Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Landmark Forum. In (largely) its own words. Part 1.

Reading Deborah Beroset's most excellent work of creative nonfiction, I was reminded of Bill Clinton's famous disquisition on the meaning of the word is, and how it pertained to his claim that he "did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky." (Of course, as we now know, he did indeed have sex with that woman, as well as others.) Seldom have I read a more entertaining example of hair-splitting, lawyering, language-parsing and general concealment of forests in trees.

I was amused for starters by her use of the word request, as in, "
We have written separately to The Wall Street Journal to request a correction be printed..." One gets the feeling that Landmark requests things the way Vito Corleone did. (Remember Tom Hagen's quietly chilling line after being rebuffed by the soon-to-be-horseless movie mogul during their uneasy dinner? Hagen says of his boss, the don, "He never asks a second favor when he's been refused the first.") The above-linked site puts it this way: "How does Landmark handle criticism? With lawyers." But rather than spend the balance of this email being snarky and offhand, I'd thought I'd address the substance of Beroset's observations head-on. Actually, where appropriate, I also thought I'd let her own employer, Landmark, address the substance of her thoughts, which might prove even more illuminating. This gets a bit complicated in spots, folks, so fasten your seatbelts and shoulder harnesses, and read carefully as you go.

We have a very simple question before us: Did the late Dr. Margaret Singer offer sworn testimony* in a case that was originally filed as Ney v. Landmark Education Corporation and Werner Erhard? (Answer: Yes.) Did she say what I quoted her as saying in my Journal piece? (Answer: Yes.) Let's review her words for a moment:

The est/Forum organization applies a number of powerful and psychologically disturbing, emotionally arousing and defense destabilizing techniques to large groups of people, in an intense, marathon-like period.
The fact that Landmark eventually was dismissed from the suit** is in my view a technicality that has scant bearing on Singer's conclusions about Landmark's product, which clearly were based on a contemporaneous knowledge of Landmark's ongoing operations, not just a retrospective understanding of Erhard's est. [See NOTE below.] The reason this gets tricky is that Landmark in 1996 sued Singer, unhappy over finding its name in her 1995 book, Cults in Our Midst. (Singer had not specifically labeled the company a cult, but nothing will prompt a suit from Landmark faster than the words Landmark and cult used in any sort of adjacencyas the women's magazines Self and Elle, as well as the Cult Awareness Network, all learned during the 1990s.) As part of a negotiated settlement of that lawsuit in 1997, Singer agreed to stipulate that she had "no personal knowledge" of the Landmark program. However, the operative graph of that settlement clearly applies an extremely technical and limited standard of what constitutes "personal knowledge." In Singer's case, what it means—all it means—is that the famed psychologist was never physically present in the room during a session of Landmark's version of Forum.

This is key because Beroset and Landmark like to play the settlement language as a trump card, spinning it as if Singer were recanting her testimony in Ney (as well as her other, prior observations about Landmark and est). Hardly. Though Singer was understandably reluctant to talk about Landmark after the 1996 suit
which of course is the outcome Landmark soughtit appears obvious from the few guarded statements she did make that she viewed the settlement as having been coerced. "I do not endorse them—never have," she told a reporter from Phoenix New Times, adding that she was "afraid to tell you what I really think about them" because "the SOBs have already sued me once."

In fact, "no personal knowledge" is an awfully casual way of dismissing (a) Singer's several decades of studying and observing practices commonly known as "brainwashing" and "mind control," and her acknowledged worldwide expertise in the workings of same; (b) Singer's voluminous reading on the subject of LGATs in general and est/Forum in particular; (c) Singer's personal attendance at several Forum training sessions prior to the Landmark acquisition; (d) Singer's personal interviews with a variety of people who had attended Landmark coursework; (e) Singer's personal review of Landmark's training materials and internal memos; (f) Singer's familiarity with the case histories of several people who had suffered extreme adverse reactions to the Forum course. I could go on and on. In one section of the declaration Singer made in initially defending the Landmark lawsuit, she put it like so: "Between 1991 and the time I wrote the Book, I spoke to numerous individuals about their experiences as participants in est and/or The Forum. The experiences they shared were consistent with one another and independently corroborated by the many newspaper and magazine articles and books that I read about Landmark and The Forum."

Life experience qualifies each of us to render judgment on any number of matters.
I have no personal knowledge of a shotgun blast to the face, but I think I'm capable of appreciating the damage that such an occurrence is apt to cause on those who do have the experience.
In addition to the generalized life experience we all share, highly specialized experience like Singer's prepared her to render meaningful judgment on topics within her area of expertise. (
If you still need more convincing, my God, look at pages 2 through 4 of the Singer declaration; even in summary form, the woman's qualifications to speak to this subject are breathtaking.) To assert otherwise is ridiculoustantamount to arguing that a physician must actually be sick himself in order to accurately diagnose a patient with that same disorder. It bears noting that Landmark Forum does not have "personal knowledge" of the lives of the customers who attend its coursework, yet Landmark claims to possess a generic formula for helping those people improve their quality-of-life. Go figure.

*****************************

As to that formula for success...
One is struck by the catch-22 of Landmark's public stance. On the one hand, the company promises to deliver coursework that is so psychologically and emotionally compelling that it will foster an almost instantaneous breakthrough in those who attend; that is the clear message of Landmark's promotional materials. From its site:
The Landmark Forum, our powerful flagship program, is specifically designed to bring about positive and permanent shifts in the quality of your lifein just three days.
This is remarkable, given that formal psychotherapy often takes years to prompt major insights and breakthroughs (if they take place at all). And yet, on the other hand, Landmark does not take kindly to media implications that any coursework that's potent enough to spur that sort of metamorphosis would also be likely to trigger serious emotional upset in some people. Personally, I do not think that such a program can be both safe and effective. In order to be effective
—almost instantly effective, no less—it must be "destabilizing," in Singer's words. And if it is destabilizing, then it cannot be safe for all participants, particularly in the weekend-warrior setting in which it is delivered.

But why leave this to one journalist's uninformed, irresponsible perceptions? (I am paraphrasing Beroset.) Let's look instead at how Landmark sees Landmark.

Here is the waiver that prospective Landmark attendees must read and sign. Take a gander at the scope of this thing and
in particular—focus on its self-evident intent. At least by implication, this document would seem to represent a near-total annihilation of all of Landmark's public vows about the safety of its coursework. The nature and sweep of its caveats tell us that Landmark itself manifestly has concerns about being "psychologically disturbing."

The brows begin to lift at the very outset of Landmark's Notice of Important Information, Health Warnings, and Legal Agreements. The first full paragraph notes blandly:
Many people have found the Program to be an enjoyable and valuable experience. However, the Program is not advisable for everyone.
But think about that. Is it reasonable that everyone for whom the Program is "not advisable" would be able to self-identify, or in any case could be weeded out, ahead of time? This is especially pertinent in light of the observation, a few graphs later, that:
...[T]here is simply no way to predict in advance exactly what you may think or feel. It is normal for some people to experience unwanted or unfamiliar emotions from time to time, such as fear, anger, sadness, regret, hatred, irritation and impatience.
Fear? Anger? Hatred? If you concede that such emotions may occur, and are even "normal" (at least for Forum participants), how can you, in the same document, disclaim responsibility for the possible results of such extreme emotions? (As Landmark does.)

As the waiver moves forward, notice how many times Landmark cautions prospective attendees that OUR ADVISORS STRONGLY RECOMMEND THAT YOU DO NOT PARTICIPATE
just like that, in all caps. One case where Landmark's advisors make that recommendation is:
...if you have a family history of bi-polar affective disorder (manic-depressive disorder), schizophrenia, acute or chronic depression or other psychotic disorder, whether or not you or they are being or have ever been treated or hospitalized.
I added emphasis to the last part, because if you haven't been treated, how would you know you have a condition that disqualifies you from participating? And isn't it likely that some of those who'd be drawn to such coursework are people with underlying psychological problems, "whether or not you or they are being or have ever been treated"?

Also cautioned are people who are taking:
any drugs or medicines, whether prescription or non-prescription, intended to treat or affect mental processes or mood or to treat a chemical imbalance...
What exactly does that cover? What does it rule out?

Here's another: You should probably not participate if you
are uncertain about your physical, mental or emotional ability to participate in the Program.
But...you haven't yet taken the Program. Have you? How would you make that judgment, and on what basis?

Next we have this:
From time to time, during or shortly after participating in the Program, a very small number of people who have no personal or family history of mental illness or drug abuse have reported experiencing brief, temporary episodes of emotional upset rnaging from heightened activity, irregular or diminished sleep, to mild psychotic-like behavior.
Note my emphasis. This caveat is followed by the most intriguing statement in the document, at least to me:
In less than 1/1000 of 1% of participants, there have been reports of unexplained suicide or other destructive behavior.
Working from Landmark's own figure of having "helped" 1.2 million people since 1991 (and we'll come back to that boast next time), that translates
to 12 people
. Or, using Landmark's current claim of training 200,000 people per year, that translates to two "reports of unexplained suicide or other destructive behavior" annually. Is that "serious"? Is it worthy of mentioning in a more upfront way? I leave that to others to decide. For argument's sake, though, here's a comparison: Walt Disney World in Orlando attracted 17 million visitors in 2008. The same incident rate admitted by Landmark, applied to Disney, would yield 170 deaths or other major events. In a single year. And that's just the one Disney park in Orlando; the systemwide numbers would, of course, be stratospheric: the makings of a cause celebre with major "legs," as we media types say of hot stories. (In fact, the Disney incident numbers are infinitesimally small).

What's more, does it not seem reasonable to assume that for every actual case of "suicide or other destructive behavior," there are a certain number of additional "dislocations"?

*****************************

As the waiver rouses to its dour finish, we encounter a section titled INFORMED CONSENT. Here, among other things, clients must affirm via signature that they're aware that "certain persons with no personal or family history of current or previous mental or emotional problems and no history of use of psychotropic or mood altering drugs reported having experienced psychotic episodes following the Program." A few lines later the participant is again reminded that he has been "STRONGLY ADVISED NOT TO PARTICIPATE in the Program if...I have concerns about my ability to handle stress."

What makes this excruciatingly ironic and even tragicomic is the way Landmark, in other areas of its site, hypes the stress-busting potential of its coursework. F'rinstance, Landmark's online syllabus
, DAY TWO, Section IV, is titled, "Freedom From Anxiety." The syllabus observes:
Consider that one of the primary obstacles to effectiveness is fear. No matter how accomplished, successful, or courageous we are, fear and anxiety seem to play a role at some point in all of our lives. Often, we allow fear and anxieties to stop us...assigning them an unwarranted power and magnitude in our lives...
(In truth, any number of Forum segments seem designed to address conditions that laypeople would probably describe as "stress-related" or "depression-like." Consider, for example, the language of DAY 1, Section V: Rackets: The Payoff and the Cost, and Day 2, Section 1: The Illusion of Someday. The language is the rhetoric of philosophy, but the payoffit is strongly suggestedoccurs in the realm of psychology.)

Landmark even uses stress as a sales hook in this testimonial from one Gabor Mate, MD:
As shown throughout [my] book, it is these fixed but unconscious interpretations that underlie and trigger many of our chronic stresses.
Does it not seem reasonable that if you're offering a Program that teaches people how to free themselves from anxiety and "chronic stresses," your target audience would consist in some part of people who "have concerns about [their] ability to handle stress"? S

To be continued...

NOTE: I've received a couple of emails off-blog suggesting that a bit more explanation of the Ney case is in order. A woman, Stephanie Ney, attended a Forum course in 1989; in its immediate aftermath, she experienced an utter psychological collapse that required her to be institutionalized. A few years later she filed suit. In the interim Forum had become Landmark Forum, so she included Landmark in her filing. Singer was called as an expert witness on Ney's behalf.

Read Part 2.

* See paragraph 35. This was the quote I focused in on my Journal piece.
** The events at the heart of the case occurred in 1989, prior to Landmark's acquisition of Forum, and the judge denied plaintiff's claims of Landmark's "successor liability."

54 comments:

Karl said...

I did the Forum in 1987 down here in Oz. The same year Erhard visited Australia and I went along one evening to hear him speak.
At that stage the Forum was run by Werner Erhard and Associates and was a regigging of the earlier EST seminar to make it more user friendly. They dropped calling paricipants "arseholes" and introduced more frequent toilet breaks denied to the EST trainees.
Over 200 people attended the seminar I did so that makes it a Large Group Seminar even if Landmark don't like the term LGAT .At that time the seminar was spread over two weekends and a week night the week following the second weekend. This evening was really to promote the upcoming seminars by encouraging the newly "transformed" trainees to bring along friends and family.
Did it change my life? No. I came away with a few ideas that made a minor impact but I could have probably got the same results through reading a suitable book.
Erhard, then, and the organisation that runs the seminars now, like many growth type groups, love nebulous, flowery language which essentially is meaningless jargon except to the devotees.
For example
"Our age, if it is to deliver on its promise, needs people who can reach beyond that which is already determined, that which is already predictable, that which can already be expected, and take the lead in creating new possibility" Werner Erhard. ("A Direct Approach to Accomplishment" brochure)

In Erhard's Hunger Project brochure he calls the Project an Opening for Action and Power Transforming the Possibility into an Opportunity. Further down it talks about turning the dream of ending hunger into a reality by transforming the end of hunger into an idea whose idea has come. (from a Hunger Project brochure which I still own)
I don't think the Hunger Project did much to end world hunger other than to give a few people warm fuzzies.
Despite Landmark's attempt to distance themselves from Werner, his fingerprints are all over this current iteration of the Forum. He consults to the group and two of his siblings are involved.
The possibilities of emotional harm doing the training are very real. In my coaching group (Erhard was probably responsible for the now in vogue word 'coaching) one guy had tried to commit suicide earlier in his life by swimming out to sea. When this was revealed it was touch and go whether he would be allowed to continue doing the seminar.
All in all an interesting experience though not a life transforming one.

gregory said...

landmark is fine .. nice collection of information and experiences to help one understand one's role in one's own life ..

nice presence in bangalore. met some great people there ..

good course, useful weekend, won't hurt anybody ..

Steve Salerno said...

Gregory: Thanks for dropping back in.

Cosmic Connie said...

You're off to a great start on the "new" SHAMblog, Steve. You make several excellent points. In particular, the "waivers" and disclaimers used by Landmark, as well as other groups and gurus, are perennially fascinating to me because it is so clear that they want to have their cake and eat it too. (I've been griping about that for a while myself.) They claim to be so powerful and effective in nearly miraculous ways, but there are those waiver forms that outline possible harm and danger...and yet, when faced with legal action, they claim to be completely harmless.

Also pathetic: Landmark's attempts to cast aspersions on Dr. Singer's credibility.

Karl's Forum experience is interesting and sounds very much like something I went through with another group that obviously took its inspiration from Werner Erhard's brainchild.

I chuckled at Karl's mention of the old Hunger Project. I have before me an old yellowed copy of the December 1978 issue of the muckraker mag "Mother Jones." The cover features a caricature of Valerie Harper and the late John Denver surrounded by starving African children; the headline above them reads, "Let Them Eat est."

The article (which can also be found on the Rick Ross forum
http://tinyurl.com/ygpoo5u )
details a six-month investigation by Mother Jones into what was once largely a vehicle for Werner Erhard's own self-aggrandizement, under the guise of tackling a serious world problem. (I know, something like that would NEVER happen today (you don't have to say YES if you don't agree with me), but those were the primitive late 1970s.) Jeffrey Seaver's illustrations for the piece are priceless. On one, an earnest-looking Hunger Project guy is crouching over a Third-World dude who is lying on the ground, looking as if he's about to take his last breath. Hunger Project Man is saying, "See, what I want you to be clear about is that you get that my intention is to take responsibility for the world working, and to give you the space to create a context out of your condition, so we can use this wonderful opportunity to make a difference...Do you get that?"

Nah...such a thing would never happen today.

Supposedly the Hunger Project is now completely separate from Werner Erhard and they're actually doing something about hunger these days. In recent years they've apparently made some effort to dissociate themselves from the stigma of their past. Actually, they seem to be somewhat fond of legal saber-rattling themselves...
http://tinyurl.com/yhvh38g

Here is the Hunger Project's own version of their long history:
http://www.thp.org/who_we_are/history

As for Landmark, I think we'd be fools to believe Werner is not still getting a piece of *that* action. But that's just my own uninformed and irresponsible opinion.

Anyway, good for you, Steve, for letting Landmark explain things from *their* viewpoint, which, of course, really only reinforces your own. I look forward to the next installment.

Karl said...

I took a quick look at the official Landmark webpage and spent about 10 or so minutes doing some clicking.

In their store there is a link to one of the products ("Insights and Distinctions" on itunes. I had to laugh when I read this description of the talk:

“Insights and distinctions takes us on a wonderful journey to the heart of the matter of our lives, to what matters most. It points out what’s possible if we step outside of what we know and recognize and embrace our capacity to bring forth an entirely new possibility for living- not because it is better, but simply because that is what human beings can do.”


Underneath some enthusiastic attendee had written this:

“Profound, yet written in plain English, these essays deal with what’s possible in being human.”

Clicking on the mugshots in the rogues' gallery (I mean the lineup of esteemed Forum Leaders) there are at least three names of trainers who have been around since Werner's days. One even worked with him prior to EST.
http://www.rickross.com/reference/est/est36.html

Steve Salerno said...

Karl: The "profoundly-powerful-yet-totally-safe!" game is one of several curious dichotomies that characterize the Landmark business model. You've hinted at another, which we'll cover in my next post: On one hand, Landmark at times finds it expedient to portray itself as a totally different enterprise from Erhard's est. OTOH, it likes to mine the credibility and PR benefits of having been in business so long, and having roots that date back to the early days of "personal transformation."

Anonymous said...

"Here's another: You should probably not participate if you
are uncertain about your physical, mental or emotional ability to participate in the Program.
But...you haven't yet taken the Program. Have you? How would you make that judgment, and on what basis?"

EXACTLY! I sure wish I'd zeroed in on this big red flag when I signed up for an LGAT. LGAT contents are big secrets, so how the hell can you know if you're a candidate for one? It was advised that if I was seeing a therapist (which I was) I get the therapist's opinion about my attending. So, I asked the therapist. His reply should've been my second stopping point. He said that he could not render an opinion because he did not know anything about the so-called course. But, oh, isn't it persuasive and powerful when the friend who is recruiting you appears to have acquired a "new & improved" life, influencing you to go right past the red flags and stop signs.

It happened once. It won't happen again!

Barbara

Stever Robbins said...

I don't know what happens inside a Landmark seminar room, but I know most of my friends who have been though it have turned into annoying Landmark salespeople for months afterwards. They say it's part of how they show they've "gotten it."

Cult or not, any group that links your personal notion of success to getting them more business is suspect.

It's one thing to say, "If you found the experience valuable, please refer a friend." That's called asking for referrals and is perfectly common in professional services.

"You'll know you've changed into a worthwhile person once you've sent 7 people to our next introductory seminar" is not at all the same thing. Especially since people go to Landmark (presumably) for personal growth, linking that growth to hawking more business is ... reprehensible.

Anonymous said...

Steve, I respect and appreciate that you are up front about your agenda and being up front that you "...make no pretense of fairness or objectivity..."

It is a rare and useful thing to show the flag you are flying n your stern as you come into the harbour IMO (most "critics" act more like pirates. I wish there were more like you in the world:

"I make no pretense of fairness or objectivity here. As I've said with regard...[...to the slant of my book, if you want to read or hear glowing reviews of any and every independent guru or motivational enterprise doing business today, just turn on your TV, open almost any paper or magazine, and/or browse the Web, with its zillions of human-potential blogs. This blog is my (modest) rebuttal to all that. Then again, in some cases—like the Breatharian Institute—is a rebuttal really necessary?"

In my experience, Landmark Education is neither an "independent guru" nor a "motivational enterprise". I did the Landmark Forum and saw no emphasis put on being motivated or positive or up or any of that.

A person might value the notion of "motivation" and put that on the table for themselves in The Landmark Forum but I did not. I have no interest in being motivated or having a good self image or better self esteem and if the Landmark Forum was about that, I probably would have left or not gone in the first place.

Have you done the Landmark Forum and do you know what it is Steve? And Steve, may I ask, what attracts you personally to the agenda, you stated and I posted above?

Steve Salerno said...

Anon 9:03, we're mixing a few apples and oranges here, so, despite your praise for me (which I think is sincere, not sarcastic), a few distinctions are in order.

The words you quote were from my "guru watch" feature, and were meant to apply most specifically there. It was my way of explaining why all (or almost all) of the linked sites are critical of the listed gurus and organizations. Though I would certainly confess that the overall slant of SHAMblog is anti-self-help (as least as it is commercially practiced in this country)--after all, that was the whole point of my book--it would be a mistake to infer that my posts (like this one) consist of slanted, highly subjective material. That's why, e.g., I spend a lot of time dissecting Landmark's waiver form. I could've droned on and on in my own voice, but one of my goals in this "second-generation" version of SHAMblog is to work from the self-help community's own materials, and to see if these projects and programs even add up in their own words. To put it another way, while I may have a philosophical bias against Landmark, in this post I'm not saying anything that can't be documented, to the best of my knowledge (in some cases by using Landmark's self-descriptions). And that philosophical bias is a result of my analysis of Landmark's materials, not a position that I held, for some inexplicable reason, going in.

As for what "attracts me to the agenda," Anon, I've covered this 5000 times on the blog, in my book, and in media appearances. I have amply documented my grievances against organized self-help. Do a little survey of my works in that area (many are available free online) and you'll have your answer.

Anonymous said...

Steve. Thanks. Yes my admiration for your posting your agenda was 100% sincere and not sarcasm. I am not above sarcasm but I am trying to use it less then I have in the past.

I was asking (respectfully) what attracts you to the agenda currently, not what you wrote or posted in the past. I am asking if you would be in a dialogue with me and be willing to look now, freshly, today, at what attracts and holds you to the agenda you have re: Landmark Education - if it still represents you. Things are not fixed and change day to day. Landmark is not the same enterprise it was a year ago for example. They (we) have been engaged in a HUGE assessment of what we do and how we do it. The we I am referring to is any person who supports or promotes and participates in any way the points of views that are associated with Landmark Education. And I am assuming the same is true of you that you are not the same guy you were last month and like most of us would not want to be pigeon holed because you said or posted something a year ago. Correct me if what I said does not represent you in the way you or your writing prefer to be described or thought of.

Even though you have said it "5000 times" in the past, I was asking , looking for a spontaneous response from is all, to launch our own unqique exchange from.

Anonymous said...

Steve

I am unclear of the issue you are taking with my posting your agenda in relation to Landmark Education. You have Landmark Education posted under that "Guru Watch" title and then the statement of your agenda - I am unclear if you are saying the "Guru Watch" statement does or does not apply to your views on Landmark education?

And, even though you spoke to the question I asked, I am still unclear if you view Landmark Education as an "independent guru" or a "motivational enterprise". because it is clearly neither of those two things in it's intent and methods, from my point of view and direct experience.

Anonymous said...

Steve

Would you consider that Landmark's waiver form, is a result of a litigation happy world and abuse of the legal system we have crated for ourselves here on earth?

When I rent a car, take swimming lessons and do anything where there might be some risk involved and the other party might have some exposure to a law suit, I find more and more I am being asked to sign long pages of small print that says who knows what as a condition of using that service.

I assign blame on that lady who sued McDonalds a few years ago for the coffee being too hot and she spilled it and burned his lap or the people who fake wiplash and the thousands of billbaord signs along the interstate of Lawyers advertising that they will take my claim and make me $$$$$$ - How is Landmark's response (the waiver) to this climate of sue happy population different from the rest of other enterprises? (Granted it is customized to their entrprise but every waiver is)

Haven't the people who have abused the legal system ruined it for everyone and created the need for these brutal cold self protecting waivers that any decent company who deals with millions of people actually needs to survive? I myself have no problem with the any waivers no mater where I go, as I am responsible for my life, but I think you are looking in the wrong place about the appearance of the "waiver" in America.

Your thoughts?

Steve Salerno said...

Anon: Let me finish my series of posts before we consider getting involved in a protracted discussion of the topics you raise. In any case, I'm not sure that this blog is the appropriate forum (no pun intended) for a direct exchange between myself and a Landmark "spokesperson" (which is how you appear to be characterizing yourself) on the subject of how Landmark should be covered. Further, I hope you can understand my reluctance to assume the truth of your identity; in the past, I have received comments from people claiming to be (or be speaking on behalf of) Tony Robbins, Dr. Phil, etc. To allow a dialogue to flower from that unproven premise is a reckless and irresponsible act, in my view. What I'd recommend is that you contact me off-blog and "out" yourself, for verification purposes, and then perhaps we can proceed.

Steve Salerno said...

P.S. But I would say, as a general matter, that my "agenda" is usually to be contrarian: to get people (including myself) to question the givens. This is why the blog, analyzed as a whole, may seem schizophrenic in nature.

Anonymous said...

Steve

What qualifies you to say this (at the bottom in quotes)about others in a public arena to other strangers?

What training and great investment have you made to master an area that I (or anyone) should consider listening to you and how does what you write go beyond the realm of just another "brilliant opinion" in the peanut gallery?

I have my opinions about things to. Ask me what I think about "American Idol" I will rant for an hour. I have been deeply preoccupied and interested in media and art and music for many tears but I REALLY TRULY know nada about that show or those celebrity judges or those participants or that enterprise but I don't let that stop me from going off like a jack in the box about it - everytime it is on TV, in that instance I am just another ranter with a brilliant opinion in the peanut gallery.

"....given that formal psychotherapy often takes years to prompt major insights and breakthroughs (if they take place at all). And yet, on the other hand, Landmark does not take kindly to media implications that any coursework that's potent enough to spur that sort of metamorphosis would also be likely to trigger serious emotional upset in some people. Personally, I do not think that such a program can be both safe and effective. In order to be effective—almost instantly effective, no less—it must be "destabilizing," in Singer's words. And if it is destabilizing, then it cannot be safe for all participants, particularly in the weekend-warrior setting in which it is delivered."

Steve Salerno said...

Look--Anon--I think the post speaks for itself, as does the logic behind it. If you have a point to make, or a criticism to lodge, then do so. I have no problem with that. I allow comments of (almost) any type, as long as they're not profane or ad hominem against other contributors. So make your comments. But this constant pressing for justification of things that I already (manifestly) decided to say...I'm just not going to get bogged down in that. For one thing, I don't have time!

Anonymous said...

Steve

Let me clarify, I regard any person who is currently participating with Landmark Education to be a spokesperson for the notions of Landmark Education. We only represent ourselves but we are what make up that enterprise. if we are gone the thing disappears instantly. But I am no more or less then that.(Nor do I want to ever be.)

" a direct exchange between myself and a Landmark "spokesperson"

Anonymous said...

Fair enough Steve. I accept what you are saying about what you said. Thanks for posting my comments and for the time and thought (if any) you did give it.

"Look--Anon--I think the post speaks for itself, as does the logic behind it. If you have a point to make, or a criticism to lodge, then do so. I have no problem with that. I allow comments of (almost) any type, as long as they're not profane or ad hominem against other contributors. So make your comments. But this constant pressing for justification of things that I already (manifestly) decided to say...I'm just not going to get bogged down in that. For one thing, I don't have time!"

RevRon's Rants said...

"Thanks for posting my comments and for the time and thought (if any) you did give it."

Anon - Perhaps if you had put even a fraction (or any) of the time and thought into researching Steve's well-documented and readily-accessible positions that he put into researching the Landmark operation, you wouldn't be requesting that he restate every position in order to defend his statements to your satisfaction. I suspect that you are less interested in gaining knowledge than in stifling discourse that might reflect unfavorably upon Landmark.

RevRon's Rants said...

After reading Anon's 11:18 comment, I fully understand that the choice to remain anonymous is not a "choice" at all for those who have been assimilated by the collective. Resistance is Futile!

Where the hell is Picard when we really need him? :-)

Steve Salerno said...

Ron: I strongly suspect that the true discourse-stifling is still to come.

RevRon's Rants said...

Steve - Ever gotten a "cease & desist" signed "anonymous?" At least the stifler would have to self-indentify in order to serve the notice.

I have no interest in stiflers. Stiffler's mom, on the other hand... :-)

Anonymous said...

Steve, one more question (and comment) if I may.

Do you see yourself as part of the "scams, shams, and shames of modern life"?

(In reference to your words: "Exposing the scams, shams, and shames of modern life" at the top of your SHAMblog.)

Or does your posting that presuppose that you are separateor above from the thing you are commenting on and not part of it.

And, yeah, it is my point of view that "on-line critics" and commentators like yourself and all the rest, are just as much a part of "scams, shams, and shames of modern life" as any body they are pointing their finger at. (If there even is such a thing as "scams, shams, and shames of modern life".)

Anonymous said...

@ RevRon's Rants

"if you had put even a fraction (or any) of the time and thought into researching Steve's well-documented and readily-accessible positions that he put into researching the Landmark operation, you wouldn't be requesting that he restate every position in order to defend his statements to your satisfaction."

RevRon's Rants, I was not informed and see no rules posted saying that research was requiered to ask a question on this blog. And I do not feel that Steve owes me anything, let alone satisfying me or answering questions to my satisfaction. I am content with his responses and respect this blog space as his and any requests he makes re: posting here.

" I suspect that you are less interested in gaining knowledge than in stifling discourse that might reflect unfavorably upon Landmark."

RevRon's Rants, that is your conclusion and your right to draw it. It does not make it true nor represent my interests or intent in this conversation. Could one not conclude, that your comments, dircted at me, are trying to stifle views that do not promote the views on this blog?

Steve Salerno said...

"Everything is nothing, nothing is everything. I am not my Story and my Story is not me. So talk to Transparent I, if you want a reply, unless your own sense of self-begetting declines to legitimize me..."

Gee, what a constructive dialogue and method of rhetorical engagement. I wish I'd paid someone $500 to teach me how to think like that.

(Or, as we used to put it on the playground, "No, you are..."

RevRon's Rants said...

Anon - The only "rule" that applies in this case is that participants are advised to educate themselves sufficiently as to comprehend the premise and context of the discussion prior to joining in and making fools of themselves. Alas... too late for you.

"Could one not conclude, that your comments, dircted at me, are trying to stifle views that do not promote the views on this blog?"

Not at all... I was merely identifying a troll. You're more than welcome to continue as far as I'm concerned. And had you observed any of the discussions on this blog prior to fulfilling your duty to Landmark, you'd have witnessed numerous occasions where I have strongly disagreed with - and even ridiculed - Steve's views. You'd have also observed that disagreement (even to the point of the occasional ad hominem attack) is not only tolerated, but encouraged.

By making the erroneous assumptions you have made, you have demonstrated your own agenda very clearly. It should come as no surprise to you that said agenda would be observed and made note of.

Anonymous said...

@ RevRon's Rants & Steve Salerno

"...... in this case is that participants are advised to educate themselves sufficiently as to comprehend the premise and context of the discussion prior to joining in ...."

RevRon's Rants, specifically where are "participants" "advised to educate themselves sufficiently" I did not see that anywhere when I opened up this blog and still do not?

"Not at all... I was merely identifying a troll."

"Troll" RevRon's Rants that is a personal attack and an ad hominem against aother contributor.

Steve Salerno said

"I allow comments of (almost) any type, as long as they're not profane or ad hominem against other contributors."

RevRon's Rants, it seems that the blog in fact does allow posters (who promote the blog's point of view) to make personal attacks on other contributers ( similiar to the two different sets of rules
that are enforced by moderator/posters on Rick Ross message board )and let your name calling post go through. If that is the case, this is not a blog I will read or post on.

Steve Salerno said...

And, yeah, it is my point of view that "on-line critics" and commentators like yourself and all the rest, are just as much a part of "scams, shams, and shames of modern life" as any body they are pointing their finger at.

That's just as ad hominem as positing that someone is a troll. Unless you want to argue that the phenomenon being described ("scam" or "sham") is something apart from the individual perpetrating it (using the dis-identification of person and behavior that's such an integral part of Forum). But if that's the case, then the same standard must be applied to the term troll: that in fact it is not a direct putdown of you, but more of an exposing of the practice (i.e. the gleeful evisceration of other people's ideas for their own sake) in which you appear to be indulging. Either way, my friend, you painted yourself into a rhetorical corner.

Of course, in Forum's reality, there are no such things as corners, to those who choose not to recognize them. Right? ;)

Cosmic Connie said...

I'm truly enjoying this discussion. Steve, your recent comment with the "Everything is nothing" quotation reminded me once again of the language mangling that is endemic in New-Wage culture -- which is probably what bugs me more than anything else (well, besides the random psychoses, injuries, and deaths). And I think again of how much we owe to good old Werner Erhard, the king of the language manglers.

I'm looking again at the December 1978 Mother Jones article (about Erhard's Hunger Project) that I cited in my earlier comment. Towards the end of the piece, the author addresses the question of whether the Hunger Project is suffering from its association with est. Est had been very controversial almost since its inception in 1971, and by 1978 the critics were out in full force. Here's what Erhard told the author of the MJ article, Suzanne Gordon:

"I don't think that est's relationship to the Hunger Project is really very much of a detriment. I think you can make a case for its being a detriment, but I don't think that it is. In fact, it's proven that it's not. The enrollments in the Hunger Project are an absolute statement that est is not a problem for people. That doesn't mean that it's not a problem for some people."

There were some IRS issues with est in those days, partly having to do with the fact that the law distinguishes between for-profit and nonprofit corporations. Erhard, however, told the interviewer that a "really big" person doesn't occupy himself with such pettiness. He said, "For me, the whole issue of what's est and what isn't est had disappeared. I know that is not true for most of the rest of the world, but for me, the boundaries have kind of washed away. I'm fairly clear that whatever's happening in est is really happening in the world, so how can you call it est? It's what's happening, and I'm very clear that it's what's happened. I used to be clear about that when nobody was clear about it. And therefore I didn't see much use in saying it very often, although I did from time to time. but now I don't think it's my clarity any more. I think that people are pretty clear it's what's happening."

Say what?!?

As the author digs a little deeper into Erhard's tax problems it becomes clear that he does not like the line of questioning. Although at the beginning of the interview he had expressed that he was thrilled with the interviewer's efforts, he ends the conversation by dismissing her, saying, "See, I don't really give a damn what you write because that's none of my business...And I don't want you telling me how to do my job, so I'm not going to presume to tell you how to do your job. You might even be a jerk and write something stupid, which would be all right with me, because God must have loved us jerks, he put a lot of us around...I don't think this story is going to make any difference one way or the other. I have very little concern about one day's output. But, it's kind of a shame that you had to put so much time in for one output..."

According to the author, Erhard was talking about their meeting to someone else several days later. He said, "You know what happens to magazine articles, they're used to wrap fish in the next day."

That is, unless those magazine articles are carefully preserved, reprinted on the Internet, and still being quoted 32 years later.

And yes, here we are, 32 years later, and Erhard's language-mangling, obscurantist legacy lives on, not only in Landmark Forum but all over the New-Wage world.

Steve Salerno said...

(Who could have known that my title for this post, "...in its own words," would turn out to be so prophetic?)

RevRon's Rants said...

"RevRon's Rants, specifically where are "participants" "advised to educate themselves sufficiently" I did not see that anywhere when I opened up this blog and still do not?"

Such advice is cleverly concealed in the common-sense lessons most people learn as their ability to engage in intelligent dialog grows more sophisticated.

My use of the term "troll" was not an ad hominem attack, but rather a pretty accurate descriptor of your behavior. Perhaps you might want to look up "ad hominem," as well as "troll." Here's a common definition of an Internet troll: "Trolls are recognizable by the fact that they have no real interest in learning about the topic at hand - they simply want to utter flame bait."

If the shoe fits...

Steve Salerno said...

Anon (et al): But seriously now, if you think this blog is monolithic in its viewpoint(s)--even on self-help-related topics--then you really need to do a little historical reading. As for your rhetorical question, in effect, "Where it does say I have to know anything in order to contribute?", I concur with Ron. Res ipsa loquitur.

Anonymous said...

@ Steve Salerno

FYI.

My question was not "rhetorical" and my question was not "Where it does say I have to know anything in order to contribute?"

RevRon's Rants said:

"...... in this case is that participants are advised to educate themselves sufficiently as to comprehend the premise and context of the discussion prior to joining in ...."

and this is what I asked in response to his comment:

"...specifically where are "participants" "advised to educate themselves sufficiently"?

What I asked and what you wrote were not the same.

Steve Salerno said...

Sigh.

OK. Fun and games with sophistry.

Anon, where does it say I won't translate your more astute comments into Mandarin so that they're less likely to influence my readers? Show me where it says that on the site.

Where does it say that you have to have common sense to negotiate life?

Steve Salerno said...

In fact, in the interest of the sanity of us all (though I know that's not an especially prized virtue among some of us), let's do this: Let's call a halt to the elliptical nonsense and just say what we have to say. If you have a criticism of an idea, or a reasonable rebuttal to an idea or opinion expressed in this thread, I'll be happy to have it. If we're just going to play "I try to play gotcha with your phrasing and you try to play gotcha with mine," then let's all agree to, oh, I don't know, surf porn or undertake some other more collectively rewarding activity for a while.

Karl said...

The language mangling that Cosmic Connie mentions reminds me of that great Hans Christian Andersen story of the Emperor' s New Clothes. The Erhardesque jargon and similar that is favoured by many in the self help arena merely conceals the fact that most of the time what is being spoken is nonsense, empty and meaningless.

This movie was around when I was a kid and I still love this:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ZYzbkk5X4M

Yekaterina said...

The practice of dis-identification of person and behavior is exactly the reason participants in these groups are able to turn around and wreck havoc on the lives of those around them (as Steve wrote about in a series way back when). It is an especially liberating experience for the (way too) nice people-pleasing sort of person who oftentimes embraces the practice of dis-identification with gusto, which is why the spouses, children, parents and friends of the person are so absolutely shocked by the sudden metamorphosis of their loved one as he/she goes from caring almost too much to complete and cold indifference to their feelings. Seeing someone go from black to white is scary and for good reason, sudden personality change is a warning sign that something is amiss and it is recommended that anyone undergoing such a change be medically evaluated as soon as possible.

A people-pleaser DOES need to be cured of his (or her) "Doormat Syndrome" and a responsible therapist can help him do it without blowing apart his life and the lives of those around him. Real therapists don't have enough hours in the day to treat masses of people, and in turn rake in the millions these groups are making, for the sole reason that powerful personality altering methods need to be used with caution and care and reality-checking and follow up. LGAT's (and even smaller self-help groups) engage in none of the above.

The waivers these groups have the participants sign have less to do with how litigious American society has become than with the knowledge that therapy teamed with irresponsibility is in fact a time-bomb waiting to explode.

Of course, for one practiced in the art of dis-identification...no biggie.

Duff said...

Great article, Steve. I appreciate the detailed analysis of the hypocrisy of the Landmark Forum.

Regarding Cosmic Connie's quotation from Erhard (quoted again below), this is an excellent, highly skilled example of a confusion technique. In other words, when people ask you tough questions about your lies and lack of integrity, baffle 'em with bullshit!

The last line "people are pretty clear it's what's happening" functions as a command for the reader (or interviewer) to be an instance of "people," i.e. to be clear that the first line ("the whole issue ... had disappeared") is "what's happening" in the very moment of hearing Erhard speak.

Erhard uses the word "clear" or "clarity" 6 times, in a very UNclear and confusing paragraph. The idea is to baffle the conscious mind while giving the unconscious just one consistent thing to hold on to: the word "clear" and the directive "the whole issue had disappeared."

In other words, what Erhard said is "this isn't an issue" in a long-winded way, inducing confusion to distract from the issue. A good reporter knows just to ask the same direct, clear question again and again until you get a straight answer...but it takes practice with manipulative weasely people like Erhard to maintain such clarity in the midst of such confusing language.

From the article on Erhard quoted above by Cosmic Connie:

"For me, the whole issue of what's est and what isn't est had disappeared. I know that is not true for most of the rest of the world, but for me, the boundaries have kind of washed away. I'm fairly clear that whatever's happening in est is really happening in the world, so how can you call it est? It's what's happening, and I'm very clear that it's what's happened. I used to be clear about that when nobody was clear about it. And therefore I didn't see much use in saying it very often, although I did from time to time. but now I don't think it's my clarity any more. I think that people are pretty clear it's what's happening."

Yekaterina said...

The "language mangling" these groups engage in is at the same time infuriating, saddening and disgusting. Imagine hiring a tutor to learn higher mathematics and then instead of the tutor actually teaching you anything accurate or useful you are given lessons in gibberish that you can't figure out for the life of you, in spite of applying all the brain power you can muster for months on end. Now eventually you are probably going to figure out that you are not being taught by your tutor what you paid good money to learn and you might become suspicious of his teaching abilities, his credentials and/or credibility, but lets face it, for a long time you are going to blame yourself and your own ignorance for not understanding the advanced concepts put before you. Especially so when a large part of your fellow classmates seem to be getting it just fine. They repeat the gibberish back to the tutor as if they understand. (Yes Carl, The Emperor's New Clothes. Or how about the Asch conformity experiments done in the 1950's where a surprisingly large percentage of the population caved in and succumbed to this type of peer pressure.)The leaders of these groups DEPEND on (or should we say BANK ON) this quirk of human nature.

And by the time you do figure it out, that you've been scammed? You'll have paid a small fortune in tutoring fees.

Who is at fault here? The tutor? The student? You tell me.

Jonnie Jensen said...

A very good debate on Landmark and Est. Probably the least sensationalist and most grounded in (apparently) facts.

As a participant in many Landmark Education Courses I still find it to be a great shame that the negative experiences of a few is what drives the online conversation about why Landmark is bad. To make a very simple analogy I'm sure many of the people who ride roller-coasters get off the ride with regrets and promises to never do such a thing again. Likewise, others get off and tell many people how great it was.

What I learnt at the Landmark Forum has enabled me to transform my experience of life. I've come to realise since then that I could have found this elsewhere or perhaps one day on my own. Truth is I didnt. And it was because a friend told me about the Landmark Forum that I have the life I have today.

What I have read and experienced about Landmark Education is pretty fair. I dont see why they should stand back and let a few try and take them down when so many 100's of thousand's of people have benefitted. You can disect their waivers and disclaimers all you like but at the end of the day people sign up on their own free will. It is a powerfull course and some people might not like what they see but then thats the whole point. Life is real, how we describe it and choose to live it is our own choice. Too many people hide from that or dont even realise it - and that is where many of the World's problems come from.

Jonnie Jensen

Steve Salerno said...

Jonnie: Thank you for your very reasonable comment. No one denies that many people feel they have benefited from Landmark. Many people also feel that they have benefited from the other, more mainstream forms of self-help that I mostly discuss on this blog. My concern is the rest of Landmark's clientele--the other 6 percent (using Landmark's own figures, which that show that 94 percent regard the course as a positive experience. Btw, there are subtler issues here that we haven't discussed--like, say, the people in the orbit of those who take Landmark courses. Do 94 percent of them regard Landmark as a positive experience? I could be proved wrong, but I suspect not). Also, to be clear, I'm not worried about customers who "don't like" the course. There are people who don't like Disneyland. I'm worried about people who have disastrous reactions to the course, and had no way of knowing in advance that they were likely to have those reactions.

The point is not to "take them down." The point is to encourage them to stop hiding behind their lawyers, address the real risks of the course for some people, and stop suing and otherwise threatening those of us who, because of Landmark's own position, decide to built our entire articles around the negative aspects of Landmark. We have that right.

Cosmic Connie said...

And just to add a little bit of levity to the discussion... if you haven't checked out "Landmark Forum for Cats," now might be a good time to do so.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yK2SDf-KWbs

verification word: lessen

Anonymous said...

Steve, if I may imput a few questions and a slightly rambling point of view?

"...I'm worried about people who have disastrous reactions to the course, and had no way of knowing in advance that they were likely to have those reactions..."

A very dear friend of mine, the valedictorian of their high school, had a completely unexpected "disastrous" breakdown in College. They had no way of
knowing in advance nor did their family, that the pressures and demands and unique environment of College would trigger what it did. Leaving the predictability of one's familiar setting and endeavoring into anything ambitious, eg. a big new job in a new culture? training for an elite sports team? attending university or college? getting married to a person one hardly knows, a young person moving to LA to pursue being "a star" with no
support system? can and sometimes does bring up and make visible things that cannot be
foreseen and now have to be dealt with. Is that not just life? or is there something suspect about those settings(like College or a new job or a "self-help" course?) Was my friend deceived when they went to College? Should they sue the College?

Should we worry and shelter individuals who want to grow and live life and take a risk and expose themselves to the unknown? How many more disastrous breakdowns are there in "self help courses" then are in University settings or demanding new job settings or other surroundings where a small number of individuals have no way of knowing they would have a reaction or that
something that is there in them will get triggered?

As a society, should we value having "breakdowns" be kept hidden and avoided or can it not also be useful to the individual that they have things come up when they come up and even unexpectedly brought up onto the light so that an individual can deal with what is there for them?

Anonymous said...

and to make sure I am not misunderstod, re:

".... or can it not also be useful to the individual that they have things come up when they come up and even unexpectedly brought up onto the light so that an individual can deal with what is there for them?"

A "self-help" course is not a suitable place for a person to deal with "a completely unexpected "disastrous" breakdown" just as College University, a new job, Hollywood Blvd., a new marriage, an elite sports team or other possible settings are not appropriate places to deal with a "breakdown" if it happens to occur there. But, for a few individuals in our midst, it happens when it happens. But their "completely unexpected "disastrous" breakdown" is just not necessarily a statement about the life setting where it happened to comes up for that person.

Mark Ty-Wharton said...

@Connie

I loved Landmark Forum for cats and had my cat watch it straight away...

You see, she reacted badly to my alien guitar playing!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cKRI0YbsXAA

Anonymous said...

@ Steve or anyone

I would be interested in any poster's point of view on entire the content of my post dated: March 5, 2010 10:51 AM (which was a response to Steve saying he was worried).....

"...I'm worried about people who have disastrous reactions to the course, and had no way of knowing in advance that they were likely to have those reactions..."

Rational Thinking said...

Anon 11.31 wrote:

"A "self-help" course is not a suitable place for a person to deal with "a completely unexpected "disastrous" breakdown" just as College University, a new job, Hollywood Blvd., a new marriage, an elite sports team or other possible settings are not appropriate places to deal with a "breakdown" if it happens to occur there. But, for a few individuals in our midst, it happens when it happens. But their "completely unexpected "disastrous" breakdown" is just not necessarily a statement about the life setting where it happened to comes up for that person."

No, it's not necessarily a statement about the life setting where it occurred, but - and this is the crux of the matter - the context within which such a breakdown occurs is important. And it is a legitimate concern when it occurs within an environment where powerful techniques are being used. If a situation is 'triggering' to certain people, then it behoves the organisations running such events to make sure that qualified, competent, psychiatric and/or medical professionals are on site to deal with it. Destabilisation can occur very rapidly, and even more importantly, early intervention can make a huge difference in the course of the event.

Personally, I don't regard a 'breakdown' as a positive event. Recovery from it, and the reintegration of the personally into a stable, cohesive whole is a positive event. Re-framing a breakdown as a 'breakthrough', which is sometimes done, is an attempt to help someone having experienced such a breakdown to see that there is 'light at the end of the tunnel', so to speak. It's not, in my opinion, factually correct.

RevRon's Rants said...

RT, you make a very good (and, I think, critical) point here. While there are any number of situations in which humans may experience the stressors that serve to trigger a "breakdown," it would be foolhardy for anyone to intentionally seek out such an intentionally stressor-based situation as a means to experience an alleged "breakthrough."

Having worked with psych patients for years - most notably in a critical care lockup ward, I have seen how even moderately stressful situations can tip a fragile individual's emotional state. I would suggest that making the conscious choice to place one's self in such a stressor situation as a requisite to achieving some higher level of awareness is the emotional equivalent to intentionally bankrupting one's self in order to gain a more comprehensive understanding of economics. You might gain some insights, but at what cost? The truly compassionate observer would question whether the individual making such a choice is capable of acting in their own best interests, while the more cynical would perceive an opportunity to profit from another's fragility and/or impairment.

Even more significantly, the milieu in which they find themselves during the initial crisis period can make a big difference in their hope of recovery. If an individual suffers a psychotic break, the last thing they need is to be left within a milieu where the episode is defined as being integral to the evolution of one's emotional and spiritual well-being. Such positive reinforcement of a pathological state only serves to impede the patient's emergence from the critical stage, and can actually lay the groundwork for the critical phase becoming chronic. Sadly, the prognosis for an individual suffering from chronic psychosis is bleak, their future often defined by alternate periods of being heavily medicated or those wherein the patient rejects pharmacological therapy and lapses back into critical phases.

While in some ancient cultures, psychotic episodes have been perceived as being manifestations of Divinity, such states have in other times been regarded as manifestations of demonic possession. One would like to think that humanity has at least intellectually evolved beyond the willingness to accept such superstitions, yet there is obvious evidence that we have not. The common perception of the psychotic individual remains more akin to that of the medieval witch or the child in "The Exorcist" than to a viable human suffering from disease. To characterize the psychotic as a "seeker" who has taken a significant step toward a "breakthrough" is no less grounded in superstition than characterizing them as being possessed by some celestial demon, and is just as destructive to the patient's efforts to heal and resume a productive, happy life.

Anonymous said...

@ Rational Thinking

Thank-you for your throughtful response at my request for one. I appreciate it.

Does "crux of the matter" mean a point of view you personally feel strongly about?

".....when it occurs within an environment where powerful techniques are being used......"

Are "powerful techniques" not also being used in College, University , military, elite sports teams as well? Have you ever been in a University or College theater class or the army or to church or at a large family gathering?

Specifically, what "powerful techniques" are are you referring to?

"....If a situation is 'triggering' to certain people, then it behoves the organisations...."

What life sutuation is not "triggering" to certan people? Are High Schools "triggering" to certain people who out of the blue come dressed in black and armed with automatic weapons and open fire on their fellow students and teachers? Are post offices and other job sites "triggering" to the certan people who appear to snap and show up at work and act violently to others? The list goes on? Life is not a bowl of cherries...certain people are "triggered" sitting watching their television. If I read the newspaper or watch CNN 5 days in a row and I see that we are living in a world where people are triggered and everyone is dealing with it in one way or the other. Landmark Education is not a unque setting as you are saying it is, is my point. Of the millions of Landmarks ideas worldwide, I don't see that they have any more instances of people being inappropriately triggered then anywhere else in life. If you or anyone has evidence that that is the case, I would be interested to see it.

"...it behoves the organisations...."

And, says who?

"Personally, I don't regard a 'breakdown' as a positive event."

I get that and I was saying that they happen and need to be dealt with, not that it was a positive event but it seems our society values keeping certain people's issues buries and unseen and that they should never surface.

"Re-framing a breakdown as a 'breakthrough', which is sometimes done, is an attempt to help someone having experienced such a breakdown to see that there is 'light at the end of the tunnel', so to speak. It's not, in my opinion, factually correct."

You may have not been suggesting this but I want to clarify that I was not using the word "breakdown" in the way the word "breakdown is properly used in Landmark terminology. And as well:

""Re-framing a breakdown as a 'breakthrough', which is sometimes done, is an attempt to help someone having experienced such a breakdown to see that there is 'light at the end of the tunnel"

does not represent in any way how the term "breakdown" was used in The Landmark Forum I participated in. I would agree with you that using or applying the term "breakdown" as you discribed it, would not be useful and I would reject such a use of that term.

Anonymous said...

@ RevRon's Rants

"....it would be foolhardy for anyone to intentionally seek out such an intentionally stressor-based situation as a means to experience an alleged "breakthrough..."


Specifcially, who are you talking about. I don't know of anybody who intentionally seeks out an intentionally stressor-based situation. If you mean people going into a setting where they know in advance that they will be challenged and asked to go beyond where they normally stop - this is true of all students in every learning situation. But I have never myself nor met anyone who sought out an intentionally stressor-based situation as you worded it. Maybe in the S & M world there are such people. I don't know much about S & M though.

Rational Thinking said...

Part 1

Anon:

Thank-you for your throughtful response at my request for one. I appreciate it.

Does "crux of the matter" mean a point of view you personally feel strongly about?

No, it means 'the most important point' of the opinion I am expressing, as I see it.

Anon quotes RT:

".....when it occurs within an environment where powerful techniques are being used......"

Anon writes:

Are "powerful techniques" not also being used in College, University , military, elite sports teams as well? Have you ever been in a University or College theater class or the army or to church or at a large family gathering?"

RT: Colleges, universities and the other institutions you mention are not selling programmes "specifically designed to bring about positive and permananet shifts in your quality of life - in just three days".

There is no basis for comparison here.

Anon writes:

"Specifically, what "powerful techniques" are are you referring to?"

RT: The techniques which Landmark themselves advertises as being "specifically designed to bring about positive and permananet shifts in your quality of life - in just three days"

Anon quotes RT:
"....If a situation is 'triggering' to certain people, then it behoves the organisations...."

See part 2

Rational Thinking said...

Part 2

Anon writes:

What life sutuation is not "triggering" to certan people? Are High Schools "triggering" to certain people who out of the blue come dressed in black and armed with automatic weapons and open fire on their fellow students and teachers? Are post offices and other job sites "triggering" to the certan people who appear to snap and show up at work and act violently to others? The list goes on? Life is not a bowl of cherries...certain people are "triggered" sitting watching their television. If I read the newspaper or watch CNN 5 days in a row and I see that we are living in a world where people are triggered and everyone is dealing with it in one way or the other. Landmark Education is not a unque setting as you are saying it is, is my point. Of the millions of Landmarks ideas worldwide, I don't see that they have any more instances of people being inappropriately triggered then anywhere else in life. If you or anyone has evidence that that is the case, I would be interested to see it.

RT: Firstly Anon, you say:

"Landmark Education is not a unque setting as you are saying it is, is my point."

I am saying nothing of the sort. Please don't put words in my mouth - that is dishonest. As is putting up strawmen to pull down.

Nobody here is suggesting life is a bowl of cherries, or that other triggering situations do not exist. Again, you are putting up a strawman here.


Anon quotes RT:

"...it behoves the organisations...."

Anon writes: "And, says who?"

RT: I typed the post myself, Anon. I think you may safely take it that I say so. The word 'behoves' means is necessary or fitting. In my opinion, in this instance, it is both.

Anon quotes RT: "Personally, I don't regard a 'breakdown' as a positive event."

Anon wrote:

"I get that and I was saying that they happen and need to be dealt with, not that it was a positive event but it seems our society values keeping certain people's issues buries and unseen and that they should never surface."

RT: Well we are in agreement that they need to be dealt with. Theren is a time and a place for issues to be dealt with - if people choose to do so. It is not in any way obligatory to do so, though.

Anon quotes RT: "Re-framing a breakdown as a 'breakthrough', which is sometimes done, is an attempt to help someone having experienced such a breakdown to see that there is 'light at the end of the tunnel', so to speak. It's not, in my opinion, factually correct."

Anon writes:

"You may have not been suggesting this but I want to clarify that I was not using the word "breakdown" in the way the word "breakdown is properly used in Landmark terminology".

RT: I was not speaking about a breakdown in Landmark terms.

Anon: "And as well:

(quoting RT)"Re-framing a breakdown as a 'breakthrough', which is sometimes done, is an attempt to help someone having experienced such a breakdown to see that there is 'light at the end of the tunnel"

does not represent in any way how the term "breakdown" was used in The Landmark Forum I participated in. I would agree with you that using or applying the term "breakdown" as you discribed it, would not be useful and I would reject such a use of that term."

RT: You mean you would reject the term 'useful'? I'm not entirely clear what you're agreeing with, but I'm glad we're agreed on something.

kurt said...

i did the forum last year in melbourne. i don't think i actually learnt anything from it that i use regularly. some of the techniques they teach i suspect might be dangerous, leading people to dissociate from their own emotions. in one part of the course they teach you how everything is inherently meaningless, which means you can create your own meaning for what happens. a girl who was a repeat student got up and said how it's great that she can create her own meanings - whenever a guy stands her up she just creates the meaning that he had to get out of town to help his terminally ill mother - essentially using it as a tool for denial. though i suppose every teaching is open to misuse. she had a great rack.