8 episodes

River Donaghey grew up in a cult. Or at least that’s what some people called it. His parents called it a “personal-growth seminar group.” Its leader called it “one big happy family.” But there was a dark side to the world River grew up in. One he never heard about as a kid. 

In the 1970s and 80s, a self-help company called Lifespring took America by storm. Hundreds of thousands of people walked out of Lifespring as true believers, convinced that the seminars had the power to change the world. But dozens of trainees claimed that after taking a seminar, they had a psychotic break. Some spent months in the hospital. Others attempted suicide. And at least four people died. 

River spent the past year digging into the bizarre, untold story of Lifespring and its controversial leader: a convicted felon turned New Age guru named John Hanley. What he uncovered made him question everything he thought he knew about his childhood. And about the seminars that are still changing lives—and ruining them—to this day.

Good Cult Opportunist

    • True Crime
    • 4.8 • 1.4K Ratings

Listen on Apple Podcasts
Requires subscription and macOS 11.4 or higher

River Donaghey grew up in a cult. Or at least that’s what some people called it. His parents called it a “personal-growth seminar group.” Its leader called it “one big happy family.” But there was a dark side to the world River grew up in. One he never heard about as a kid. 

In the 1970s and 80s, a self-help company called Lifespring took America by storm. Hundreds of thousands of people walked out of Lifespring as true believers, convinced that the seminars had the power to change the world. But dozens of trainees claimed that after taking a seminar, they had a psychotic break. Some spent months in the hospital. Others attempted suicide. And at least four people died. 

River spent the past year digging into the bizarre, untold story of Lifespring and its controversial leader: a convicted felon turned New Age guru named John Hanley. What he uncovered made him question everything he thought he knew about his childhood. And about the seminars that are still changing lives—and ruining them—to this day.

Listen on Apple Podcasts
Requires subscription and macOS 11.4 or higher

    Vigilante - Byron David Smith: THE DEER HUNTER

    Vigilante - Byron David Smith: THE DEER HUNTER

    Byron Smith was tired of his home being burgled. He said it had been broken into at least a half dozen times. And he was determined not to let it happen again.

    So, Smith set a trap and laid in wait to protect his “castle.”

    When two teenage cousins broke into his house on Elm Street, it set off a true-life horror story.

    Listen to Vigilante:https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/vigilante/id1622288667https://open.spotify.com/show/49wzulSXKQKWYOIWoTVEPT?si=0d4c8835885e4fa1

    • 37 min
    6 of 6: So What? Now What?

    6 of 6: So What? Now What?

    "Your idea of how this came about ain't at all how it came about."

     

    Listen to Good Cult ad-free, with bonus content, at KastMedia.com/KastPlus

    Listen to Good Cult ad-free on Amazon Music

     

    Thank you to our sponsors:


    Zocdoc: Then start your search for a top-rated doctor today at Zocdoc.com/GOODCULT
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    See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

    • 36 min
    5 of 6: The Red-Black Game

    5 of 6: The Red-Black Game

    "I see the value in transformation, but I also see its shortcomings."

     

    Listen to Good Cult ad-free, with bonus content, at KastMedia.com/KastPlus

    Listen to Good Cult ad-free on Amazon Music

     

    Thank you to our sponsors:


    Zocdoc: Then start your search for a top-rated doctor today at Zocdoc.com/GOODCULT
    BetterHelp: Get 10% off at Betterhelp.com/GOODCULT
    Jordan Harbinger Show: Check out cult-related episodes at jordanharbinger.com/start
    See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

    • 39 min
    4 of 6: Casualties

    4 of 6: Casualties

    "We were never a cult and we wanted to remove everything that gave the appearance of being a cult."

     

    Listen to Good Cult ad-free, with bonus content, at KastMedia.com/KastPlus

    Listen to Good Cult ad-free on Amazon Music

     

    Thank you to our sponsors:


    Jordan Harbinger Show: watch cult-related episodes at jordanharbinger.com/start
    See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

    • 37 min
    3 of 6: This is About the Rest of Your Life

    3 of 6: This is About the Rest of Your Life

    "He was like a rockstar. He was a very attractive man. He was the Lifespring celebrity."

     

    Listen to Good Cult ad-free, with bonus content, at KastMedia.com/KastPlus

    Listen to Good Cult ad-free on Amazon Music

     

    Thank you to our sponsors:


    BetterHelp: Get 10% off at Betterhelp.com/GOODCULT
    Splendid Spoon: Get $120 off your first three boxes at SplendidSpoon.com/GOODCULT.
    See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

    • 33 min
    2 of 6: The Leader

    2 of 6: The Leader

    "He thought being put in that casket was the best thing that ever happened to him."

     

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    Listen to Good Cult ad-free on Amazon Music

     

    Thank you to our sponsors:


    BetterHelp: Get 10% off at Betterhelp.com/GOODCULT
    See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

    • 35 min

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
1.4K Ratings

1.4K Ratings

Mar112233445566778899 ,

Too many ads ruin the great show

I get that you need to do ads, but there are probably 5 tow-minute commercial breaks in a 39 minute episode. Love the content, HATE the execution

Turntable0 ,

good show but ugh the ads

I like the content - interesting and important, but the number of ads is SO annoying. I don’t know the economics of this business, but some shows do this well and some terribly. This falls into the latter category.

Elaine in Baltimore ,

Interested but…

They repeat a lot of the information and there are far too many as it’s too invasive to hold my interest.

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