Once Lea's children had returned, not to Toronto to live independent lives, but rather to her bosom, to the centre of the community in which she had developed her practice, her attention turned strongly toward them. Her practice, her business, became the family business, ultimately providing jobs and status for all those closest to her: Rob, Josie, Malcolm, and Visvaldis. Because she was unable to face honestly within herself or with others the true bases of her relationships with each of these people, dishonesty and manipulations by necessity multiplied. Her students and clients, still caught in the confusions of both positive and negative transference -- longing for her love and approval, and, fearing her wrath and rejection -- stumbled along with her, supporting the directions that she took.
A woman close to the situation at that time believes that when her kids came back, "Lea became terribly protective and spread a myth about the family. Rob hadn't been traumatized in the ways that Malcolm and Josie had. They seemed to carry pieces of the family troubles that she had to protect so that we wouldn't know something about them and her. Malcolm had abused Josie as a child. It was pretty terrible. The two of them left the family home for some time but then came back. They were the devourers that Lea became obsessed about saving herself from, interestingly enough. I think it was them that she feared...If you had terrible maternal failures, three kids and some really bad things happened, some really harming things, it would be very disturbing to you. Then you start something and you become the big resource and are look at in a certain way. But then the ghosts of your past begin to come home." This woman said further that when Josie was pregnant with her first child, Lea convened a Christmas project at the farm. "I think that Josie having a baby was scary for Lea. What kind of a mother would she be? All of her own experiences as a mother came crowding in on her."
Lea was living a double life. Inwardly she feared facing or being faced with the troubles between herself and her children. Outwardly she was assuming the mantle of the Great Mother, the ultimate source of knowledge and wisdom with respect to children and families. Over the 1970s her troubles grew into an obsession, not just with already formed families, but also with the question of whether or not various women ought to have children, or, having them, whether they ought to keep them. At a CAG marathon in Nov, 1973 Lea asked the question: "How many people in this room feel that they should not have children?" She asked for a show of hands. She would then nod to a particular person and say, "Absolutely right. Right." To another,"I'm not sure about you. You're a bit young yet." To another who said she wasn't certain, "I don't feel so badly about you." Some women not present were mentioned by her as clearly not being suitable though she said they made excellent helpers. She went on to say,"There are many women who would make very good mothers if they adopt a child. There are many women, who if they have a child, it's like they give something up. It's almost like they become husks. It's very sad." Deciding whether or not to have a family became more than a personal issue for a couple. It became an act of daring, especially for women, a high wire act with enormous potential for failure.
Over the next few years the sense emerged that few women were capable of being good mothers. A CAG woman recalls that, "There was a craziness in Lea and in Josie about anyone having babies except themselves. All this was huge and horrible for CAG women. Only one had had a baby and she had been vilified and not helped at all. We were in our thirties then. We were caught in an odd obedience position because of all the questioning of whether we thought we could be good mothers. It was mad. You cannot mess with a woman's odessey about whether or not to have children. It can take years. Even if someone concludes that she doesn't want to, there can be real grief and mourning about it." Some women were actively discouraged from having children, being told that they were too paranoid. Others were told that their body-type indicated a poor outcome from a pregnancy. When one of Josie's "friends" miscarried, Josie pronounced vehemently that anyone looking at that woman's body could see that she ought not have children. No concern or empathy for the heart-broken woman was in evidence. There gradually developed a feeling that only Lea's daughter, her daughter-in-law, and another woman close to the family could do well having children, and only then under Lea's close supervision. One member of CAG commented,"It was crazy. It was like a bee hive. One female is fed the royal jelly and all the others are workers."
In 1975-6 several children were born despite this confounding atmosphere. Lea resurrected a 1920s or 1930s British Mothercraft booklet for expectant mothers and more or less demanded that its prescriptions be followed. Bran was to be cooked in the oven and sewn into a pillow case for the ideal infant matress. Diapers must be of cloth; no plastic diaper covers were to be used, only knitted ones. There were to be nighties of a certain type, so many sweaters, blankets, and so on. Babies were to be placed in rooms with a particular kind of ventilation. Any woman having a baby during this period would hasten to subscribe to all and any measures suggested. An "inspection" of some nature could occur at any time. One woman's therapist (undoubtedly prompted by Lea) asked to come to see the arrangements for her coming child. While there the therapist pointed out to the expectant mother that there was a thin layer of dust on her furniture, not at all a good sign. The woman was careful to inspect her furniture closely after that reprimand but she resented the interference. It affected her formerly quite good feelings toward the therapist.
Somewhat later another woman was struggling to bond with her child in its early months. Though in Florida at the time Lea heard something of the woman's troubles and decided that she ought to give up her child to someone who really wanted a child. When a vistor arrived at the Florida beach house Lea grilled her about how the mother was doing. The visitor assured Lea that she was doing fine but Lea was not interested in hearing that. She continued to speculate about who would be the best person to take the child. Lea telephoned me from Florida saying that I had done alright with my first child and asking if I would be interested in taking on this one. I knew nothing about the situation. It was flattering to be given such a request by Lea but I knew right away that I didn't want to do it. I also thought that it was weird. I simply said that I'd have to talk it over with my husband. Lea didn't ask again though. There were at least two other women lobbying her for the child. Luckily for the mother one of the women in Toronto who was perceived as "acceptable maternal material" invited her to come to live at her house with the baby. She got other women to come and help out and before long things righted themselves between mother and child.
Lea's disturbance about mothers and babies came to a head when Rob's girl friend, Sheron became pregnant in 1978. Lea had tried to prevent their relationship though when Rob persisted in it, she was at least on the surface accepting. When Sheron told Lea about the pregnancy, "The first thing she said to me was to ask if I had considered an abortion. I couldn't believe it! Then there was a rush to get us married right away. She was so concerned about how things were seen and she feared some kind of scandal." Another woman in the seminar had become pregnant shortly before this. As the time came closer for the deliveries of these babies, Lea became more and more agitated. One of the women close to the family at that time said, "Lea had a fantasy of having another baby herself -- sort of like the old Abraham and Sarah thing. She was going a bit dotty then. She got on a huge bandwagon about Margaret's baby (not the woman's real name) because I think it was tied in some way to her fantasy of having the baby herself. She stormed over to Margaret's house one day demanding to see her clothes for the baby. Margaret was upstairs with all her little helpers. They were doing this and that and Lea would say, 'Bring down the nightgowns! Bring down the sweaters!' It was really crazy. Margaret was already insecure enough about what she was doing. She had been elevated by Lea early-on to a special person status and to becoming a therapist though she hadn't had much therapy herself. When the baby was born a caesarian section became necessary. That shattered Margaret. It wasn't part of the plan for the perfect baby and the perfect childbirth. Lea seized on the caesarian too as a way of discrediting her, saying things in the seminar like, 'She didn't want to give birth to the child.'"
When Sheron's baby was born fairly soon afterward Lea turned on her as well. Sheron recalled: "I took it for about four weeks because I didn't know any better. When the baby was born, Lea called and said, 'I'm sending (one of her companions) over to stay with you for six weeks because you have no instincts.' She said she was very concerned about the baby because I was his mother. There is never a time that you are more intuitive than when you give birth to a baby. She was into this whole thing about only feeding the kid every four hours. I had to sneak around to feed him when he needed it. She found me doing that one day and said, 'What are you, a cow?' After a few weeks I said to Rob that it was all crazy. The child was crying and Lea's companion was walking him up and down and he needed to be fed. If you didn't follow the Brit Mothercraft manual then you couldn't be the perfect mother. It was horrible for me. I hated her at that time and didn't want her in the house. I felt like she was insanely jealous of me, that I had stolen Rob from her. She couldn't join in and be a part of what was happening. She had to control it. That was the worst part of knowing her."
The examples I have given above and in the previous post give some sense of the atmosphere of fear and intimidation that families with children or women wanting children had to contend with, especially in the latter half of the 1970s. It was in this period that Lea was complicit in allowing Malcolm, as one parent put it, to create his own "Ministry of Fear" within the school. He continued,"Malcolm being very power-driven and insecure, basically managed to make the school impenetrable and opaque to the parents. Some parents were badly treated, bullied by their own therapists who had their own agendas -- not wanting to antagonize Lea or to rock the boats. Whoever questioned what was happening was in trouble. There was a fear of being ostracized. In the community there was a system of approbation and disapprobation that was as bad as in any cult you want to name." The question of whether Therafields was or was not a cult is a multi-faceted one but there were unquestionable cultic features that became more pervasive over the 1970s. From these clear damage was done to people, perhaps particularly in the arenas of procreation and of the care of children and their families.