Founder: John Hanley

Date of Birth: Not available

Birth Place: Not available

Year Founded: 1974


John Hanley, once a member of Mind Dynamics (as was Werner Erhard of est fame), formed Lifespring during the popularity of the human potential movement. With the help of John Enright (of the Gestalt Institute), Hanley established Life Spring as a seminar based group that focused on introspection and the manipulation of reality. Hanley hoped that attendees would gain an appreciation for the control that each human has over his or her life.

Sacred or Revered Texts: Hanley has written a number of pamphlets and books about the techniques used in Life Spring seminars, but they do not have the status of sacred texts.


Life Spring emphasizes that “truth” is a relative concept that can be interpreted in many different manners. The source of “truth” lies at the “core” of each human soul. The core contains this “truth” as well as love and identity. The goal of Life Spring is to draw this core out and actualize it in everyday life. It is the belief of members that they can achieve this state through the seminars conducted by leaders in the group. Leaders pair members off (into dyads) so that exercises involving sharing and confronting can take place. By breaking down an individual, the potential hidden in the “core” is discovered. Through further training, the “core” becomes actualized.

Size of Group: In 1977, Life Spring claimed to have over 20,000 people involved in training seminars. By 1989, officials state that over 300,000 people had enrolled in the seminars.

Remarks: The similarities between Life Spring, Scientology and the Forum are remarkable. All involve diads where partners share and confront, hoping to bring about an awareness of human potential. It seems the popularity of the human potential movement, which holds high the idea that each person has a spark of the divinity in them, continues unabated. It also seems as if a large portion of the population is willing to pay in order to discover their “core potential.” Life Spring seminars cost $450 in 1984, further training seminars cost upwards of $750. Many attendees are reported to be businessmen interested in improving performance at work.


Haaken, Janice. 1983. “Pathology as ‘Personal Growth’: A Participant-Observation Study of Lifespring Training.” Psychiatry 46, 3, 270-280.

Masalkov, I. K. 1990. ” Lifespring in Moscow: Impressions, Problems, Outlook.” Sotsiologicheskie-Issledovaniya 17, 7 145-151.










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