La-la land Estonia



Welcome to Estonia – a paradise for charlatans of every shape and size. A land overflowing with the naive eager to pay for primitive psychological discourse. Journalists stand in line for a chance to provide free advertisement. Archimedes, mediator for international education/research cooperation, keeps ordering trainings.

A man now convicted for abuse of his own small child is no exception. Eagerly, he was interviewed by a bunch of journalists – from county papers to TV channels, from yellow press to media most dignified.

Steadfastly, the official sales proceeds of pseudo-scientific school established by the man have stayed on the upper side of €120,000 a year – fans are plenty. With the public, the guy is well pleased. «To my surprise, in such a small land as Estonia, a hundred people gathered to hear me speak,» he told a ladies magazine. «I decided that there’s a need, I’m coming over.»

For various occasions and to our knowledge also in documents, he uses three Christian names, at times combined. «For the most part of the year, the travelling kind of psychologist spends on airplanes and on the road,» wrote Eesti Ekspress, in an initial story in Estonia about the man.

That was the time he settled in Estonia. To the knowledge of Postimees, in UK he left behind a heap of debt and credit cards sucked empty; upon arrival into Estonia, the «international man» was poor as a beggar and slept in a car. Estonians, however, proved a welcome source of income and life was good.

Here we go again

Reading his interviews, I find myself asking the question: how many of such specimens do we need to come travelling thro till we have the obvious similarities in the texts by heart? On the contrary: in December 2009 and in 2011, Archimedes (acting in education and research ministry domain)  organised trainings by said man for youth workers, for European Social Fund money. In the folder, he was titled professor of psychology and a hypnoanalyst.

While the journalists and mediators of EU science money were listening to the professor, the portal was banging its head against walls trying to convince the public: regarding the man’s competence, there was not a single piece of proof.

So what are his titles used in media and Internet? Valgamaalane, the Valga County newspaper, lauds him as a psychologist of an international scope. In the same interview, the man says he has a small child who he wants to grow up in a better world.

Also, he claims to be the founder and director of some international school of analytical and cognitive hypnotherapy and psychotherapy. Allegedly, he did have it in England; to the knowledge of Postimees – in virtual form, though.

He goes on to say he has an academic degree in history, philosophy, pedagogy, French literature and psychology. Also, he is teaching at Sichuan and St Petersburg Universities, and naturally at University of Tartu. The latter an outright lie, what about the rest?

Here and there, the media calls him a counselling psychologist, as well as a founder of the school of hypnoanalysis and a psychoneuroimmunologist.

Union of Estonian Psychologists president Kairi Kreegipuu says in Estonia anyone who gets the idea may brazenly call himself a psychologist. «Over here, it is not regulated who may call himself one operating in the field of psychology,» she admitted. «Now, Union of Estonian Psychologists issues standardised professional certificates to be renewed every five years. At the moment, such individuals are a bit over one hundred.» We might as well rejoice that, starting this year, Health Insurance Fund no longer pays for services of psychologists without professional certificates.

Those who know the hero of this story say he is good with people and an excellent manipulator, also skilled in hypnosis. Swiftly, he has been able to create contact with many a well-known persona in Estonia. Allegedly, even some local quote unquote real psychologists have been impressed with his teaching.    

Rather typical with such guys is opposing themselves to science based psychology and/or medicine. Meanwhile, they are in the habit of underlying their alleged scientific degrees and the scientific nature of what they do. 

In itself, what they say may not be wrong, but differs from real science by its down-to-earthness and simplicity, at times primitiveness. As an example of that, it is highly typical to hear these charlatans say stuff like this man told Pärnu Postimees. «Take the flu, for instance. As the flu virus is on the move, everybody should be sick. But some are, some aren’t. Why? When you are stressed, anxious, depressed, it weakens your immune system and you get sick. It all begins with the immune system, which in its turn begins with the thinking,» announced the man. «The greatest mistake made by medicine is treating the symptoms. Fly, stress, cancer, and all other sicknesses are symptoms. We need to treat the problems, not the symptoms.»

And, then, naturally the constant search for self: «In my opinion, the greatest problem is that people do not know who they are. We never ask ourselves: «Who am I as a person?»»

There are some rather sober articles about his activities, though. For instance, in 2007 Postimees wrote about his attempt to open a higher hypnotherapy school in Estonia, advertised as an option to obtain a degree recognised in the UK. Checked out, this turned out to be a bluff so the so-called psychologist had to continue in a manner less ambitious.

Unsolved murder

To add colour to our hero, some info will not fit a CV. In 1974, the most talked about murder story in Israel was the killing of a female soldier. His boyfriend – the guy this story is about – was the main suspect initially. Both belonged to an extreme left organisation, though back then the media suspected the lad was an agent for the Israeli secret service Mossad. The would-be psychologist was held for 46 days as a suspect; however, afterwards another man was judged guilty. According to Israeli media, the latter was testifying under torture and beatings. Later, the one then convicted went on claiming he never killed the lady. He was released prematurely, but for him that was not enough – following his fourth recourse to Israeli supreme court, in 2002 he was judged not guilty. Thus, the real culprit was never found.

In 1988, the man so well known here was in extreme hurry to leave Israel. Happening to visit the land later, he was thoroughly interrogated on the border. About his activities in the UK, Postimees lacks detailed information.