Landmark Forum Escapee
Posted by: funkypants ()
Date: April 24, 2004 05:07PM

My sister signed me up for the forum. She and my father had been bugging me to take it for over a year, and I promised I would do it, so when she offered I said OK.
I had read some things that made me think it was "culty", but the people I know who have done it are fairly normal and seem to function well, and most importantly don't seem obsessed with Landmark, so I went in with some minor apprehension but an open mind. I made a deal with myself that I would evaulate at the end of each day whether I wanted to continue with the next day.
So the first day starts off.

Smiley happy people standing outside the building leading people in. Reminded me of some evangelical types. I blew it off.

Inside, kind of confusing. I had been told to arrive at 8:20 even though the class started at 9:00, in case there were logistical issues. But all I had to do was pick up my name tag. No paperwork, no nothing. I'm 40 minutes early for no apparent reason.

I walk towards what I think is the classroom and ask the first "official" looking person where I should be. Instead of answering my question she tells me I should put on my name tag. Ummmmkay.

So I'm here 40 minutes early for nothing and now I'm getting attitude...

Go outside, chill, check email, etc.

Then the class starts.
Seats are way to close together. I'm a big dude. Uncomfortable.
The manipulation begins. The forum leader badgers all the people in the back to move up front to leave room for latecomers.

And verbal patterns are grating on me. She can't say "The sky is blue." She has to say "The sky is... what? Blue." Like she needs audience response. Or else it's "Raise your hands if you think the sky is blue."

Anyways it goes on. She spends 3 hours basically hyping the course and talking about how we will want to "enroll" others. At no point is there any useful content. I can understand that the process may be more important than the content, but I am a busy person. Sitting there for three hours in an uncomfortable chair with no breaks, and no content, ridiculous. And we are supposed to have 5 sessions like this per day, for 3 days?

She tells us about the dinner break and how we should eat in groups. I'm sorry, after 10 hours cooped up with these people I am going to want to get as far away as possible and talk about ANYTHING but the class.

Also during this first session she explains about the microphones around the room and "sharing". A couple of people get up for no apparent reason and start "sharing" about their messed up family relationships. They seem a little fake. And it seems incongruous, because nothing the leader said really had anything to do with what these people are talking about. They are going from zero to weepy family confession in way to short of a time. There were three or four "sharings" of this type. People are clapping a little too enthusiastically after each one.

About this time, a few people are feeling like me, and go to the mic and either complain about the course (Where's the Beef?) or question some of (quite skimpy) conceptual material which has been covered. The leader's responses are bascially manipulative double speak, filled with illogic and ridiculous language like "Being present to the possibility of unlimited possibilities is a possibility."

At this point my eyes are glazing over and I am thinking about the productive things I could be doing at work or at home and my eyes wander around the room and I see... The first three people who shared, the ones who seemed fake, walking into the room together and returning to their seats. What a coincidence, eh?

Anyways right before the first break she asks that anybody who is not "open to enrollment in possibilities" (or some other mumbojumbo, I forget the exact words), should stand up and go to the back office to get a full refund. I was surprised by this, and hesitated, and she actually started to go on to the next topic, but I stood up.

She didn't acknowledge me, so I headed out. I explained to the staffer that I felt I would be wasting my sister's money by continuing, and that I wanted to take the leader's offer to get out now and get the refund. She tried to talk me into staying there, using more mumbo jumbo, but I put my foot down and basically tuned her out until she stopped talking.

She asked for my nametag and said we would get the refund. I asked if there was any paperwork and she said no. I would have liked a receipt or something. Wonder if we will get the refund?

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Landmark Forum Escapee
Posted by: Dafellah ()
Date: April 24, 2004 08:29PM

Hi Funkypants

I believe you should be congratulated in standing up and walking out, it takes courage especially as to the way Landmark attempts to control people.

What you have described is exactly what appears to happen in all forums. In our case, if we wanted to leave and get a refund it was based on whether "as participants we are coachable", if not then leave.

The problem was no one could leave because we had not been told anything other then the course leader reading out the waiver on the application form but nothing about the forum content or its intentions.

Do not be too suprised if you get phone calls from them, I warn you now they are persistent and might try it on with getting you back to a course.

I have attended a forum for the four days and have had grave doubts about some of the concepts they attempt to instill in people.

Again, well done.


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Landmark Forum Escapee
Posted by: kittypaw ()
Date: May 17, 2004 10:04PM

I'm dealing with a friend who is still in Landmark land. She's done Intro, Advanced, and the 10 wk program and is going to take SELP.

She was especially bugged by my assertion that Landmark was a cult and keeps going back to it to try to change my mind. I've conceded that Landmark is not a 'cult' in terms of not having a venerated central leader, but that it is 'cultish.'

(This still bugs her of course.) Her argument is that 12 step programs also have jargon and encourage like-minded people to meet. My next point is that Landmark, unlike 12-step, does not recruit new members.

Any other pointers ppl can give me would be appreciated...


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Landmark Forum Escapee
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: May 17, 2004 11:08PM

Kopp did the SELP training and worked as a volunteer for LEC.

Kopp points out (at the end of the article) that the verbal material in LEC feels powerful and meaningful only when subjects stay within the atypical, tightly scripted physical and social setting engineered by LEC.

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Landmark Forum Escapee
Posted by: tricky ()
Date: May 18, 2004 08:31AM


in my previous posts, I've laid out some steps that I found were helpful with a situation like yours. To really argue it logically and philosophically with the person might seem like a good idea, but can be counterproductive, and here's why: firstly, the subject is probably not interested in philosophy/psychology, really, and was only coachable/teachable for that 46 hours of intense training when they were essentially coerced... and then after that they basically refreeze. Also, they observe the FL constantly put down any logical objections as "philosophizing" or "therapy" or "psychology" etc etc. As soon as you start to "philosophize" they just tune you out immediately because the forum isn't about "logic" --- it's about "transformation" and "getting it".

The subject, however, won't really understand what "transformation" and "getting it" really are, though, because they aren't taught. I definitely recommend to you to approach in an indirect manner. If you observe, you will pick up on subconscious clues (inconguities) in the landmark person's behavior. Example "yes I love landmark" while shaking head "no", or vice versa. Basically, it is hard to get through to them directly because there is a very strong program (racket?) kind of running in the background, which is landmark-landmark-landmark. You HAVE to communicate on the level they are at... get inside the landmark jargon etc., but really connect with your friend... and raise doubts. Believe me I have seen landmark people in social settings and they bang on the things they don't like about the system, too, to an extent... although they tend to be scared of it somehow... almost like it's a religion or something.

The main points I think to subtly get through to your friend are:

1. You don't know the landmark leaders personally and are trusting them
way too fast with your life. SLOW DOWN and value yourself.

2. Landmark is not the only way to create change in your life. There are many other similar type things to landmark, some a lot EASIER and more EFFECTIVE and even FUN.

3. You are not bound to landmark... you are free to go if you so choose.
You PAID for your seminar, you don't OWE them anything, and if you want to leave, then it will be FUN and you will have new freedom and your life will still "work".

4. Emphasize the whole "be free of your programming" logic... get into the discussion of "waking up" to the illusions of your life and that life is meaningless... then turn that back on landmark... ("well, if everything is meaningless, then it doesn't make any difference if you leave landmark. You are free and don't need anything or anybody, you can create your own happiness" etc etc.)

And again, try to find ways indirectly to get the message through to your friend. Like, for instance, instead of telling them LE is a cult, tell them about your "friend" who was in the moonies or something and how they were indoctrinated etc. Anytime you can tell them a story about something unrelated and they say out of the blue "Landmark's not like that" or "well, landmark's not a cult" then you know you just scored, because they're thinking about it. Also, the "hypnosis and beyond" video is a real eye opener, you will definitely hear "LE's not like that" a few times, and just be like "huh? what do you mean? I didn't say anything about LE. I just thought this was an interesting video."

1. suggest/show/reveal indirectly that LE is restricting and that they are not obligated to it

2. teach them about manipulative techniques if you can

3. open their mind to what cults really are and how things can seem so normal but are really highly manipulative. point out the really weird things about landmark (such as the seating, the nametags, the rules, the hours, the lingo ) and the things that they NEVER would've done before (such as sitting in a chair for 16 hours at a time, etc. ). But bring those things up in the form of questions, subtly... questions that require answers. For example, instead of "well isn't it cultish to sit for 15 hours being 'trained'?"
ask "well, did 15 hours get boring? Were you tired? How will I handle it?"
note: if they remember being uncomfortable and bored stiff they will be remembering how it was really like and how they used to think before they "got it".

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Landmark Forum Escapee
Posted by: kittypaw ()
Date: May 19, 2004 10:17PM

thanks, tricky!!! --valerie

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