Here is a grateful salute to member JP who posted a description of the Large Group Awareness Training Process (LGAT) to rebut one person who denied the entity was an LGAT.
If anyone requires you to submit to the kind of treatment described here, get out. You'll be processed like meat in a stinky hamburger plant.
LGATs fuck with your body as well as your brain--sleep deprivation, folks.
Having had personal experience of courses run by Steven Gullan, I’d like to address this post by “MarkR” who I believe is negligent in his research at best and blatantly lying at worst. You decide which is more likely.
“The South African Life Dynamics Training CC is a training company... I can assure you it is not a LGAT and certainly is not a cult in any way.”
Really? Let’s just have a look at that since I would hate for you to be so undeservingly aggrieved by something that is “simply not true in any way whatsoever”. Steven Gullan runs Life Dynamics which offers, among other things, the Gateway, Genesis and Revelations courses. I know this because I have participated. So are they LGATs? Since you “sincerely appreciate the information and material on this website” you won’t mind if I make reference to some of it to help your “story” to fit in more closely with “what actually happened” (it’s mighty pesky when something happens and we give it the wrong “context”).
LGATs are courses which take place, usually over four or five days
- Gateway runs Thursday night, Friday night, Saturday the whole day and Sunday the whole day (four days)
- Genesis runs Wednesday night, Thursday night, Friday night, Saturday and Sunday (five days)
Complaints against LGATs include the fact that there are incredibly long hours
- During Gateway we started at 18:00 every evening and finished just before 02:00 in the morning on Thursday and Friday night, Saturday we started at 10:00am and finished at midnight and Sunday was an eleven hour day
- Genesis is much the same
LGATs are accused of trying to occupy every waking hour of the person’s life both during the course (course time) and between sessions to minimise contact with people who may disagree with the process
- Homework was given on top of the training time, despite the fact that during week nights we would be working full days in our normal jobs
- This inevitably led to sleep deprivation – by the last day many people were finding it very difficult to stay awake
LGATs are accused of creating an extremely stressful environment, where ALL IMPORTANT RULES are agreed to at the start and may never be broken
- The first three hours of Gateway is a monologue by Gullan, delivered in the manner of a dictator (you may say that this is just my opinion, but it was also the opinion of the majority of participants. To clarify I mean that he spoke loudly, banged his pulpit a number of times, shouted and called everyone names.) Part of this monologue is getting everyone to agree to rules (Rules which hand all control over to him... even though he tells you that "no one can make you do anything" Fall for that?)
- At one point someone, apparently, sat in the wrong chair and he was verbally abused (screamed at, accused of having no integrity)
There are ‘assistants’, all dressed the same, who show no emotions and gaze eerily into the distance unless called upon for exercises
The environment is intentionally tense. Gullan mocks particpants, taunts them and repeatedly calls them “assholes” (something that happened in 1971 in est, the original LGAT)
LGATs use a number of games or exercises that appear to be common among the majority of them. These fairly specific games, which have been described as having been used in other LGATs discussed on this site, are also used by Gullan: (I assume that this isn’t giving away trade secrets because I’ve seen all of these mentioned by other LGATs on this site. I, for example, can’t sue you if you’ve also started to wear pants. If I get a group of people together and tell them that I actually came up with pants then I’d be lying. Likewise I imagine you can’t sue for revealing games that someone “borrowed” from other LGATs.)
- The lifeboat game
- The red and black game
- The “nothing” exercise
- Tarzan and Jane (cross dressing)
- Regression to infancy (confronting your earliest hurt or confronting your mother / father)
- Guided imagery (when someone stands in the front and leads everyone by describing an event or a sensation etc.)
- Group hypnosis (You may argue that it isn't hypnosis, but when someone says... in a very soothing voice "Uncross your arms, uncross your legs... close your eyes... close your eyes... close your eyes," and then proceeds to tell you... in that same soothing way... to imagine a beach and the waves and the cool ocean air... and then ends this process by slowly counting from 20 to 1 then it seems like hypnosis to me? Inducing a relaxed AND MORE RECEPTIVE state without telling anyone first. Of course he's done the little "YOU TRUST SOMEONE... WHEN YOU DO!!!!" trick just before so you trust him unconditionaly. Hope you didn't fall for that one?)
- Face to face sitting positions with knees touching
LGATs are accused of limiting eating and bathroom breaks
- Our breaks were 30 minutes max
- Often they were just 15 minutes (the first 7 of which had to be spent on your own – not talking to anyone else)
LGATs often lead to mass sobbing as a result of the exercises, tiredness, stress, catharsis
- At numerous occasions there were people in the room with me who were bawling their eyes out
LGATs are known for promoting New Age philosophies, along the lines of "You are responsible for everything that happens in your life - therefore you are empowered to do something about it" and for stretching this thinking beyond where the average South African would believe it should go. These types of philosophies are certainly a part of Gullan's trainings.
So what are the biggest, most notorious, original LGATS? Most people who’ve researched the subject will mention ‘est’ and ‘Lifespring’. From these two, it seems, a great number have been spawned. I wonder if there’s any way that Life Dynamics and Steven Gullan could be linked to these VERY OBVIOUS LGATs?
In Steven Gullan’s “CV” given to us before the training he mentions serving an apprenticeship under Baruch Banai (who runs the Insight Training Centre in Johannesburg). Banai has already been mentioned in previous threads on LGATs so go check him out. Looking at other South African based LGATs previously mentioned on this site, QUEST has a long thread, describing some fairly worrying stuff. Wendy Sefor, who runs Quest, and Baruch Banai were both trained by Pat Grove. You can go to Pat Grove’s website and he has their names nicely listed as some of his star pupils. Here’s the connection – In Pat Grove’s book “I AM COMPLETE” he states that he has participated in all of the major trainings, including EST and LIFESPRING among others.
So Steven Gullan runs courses that have the same format as LGATs, use all of the same exercises and language as LGATs and he was trained by someone who was trained by someone who ACTUALLY DID est and Lifespring and you’d like us to take your word that it’s not an LGAT? Interesting.
Now unless Steven Gullan has an equal appetite for, I don’t know… teaching the tuba, as he does for screaming his lungs out at people and charging them for it, then my guess is that the two courses you refer to having done are Gateway and Genesis (rather than something else entirely unrelated). If that is not the case then I sincerely apologise for mistaking you for an unashamed liar. If, however, these were the courses that you did then you are not being forthright. It’s one thing to say that you enjoy drinking vinegar – that’s an odd preference for which you might be excused, but it’s another to tell people that it’s not vinegar but red wine. What you are doing is not even trying to defend the process that you apparently support – instead you are denying that the process even happened and intentionally misleading others who are looking for information. If people want to be screamed at and belittled for five days then they are quite welcome to pay someone to do that to them, but – in order for INFORMED CONSENT to have taken place – they need to have a fair idea of what they are getting into. Your description of Gullan’s courses as being as innocuous as computer software training is highly misleading.
As for “serious harm to people” I know of two people personally who had to take a significant amount of time off work to deal with the stress-reactions that resulted from his courses. Of course you may now be convinced that these people have “chosen” their breakdowns and so it’s not the course’s fault, but it’s very misleading to use your newly acquired “logic” when communicating with people who are still using the language of the general population. If a person off the street wanted to know if psychological casualties have resulted from this ‘training’ then the answer is “yes”. You may then try – without the thought-reform tactics used by Gullan – to explain that they will only have a breakdown if they ‘choose’ it.
Funnily enough the conversion of people to this way of thinking is far lower when the topic is presented in a way that allows them to consider the idea and make a decision without pressure, information overload, hypnosis, sleep deprivation and some sort of stress-generated high at the end. I know, I know – the course isn’t about logic – it’s “EXPERIENTIAL”. Gullan repeatedly tells you that thinking is bad and that you shouldn’t think, but since neuro-linguistic programming (altering the meaning of words to change how people respond to them) is used in many LGATs, here is a little hint about the term “EXPERIENTIAL”: It’s just a euphemism for “by-passing logic”. When someone says to you “Trust me”, “thinking is bad” and “get other people to do the course” (which Gullan says quite directly during the period of the course) you have to ask yourself whether the intentions are all altruistic. (Of course Gullan really enjoys telling EVERYONE at the end that the real reason he does it is “TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE!!!” A difference, yes – the money and power are really just incidental.
Using a level of communication that is understood by most English-speaking people, the two people I refer to having been injured were seriously psychologically harmed as a direct result of the “one-size fits all” approach used by Gullan (and by that I mean they were damaged significantly enough to prevent them from living a normal life –and working – for a period of days or weeks. Who knows how long the residual damage will last).
“I personally find it criminal that someone can make such an accusation on a public forum...”
Please save us your indignation – it appears that you are either a liar or a tuba student.
“The courses I attended could no more have caused me to commit suicide, than going on a computer software or driving course would.”
I’m not sure what sort of software training courses your company imposes on you, but if you are deprived of sleep, have limited bathroom breaks, are screamed at for the slightest transgression, are hypnotized without anyone telling you, have zombie-like assistants refusing to greet you back and have people sobbing randomly throughout the session AND if you think that the guy leading the course is the wisest, kindest person you’ve ever encountered despite this, then maybe you should speak to HR about the sort of software courses you’re doing. If, on the other hand, you did the same courses that I did then your comment, in my opinion, reflects either dishonesty (once again) or just a complete void where any understanding of human vulnerabilities may preside. Possibly the course couldn’t push you towards suicide, but there is no screening of participants in any form (other than people who can't afford it I imagine??) and there are many people – I assure you – that would react poorly to the treatment handed out by Gullan.
One useful definition of “brainwashed” is ‘the failure to acknowledge what has been clearly proven through evidence and logic’. Based on what I’ve told you, MarkR, would you still say that Steven Gullan’s courses are not LGATs? Would you acknowledge that some people might respond poorly to the methods used? Would you acknowledge that, without some form of screening, these more vulnerable people may suffer harm?
Maybe I’m wrong, X, and I have this whole thing backwards. Feel free to provide your perspective – I’m eager to hear what you have to say.
P.s. I did see that a few people have commented on their negative experiences doing these courses. I'm interested to hear both positive and negative comments if any other participants care to share.