How To Undo The Psychological Damage? (Landmark) (Please Help)
Date: April 21, 2014 06:39AM
I've been reading up on relevant topics here, and have found some really great information, validations of some thoughts I had but felt alone in, and some new perspectives about Landmark's techniques that I hadn't considered. However, I find myself severely crippled, psychologically, even now as some 11 months have passed since I last had contact with anyone from Landmark.
Within the course of not even a single year I'd done their entire "Curriculum for Living", starting with the Forum, and then the Advanced Course, the SELP, and along with all that a "free" seminar course for which I somehow ended up being a group leader, or whatever they call the person saddled with arranging and running hour long phone calls weekly for smaller groups, as well as attending hour-long phone calls with the seminar leader and other group leaders on a weekly basis. Everyone in my group was a longtime alumnus of est/Landmark, said they had done it before, and declined while strongly advising me as a newer person to do it as I would "get so much more" out of the course. I had no idea how much work was involved, and it was pure insanity for me to do it on top of the excessive work schedule I was maintaining, 6 days a week with people on 5 continents (all hours, and lots of them). But because I'd already learned that pressure point where if the whole group was out of integrity, everyone in it also was, there was a point at which I panicked and volunteered, to "save us all". Then I started SELP while I was still group-leadering the seminar course, and while working my very intensive 70-hour a week high stress Fortune 500 job. I don't know if I experienced a single millisecond of mental peace during those months.
It's only recently, in these last couple of months since I lost my job of 5 years, due to complete and utter mental exhaustion and a total decline in my ability to make effective decisions on behalf of myself, that I've had the chance to look more deeply into the more significant bases for Landmark's techniques, and to realize that even though I felt keenly aware and resistant to the more apparent demands of the organization, such as volunteering and drawing other people to their events, which I never would, that their methods were still impacting me, in extremely negative and powerful ways.
What I am experiencing now, mentally, is completely unique to my life i.e. I have never been in anywhere near this condition, to this extent, before. It boils down to a fearfulness that is overwhelming to me at a level I can neither quantify nor address. When I wake up in the morning, my heart breaks within 30 seconds of my awareness, and it gets no better over the course of a day. It doesn't feel like depression, which I've experienced; it's more of a feeling of paralysis, formed of this massive amount of fear like I've never experienced. I just feel like I'm dying. Like everything is just stopped, and one day my heart will too.
All of the above paragraph is very surreal to write. I have never been this person. Despite a complicated upbringing, I have always been strong, the strong one, a scrapper, self reliant, and even always consistently optimistic against any odds. And now I seem to be *none* of those things.
I found very interesting something I read here that was posted by a former Landmark instructor named Lars, in detailing their techniques, which was this:
"They instill fear in you using the fear exercise - a group hypnosis. Here they implant a lie into your mind that everyone on this earth is fearing everyone else. This is simply not true. We fear some people but not everyone."
That was an insight for me (thank you Lars), in terms of the direct association they make. It makes perfect sense to me now, how simply that works. I didn't like the exercise, which involved their guiding us through re-experiencing whatever our absolute worst fears of other people were, and with our eyes shut many eventually were crying and wailing during this process. Who knows how many, as in a large room of hundreds of people and a great echo, those cries simply sound omnipresent. It sounds like "everybody."
At the end of it, they ask everyone repeatedly if they "got the joke" yet, and then everyone begins to join in laughter. I wonder how many really did get the joke (perhaps only volunteers and people re-taking the course), and how many just didn't want to be the ones who didn't, and laughed anyway, confirming through that very act how absolutely afraid of other's peoples disapproval they really are. Eventually the instructor states out loud what the big joke is: that since everyone in the room is afraid too, therefore who is it that you're afraid of. This supposed revelation did not seem to me to be a particularly worthwhile end to the experience (especially as delivered), which was just creepy.
But between what insights I did have from the outset (which, sadly, only gave me a false sense of security of about being inoculated from that which I didn't want to receive), having since done some reading on how NLP really works (neuro linguistic programming), having read some of the more specific insights given by Dr. Singer's work to which I've just recently navigated... and along with insights I've found right here:
I realize that I allowed them, however inadvertently, to implant ideas that have been having a negative effect on me ever since. Outside of the funds they collected from me for the specific courses I've taken, I've not allowed them to further benefit/feed off me, and I once thought that put me ahead of the game, that I could "get" whatever there was to be "gotten" (that nebulous reference to whatever realization you might personally have being creditable to them) and remain unscathed from what I believed I was to. But preventing them from further benefiting off me did not prevent them from being able to hurt me, and I just didn't realize the nature of a person's natural vulnerability to what they do. If I hadn't been working so hard maybe I would have had a chance to read more, to see how it matches to Margaret Singer's listed conditions (which are mind blowingly accurate and revealing), and to better understand what hypnosis and thought reform really are. It would certainly have been better if I'd never entered their premises, but a really sane (honest to goodness) and successful friend of mine that I've known 30 years recommended it to me. I still haven't called him up to ask him why, now that I have this perspective, and I'm not sure that it matters.
But I can't point to a single benefit that I've experienced, and even if I could it could not have any sufficient weight against the negative effects I'm experiencing, which are completely mystifying to me in terms of how easily it happened, and how severe and negatively life-changing it's been.
And I don't know how to shake it.
Their whole integrity rap really messed me up, as well. It's one of the things that didn't make sense to me, as the greater apologies they wanted me to effort to make to people in my life, and greater responsibility they wanted me to take for what was happening in my life, made no mathematical sense for me. None.
But regardless of how reconciled I already was in my relationships, and how over-responsible I already was in my actions, the idea they work you over with, that you can't possibly be: that sticks. I feel so over-responsible for everything that happens in my life now, that I'm afraid to try anything. With every move that I make having the consequences of the world over-attached to it, and not to mention the new uninvited sense of pre-destiny that I was born an a-hole without the ability to create my own integrity.
It's as if all the integrity I created before I met them (and not to mention my own once perfectly valid variety of self-esteem), all 40+ years worth, has been rendered meaningless. I don't know how to get it back. The things I've read help me to understand the ways it can happen, but I can't figure out how to undo it. I feel like I may really be one of the more extreme cases in terms of what effect they managed to have, perhaps specifically because I wrongly thought I was too smart for them and had some kind of immunity. While I let them destroy me.
If you have read this far, many thanks for following along. I am most open to your kind suggestions.