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Friday, May 11, 2012

Freedomain Radio - A family business

Stefan Molyneux and his wife Christina Papadopoulos run an internet site called Freedomain Radio. Families end up in ruin, but not to worry. It is nothing more than a voluntary decision to discontinue adult relationships.

Stefan Molyneux runs the site full time and generates revenue from donations. His wife is a licensed therapist in Mississauga, Canada (a Toronto suburb). She practices as Christina Papadopoulos. Ms. Papadopoulos is the source of Molyneux’s foundational beliefs and exhortations that there is a strong and convincing connection between psychology and philosophy. His early essays are clear that her insights on the family and relationships created the intellectual wellspring for his psychology/philosophy connection. He often refers to his wife as the ‘brains of the operation.’

Molyneux originated as an acolyte of Ayn Rand (author and philosopher who invented the philosophy of Objectivism). Molyneux moved on to what might be considered the final stop on the Objectivist train line. Molyneux believes he has figured out how to have a utopian state of free trade and property rights with zero government. This is often called anarcho-capitalism. He used to podcast from his car on his way to and from his job as an Information Technology worker. I used to listen to these podcasts. I found them to be engaging and entertaining. I looked at them the same way you would if you were having a party with some good friends and the discussion moved to a thought experiment. Hey guys, what would it be like if there were no police or courts? How could you make a stateless society work?

Molyneux is making a serious suggestion of an answer to these questions. He contends that when society finally falls under the weight of debt, corruption, etc, the Moly version of an anarcho-capitalist utopia will rise from the rubble. On some level, Molyneux certainly knows that anarchy is unworkable. There are certain examples from history where anarchy works, but it is almost always in the context of benign neglect (e.g. Hong Kong) or some remote part of a country where the govt is there buy does not have any presence.  Because it is part of a soverign country, a thug can't establish providence over the area, so the locals have to figure out a way.  They have private property.  Freedom. A cultural agreement on rule of law.  When it happens it is a beautiful thing.  Mostly though, history tells us that Anarchy comes after a people throw off the shackles of an oppressive state.  And shortly after that period of anarchy, the inevitable result is horror and suffering that comes from the breakdown of society.  Shortly after that, there the second inevitability.  A dictatiorial thug with the biggest and toughest armed supporters takes over.   Once the new thug is in charge, the state is back with a vengence.  Now the real atrocities begin.  The bolsheviks over threw the Czar in the name of freedom.  Whoops.  The Russians got four generations of death by the millions and a morose totalitarian regime that sucked every bit of huma joy imaginable out of life.  Molyneux does try to describe a way to address the problem with Anarchy and history. For an intelligent and idealistic young adult, the Molyneux version of anarcho-capitalism can have a lot of appeal.

Alas, there is more to FDR than anarcho-capitalist musings. Molyneux spends a lot of time discussing his childhood. He says his father left when he was young and his mother was relentlessly abusive. He further contends that he and his brother kicked their mother out of the house when he was fifteen. Somewhere along the way, Molyneux broke with his family forever. I have received posts from people who knew Moly as a child and knew his mother.  Suffice it to say, Moly may be overstating his horrible childhood.  After they were married, his wife Christina broke with her parents. In a podcast some time ago, Molyneux described a discussion he had with his wife. In it he describes the revelation that they both had. The family structure was at the root of people’s INABILITY to find complete and true freedom. The thinking can be encapsulated like this:
· People reject anarcho-capitalism for psychological reasons (as opposed to empirical historical analysis or simple logical reasoning).
· Nearly all parents are corrupt child abusers
· Naturally their psychology is messed up by their parents
· The best way to repair the psychological damage done by your parents and be truly free is to abandon your family

The public reason for the emphasis on Psychology is so people will be more willing to accept anarcho-capitalism. But in the parlance of the con man, that message is only the tale. Here is an early essay from Molyneux. It is so thoroughly out there that it is hard to take seriously, but he really believes what he wrote here. This essay discloses the basis for all that is FDR today:
Therapists generally consider that a patient who is terminating a multitude of long-term relationships is acting in an impulsive and self-destructive manner. In particular, breaking off relationships with family members is considered only a last resort, usually reserved for physically abusive parents or spouses. Everything else is supposed to be ‘worked out.’
Of course, quite the opposite is true. Of all the relationships in your life, your relationship with your parents and siblings is by far the most likely to be completely screwed up. Not only that, but you also have absolutely no power to improve these relationships.
Harsh? Not at all. Merely logical.

When raising children, parents have absolutely no idea what they’re doing. Why should children obey them? Because parents are right? Hell no – ask parents why they hold their beliefs, they don’t have a clue. How could they? The last competent philosopher was probably John Locke, over three hundred years ago. The general social stream of ideas is just muck and confusion, designed by evil people to baffle and paralyze any good souls that accidentally emerge from the sick swamps of modern thought.

Average parents can no more reinvent morality from scratch than they can build a Space Shuttle in their backyards. Still, they have to get their children to obey them – how do they do it?

Oh, the usual suspects. Guilt, shame, withdrawal, criticism, bribery, bullying, manipulation – the usual crap that has passed for parenting throughout history. Guilt, shame and bullying always rush to fill the void when logical morality loses favour, because children must be taught, and if no carrots are to be found, sticks will always just have to do.

So face it: your parents were bullies, or weak curriers of favour, or manipulative emotional infants themselves. You have no respect for them, for respect requires courage, and courage requires logical morality. You do not love them, since love demands virtue, and manipulating children into blind obedience is not at all virtuous. There are only a few possible responses to modern parents:

- Contempt- Indifference- Boredom- Hatred- Empty conformity

These are usually mixed into an over-stimulating frappe of conflicting emotions, leaving family gatherings fraught with tension, alienation, dissociation and emptiness.

You are told to repair things with your parents, but that is an impossible task – a complete waste of time that will also make you crazy. Since they hurt you when you were young, you cannot fix the relationship. To make the point with an extreme example, if you are raped by a man, you cannot cure him of his desire to rape. Maybe someone else can, but you cannot. Since your parents bullied or bribed you into blind obedience, you cannot help them become better people. Maybe someone else can. A therapist perhaps. But not you. You have no hope, since their guilt about how they treated you will always muck up any attempt at honest communication.

And really, it is impossible to forgive someone who has bullied a child. Forgiveness is for repairable events, like being distracted or breaking a vase. A bad childhood cannot be repaired or returned intact. Where restitution is impossible, forgiveness is impossible. Don’t even try.

Does this sound too radical? Do you think it extreme for me to say that almost all parents are horribly bad? Perhaps it is. However, if you look at the state of the world – the general blindness and the slow death of our liberties – the challenge you take on by disagreeing with me is this: if it’s not the parents, what is it?
Either the world is not sick, or parents are. Because, as my wife says, it all starts with the family. If you want to perform the greatest service for political liberty, all you have to do is turf all of your unsatisfying relationships. Parents, siblings, spouse, it doesn’t matter.

- Stefan Molyneux

So if you are following this: All parents are bad. So are siblings and spouses. All family relationships are bad and can’t be repaired. If you think you love them, you’re sick. They all have to go.
So how does FDR work in practice?
When a new visitor enters a chat room or forum, there are the obliging FDR members who engage the new visitors then stick with them over the course of time. When the new member begins to join into the anti-family culture that is FDR, the other members encourage the conversation. And then they start promoting the abandonment of their family. Molyneux posts on the forums but he does his most damaging work during public ‘call in’ radio shows (and in personal conversations with potential donators who are on the brink and need the final push).
The Sunday ‘call in’ shows' and the ‘ask the therapist’ call in show’ where Christina participates are simultaneously mesmerizing and deeply sad. This is where Molyneux is fully engaged in the argument for ‘freedom.’ This is where Molyneux does his best to persuade kids to leave their families or to cement their decision. It is here where he actively and effectively persuades them and the call in show listeners that their parents were evil. These are unlicensed therapy sessions where he engages in an orgy of projection of his own issues and breathtaking manipulation. It is during these truly infuriating sessions when he picks out some routine complaint and in a manner that would make Barbra Walters proud, he gets the poor caller to a state of sadness and vulnerability. Everyone has some sort of issue that can be exploited. Even if he can't find an issue, he confabulates one. His favorites fall into these areas:

· Your father dominated you and destroyed your self esteem
· Your mother ignored you and withheld affection
· Your parents were abusive to you by insisting you behave in public
· Your parents never respected it when you had your own thoughts or beliefs
· You were never allowed to feel true happiness
· Your parents took you to church. i.e. it is abusive in the extreme to suggest to a young child that there is a mystical non-existent god that is all knowing and all seeing.
· Your mother only had you so you could be delivered to your father for abuse 
Moly uses this last one and the 'religion as abuse' to connect the mother to the abusive parent narrative.  Father's are often the disciplinarian in the family.  It is relitively easy to come up with stuff on dad and why he was a corrupt bully.  Mom isn't a pushover, but she is mostly  quite loving and saintly in how the kids are treated.  This creates a real challenge for Moly to rationalize why a young adult should engage in such cruelity towards their mother.  

These templates don’t always work. I got a link to one of his therapy sessions on a call in show.  He could not get the caller to bite on any of the standard stories of parental miss behavior. Molyneux kept probing. But the caller’s parents were pretty easy going. The caller said he was allowed to have his freedom. They never engaged in physical discipline. Molyneux was frustrated. He seemed to realize that everyone on the call was listening and he was failing to make his point. Eventually Molyneux said to the caller, "They didn’t even care enough to hit you.”  I am serious.  I heard him say that myself.

But most times, it is easy for Molyneux (actually it is easy for anyone), to find and exploit an area of vulnerability. In one session, a young female caller was upset because she had an argument with her mother and her mother finally sent her to her room.
The caller said, “I remember feeling so angry and upset that she would not listen to me.”
That was all Molyneux needed to confirm the her mother was corrupt and abusive. The caller ended up in tears. Eventually something creates the emotional reaction that puts the caller in a state of acceptance of Molyneux's main message. That message is always the same:
Your parents were abusive and your best chance to find true freedom is to abruptly abandon your family.
This is consistent with Molyneux's own alleged sad childhood experience. As a complete narcissist, Molyneux likely believes that others need to mirror his experience to find their own freedom (i.e. leave your parents like I left mine). He tries to control himself, but there are well documented times when he has overtly called for the FDR member to make the break. He has a series of podcasts on how to make the break, etc. Sadly, there are some who are at the right young adult age and in the right state of mind to be receptive to this damaging concept. "Why not? Let me be free. I'll do it!!" When that happens there is another broken family and another donator to FDR.
In the FDR world the family break has a name. It is called a DeFoo. FOO is the Family of Origin. DeFoo means departing the FOO. A Defoo is different from the occasional, young adult ‘get me out of here’ break up. A DeFoo is a Molyneux invention that is based on one truism and one perversion.

The truism: Adult relationships, including family relationships, are voluntary.
The Perversion: practically all parents are abusive and corrupt in the Molyneux world.

Once he persuades the young adult that these two things are true, he and his minions start working hard on the defoo. When they finally succeed, this sudden event is traumatic for all concerned. The victim did not realize how much this loss would affect them. They have “voluntarily” abandoned the love and support of their family. There is a huge emotional vacuum. Molyneux is poised to fill that void....for a fee. This is how he makes his money. He gets locked in contributors who have nowhere else to go. They find themselves increasingly 'comfortable' in the FDR community. Other relationships are broken off. 
Moly aggresively seeks donations. There is a graduated fee structure: silver, gold, diamond etc. The top donator status is the Philosopher King. That one requires an initiation fee plus $50 a month. The main differentiating aspect of each donator status is the level of access. His wife does bring in revenue from her family therapy practice, but his only form of income is from donations to his site. If he gets a young person to leave their family of origin (the FOO), they are more likely to consistently donate to FDR.

On occasion, Molyneux does put out a purely PR comment encouraging therapy, communications, etc. But in nearly 1,500 podcasts there have been NO PODCASTS about ‘Re-joining Your Family after the Break.’ That is because a defoo isn't taking a break. It is intended to be permanent. To find true freedom/enlightenment, etc, you need a complete separation from everyone forever. This includes friends, because they're also corrupt. That is unless you can recruit them to become an FDR member and then a donator. In private chat rooms the facts and evidence strongly show the true nature of FDR. Molyneux tightly controls his messaging by way of his members. He has very specific instructions for his members on how they are to treat new members. The instructions are designed to avoid communicating the true nature of FDR. Molyneux warns the members that he often arrives as a new visitor to test their behavior. He assures them that any deviation from his requirements will cause them to be banished from the group.
Young adults have been angrily leaving their parents since the family unit began. Usually it is after many attempts to communicate or at the end of a trail of dysfunction. A DeFOO is different. First of all, the most sacred rule of the DeFoo is that it must be abrupt and without warning. There is to be absolutely no discussion or communication prior to the break other than a lie you are to tell your parents so they won't come looking for you. The member is supposed to suggest that they just need some time, but that the break it temporary. Since the parent loves and respects their child, they respect the request for some space. The second rule is that once done, there is to be NO further contact with the family under any circumstances. You are advised to take the time you have before your parents catch on, to change cell phone numbers, move away, etc. You must isolate yourself. The parents and family members are left in a state of despair and sadness. So is the FDR member. No therapist would recommend anything so destructive. Except, of course, the therapist wife.
The parent-child relationship is unstable in that period of time when the child is transitioning to adulthood and independence. There are a lot of conflicting emotions and life dynamics for all concerned. For Stefan Molyneux and his wife, Christina Papadopoulus, this is their moment of opportunity. They have developed a money making system that makes the most of this critical stage in a family relationship. They are successful if they are able to insert themselves into the mix at this critical stage and help the family break apart. Don’t worry about the shattered lives and unrelenting pain. It is just an independent adult decision to break with The good news is that FDR can generate a few dollars a month from a new donator. This essay was written when Molyneux was unguarded. He wrote it before he felt the need to maintain a public position of encouraging therapy and open communications. There is another rather famous Molyneux quote from an article published in the Guardian “You’ll never see me again.” Here it is:

"Deep down I do not believe that there are any really good parents out there - the same way that I do not believe there were any really good doctors in the 10th century." - Stefan Molyneux


  1. what is this mans personal childhood background? i cannot believe a person could be so screwed up that he would want to destroy the basis of any decent society, the family!

  2. My recollection of his mother was a positive one. She was a likeable person. I have seen glimpses of her temper on one occasion, however, so there's no doubt that what Moly says about her could be true. Moly himself was a jovial, comical soul when he was young. He seems a bit of a spider, now. I agree with his theory that family unites are a source of poison and should be abandoned altogether. Who says we owe it to our families to include them in our lives? If I never saw my parents and siblings again, I would be at peace FINALLY. Other than that, the rest of his jive sounds like a cult to me.

  3. Jeez. you knew Moly's mother? She wasn't a complete loon? I always thought Moly was being a little tough on her.

    Your words of agreement do not match up with Moly's position. You say family is a source of poison. That is reasonable. Moly contends that the traditional family unit is the single source of all poison. Do you think making a business out of breaking up families is reasonable?

  4. Most people would say my mother was a nice person, but parents don't tend to abuse children in front of everyone. So because your former commenter didn't see it, doesn't mean it didn't happen.

    Anyways, I believe Molyneux doesn't say ALL family is bad and you should abandon them.
    I believe what he says in your quote is " all you have to do is turf all your unsatisfying relationships", which means you have the freedom to discern what relationships make you happy and what don't. You have the choice to leave the ones that don't make you happy.
    Please explain what is wrong with leaving abusive relationships, regardless of who they are?
    Or do you feel the word "abuse" is not well defined?

  5. Hello Melissa,

    I think it is the definition of abuse that is at the heart of things. Moly's view of abuse is so broad and so inclusive as to cause most (maybe ALL) families qualify as corrupt and/or abusive. I am of the belief that he is more interested in a likley donor than a corrupt family. In other words: If he discovers a qualified prospect for a defoo and thus a permenant donor, he will interview that prospect until he finds the abuse needed to prove out that the prospect had an abusive relationship.

  6. I came across this and thought it may add to your posts:

  7. i have been following stefans youtube channel. i had heard the allegation of "cult", but i had never heard any evidence of this. the allegation was in regard to the 'zeitgeist movement', but i didnt give the allegation any credance because FDR's beliefs are opposite to the centrally organised ZM.
    there are somethings i dont get- is there a 'base camp' for the defoo-ed members in reality? also i have only heard the term defoo-ed on this site- i have never heard stefan mention it. i thought that FDR was a site that dealt with anti-statist beliefs, your site has me baffled!?!
    i look forward to your reply (i am a single father of 2- i am the "primary care giver".

  8. to daddyfumanchu:You comment: "i have only heard the term defoo-ed on this site" Well, you took the time to visit this site. Do a search on 'defoo'. There are plenty of hits to research. Moly invented the term. He promotes it. If you are a single father, don't make my mistake by recommending FDR to your kids. Answers to other questions are covered in other posts.

  9. Molyneux was not an "acolyte" of Ayn Rand's and his philosophy is not consistent with her own. In addition, she never advocated cutting off families as anyone who knows the history of her and her friends can tell you. I know many people who were closely associated with Rand and they would be horrified by what this con man is doing.

    I am friends with the Brandens and can assure you that there would be much in Molyneux's "philosophy" that they would find disgusting. I have seen him in operation and he does advocate that his "followers" cut off their families and friends, if they don't accept his teachings.

  10. So.. I must ask you; where do you refute his points that most parents aren't good enough? You repeatedly state what he says, but you never actually give reasons for why he's wrong.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm not abandoning my family, and I'm fully aware of his enormous arrogance & ego, but I just don't see where the criticism is justified, IE, where your reasons for disagreeing with his point are.

    1. All I really am after is that you are not abandoning your family. Very glad to hear that. A bonus that you see the arrogance and ego. Why is he wrong about parents not being good? That hurts :) In a nut shell. Moly holds that all forms of discipline are damaging to a child. He then goes the next step (like all with Narcissistic Personality Disorder), and can't just say he dissagrees with traditional parenting methods. NPD sufferers have to go the extra nine yards. Anyone who dissagrees has to have evil intent. They themselves must be evil (splitting).
      A young adult who has an issue with an over bearing parent would normally balance that with other things. "They did after all, love me, raise me, spend time with me, help me with my homework, come to my events, occasionally played along and believed my impossibly transparant lies rather than embarrass me, etc."
      In other words, a young adult might cut dad a break and realize he was human. Such subtley does not work for Moly. He insists the parents who demand good behavior, or maximum effort, or any other virtue are tyrants, jailers, the embodiment of depravity and corruption, etc. And if ever a parent who loses their temper...well...he is pure satan from hell. In case it needs to be said. All parents occasionally lose their temper. If a young adult accepts the new enlightened Moly view of things, well it only makes sense to break. Naturally people want to end 'unhealthy' relationships.
      Of course the parent is in the catch 22. Discipline is a moral imperative for the parent. And there you have it. The parent loves the child. And out of that love, they endure their own pain as they do the hard work of teaching their children the realities of life and what it takes to succeed and be happy. In the world of FDR, all those hard things like punishments, harsh words and the like that normal parents to do help their children grow are prima facie examples of the parents petty hatred of their children. I think that may answer your question.

    2. Edmund, I am happy to report that after almost 4years my daughter has resumed contact with family and friends. The nightmare has finally ended for us, for all the parents out there who are still waiting, your kids will figure it out they will come back it's just a matter of time. Thanks so much for this website Edmund it helped me through alot of tough times. Keep the faith.

  11. Molyneux's interview with Michael Cross about sociopathy was revealing. Molyneux rejected out of hand the entire concept of sociopathy as a specific congenital lack of empathy. He insisted on defining sociopathy within the spectrum of neurosis (i.e. people born with empathy but who are damaged by environment ), when, in fact, sociopathy exists outside that spectrum. It's easy to see why the idea threatens him. If there is a significant segment of the population who are driven to seek power over others and whose personalities are NOT the result of parental abuse then his entire psychological/political scenario collapses.

  12. It is clear that even a trained Psychologist can fall under the spell of a manipulative cult leader masquerading as a husband.

  13. I'm a sibling that suffered the repercussions of this loony. My brother joined this group a couple of years ago, and since then he defood'ed the entire family - mom, dad, and siblings along with extended family. We have not heard from him since then, though we are aware he is an active member of this group/cult and contributor; he is also a firm believer that both of our parents abused him. I can tell you that is not the case, actually it is quite the opposite. I wonder what will happen when this two lunatics have their own kids and they decide to defood'ed them because of the same reasons they are preaching to other vulnerable innocent people.

  14. Sounds like a money-making CULT, run by a Psychopath!

  15. My son aged 47 defooed all in the family, and finally did the same to me, his mother, on 10th February 2013, after trying to indoctrinate us all with Molyneux philosophy. I cannot tell you how devastating this has been. My heart has been broken. Reading all this information and these comments makes me realise that I shall probably never see my son again. Stefan Molyneux will one day have to account for his wicked philosophy.

    1. Why in the world don't you sue him? It is time to file a lawsuit and take this nut to court.

  16. Errrmagerd, stef is the worst. He tells you to think for yourself, then nobody likes you. Don't do it!

  17. "Molyneux tightly controls his messaging by way of his members. He has very specific instructions for his members on how they are to treat new members. The instructions are designed to avoid communicating the true nature of FDR. Molyneux warns the members that he often arrives as a new visitor to test their behavior. He assures them that any deviation from his requirements will cause them to be banished from the group. "

    can you provide more info on this? citation of source material etc.

    1. Molyneux is indeed irrational, delusional, and basically heartless in trying to convonce young people that all of their families are sick and advising them never to forgive. Very sad that many young adults will fall for his drivel.