To whom it may concern:
Let's set some guidelines regarding what to watch out for in LGATs.
Does Discovery have some of these liablities?
13 liabilities of encounter groups, some of which are similar to characteristics of most current mass marathon psychotherapy training sessions:
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.
groups were determined to be 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."
Many LGATs have been called "cult-like" or even labeled as "cults" largely because of coercive persuasion techniques they frequently employ during thier programs.
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