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Cognitive Therapy

Geoffrey Leonard, 30th April 2005

Last Wednesday 27th April 2005, Quentin McDermott of ABC Four Corners, an investigative show, rang me and asked me to do an interview for a forthcoming program asking about efficacy of Corrective Services sex offenders’ rehabilitate programs in curing sex offenders. The topic could have been suggested by what they had heard about my expulsion from St Andrew’s Cathedral. I was a convicted sex offender up to his old tricks again, but had been caught by the ever vigilant and noble-minded dean. And before I could do any harm, he had had me ejected. It was apparent to me that the projected program was to be a parade of the Official Mind in all of its glory.

The reporter asked me if I had done the psych program, and I said “Yes”. Obviously in his mind, with me it had not worked. I told him that I would not be doing any interviews until the people involved were conversant with the material contained in my writings and which is on the CD-ROM entitled The Collected Works of Geoff Leonard, 1983 to the present. I particularly wanted it known that I am not a convicted sex offender who has re-offended, either in the Cathedral or anywhere else.

Hence, I am not an example of an offender who has undergone the program but for whom it has not worked. If they are depending upon the facts relating to my expulsion to untruthfully state that I have re-offended, and publish this as fact, they are leaving themselves open to having to make proof of their assertion or else face action under the Defamation Act 1974. The interested reader can now turn to Geoff Leonard, Expelled, Hornsby 2005 and Geoff Leonard, Last Throw of the Dice, Hornsby 2005

But the affair has got me thinking about the nature of the cognitive therapy in question. Psychology is one of the executive arms of the Official Mind and Corrective Service psychologists are its officers. The aim of punishment (inter alia) is to deter, both the offender from repeating his crimes, and others who could be tempted to imitate him. The operative factors in punishment are pain and fear of its repetition.

In addition to these, cognitive therapy aims to inculcate a belief that the crime was morally wrong. The aim of the therapy is to persuade the offender that not only was the offence wrong because it offended against the wishes of the stronger party, namely the state, but because it was, in itself, morally wrong.

It is a fair assumption that most inmates in the prison system behave in accordance with the wishes of the Official Mind because they have to, and not because they want to. And that in fact this applies to everybody is an assumption lying behind the criminal law. We all behave because, if we don’t (and are caught), we will be punished. The law is about the command of the Sovereign (as the Official Mind is referred to in jurisprudence). Morality has nothing to do with it.

So, to start talking about morality is to be taking us outside of the rules of the game. And it opens a can of worms in a multi-cultural society. What morality are we talking about, the Jensen Bros.’ morality, bin Laden’s morality, Geoffrey’s morality, or whatever? Obviously we are talking about the morality of whoever has the biggest political clout. Somehow it doesn’t sound moral.

Rather than being about morality, cognitive therapy is about adding something to punishment as a factor in determining our behaviour. And this factor is social conditioning. We behave because the commands of the Sovereign are also our commands.

It is probably true to say that in general criminals take a negative view of authority. Criminals are outsiders and authority is imposing its will upon them contrary to their wishes. An inmate is in the prison system but he is not of it. He is in the system in order to be punished, and when it is finished with him, it will toss him out. Authority is seen by the inmate and ex-inmate alike as being unfriendly. Because social conditioning depends upon identical with authority, it is probably true to say that it is singularly ineffectual in the conditioning department, and that on discharge, the inmate hates authority even more than he did at his reception.

I have to admit that I was greatly puzzled by what I experienced of the Sex Offenders’ Assessment Program – SOAP – whilst I was in Cooma Prison (1990-1993). It seemed to have no direction and that the therapist spent most of his time with the group in small talk.

My report of it in Razorwire is basically satirical. I read into it a great many deep implications and teachings that would have been, and in fact were, indignantly denied by the psych. During the whole of the course of my experience of SOAP, which stretched to over two complete sessions (due to various factors that had nothing to do with me), I rarely, or perhaps never, heard the therapist say anything substantial at all. Actually it seems that what he was trying to do was establish a positive, friendly relationship with us.

In other words what he was trying to do was to present to us the friendly face of authority. Once we accepted this, and because he represented the Official Mind, the friendly face of the Official Mind, then we would have accepted and identified with, the Official Mind’s view of our crimes. And thus the aim of the exercise would have been accomplished. And we would have been rewarded with a good psych report for classification and eventual parole.

We are social, or herd, creatures and tend to belong to tribes. Tribes are socially arranged in hierarchies and we tend to obey persons higher up than us in the hierarchy. This behaviour is programmed into us in the form of social “instincts”. If we belong to the mainstream “official mind” tribe, we tend to accept its behavioural norms and to behave in accordance with them.

But crims tend to belong to other minority tribes (why indigenous persons are over-represented in gaol) that the Official Mind is trying to subjugate, or simply be loners who don’t belong to any tribe at all.

Because I am a loner, I didn’t accept the therapists as a friendly authority figure but rather (correctly) as just another aspect of the enemy Official Mind. If the Official Mind really wants to do something about crime, it must focus its attention upon the phenomenon of alienation. But apart from this, my professional education tended to influence me to look down on the therapist, rather than up.

Once a member of a therapy group is feeling a personal friendly relationship to the therapist, probably he will be seeking individual meetings with him and taking to him his personal problems. I never did this. Rather did I maintain a barely concealed hostility, that is expressed in various places in Razorwire. And, as far as I was concerned the attempt at conditioning failed.

I had a friend who took to the psychs in a big way, and sought private sessions with them at every opportunity. I used to remark (to myself) that he would come out of these sessions as “smug as a bug”. He loved their praise and attention. I shared a cell with him, but receiving constant lectures from him about “listening”, I changed cells.

Soon after release he was again arrested, so much for the depth of his “rehabilitation”. Back in prison, the cycle began again, with his appearing before the Wood royal commission dobbing in his mates. He bitterly complained about being abandoned by the psychs when he was out. His membership of that particular tribe had ended on release, when he realised that it had been a nine-to-five job only.

If cognitive therapy is to be successful, it must be ongoing after release and the tribal acceptance must be real. The present paedophile registration requirements and the associated restrictions on employment and movement probably make this virtually impossible. Just how alienated a person with convictions in this area is and must continue to be until his death, was forcibly brought home to me by my recent treatment in St Andrew’s Cathedral.

Cognitive therapy is not rational, and does not seek to operate at the rational levels of the mind. Rather does it seek to influence behaviour at the instinctual level. It cannot operate at the rational level because it itself is not rational.

The basic assumption behind the sexual law in this area is that persons are not sexual until a certain, legislatively determined age, and then they suddenly become sexual. The irrationality of this assumption does not need to be underlined but nevertheless it was when the consent age of male-to-male sex in July 2003, was reduced from 18 to 16.

Evidently the age-of-consent has not been determined by God but is merely a set of moveable goal posts. Had my group therapist – a gay by the way, talk about rubbing salt into the wound – produced a set of rational arguments. And over and above the circular one that the offending act was illegal because it is illegal, I would have been open to change my views (depending on how good the arguments were). But he did not and he could not.

Summing up, cognitive therapy operates at the same mental level, and is closely related to, hypnotherapy. The more tribal and suggestive the subject is, and the greater is his sense of alienation, the better it works, and it cannot work with anybody who is inclined to be his own person and a loner. But as soon as it is discontinued, the effects rapidly wear off leaving the subject feeling more abandoned and alienated than before, and so more inclined to re-offend, as the experience of my friend demonstrates.

Cognitive therapy is also akin to brainwashing. And brainwashing apparently does not have a high reputation for its success rate. Cognitive therapy is a fraud.

But it is not true that the therapy did not affect me. I am not a true loner. My personal experience left me with a feeling of great anger against the therapists that has not gone away till this day. What they were actually doing was using their authority to reinforce my unconscious, and its hatred of sex and love.

When I left prison, I could constantly hear welling up in my brain the words, “Sex is wrong. Love is wrong.” I was intensely angry because these people had knowingly and intentionally sought to destroy my capacity to live and function. They must have known that the ideas that they tried to plant in my psyche were harmful and wrong. They did it for money. Money is the bottom line. I felt that my very soul had been violated and humiliated.

The Four Corners reporter asked me whether the therapy was voluntary. Formally it was but effectively it wasn’t. If the inmate did not do the therapy he would have arrived at the finishing post without full documentation to present to the Parole Board. What would be missing would have been his psych report. The consequence is that he would have been refused parole and forced to do his full time, amounting at that time to a quarter of his sentence – today a third.

I had not sought the private session part of the program which might have accounted for my having some difficulty in getting a good report. My advice to new sex offender inmates is to prepare right from the beginning to do your full time. In this way, you can avoid the psychs altogether and when you are eventually discharged, there will be no parole time and not only this, the permanent damage will be a lot less serious. From experience I can tell you that worrying about getting that parole is the best way of ensuring that you will be doing your time hard.


Cognitive therapy is based on the idea that correct thoughts and beliefs will lead to correct behaviour and emotions. Correct thoughts and beliefs are the thoughts and beliefs of the Official Mind, or rather the thoughts and beliefs that the Official Mind would want people under its control to have. People who reject the Official Mind as being alien and negative to their interests will accept the thoughts and beliefs that it would wish them to have in order that they should do its will.

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The problem that faces Corrective Services faces is to present the Official Mind in a positive light to prison inmates. The “system” is normally viewed with hostility by prisoners, who are therefore extremely resistant to take on its values. The solution is to have psychologists who present themselves as outside of the system and as friends of the prisoners. If the Official Mind can present itself to prisoners in a positive light, the way is open to break down prisoner resistance to its ideas and values. Being social animals we are naturally open to influence from friendly authority, i.e. we are open to behavioural conditioning. And the prisoners become open to the belief that their offences were really wrong and not just legally wrong. And being thus convinced of this, the hope of the Official Mind is that they will not re-offend in the future.

It seems that within the Corrective Services system, cognitive therapy is only given to sex offenders. They are the ones that the Official Mind needs to convince that what they did was really wrong. Most other categories of prisoner know full well that what they did was wrong as contrary to the interests of the Official Mind, but couldn’t care less.

It seems that cognitive therapy is mostly used in connection with depression. I was in an extremely depressed state when Ubiquitous did his little act on Lindfield Station and when our eyes met. I pulled myself together and was alright on that fateful day of 8th September 2004. It is likely that he had had a role to play in the events leading up to that day and that he wanted to “reform” me. Love was expressed in the lingering meeting of the eyes – and this was efficacious in lifting the depression, He was the one with the social authority and it was up to him to make further contact, which he never did.

Every Sunday morning in the Cathedral the Dean delivers a sermon that stresses the need for obedience to the Word, and the terrible punishment that awaits those who are caught with their pants down at the Second Coming. The punch-line is a call for repentance and an invitation to come to one of the staff members (mostly, it would seem, students at Moor College) with this intention.

I suggest that this situation has all of the elements of cognitive therapy. The thing has to kick off with a positive decision on the part of the “client” to alter his ways. In Corrective services the inmate has to make the initial approach (in contrast to the normal prison situation where he is expected only to do what he is told). We are not supposed to know that he would have heard on the grape-vine that unless he does this he will not be getting his parole.

Having repented and “received Christ” in a little ceremony the new Cathedral convert will be introduced to a group in his neighbourhood which will tell him what he is to think and how he is to behave if he is to be saved on the great day.

The important thing is that this association is intended to be permanent. Once he is in, he is expected to always be in. For a person who is alienated and distressed mentally, this cult membership is felt as a great experience, and he will be willing to give up a great deal for it, e.g. his former “sinful ways and inclinations”. Had Ubiquitous responded to my “application” and invited further contact, I would very likely have fallen so completely under his spell that I too would have given away my sinful ways and inclinations, namely my gay identity and behaviour. But the association would have had to have been permanent and committed.

It is also likely that the association would have become sado-masochistic in nature. This is because it would have involved a considerable amount of self-hurt on my part. I suggest that this would, in practice, be a common element in most cognitive therapeutic situations, and is the reason why cults are associated with evil. It is likely that Ubiquitous would have ended up treating me with the uttermost cruelty.

If the sacrifice has been against the interests of the convert, and if the association comes to an end, the convert is likely very rapidly to return to his old ways. It is as if he has been under an hypnotic spell and with the departure of the hypnotist, the suggestions speedily fade away, so, under normal conditions where the therapy is administrated in a professional terminating situation (as in Corrective Services), we would not expect the results to be permanent.

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