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Re: Hoffman Institute
Posted by: Bodhichitta ()
Date: April 23, 2009 12:13AM


I read the rules again and I don't believe I have broken any rules although my last two attempts to post something here were rejected. So I will try again:

I am trying to understand if the forum (and moderators) have a predisposed opinion concerning LGATs... why? Why? I believe that depending on that answer, the discussion here could go different directions. I wasn't aware of the term LGAT until I found this forum so isn't that a fair question?

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Re: Hoffman Institute
Posted by: rrmoderator ()
Date: April 23, 2009 12:28AM


This thread is about the Hoffman Institute. If you wish to discuss LGATs generally, start another thread.

See []

This paper generally outlines the problems with LGATs, which historically have a very troubled history.

13 liabilities typcially within such groups include:

1. They lack adequate participant-selection criteria.

2. They lack reliable norms, supervision, and adequate training for leaders.

3. They lack clearly defined responsibility.

4. They sometimes foster pseudoauthenticity and pseudoreality.

5. They sometimes foster inappropriate patterns of relationships.

6. They sometimes ignore the necessity and utility of ego defenses.

7. They sometimes teach the covert value of total exposure instead of valuing personal differences.

8. They sometimes foster impulsive personality styles and behavioral strategies.

9. They sometimes devalue critical thinking in favor of "experiencing" without self-analysis or reflection.

10. They sometimes ignore stated goals, misrepresent their actual techniques, and obfuscate their real agenda.

11. They sometimes focus too much on structural self-awareness techniques and misplace the goal of democratic education; as a result participants may learn more about themselves and less about group process.

12. They pay inadequate attention to decisions regarding time limitations. This may lead to increased pressure on some participants to unconsciously "fabricate" a cure.

13. They fail to adequately consider the "psychonoxious" or deleterious effects of group participation (or] adverse countertransference reactions.

Such groups are dangerous when:

1. Leaders had rigid, unbending beliefs about what participants should experience and believe, how they should behave in the group. and when they should change.

2. Leaders had no sense of differential diagnosis and assessment skills, valued cathartic emotional breakthroughs as the ultimate therapeutic experience, and sadistically pressed to create or force a breakthrough in every participant.

3. Leaders had an evangelical system of belief that was the one single pathway to salvation.

4. Leaders were true believers and sealed their doctrine off from discomforting data or disquieting results and tended to discount a poor result by, "blaming the victim."

Most LGATs largely rely upon coercive persuasion techniques.

See []

The key factors that distinguish coercive persuasion from other training and socialization schemes are:

1. The reliance on intense interpersonal and psychological attack to destabilize an individual's sense of self to promote compliance

2. The use of an organized peer group

3. Applying interpersonal pressure to promote conformity

4. The manipulation of the totality of the person's social environment to stabilize behavior once modified.

Robert Lifton labeled the extraordinarily high degree of social control characteristic of organizations that operate reform programs as their totalistic quality (Lifton 1961). This concept refers to the mobilization of the entirety of the person's social, and often physical, environment in support of the manipulative effort. Lifton identified eight themes or properties of reform environments that contribute to their totalistic quality:

1. Control of communication

2. Emotional and behavioral manipulation

3. Demands for absolute conformity to behavior prescriptions derived from the ideology

4. Obsessive demands for confession

5. Agreement that the ideology is faultless

6. Manipulation of language in which cliches substitute for analytic thought

7. Reinterpretation of human experience and emotion in terms of doctrine

8. Classification of those not sharing the ideology as inferior and not worthy of respect

Coercive persuasion differs from other forms of persuasion such as education, advertising, propaganda and indoctrination.

See []

This chart prepared by psychologist Margaret Singer illustrates the distinctions.

Again, if you want to engage in broader discussion about LGATs generally, create a new thread under that heading/topic.

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Re: Hoffman Institute
Posted by: healthy skeptic ()
Date: August 28, 2009 12:31PM

I came across this forum about 18 months ago. At that time my wife told me she was planning on attending a Hoffman Institute retreat. I was scared and wanted to find out what it was all about. I came across this forum and I got even more afraid. she ended up going and when she got back she needed some space. While she was happy she had gone thru the experience, it had surfaced some long suppressed trauma, emotional, physical, finally finding her voice and with continued therapy she has truly changed. At the time she came home, I had decided to see a therapist after reading two books. Getting the love you want by harville hendrix, and the drame of the gifted child. I recognized myself and realized I had been living in a fog, completely unaware. At work I was letting my emotions and fears and doubts get the better of me. I decided I was also going to go to Hoffman. As a little background, I grew up religious but have become aware of the fallacy of the religion I was raised. That change in mindset came from what I consider a health skeptical analysis of the truth.
I prepared myself for the worst. My therapist knew I was going and so I felt no matter what happens, I would have someone who would be there to deprogram me if it indeed turns out to be a cult.
I filled out the detailed questionaire, which made me even more aware of new found emotions and beginnings of understanding. I decided to go through the questions with siblings, as the focus is what traits did your parents exhibit, and what traits do you think you inherited. This isnt about blaming your parents, rather recognizing the patterns so you can stop repeating them. My patterns were how I was reacting to my children, using the same language that I had heard growing up.
I arrived the first day and was with about 20 other people, all here for different reasons, but in my mind, I couldnt understand why they were here, they all looked like they had it together.
That first night I thought that I should go, I didnt belong and I wasn't used to being with strangers. But I decided I was going to allow myself the experience, open minded, no matter how crazy it may seem (which my mind made up stories of what woudl happen, nothing came close to the nightmares I conjured on my own).
The program ended up being an exhausting, safe, loving and wonderful experience. Yes, we did bond as a group, but is it any different than any group therapy (AA for example?). Therapist acknowledge there is a time and place for group therapy, because by seeing that everyone else is a bozo, you realize youre not unique.
So the week was over, I spent the weekend alone to decompress. When I look back, we all thought, wow the world is changed, we changed and everything would be honky dorey. Well life isnt like that. Nearly all of us had many ups and downs, but what the experience did was make us aware and prepared to handle what life threw at us. I for one handled somethings better, somethings not so well, but I was aware of what was happening, and with continued therapy I become more confident, listen less to the voices in my head telling me Im not smart enough or Im lazy.
People at work noticed a change. They tell me I seem more mature emotionally, emotionally intelligent. I have discovered empathy, Im less emotional when dealing with crisis at work. Me and my wife have become more connected over the year, not because of the shared hoffman experience, but because we took the blinders off, and now have real conversations. Im handling the fact that she was a caretaker for her mom and she married her mom who wanted to be taken care of. We have learned about healthy boundaries something Hoffman prepared me for.
There is nothing about Hoffman that leads me to believe its a cult or dangerous.
The teachers were kind and understanding with uniquely gifted abilities to understand people. Everyone should be so lucky to have mentors with such abilities. The people who come to hoffman weren't psychotic, they were simply people unhappy about the rut in their life. Otherwise well adjusted people with stuff holding them back.
Can you accomplish the same with out the process? maybe, but you would need to find the right combination of experience, the drama, the surprise, and the wisdom that Hoffman has been able to execute in those 8 days over the last 20 years. How I saw it, and I had my work pay for this based on this, Hoffman is simply a corporate educational program to provide emotional intelligence to people. Its well known if you can know yourself deeply, you can lead and treat people with respect, gaining their trust and benefiting the company.
Its been a year now. I continue to see a therapist to get advice about stuff, someone to chat with, work on this or that. Could I get along with out one. Sure. But its not costing me much, and it gives me a chance to have that coach.
I chat every once in a while with members from my hoffman group, and they seem all normal, heads screwed on straight, dealing with their problems, knowing there is always someone they can share with out feeling judged.
That is the biggest benefit of the group.
You can unload, cry, scream and curse and the unfairness of it all, but all you get back is understanding and compassion. If you ask for advice you then get it.
So while technically they dont have board approved studies or scientist working there, I am here to say thats not a crime. You dont need scientist for any of the other thousands of self help lectures that corporations pay for. Ive attended those, and Im here to say, this one was different because it was real, about real emotions, about core stuff not trying to compensate around patterns but identifying why you have the patterns you do. Thats the enablement part.
I went to hoffman, I changed, but Im still human with normal worries and joys. I hate having to say this because even if I did contribute to hoffman there wouldnt be anything wrong with it, but I havent. Do they encourage you to share the process with others? Not in a direct way. People have to be ready for this and so becoming a salesman for it wont do any good. But I would say if someone asked me what I thought, I would recommend it like I would recommend any good course.
Im happy to answer any questions and I respect why people would be worried about this program. I was too.

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Re: Hoffman Institute
Posted by: rrmoderator ()
Date: August 28, 2009 09:11PM

You don't seems like a "healthy skeptic," but rather someone that has come here to defend the Hoffman organization.

The previous posts outline the problems with such mass marathon training.

Your anecdotal story doesn't change that.

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Re: Hoffman Institute
Posted by: healthy skeptic ()
Date: August 28, 2009 11:18PM

RR moderator
I understand your skepticsm. I can only relate what I experienced.
I think of hoffman in same vein as any meditation retreat. Some people benefit, some dont. Do people get harmed? Have people been harmed by licensed psycologists? My admittedly anecdotal evidence is that people generally arent harmed by Hoffman, and I agree, the jury is out wether it helps. I can only relate that it helped me and my wife. Could we have been helped by just routine therapy, Im sure, but this sort of was a jumpstart for us. It certainly isnt for everyone and your expectations should be managed.
I also know of people it hasnt helped. It isnt always a substitue for good therapy, it can be thought of as complimentary tool. Everything I witnessed and learned was very in line with what our professionaly trained therapist would discuss.
I only came here a year and half ago, because I was looking for information about the dangers of Hoffman. I considered the information your site provides about LGAT in general, and it was useful for me because it ensured I was empowered and walking into the retreat with open eyes. I thank you for that. I returned to simply share that my experience, and the experience of my wife was a good one. I respect and expect that others may not have had that same good experience, thats just real life.

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Re: Hoffman Institute
Posted by: rrmoderator ()
Date: August 29, 2009 02:16AM

"healthy skeptic"?

I don't think so.

Hoffman is not a licensed mental health facility. And I am not aware that the programs are led by a board certified psychologist.

Licensed facilities and professionals have some accountability, but Hoffman seems to little or none at all.

Whatever floats your boat.

But subjective anecdotal testimonies from true believers is not very convincing to me.

Is there a peer review study published by a credible journal that demonstrates scientifically measurable results through Hoffman, e.g. lower divorce rate, increase in income, higher grades in school, reduced need for medication or counseling?

I don't think so.

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Re: Hoffman Institute
Posted by: DarrenR ()
Date: September 10, 2009 05:47PM

Dear Healthy skeptic,

95% of the people that attend the Hoffman Process will probably benefit from the training. The issue is the 5% that don’t, and the lack of accountability these courses offer, and the non-existent pre and post course evaluation of attendees that may not have been suitable for the intensity of the programme. My views is this course also seems to fosters a "me" type attitude as you become very focused on yourself, and this doesn't always fit in to the democratic world we live in.

I've been affected very badly by the Hoffman Process. My wife went on the process in Dec 08, she had suffered abuse (both verbal and physical) from her mother and had suffered with depression on and off because of this. We had a very close relationship before she entered the process, we'd been together for 4yrs, married for 2 and she offered me a lot of love and by most standards we had a very good relationship. My wife was desperate and saw the Hoffman as a potential savior to release the emotional shackles from the past.

To cut a long story short my wife attended the process, came out 8 days later and told me she had found happiness she never knew existed. She also told me that although she loved me, and appreciated how I had stood by her, never judged her and had always put her needs first in our relationship, she now because of the Hoffman process realized we were very different and didn't believe we had a future together - That was it, our relationship was over.

You may think by reading this there was major issues in the relationship before, but you would be wrong. Just before my wife entered the Hoffman we bought a new house that she really wanted, this left me very short of money as it was an expensive house. She then pleaded with me to lend her the £2,300 to attend the process, which I worked hard to find. She then finished with me as soon as she came home, with no attempt to try and work through any of the areas she now had a concern over. I ask would someone want to buy a new house and the money for the process if they had major concerns over their relationship and was intending to leave?

My wife is currently in therapy and has been since she attended the process, the psychologist she is seeing is very negative against the process and has said the severe intensity of the programme seems to have caused dissociation, and she has a majored concern my wife is going to have a major breakdown, if not now later in life. If this isn’t enough, my wife also collapsed in the street and was taken in to hospital; she was diagnosed with a complex migraine which is caused by severe stress.

In summary maybe the Hoffman could work, but to be truly acceptable scheme these people need to have accountability to an association or board, they should have both intense pre-course and post course evaluation of attendees to assess suitability for the process, and they should have proper medical studies of there programme by experts to truly work out all of the pro's and cons with both positive and negative case studies.

You should also be aware that the CEO Charles Ingrasci was the ex Director of Corporate Affairs for a company called Lifespring which disbanded because of 30+ lawsuits that included wrongful death, suicide and hospitalized depression......I don’t know about you but bearing in mind what the Hoffman offers I wouldn’t want this guy running my business would you?

My wife ended our marriage via e-mail, and I haven’t seen or had any contact with her since. Thanks Bob Hoffman.

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Re: Hoffman Institute
Posted by: Granuja ()
Date: March 25, 2010 01:00AM

I came across this forum looking for Fisher-Hoffman in the web as I'm away from my library and don't recall Fisher's christian name.

DarrenR, I'm very sorry to hear what happened to you and your wife. I hope she gets on track and both of you can rebuild your lives.

I'm a Hoffman graduate myself (9 a bit more than years from now) and I have read the answers posted from Jack, Skeptic, Healty Skeptic and other to the checklist presented by RRModerator.

First of all, I will add some personal background:
Í was raised as a catholic.
I'm still a catholic. I have participated in many catholic movements on the conservative side of the Church -I'm not and have never been in Opus Dei-.
I have studied Theology and Mythology. I'm a follower of Joseph J. Campbell's work.

And I would like add a group of things to what they said:
First, and for what I know of the Process and the people involved in the Institute at my country -and in Latin America, I'd say- that I very well know:

A) Yes, Hoffman teachers -as they are called- are professionals with one or two degrees at least.
B) Teachers are trained, examined, qualified and if they don't stick to the role they put aside -I've seen it happen-.
C) They work more like assistants rather than as leaders, teachers or instructors.
D) Hoffman Quadrinity Process is a-religious and proposes an individual work regardless your faith.
E) Hoffman process doesn't deal with the moral statements, or history, of pre or post process graduates.
F) Your work is as intimately personal as you wish it to be. But, we should acknowledge that if we don't put things in front of our selves we will not address them at all.
G) There is a pre-course evaluation, and there is a follow through which is effective if the graduate allows being in touch with the institute -as in any treatment-.
H) Mental illness shouldn't be dealt by a Psychologist. Mental illness should be treated by a Psychiatrist, in a mental institution. Hoffman Institute will not accept unhealthy postulants as the risk is too high both for the individual and for other members of course.

Healthy is a tricky word, as well as normal. Normal means you are, roughly, in the mean. Nobody is completely healthy, as nobody is totally normal; thanks God! If normality would be widespread, creativity wouldn't exist and, probably, we would be still on top of the trees.

I know all this may seem apologetic, RRModerator. It's not my intention to be apologetic about the Process or defend Hoffman Institute as it's ruled by men and men are, above all, fail-able.

If we make statements or questionaries that assesses all the possible failures of mankind, surely we will find rottenness every where. If you apply aspirin on a rat's skin on very high doses surely skin cancer will appear and, hence, aspirin can be regarded as teratogenic; and, just for the record, the same will happen if you do it with sugar.

The Hoffman Process is comparable to Total Quality Management programs in modern industry. I know many people that make of TQM a religion, I don't see TQM called LGAT and it, certainly, fulfills your standard for LGAT. I have worked in TQM programs for several years, and I know what I'm talking about. If you stick to the good practices proposed by TQM, you will get more quality on your product. If you use the techniques proposed by Hoffman, you will, for sure, "Follow your bliss" as Joseph Campbell would say, who, by the way, was not a graduate.

"Life is as gorgeous as we let her be"
-José María Pereda-.

We all have different skills. We all have different points of views. We should be able to see in the other the same light we would like to find in us.

The only real power is that which we have over ourselves.

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Re: Hoffman Institute
Posted by: myselfalone ()
Date: May 05, 2010 02:38AM

I joined this chat area because I simply wanted to add my own non-spirals-in-the-eyes report on my time at the Hoffman Process. I too, like many of the writers here, was changed profoundly and for the better by it. I came to see why I acted the way I did, over and over without particularly great results. I came to understand and love my parents in ways I had never before--our relationship is so much different now. I am far from perfect--the old patterns of behavior and thinking still come up--but I now feel empowered to do something other than just repeat them. And those who know me notice the difference.

I've been struck at how the moderator insists that reports such as this are anecdotal and apologist. I'm not defending Hoffman at all. I am praising it, but that's much different. The moderator seems very concerned about the seeming lack of professional accreditation of the Hoffman Institute and/or its teachers. The teacher training is long and intense, though I know that won't calm such concerns. My teacher was a licensed psychologist in her non-Hoffman work, though that hardly mattered to me. Sheesh, if professional accreditation is a guarantee of solid work, how come general contractors and Wall Street MBAs have so often left behind shambles?

Anyway, not interested in starting any arguments here. I'm just a formerly cynical, disconnected-from-his-authentic-self kinda guy who feels very fortunate to have done the Process.

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Re: Hoffman Institute
Posted by: rrmoderator ()
Date: May 05, 2010 06:34AM


You apparently came here with the purpose of defusing criticism of the "Hoffman Process" through your post.

Your personal testimony concerning your processing by Hoffman is subjective and anecdotal.

No one that supports Hoffman posting here has cited a single scientific study, which has been peer-reviewed and published by a credible journal, detailing objective measurable results.

That is, following up with people that have gone through the Hoffman Process to see if they subsequently have a lower divorce rate, significantly increased income, consistently reduced need for (anxiety, depression) medications, professional counseling and/or make higher grades in school.

If Hoffman actually accomplishes meaningful long-term change improving people, this would be the way to demonstrate that objectively, rather than relying upon opinions expressed through personal testimonials.

LGATs are adept at affecting how people feel, but it appears not much else.

Otherwise, it seems LGATs would be anxious to prove their claims through a published scientific study.

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