Wright Institute, Options Institute, Landmark......confused.
Date: January 15, 2019 11:53PM
I've been struggling with depression and seeing a therapist for about 15 years now.Back in November I was having yet another difficult time in life and decided I needed to do more to help myself....so I started Googling and signing up for everything I could find.
My Mom had sent me a link to the Options Institute, said she had a childhood friend who worked there, and I thought it seemed like a good option (no pun intended) for the future. In the meantime, I bought the leader's book Happiness is a choice and decided to read it during my vacation.
I wound up going on a meditation retreat at Kripalu in the Berkshires, which, while definitely super weird in ways, was actually a lovely and refreshing time. Just an enjoyable vacation that happened to have lots of weird yogis chanting :)
At home in Chicago I signed up for a meditation course, and then a 3-day seminar at the Wright Institute to "continue my studies" of how to un-do years of negative thought patterns.
As a sales person myself and a skeptic, I went knowing that there was a hard sell coming and that I should take the info I found useful and throw the rest out. The first evening was innocent enough and I did find myself enjoying it. I thought Bob was funny, throwing out F-bombs left and right, and the material they were covering and in the book was congruent with all of the other work I've been doing for years.
Then on Day 2 it started getting weird. I went up to chat with Bob at one point, expecting him to be friendly and welcoming. He was cold and standoffish, and the vibe I got was "why are you talking me". Not only was it bizarre, but it totally reinforced my own negative thought patterns (he doesn't like me, I suck, etc.).
From that point on, I felt pretty conflicted. I could see the people around me getting all pumped about everything - the dancing - the "wooo!"s when they say the word "assignment" - which I thought was all super lame and weird.
On the evening of Day 2, I started Googling and found this site. I was not surprised to find what I found. More just disgusted. But, I still wanted to back and try to get what I wanted out of it.
On Day 3, we finally got to the "special offer". I watched Judith use her best sales tactics to pressure the girl sitting next to me to join the year long program, literally telling her to walk to the table with her to sign up. You could tell this girl was so unsure and that the money would be a huge hurdle for her.
Not long after, during a group exercise where Bob was offering to "coach" individuals 1on1 in front of the group, he proceeded to rile up this guy into basically telling a client to fuck off. This was fine in my book, like obviously the guy still should do what he thinks is best and ideas are just ideas.
But here's where it got so fucking weird I had to leave. A woman stood up (was handed a mic) and said she was curious what Judith would have done in this situation (the client situation, where Bob was getting this guy so pumped up to tell the guy to fuck off). Now, keep in mind, we had just got done doing an exercise where they told us to "ask questions" and "follow our urges". So I totally understood where this woman was coming from - she just wanted another perspective on this issue.
Bob proceeded to basically berate her for 5 minutes in front of the entire group, telling her that she should look inside herself and try to understand why she would ask such a dumb irrelevant question. I was totally shocked, appalled, and actually started crying. I tried to speak up for this woman, saying loudly "I don't understand why her question was bad" and she started passing me the Mic so I could say it louder. He started yelling "NO! NO! YOU DON'T GIVE AWAY THE MIC UNLESS I TELL YOU TO!" and berated her event more, then walked off the stage. He came back a few seconds later and said "my only mistake in that conversation was letting you have the mic to talk".
It was absolutely insane and I kept thinking - how anyone could want "coaching" from this "enlightened" person after this is beyond me.
But perhaps even more insane, in an effort to clean up the mess that Bob had just made, Judith got on stage and invited up another minion, who then proceeded to explain away Bob's reaction as "part of the coaching" and how his approach is so tough but then you get a BREAKTHROUGH and it's all good. Seriously, WTF.
I couldn't take it any more so I tapped the woman, said I'm so sorry this is happening to you, and I left.
When I got home, I started to think about the other places - Option Institute - Landmark, which another friend had recommended recently, and of course I find that they are all the same. Cult-like, hard-selling organizations trying to take advantage of vulnerable people.
Now I'm not saying that these organizations don't help people, but my number one thought is HOW THE FUCK aren't there organizations that can communicate the same CBT therapies without this cult-like, sales-forward disaster????? Why are they all so FUCKED UP? Maybe I need to start a business here....