Insiders are raising concerns about a psychedelic retreat in Costa Rica that's popular with celebrities, millionaires and influencers.
Former workers and guests say Rythmia, where guests relax, exercise and take part in mystical ceremonies near Costa Rica's far western point, encourages a cultlike environment around Gerard Powell with little regard for the safety of workers or visitors, reported Vice.
“I went to this place that I thought I could trust,” said former guest Jenna Williams, “and then I was just being abused and tossed out.”
Williams said she experienced fears of dying during one psychedelic ceremony and was diagnosed with psychosis by Rythmia’s chief medical officer Jeff McNairy, who is not a licensed psychologist and does not practice psychology in Costa Rica, and she claims to have been locked in the medical area against her will until her mother came to get her, and former employees tell similar stories.
Stacy Kozlowski, a ceremony facilitator who left in 2019, said she saw one guest bite his tongue during a ceremony and she didn't know how to properly help him, and two other former employees said they felt overwhelmed by the number of people taking part in the ceremonies, while another said she saw guests having emotional breakdowns.
Insiders also say Powell, who serves psychedelics to guests often struggling with addiction or mental illness, exploits his perceived authority over women, and his ex-girlfriend alleges that he verbally and physically abused and manipulated her at Rythmia.
“It starts at the top," said former employee Candice-Marie Fox, "and certain people are objectifying women all over the place.”
Many of the women interviewed for the report feared retribution from Powell, who threatened to sue the correspondent as she gathered reporting for her story.
“No it’s not a cult – 11k plus people would disagree but that won’t fit your intended narrative," Powell said in one response for comment.