Current Page: 4 of 8
Re: I'm just a soul whose intentions are good...
Posted by: John Hunter PhD ()
Date: July 19, 2020 06:48PM

Hi kdag

I agree (and have said as much) that the gut should be trusted sometimes, and I agree that many (most) people will sense that something is wrong during an LGAT, but ignore that gut feel for various "reasons". Ironically, these other "reasons" are intuitions or "gut feelings" themselves... such as "not wanting to go against the group", or "not wanting to be accused of being arrogant... or a 'know-it-all'", or "not wanting to be labeled a quitter", or "feeling that it would only be fair to judge the training after participating fully".

LGATs constantly tell participants that their thinking is faulty and that they should trust "experience", "natural knowing", or some equivalent. These are just synonyms for "your gut", and the evidence of this tactic is laid out clearly in my PhD (more so than in the book) for anyone who would like to consider the evidence.

LGATs do mess with your intuition as well - we agree on this and this is exactly what I argue - but they devalue and disable critical thinking (rationality) through their doctrine, through sleep disruption, through limiting bathroom breaks, through an overload of (pretentious and convoluted "philosophy"), through restrictions on eating, and through exhausting participants mentally, physically, and emotionally. As Kahneman (a scientist... and a very good one... demonstrates... with evidence), these tactics result in ego-depletion (the disabling of the prefrontal cortex... the rational mind... or "System 2"). The elaboration likelihood model (which I explain in my PhD and book) reveals the problems with trusting your gut, and the conditions which make it more likely that you will trust your gut when you really shouldn't. LGATs do everything they can to get participants to trust their guts because they know that they can slip erroneous ideas (and obligations) past participants' rational defences when they believe (and are exhausted to the point) that they should "trust their guts".

We are on the same team, and I realise that you're not trying to push people towards LGATs (I've read your posts and agree with pretty much everything you've said), but both that book and Blink place too great an emphasis on intuition without warning readers sufficiently of the risks. Many people (intuitively) believe that they should trust their guts, and so it is not a tough sell to convince people that their guts are a reliable substitute for rationality. Engaging the rational mind (System 2) requires cognitive effort and, because people will generally take the path of least resistance it is far easier to convince people to trust their guts than to put the effort in, to consider all of the evidence, and to engage the rational mind.

LGATs do not promote logic - they cause participants to outsource their thinking to the trainers over time, and to accept "logic" that would never be accepted under less extreme conditions, or after unpressurised and careful consideration. This is not the same thing as promoting logic - it is intuition disguised as logic, which... like everything LGATs do... is highly manipulative.

Options: ReplyQuote
Re: I'm just a soul whose intentions are good...
Posted by: kdag ()
Date: July 19, 2020 06:59PM

*I'm sorry if you felt that I was trying to undermine your work. I value your research and information very highly. I wouldn't argue with your conclusions, as to the effect of LGATs on the nervous system, or on anything, really.

I am also not promoting that there's anything mystical about our "gut feelings," and neither does Gavin Dr Becker. It's actually quite the opposite. What he explained in the book was that our brain is processing a lot of information in the "background," that is not at the forefront of our consciousness.

For example, I could have been focused on the Forum leader, and what he was saying, and I may have been turning that around in my mind, trying to make it fit some situation, but in some other part of my brain, I was aware that someone just came into the room, (I heard the door close behind me), and that the course supervisor just passed a note to someone on the production team, (which I saw in my peripheral vision).

If you read the excerpt, a woman escapes what would probably have been her death. She commented that she, "just knew," but he actually walks us through how she knew. He actually applied critical thinking and logic, to that very situation, and she was able to do the same. In the moment, she wouldn't have had the time, though.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/19/2020 07:07PM by kdag.

Options: ReplyQuote
Re: I'm just a soul whose intentions are good...
Posted by: John Hunter PhD ()
Date: July 19, 2020 08:45PM

Hi kdag

I don't think you were trying to undermine my work. I've looked at the evidence... all of your posts... and so I would never jump to that conclusion based on "gut feel", "thin slicing" (Gladwell), System 1 (Kahneman), the peripheral route (Petty & Cacioppo) or intuition ;).

I was worried that what you said would (unintentionally) undermine it though, and so I just wanted to reiterate my perspective. I think it's fair that if there is going to be a critique of "my" assertions (these assertions are based on the research of social, cognitive, and neuroscientists) then this critique should be based on the evidence I've put forward in the PhD and the book. Since it's free, and since it speaks about rationality and intuition (and the things which impact both of these forms of thinking)... while at the same time revealing the horrors of LGATs... I would appreciate it if my book was recommended rather than the other ones?

If enough people read my book and watch those videos, LGATs will cease to exist. Malcolm Gladwell explains this quite well in an earlier book of his called 'The Tipping Point' (I think?) Getting people to look at this evidence will take the power away from these secretive seminars, so - if you would like to alert the public to the horrors of LGATs (which all of your prior posts suggest you would) then forward those YouTube links and forward my book.

It's free, and you can be sure that if I'd approached Landmark and asked for a payoff to not publish it, they would have been more than happy to pay it. I don't want money. I want the public to understand that by supporting these organisations in any way they are contributing to the manipulation and suffering of many people. I believe that when people understand this (and I include those who have supported these organisations for many years in this group), they will turn on LGATs very quickly. Most people are good ("The Cost of Conscience") and no one likes to have been taken advantage of. The evidence is available to anyone who wants to read it (or watch it) - we simply have to encourage people to have a look at it.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/19/2020 08:45PM by John Hunter PhD.

Options: ReplyQuote
Re: I'm just a soul whose intentions are good...
Posted by: kdag ()
Date: July 19, 2020 09:42PM

Haha - fair enough. I'm not finished with your book yet, but I finished reading your PhD, shortly after you posted it here. Yes, I would highly recommend it, (in fact I did).

No offense meant, and the other book is on a different topic, (safety in general, and discerning dangerous situations/people). I don't recall that it even mentions cults, LGATs or mind control.

I will certainly recommend your book, and agree that if people understand what these groups are doing, they won't be sucked in.

I also think we might be using the term "gut feeling" in a slightly different context, especially from the way you defined it in the example you gave, but i will leave that for another time.


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/19/2020 09:47PM by kdag.

Options: ReplyQuote
Re: I'm just a soul whose intentions are good...
Posted by: facet ()
Date: July 20, 2020 02:26AM

Hello All, from a sunny garden :-)

Ok I know where I am with this, and it is good to see that Oprah is not being endorsed. Sadly, and other than those who have been used to support the show and who have been manipulated by her work, this person would only be appealing to those interested in the same thing as she.. which is running a lucrative business based on emotional manipulation.

Kdag, the book looks interesting however for me (I know it’s not the same for everyone, neither should it be) I would steer clear of it due to the fact that it uses hypnosis techniques. For me, any form of hypnosis leaves a person vulnerable due to the trance states induced. Hypnotism of any sort, even in good intention, is a dangerous practice to train oneself into to me.

John, agreed on your initial note for trusting the gut.

If lgats work to knock out the faculty of logic in people then it makes sense to me.

Emotional manipulation (as you describe to generate transformation) is often overlooked in all of the manipulative situations and relationships that I have observed. It is very difficult to recognise, and near impossible to get out of once in.. without an outlet given (the point of transformation presented by lgat leader), it is the realisation of what is or has been going on, quite a painful realisation at that, which can start to lift a person out. Trusting the gut alone means that a person will stay stuck in due to the emotional manipulation involved and that is connected to our gut, quite right.

This bit is now a spanner in the works likely for some, so remember that it is personal, though for me life is a basis of chaos and chance.

When chances (opportunities) present themselves, autonomy means choice. So in simple terms I understand that we take our chances, or we do not, this based on multiple factors. So to say that something was just known to me, ‘ I just knew’, would be to add a proponent of magical thinking to something rather quite bland - I took a particular choice and it worked out well for me in this instance, though as chance would have it, my choice could have worked out in any way at all, desirable or undesirable.

To conclude, ‘trusting the gut’ for me is something that I would propose as a hidden, or more obscure sense of control in the psyche. It is completely illusory.

Trusting the senses in relation to the gut health for smaller things however, that’s a different story. I would and do look to this faculty when choosing things like foods and drinks to eat, small purchases, checking weather before stepping out, picking things needed for a trip, etc. That’s just enjoyment, and I am also rational in the sense that I am not packing a favourite ski outfit and boots to visit a very hot country.

If there is someone stood in front of me who I decide with my rational mind is an idiot, I will decide that (within) and move along with my day. Idiot or not, no chances, I have made my decision and I’m off.

Trusting the gut means second chancing, second guessing yourself due to the emotions (affects, as John says) involved.. they involve the values of general respect and kindness to all humanity etc. But, learning the hard way, not everybody utilises the same do they, and some do use them to manipulate, so it’s be rational o’clock for me. Always. The other bits are running unconsciously and I have no need to worry about them.

For larger areas of life, I would not trust the gut, and if I were, it would be the slight unconscious part of me running, it would not be a known intention and I do not believe that it should be.

I’d also say that awareness of trusting the gut is a dangerous trend because it gives the mind too many conscious options to consider in likely incorrect circumstances, options of which risk ending up as singular avenues of choice (dangerous huh) due to the repeat in preference (if allowed), that can and will stall decision making.

If anything, I would promote gut health for diet / physical health alone, and to leave it as an unconscious actor.

Note: trends are for making money.

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 07/20/2020 02:55AM by facet.

Options: ReplyQuote
Re: I'm just a soul whose intentions are good...
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: July 20, 2020 07:06AM

When someone emerges after having taken the advanced courses offered by an LGAT, they're no longer your friend, your son your daughter, your teacher or trustworth therapist or business associate.

They've been weaponized. Assimilated to the LGAT Borg.

The grim lesson we learned in CEI message board discussions is a conversation with an LGAT recruiter, especially one who has taken advanced courses and seminars on how to manage prospective recruits, that conversation is a weaponized campaign for conquest, with you as target - and it masquerades as a normal ordinary conversation.

LGAT recruiters lie at such a deep level that they lie even when telling the factual truth because whatever facts they disclose conceal the larger lie - that theirs is a weaponized war of conquest masquerading as a friendship or just an ordinary convesation -- which is to lie at a deep, deep level.

In discussions of LGATs here on CEI we ID'd two important tip offs that something
needs to be researched as a possible cult.

Are you importuned to go to some kind of introduction by a suddenly hyped up friend or family member? Get the name of the set up they recommend and
run a search with "cult" "allegations" "criticisms" in the Google search slot.

Are you handed a form to sign in which you sign away your right to sue or mediate for damages in event that you incur harm as a result of participation?

Turn on your heel and walk away.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/20/2020 09:37PM by corboy.

Options: ReplyQuote
Re: I'm just a soul whose intentions are good...
Posted by: John Hunter PhD ()
Date: July 20, 2020 08:23AM

Hi corboy

I don't disagree that there have been some highly manipulative LGAT trolls on these boards (I can't speak about other cult-like groups, as this has been my focus), and you've clearly had far more experience with this than I have, but I that characterisation of all LGAT graduates is one devoid of hope, and one which will never result in reconciliation. As I mention in this video [] I believe that it's important to understand the psychological factors which make it difficult for those involved in LGATs to reconsider their positions. While your characterisation may be true for some, and perhaps this is true for most that appear on these boards disguised as "curious but neutral participants", this characterisation (which may be assumed to apply to all LGAT graduates) is one that dehumanises those who may simply have been fooled, and who need to know that they would be welcomed back by family and friends in a heartbeat if they cut ties with these organisations. We have to have compassion for these people (who I believe make up the majority of graduates) and we have to remain hopeful that they will, with patience, see the truth.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/20/2020 08:25AM by John Hunter PhD.

Options: ReplyQuote
Re: I'm just a soul whose intentions are good...
Posted by: John Hunter PhD ()
Date: July 20, 2020 09:17AM

Apologies for this long post (it's a cut and paste from pages 256-265 of my PhD), but - given the previous discussion about "trusting your gut" - I think that it's important to articulate the way that LGATs emphasise "experience" (your gut) and de-emphasise independent thinking or rationality:

Thought reform condition 5 of 8: Sacred Science

Sacred Science describes how the philosophy espoused in the environment is beyond question. Lifton (1961) explains how the environment’s doctrine transcends ordinary reason, claiming “airtight logic, of absolute ‘scientific’ precision” (p. 428). Whatever else Sacred Science achieves, its main function is to restrict individuality. Describing the veneration that the doctrine in a thought reform environment is treated with, and how it is expected to be accepted without questioning, Lifton says of this theme:

“This sacredness is evident in the prohibition (whether or not explicit) against the questioning of basic assumptions, and in the reverence which is demanded for the originators of the Word, the bearers of the Word, and the Word itself” (p. 427).

Consider, in light of Lifton’s description, how the est process was beyond question, the reverence demanded of trainers and, more specifically, the reverence demanded for the “originator of the Word”. Est proponent Rhinehart (2010) reveals how Erhard and his “science” were beyond question:

“You won’t get it because you’ve tried to get it, you won’t get it because you’re intelligent and bright and reasonable, you won’t get it because you’re a good person. You’ll get it for one simple reason: Werner has created the training so that you’ll get it” (p. 11).

LGAT leaders harass participants who question, tell participants that the training is beyond question, and assert that analysing, or trying to understand it, will prevent them from attaining the desired results. In this way, that the LGAT “technology” is presented as a Sacred Science. LGATs are also aware that the way a concept is framed affects the way that it is perceived and this understanding is evident in the description of their processes. The combination of lecturing, stress induction, sleep disruption, guided imagery, and other exercises employed by LGATs is grandiosely described as “technology”, suggesting a level of scientific precision that is, ironically, not supported by scientific evidence. Convincing participants that a philosophy, or “technology”, should not be questioned is an extension of the information control already discussed. In the case of participants, this restriction of thinking becomes self-imposed, however, and by undermining analytical thinking, LGATs subtly dismantle the ability of participants to question the processes, even after the training ends.

The four-step process of persuasion

“If someone doesn’t value evidence, what evidence are you going to provide to prove that they should value it? If someone doesn’t value logic, what logical argument could you provide to show the importance of logic?” (Harris, 2011).

The power of LGATs to change participants’ attitudes is tied to four key steps. Implicit in these steps is the assertion that their “technology” is a sacred science. The first step is to convince participants that analysing is a bad idea and that the “technology” is beyond questioning; the second step is to mentally exhaust participants; the third step is to convince participants that personal experience is the only dependable way of knowing anything; and the final step involves triggering an emotional “experience”. If participants believe that critical thinking will stand in the way of transformation, are mentally exhausted, less likely to examine assertions critically, convinced that experience (or intuition) is the only valid way to judge the training, and have a profound experience at the end of the training, they will be more likely to form an uncritical positive association between the experience and the LGAT principles.

Additionally, it is asserted that beliefs which are formed without evidence (which are “beyond evidence”) are difficult to challenge using evidence. While research shows that intuition and emotion (“experience”) may be misleading (Kahneman, 2012), if LGATs can convince participants that logic should not be trusted they will be reluctant to consider logic which invalidates their experience. While the distortions in judgement associated with intuition will be covered later, psychologists Thomas Gilovich of Cornell and Lee Ross of Stanford précis the risks of “trusting your gut”:

“The field of judgment and decision making, meanwhile, has illuminated how and why people are quick to draw conclusions when they would be better served by stepping back and looking at things from a broader perspective. This field has undergone a revolution over the past forty years, a revolution that has made it clear that judgement and decision making have a lot in common with perception. Like perception, they are subject to illusions. Anyone aspiring to greater wisdom needs to know when to be on the lookout for these illusions and how to steer clear of them” (Gilovich & Ross, 2016, p. 5).

Convincing people not to think is such an overt feature of brainwashing that it was parodied in the British comedy series, Peep Show (season 5, episode 6). In this exchange, Jez starts to question some of the cult’s message and fellow cult member, Super Hans, cautions him of the dangers of thinking:

SUPER HANS: You’re right on schedule… according to the book. Hard-backed book, based on tablets brought by an asteroid… something you can rely on…
JEZ (uncertain): Yeah… what do you think about the… asteroids stuff?
SUPER HANS: What, are you having a few doubts?
JEZ: No… God no… more, sort of… thoughts…
SUPER HANS: Thoughts? You wanna give that shit a rest. You been going around thinking thoughts your whole life and look where that’s got yer… ay?
JEZ: True enough.

While telling participants not to think might seem like a transparent indicator that manipulation is imminent, LGAT trainers do exactly this, framing the message “stop thinking” in a more intuitively appealing format. Participants are encouraged, with a range of positive-sounding phrases, to not question and to just “participate”. They are urged to be “open to the possibilities” (Fisher M., 1987); to be “coachable” (Hill, 2003; Mahoney, 1998; Prasad, 2012; Scioscia, 2000); to come from their hearts, not their heads (Haaken & Adams, 1983); and told that “understanding is the booby prize” (Brewer, 1975; Finkelstein, et al., 1982; Rhinehart, 2010). In est a rational person was said to be operating in the “Mind State” – the goal was to come from The Self:

“All this is meant to help trainees recognize the difference between ‘coming from the Mind State’ and ‘coming from The Self’. In the Mind State one is protected but deadened; in the state governed by Self one is spontaneous, alive, and creative (Emery 1973)” (Finkelstein, et al., 1982, pp. 535-536).

More directly, est trainers undermined rational thought, elevated experience as the sovereign way of knowing, and told participants that they were wasting their time if they were trying to figure the process out:

“Est also reminds trainees that they live in a world characterized by scientific abstraction; they ‘understand’ life but distrust subjective experience. The presentation ‘Anatomy of Experience’ emphasizes that ‘understanding is the booby prize,’ that understanding is far removed from the authentic experience of living” (Finkelstein, et al., 1982, p. 536).

“If you assholes think you understand what’s going on, you’re living your assholeness to its fullest. And you, Tom, have come into this training with a beautiful theory about what est is – namely, a Zenlike enlightenment program – and you’ve decided to pay no attention to anything that doesn’t fit your beautiful theory. Guess how much you’re going to get out of it, going through life that way?” (Rhinehart, 2010, p. 13).

Referring to Maxwell Maltz, an influence on Erhard, Pressman (1993) states:

“The key, he said, was to focus on ‘experience’ rather than on those things people have learned intellectually. Again, those same terms would later be mirrored in Erhard’s programs, in which trainers and later Forum leaders would harshly ridicule participants for using words such as ‘I think’ or ‘I feel’. Paramount to the est philosophy was the idea of direct experience” (p. 20).

Finkelstein, et al. (1982) confirm that this perspective applies to est:
“Large Group Awareness Trainings rest upon vitalistic or antipositivistic assumptions: a central place is accorded to subjective experience…” (p. 517).

“During the first training day, which will last – with only one meal break and two or three shorter toilet breaks – until the early hours of Sunday morning, several themes are emphasized: choice, agreements, beliefs, and resistance to experience” (p. 519).

“The trainees are told that they fail to truly experience events because of their beliefs, to which they cling obstinately and which are the enemies of direct experience. The trainer argues that belief systems, understanding, and reasonableness isolate the trainees from the direct experience of reality which alone could make their lives work” (p. 520).

“In lectures and dialogues lasting nearly half a day, the trainer argues that trainees’ belief in the reality of the material, consensual world causes them to depreciate as unreal the world of subjective experience. Yet, he argues, subjective experience, the reality of which does not rest on consensual agreement but on the individual’s act of witness, is the most real thing known to the trainees” (p. 521).

Psychology Today journalist, Mark Brewer (1975), who attended est in the early 1970s confirms this devaluing of critical thinking:

“Belief, reason, logic and understanding were shown to be nonexperiential, and these second-hand mental exercises had to be abandoned to get at the meat of life.”

“This rule stems from the est maxim that the training cannot be explained or understood, but only experienced.”

“… while Tony bombarded them hour after hour about how their lives and their thinking were all fucked up, the training would shake, confuse and finally, in a great majority of cases, dislodge the old ideas and behavior patterns. And then in would go the desired est perceptions, and ultimately the notion that you are perfect the way you are.”

“For hours on end, however, out of boredom or real doubt, the trainees poured their resistance to this unthink into the microphones, and each time Tony was on them like a SEAL commando.

‘But don't you have to believe in something to....’

‘Don't give me your goddamn belief system, you dumb motherfucker!’ he roared at one guy, charging off the dais. ‘That doesn't work! That's why your whole life doesn't work. Get rid of all that shit!’”

“And after each ‘sharing’ Tony thanked the offerer and the other 249 ‘assholes’ applauded briskly, as previously instructed, and the sharer generally sat down in confusion. Which was all right, Tony assured them all, because confusion was the first step toward ‘natural knowing,’ the very pinnacle of est-think.”

Pressman (1993) provides further evidence that est denigrated critical thinking:

“For the first several hours of the training, Erhard and his other trainers kept up a non-stop barrage of verbal insults, taunting the participants in the straight-backed chairs, insisting they were all useless human beings who clung to beliefs about themselves and their own lives that were rooted in ridiculous notions about reason, logic, and understanding” (p. 71).

Est advocate Rhinehart (2010) similarly states:

“‘Understanding’ and ‘beliefs,’ I had effectively learned from both Zen and est, are barriers to liberation. ‘Knowledge’ about est would in many cases prove to be a barrier to people’s choosing to experience the est training […] But understanding and information have nothing to do with the essence of est. One can read about the training, just as one can read about LSD, but one shouldn’t then expect to have a dramatic awakening” (p. xiv).

“‘Your lives don’t work,’ he goes on firmly. ‘You have great theories about life, impressive ideas, intelligent belief systems. You are all – every one of you – very reasonable in the way you handle life, and your lives don’t work. You’re assholes. No more, no less. And a world of assholes doesn’t work’” (p. 8).

“BULLSHIT! Your correct, intelligent, reasonable belief systems are directly related to your not getting any cheese. You’d rather be right than be happy…” (p. 18).

“’But we have to have beliefs,’ Jack is saying half an hour later.

‘Who says so?’ replies the trainer.

‘I do, for one.’

‘Well, that’s just one of your beliefs, Jack, and that’s one of the reasons you’re all fucked up’” (p. 22).

“But you’re telling me I’ve got to destroy my belief system and my whole life is based on my intellectual and moral beliefs and on my feeling that I should achieve the most intelligent beliefs. You’ll never get me to give them up. If that’s what the training is about, I’ll never get it” (p. 23).

Rhinehart (2010) repeatedly reveals est’s denigration of reason, and elevation of experience as the ultimate source of knowing:

“‘REASONABLENESS! Yes, REASONABLENESS!’ The trainer is shouting in response to a trainee. He strides now to a blackboard and draws a horizontal line across the middle of the board. At the bottom he writes in big capital letters the word REASONABLENESS.

‘That’s one of the lowest forms of nonexperience,’ he says and writes the word NONEXPERIENCE just under the horizontal line and at the far right of the board.

'And you have been living most of your lives being reasonable and thus you’ve been living in the realm of nonexperience’” (p. 24).

“Above the line is an experienced experience, and the first step above that line, the real first form of experience, involves simply accepting. If you want to get out of the realm of nonexperienced experience, you’ve got to stop being reasonable, stop making decisions, stop hoping, and just accept what is. No more, no less. Accept what is” (p. 24).

LGAT participants are urged to avoid thinking and to instead trust their “natural knowing”. LGATs generate an “experience” (Mystical Manipulation), which participants then interpret as “natural knowing”. Rhinehart (2010) reveals how trainers discourage thinking, and elevate experience:

“Look, when you really know something, with complete certainty and reliability, then beliefs about it, or thinking about it, or feelings about it, are all irrelevant: you just know, so thoroughly, that beliefs and thoughts and feelings are not necessary and words are inadequate…

… In terms of certainty, we only cross the line into something really reliable when we get out of our beliefs and feelings and simply observe. When you go beyond the level of observing, you get to the level of what we call realization – that’s when you have an ‘ah-ha!’ experience…” (p. 30).

“When we reach the highest level of certainty we’re at something we call ‘natural knowing’” (p. 31).

“NO, you asshole! All belief is the least reliable form of knowing. Belief represents uncertainty” (p. 31).

“The highest form of certainty is something you know so thoroughly and so naturally that it’s impossible to put it into words” (pp. 31-32).

“If you would like to live the rest of your life in the mind, go ahead, but if you’d like to experience something I suggest you begin by following instructions. Thank you. [Applause]” (p. 36).

“FUCK YOUR SEMANTICAL DIFFERENCES. I’M talking about REAL differences and it’s only your asshole reasonableness that keeps you from experiencing them” (p. 39).

“I just don’t understand” (p. 42)

“That’s because you’re in your asshole mind. I don’t want you to understand it. Understanding gets the booby prize” (p. 42).

Marc Fisher of the Washington Post (Fisher M., 1987) indicates that Lifespring employed a similar perspective, encouraging participants to suspend judgement and just participate:

“The changes – our breakthrough – will not come through understanding or psychological insight, but through ‘action’ and ‘taking responsibility for your life’.”

“‘You’re analysing,’ Jim reprimands. ‘That doesn’t help anything. If you get a traffic ticket and you understand why, that doesn’t change the fact that you have a ticket. You have to do, not understand’.”

Haaken and Adams (1983), explain that Lifespring frames the message, “stop thinking” as “getting in touch with your feelings” and “getting out of your head”. Additionally, they comment:

“Reasoning and intellectual processes were minimized while affective states were intensified” (p. 273).

By the device of identifying resistances as ‘ways of avoiding,’ participants’ questions, doubts and concerns were labelled as obstacles to personal growth” (p. 274).

“TRAINER: Your problem is that you’re stuck on the level of analysing and beliefs. You’re hung up on having to analyse everything” (p. 276).

“He started with ‘belief,’ stating that this was a low level of human awareness: he then discussed ‘analyzing’ and ‘experimenting.’ He distinguished these low levels of awareness, which presumably maintain the ‘illusion of certainty,’ from ‘experiencing and observing,’ which are unfettered by belief and lead to ‘natural knowing’” (p. 276).

“The trainer could not be questioned nor the content of the training challenged” (p. 279).

“In the Lifespring milieu any evidence of observation became evidence of the need for further ‘growth,’ for getting away from analysis or ‘intellectual trips’” (p. 280).

Reflecting on encounter groups, considered a major influence on LGATs, Haaken and Adams state:

“Many of the encounter groups of the human potential movement have been described as regressive because of their disinhibitive effects and their tendency to stress abandonment to strong emotions while disparaging reasoning and intellect” (Back 1972, p. 79; Schur 1976, pp. 48-53, as cited in Haaken & Adams, 1983, p. 271).

Haaken and Adams (1983) also noted that participants in their Lifespring Basic Training quickly bought into this anti-analytical (“experiential”) philosophy and pressured other participants to do the same. One of the researchers, sociologist Richard Adams, who questioned the trainer’s perspectives, was treated with hostility by participants, who felt that he was undermining their experience:

“This participant, one of the researchers, had been a symbol of resistance throughout the training by asking questions and at times disagreeing with the trainer. During one group exercise, he had been selected by half of the participants as the ‘least attractive’ person in the group. He was offensive to many participants for being ‘too analytical,’ ‘rigid,’ and ‘not feeling enough…’

… When Dick explained his reactions to the events of the morning , various participants shouted out angrily, ‘You're coming from your head, stop analyzing, come from your heart…’” (p. 279).

In addition to devaluing questioning, Lifespring also advocated groundless trust. Participants were urged to suspend judgement and trust the process (and trainer):

“However, what we found particularly troublesome in the various trust exercises presented in Lifespring was the implied indiscriminate nature of trust” (Haaken & Adams, 1983, p. 277).

LGAT participants are also encouraged – using positive terminology – to be brave, take risks, and become “players in the game of life”. Of course, it is often necessary to step out of your comfort zone to achieve something new and exciting, but by encouraging participants to “get involved”, trainers subtly discourage caution and reflection. If there is an agenda to manipulate then it will be more impactful on individuals who are less cautious. Marc Fisher of the Washington Post comments:

“‘You know,’ Jim says – he says ‘y’know’ a lot – ‘we’re all scared of life, scared of taking risks. So we play it safe. We do what’s easy’” (Fisher M. , 1987).

“Lifespring will teach us to be players in the game of life, spectators no more” (Fisher M. , 1987).

Landmark, like LGATs before it, does not explicitly state, “Do not think, and do not challenge what is being said, because it is difficult to manipulate you when you do this”, although these ideas are implicit in the communication between trainers and participants:

“He tells us that we analyze too much, and that ‘it kills the growth process.’ We should stop trying to find reasons for everything, he says” (Martin, 1998).
“Her soothing ribbon of a voice waves in front of me, promising peace if I would just stop trying to analyse” (Martin, 1998).

“She suggests that we think less and act more” (Mahoney, 1998).

“He looked me in the eye and said I had a lot going on. I was trying to interpret too much” (Sagan, n.d.).

“Early on, she basically told people who wanted to figure out what they were going to get from the Forum, how it worked, etc. (like me!), to just stop it… if you try to analyse it, you’ll hamper your success” (Drew, 2010).

“Even if you ask any questions about your particular problem or forum content, it’s most likely that you are yelled at (after inviting you to the mic near the stage) and called ‘you ordinary idiot leading an ordinary sham life’, ‘you jerk you have the courage to think so’, ‘you are disgusting’, ‘it’s your pathetic analytical mind that’s talking’, ‘you arrogant jerk’ etc. Be prepared to hear that and much more than that” (Prasad, 2012).

Describing how those questioning the recruitment emphasis were dealt with, Sarah Fazeli explains:

“In a roller coaster two minutes, Chris lauded the man for his honesty, encouraging others who felt this way to show themselves. Then she went in for the kill, spinning it around so anyone who questioned the program or its tactics was ‘resisting’” (Fazeli, 2012).

Fazeli (2012) explains that when she questioned the processes, she too was attacked:

“I’ve done self-help work. I’m an actor for Christ’s sake! Introspection and being alone on stage is what we do! So I asked questions in response to ‘the work’ and was struck down, humiliated and branded ‘uncoachable’.”

Options: ReplyQuote
Re: I'm just a soul whose intentions are good...
Posted by: John Hunter PhD ()
Date: July 20, 2020 11:17AM

In this video, I explain Thought Reform ("Brainwashing"), how these conditions are present in LGATs like est, Landmark, Lifespring, etc., and how these organisations lie through their teeth about their BLATANT USE OF THESE TECHNIQUES to the public:


Options: ReplyQuote
Re: I'm just a soul whose intentions are good...
Posted by: kdag ()
Date: July 20, 2020 07:07PM


I would not say that the book uses hypnosis techniques. It has been years since I read the entire thing. As i recall from reading the excerpt, the book describes what might be considered a hypnosis technique that is used by police to help victims or witnesses to recall details.

I don't know if you read the excerpt, (it's a short read), but to summarize it, a woman was raped, and then nearly murdered, (the rapist had murdered another victim). She saved her own life in a way that would be considered counterintuitive, (and terrifying).

After raping her, the rapist had told her that he was going to leave, and would not harm her any further, but she knew that he intended to kill her. She said that she didn't know how she knew that, so he, (Gavin Dr Becker), walked her through it, step by step, so she would remember in (excruciating), detail. What she ended up remembering was that:

1) He closed her window, then
2) He turned up the stereo.

Upon this recollection, she realized that the reason he did those things was to prevent noise from escaping the room, and to drown out any noise with loud music. It didn't make sense, as he'd said he was leaving. As she fled, she heard him rummaging through her kitchen drawers, presumably looking for a suitable knife.

And yes, corboy is absolutely right about that consent form. I looked up "unconscionable contracts," and the Landmark consent form fits that description to a "T." I don't believe for one minute that it would hold up in court, and all of their non-disclosure mumbo jumbo would not, either, as it seems that most of what they don't want disclosed are their glaring ethical violations if not out and out crimes.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/20/2020 07:16PM by kdag.

Options: ReplyQuote
Current Page: 4 of 8

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