Financial insolvency, emotional dependency and health complications are some of the consequences of the pseudo-therapies on which many vacation retreats that are a trend this summer and that are advertised on social networks are based. To warn about the “most dangerous recalls for health”, the Institute #SaludsinBulosin collaboration with psychologist Carlos Sanz Andrea and cult researcher Luis Santamaría del Río, have produced a report that is now available online.

Behind these activities in nature, which promise “numerous benefits for the body and spirit”, hide pseudotherapies as harmful as bioneuroemotion, family constellations or Gestalt therapy. In addition, it is common in these groups to recommend taking the “miraculous mineral solution” to treat all kinds of diseases and fasting with water, juices or broths, without any medical supervision.

“We have a tendency to conform and believe that what is natural is always the healthiest, and these vacation retreat groups are taking advantage of this. In them, devotion to a guru or naturist is practiced, who generates suspicions towards Medicine and promotes activities based on well-known pseudotherapies”, explains psychologist Carlos Sanz Andrea.

The #SaludsinBulos report lists what these pseudotherapies are and their degree of danger, as well as the biases that influence their acceptance and the recruitment of followers. Among the keys that can help identify that a vacation retreat is dangerous are the elimination of food groups (they look for the physical weakness of the subjects), leaving few hours of sleep, long sessions of physical exhaustion and meditations, isolation and promise of a wide variety of benefits for body and soul. The isolation materializes from the first day by removing mobile phones and cutting off all communication with the outside to become the only source of information while the limited diet they provide is characterized by being low in carbohydrates.

“They may seem like harmless outdoor activities but we should not underestimate the dangers involved. Their attractive ads on social networks, promising enriching experiences in beautiful places in Spain, have as their ultimate goal to attract long-term followers and take advantage of vulnerable people. Its economic profit goes hand in hand with the destruction of the person”, warns Ricardo A. Mariscal, head of institutional relations for #SaludsinBulos and researcher of Internet denial groups.

Pseudotherapies, retreats and sects

For Luis Santamaría del Río, a member of the Ibero-American Network for the Study of Sects (RIES), the connections between many of the “spiritual retreats” based on pseudo-therapies and sects are very clear: “Many sects have a field day, never better said , right now. When so many people need a radical disconnection from their ordinary lives, with the stress of work and their obligations, there are sectarian groups on the prowl at a particularly vulnerable moment.

“Under the pretext of relaxation, meditation, stress reduction, search for one’s own essence… activities are proposed that invite ‘comprehensive healing’, ‘increase vibration’, ‘discover the inner child’ or ‘recharge energetically’, and that in the right context and for the necessary time, they generate great emotional pressure that ends up attracting many people”, continues Santamaría.

Thus, bioneuroemotion is one of the most common pseudotherapies in these groups. The #SaludsinBulos report explains that it is based, without any scientific evidence, on the fact that serious illnesses would originate from an emotional “shock” and that the illness reaction would be the “body’s response to heal itself”.

Believing in this pseudotherapy means embarking on expensive courses, ideas of magical thinking, blaming, illusory links, professional intrusion, loss of social and family contact and, finally, in the most serious cases, contributing to preventable deaths.

Another of the most present pseudotherapies is Gestalt therapy, which works like a destructive cult and claims to address psychological disorders. Its real purpose is to alter the personality of the patient and leave him at the mercy of the psychotherapist, without any scientific basis.