Your post reads like an ad for this company and its products.
"Don't knock it, until you've done it and stuck it out until the end"?
You don't have to drive drunk or smoke ciggarettes to know its not a good thing.
Research matters. And anyone considering buying a product, such a s a training seminar, can do a background check before laying out their cash and participating in something that might be potentially unsafe.
Large group awareness training (LGAT) or "mass marathon training" like MJB has a deeply troubled history that should cause anyone concern. LGATs like Landmark Education/EST, Lifespring and Sterling Institute of Relatiionship have been the subject of critical news reports. Personal injury lawsuits have also been filed against LGATs by former participants that claimed they were hurt by the training.
A paper written by a psychologist illustrates some of the inherent problems frequently observed within LGATs.
13 liabilities that can observed within most LGATs or mass marathon psychotherapy training sessions:
They lack adequate participant-selection criteria.
They lack reliable norms, supervision, and adequate training for leaders.
They lack clearly defined responsibility.
They sometimes foster pseudoauthenticity and pseudoreality.
They sometimes foster inappropriate patterns of relationships.
They sometimes ignore the necessity and utility of ego defenses.
They sometimes teach the covert value of total exposure instead of valuing personal differences.
They sometimes foster impulsive personality styles and behavioral strategies.
They sometimes devalue critical thinking in favor of "experiencing" without self-analysis or reflection.
They sometimes ignore stated goals, misrepresent their actual techniques, and obfuscate their real agenda.
They sometimes focus too much on structural self-awareness techniques and misplace the goal of democratic education; as a result participants may learn more about themselves and less about group process.
They pay inadequate attention to decisions regarding time limitations. This may lead to increased pressure on some participants to unconsciously "fabricate" a cure.
They fail to adequately consider the "psychonoxious" or deleterious effects of group participation (or] adverse countertransference reactions.
The groups were determined to be dangerous when:
Leaders had rigid, unbending beliefs about what participants should experience and believe, how they should behave in the group. and when they should change.
Leaders had no sense of differential diagnosis and assessment skills, valued cathartic emotional breakthroughs as the ultimate therapeutic experience, and sadistically pressed to create or force a breakthrough in every participant.
Leaders had an evangelical system of belief that was the one single pathway to salvation.
Leaders were true believers and sealed their doctrine off from discomforting data or disquieting results and tended to discount a poor result by, "blaming the victim."
Many LGATs seems to rely upon what can be seen as "coercive persuasion".
The key factors that distinguish coercive persuasion from other training and socialization schemes are:
The reliance on intense interpersonal and psychological attack to destabilize an individual's sense of self to promote compliance
The use of an organized peer group
Applying interpersonal pressure to promote conformity
The manipulation of the totality of the person's social environment to stabilize behavior once modified
Robert Lifton labeled the extraordinarily high degree of social control characteristic of organizations that operate reform programs as their totalistic quality (Lifton 1961). This concept refers to the mobilization of the entirety of the person's social, and often physical, environment in support of the manipulative effort. Lifton identified eight themes or properties of reform environments that contribute to their totalistic quality:
Control of communication
Emotional and behavioral manipulation
Demands for absolute conformity to behavior prescriptions derived from the ideology
Obsessive demands for confession
Agreement that the ideology is faultless
Manipulation of language in which cliches substitute for analytic thought
Reinterpretation of human experience and emotion in terms of doctrine
Classification of those not sharing the ideology as inferior and not worthy of respect
The results of LGATs are subjective. That is, people feel they have received benefits, but there has never been a peer reviewed published study in a credible academic journal, which has demonstrated objective scientifically measurable results and/or benefits over a period of years following such training. Objective results might include a lower divorce rate, improved grades in school, increased income, lowered need for professional counseling or prescribed medication for stress and anxiety amongst past participants.
Before just jumping in upon the advice of a friend, family member or co-worker pitching such training, it is important to do the research on LGATs generally and the LGAT specifically being promoted.
There are meaningful and less risky alternatives to LGATs, such as counseling provided by a licensed professional (e.g. marriage and family therapist), continuing education at an accredited college or university, job training, business school or mentoring by a business professional, support groups for particular problems and/or pastoral counseling for those attached to a church.
Most LGATs have little if any meaningful accountability, unlike the aforementioned resouces, which are typically licensed, regulated and/or accredited. In fact many LGATs expect participants to sign some sort of waiver, essentially relinquishing the right to claim a personal injury or have a personal injury trial in court before a jury.
Being expected to sign such a waiver should be a warning flag in my opinion.