Delusions Of Amma: Perpetuating Mental Illness

“Ammachi was seen as all powerful; she knew what we were thinking and feeling; she knew our past and future.”     – (Rahima. “Swept Up By Mother Love.”)

One of the more disturbing occurences around the hugging saint is the tendency of devotees to believe that Ammachi is watching their every move and intervening in their daily lives on a regular basis. This belief can easily perpetuate damaging psychological effects, from simply regressing into the adult version of having an imaginary friend, to paranoia and more profound psychological disorders over periods of time. Devotees are encouraged to believe that Ammachi is overseeing every small event that occurs as well as all of their thoughts, desires and actions. This type of behavior is encouraged by Ammachi and those around her by statements attesting to Amma’s omnipresence. Amma has made countless claims of knowing and seeing all of the thoughts and impressions that pass through the minds of her devotees. Even those who may have only attended one darshan session can walk away feeling that they have established a deep, personal connection with Amma. The extent to which this belief is carried varies according to the personality and susceptibility of the individual. There is an entire marketing campaign set up to enforce this belief, because it keeps members tied into the cult. The subtle allusions to Ammachi’s all-knowing nature are found in books, song lyrics and other promotional materials sold by the ashram. It is commonly accepted among devotees that Ammachi knows who they are, and that she has a direct, yet invisible personal relationship with them at all times.

“My son began to attribute everything that happened in his life to Amma, even the most mundane things. I remember once he had misplaced a file of important papers that he needed for school. He said, “It must be Amma trying to fool me.” While listening to him talk with others who were involved in this group, I realized that this type of thinking was common. Ammachi’s followers believed that everything that happened was being orchestrated by her alone.  -( anonymous letter)

This tendency seems to be closely tied into the bizarre phenomenon of the Amma doll. A doll made to resemble Amma, with the largest and most common size priced at $180. The doll is marketed primarily to adults, and many devotees carry them around like children, talking to them and believing that Amma can interact with them through the doll. This disturbing promotion of infantilism and image worship points to the underlying message of the group, which is to worship Amma while maintaining the fantasy that she is interacting with all facets of the devotees life.

“Sitting in the courtyard of the ashram, you can see older women walking to and fro, occasionally protectively clutching Amma dolls. Amma is clearly deified and idolized by her followers. She *IS* God to many of these people.”     -(A Blogger’s observation of ashram life)

The promotion of imaginary relationships is big business for the Amma organization, with an entire store inventory devoted to keeping people feeling close to Amma via dolls, trinkets and personal items that Amma has worn or touched. Amma’s saris, linens, hair, drinking vessels and various other items fetch several times their retail price if they have been touched or used by the guru. Devotees commonly express that these items make them feel “closer to Amma”, or help them to think of Amma more often.

“Beside me, a shrunken old woman sits whispering to a plastic Amma ring on her finger. Beside her, a young French girl sits rocking, her arms wrapped around an Amma gollywog in a sari that costs $180. The girl’s head lolls back, then jerks forward, her eyes roll and spin, her mouth flops open and she drools. She’s hysterically high on Amma love, drunk on desperation for divinity. An elderly English woman collapses, weeping, and is carried off stage.”    -(Sarah Macdonald, Holy Cow.)

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One Response to “Delusions Of Amma: Perpetuating Mental Illness”

  1. Randall Pattee Says:

    I have a history of psychosis mostly fueled by protective upbringing,and 8 years of parochial school mumbo jumbo. The only personal upside is that I can clearly see anything that could instigate psychotic behaviors in those that might be vulnerable to it. This Amma crap is going to cause a great number of people to rely on magical thinking during difficult times instead of their own resourcefullness rendering them impotent or worse yet psychotic.I understand it could be easily argued that Amma may give them a (placebo) edge of confidence to strive where thet may have not otherwise but law of averages says will cause some poverty or worse while making the sociopaths behind it richer. This is definitely a reflection of hard core business nothing more.I wonder if the Amma group is connected to Lilly pharmaceuticals in any way? Just kidding though you never know. I once told one of my shrinks that what I was to them was a customer. Think about it. Anyway I wish someone would start a Church Of Extreme Common Sense where the only thing worshipped would be successful accomplishment of day to day activities people need to do to sustain themselves and help each other to do the same; I know lets call it the work ethic deity. Thanks, Randall.


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