It seems that you have come here exclusively to defend Lifespring, which is a company with a sordid history of bad press, complaints and lawsuits. You have posted on MIT Lifespring threads. Now you are posting some spin here.
Lifespring made very serious mistakes. But the Ross Institute has not identified Lifespring as a "cult", so that is a false argument.
Lifespring is an LGAT (large group awareness training) that downloads a philosophy as cure all. Other LGATs such as Landmark Education (former known as EST), Sterling Institute of Relationships, NXIVM and the Mankind Project have similar histories of complaints and bad press.
LGATs seem to have serious inherent problems that produce casualties.
This research paper was written by a Ph.D. psychologist that attended Lifespring and he breaks down the problems in the training fairly well.
13 liabilities of encounter groups, some of which are similar to characteristics of most current mass marathon psychotherapy training sessions [aka LGATs]:
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."
Also see [www.culteducation.com
This research by a sociologist identifies coercive persuasion techniques often used by LGATs.
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
Given the very troubled history of LGATs like Lifespring I would not recommend that anyone become involved in such training. There are far safer alternatives such as continuing education at an accredited college, counseling from a licensed therapist, support groups that focus on certain issues available through local referral networks (e.g. social services) and talking to knowledgeable and trusted friend.