. Pressure is put on all participants at their workshop to "commit" to joining their local division (to reinforce the mind control) after they arrive back home.

Here are a few tidbits of Sterling's philosophy:

For Men:

  • Women want a strong man so do not share fears or anxieties with women as they will use it against you.
  • Women want control so if you are asked to do something "Don't do it".
  • Men are warriors; they cannot be a "caring, sharing kind of guy".

For Women:

  • Women are 100% responsible for the success of their relationships (whatever happened to the concept of teamwork in a marriage?).
  • Spend 45 minutes per day stroking your man's ego.
  • Don't criticize your man and never compete with him (his ego is too fragile).
  • Man's first priority is competition, so they have learned to cheat, lie, steal and do whatever else it takes to come out ahead. As soon they sense they are losing, they can be vicious, vulgar and vindictive. They can be either a "killer" or a "hero" and it is up to the woman in the relationship to bring out the "hero" (using "Sterling logic", wife batterers can blame their wives for not being "nice" enough!).
Anyone, no matter how strong-willed or educated will, to some extent, succumb to these mind control techniques. Don't feel overly confident that you can escape the influence. This group uses deception. No knowledge is given about what you are being exposed to. No consent is obtained for using mind control techniques. Also, there is strong pressure to recruit new members. Adherents are told that there is something lacking in their relationships if they cannot convince others to "commit" to the Weekend. There are support groups developing by former Sterling members and most cult awareness organizations have received complaints about the Sterling program. The charity work of the I.C.S.D. just puts a happy face on their organization.


by Angel August 1996

Angel's name has been changed to protect her family's privacy and to prevent reprisals.

If you would like to compare the experience of a Sterling Weekend to the standard techniques employed in a "thought reform" program (often called "brainwashing" or "mind control") see Chapter 22 of Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism by Robert Lifton at /brainwashing19.html.

Copyright © 1996 Rick Ross

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