I have never said that Landmark Education is a "cult."
And also see [forum.culteducation.com
These disclaimers are linked from every page.
Landmark is a very controversial company that presents large group awareness training (LGAT) programs.
Indeed, Landmark Education "has come under some very intense public criticism" and for good reasons.
Landmark, formerly known as EST, is a private for-profit enterprise run by the siblings of Werner Erhard (aka Jack Rosenberg). The company has a history of personal injury lawsuits, labor violations and serious complaints from families and past participants.
Based upon the complaints I have received about both Landmark and EST since the 1980s, I would not recommend its programs to anyone under any circumstances.
This is a research study done by a clinical psychologist about such training. He points out 13 liabilities to watch out for within such programs.
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.
He also points out four dager signs.
The 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."
In my opinion Landmark exhibits all 13 liabilities and four danger signs.
Various mass marathon training programs have also allegedly used coercive persuasion techniques.
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
Coercive persuasion differs from other means of persuasion such as education, advertising, propaganda and indoctrination in distinct ways.
Such distinctions are outlined in the above linked chart by clinical psychologist and researcher Margaret Singer.
The problem with groups like Landmark is accountability.
Unless the leaders are trained and licensed mental health professionals they don't have meaningful accountability regarding their education, training and practices to a licensing body or board.
Unless they are trained and licensed as mental health professionals they specifically don't have the proper training and education to recognize the 13 liabilities completely from a professional and psychological perspective.
You have offered your opinion regarding Landmark based upon your personal subjective experience.
But after decades of presenting its programs and making many millions of dollars, despite its fantastic claims of success Landmark has never funded a scientific study that has been peer reviewed and published based upon something other than anecdotal evidence.
Specifically, how has Landmark's programs been objectively and professionally evaluated concerning content, potential risks, liabilities and scientifically measurable objective results?
For example, objectively measurable results might include such things as a higher grade point average experienced by students, increased job income, lower divorce rate, reduced need for psychological counseling, lower rate of prescribed medication for anxiety or depression, etc. notably sustained by its graduates over a period of time after completing its programs.
Instead Landmark offers essentially polls and surveys such as its so-called "Harvard study" based upon anecdotal evidence and subjective opinion.
FYI--Harverd didn't appreciate its name being used by Landmark.
Bottom line--people are safer going through counseling, group therapy or educational programs supervised and led by licensed professionals accountable to licensing boards and bodies, such as clinical psychologists, pscychiatrists, marriage and family therapists etc. There are also accredited programs for continuing education regarding various subjects of interest provided by community colleges and universities.
A support group and/or group therapy focused on a particular concern or issue is also often available through community social service agencies led and/or facilitated by a properly trained and licensed professional.
These are the safer alternatives offered within most communities that people often forget about before becoming involved in unlicensed and essentially not accountable mass marathon training or large group awareness training (LGAT) groups and companies.
Before signing a waiver required by Landmark to take its programs (e.g. the Forum), which relinquishes the right to a trial by jury regarding any potential personal injury claim, people should consider the above points very carefully.
Think about it.
Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/24/2009 08:15AM by rrmoderator.