Saturday, 22 August 2009

Cafe Gratitude in Berkeley Compels Managers to Attend Landmark Forum

(Thanks to Mother Jones)

Mother Jones has a good piece on Cafe Gratitude in Berkeley. The cafe has links with Landmark Education and insists its managers attend Landmark courses. Those that don't are fired. The full story is in the East Bay Express.

Laura McClure also writes an article, "The Landmark Forum: 42 Hours, $500, 65 Breakdowns" about doing the Forum. It has one or two insightful moments but isn't as good as some of the others referred to in earlier posts. However, the comments section is worth reading. (Running up to a 100 comments.) Notable is a comment by a psychiatrist who was called in to work with people who'd been through the Forum. His conclusion: a cult.

Some day Landmark will have to be stopped and show for what it really is, nothing but a scam.

12 comments:

Pareidolius said...

A fascinating site. The Café Gratitude article is hardly surprising. I did the Forum in 1999. It was paid for entirely by my dotcom era employer and thought there was no insistence that I do it, the peer pressure was pretty intense. In those waning days of the 20th century, I was still locked into magical-thinking and self-help, so I thought "why not?, it's free?"


Oddly enough, the Forum did change my life in many ways, or at least I should say some of the key "distinctions" did. "What is so, and my story about what is so" was very eye-opening to me, and the "life is empty and meaningless (and it's empty and meaningless that it's empty and meaningless)" really changed my perspectives . . . but not the way they wanted. Landmark was the beginning of the end of magical thinking for me. Over the next few years, I would go from being a woo-addled new ager, to really seeing that I was just afraid of dying and constantly twisting reality so it would appear less scary.

High from the Forum, I signed up for the Advanced Course and the SELP on my own dime, and never did attain that same big high of the original Forum. The SELP was just a drag. I started to question the leaders and they did their usual duck and weave. I was feeling more and more uncomfortable and then I brought up the cult question. With that I was spirited to the back of the room where an Amazonian woman became so agitated with me that she was actually trembling and her eyes filling with tears when she uttered the words I most associate with my time in Landmark: "why are you making Landmark wrong?" That was the end, and ironically, it was what I learned at Landmark that gave me the courage to question and leave Landmark.

I could never recommend the Forum as it stands right now. Trying to get them to stop calling you when you leave is like trying to get dog doo out of a Vibram soled hiking boot. They mean well, but their dirty secret is that they pervert "the distinction enrollment" by trying to turn you into salesdrone for Landmark. They do this so they don't have to spend money on advertising and promotion. Then they use the inductive LGAT setting to pervert your enthusiasm for self-discovery into "volunteering" for servitude to Landmark. It does remind me of $cientology's "Clearing the Planet" ethos that so strongly grips its earnest adherents.

Thanks for the great blog.

Asobime said...

I have a friend very caught up in Landmark...Love him, but he's gone..mind blown.

He keeps saying that "Landmark has got me in touch with myself, my inner feelings, " but what is funny, is he has not really changed at all.

Where before he ignored his friends, for various reasons, NOW he tries to recruit his friends, all in the name of saying 'he's attending to the love of his friends".

LOL!....I love this article because it does expose exactly this issue: that Landmark is not paying people for advertisements, recruiting...the boobs are doing it (robot like) for Landmark.

And where is this 89,000,000.00 going to? Certainly the people who spend so much of their time to push Landmark upon their friends and relatives aren't getting a dime.

I think part of the problem here is that Landmark is playing a shell game. Empowerment? Nah....a little thrown in to sooth the nerves, perhaps, but these people shilling for Landmark are being used....and paying for it.

Double screwed.

Lady Nyo

laura said...

A major characteristic of Forum graduates. None of them will ever shut up gain and listen to friends. Because what they want to *contribute* to you is so very much more impt than what you may have wanted to say. It's a narcissistic power life...not reality.
Glad to be free.

Skeptik said...

Thank you for your insightful comments. There does seem to be evidence that Landmark's Forum doesn't have very long term effects. Nevertheless short term effects can be catastrophic sometimes.

Anonymous said...

I understand you all have had experiences that didn't work for you and I don't that it's any different than a restaurant or vehicle brand. Some people are going love it and some not. I myself had a life changing experience from participating in the curriculum and since have been able to leave the corporate world to take on my passion of educating disadvantaged youth. Since then we've helped countless youth and families. No Landmark isn't perfect but last time I checked nothing is. Take away whatever you can use to impact your life, leave the rest and if you haven't accomplished all you want in life, ask yourself what YOU can do about it.

Anonymous said...

I understand you all have had experiences that didn't work for you and I don't that it's any different than a restaurant or vehicle brand. Some people are going love it and some not. I myself had a life changing experience from participating in the curriculum and since have been able to leave the corporate world to take on my passion of educating disadvantaged youth. Since then we've helped countless youth and families. No Landmark isn't perfect but last time I checked nothing is. Take away whatever you can use to impact your life, leave the rest and if you haven't accomplished all you want in life, ask yourself what YOU can do about it.

kevinstea said...

just like most things in life, you will get out of landmark what you put in. as we are all different, so it is different for every person who does it. to simply dismiss something with no real knowledge of the experience of it is just foolish. landmark starts you on a process of discovery that you can continue or stop, lose and find again. i havent been to any courses in years, but i use the tools it gave me every single day. Some of the most incredible moments in my and my family's life have come from just making our choices with that knowledge under our belt. i also did the forum in 1999, so i know some of the oddness that Pareidolius is referring too, but it is a program that evolves and is run by human beings. as they see their shortcomings or collapsed 'distictions' they address them. in a work environment i applaud the Landmark forum as a training requirement for a business, the level of efficient communication that can be created amongst a group with that training is astonishing.

Anonymous said...

My best friend for 40 years invited me to the Landmark intro and I said "no", it was something I had never heard of. When she did the first course and told me about it, I said it sounded like Scientology. She then told me some other stuff and that sounded like Buddism. I have a hobby of learning about religions and she is a catholic, so did not reconize this borrowed stuff from the other religions. I told her it was a cult, and she has not had any contact since. She ditched me after 40 years of friendship for a cult that she had been to for one weekend. Just like the cult stories that you hear. It is like a nightmare. All that money to a cult.

Anonymous said...

If Landmark wants to change the world than why don't they form a non profit and give free clinics? And why do the participants drop the people around them who choose not to partake? France banned the Forum for good reason. It is sneaky in the way it is so underground and spends so much money on lawyers ready to squash any bad press that might warn people before they and their money are sucked in.

Peter Thomson said...

More articles and more honest criticism is always a healthy thing. But most of the comments seem to have demonstrated exactly the problem that Landmark is trying to address; people are too quick to judge things and react out of habit.

I did the Forum a couple of years ago and learnt a lot. It's just a harmless weekend where you look into what is working in your life and what isn't. All the drama that gets added on is just out of people's habit to add drama to stuff.

The sales stuff sounds pushy until you realise that no one has a gun to your head. It's easy to say no.

A cult encourages you to distance yourself from the people you love. Landmark does the opposite.

Sonny Moon said...

Why are you making Cafe Gratitude wrong?

Anonymous said...

They only "encourage" you to get closer to the people you love, in order to suck them in as well.