Landmark Education
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: September 07, 2002 11:01PM

This is important. I may have to post two messages to give you the full text of my reply. Will quote from one of the books I recommended.

Robert S Epstein, the psychiatrist who is author of 'Keeping Boundaries : Maintaining Safety and Integrity in the Psychotherapeutic Process' (ISBN-0-88048-660-0) 1994, says this on page 97: ''Petersen(1992) viewed every boundary violation as the result of a disturbed and disconnected relationship. Such a disturbance can occur when the therapist subverts the original purpose of the treatment by turning it into something else...On a seemingly rational level the changes (that is to say, the subversion of the therapeutic process into exploitation--my note) are often (rationalized) by drawing upon the widely available eclectic smorgasbord of treatment modalities. (Epstein and Janowsky, 1969, Karasu, 1986)

(My comment)

This is like a losing baseball team secretly deciding to play football, switching to a set of rule by which they are no longer 'losing', only they do not bother to inform the opposing/winning team that they've switched the rules.

Landmark Education
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: September 07, 2002 11:37PM

(Epstein continues
'For example, a therapist who has been successfully treating a patient with psychodynamic psychotherapy begins to advise hypnosis using touch as part of the trance induction to help the patient 'relax', suggests sessions be conducted out side of the office..the new treatment might be appropriate when applied as part of a coherant treatment modality, but a sudden change from one type of psychotherapy to another that involves more social or physical involvement with a patient is likelty to be a signal that the therapist is secretly reframing the treatment into a social relationship.' (Epstein, p 98)

And, that means the 'therapist' is transitioning the relationship into something exploitative.

The question to ask when assessing an eclectic practitioner is whether the provider's eclecticism serves 'a coherant treatment modality' that is accountable to objective ethical guidelines and client's best interests? Or is that eclecticism a smokescreen, a jumble of techniques selected by a pseudo-professional who dislikes accountability, because he dislikes anything that puts restraints on his ego?

I consult a practitioner of traditional chinese medicine. Key thing is that she is licensed by the state, works in conjunction with people's Western-trained physicians, and never isolates her patients from other medical resources. She sticks with chinese medicine, and doesnt mix in elements from other therapeutic modalities, such as Ayurveda. The key thing is she is consistent ---and keeps her patients' best interests at heart.

I think it is red flag is when an eclectic practioner has the following characterisitics:

Isolation from colleagues, belittles 'mainstream' or 'conventional' guidelines and teachings, gravitates toward pseudo spiritualities and 'crazy wisdom teachings' that emphasize how truth is mutable and arbitrary, and ridicult objective ethical guidelines. (In genuine spiritual traditions, these 'crazy wisdom teachings' are reserved for experienced students who have committed themselves to living responsible, ethical lives, and whom the teacher knows to be adult, sane and reliable!)

Your comment that many spiritual crooks seem attracted to Alan Watts is quite interesting. I read this comment on him recently: 'Watts lectured about spiritual disciplines. But he never followed a spiritual discipline himself.' He ended his life as an alcoholic who said, 'I dont like myself when I am sober.' Watts played language games using Zen, but he did not submit himself to the Boddhisattava Precepts that real Zen people commit themselves to: the precepts forbid abusing sexuality, forbid use of intoxicants, lying, stealing. You even vow to forgo liberation until all beings are set free with you--Zen is not for your own pleasure. Its about service.

Another red flag: people who follow a mixed salad of traditions, so that you dont know which spiritual 'jurisdiction'(Hindu? Sufi? Buddhist?) they are accountable to in event of a dispute. Many pseudo-teachers claim that a famous guru or teacher has 'encouraged' them to teach, or they're 'inspired' by some tradition. When you check more closely, you learn that they have not put followed the guidelines the tradition requires of its authentic teacher trainees, and they they have NOT received formal 'lineage transmission' from an authentic teacher. It is common for charlatans to manufacture spiritual pedigrees for themselves.

(Note: there's a new breed: teachers who pop up, claiming they have become spontaneously enlightened without having had a teacher, or followed a coherant spiritual practice. Some may write good books, but I would avoid a relationship with them in person.)

People who like to mess with boundaries dislike accountablity and objective guidelines. That is precisely why you've seen so many of them gravitate toward eclecticism, and half baked 'traditions'. This allows them to blur boundaries and keep things fuzzy. They also use these 'fuzzy' teachings to confuse and groom their intended victims. Most of us are in crisis and vulnerable when we seek help, so we are not likely to spot this kind of malfeasance in its early stages.

If you are consulting with your therapist about this, I recommend that you get a copy of Epstein's book. It summarizes the reseach up to 1995, and also discusses the relevant legal concepts. Epstein himself might be a helpful consultant or be able to refer you to one. I hope this is of some help.

Landmark Education
Posted by: Hope ()
Date: September 08, 2002 02:13AM

Corboy -

I am RUNNING out of the house to get that book. Your except that you kindly provided describes exactly what was going on. He did traditional psychotherapy so it SEEMED like he knew what he was doing the first 4-6 sessions. However, the 2nd session, he mentioned Landmark, almost as an aside. Around week 8, he slipped in that I would benefit greatly from hypnosis. Two close friends of mine died, one the first month I was in therapy and the other the 2nd month, and this doctor was able to quote from many sacred sources on views of death and suggested the universe was trying to teach me a lesson (not as reprimand) with these deaths - which I thought was weird - but then he would be very kind and sympathetic. When I refused hypnosis, because I THOUGHT we were headed somewhere with therapy, he asked me to read a book by Stan Grof, Realms of the Unconscious, which is about LSD. It was too technical so I really didn't get it and said so, and the doc's explanation was that the book was about the subconscious, the level where we don't see what's motivating us, etc. , all of which is true. But, the book was about LSD!! He started bringing in ideas from Taoism and suggested I look for the book, The Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are, by Watts, which I did. Of course, having rejected my Christian religion long ago, it struck many cords. All this, though, and I was not getting better, but a lot worse. I even tried suicide, which he did nothing about, stating that I would only have to come back and learn these lessons again. He did everything your excerpt states - mocked standard psychotherapy, religion, slipping in remarks about Western culture. But he was very good - it was subtle - which is what I'm still trying to work out. All the new eastern stuff seemed hopeful.

It's funny that you mentioned the mix of philosophical\religious traditions. He's from a Sufi background, but he claims to be taoist. With my research, I note he borrowed from Sufism, Hinduis, Buddhishm and Taoism, and even some Christianity. This in part is why I decided to help promote his lectures (did I mention the dual relationship?) - he was so well versed and a great speaker. Long after we were doing the lectures, he told me he was descendant from Baha'ullah (sp) - the divine founder of the Bahai religion.

My question, since you are practicing Buddhism, is Landmark just a mix of all the above - eastern philosophies and a little psychology? It seems, on the surface, to make sense (but fleetingly), but the manipulation and lack of compassion makes it difficult to grasp and also what makes it dangerous. I realized only recently that this doctor just did one really long Landmark Forum on me. I made the analogy to my therapist that traditional psychotherapy is like peeling an onion, layer by layer. Landmark (and this doctor), cut right through the middle, which is the most likely way to cause tears, and then sent me packing trying to figure it out on my own.

And on top of all this, there was the transference that normally occurs, which is what I'm working out now. I grew up in an abusive household. Abuse feels normal at certain level. People going into Landmark and\or therapy, are vulnerable, numbed down, and end up being abused by these jerks, blames themselves for their misery and get rewarded by LF volunteers or people like the one I went to for finally seeing the light and taking "responsibility." It's really diabolical.

Thank you, thank you, thank you


Landmark Education
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: September 09, 2002 05:22AM

However, please be warned, it is expensive (I paid about $40 for it 4 years ago)--anything printed by a small academic/medical publishing house will be expensive. It was written by a psychiatrist for mental health professionals, so feel free to take notes and run things by your therapist. In fact, you might offer to loan the book to your therapist at some point--he or she might be grateful! ( I live near a medical school and found it in their bookstore)

There's a term for what your perpetrator did: 'grooming'--its a process where the character bides his time, introduces confusion into the relationship, blurs the boundaries--and waits until some crisis in your life renders you especially confused and vulnerable. A genuine professional, especially one with a spiritual orientation, would do everything possible to assist you in achieving a sense of personal clarity, empowerment and mastery.

The comments about irresponsible eclecticism are my own--they are not in Epstein's book. I live in an area where there are lots of 'teachers' out here who use self chosen 'stews' of teachings and techniques from different traditions--and who are accountable to no one.

The mark of the genuine Taoist, Sufi and Buddhist practitioner is that he or she is tied to a verifiable lineage, has made a formal commitment to follow the ethics/precepts mandated by the tradition, is mentored by a specific teacher and is affiliated with a practice community. THis isnt about slavishness, it is about accountability--which is another name for being connected to one's peers.

A real practitioner has studied the relevant scriptures and has logged hours and years of meditation and practice discussion. And he or she is not allowed to teach until formal permission is given by a teacher tied to a lineage. Its a lot like being licensed to practice law, medicine or psychotherapy.

Accountability of this kind is essential. We are now finding out, for instance that the violent islamist fundamentalism that spawned bin Ladin & Co was created by self taught individuals who abused and misinterpreted Islamic scripture. They were NOT mentored by mullahs or imams who were in genuine lineages of Islamic scholarship. If you read accounts of cults, thats a theme that comes up constantly: bogus teachers manufacture bogus spiritual pedigrees. (Occasionally a genuine guru will screw up and credential an unqualified person to teach. But, overwhelmingly, most counterfeit teachers have a pattern of avoiding accountablity, and they manufacture their own credentials.)

Part of making a formal commitment to a tradition is that you fundamentally orient yourself to it--you dont mix elements from other traditions into it. Its all about remaining reliable so you dont lead others astray. A Buddhist can certainly do outside reading on other spiritual traditions, even participate in interfaith dialogues, but will remain, fundamentally, a Buddhist. Its like a commitment to a monagamous, partnered relationship.

LGATs k may incorporate elements of Zen, but my guess is they only use the 'language game/reality-is-arbitrary' aspect of Zen. Real Zen, like all genuine Buddhism, requires a balance between wisdom and compassion--which forbids deceit and forbids treating other people like objects. Real Zen is rooted in commitment to the ethical guidelines all Buddhists know and are supposed to follow.

Watts' problem was that he was fascinated by non-dualist Zen philosophy, but did not understand that Zen is just as much a matter of ethics, discipline, and accountablity to lineage. Someone said, '1950s Zen (Watts' form of it) was an intellectual parlor game--you sat around and talked about it. Real Zen is putting your ass on the cushion at 5:30 am and then bringing that practice to the rest of the day.'

Like Zen, Sufism has been misunderstood and exploited by folks in the spiritual glamour business; Sufism is chic these days. Real Sufis are tied to lineages, just as Zen practitioners are. They live quiet lives and keep a low profile. For that reason, Sufis have suffered a fate similar to Native Americans, because their concepts and practices have been appropriated and taken out of their original ethical/community context by hucksters out to make a fast buck.

It takes a lot of background knowledge to trace whether someone's Sufi credentials are genuine, and most of us dont have the time or expertise to do so. It is just as confusing to research Zen and Tibetan Buddhist credentials, so its easy to take somebody's word for it.

If someone says he or she is a Sufi, its good to ask, 'Who is your sheikh? When did he formally credential you to teach, and when's the last time the two of you had a face to face conference or went on retreat?' (If a Taoist, then which teacher or master did they study with?)

The problem is these are the kinds of questions people in life crises do not know to ask.

We need to have a really capable journalist who can write a feature article on 'responsible vs exploitative eclecticism-how to tell the difference'.

(I can rant on at length about this, so when you feel this correspondance has served its purpose, please feel free to take a vacation! Am glad I could be of help.)

Landmark Education
Posted by: Hope ()
Date: September 13, 2002 09:38AM

Hi Corboy,

Yes, the book is expensive, but I have birthday money - that sounds like a 10-year-old talking :) Amazon had it for $30.

I really appreciate all your input. It's so comforting to find someone who seems to know what the heck happened to me. I'm getting a new vocabulary! I've talked with a person at the Coalition for Natural Health who has encouraged me to contact the health editor at my local newspaper, but it's hard to describe what happened, and people just don't know the depth of the psychological distress. The coalition person is trying to get legislation passed that would make eclectic practitioners accountable, without the need for actual licensing. I think Landmark should fall under the category of eclectic practitioners, because they are messing with how people think.

You hit the nail on the head with the definition of grooming. It's exactly what happens at Landmark Forum, too. For lack of a better word, I had a breakdown, after a year with my therapist, which a real therapist later on said was decontextualization. I removed myself from my history - threw out not only photo albums and antiques, but quite nearly my friends, hubby and family. My doc said what I was going through was great, that not too many people were as strong as I was, and that this was like getting a fresh start. He said it was something like reaching the state of nothing. I even thanked him for staying with me for hours. This is when the doc moved in with heavy spiritual talk, invited me to hear him speak (I joked that he sounded exactly like Watts - the doc let me borrow his $900 collection of Watts tapes), and two weeks after that, I started working for him, promoting his lectures - which went nowhere. His big dream was to "get the word out" which, since reading Watts, I find was basically plaigerized material from recordings from the 50s and 60s. The doc himself was "into" Taoism (which to him was, do your own thing). However, his lectures always turned to simple alternative medicine discussions, which I thought was weirdnot what he wanted to talk about.

The Landmark volunteers who tried to get me to have my breakthrough (their term), kept telling me to "stop making him wrong." I find that Landmark is a continuing education course for sociopaths and narcissists. There are no victims. No one blames anyone for anything so all behavior is acceptable. If you don't like it leave. That's like narcissist's supply. When they are done using a person, they discard them. It would be the discarded person's fault for putting up with the behavior, (did we already talk about this?). Yet, the concomitant message given is that you have to make everyone around you happy to have a happy life, and make peace with your parents. It's very confusing.

At the very end of Landmark, they talk about choice - everything we do is by our own choosing. So if you want to be abused, that's your choice. That is still stuck in my head, that I asked for everything that happened. Landmark brings up sex at the end, too. Sex is mechanical. Sex is not love. I've discussed my situation with one or two therapists who both said sex was the next thing my doctor would have tried. And I probably would have done it, since I see how isolated I was becoming from everyone and everything. I can't believe it.

I'm looking for other venues to get out the message on gurus, healers and other conceited worthless orators, something big, like Oprah's magazine or the alternative health rags or Time Magazine. People should at least know they can call their state consumer affairs departments. For Landmark, I just keep telling people about this web site.


Landmark Education
Posted by: Hope ()
Date: September 13, 2002 09:12PM

Is Landmark about quantum quackery? I keep reading up on quantum physics and alt. med. to try and understand what I was not understanding and found the following article at [] This article discusses the connection of quantum physics with eastern philosophy and alt. med. and I see what a huge con game was played on me and probably many others. Science is not my bag (but I've started to take a real interest in it), so when I have a doctor talking science to me in what seemed to layman's terms, I felt that at least he wasn't a quack - he was using evidence-based medicine (lol). Additionally, his reference to spiritualaity and religion appealed to me because I had rejected my childhood religion, and have felt that that part was missing and probably a void that needed to be filled. In a nutshell, according to ND, thoughts make people sick. Religion is about thoughts (A finger pointing to the moon is not the moon). Having no thoughts is the goal, it is God. Thoughts make chemical reactions in the body that lead to disease. Landmark - illness is a racket that keeps one from being responsible for their own happiness.

What makes it difficult in presenting an intelligent complaint to the Attorney General's office or Board of Health or even a lawyer, is that my lack of knowledge in science hinders explaining what happened. I'm still fighting going on medication because I can see how thoughts - I've pretty much been obsessing about what happened to me, how I could be taken, how I nearly died, how Landmark defended the jerk of a doctor I went to. It takes up a lot of time thinking about this stuff.

I spent about 1-1/2 years trying to understand quantum physics. I am not science-minded, like many others who go to health care people looking for answers. My doctor was slick. He used Landmark tech without using their terminology. He talked about chakras, without saying chakras. The alt. med. people like to back up their talk about chakras by saying that here in the west, it's the same as dermatomes.

I had tried many other medical therapies which did not work, hence, my trial of alt. med. My ND suggested that perhaps I did not want to get well, which is quite similar to Landmark's notion that illness is a racket.

This is dangerous. I'm not a dummy, but I was desperate (and also still malnourished from not eating). There were other people in the audience at LF with poor mental and physical health. One young man was smart enough to leave, but he had to fight his way past the volunteers. He was the first one to get up and talk about how his drunk father beat him with a chair when he was boy. He grew up thinking his father didn't love him and that his father was nuts. The LF leader empathized, got him to open up even more, and then attacked (exactly what my ND did, but over a long period of time) , implying that this young man had foolishly spent his life thinking his father was no good, when in fact his father had simply beat him with a chair. Whatever the man thought about that event was his story. I think about that guy often and hope he is well.

Landmark is dangerous, they're practicing poor psychology without a license.


Landmark Education
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: September 13, 2002 10:51PM

Dear Hope, give yourself sufficient time to acquire a vocabulary that will do justice to what you went through and to get a focus on the exact process of what you went through.

Recovery from spiritual exploitation is complex because it is in stages. What is therapeutic in early recovery is often not useful in later recovery. Attitudes essential to advanced recovery can hinder early recovery.

In Stage 1 recovery, you're still reeling. You need to re-gain a sense of healthy entitlement that you deserved honesty and care from the spiritual figure. In this stage you need a vocabulary for what happened, and need to sort out what your abuser was responsible for, and what you were NOT responsible for. In stage One you stop defending the abuser and start sticking up for yourself.

Stage 2 you've re-established boundaries and you refine your understanding of how precisely you were recruited, groomed, and exploited. You know the difference between what you were responsible for and what the abuser was responsible for. In this stage it helped to learn what real professionalism consists of

Stage 3--(Indignation has served its purpose)Here is where its tricky. In this stage you re-gain a sense of agency that enables you to resume a spiritual practice without fearing you will be re-victimized. You are now 100% clear that your abuser did wrong. You have nothing new to learn or gain from that. At this point it can be very tempting to stay angry at the abuse and become bitterly cynical about the possiblity of an authentic spiritual practice. You risk staying stuck if you remain in this point. Here is where it does become important to shift to an entirely different attitude, and where your therapist can help you. What you do at this advanced stage of recovery is look carefully at yourself and what 'hooks' you had that your abuser exploited, and what led you to ignore the early warning signs/gut instincts. Once you understand your own hopes and fears and make them conscious, other charlatans cannot exploit them, and you re-gain a sense of confidence that you will not be exploited. This is the stage where it helped to sort out what real spirituality means to you, and when it is counterfeit. You can acknowledge that some things your abuser taught were valid, and at the same time recognize where he/she crossed the line and exploited you.

Many abusers will mess with victims by telling them they need to use a Stage 3 attitude ('You're dwelling on the abuse as a way to avoid your own need for spiritual growth') The actual fact is that the tasks for early recovery from abuse are quite different from late stage recovery. Dont let a crook exploit you on this.

Be very careful about the media. When you're angry, its tempting to agree to interviews with journalists who are not responsible, or who may misquote you. Rick Ross can give you some very good advice on how to avoid being burned. Research the background of any journalist you think of working with. Freelance writers are iffy--they lack accountability to their news sources. And tape record all interviews--an editor will not tell you the text of what you said. In fact, please educate yourself on how to deal with media before you go public. You dont want to get burned--and a lot of people will give you flak for raising the subject in the first place. And--e-mails sent to journalists can be printed. Carefully negotiate when and underwhat conditions you will be quoted. And check the background affiliation on all publications.

make sure your recovery is sufficiently advanced that lingering anger will not turn into a crusader mentality that will cause you to neglect doing background research of this kind. To fight a war, you must fight smart and choose your battles carefully.

Landmark Education
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: September 14, 2002 02:58AM

I will need some time to read that quantum physics article. But here's a key concept: a big problem with bad groups and malfeasant 'professionals' is not always the content of their belief systems, it is their covert agenda in relation to you that's the real problem.

You can teach someone quantum physics in such a way as to help a person wake up, refine his or her capacity for critical thinking, and empower that person in relation to you.

Or you can use that same material as part of a scam to confuse someone who is already vulnerable into further distrusting his or her perception of reality, and worse, trick someone into distrusting his her gut instincts. You can also conjure with words in such a way as to induce a light trance, which makes your victim vulnerable to your boundary incursions.

Here's a classic example: Martin Luther King used the Bible to foster the human dignity of his community, and awakened the mind and conscience of the United States of America. Dietrich Bonhoeffer read his Bible and ran an underground church that defied the Nazis.

But Jim Jones used the Bible to create a hell on earth and led his followers to degradation and suicide. All three men started with the Bible, but their intentions were totally different.

The minister I was entangled with used Scripture and the teachings of Martin Luther King. On the printed page, the text of what he said was 100% admirable. But in person, he spoke in such a way, that my attention was subtly pulled toward his needy human personality, not toward the Larger Truth he supposedly served and derived his legitimacy from. I was not lucid in relation to him; I was entranced and fascinated and depended on him. In Buddhist understanding, I was in a state of craving and clinging, not a state of lucid awareness. Craving and clinging are root causes of suffering.

So you might talk with your therapist and find ways to assess how a person is using words and ideas. You may find it helpful to learn about quantum physics at a later time. Right now, you might see if your therapist can show you how to assess whether someone is 'putting out an emotional traction beam' to pull at you. Narcissistic people like your naturopath are described as needing 'emotional supplies.' They cruise for affirmation and even for emotional energy from others. They will exert a subtle pull behind the content of whatever belief system they are peddling to you.

My hunch is that your ND used a recipe of belief systems guaranteed to confuse his victims and con them into distrusting their intellects, their gut instincts and their previous life experience.

[i:6b145152b6]If you had had a Ph.D in physics, he wouldnt have used quantum physics to hook you in. He would have used something else where you lacked expertise[/i:6b145152b6].

Point is, he was following Richard Epstein's description of using a salad of techniques that were not part of a 'coherant treatment plan.'

Landmark Education
Posted by: Hope ()
Date: September 14, 2002 05:37AM

Thanks again. I did trust my gut on going to the media. The first person said "You can be a hero for exposing these quacks" and my gut said back off. The second person wanted the ND's name and when I said no, they ended the conversation.

Thanks for the reassurance that it wasn't me just not understanding quantum physics - he probably would have come up with another subject. What is so funny is that he tried to convince me I didn't have a physical problem (it was all thoughts) and I had a hard time believing him. My new therapist would like me to take an antidepressant to get through this and she's insisting it's a physical problem, and I'm having a hard time believing her. He did a great job. I was also fascinated and entranced, as I saw other people become when he spoke.

What else is interesting is that the more I see where I was needy, the angrier I get at him because it should have been, for him, if he was qualified and skilled, psychology 101. I know where the transference was, and the codependency, etc. Huge lessons, which probably would not have been learned without going through this (and with Landmark, for that matter). So that part is becoming quite clear. I'm just sitting with a lot of things as they come up to see where they lead.


Landmark Education
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: September 14, 2002 06:10AM

Make 100% sure you are grounded and will not be easily tricked into following the agenda of an unethical journalist.

Two, please, please consult with one or two attorneys before you even think of publicly naming your abuser. You could risk being sued for libel, and defending yourself will be costly, both emotionally and financially, even if you win the case. Legal proceedings take months, even years before they go to trail or are settled, and by the time that happens you may be in a place where dont have the stamina for a final show down. Lawsuits are wars of attrition.

You may be better off collaborating with a responsible reporter on a feature article. But first and foremost, work on your own recovery. And, remember, this is a long crusade. Care about this cause, but dont let it monopolize your personal life. Living well is the best revenge!

Enjoy the weekend.

Sorry, only registered users may post in this forum.
This forum powered by Phorum.