Re: Describe how you came down from your LGAT high
Date: December 12, 2016 03:01PM
The LGAT high I experienced was via Landmark. I participated in 2 of their 3 day weekend sessions.
During the first 3 day session, The Forum, our leader kept saying, 'you're going to pop, like popcorn, on Monday at 3pm" I thought nothing of it because on Monday evening there was the final part where they had this faux graduation event which was in actuality another recruitment drive.
But on Monday morning, I felt different. I can remember sitting on the bus going into work, it was a rainy, grey, cold March morning but everything looked wonderful. Slightly luminous. I felt happy and peaceful.
That evening I was in a hurry to get to the graduation and as I approached the traffic lights, I commanded them to turn green so I wouldn't have to slow down and they changed green. I felt powerful and in control.
Two moments, that evening, stood out for me. Seeing someone, a woman, who was part of the assisting programme, look at me with a smile and she said, "you get it now", and then hugging me. And later on seeing people in my group telling me how wonderful I looked. And I truly felt it. I had been in a dark place prior to attending this weekend session and I felt hopeful for the first time in a very long time.
My high was not euphoric but it lasted around a month. I felt stronger, powerful even but I didn't feel able to act and make any changes in my life, so I started to realise that the feeling of confidence was just that. A feeling but it was not real inner strength of mind.
And I was content to continue with the 10 follow up sessions and to wait for the Advanced Course weekend. I had decided to do that as soon as I could which was about 2 months after the initial Forum weekend.
That session did not produce a 2nd high. Instead I felt anxious, very unhappy and even suicidal. On the middle day I tried to leave. Someone assisting, found me in the toilets and invited me to talk to the leader who was a woman. In the end, she didn't talk to me. They found this slightly creepy but charming man instead. I told him I wanted to kill myself and his response was that I had hurt him by saying that. I was so shocked by his reaction and felt I was being childish, that I accepted this and decided that I didn't want to waste the money I'd spent and would continue the session. Maybe I would discover something after all.
I never got a 2nd high but others did. There was a lovely young woman in her 20s of African ethnicity who stood and up and said she was going to unite the whole of Africa with a conviction that shocked me. I applauded her intention but I could also see that it was very naive and unrealistic. I couldn't understand why she was behaving like this. In hindsight, I can see she was high.
I left that weekend, feeling very down. I signed up to the final session half heartedly and also because it was quite cheap. I felt despondent but still vaguely hopeful because the final month long session involved us setting a project where we would practice our new skills and finally be 'transformed'.
I had doubts before I even went and I was assured that I could get a refund on day one if I changed my mind. So I went along.
Within about an hour of being there, I wanted to leave. One or possibly two women found me and I talked to them, revealing plenty of personal information and unhappiness. I decided to stay but in the evening, I decided to leave again. I could see that there was nothing to be gained at all. It was a massive selling campaign where all we were being expected to do was to sell Landmark to everyone we knew. We had to draw up a chart and reveal all the people we knew in our lives who would benefit from Landmark. I was not going to do that.
This time when I tried to leave, I was asked to speak to the workshop leader. He went on the attack and used personal information about me and I ended up in tears and agreeing to stay on. We were assigned to groups and told about a series of phone calls we'd had to agree to receive from our assigned group leaders. I felt very controlled. I can remember standing at the bus stop thinking, "I don't think I'm going back." In hindsight, I don't understand why I wasn't more definite.
That night I awoke terrified. I felt as if my very being was being destroyed. In panic, I phoned a free UK helpline, the Samaritans, and talking to someone who was not influenced by Landmark, I started to realise that it was a con.
The fear remained. In the morning around 9am, I phoned them to say that I would not be going back. They asked if they could phone me later and I told them that if they did, I would not answer. I was genuinely frightened for the rest of that day. But also relieved that I'd escaped. My fear did not feel rational but it felt very real.
And then I felt more and more depressed. Quite a deep depression set in. I crawled through my life but nothing mattered any more. I didn't not connect this with Landmark because I'd been in a low place before I took their courses. But they felt like my last hope and this had failed.
Two months later, I was watching a TV sitcom and one of the characters said, "mum, I've just done the Landmark Forum, you've got to do it." And the he told his mum why she had to do it. Hearing this was like electric shock therapy. I sat up, animatedly, I smiled to myself. I had energy again. And, I thought but why do I feel like this? Because I hadn't forgotten the fear I felt earlier.
So I went online and googled, Landmark, danger, depression and I discovered this forum. Over a period of a few months, I started to understand what had happened to me. And that has helped me deal with it in a positive way. I think otherwise, I would have blamed myself for letting it happen. And now I can see how manipulated and controlled I was by everything that happened in those sessions. And I'm grateful to everyone who has bravely shared their experiences and stories.
The legacy for me is a useful lesson in understanding how techniques about social coercion and brainwashing are carried out. I can see them used in many walks of life. Sometimes they set alarm bells ringing. I was invited to a christening at Alpha Church and I couldn't wait to get out of there. I felt genuinely afraid again.