I lost a very close friend to this Landmark bs - is there really nothing i can do - i have been researching and researching ... he broke up witth me and then stopped talkint ot me and then started mumbling something about integrity, relatability, connections and clearing out the past so we can build our connection again ... i now know its all landmark jargon .. but hes been my best friend for six years and my bf for 2 .. is there really no way out?? his whole family is involved as well .. im so upset
I don't think there's anything to be upset about. If you're friend's your friend, he'll continue to be your friend and nobody's heads are going to explode.
Okay, first off, a disclaimer: I've taken Landmark and done a few of the graduate courses. I'm unusually cynical and I arrived at the LF with a highly cynical attitude. I listened and did the exercises to the best of my ability because I had promised a friend that I would. To my great surprise, I "popped" a few days after the Forum was over. "Popped" is Landmarkian for, er, well, sort of a calm that comes over you. It's subtle, but at some point one feels very clear, quiet, confident and happy. It lasts for a few weeks, but little by little you go back to being the old you, albeit with a slightly better outlook on life and a little bit more tolerance. It is during this clear, quiet and happy stage that people usually go out and rave wildly about the LF to anyone that will listen, and unfortunately gain bad reputations. After it wears off the feeling can be regained in bits and pieces by doing more Landmark courses and striving for that calm, clean feeling again. Luckily, most of the courses are cheap. The one I did last night was 45 bucks, euphoria not included (for me).
All adult minds are full of conflicts because life is full of conflicts, and the LF is just a presentation of a bunch of fairly effective tools to untangle some of them. Could it be harmful to some? I'm not sure. I've never encountered anyone who had been harmed by taking the initial Forum, although I've encountered one guy who was nuts to begin with and the Forum only improved him marginally. I also took the three-month-long Forum In Action course with him, and I'd say conclusively that if you're a really traumatized human being, the Landmark Forum isn't going to make you sane. Get real help. They say that too, right at the beginning of the Forum.
Are these tools the best thing since the fork, or better than anything else available? I don't know that answer either, but they do work, and I would say that on balance the world would be a disgustingly sweet but better place if everyone took the LF.
Is the course perfect? No. It's been revised a few times to filter out the most noxious EST leftovers, but it could stand more. Some of the Landmark language (I call it Landmarkian) is, in my estimation, unnecessary, and was added by Erhard strictly for branding. Some of the language is just 70's crap idiom, like the phrase "It's about..." that now pervades Hollywood dialogue. And some Landmarkian actually is pretty descriptive, but could probably be replaced with regular English.
The Forum Leader does spend about 10% of the course, in total, reminding you gently that if you're happy with what you're learning, so too will be your friends, family, coworkers and fellow human beings all over the world. After taking the course, I decided, on balance, that I agreed, but I don't think they lend themselves credibility by talking about it quite so much before the course is over. I blame that on Warner Erhard, too, and some of it has been removed from the course since I took it, or so I have heard.
Some other observations:
First of all, the Forum is not a cult, brainwashing, or even really amateur psychoanalytical group therapy. There is a group of fairly intelligent people at the top, busily sifting through literature, psychology literature included, to put together LM courses as synopses of what they've read. If you're into philosophy or self-help books, either one, you'll find aspects of Erikson, Heidigger, Flores, Fromm, Frankl, Covey and a million other people who may or may not be well-known for anything, buried in the texts of the LM courses. I do believe that the LM people are doing their absolutely level best to put together something helpful for the people who take the courses, and in general they succeed.
Second, I did notice that some of the people in the courses seemed to be treating it in a manner that I would term "unhealthy". They are so affected by what they have learned that they do turn it into a religion. To those who argue about whether Landmark is a cult, or a religion, I would chime in and say, "Yes, for some, and no, for most, and it's certainly not designed to be." Many people who do the LF have highly addictive personalities, not that there's anything wrong with that :). They act like converts to a new religion, spending all of their time doing Landmark activities, speaking Landmarkian, making Landmarkian friends and (I think) inadvertently becoming healthier people. I would expect that this particular subset of Landmark graduates eventually either derives enough from the work that they decide it's time to leave, or they get disgusted with themselves for spending their lives at it, or both. I think they're probably not harmed by it, overall, because what the heck, they do learn some great mechanisms for dealing with life in general. And off they go to the next church, I guess.
The Landmark Forum Leaders always preface the course with, "Look. This not the Truth, or a be-all and end-all fix to all Life's problems. This is just a set of tools for improving your life." They don't claim to know everything, just that they're making a presentation of techniques.
Are the Forum Leaders perfect? No. They're just human beings, with all of the foibles thereof. Some of them are smart, some not quite as smart. Some get a little bit too smug, sometimes, which makes one want to kick them. On the whole, though, they are (as many as I have met) an exceptionally nice group of people.
I have two sisters, a brother and a mom. Would I put my family through Landmark? I thought about it and decided, at first, that I would want one of my sisters to go, because she would really get a lot out of it. Then I thought about it, and decided that maybe I would add my brother to the list, because he could probably get a lot out of it. After some more thought I added my other sister to that list; she would really like it, and then after a little bit of mental wrestling I decided that my mom, who is a professor of cognitive psychology and now practices clinical psychology, would probably still enjoy it. There was nobody left, to my surprise, so yes, I would love for everyone in my family to go through the Landmark Forum.
Have I been brainwashed? Not bloody likely. I'll put my critical thinking and observational skills up against anyone else's. If you treat it as a course, for which you're paying someone to teach just like any other course, Landmark Forum is well worth the price. Just don't think that the happiness you experience as a result should be the basis for a new religion, and don't dive into it as a substitute for your old life, and you'll be happy with it.