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Re: Linking LGATs and Bipolar Disorder through DOPAMINE
Posted by: lordmayor ()
Date: July 24, 2011 06:53PM

Thanks Corboy. Have followed the link and the MA programme referred to is accredited/bona fide. I'm from England and have no idea how to evaluate educational quality assurance in California. I can only say that IMHO the thesis I mentioned is full of poor arguments - especially, but not exclusively in its use of argument from authority (relevant authorities quoted out of context, incompetent and irrelevant 'experts' cited as authorities etc). Oh well, that's par for the course.

Sorry to have interrupted the flow of this thread.

P.S. I know that concerns about LGATs in relation to manic depression/personal injury have already been raised on other threads within this forum (although not with the clarity that Dopamine has given).. So it's not a lonely insight but something people here are receptive too.
I also recall that on one thread people did speculate that Werner Erhard - founding father of LGATs - may have had a manic depressive episode on the Golden Bridge (which he mistook as enlightenment). I have just been reading Bartley's biography of Werner. It seem that apart from anything else, in the period immediately before his ‘enlightenment’ he was smoking five packs of cigarettes and drinking twenty five cups of coffee per day (enough to send anyone high as a kite I think)


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Re: Linking LGATs and Bipolar Disorder through DOPAMINE
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: July 24, 2011 09:14PM

A clinical program may be 'accredited'. But there are varying standards of accreditation.

In the US the gold standard is to be accredited by the American Psychological Association.

If a program states it is accredited but doesnt say clearly that it is accredited by the APA, then that means looking more closely.

Next, even within APA accreditation there are varying levels.

Here is an earlier post containing URLs and discussions here.


All this of the utmost importance in doing ones own consumer research and tells us 'civilians' what we need to know.

You want someone working on your house to be good at what he or she does and to be licensed, insured and bonded--accountable for the quality of the work done on your house.

Ditto for anyone claiming to transform ones mind or life for the better.

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Re: Linking LGATs and Bipolar Disorder through DOPAMINE
Posted by: Dopamine Link ()
Date: July 27, 2011 03:45AM


Breakthrough and Bipolar – Do LGATs create genuine breakthroughs?

The point you raise on Erhard being bipolar is an interesting one. People often have the misconception that people who are "mentally ill" are all locked away in white, padded rooms, while the irony is that this is a delusion of the sane. A person who is bipolar 2 when hypomanic will be full of energy, full of ideas, usually very goal-focused, difficult to discourage, highly idealistic and hugely charismatic. He would also be impulsive and may have a poor understanding of consequences. Unless you understood bipolar disorder intimately and had prior behavior against which to benchmark the hypomanic person’s symptoms, there is almost no chance that an untrained person would even realize that the person was hypomanic. If you look at those characteristics you have all of the ingredients for a leader of some sort and if Erhard was hypomanic it’s unlikely anyone would have noticed. (People who are bipolar 2 often take up to ten years to be diagnosed correctly, because the symptoms are not very obvious).

Of course on the upper end of the mood spectrum (mania) you start seeing delusions of grandeur and psychosis (visions, hallucinations etc.) and many a religious cult or LGAT leader appears to possess these features, including Werner “I am god” Erhard (according to a number of his former employees). When previously describing hypomania/mania I focused on the euphoria that people feel, but mania is also frequently associated with a quick temper, irritability and anger. I think that this may be related to the nature of the person in question or to the circumstances under which the hypomania/mania occurred. Again, the violent outbursts and temper that a number of people have reported about Erhard fit into a bipolar diagnosis, but you can certainly be a driven, narcissistic “asshole” with a god-complex without the condition.

The theory that Erhard’s breakthrough on the bridge could have been bipolar-linked, while not necessarily the case, is plausible. One of the things that I see as a bit concerning on many of the LGAT threads is the failure to acknowledge the positive experience and “breakthrough” felt by so many in attendance. Of course the manner in which this was achieved was highly manipulative, but I think that by denying any positives we are only servicing ourselves. Group mentality plays a big role in creating an US vs. THEM by the LGATs, but what I’ve seen too frequently in posts is that same mentality from our side. If the highs of the course are, indeed, like a hypomanic state then it does allow a person to view himself and others in a different way. Creativity and bipolar disorder are intimately linked and dopamine is closely linked with creativity as well so real breakthrough is likely?

“Dopamine in the mesolimbic pathway increases general arousal and goal directed behaviors and decreases latent inhibition; all three effects increase the creative drive of idea generation. This has led to a three-factor model of creativity involving the frontal lobes, the temporal lobes, and mesolimbic dopamine.” [49] (Wikipedia)

I see LGATs a lot like I see drug abuse and the ineffectual attempts by parents to keep their children from drugs. If you tell a kid “Drugs are awful – if you take them you’ll lose your job, your house, your family, your teeth and then you’ll die. There’s nothing good about drugs!” he’s not going to really trust you at all when a few other people tell him that the high is amazing and a good number of people who’ve taken drugs don’t become addicts. If you only give him half the story – and the high sounds good – he’s likely to take the chance that you’re ill-informed about the bad parts as well. Likewise with LGATs, people know what they’ve felt and only by acknowledging this THEN educating them on the methods used (and the danger of those methods) are we likely to provide assistance to people who’ve been taken in.

If we truly believe that that pro-LGAT people are victims of thought reform then there must be a better approach with them than the hostility I’ve seen quite often. Possibly I’m new on this site and I’m naïve, but I’d like to think would make a special effort to demonstrate real compassion and empathy to those who didn’t see through the manipulation?

Any thoughts?


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Re: Linking LGATs and Bipolar Disorder through DOPAMINE
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: July 30, 2011 08:24AM

Dopamine Link is right. LGAT's have, through sophisticated social engineering, found a set of methods that when combined, get people high.

And being high feels good. Thats why humans have been consuming revolting substances for thousands of years.

If an LGAT only made you feel good, there'd be no problem. Ditto with stuff like cocaine.

Its social and financial consequences that are damaging.

And those consequences do not just damage the person using cocaine or attending the LGAT--his or her friends, partners, family members, and spouses are affected.

Addicts lie, steal, mess up when operating vehicles, and leave damage in their wakes.

People high on LGATs are encouraged and in some cases pressured to recruit family members, friends, employees.

Lord help you if you are a room mate of a master tenant who is an LGAT case.


Or an employee of someone all keyed up by an LGAT



Its not people wanting to get high thats the problem.

Its when they treat others badly.

There's the old T-shirt slogan that reads, Instant Asshole, Add Alcohol.

Too many people go through LGATs and become casualties or assholes who produce casulties.

The persons who get benefit from LGATs would have benefitted as much from programs or books at a fraction of the cost.

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Re: Linking LGATs and Bipolar Disorder through DOPAMINE
Posted by: lordmayor ()
Date: July 31, 2011 04:42AM

Hi - I'm on holiday at the moment but will get back to you about this on return.

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Re: Linking LGATs and Bipolar Disorder through DOPAMINE
Posted by: Stoic ()
Date: July 31, 2011 04:53AM

'If you only give him half the story – and the high sounds good – he’s likely to take the chance that you’re ill-informed about the bad parts as well. Likewise with LGATs, people know what they’ve felt and only by acknowledging this THEN educating them on the methods used (and the danger of those methods) are we likely to provide assistance to people who’ve been taken in.'

I think that this is very perceptive. In my case I know that I was so mistrustful of all so-called 'experts' who, with the best of intentions, fed me a propaganda line that was too 'anti'--it caused an immediate shut-down as I already knew enough from my own experience to gauge that the 'expert' was either less expert than me or spinning me a line.

The true expert that I did eventually find had no problem at all handling both the 'good' and 'bad' sides of the experience---because he had been there himself and knew the whole terrain.

There are positives at first glance in the LGAT method... its just that by the time you start experiencing the downside you are so far gone that you cannot backtrack, for some well-defined psychological reasons that have to do with compensatory mechanisms. The study of addictive behaviour of all forms has already covered this in some detail.

It is also a truth that an occasional glass of wine can be a pleasure and oil the social interaction. Demonising drink (which has been a part of humanity since apples first fermented--even elephants can and do get sozzled sometimes) itself didn't work too well in Prohibition, it created a whole new industry, outlaw providers and appealed across the classes to that rebellious part of the human being that is drawn like a moth to the flame of the forbidden.

True education is much more than a list of do's and don'ts to be adhered to. True education teaches the person to think for himself and take responsibility for the product of that thinking, as much as he is able to.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/31/2011 04:56AM by Stoic.

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Re: Linking LGATs and Bipolar Disorder through DOPAMINE
Posted by: lordmayor ()
Date: August 07, 2011 05:49AM


Sorry I missed your first post to me – no danger of me doing an LGAT (And I once met Derren Brown at a Christmas party before he was famous)
Thanks for your second post. You raise a number of complex and fascinating issues – I’ll try and add my two pence worth (and hi Corboy – if you read this - I’ll reply to your email about Paul Brunton tomorrow)
I agree with what you say about the charismatic nature of some people with bi-polar. I’ve read a number of articles linking ‘charisma’ to bipolar disorder and unipolar depression. From studies of a variety of historical persons of ‘charismatic reputation’ – using diaries and journals as primary evidence – Anthony Storr (British Psychiatrist) and others have formulated a hypothesis that the roots of charisma are in depression – the charismatic person has learnt to raise their own spirits by raising the spirits of other people; and I guess there are different types as well as degrees of charisma; the political orator and the comedian for example. As with other qualities of personality ‘charisma is neutral – it’s what you use it for that makes it good or bad.

Erhard may or may not be bipolar – you are right, it’s hard to tell. Being bipolar does not make a person either manipulative or amoral. For me the crucial point is that if Erhard is bipolar he also seems to have a narcissistic personality disorder - and the problem lies with the latter rather than the former.

Creativity and bipolar can be linked as can creativity and other forms of mental health problems (although not all creative people have mental health issues). I understand that a large percentage of great poets were/are almost certainly bipolar – and therefore were/are able to express the highs and the lows of human experience with special intensity. However not all people with bipolar are creative achievers – many have lives which are simply unmanageable. The discipline of a craft enables the creative ones to use intense and often involuntary states of brain chemistry arousal in a way that enables them to cope wiht these and sometimes to flourish also. However, having your mind blown doesn’t teach you creative discipline (the latter is a more arduous task).
A more general point – experience of elevated moods, ecstatic sates, catharsis etc., are part of what it is to be human and can do much to enhance our lives. However these experiences can be damaging if they are not directed towards an ethical goal and if they are facilitated in such a way that we are not returned to our everyday selves and able to integrate them with our everyday experience - because we are so very vulnerable when ecstatic..

I’d agree that you have to play a sort of strategic judo to keep rebellious kids away from drugs – don’t make them seem attractive by being too negative about them. Likewise I’m sure that you can go over the top in warning people of the dangers of LGATs – when you’ve said your stuff firmly, clearly and preferably calmly you have to leave people free to decide. I note that some people do seem to take up LGAT training for perverse reasons. Est had a sort of frisson because some people were fascinated by the idea of being insulted. LIkewise some people seem to do Landmark for macho reasons – to prove that they can ‘handle it’ without being brainwashed (I’ve read two posts to this effect).

Yes we must always strive to be compassionate and empathic whenever possible – and be aware of the dangers of us and them ‘group think’.
If you scan internet debate forums on LGAT you will see plenty of examples of people who are almost impossible to reason– I’m thinking of the drones, trolls and anonymous posters with their aggressive circular reasoning and personal attacks. These are the estholes, forum heads etc. I think you simply have to block them because there is no point reasoning with them (I wonder what some of these people were like before they did their ‘training’). However, I’ve met other types of LGAT people(and read posts by them on the net) –
People of an easygoing temperament who adopt a take it or leave it attitude – ‘this has worked for me but there is no reason why it should necessarily work for you’
People who are sold on what they see as the positive aspects of their training but are critical of and troubled by other aspects
I think you should take people as you find them and respond accordingly. Yes LGATs use extreme and immoral levels of mental manipulation and coercion – but it’s not easy to turn people into marionettes, especially when they still have contact with the wider world. So I think there are always grounds for hope – human nature can be very resilient.
Finally, although I’m not sure the dopamine rush is a positive aspect of LGAT training there can be some positives. People may learn something about responsibility, forgiveness, positive engagement with social issues etc. The problem that I have is that the positive aspects of LGAT ‘teachings’ tend to be unbalanced and, of course, always distorted by the overarching aim of recruiting other people. I give one example –
LGAT training entails some work on ‘completing’ relationships that have gone wrong. This seems laudable; however -

• The people who you are ‘completing’ with you are also trying to recruit – it seems very wrong to introduce the disciplines of the market into something as intimate as healing personal relationships.
• After you’ve done your ‘completing assignment’ your next assignment is to ring other people up and tell them what you’ve done in order to recruit these others. My experience is that if the ‘completing conversations are done in a spirit of humility – of not having to always be ‘right’ – the conversation in the following assignment are often done in a spirit of aggressive smugness – of being right for doing things the Landmark way and getting results. It’s a nightmare of contradictions.
• For some this work might be dangerous – we shut out some people for our own safety and sanity. I’m sure there must be cases where people have rung their real abusers/persecutors during this exercise and have thereby opened themselves up to further abuse. (I haven’t seen any reports of this, but I feel that this must have happened more often than is known about)
• And, the whole process distorts any proper understanding about the distinction between real victims in life – who are many – and the toxic emotions associated with ‘victimhood’. Landmark ‘forgiveness’ can lead you to adopt a worldview that always blames the victim.

However, I have seen at least one example from my surfing of the net of a story about someone who genuinely seems to have learnt a lesson in forgiveness from doing the Landmark course – it was a story of a man who had an anorexic daughter and had learnt to stop being critical of her; the story had the ring of truth because it was understated and moving.

So I think we need to be open minded that some people can get some positive things out of LGAT trainings while being discerning and clear about how these positive things are placed within a wider distorting and possibly destructive context.

All the best


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Re: Linking LGATs and Bipolar Disorder through DOPAMINE
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: August 07, 2011 06:20AM

(quote)the charismatic person has learnt to raise their own spirits by raising the spirits of other people.(unquote)

YESSS! That is it. Ever tell a good story and have the pleasure of friends and eavesdroppers hanging on your words?

And that lovely roar of laughter when you give the punch line? You feel great. Your audience feels great. Your emotions echo back and forth and the shared sum is even greater.

But a few need to get this effect all the time.

In addition to Dr Storr, another person who has examined the psychology of charisma is Len Oakes, an academic and clinical psychologist in Australia. He was able to interview 20 leaders of various sects and groups..and their followers. And he found that all of these charismatic leaders had narcissistic personality disorder--a sense of emptiness and a need to achieve a sense of self repair.

What these persons did was become 'avid students of social manipulation.'

If you go to the search slot for this message board and select 'all dates' and put Len Oakes into the key words slot, you will get some earlier citations.

And there are quotes from his book on this website. The first of several excerts is cited here


And it is on Googlebooks.


There isnt an offical Guru U/Hogwart Academy but it appears that many gurus follow a rather typical developmental trajectory. Here is a copy of a review I wrote for someone else
Prophetic Charisma by Len Oakes.* He traces how charismatic leaders develop, their special narcissistic mindset, and how they acquire their skills. His book would be especially helpful for exit counselors and also to journalists who interview cult leaders, and attorneys who may have to cross examine leaders in court or when taking depositions. However, Oakes studied only leaders who used charismatic interpersonal relationship as the medium of influence. He did not examine leaders who work through the LGAT format. The book is written for academics and clincians, but is readable with a bibliography that goes up to the mid-1990s.

I had repeated shocks of recognition as I read this book. Oakes is able to convey the uncanny impression cult leaders make, gives precise descriptions of their cognitive quirks, emotional blindspots, and sees all this as ways the leaders compensate for an impovrished inner life. I think this material would be especially good for anyone who must question a leader and be able to persist in that line of questioning despite the leader's attempts to invalidate, bluster or evade.

(*I got my copy from [] about 3 weeks to arrive.)

Oakes is a clinical psychologist, based in Australia. He was a member of a community led by a charismatic leader, eventually left, but remained on sufficiently good terms that he was able to live at the community while in graduate school and interviewed that leader and about ten other charismatic leaders.

He is able to convey how fascinating these people are, but that underneath the facade of power, they are desperate to avoid narcissistic collapse, and were driven to develop a high degree of social insight-and manipulative skills. At the same time Oakes gives precise descriptions of the leader's manipulativeness, their essential emotional coldness and the way their arrogance often leads them and their groups to destruction. Oakes is compassionate, an excellent observer, but he does not let these people off the hook. In a way Oakes continued the legacy of Leon Festinger who combined participant observation and social psychology when he did the research on a UFO group described in his 'cult classic' When Prophecy Fails.

Oakes concentrated on groups centered around a leader, rather than a personal change technology. Thus, he has little to say about thought reform but a great deal to say about how personal relationship and charisma is used to fascinate and recruit. His take is that both the leaders and their followers came to each other to satisfy covert needs.

Oake's take is that the leaders all suffered from narcissistic personality disorder. He gives a great overview of the theoretical material concerning narcissism and is especially good at tracing how these people become driven to transform personal deficits into a quasi-feral talent for reading and manipulating people. If you read him, he will prepare you for the eerie impression these leaders make, gives insights into how thier minds work. His description of 'thinking in cliches' as a way to seem omniscient was especially fascinating.

And Oakes also mentions that always, the leaders have spent time acquiring skills in a variety of occupations that eventually prepare them for the role of prophet and equip them with the 'job skills' needed to run a community and play baby sitter to followers. These people do not spring from nowhere.

Here is a choice quote:

`A common manipulative strategy used by the leaders in this study was an argumentative style that was calculated to subtly shift the ground of any discussion from whatever matter was being talked about toward some area of an opponent's (or prospective Landmark recruit's--my parenthesis) personal insecurity.

In this technique, the leader observed the process of an opponent's conversation and identified some point of hesitency or uncertainty.

(Corboy--anyone who is a nice person, and not a psychopath is going to have areas of hesitation and uncertaintly)

This was not always a flaw of logic or an error of fact; the conversation may have been on some topic about which the leader (or landmark recuiter!-my note) knew little and would ahve been unable to detect such a mistake. Rather, it was more likely to be some personal unsureness on the part of the opponent (potential Landmark recruit) that the leaders/recruiter's exquisite social perception targeted. In some way, often by metacommenting (Oakes means commenting about your manner of saying something, rather than responding to what you have said--my note), the meaning of whatever insecurity involved was exposed.

(Corboy note--and once one gets sidetracked into a discussion of meaning, a manipulator has you on toast)

Typically what was said was an observation that the opponent seemed "a bit steamed up about this" or was "finding it hard to say what all this is about."

In this way, the opponent was invited, sympathetically and seducatively to expand upon the very point of weakness. Or the leader(recruiter) claimed not to understand what was meant at a particular point, perhaps even saying the opponent was not making sense. This usually led to a further exposure (confessional of personal weakness or perplexity-my note) until the opponent stumbled over his words and began to look uncomfortable. At this point, a well timed, dismissive glance from the leader was all that was needed to intimidate...'

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Re: Linking LGATs and Bipolar Disorder through DOPAMINE
Posted by: lordmayor ()
Date: August 07, 2011 07:49PM

Hi Corboy

I'm back from holiday so can look at/ reply to threads again.

Yes - I too can totally identify with Anthony Storr’s very sensible hypothesis about the origins of charisma as being something rather ordinary – raising one’s mood by first raising the mood of others. In a sense it is something that anyone with a degree of extraversion in their personality gets up to from time to time. However, implicit in Storr's hypothesis is the idea that the greater the sense of emptiness a person has to start with, the greater their charismatic projection will be. This emptiness might be the emotional deadness of depression, or it might be a nihilistic emptiness bent on sucking everyone in to its nothingness; these are very different states however similar they might seem at a casual glance.

There may not be an official Hogwarts Academy for gurus but i do know of a manual/manifesto that must have inspired Erhard and perhaps other LGAT leaders. Namely Alan Watts' 'The Trickster Guru - How to Fake Your Way As A Spiritual Teacher'; it's all there with lashings and lashings of 'crazy wisdom' pretexts.

One day when I have time I'll take a proper look at Len Oakes book - but you give an excellent summary to be going on with! It all makes sense to me.

I can completely identify with the guru technique of shifting the grounds of argument from rational debate to personal insecurity - through having been the recipient from a Landmarker. Will pick this point up in reply in the Castenada thread which I hope to have time to do today (if not, tomorrow).

All good wishes

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Re: Linking LGATs and Bipolar Disorder through DOPAMINE
Posted by: lordmayor ()
Date: August 08, 2011 06:42AM

DL - terribly sorry to have missed this message and not replied to it; it's kind of you to be concerned that I might be about to do some LGAT course.

Thanks for the discussion about authority - it was useful; I'm not well versed in this area but I am aware of it in a general way and have heard about Milgram's rather ghastly experiment.

By the way, when I met Derren Brown at a Christmas drinks party I thought he was irritatingly smug - and my opinion hasn't changed much since he's become famous (although he certainly knows his stuff and has a good act!).

I've answered your second post in detail because I have thought about the issues you raise in this in some detail before. Hope it's useful.

All the best


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