Re: LGAT Comedy Corner - The Passion of Werner Erhard
Date: October 03, 2019 07:54PM
I would like to say a little more about the resistance I have encountered in psych circles when I reported LGAT abuses here in Japan.
My attempts to do this pre-date my having attained a clear understanding of what I was seeing, and dealing with.
My first encounter of the LGAT kind, occurred when I joined an 'OD' (Organisation Development) consultancy. I approached this firm based on the recommendation of a friend who worked for a client organization of the LGAT. The firm was an American/Japanese joint- venture, which had an Australian manager on-site in Japan.
Well, how did it go? I learned a lot about team building, the outdoor, experiential learning kind and this seemed harmless enough, at first. I then began to sense that are fearless leader had just a little too much power for the good of a healthy organization, that employee's hung on his every word, and some of these words were truly crazy. At the same time, I liked the work, and managed to find a role where I could work on-site in a client company. This kept me out of harm's way.
When I did return to the firm a year later, I noticed that the craziness was now well-advanced, that employees were working hellacious hours, even by Japan standards, were sleeping the office, were ignoring their families, and normal outside interests. I also noticed that the business model was constantly changing and according to the daily whim of our guru. And, I noticed that several Japanese women employees seemed on the verge of nervous breakdowns. One day, our Japanese accountant came to me and showed me hotel receipts. She was concerned about sending these to a client in the context of an expense report. Her concern was based on what looked liked double/triple occupancy of hotel rooms by our guru and staff members -- female. So, this explained the breakdowns in perpetual motion, the sobbing in the bathroom, etc. She begged me to DO SOMETHING ABOUT THIS.
I spoke to the women and confirmed what was going on. My first thought was to get them some psychological support -- not an easy thing to find in Japan. I went to a local counseling center that had Japanese counselors, and people familiar with workplace issues in Japan. I met with an American therapist and did my best to describe the going's on in the office. The response was, "How did you come to work in a place like this?" There was an immediate effort to pathologize me, for having wound up in this situation, and as I was trying to do something about this situation. I explained my concern about these women and suicidality. The counselor urged me to set up an appointment for both parties. Each woman did attend 'one' therapy session, and each woman promptly walked out in DISGUST. They got the same treatment I did. They did not see their situation as having originated in some deep-seated pathology, something from their childhoods, they simply wanted some suggestions, legal...and, otherwise. They wanted emotional support and to hear some affirmation that THEY were not responsible for the conduct of their guru boss, his coercive and manipulative actions. They did not get this.
In another instance, I noted extreme personality changes occurring in a Japanese employee of mine; someone I was sponsoring through a 'coach' training program. This was a U.S.-based program, which included both residency and on-line work. Her behavior became more and more alarming, and I began to believe she was a danger to herself, e.g. she had begun to self-mutilate. So, I consulted a local psychologist, a friend I had worked with in designing EAP programs, a guy I trusted because he supervised local therapists and had helped improve the quality of therapy in Japan. I describe my employee's behavior, asked about the effects of a 'coaching' program...was just trying to find an explanation. I also told him about what I was hearing about Asian participants flipping out in a related 'coach' training program. Once again, the focus was shifted to me...and an elaborate theory was developed by which I had violated some ethical boundaries in encouraging a former client to pursue a career in coaching. (Note, I had helped this woman sort out her career path, design a CV, and practice interview skills). She approached me for work. As for the other parties, the flip outs...the psychologist informed me that the trainer "just did not know how to do 'it' right". At that point, I still did not understand what 'it' was...it was "sensitivity training", LGAT.
Since then, and with the stories accumulating across Asia, I reached out to other coaches and psychologists who were coaching. Some of these people very strongly echoed my alarm. All feared reprisals for openly expressing their concerns. None of us could figure out where to take these concerns...the APA, attorneys...we could not find a way to make the public aware and get some focus on coaching practices that were clearly harming coaches and coaching clients.
I brought this matter up in coaching groups and was immediately shut down. People acted like I was crazy for questioning the use of very complex methodologies by people who were untrained and un-licensed to employ them. I looked for papers on the subject, and found very few scholars voicing concern. I am now working with a coaching network that adamantly rejects use of psychotherpeutic methods in a coaching context, but these folks have been quite marginalized.
What I will say is that I perceive a strong tendency or bias in psych circles to frame cultic involvement, even the most unvoluntary, (e.g. my boss/organisation enrolled me in a coach training program), and negative side-effects as entailing some sort of psychological deficit in the participant/victim. I say this because their seems to be a great deal of interest in, and research devoted to early experiences that predispose people to cultic influence, while there is very little research regarding the legal ramifications of these programs, elements of false advertising, elements of professional liability.
And, I would suggest that this position, in a way, curiously mirrors that of LGAT providers and toward participants who don't obtain desired or promised results, i.e. they blame the victim.
So, I think that until the individuals and bodies that should be tasked with policing these practices take a look at their own orientation to the phenomenon of cultic relationships, we will not see much progress in finding a solution to what is, in essence, a 360-degree 'act' of professional malpractice, and one which leave the victim entrapped between the cause and the 'cure'.
All thoughts welcome...