Gentle Souls: Esther Friedman on ‘School’

Gentle Souls: Esther Friedman on ‘School’

This episode is sponsored by BetterHelp. Give online therapy a try at and get on your way to being your best self.

If you’re not already familiar with the culty cluster known as ‘School’, it was an ultra-secret Manhattan organization run by late actress and forever eccentric Sharon Gans. The shadowy group did its dark magic in the form of secret study groups, arranged marriages, and some pretty gnarly narcissistic abuse. In this episode, former School enrollee Esther Friedman discusses the five years she spent as a student after her study group love bombed her right into its clutches. We also cover how she got out, and how she’s healing now by helping other gentle souls navigate a culty, culty world. Empaths, this one’s for you. And if you’ve got Big Valedictorian Energy and are crazy about that extra credit, please note that we’ve taken our listeners to School before in our episode with the groovy Spencer Schneider who wrote a page-turning memoir about his experience titled Manhattan Cult Story: My Unbelievable True Story of Sex, Crimes, Chaos, and Survival.


Esther Friedman is a licensed mental health counselor, expressive art therapist, songwriter, and author. To process and heal, she presents her misadventures as an “edu-tainment campaign.” Her memoir The Gentle Souls Revolution is a PSA/recovery guide/template for anyone who’s navigated exploitative relationships. She’s also a board member of the newly formed nonprofit “Living Cult Free” and is joined in that endeavor by some cult recovery heavyweights. You can learn more about their work at

You can find Esther at, Facebook, and Instagram



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The views and opinions expressed on A Little Bit Culty do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the podcast. Any content provided by our guests, bloggers, sponsors or authors are of their opinion and are not intended to malign any religion, group, club, organization, business individual, anyone or anything. Nobody’s mad at you, just don’t be a culty fuckwad.



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Executive Producers: Sarah Edmondson & Anthony Ames

Production Partner: Citizens of Sound

Producer: Will Retherford

Co-Creator: Jess Tardy

Writer: Holly Zadra

Theme Song: “Cultivated” by Jon Bryant co-written with Nygel Asselin