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Posted by: elena ()
Date: May 13, 2003 06:24AM

Hi Elizabeth,

Probably the most distressing thing about losing someone you love to a cult is to be on the receiving end of their personality change, which they are convinced is so terrific and you can see just makes them arrogant and cruel. Landmark and similar groups work on an ideological level akin to what would be the DNA level of cellular development. The "ideas" they implant are the building blocks of a person's outlook, attitude towards life and other people, feelings, expectations, and general personality formation. Such deeply held convictions, beliefs, prejudices, biases, and unquestioned interpretations are formed in the earliest years of life, principally the pre-verbal, hugely impressionistic years when a child tries to make sense of the world he is born into. That is why they are so stubbornly held and resistent to change. Landmark and similar groups manipulate people's minds at this level through a selection of techniques, one of which is hypnosis.

Here is an old post from from someone who was subjected to it through a parent's involvement. (You can use Google to search the archives. They give you an option of searching just within the newsgroup. Clicking on the name of the poster at the head of the post will bring up all the posts made by that person. Because it is a public newsgroup, it is full of garbage, spam, cross posting, and nonsense. It also has some of the true gems of public discourse, if you can find them. Grizz's posts are a good place to start, There aren't that many.)

>>>From: Grizz
Subject: 24 years of brianwashed thinking

Date: 2002-03-09 06:59:06 PST

i would like to know if there is anyone out there stuggling with the
same issues that i have encountered....

first , my story:

I was 14, my dad got "enrolled" in est (1976). He proceeded to have
everyone in the family take the training and himself go on to being a
"guest seminar leader"
with the aspirations of becoming a "trainer" himself. He began
practising on me...i would have to sit through 4 hour sessions of him
telling me to "get off it" and to "be responsible for my own
experience" This was all mixed in with people calling me endlessly to
"assist" and badgering me unmercilessly to do seminars and courses.
Our entire life was est...(you get the picture, right?)

Ok, Dad is still leading seminars, still
telling me to get off it...i have not had anything to do with landmark
for at least 14 years and i am down right hostile twards anyone who
throws jargon at me.
Just 2 weeks ago, while in intensive pshycotherapy i discovered that i
actually grew up in a cult...est.
I've seen how doing it at such an early age, basically in my
formulative years, i developed quite a few basic beliefs that are
wrong and really hard to live with...for example...those 4 hour
sessions with my dad taught me that whatever I'm feeling is not
valid...that i can deny it all ("get off it")That I am not okay the
way i am...that anyone who has not done est is not enlightened and
therefore we "graduates" are better that anyone else and everyone else
is "on it" and stupid to the way it "really is"...I have been trying
to figure out how to fit into society and not take a me against the
world attitude ever since...

Mostly, i have a problem knowing what is actually real. I cant tell if
a situation is good or bad for me or if I'm happy because i have been
taught that i can just "get off it and create a new conversation"
basically settling for anything by denying what i feel for the last 24
years. My other problem is this...Most people take these courses as an
adult, with thier ideas and opinions about themselves and the world
already in place, so that when they realize they have been conned by a
cult, they have some sense of self to fall back on. Since est and the
forum are what i formulated my views from, i have nothing to fall back
on and I am finding myself quite terrified, empty and having no clue
what part of me is real...

Anyway, i would like to know if anyone out there was put into the
little kids training and what you are experiencing as a result of it.
Or even if you weren't a kid, but are just having trouble with
pshycological issues as a result of being in the forum or est.

I am not interested in hearing anyones counterpoint to all that i've
said, i don't want to hear from people who are sill gung-ho, trying to
convince us wounded souls that we just went astray, and if we would
only take a seminar, everything will be alright....bite me and go _ _
_ _ yourself at the same time!

told you i was hostile twards anything positive anyone has to say
about these experiences...

ok, i'm done for now...


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Posted by: Hope ()
Date: May 13, 2003 08:47PM

Wow, Elena. Thanks for posting Grizz's comments. My therapist had me in Landmark for 1-1/2 yrs without letting on that was what he was using as "therapy." I have similar feelings, many, many times, of what is real, what matters. It would be great if I could just start a "new conversation" and throw out all the uncertainty, but starting a new conversation would mean the confusion is not real. My heart goes out to Grizz. How does someone who has been thru what he has find something to fall back on?

The leader in my Forum was quite proud that his daughter was taking Landmark courses. He described a jargon-laden conversation they had about being authentic and I wondered how this little girl fits in in school. Reading Grizz's words, I think back to her and wonder how she is going to do. I wonder if the State Attorney General's offices would have any interest in hearing about childhood est and Landmark experiences and the impact they are having on peoples' lives now.

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Posted by: corboy ()
Date: May 13, 2003 09:21PM

Thanks for alerting us to the Google group

There are good reasons why a sane society mandates that children must NOT be exposed to powerful experiences such as adult sexual energy, alcohol or drugs--or indoctrination and trance induction. It is precisely what Grizz says: your sense of identity and personal boundaries are are still being formed, and overwhelming experiences like these disrupt that process of identitity formation.

A sense of separate identity and awareness of personal boundaries are the psychological equivalent of forming a skeleton and are necessary steps in spiritual development. Real spiritual educators will tell you 'You cannot go beyond ego unless you already have an ego to begin with.' You cant walk and function independantly unless you've formed a skeleton. So certain forms of heavy duty adult experience are COUNTERINDICATED for children because they interfere with healthy self development.

There is a very upsetting, fascinting memoir by a woman who developed first bulimia, then anorexia starting at age 9--the book is entitled Wasted by Marya Horbacher.

Hornbacher nearly died at age 19 from her two disorders. She says the very same thing that Grizz does about the problem of early indoctrination: how difficult it is to 'recover' when your very identity is tangled up with the crazy making process, and you have no pre-illness (or pre-indoctrinated) sense of self to 'return to' for orientation.

Problem too is that highly sophisticated forms of indoctrination are designed in such a way as to create states of mind that are very regressed, that cannot be readily accessed by adult insight. So you get indoctrinated in a zone of experience that is a 'blind spot' and that you will have a hard time accessing and bringing to insight later on. Saddest of all a person abused in this manner may be left feeling afraid to consult a therapist for fear of falling victim to yet another cycle of abuse. Abuse that leaves victims terrified of seeking out healing resources is the worst kind of abuse there is.

I knew enough to stay away from LGAT groups, but because I got abused in other ways, I learned that inflicting catastrophic shame is another way of shocking a person so that he/she enters a 'blind spot' area of awarness where they can be easily manipulated.

It is quite simple. You dont have to hire a hotel room. Abusive partners who suddenly, and viciously bully or beat their victims create a similar climate of mental/emotional shock that paralyzes thought and constricts and colonizes the victim's inner world. Many creeps do this skillfully without knowing why their nasty behavior is so effective. (All they know is that the behavior gets them what they want, so they keep doing it--they know its bad, though--why even naive abusers find ways to conceal their misdeeds.)

By contrast with your ordinary schoolyard bully or wife beater, entities like reportedly abusive LGATs not only know that what do works, they know WHY it works and have spent decades testing and refining their methods.

These problematic franchise have methodically turned indoctrination into an applied, reproducible set of techniques. You dont have to learn this by trial and error any more--you can very likely purchase or appropriate these techniques from an existing group, and then create a new and dangerously effective operation quite quickly. Its like modern terrorism: you dont have to test by trial and error how to make an effective bomb--you can purchase the know how and ingredients from another group. Rick and the correspondants on this board are finding new spin offs from older groups all the time.

Getting back to problematic LGATs, they are highly effective, but could IMO be said to be practicing rogue science. They are not altruistic but are profit driven and unlike genuine scientists and mental health professional, they do not participate in the free exchange of ideas, do not submit to a code of ethics known to society at large (such as the American Psychological Association guidelines for protecting adult subjects in experiments) and, above all, they withold vital information from perspective recruits, making informed consent impossible--or at least very problematic.

The context in which many people decide to participate in an LGAT event is skewed because informed consent is nearly impossible--you are often told you wont fully benefit unless you go into the event [b:a0d89dbc27]not [/b:a0d89dbc27]knowing what will happen...

When a group is new (as EST was in the 70s) and your own father is pressuring you, free and informed consent is impossible--you're in a power imbalance, dependant on that parent for survival. Its especially bad when parents and employers pressure people to take these courses--coercion is involved.

Differenct resources work for different people in the healing process. One that thing helped me was discovering some methods of Buddhist insight meditation and working with a therapist who was gifted at creating a lucid, insightful 'trance free' atmosphere in his office. Only by observing what alert insightfulness feels like was I able to discern the difference beween actual insight and social contexts and states of mind that are 'trancy---whose promoters claim to peddle insight but whose methods actually interfere with insight.

The other thing that helped was educating myself about techniques of social influence and mental/emotional coercion--what conditions make for geniunely free decisionmaking and what condictions warp that process and create a context where informed consent is impossible. IMO Context is what really what matters--NOT the belief system of a group, but how it affects the decision makign process whereby you 1) decide whether to join and 2) remain a member. The key issues are the presence or absence of conditions that support informed consent.

I have noticed that when I am under the influence of 'unfree' trains of thought, my inner life feels 'tight' 'constricted' and my breathing goes shallow.

I am also learning to identify early signs that someone is attempting to shame trip me or introduce a sense of manufactured crisis. Its like identifying when you're in the early stages of getting drunk and that its time to stop drinking so you can sober up.

Other tip offs:

1) The person subtly 'pulls' your attention (or the attention of the group) in his or her direction. I call it 'putting out a traction beam.' With experience, you can learn to sense this. Any time someone does this, I touch my index fingers to my thumbs, or I cross my legs. It is an effective way to remind myself to be aware of my boundaries.

Another good trick if you are feeling spacy--pay attention to where your feet are, then feel the floor against your feet. You'll feel 'grounded.' Then distribute this sense of strength and stability throughout your mind and body. If you are in a situation or with a person where you find it difficult or impossible to do this, chances are, that person or situation is bad for you. Get out, ASAP. Your first priority is to protect your inner landscape from further vandalism. Never stay in place or with a person if you cant think or feel clearly--its spiritual oxygen.

2) Note the emotional climate in the group. Is the atmosphere lucid, alert and adult? Do people sit or stand in a variety of natural postures? Or is everyone eagerly leaning forward or looking tense in a uniform manner? Or are they generating an atmosphere that is fearful, or hungrily expectant, as though the speaker is a Magic Mommy or Daddy who will solve all problems with a wave of the wand?

3) Do you feel peaceful? Or does the speaker or the experience make you feel as though you're being 'pounded on' or pressured for a specific response or outcome? I carry earplugs and if I am at a peace rally where I feel that I am being dumped on or pounded on, I just put in the earplugs and either do some Zen meditation--or find someone to hang out with--or a dog to play with. Someone without an agenda.

4) Does the speaker or teacher respect the group or respect you? Or does he or she seem to 'dump' toxic energy on you? I am learning to leave the room if a speaker is like this.

If you think this will help, get a notebook and start writing descriptions of your state of mind and your physical sensations when you're influenced by indoctrination and your states of mind and physical sensations when you're in a state of comparative freedom. You must have had some such experiences to have questioned your father's behavior and then found your way to

By learning to compare and contrast the difference between states of mind that are indoctrination-driven and states of mind that support insight and presence, you'll form your identity. You might look at experiences that give you pleasure--favorite foods, places, the sheer happiness of playing with a puppy (if you're anything like me!) and note the difference between an experience like that, and what you felt like when you bought into EST.

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Posted by: patrick-darcy ()
Date: May 14, 2003 05:54AM

i want to add a few lines to what i have
read in this thread.

ask yourself why does an abused women
end up in more abusive situations , even
if she or he if its a man manage to do this.

part of landmark is abusive tactics. most
everybody has been abused in some way.
some to a higher degree than others, but
basically we learn to tolerate abuse.

we tolerate it by keeping our mouths
shut. in landmark when they abuse
u , they make u keep your mouth shut.

and then when someone says that this
is abuse, someone else will say that
it no more abusive than something else
and everybody basically keeps their
mouth shut.

if u have been in an abusive relationship
of some kind and u end up in landmark,
landmark, through hypnosis convinces
u that it doesnt mean anything, and it
doesnt mean anything that it doesnt
mean anything, and of course because
the people feel better about themselves
now because they have been relieved
of their burden, landmark which is using
abuse techniques catches them right at
that moment and because they feel better
about themselves, many for the first
time in years, they are completely unaware
that landmark has used the very abuse
they struggle to rid themselves to capture
their minds.

classic mind control techniques.

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Posted by: elena ()
Date: May 14, 2003 07:55PM

Thanks y'all. Here's Guy really nailing it down. There are many other terrific posts from ex-employees that should be compiled somewhere. (He is responding to a recent gung-ho "graduate" Haan. Hann's original comments are marked off with >.)


>>>From: Guy (
Subject: Re: just completed forum in NYC

Date: 2002-08-28 22:31:32 PST


I am an ex-employee of Landmark Education. I left because what appears on
the face of the organization is not indicative of the heart of the
company. I was trained to manipulate people through group hypnosis and
other mind control techniques for the purpose of recruitment for courses
and for obtaining unpaid labor.

I'll respond between the paragraphs below to be clear. Your post is well
crafted. I can tell that there is consideration and time to your post. I
will respond with appropriate consideration and time. There will be times
where I will contradict what you opine. Don't take offense, it's not
personal. I just know more about the subject than you do. It was my
business for some time. There are things I know for fact, from working
there, you will not see or know from doing a course.

Who was the forum leader for your course?

Haans wrote:

> I just completed the landmark forum in NYC and out of curiousity (and
> boredom) decided to see what has been said about LEC and the forum on
> usenet.

LEC statistics show that "curiosity" is one of the top 5 reasons people do
the Forum.

> It's shocking to me that people criticize it w/out having done it.

When I was inside the LEC paradigm, I was shocked too. I used to trash the
Anti-LEC crowd mercilessly.
After all, how could they know if they didn't do it themselves.
Well, the paradigm that LEC induces into it's participants is not a unique
phenomena. In the corporate sphere there are a few other companies
providing services and using the same methods as LEC. In the religious
realm, there are multitudes using the same methods and techniques.
So, whether or not others have done the Forum may not be relevant to
criticism courses or corporation.

> It's shocking to me that people who have done it attempt to foist it
> on others as if it is a religion or a "higher" way of being.

That is inherent in the design of the programs. LEC has been unable to
insulate themselves from the cult label because of it.

> I was extremely cynical about the forum and other kinds of group think
> seminars. I have, however, reached a point in my life where
> psycho-therapy is not being productive and I am in a stall. A friend
> who had attended the forum a coupld of years ago suggested I try it.
> I felt I had nothing to lose except some time and money so I gave it a
> try.

Once inside the courses we use several techniques to flatten criticism,
one of which is to place cynicism in a undesirable groupthink slot.
We couple cynicism with resignation, which is undesirable emotion. It's
used repeatedly throughout the coursework.

> My overall experience was a good one and I think the applied
> existential philosophy of the course helped me gain some critical
> insight into my life and into some of my modes of behavior. I am not
> 100% in agreement with all that was said/taught in the forum but that
> (in my opinion) in no way negates what I feel was the value I received
> from taking the course.

There are four main "distinctions" in the Forum. Can you remember them?
The first disrupts critical thinking.
The second reveals and engages the three main hooks of the human machine.
The third clears the palette for induction.
The last has them coming back for more. ;-) Induction set for more

> I find the "cult" label that I have seen used so much in usenet (and
> have heard from other people) to be funny and untrue. The Harvard
> Business School case study (available on the HBS website) of the
> Landmark Education Form goes to great length to dispel the notion of
> LEC being a cult or even "cult-like." Read it for yourself and
> decide. Don't listen to me, someone else who has taken the course or
> someone who hasn't but has an opinion. Most of the "expert" opinions
> I have seen posted here or elsewhere on the 'net are of
> psychotherapists/psychologists etc etc who have neither attended nor
> observed the actual forum.

It may not be true in the traditional sense of the word in that there is
no inference of deity. All the other methodologies are present though. I
call LEC the "Bizcult". The cult outside of the cult box.
The HBS study has nothing to do with the programs efficacy or the methods,
it is a study of the business model. To take it as a recommendation from
Harvard is erroneous and misses the point of the study. While at LEC, we
loved getting some more fluff for cover.
Having been involved with LEC for years and been employed by LEC and
trained by them, gives me "expert" qualifications.
So if you are a recent participant of the Forum, you may want to listen to
me as if I know what I'm talking about and not some guy from a diner.

> Has my life changed? Well, no, actually (and besides, the forum is
> anti-change to begin with but in practical terms the distiction has no
> consequence) I wake up the same person I have always been. The same
> problems, the same skills and the same personality. Has it made an
> impact? Absolutely. I have some new tools and new insights to help me
> have the life I would like to have. I was also very inspired by many
> of the participants and their stories.

This is an interesting paragraph. At first you say nothing has changed and
use the LEC no-change thought virus, then you say you have "new tools (not
skills?) and new insights" to have a life unlike the life you have now.
Anywhere else on the planet, that would be called "change". Impact, tools,
and insights are terms that become loaded in LEC jargon. At LEC we focus
on where you want to be, not where you are. That way we can sidestep
reality in communication.

> All is not perfect however. I experienced quite a bit of cynicism
> during the "registration" conversation. I have worked in advertising
> agencies for over 11 years and know a great deal about messaging,
> image, suggestion as well as business modeling. In many respects, the
> Landmark Forum is an ingenious product and by making part of your
> 'total experience' (my quote not theirs)dependent upon perpetuating
> the forum in order to 1) "give of yourself" and "take a stand" and 2)
> be able to "communicate" with others, the LEC has a constantly
> multiplying sales force. In its defense however, at no time did I ever
> feel pressured, inferior or manipulated when I declined to extend
> invitations to friends/family. In fact, at several times the forum
> leader made it clear that it was "required" to invite anyone.

It is an ingenious product. Selling nothing for something. The sales force
multiplies and burns out over time.
I think you meant that the FL "made it clear that it was not required to
invite anyone." Am I correct?
Being in the advertising field may give you some insight into
psychological influences. I recommend Robert Cialdini's book called
"Influence" for some further insights.


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Posted by: elena ()
Date: May 14, 2003 08:02PM

Here's the rest:

From: Guy (
Subject: Re: just completed forum in NYC

Date: 2002-08-28 22:31:32 PST

> I never lost my ability to evaluate what was being said to me nor was
> I "hypnotized" during the process. I evaluated everything that was
> said to make sure it did not disagree with my ethics/morality or any
> other beliefs that I hold important and stand for. I didn't find
> anything that was objectionable (other than the sales component).

Those were my thoughts too when I first did the courses. Unfortunately it
was an inaccurate observation as I was to learn later.
It is impossible to know when you are hypnotized. There are no warning
signals that you would know without having your brainwaves monitored while
doing the course. The window opened for me when I had a professional
hypnotherapist in one of my rooms. After the program she came up to me and
congratulated me on a job well done and that she couldn't tell when the
induction had taken place for her but that it had and the entire room was
inducted. I asked her what she meant. She went on to explain who she was
and went over the entire evening with me. She said that some in the room
were "gone" quite quickly and others later but all had gone at some point
or another. That was when I started to investigate further.

> I don't think it is for everyone but ultimately only you can decide. A
> couple of people declined to continue on the first day when that
> option is granted (of course you can stop at any time you want but on
> the first day you can do so and receive a full or later a partial
> refund of your money). If you instinctively hate group events, seeing
> people you don't know cry or hearing people you don't know talk about
> very intimate details of pain and suffering you will probably not like
> the forum. If you automatically dismiss any way of thinking that is
> not your own you probably will not like the forum. If you are put
> together, have you life sorted out and are doing everything that you
> want to do then the forum will be a waste of your time and money.

We try to weed out the critical thinkers early on in the game. We used to
"handle" the "here not on your own free will" question right away. Do they
still do that?
I have no problem with group events, people crying, or intimacy in any way
shape or form. I don't dismiss any way of thinking not my own. I am always
interested in the way our diverse humanity reasons and thinks.
Liking the Forum is the booby prize which I admit to having been there. To
be an employee is a little more than filling out an application and
showing my resume. I recruited heavily. You must have high recruitment
numbers consistently to get hired or lead courses. That's what qualifies
us for our positions. I'm sure you can appreciate that if you've been in
advertising. You don't accounts if your promotionals don't produce
The last sentence is a little odd to me. I've never met anyone who didn't
have the three hooks to lever and thought that they were "put together",
"sorted out", or "doing everything".

> It seems a lot of posters here object/ridcule the forum's jargon as
> "meaningless." Webster's defines jargon as:
> 1 Nonsensical, incoherent, or meaningless talk.
> 2. A hybrid language or dialect; a pidgin.
> 3. The specialized or technical language of a trade, profession, or
> similar group.
> 4. Speech or writing having unusual or pretentious vocabulary,
> convoluted phrasing, and vague meaning
> So if those who deride the Forum's jargon choose defintion 1 or 4 then
> they are absolutely correct! Jargon is by definition nonsensical.
> However if you accept meaning 3 as the standard definition of jargon
> then those posters are themselves being nonsensical. Jargon by this
> definition is not intended to mean ANYTHING to outsiders. It is a way
> of making sure everyone who discusses the ideas/concepts are talking
> about the same thing. "Rackets" and "Strong Suits" are just ways of
> condensing concepts into words. Once they are defined in the course
> then everyone (presumably) means the same thing when they use the
> jargon; this is convenient and expeditious. No more, no less.

I don't remember anyone here object/ridicule LEC's jargon as
LEC imbues certain words with other meanings.
By doing this, they produce schisms in our thought processes. By tying and
loading the language, levers can be applied to psychological hooks present
to produce recruitment results. You should know this from advertising.
I have no idea what end of the Advertising business your were involved
with, but I would say that if you imply that words used by LEC are merely
"convenient or expeditious" you are being disingenuous or uninformed.

> I simply wanted to post my experience and observations about the
> Landmark Forum. I'm not trying to sell anyone on it nor dissuade
> anyone either. I'm sure there will be plenty of posters here that
> will rip this to shreds, call me a Landmarkian, brainwashed or any of
> the other pejoratives that I have seen posted already. Have at it if
> you must.

Thanks for taking the time to post a well crafted letter.
For a recent grad you hit all the points, well done.



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Posted by: elena ()
Date: May 15, 2003 12:27AM

Hi corboy,

Yes. What is even more frightening is how these cult tactics and techniques have migrated out into the general population. So many people learn them inside the groups and then carry them into businesses, other organisations, or their own families. People have tried to influence others in order to take advantage of them since the beginning, but the cults have taken the techniques to a whole new level, as in persuading young men to commit suicide bombings, for instance. It's a shame we are so reluctant to criticize what goes on in the name of religion in this country.

(Both L. Ron Hubbard and Werner Erhard were master hypnotists.)


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Posted by: patrick-darcy ()
Date: May 15, 2003 01:28AM

and lets mention why they are so successful
in acquiring minds.

landmark uses child regression. under the
hypnosis the people are taken back to their
childhood and then they are convinced that
whatever their problem is doesnt mean

this is not dealing with issues, this is
just forcing the people to put them
out of their minds, if u will. i believe its
still there but these people every time
something happens in their lives or if
they on the rare occurence were to
think back to their earlier day, would just
use the landmark tool of convincing themselves
it doesnt mean anything.

now, while the people are in this childlike
state, and they have just (supposedly) been
cleared of their burden, then landmark at
this point begins to indoctrinate them with
life has no meaning, it doesnt matter,
there is no right or wrong and because the
people , some for the first time in years are
now feeling this relief of their problems are
very very succesptible to this.

that is why u see so many landmarkians
chant life has no meaning and it doesnt
mean anthing that it doesnt mean anything,

landmarks tricks are basically same as the
tricks used in the jinn religion. its not
pretty, but it is very very effective.

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Posted by: patrick-darcy ()
Date: May 17, 2003 07:59AM

of course some people see a divorce or
dropping their friends and acquaintances
as not damaging.

I agree that it is damaging and irresponsible.

I am just saying that in two years I have not come across that. I have come across people who pondering divorce decide to live inside of what they are commited to--making the marriage work.

Did it ruin any of your relationships?

actually no.

the reason i even attended the form to
begin with is because a friend of mine
was going and i was invited. his family
was quite involved in landmark. of course
i didnt know it at the time. my friend's
behavior was rather deplorable before he
went to the forum. afterward he become
a pro landmark fan, he was spouting
life has no meaning, and it doesnt matters
that it become impossible for us to remain
friends. but we werent good friends before
so i would say that landmark didnt ruin
this relationship. i would say that the
women from up north that would come
down to visit my friend, the one that was
coaching so much before his forum weirded
him out so much that many of his and my
friends thought something was wrong with

he went rather wacky over the jargon.

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Posted by: elena ()
Date: June 06, 2003 11:29PM

Here's half of a recent article. (I pulled it from RR's cult news.)


Mind Games: Part II

Read Mind Games: Part I

May 29, 2003 4:55 pm US/Central
CHICAGO (CBS 2) Hypnotism is popular as entertainment, but now mainstream dentists, doctors and mental health professionals use it in addition to traditional treatments.

But the power of hypnosis in the wrong hands can be devastating to vulnerable patients.

The mind games in this case are played by a man who claims to be a psychologist, but he's not.

He charges $250 for a three hour session of past life regression therapy-- claiming he can help people with phobias, anxieties and other conditions, much faster than traditional therapy.

How? Under hypnosis he supposedly takes them back to past lives. And he introduced us to some clients who say it helped them.

"I was a musician by the name of Lucious Gray in 1593" says one client.

"I was a French king,” says another.

"I was an Eskimo,” says a third.

"I went back to living on another planet” says a fourth.

They time traveled here in Des Plaines during a past life regression treatment like the one we were invited to videotape. Terry Taylor-- the operator of the so-called spiritual awakening center starts by hypnotizing his clients.

"Let yourself go all the way back in time. You're going faster and faster and faster all the way back,” says Taylor.

To a past life where John Matz sees himself as a victim of religious persecution who watched a captor…

"Putting the knife to my throat" says Matz under hypnosis.

Then Matz forgives the killer-- part of the process Taylor claims will help him.

"If you can find a problem in a past lifetime and resolve it, they disappear in this lifetime" says Taylor.

Matz, for example says his claustrophobia disappeared after discovering he was buried alive in another life, "and everyday my life is happier and I enjoy everything I do."

"Its a fantasy, it's a nice fantasy but it doesn't help resolve the problem” says Stephen Kahn who uses hypnosis in his practice as a licensed psychologist, and teaches it at the university of Chicago.

"This is part of the power of hypnosis. If you have a highly charged emotional experience, you tend to believe it." Kahn says.

Taylor believes that through regression therapy a woman’s breast cancer went in to remission "We went inside and we talked to the cells of cancer" and a man's blood condition improved. "We did a transfusion under hypnosis and now he has more energy,” says Taylor.

"That's preposterous. That is impossible to have happen. It violates all of the laws of our universe as we know it,” says Kahn.

Taylor responds, "I can't prove it or disprove it nobody can.”

Critics also worry that Taylor's technique could result in false memories being implanted in the minds of his clients -- like those who now believe they had relatives in a past life who sexually abused them.

"The danger is that they believe these things and they may carry some of these feelings into the current life," says Stephen Kahn.

Taylor says he's qualified to handle possible dangers telling potential clients, "You have to make sure you are with a hypnotist who knows how to work with that. Remember I am also a psychologist too."

But he's not. Taylor only has a Master’s degree in psychology -- but no
Doctorate degree and no state license. Both are required for Taylor to legally call himself a psychologist.

"I'm told you can't say that,” Zekman says.

“No probably not," he replies.

In brochures, Taylor calls himself a transformational psychotherapist.

“Is that a name you made up?” asks Zekman.

“Yes, yes. That's the name I put out there to show what I'm doing,” says Taylor.

Taylor also claims he's a qualified hypnotist because he's certified by the National guild of hypnotists but in an experiment Steve Eichel, a psychologist, used his cat to prove that some certifications are easy to get. Zoe was certified as a hypnotherapist by several associations including the National Guild of Hypnotists.

"They did not request transcripts, they did not request any copies of degrees. They just took my word for it," says Eichel.

“Some people will look at this story and say this guy is a complete quack,” says Zekman.

“I'm sure they will,” says Taylor. "I don't really care what society says out there whether this is right or wrong. I know I'm helping people and

A lot of people could say this is on the fringes or this is crazy. So be it."

Taylor denies that he implants false memories in any of his clients saying they simply tell him what they see.

As for his practice, state officials say he may be in violation of an Illinois law that says only licensed health professionals can use hypnosis for therapeutic purposes.

Read Mind Games: Part I

Pam Zekman

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