Hello, everyone. Please bear with me as I plow through an introduction to this. I'll be as concise as possible!
I recently began working for a company whose management participates regularly in LE. I was cajoled into attending a meeting, but smelled a rat before I even entered the conference room.
Lucky you for having the instinct to recognize a con job before they got their hooks into you. They are trained to look searchingly into your eyes or stare longingly into your eyes to destabilize or seduce you - normal human behavior usually but they use the tactic for commercial purposes. They are also trained to ask probing, deeply personal questions to find something to hook into.
There was something so strange about how everyone at work encouraged me to attend, which added to my mounting wariness. Also, thanks to another thread here, I realized how easily an "uneducated" (i.e., someone who has not read up on LE's practices) can be sucked in; one of my coworkers has encouraged me several times to rent [i:92ddef9014]What the Bleep Do We Know?[/i:92ddef9014] Without this site, I would have never understood the connection between her LE participation and the movie recommendation.
They've been called "pod people" and "Stepford people" for obvious reasons. They use ordinary influence and persuasion tricks in addition to more sinister, covert methods to get you interested, curious, optimistic, or just willing to take a look or "try it on."
Anyway, I digress. I attended the introductory seminar, armed with the resolve not to register; I attended more to appease my boss than anything else. Even if I [i:92ddef9014]had [/i:92ddef9014]been sucked in, my husband and I can't afford such frivolity right now. We sat through an uncomfortable 3-hour lecture (I was surprised by how few opportunities there were for the guests to speak, with the exception of a few exercises that involved discussion with the people who had invited us, and my bladder was practically throbbing by the time we got a break). They were extremely interested in who was whose guest and why people who had attended of their own volition had come.
They know if you abide by their initial "rules" the likelihood is greater that you will go along with more and more of their directive. If you have identified yourself as willing, compliant, and cooperative you are just the right type for their "volunteer" labor program.
This is how they tried to snare us: the forum leader put up a Venn-type diagram on the chalkboard and told us that the key to most of our problems was the blurry line between "what actually happened" and our "interpretation/story about what happened." There was a complete disregard of logical thought, which jarred me; while most of us do blow things out of proportion from time to time, it is our interpretation of a painful event that prevents us from repeating our mistakes or perpetuating involvement with toxic people. Not so, according to my forum leader. At one point, the people who invited guests were asked to approach us and tell us why they had invited us; my colleague got teary as she explained a minute incident in her past that she had misinterpreted (symptomatic of the LE tendency to dredge up past hurt, however insignificant, to "finish" them) and how she sees me doing great things with my life and wants me to realize my full potential since I am in a transitional phase. I listened with a friendly ear, but knew that my $500 was doing just fine right where it was, safe in my bank account.
Watch out! They know people are more vulnerable when they are in a "transitional" phase.
Toward the end, there was a 25-minute "registration period," during which the forum leader accosted my husband and me TWICE to ask if we were going to register, and the person who invited me asked several times, too. I made the mistake of admitting financial difficulty, since in most [i:92ddef9014]normal[/i:92ddef9014] spheres, people are sympathetic to hardship, but the forum leader kept advising us to "figure it out" and that there would always be an excuse not to do it. He said that, as young, married people, we "needed this," which was another big, fat red flag. I finally started avoiding eye contact with him as he passed and made sure my checkbook was buried deep in my purse.
"What's the rest of your life worth?" That's their standard retort. They know how to manipulate any information you give so be very careful about what you tell them. Or just be sure they will use it against you and prepare for that.
After reading this site (which I found by typing "landmark cult" into a search engine, because that was exactly what I felt I had encountered), I feel good knowing that I had was not sucked in by something that, whether a cult or not, employs questionable practices and possible mind control.
Though they've made lots of effort to disguise themselves as a "mainstream" motivational, self-improvement, self-awareness, life-enhancement, "educational" organisation, their roots are in a much darker place that includes all sorts of liars, crooks, scam artists, used-car salesmen, criminals, predators, con-men, and other sociopaths.
[b:92ddef9014]Now, the predicament:[/b:92ddef9014] I have been in psychotherapy for 2-1/2 years for social anxiety and generalized anxiety and have done very well. Recently, I learned that my therapist is a Landmarkian and, in retrospect, have identified certain Landmarkian components that I heard in the intro seminar in her advice (not often enough to be truly alarming, but enough for me to start questioning things). The two biggest things I recognized: the phrase "being present to..." and the admonition to stop the soap opera drama of life (she calls it being "gothic," since I am an aspiring writer and literary critic). HOWEVER, she has never encouraged me to dredge up old heartaches and call people I haven't in years, nor has she ever suggested that life is meaningless or that I should excuse the bad behavior of others.
When I told her recently that I was going to Landmark with my husband and my boss (with whom my therapist is acquainted through the program), she thought it was a great idea. She didn't push the "hard sell," but she said it would be great for my husband and me and give us a lot to talk about.
Long story short: what do you all think? Is it healthy for me to continue psychotherapy with a forum leader? Is it possible that I've been more "indoctrinated" than I know, or is it possible for an LE graduate to separate LE principles and CBT methods?
I appreciate all comments/suggestions!
Personally, I'd make quick tracks out of there. I'd find someone familiar with these types of "LGATs" who could sort out the wheat from the chaff. Sure, they include lots of standard psychotherapeutic stuff, but it's all mixed in with weird, unsound, bizarre, and potentially dangerous material. I suppose it's possible for someone to tune out the bad stuff and maintain their critical thinking during the "programming" but why take that risk? Even educating yourself beforehard mightn't immunize you from their tricks. And who knows what little hidden time-bombs you might inadvertantly take home. I'd stay far, far away from any therapist who recommends these groups. The fact that they are supposed to exclude anyone who has or is seeing a psychotherapist must give this one pause, don't you think? Personal growth or development should direct one towards lesser narcissism, not greater. And what they call "responsibility" is really a form of grandiosity and reflective of the grandiose egos of the types of men who start these cults.