A Self-help History: Peter McWilliams and ‘What to do When Your Guru Sues You’
Seek SafelyJuly 10, 2023x
01:17:3253.28 MB

A Self-help History: Peter McWilliams and ‘What to do When Your Guru Sues You’

In this episode, Dr. Glenn takes us through the fascinating tale of Peter McWilliams who was both the author of the best-selling “Life 101” series and a victim in many ways of his guru/cult leader, John-Roger.

The story of Peter McWIlliams is sad and interesting; but importantly, it demonstrates so many of the recurring themes of how the self-help industry operates: 

  • Large Group Awareness Trainings (LGATs) as a gateway into more insidious and culty self-help 
  • self-help gurus fabricating an origin story
  • the ways in which manipulative leaders divert and exploit the talents of their followers
  • how self-help continuously recycles (and/or plagiarizes!) the same old content
  • the readiness with which self-help organizations use law suits for intimidation and self-protection

In telling the story of McWilliams, we also take a walk through some of the biggest self-help books, leaders, and movies of the last ~35 years! Be sure to check out the links below! 

Also mentioned in this Episode:


Life 101 Series by Peter McWilliams

"The Personal Computer" by Peter McWilliams

Getting Things Done” by David Allen

Tragedy in Sedona” by Connie Joy

“The Road Less Traveled” by M. Scott Peck

Ain’t Nobody’s Business if you Do” by Peter McWilliams

Fit for Life” by Harvey and Marilyn Diamond 

Info Pages and Articles:

About Life 102: What to do When Your Guru Sues You by Peter McWilliams

Insight Seminars

Large-group Awareness Trainings definition


Erhard Seminar Trainings (est)

Behavioural Activation

LA Times article about allegations against John-Roger

Review of I Am Not Your Guru documentary about Tony Robbins


A Little Bit Culty podcast