James Arthur Ray, a self-help "guru," was found guilty of negligent homicide today, for the deaths of three participants at a sweat lodge ceremony near Sedona, Arizona on October 8, 2009. Twenty other participants were hospitalized.
This is tragic for those who died, and for their families. But it's also tragic for the thousands and thousands of people whom Ray has duped over the years. As a charismatic speaker he appeared on the Oprah Winfrey and Larry King TV shows, offering supposedly inspirational advice. Followers paid $10,000 for his weekend seminars and retreats.
He is not licensed as a mental health professional. The prosecutor in the trial noted, “James Ray marketed himself as a qualified professional,” but his conduct “recklessly caused the deaths of participants.”
As qualified and licensed mental health professionals, we can speak out against people like Ray, and expose their fraudulent methods. However, there will always be people who submit themselves to charlatans who promise "healing" through extreme measures and a transfusion from their bank account.
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