Friday, 15 August 2008

What Are the Concerns About Landmark?

Here is a brief survey from Apologetics Index.

What Are The Concerns?

A Landmark critic sums them up as follows:

To round things up, everything in short:

A friend/relative tricks you with the most sincere words into attending an introductory meeting, while appealing to your trust and curiosity, or actual weakness, or all of the above.

Group pressure techniques and wordplay are used upon you and at least 100 more people in 3 days, during which, proper rest and natural needs are denied from you.

Overwhelming. Might lead to personality disorders. The Forum becomes the most important thing, not its outcomes. You might become a zealot for the Forum (without even registering for the advanced courses), or addicted to it by registering for more, or both. The real effect, most importantly, is economically beneficial to the Forum (unless, of course, you lose your mind and sue them...)

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

What is the Landmark Forum Really Doing?

Scaring the bejasus out of people for one, especially when they start their racket on "fear". They say they are providing tools, a new technology. But this is bullshit.

As some have spotted, much of what is said in Landmark forums "...being the potential of...." and so forth, comes straight of Heidegger or Gadamer. So it's a jargon based on philosophy and some sociology. (Bourdieu always argued that sociologists were truly therapists. Little did he know.) In acquiring that jargon, as in any field, one feels empowered and different. Or I should say distinguished or distinctive.

Being able to talk a jargon isn't in itself a way of living. I've found if you read enough about what goes on in Landmark, after a while it's easy to pick up the jargon and use it. Does it matter if it's being used "authentically" or with "integrity"? Not really, because no one could distinguish one from the other. After all, that's what makes a con man so effective. (Sociological note: read Goffman's Asylum for a real analysis of a Forum.)

It's the use of this jargon or language which gives the self-rightous air to some. When some family members have gone this way, they can be dismissive of others because they justify all in terms of their jargon. An explanation by someone can be dismissed as "running a racket". Refusing to see the "light" means you are committed to your "strong suit" and therefore not open to the "possibility of transformation". Change by the way is negligible. What counts is "transformation"!

This stuff isn't hard to learn. Spend a little time and you too can fun with your Landmark cultists! Go on, jig them around a bit!

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Landmark Cited in Religious Discrimination Suits

The blog, "The Truth about Human Potential Seminars", has a disturbing post on employees of Growing Generations, a sperm bank and surrogacy company, being compelled to attend Landmark Education courses contrary to their religious beliefs. A number of lawsuits against GG have been filed.

Monday, 11 August 2008

Can Landmark Cause Suicide?

Lars Bergwik, a former Landmark devotee and "Introduction Leader" in Sweden, talks about how Landmark operates by breaking you down until there is nothing and reconstructing a persona that is smaller than the original but controllable by them.

He also discusses how psychological disorders can result after participation in Landmark courses, even the possibility of suicide.

Here's his talk:

Sunday, 10 August 2008

Legal Tactics by Landmark to Suppress Criticism

Landmark are tenacious at suppressing criticism even that which does not violate law. This video describes how they work.

Electronic Frontier Foundation on Landmark Education DMCA

Abstract: November 8th, 2006 interview with EFF lawyer, Kurt Opsahl, on EFF's defense of the Internet Archive from the Landmark Education DMCA Subpeona. Landmark Education subpoenaed the Internet Archive, Google Video and YouTube to reveal the identity of who uploaded the France TV 3 video on the Landmark Forum. Attribution: For more information on the background of the video, do an internet search for "Why did Landmark Education Leave France?". The French program was titled: "Voyage au pays des nouveaux gourous."

Marion in Wonderland Doesn't Do Landmark

Marion in Wonderland ultimately refused to take the Landmark Forum. Good for her. She gives a useful list of relevant websites. Here they are:

Below are some of the websites I visited, both pro- and anti-. Hopefully you will find them a useful aid to making up your own mind.

Tom Hume’s blog - an interesting post, with lots of comments which led me further, to The Truth about Human Potential Seminars / Total Group Awareness Training Truth - two sites for a blog apparently set up to debunk Landmark.

The Skeptic’s Dictionary entry on Landmark.

THE FREETHINKERS PAGE - a rambling personal account with lots of interesting comment - anyone who quotes Frank Zappa is ok with me.

Apologetics Index - another site investigating Landmark, which seems to anticipate harassment and feels obliged to print all sorts of legal disclaimers.

The Scoop About the Landmark Forum - a fan site

What’s the deal about Landmark Education? - a broadly favourable site, hosted by “psychology professionals” (sorry, my bias is showing)

Cult Awareness Information Centre (CAIC) - a general site providing information about a large number of cult organisations. This page in the site gives access to “Journey to the Land of the New Gurus” - a French TV documentary about the Landmark Forum.

The Rick Ross Institute investigates a number of organisations, including Landmark.

A Personal Memoir of the Landmark Forum "Brainwashing"

In a video called, "brain washing in a godless big business cult", a woman tells of her experience in a Landmark Forum. You can hear the hurt, the distress, the fear in her voice. I felt distressed after watching it, but I knew it was heartfelt.

There is one point at 6 minutes in when she describes a particular episode in the weekend Forum. Participants are told to imagine their greatest fears and that those around them are also creating fear. The Forum leader shouts at them and harangues them until many break down and sob and shake. Many others have focussed on this particular point in the Forum as one of its most destructive moments. Here's her video:

Saturday, 9 August 2008

Some Really Praise Landmark

It's clear people do get something out of Landmark courses, so maybe it's not all bad?

Here's one example of a positive experience from Carrie & Danielle:

Five Ways Landmark Education Impacted My Life

  1. Landmark Means Leaving your Past Behind

    Before Landmark Education I experienced the world based on my past experiences, many of which I considered disappointing. After Landmark Education I create my life based on what is possible - versus my past. This was was revolutionary for me. I remember sitting in my chair and feeling years of criticism and judgment drop away. That little voice in my head saying I was worth less than my twin sister…I let that go. I was moved, touched and inspired to create my life. My past did not define me.

  2. Landmark and Confident Communication

    I learned to communicate more clearly and powerfully. I gained confidence in expressing my concerns and I am more comfortable resolving issues personally and in business. Sometimes I feel nervous but I don’t let fear stop me. I would rather live in a few moments of discomfort in order to create a greater ease and momentum.

  3. What is Your Story? Victim or Victorious?

    There is a difference between fact and “story.” What do you receive from constantly complaining about something? We get to be right and make someone else wrong. As long as we can blame someone else for our disconnected relationships, shitty jobs and weight issues we don’t take responsibility. This was monumental for me, I realized how much drama I had attached to my stories and although some were truly traumatic, I left the Landmark Forum without a heavy story weighing me down. I was committed to leading a more authentic life.

  4. Your Word Is Your Wand

    Be accountable to my word, for the sake of honouring myself - not out of fear of criticism, or looking bad, or disappointing my father. Doing what you say you’re going to do is a way off self respect, and you learn that you can depend on yourself.

  5. What Is, Is.

    Complaining about the weather is futile. The weather just is.

Why I Have Set Up Ant-Landmark 2

Doing Landmark Forums and advanced courses has fallout. Members change their lives dramatically, often destructively to those close to them.

Weber says everything is peeled away until there is nothing. Therefore there is no truth but only multiple interpretations, an infinite array of possibilities. Life can be constructed anew. History is bunk.

If this is so and you don't like something, get rid of it. We know anecdotally that members have divorced, quit jobs, left families, and more after doing Landmark courses. They are on a high where anything is possible. We also know that oftentimes they come down and wonder what the hell they've done with their lives.

They've been brainwashed. And they are left bereft.

I have an interest because my wife decided that her possibility was to divorce me because she had not been honest with me in our relationship. I have to live with aftershock. I still am.

Why I Have Set Up Ant-Landmark 1

If you are not with Landmark, then you're against it--automatically. In my case my ex-wife joined it. She tried to get me to join and a number of her friends. None of us took the bait.

The way she explained it made the Landmark Forum seem quite benign. The Forum is a three day marathon affair which takes place in room with no windows where the participants are under strict instructions only to do what they are told. This includes when you can use the bathroom, drink and eat. And since it runs from early morning to around midnight, there's a hefty dose of sleep deprivation also. Even at home the participants must do homework which cuts their rest periods to the minimum.

The Forum entails abuse, harassment, and humiliation of the participants to wear them down. France 3 TV made an undercover documentary of a Landmark Forum in Paris, called: Voyage to the Land of the New Gurus.

You can see the documentary here, where it's hosted on the Cult Awareness & Information Centre. The transcript of the program is here.

The program was made in 2004, so it's current. It shows how Landmark uses cruelty and bully tactics to get its way. It refused to discuss the program and indeed has persisted in trying to shut down websites that host it or link to it.

Once inducted members are persuaded to sign up new members, as I've said, and also take more advanced courses, at considerable cost. These courses cost hundreds of dollars.

Why Anti-Landmark is Necessary

Have you ever been part of the Landmark Forum or been affected by it? Maybe a family member or friend has taken part in their introductory forum. I know how you feel.

Landmark exists to induct people through a form of brainwashing that means that Landmark can do no wrong. But everyone outside, those who don't participate in Landmark become strangers to the insiders.

Landmark derives from Werner Erhard's "est", which was an attempt to break people down over a period of three days in a closed environment with little sleep and food, so they no longer believed anything except what they were told.

Landmark continues to do this today. The purpose of Landmark is to get its members to bring in a constant stream of new members. This activity is often given out as "homework" to course takers. This is the way Landmark continues to make its money. It's looking for suckers and it finds them.