Fair warning -- this post is a long one. I feel strongly about this, having been bitten myself.
I was looking at this article:
To me it seems like a very detailed description of my experience at a place called Millennium3 Education in Dallas - another of the offshoots of EST, and, from everyone's comments, apparently no different from Landmark except for the name. You can find another forum on M3 here:
Why did I go in the first place? I was working in a very small company - only three people. Both of the other employees (founder and CEO) had been through the program -- the founder had been through all sessions, and the CEO was entering phase III. Neither pressured me, and though they did use quite a bit of jargon, it was not intimidating. The CEO did take me to lunch one day and describe (definitely no hard sell) what the training had been like for him in terms of what he had learned and how he felt it had helped him. The founder gave me the same sort of information when I asked him. I went to a guest event without a host (apparently almost unheard of - they couldn't believe their luck, I bet!). I went ahead and signed up, since those people attending who had been through the rtraining were so over the moon about it and the first session was not prohibitively expensive.
See the site I listed above for a description of what the first training was like -- all correct except that my trainer for the first training was a woman (don't worry, she was just as mean and authoritarian, per her script, as the male trainer I had later). Oh yes -- one more thing -- the only thing I experienced which is not noted on the site is the 'coach' - we each had a staff member who led our small group. We were to call the coach at specific times both before, during, and after the training, and we were told to call the coach if we had any problems (like transportation) during the actual training period.
Physically, I found TrainingI extremely debilitating. I lost 5 pounds just in that one week, and I did NOT need to lose them! I was also extremely sleep deprived, which made the last few days take on a sort of surreal glow .... I looked Biafran and wanted nothing more than sleep when I finally got home.
On the other hand ... I talked to my Mother face to face immediately following the training. We had the BEST talk we have ever had, very straightforward, lots of eye contact, I was feeling very powerful and adult (usually around her I feel somewhat immature and am prone to do whatever she suggests). I had a desire to meet strangers and get to know them (used to make me VERY anxious) and I was ready to break up with my boyfriend and hit the dating scene (it was a dead relationship in any case - they did not convince me of that one). Overall I felt more open to my emotions -- i.e. I was ready to feel things if feelings came along, where in the past I made a practice of escaping feeling where possible. I felt more powerful in terms of my ability to achieve personal goals. My family and friends perceived a major change in my attitude and complimented me on it, though they had trouble defining the change. I felt that the goal of TrainingI (which I absorbed as: If you can not perceive consciously what you are reacting to, how can you consciously determine what your behavior will be?) had been met.
Need I say that I signed up for TrainingII? Of [i:e714036609]course[/i:e714036609] I did! It was much more expensive this time, and would take more days, and longer time spans -- there would be no chance to work during the day, for example. However, if 1 was good, 2 must be better, right?
Not so. In TrainingII everything was MUCH more difficult. We had partners, and if your partner left the training you were told that you were going to have to leave as well (and waste all your money because of someone ELSE!). Terrific way to put the burden of maintaining attendance on the attendees. As in TrainingI, being late was a capital crime, but worse - you had 'broken a committment' if you were late, or if you broke any other rule. If you were off on an assignment (many assignments in TrainingII required running all around Dallas trying to find various items or interacting with strangers) and were going to be unavoidably delayed, you had to renegotiate with the trainer in order to avoid breaking the commitment to the earlier time. Everything was more keyed up -- we were all functioning on typically 3-4 hours sleep per night, because of the homework and assignments which we had to do outside 'class' time, and again it was impossible to get oneself enough to eat (I lost yet MORE weight).
OK, so it was tough -- they told us it would be. That didn't bother me in itself, but several things DID bother me about the TrainingII:
1) I had a happy childhood - sorry folks, I just did. My Mom and Dad are caring, intelligent people who read to me and took me on trips. Yelling at me continuously for an hour will not change the fact that I had a happy childhood and can not remember any traumas to suffer over! I faked crying, etc., under peer pressure and staff pressure. Sessions which were designed to bring on catharsis felt to me like wallowing in fabricated emotion - gluttonous, even.
2) The trainer at one point said one specific thing which really bothered me - it was a closed eye session; we were supposed to be thinking about (memory is vague here) events in our past about which we felt guilt/pain in order to let them go. He said (I paraphrase): "think about the time you had homosexual relations -- think about how guilty that made you feel!"
One of the people in the Training, whom I had become close to in both TI and TII, was a bisexual man. To him and to me, the trainer's question was insulting. Why should he have felt any guilt at all? How does the trainer's opinion fit into training designed to (or anyway with the stated purpose of) allowing us to "Experience the freedom to 'be'" (a quote from M3's Web site - [www.millennium3education.com
3) Toward the end of TII, I was really suffering physically. The floor in the training room was carpet over concrete, a very hard surface. Between several sessions and as part of several sessions we had been dancing exuberantly to loud music -- and you could tell from staff reactions that the wilder your dance was, the better they were pleased with you as a trainee. So my dances had been very energetic - I wanted to do well! The problem with that was that I had injured myself in my induced enthusiasm -- when I got home and went to a doctor, I found that I had injured BOTH ankles - I had strained both Achilles' tendons so badly that I could not walk at all for a few days, then had to use heavy strapping and reduce activity to as little as possible for TWO MONTHS following. Now, you could argue that I was 'in charge' of my own enthusiasm and could have avoided all this, but I would argue that the program incited me to inappropriate enthusiasm. Also, what in the WORLD were they thinking when they could see that I could barely walk and STILL they were sending me out on assignments requiring fast movement and driving! One of the 'renegotiations' for a late return was the direct result of my trying to hurry from a mall to my car -- when I could barely stand up for the pain. This is not training, this is torture. I can't believe I put up with it -- knowing myself, I HAD to be brainwashed to do so!
4) After TII, I had very ambivalent feelings about the whole program. I felt that TI had been a great experience and had been very helpful, but TII seemed to me to have been a great experience in [i:e714036609]acting[/i:e714036609] but not in any real way a growth experience. In other words, I'd done a great job at being a trainee, and I'd paid for the privilege!
Here comes the worst. Number 5):
When I got home from TII (crippled), I had a chance meeting with a man I had known slightly several months before. We began dating and were shortly (like, in a couple weeks!) telling each other that we loved each other. After only a month or so, I decided to get a new apartment, with him, and to live together. This was the [b:e714036609]one[/b:e714036609] - this was forever! I was feeling my emotions, and they were freeing me to BE!
Needless to say, my family and friends were appalled and tried to sway me from making such serious decisions so rapidly. You can guess the ending, I'm sure -- he robbed my of approximately 7K, and it was quite difficult to get him back OUT of the apartment (thank goodness, I don't know where he is -- it is approx 6 months later now).
I truly believe that TI and TII, along with the cheerleading encouragement from staff and trainers before, during, and after the program, had an incredibly strong influence on the foolish and disastrous choices I made at this post training, vulnerable period. I asked my coach several times if she thought I was moving too fast -- she was certain that I was instead opening up to my emotions and finally allowing myself to love. Hmph.
This behavior (fast, foolish relationship choices which have long-term effects) is NOT ME. I do not like change. I think choices over and choose carefully between alternatives. I deliberate before making a choice and have always been cautious in my dealings with men in relationships.
That I chose to live with a man I barely knew, and believed that he was the permanent love of my life, and freely gave him $7000 of my savings sounds exactly like being brainwashed to me. I believe that even if M3 did not benefit from the brainwashing in this case (I certainly will not go back for TIII!), they are certainly culpable for the results.