Susan Moreno of MAAP, Cassandra Cult Recruiter
A conference entitled Knowledge is Power will be presented on October 10-11 in Kansas City by MAAP Services and the Autism Asperger Publishing Company. One of the scheduled activities is a "spouse workshop" by Susan Moreno, director of MAAP, and consultant Julie Donnelly. Autistic individuals will be excluded from this workshop, according to its description, so that "candid discussions" can take place.
Presumably Ms. Moreno thought that by avoiding any mention of Cassandra or Maxine Aston or FAAAS in the conference materials, she could entice unsuspecting spouses to sit through a presentation of their repulsive ideology, while also flying under the bloggers' radar. However, as we all know, a person's associations can be quickly searched with a few keystrokes. Take a look at this page on the FAAAS website detailing the content of a previous Moreno-led spouse workshop (as usual, it's a partial URL because I don't give active links to their hate site).
After claiming that autistic people commonly cause our spouses to suffer "embarrassment and isolation," the description of the previous workshop went on to state explicitly that it was a Cassandra presentation:
Cassandra Syndrome, Cassandra Affective Disorder or the Cassandra Phenomenon was named to describe the symptoms of stress (low self esteem, depression, anxiety, often seen in partners of individuals with an autism spectrum disorder. Other symptoms partners may experience include lethargy, loss of libido, changes in mood and a weaken immune system. CAD was named after a mythical princess who was granted the gift of prophecy but cursed with the fact that no one would believe her even though she was right. Experts such as Maxine Aston feel it is brought on by emotional deprivation.
After highlighting the above issues in the presentation successful techniques and strategies to address these issues will be presented…
I've noticed that recruiters for the Cassandra cult always follow the same basic script. First, they lure non-spectrum partners into relationship workshops from which the autistic partner is excluded; after that, they lead a group whinefest complaining about all the faults, real and imagined, of autistic partners; and then they finish the presentation with a hard sell for Cassandra books and future workshops, which they claim are absolutely essential to recovering from the hideous depression and misery caused by living with an autistic partner. Never mind the pesky little detail that their marks weren't feeling particularly depressed or miserable before the Cassandra gang got them in its clutches.
This is pretty much the same modus operandi followed by exploitative cults of all sorts. Cult indoctrination tactics generally begin with deception of the potential recruit, such as by describing a workshop or other presentation in very bland and innocuous terms, so that he or she doesn't suspect there is anything out of the ordinary going on. The next step is isolating the person from family members, such as by holding an event in an out-of-the-way location where telephone use is not allowed, or (as with Susan Moreno's workshop) by specifying that family members may not attend. The group leader then encourages recruits to vent about their problems, for which the cult's ideology is presented as the only real solution, while becoming increasingly emotional about it. Because of the social pressure to agree with the group, the highly charged emotional language, and the isolation from family, the recruits end up being much more vulnerable to the cult's sales pitch than they might otherwise have been.
The way to counteract such groups' influence is, of course, to shine a very bright spotlight on their devious schemes and make those cockroaches go scuttling for cover. To any of my readers who might have been thinking about attending the conference, I suggest that you stay away; MAAP doesn't deserve a penny of your money. If you have a friend or family member who is considering going, warn them about the spouse workshop. And if you have already registered or have a specific reason to attend, well, then, you may want to stop by the spouse workshop for a few minutes and give Susan Moreno and Julie Donnelly some candid discussions of quite another sort.
After all… knowledge is power.