WERNER ERHARD: The Transformation of a Man, The Founding of est by William Warren Bartley

WERNER ERHARD: The Transformation of a Man, The Founding of est

Email this review


A mildly probing and provocative look at one of the central figures in the human potential movement. Professor Bartley (Philosophy, California State) knows the antecedents of Erhard's somewhat eclectic consciousness training style, from Carl Rogers to Dale Carnegie to Zen to Scientology, and he is meticulous in his integration of all the formulative elements in the Erhard psychology. Erhard was born Jack Rosenberg in Philadelphia, where he promptly entered into oedipal conflicts with an adored mother. An early series of near-fatal accidents is claimed as a Freudian attention-getting ploy; when his mother proved unresponsive to a broken nose, twelve-year-old Erhard entered into a self-destructive course in which he both introjected his mother's personality and became a self-proclaimed victim. Married at eighteen and soon the father of four children, Erhard felt trapped--he eloped westward with another woman, became an executive-level publishing salesman, and began to explore the various pathways to human consciousness. A ""transformation"" on the California freeway led him to establish est (Erhard Seminars Training) in 1971--to help others recognize the existence of Self (universal, not personal), transcend limits of the mind, and become accepting of others (""Water's wet, rocks are hard, and mother's mother""). The story is told in part through conversations with Erhard, his friends, and family (with whom he was reunited after his twelve-year desertion). What emerges is a portrait of Erhard as a constantly searching, dynamic personality who blends Eastern philosophy with the entrepreneurship of ""a rogue genius and American original."" Too entranced to be truly objective, Bartley is nonetheless an insight-fully partial observer.

Pub Date: Oct. 17th, 1978
Publisher: Clarkson N. Potter--dist. by Crown