Included here are
scientific research abstracts, books, articles and other
material demonstrating the harmful effects from Transcendental Meditation:
Perez-De-Abeniz, Alberto and Holmes, Jeremy. Meditation: Concepts, Effects and Uses in
Therapy. International Journal of Psychotherapy, March 2000, Vol. 5 Issue 1, p49, 10p.
Abstract: This article reviews 75 scientific selected articles in the field of meditation,
including Transcendental Meditation among others. It summarizes definitions of meditation,
psychological and physiological changes, and negative side-effects encountered by 62.9% of
meditators studied. While the authors did not restrict their study to TM, the side-effects
reported were similar to those found in the "German Study" of Transcendental Meditators:
relaxation-induced anxiety and panic; paradoxical increases in tension; less motivation in
life; boredom; pain; impaired reality testing; confusion and disorientation; feeling
'spaced out'; depression; increased negativity; being more judgmental; feeling addicted
to meditation; uncomfortable kinaesthetic sensations; mild dissociation; feelings of guilt;
psychosis-like symptoms; grandiosity; elation; destructive behavior; suicidal feelings;
defenselessness; fear; anger; apprehension; and despair.
Excerpt, Physiological Effects section:
"In summary, it seems that meditation has a bimodal biological impact along
time. Initially there is a physiological relaxation response in the short
term. This effect also corresponds with findings in the study of imagery on
brain activity as described by Laine et al. (1997). More enduring hormonal
and metabolic changes can later be detected in experienced meditations, some
12 to 18 months after starting meditation practice."
Excerpt, Side-Effects section:
"Not all effects of the practice of meditation are beneficial. Shapiro
(1992) found that 62.9% of the subjects reported adverse effects during and
after meditation and 7.4% experienced profoundly adverse effects. The length
of practice (from 16 to 105 months) did not make any difference to the
quality and frequency of adverse effects. These adverse effects were
relaxation-induced anxiety and panic; paradoxical increases in tension; less
motivation in life; boredom; pain; impaired reality testing; confusion and
disorientation; feeling 'spaced out'; depression; increased negativity;
being more judgmental; and, ironically, feeling addicted to meditation.
"Other adverse effects described (Craven, 1989) are uncomfortable
kinesthetic sensations, mild dissociation, feelings of guilt and, via
anxiety-provoking phenomena, psychosis-like symptoms, grandiosity, elation,
destructive behaviour and suicidal feelings. Kutz et al. (1985a,b) described
feelings of defenselessness, which in turn produce unpleasant affective
experiences, such as fear, anger, apprehension and despair."
Otis, Leon S. Adverse effects of transcendental meditation. Meditation:
Classic and Contemporary Perspectives (722 pages). Edited by Deane Shapiro
and Roger Walsh. New York: Aldin Publications, 1984, p204.
This study by Otis at the Stanford Research Institute involving 574 subjects
revealed that the longer a person practiced TM the more adverse mental
effects were recorded; that 70 percent of subjects recorded mental
disorders of one degree or another.
Castillo, Richard J.
Depersonalization and meditation.
Interpersonal and Biological Processes. May 1990, pp158-168.
A study of six long term TM practitioners that reveals their acceptance
of depersonalized states of existence because they were led to believe
this shows spiritual growth from the TM program.
From a review of the literature on meditation and depersonalization,
and interviews conducted with six meditators, this study concludes
that: 1) meditation can cause depersonalization and derealization;
2) the meanings in the mind of the meditator regarding the experience of
depersonalization will determine to a great extent whether anxiety is
present as part of that experience; 3) there need not be any significant
anxiety or impairment in social or occupational functioning as a result of
depersonalization; 4) a depersonalized state can become an apparently
permanent mode of functioning; 5) patients with depersonalization disorder
may be treated through a process of symbolic healing -- that is, changing
the meanings associated with depersonalization in the mind of the patient,
thereby reducing anxiety and functional impairment; 6) panic/anxiety may be
caused by depersonalization if catastrophic interpretations of
depersonalization are present.
DeNaro, Anthony D. Counselor at Law.
Sea Cliff, New
York, July 16, 1986.
Former MIU legal counsel and professor of law and economics, and former MIU
director of grants administration. Excerpts from the affidavit:
"A disturbing denial or avoidance syndrome, and even outright lies and
deception, are used to cover-up or sanitize the dangerous reality on
campus of very serious nervous breakdowns, episodes of dangerous and
bizarre behavior, suicidal and homicidal ideation, threats and attempts,
psychotic episodes, crime, depression and manic behavior that often
accompanied roundings (intensive group meditations with brainwashing
"The consequences of intensive, or even regular, meditation was so damaging
and disruptive to the nervous system, that students could not enroll in,
or continue with, regular academic programs."
"He [Maharishi] was aware, apparently for some time, of the problem,
suicide attempts, assaults, homicidal ideation, serious psychotic
episodes, depressions, inter alia, but his general attitude was to leave
it alone or conceal it because the community would lose faith in the TM
French, Alfred P. et al. Transcendental meditation, altered reality testing
and behavioral change. A case report. The Journal of Nervous and Mental
Disease, 1975, p55.
This paper presents the case of a thirty-nine year old woman who experienced
altered reality testing and behavior several weeks after initiation into
the TM program. It presents important evidence for a causal relationship
between the practice of TM and her abnormal behavior.
The Various Implications Arising from the Practice of Transcendental
Meditation: An empirical analysis of pathogenic structures as an aid in
counseling. Bensheim, Germany: (Institut fur Jugend Und Gesellschaft,
Ernst-Ludwig-Strasse 45, 6140.) Institute for Youth and Society, 1980
Excerpts from the
4.3.3 TM has a detrimental effect on the decision making process.
There is loss of self-determination and a turning toward the TM authorities
for guidance, i.e. in the case of important decisions. Also, the variables,
facial expression, bodily posture, voice and handwriting point to
the fact that the total personality is gravely altered under the influence
4.5.4 Whereas before the TM phase performance at school was well above
average, and those investigated were most happy with their school
or job situation, a considerable worsening in these areas occurred
as a result of the practice of transcendental meditation. 56% had
decreased concentration abilities during the TM phase, only 16% reported
an improvement. 61% found it more difficult to manage the workload,
as against 13% who reported an increased capacity. TM had a negative
influence on the professional careers of 58% of meditators. Altogether
28 meditators (42%) gave up their studies or professional career in
order to work full time for the TM movement or to be able to go on
long courses. They did this on the basis of promises made them by
the movement. An analysis of the taped interviews and the stenographer's
scripts only serve to strengthen the suspicion that the TM organization
aims at cheap labor, which in the case of those people who became
unfit to work in the course of time, can be sent away again without
any real difficulty.
4.6.6 In 76% of cases psychological disorders and illnesses occurred,
9% of meditators had had therapeutic treatment before the TM phase,
43% had psychiatric treatment or had to have medical treatment during
the TM phase. The psychological disorders most prevalent were tiredness
(63%), "states of anxiety" (52%), depression (45%), nervousness
(39%), and regression (39%). 26% had a nervous breakdown and 20% expressed
serious suicidal tendencies. Psychological illness already present
before the TM phase worsened considerably. TM can cause mental illness
or at the very least prepare the way for the onset of mental illness.
A lack of opportunity for the treatment of meditation experiences
and/or altered perception of reality create suitable conditions for
a pathogenic appearance. Added to this is the heightened delicacy
and increasing helplessness in the personality of the meditator, which
can develop into a complete depersonalization.
5.6.4 The suspicion grows that the meditation offered by TM, caused,
in the meditators' cases which we have investigated, a far reaching
alteration in the view of reality, which damages or causes further
damage to social relationships, the drive to achieve (motivation)
is considerably lessened, to the degree that practical work (i.e.
in a job) becomes intolerable to the meditator, in addition to all
conditions brought about by the intense practice of the meditation,
it gives rise to physical and mental damage.
JUDGMENT OF GERMAN COURT
The ruling of the highest federal administrative tribunal, the
Bundesverwaltungsgericht on May 24, 1989 in Case number 7 C 2.87 is:
1) The Federal Government is competent and allowed to care about cults.
2) The Federal Government is allowed to warn of TM.
3) The Federal Government is allowed to designate TM a "Youth Religion"
as well as a "Psychogroup".
4) The Federal Government is allowed to say that TM is taught by teachers
who are not qualified [to deal with the TM problems].
5) The Federal Government is allowed to say, TM can cause psychic
defects or destruction of personality.
Glueck, Bernard and Charles F. Stroebel. Meditation in the treatment of
psychiatric illness. Meditation: Classic and Contemporary Perspectives
(722 pages), edited by Deane Shapiro and Roger Walsh. New York: Alden
Publications, 1984, p150.
This study of 110 subjects discloses that the release of repressed
subconscious impressions [stress] from the TM practice can be handled by
some but has also been seriously destabilizing for others.
Hassan, Steven. Combatting Cult Mind Control. Rochester,
Street Press, 1988.
General and specific treatment of the modus operandi of cults which
includes the TM movement, the appeal tactics used by cults, common
terminology, general cult psychology, case histories of former cult
members including TM movement examples, intervention and exit
Hecht, Esther, Peace of Mind. Jerusalem Post, 01-23-1998, pp 12.
Excerpt: "That very proliferation of new religious and secular groups, however, gave
rise to a government-appointed commission that concluded TM can be dangerous
in some cases. In 1982 - at the urging of concerned parents and a haredi
anti-missionary group - the then education and culture minister, Zevulun
Hammer, appointed the Interministerial Commission on New Religious Movements
in Israel, headed by his deputy minister, Miriam Glazer- Ta'asa.
"According to the commission's report, which appeared five years later, TM
works through a combination of placebo effect and hypnotic suggestion,
though the organization is never explicit about this. Most people who learn
TM stop meditating after a while and discontinue their contact with the
organization. But those who continue are likely to take part in an advanced
course for sidhis, or yogic flying, which involves long periods of
"The report cites Dr. Ruchama Marton, an Israeli psychiatrist, who says she
treated a severely psychotic TM practitioner and that she knows of other
such cases. Marton warns that though there is no proof of a causal
connection, it appears that in some cases prolonged meditation may
precipitate such a breakdown.
"The report adds that there is no screening by mental health professionals of
candidates for yogic flying, and that the use of self-hypnosis without
supervision by such professionals on hand to deal with crises is extremely
Heide, Frederick J. and T.D. Borkovec. Relaxation-induced anxiety
enhancement due to relaxation training. Journal of Consulting and Clinical
Psychology, 1983, p171.
Heide, Frederick J. and T.D. Borkovec. Relaxation-induced anxiety:
mechanism and theoretical implications. Behavioral Research Therapy,
These two papers by Heide and Borkovec disclose that 54 percent of
anxiety-prone subjects tested experienced increased anxiety during TM-like
Kropinski, Robert. United States District Court for the District of
Columbia. Civil Suit #85-2848. 1986
In his civil suit against the TM Organization, Kropinski reported
incidents of alleged psychosis, suicides, and the
drugging of course participants. The court document "Answers to Defendants' Interrogatories
--John Doe I" contained this
A Washington, D.C. jury
awarded Robert Kropinski, 39, $137,890 to pay for his psychiatric
treatment. Kropinski was an 11-year member who was part of Maharishi's
According to the January 14 (1987) Philadelphia Inquirer,
the jury in the precedent-setting case found that the TM movement
"defrauded him with false promises of mental bliss and neglected
to warn him about the possibility of adverse side effects."
Leon Otis, a staff scientist at the Stanford Research Institute,
testified that after surveying hundreds of meditators he concluded
that "TM may be hazardous to the mental health of a sizable proportion
of the people who take up TM." And Gary Glass, senior attending
psychiatrist at the Philadelphia Psychiatric Center, testified that
Kropinski's 11 years in TM triggered a "pathological state" that left
him disoriented and depressed.
Lazarus, Arnold A. Meditation: The Problems of Unimodal Technique.
Meditation: Classic and Contemporary Perspectives New York: Alden
Publications, 1984, p. 691.
Lazarus, Arnold A. Psychiatric problems precipitated by transcendental
meditation. Psychological Reports, 1976, pp601-602.
Based on clinical experience from these two studies, Lazarus shows that
serious psychiatric problems can ensue from the practice of TM. He points
out that TM is no panacea. He concludes that the TM practice can be used
in some cases, but that it is clearly contraindicated in other cases.
Lifton, Robert J. Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism. Chapel
Hill, South Carolina: The University of South Carolina Press, 1989
Last published in 1964, this is a newly reissued edition of the classic
textbook and case study of the victims of thought reform and elements of
the thought reform process. Chapter 22 outlines eight themes present in the
sociological environment of thought reform which in time become
internalized by victims, who in turn reinforce the themes socially.
Many cults exhibit fewer than all eight themes. In the TM movement and at
MIU, however, all eight themes are found to be richly developed.
Persinger, Michael A. Enhanced incidence of 'the sensed presence' in people
who have learned to meditate; support for the right hemispheric intrusion
hypothesis. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 1992, 75, pp1308-1310.
If the "sensed presence" is a transient intrusion of the right hemispheric
equivalent of the left hemispheric (and highly linguistic) sense of self,
then any process that facilitates interhemispheric electrical coherence
should enhance these experiences. As predicted, the "ego-alien intrusion"
(sensed presence) factor was specifically and significantly elevated in
221 people who had learned to meditate (65 to 70% were involved in
transcendental meditation) compared to 860 nonmeditators.
Experiences of sensed presence were more frequent in female than in male
meditators and were particularly evident in left-handers who had learned
to meditate. The effect size suggests that learning a meditation technique
is contraindicated for subpopulations, such as borderline, schizotypal, or
dissociative personalities who display very fragile self-concepts.
Persinger, Michael A., Laurentian University.
Transcendental meditation and general meditation were
associated with enhanced complex partial epileptic-like signs: evidence
for 'cognitive' kindling?
Perceptual and Motor Skills, 1993.
Personal Philosophy Inventories of 221 university students who had learned
to meditate (about 65% to 70% practiced transcendental meditation) were
compared to 860 nonmeditators. Meditators displayed a significantly wider
range of complex partial epileptic-like signs. Experience of vibrations,
hearing one's name called, paranormal phenomena, profound meaning from
reading poetry/prose and religious phenomenology were particularly frequent
among meditators. Numbers of years of TM practice were significantly
correlated with the incidence of complex partial signs and sensed presences
but not with control, olfactory, or perseverative experiences. The results
support the hypothesis that procedures which promote cognitive kindling
enhance complex partial epileptic-like signs.
Persinger, Michael A, Norman J. Carrey and Lynn A. Suess. TM and Cult
Mania (198 pages). North Quincy, Massachusetts: Christopher Publishing
"Claims of the TM effects are neither unique nor special but are the
consequences of procedures associated with suggestion, placebo
reactions, simple relaxation, neurotic belief, and the mislabeling of
vauge emotional experiences. In this book we investigate the precise
psychological and social procedures by which this movement manipulates
human behavior." p.7
Chapter 4: "All TM Effects Can Be Produced By Suggestibility/Placebo
Chapter 9: "TM: Trigger to the Psychotic Prone?"
- Misconceptions About Hypnosis as a Special State
- Personality Characteristics of Very Responsive People
- Factors Influencing "Hypnotic" Responses
- Comparison of TM and Hypnotic/Placebo Effects
- Are TM Adherents Just Highly Suggestible?
- TM Conditioning as Stages in Suggestibility
- The Problem of Psychosis
- TM: Philosophy and Psychosis
- Meditation and Psychotic Triggering