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Landmark Forum?

Anyone got any stories, conventional wisdom, anecdotes, praise, or condemnation, for these people?

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( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
hauntmeister
Nov. 10th, 2005 01:37 pm (UTC)
Run, don't walk. Away.

A friend of mine got sucked into this abusive cult for over a year. They put you in a stressful situation to convince you how horrible you are and how badly your life is messed up, and then present the cult as the salvation to all these manufactured problems.

You'll be offered a three-day-long informational "retreat". What they don't tell you is that you can't leave, and that you'll be sleep-deprived and bombarded with negative messages all the way through. My friend, for example, was made to believe that her early childhood relationship with her father was responsible for some huge number of imagined problems. She then became an avid recruiter for "The Forum", to the extent of paying her parents' airfare so they could go to one of the "retreats" as well.

She eventually severed her connection with "The Forum", and doesn't talk about her experience anymore.

http://www.apologeticsindex.org/l30.html has a bunch of links.
tcb
Nov. 10th, 2005 02:18 pm (UTC)
evil.
firstfrost
Nov. 10th, 2005 02:41 pm (UTC)
I once went to one of their thingies - it was described to me as "want to come to a lecture to see the sorts of stuff I've been doing?" and it turned out to be much more "come to a lecture that tries to convince you to spend a lot of money on the the stuff I've been doing?"

The staffer afterwards who asked how I had liked it was rather pressureful and didn't seem to want to take "I'm actually pretty happy with my life, and don't need to give you a lot of money to make it better" as an answer.

But my friends seemed to have gotten good stuff out of it at the time, as far as I could tell.
rifmeister
Nov. 10th, 2005 02:56 pm (UTC)
Scary and bad. I had some friends who almost got sucked into this.
chaiya
Nov. 10th, 2005 03:21 pm (UTC)
I had a boss who got sucked into that, and spoke well of it. But then, he was somewhat scary.
ilhander
Nov. 10th, 2005 06:19 pm (UTC)
A counter-example...
...because, as a good friend of mine is fond of saying, "I am as God made me."

I did The Forum. Since the words "evil" and "cult" have gotten tossed around already, I feel the need to point out that I am neither evil nor a cultist (at this time).

I am one of those that, as mentioned by firstfrost, got some useful stuff out of it. (I also invited her to that pressured session she mentioned, but that's neither here nor there at the moment). "Some useful stuff" isn't really strongly enough worded. I learned quite a lot of useful information about myself at the Forum, and I'm actually quite glad I did it.

When driving down the road of life in the car or self, it's important to have a look under the hood, so you know where breakdowns may occur, and to take your luggage out of the driver's seat and put it in the trunk, where it belongs.

Corny? Yes. Useful? Also yes.

The Forum is an amalgam of a lot of philosphies, all tossed into a blender together. One of the philosophies it claims as an influence is est (another is Buddhism). est could be abrasive, at times abusive, and very confrontational. The Forum, while definitely confrontational and occasionally abrasive, was never a thing I would call abusive. And yes, they let me go to the bathroom. There were even bathroom breaks.

Here's the thing: When you walk through the door, they ask you to make a commitment to trying the things out that you'll be told, and then they hold you to your commitment. It can be very uncomfortable, especially when they ask you to do something you don't want to do. And they will, trust me. But again, a lot of good can come at the end of that, if you let yourself do it.

Now don't get me wrong. While they aren't a cult, it really does seem as if they do take advantage of some of a cult's je ne sais quoi in order to maintain a good bottom line. They're a business after all, and quasi-fanatical volunteers (emphasis on the unpaid) with friends who are recruitable first as paying customers and second as fanatical volunteers with more friends are way better than pesky, expensive employees. So there are, either by chance or design, the trappings of a cult lying about for the unwary to, well, trap themselves in. I recommend you not do so. However, I am living proof that you can submit yourself to their learning process and come out well-adjusted, well-informed, and unscathed.

Some tips:

* Karate do yes, ok. Karate do no, ok. Karate do eh-eh, squish, just like grape. Either decide you are serious about trying it out, and be serious about trying it out, doing what they tell you, even the stuff that makes you uncomfortable or doesn't sound fun, and do it, or decide you don't like the sound of it, and leave it alone. Don't torture yourself with shallow water. I recommend also doing a seminar after the forum, so that you get the chance to use on an ongoing basis what you so seriously learned.

* Eschew pedantic sesquipedalianism. One learns in the Forum, over the course of three long days, a new vocabulary. This is interesting. Add it to your lexicon, but endeavor never to forget the words you already know. If someone needs to know LandmarkSpeak in order to understand you, you're starting to wander off the reservation. Consider ruthlessly forbidding yourself from using any of it for a day or two.

* Shake it, don't break it, it took your momma nine months to make it. Learn to examine what you learned for what is useful to you, in your life, and to your interactions with the people in your life. Find ways to apply the wise and useful, and discard the useless and irrelevant. If you find yourself yearning for the company of Landmark folks and volunteers because only they understand what you've been through, bzzzzzt! you've missed the point. Quit being silly.

* Give it up, turn it loose. When you're done, walk away. Learn it well, examine it closely, use it regularly, then say goodbye to Landmark and do it on your own. You can always go back for more if you think that's warranted.

remcat
Nov. 11th, 2005 03:11 am (UTC)
Re: A counter-example...
Wah, well-written my dear! Thank you for being so sensible.

I *haven't* done anything Landmark, but I have done other "weekend seminars" put on by two other groups with similar structures (unpaid volunteers do most of the work, people are highly encouraged to get their friends and family to sign up).

I would consider both seminars useful -- especially if you approach them like ilhander says and take what's good and chuck what sucks.
(Anonymous)
Nov. 14th, 2005 01:00 am (UTC)
Re: A counter-example...
This is in response to Ilhander's post. He handled Landmark the right way. He used Landmark instead of letting Landmark use him. He got his $400 worth and got out.

I would recommend staying away from Landmark. It's a money grab. They are sneaky and quite despicable in their quest to get you to bring in family and friends into the group. About 40% of the time during the 3 day forum is dedicated to this. They do this to avoid paying for advertising - you know, the pyramid scheme. They blend this strategy in with their entire course without you realizing it. It’s pure trickery. Having said all this, there are some valuable insights you learn at the forum and if you apply their ideas it can make a positive difference in your life. But there are other ways of achieving these benefits. For example, rent "What the Bleep Do You Know" and watch it a couple of times. Try a couple of Dr. Phil books as well. Also, so much of Landmark is based on Zen Buddhism - read up on it at the library or do internet research.

You pay $400 for the "Forum", the initial seminar that lasts 3 days, starting on Friday. But they don’t care about your lousy $400. They want your $400 to become $4,000 by pressuring you to bring into Landmark everyone in your life: your family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, etc. etc. They don't let up on that.

If you decide to take Landmark don’t let them manipulate you - you manipulate them. Beat them at their own game. Give Landmark the $400 and take the forum. Take in the useful things they say, weeding out the b.s. They won't let you take notes during the seminar but once you get home make notes each night of the useful things you learned. Above all, ignore their hard-sell tactics. Then get the hell out and don’t look back. Don't go to the "graduation". Don’t give them any more money for other courses. You paid your Forum fee. You don't owe them anything else.

They'll do anything not to let that happen; for example, they'll tell you you'll lose any benefit you gained from the forum if you don't take more courses. That's b.s. - lots of people say the forum was very beneficial to them without taking any more "courses". Once the forum is over physically get yourself out of the building. When they call you to pressure you, tell them to bugger off and leave you alone - and if they don’t stop, threaten to call the police. Sometimes you have to get tough with LM staffers but if you show them strength and resolve, the kind of traits they seek to instill in you, they'll eventually give up. In other words, use what they taught you against them - beat 'em at their own game.

Landmark uses brainwashing techniques to keep you coming back for more. But if you only stick around for the forum, they won’t have time to brainwash you. You don’t need any of the other courses they offer, such as SELP, which is a leadership course. It's a good course but there’s all kinds of other leadership courses out there without the hard-sell and cult-like atmosphere.

I know what I said is much easier said than done. Those Landmark people are smart so you can't be too obviouis. During the 3 day Forum just go along with the "sharing" and "enrolling" crap (you'll see what I mean once you're in the forum) and like I said, once it's over, high-tail it out of there. They'll put the guilt trip on you, saying you're "letting the group down". That's a standard Landmark line when they are desperate to retain you as a paying customer. The thing is, Landmark intentionally sets up post-forum group sessions in a way that the particpants are interdependent on each other. How clever. Or should I say, how odious. Tell them to f-off. You're not letting anyone down and like I said before, you don't owe them anything else.

(Anonymous)
Nov. 13th, 2005 06:33 pm (UTC)
Landmark Forum
If you decide to become a dedicated brainwashed Landmark (I call it Scam-mark) sucker, this is what you'll end up believing:

You are God in your universe. You caused it. You pretended not to cause it so that you could play in it, and you can remember you caused it any time you want to.If you keep saying it the way it really is, eventually your word is law in the universe.We are… the author of our lives in any and all situations.You must come to a point where nothing in your life has any meaning.If you experience it, it's the truth. The same thing believed is a lie.If God told you exactly what it was you were to do, you would be happy doing it no matter what it was. What you’re doing is what God wants you to do. Perfection is a state in which things are the way they are and are not the way they are not. As you can see, this universe is perfect. Don't lie about it.Give up being right – even when you know you are.Give up the interpretation that there’s something wrong.Give up trying to get somewhere. Be entirely fulfilled in the present moment.

Landmark employs a particular type of brainwashing called "Thought Reform". If they can convice you there's no such thing as truth; if they can convince you there's no such thing as reality, they got you where they want you. You then become a Landmark recruiting machine and contribute to Landmark's vast wealth. Of course, you get nothing for your time and efforts.
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