similarities between LGAT and pop psychology?
Posted by: Sylvia ()
Date: September 10, 2004 09:15PM


Hey Savernake,

Yes, I have had an interesting life. It sure has worn me out though. I’m still in recovery - from the ‘Workhardist Cult’. I started working when I was 26 and nothing could get me out of the cult until my step-father’s illness and death when I was 38. It has all been wacky since then. My exit experience from the cult has been difficult but it is starting to pay off. I can laugh now without worrying that it automatically means that I’m going manic. Yes, I have had a ‘sense of humor phobia’ for the last few years. I’m not kidding.

About the lack of self help material in the 1970’s I think my perception of the lack of availability had to do with just looking at my mother’s experience. Considering the difference in your and my ages - I’m 49 - my mother was at least ten years older than your parents, so she was farther out of the pop psychology loop. She definitely wasn’t going to do EST. Even if she would have found it appealing, and she would not have, she might have ended up in the psych ward fifteen years earlier than she did. What she did do was read a few books that were out at the time, besides her closet counselling sessions. The only titles I remember now are, ‘I’m Okay, You’re Okay’, and ‘The Games People Play’.

But, come to remember it, she also bought ‘The Prophet’ by Kahlil Gibran! So maybe she was a reincarnated Sufi in disguise! (laughing). I read a Sufi poem at her graveside service. I didn’t make the conscious connection until just now . . . But my religious uncle smacked me around a little (chastised me) with a stern comment and then closed the service with a Christian prayer. Oh dear . . . Am I like my mother or what! She would have smacked him back with at least a raised eyebrow if she would have been alive!

So, are you going to investigate your mother’s reading list? She must have it hidden somewhere. Or, do you already know where she got it all? (laughing) God, I’m such an investigator. So was my mother. I love it.


P.S. I got the information on how men and women communicate differently from the book,
‘You Just Don’t Understand’, by Deborah Tannen.


similarities between LGAT and pop psychology?
Posted by: Sylvia ()
Date: September 10, 2004 11:00PM


Hey Savernake,

I was just thinking about the ‘Best Sister Contest’ you were in. You may not have won officially, but I have learned recently that the ‘rebel’ kids in a family are actually the most sane. Their behavior is a pain in the butt to the rest of the tribe just because they are trying to point out how their parents and siblings are really hurting each other. They try to get the tribe to stop what they are doing and the others in the tribe don’t want to. To change their behavior would be an admission that they were WRONG. Of course we know how the status quo people react to protesters . . . So you found relief by joining a new tribe - the British tribe. They can relate to you and they don’t clash with you and drag you down.

I didn’t have a sister - well I did. She was born two years before I was but she only lived two days and took herself out of the contest before it started. It was tragic and very painful for my mother. I got that. So, my friends had to fill in in my ‘Sister Contest’. Boy did I get some good contestants! We did all kinds of crap to each other. The ‘Your boyfriend is my boyfriend’ game, the ‘You aren’t good enough for him so he must be seeing someone else game’, etc. It was so typical. That last game was one that my friend who just tried to enroll me in the Forum pulled on me when I happened upon a GORGEOUS Persian guy during my first year in college. She was so jealous that she just couldn’t resist pulling out the knife and giving me a little poke with that comment. It wasn’t the first time she did something like that though.

In high school when my mother took us off for a year-long stay in another state, my friend decided that my boyfriend at the time was her boyfriend and started hanging out with him. Another friend called me and told me about it. I thought she was talking about another guy we knew who had the same name, so I just said, ‘Yeah, so?’ She didn’t clarify and say, ‘No Sylvia, I mean your ‘Phil’, not the other ‘Phil’.’ So when we moved back home the other friend eventually clarified it to me and I called my boyfriend stealer friend and told her to come and get a bathing suit she had left at my house. I gave her what for and booted her out of my life - for a while. She got married to a guy she barely knew that summer - to get away from her mother - a very verbally abusive alcoholic. I witnessed some of her rages. Her favorite weapon to use against my friend, and her other daughters (besides her mouth) was a brush. I was describing my memories of her mother to her last summer. She had NO MEMORY of her mother being so violent. NONE. So she is one of my teachers on the topic of memory blocks.

We had a conversation about ‘The Boyfriend Stealing Game’ a few years ago. She said that at the time she didn’t think I cared about him. How she got that idea (excuse) I don’t know. Maybe I’ll call her in to the station for further questioning. (I’m thinking of Helen Mirren’s character in the ‘Prime Suspect’ series!) We need to investigate and solve other cases of boyfriend stealing that went on in our sometimes vicious girl gang and other aspects of the teenage boyfriends. We were so interchangeable in their minds. That’s how teenage boys were - and still are. We’ll also discuss that memory block she has on her mother . . . It’s like mental martial arts!

She called me the other day. I’ll put that in the ‘Saying No To EST and Landmark’ thread.

I feel like I'm in an episode of 'CSI - Best Friends'. And you Savernake are in an episode of 'Mission Impossible'. Your mission Savernake, should you choose to accept it, is to find a new way to communicate with your family. The are no rules. Well, you could use one if you need it - the Golden Rule.

This tape will self destruct in 30 seconds . . .

Sylvia (laughing)


similarities between LGAT and pop psychology?
Posted by: Savernake ()
Date: September 11, 2004 12:20AM

Hope -- I missed your post where you described getting your money back from the Forum -- well done you!

Sylvia: your friends sound competitive -- I can't really understand the motivation for going for your boyfriends. Perhaps it was a case of wanting whatever you had?

as to my mother's reference list (yay! still on topic! :) ), she too had Games People Play and I'm OK, You're Okay and The Prophet. She also had The Power of Positive Thinking and Think and Grow Rich and The Feminine Mystique and How to Win Friends and Influence People. She had loads more (dozens, maybe even close to 100), but I really did feel that one of her main influences was New Woman magazine. I say that because I'd read the magazine after she did, and I'd often notice how she'd start doing whatever was in the magazine. Like once she read an article about how parents spend too much time ferrying their kids around and how you should stand up for yourself and refuse to be a chauffeur. So she did -- never drove me anywhere from the age of 7 until I left the house at 17. Then she read something about how kids shouldn't get an allowance for doing chores, they should just help out anyway as family members, and out went the allowance (keep in mind, she wasn't poor or anything -- my brother and I started selling various things to get pocket money so I guess you could say that it gave us an entrepreneurial advantage :) ). Or the time she read an article exhorting the reader to contact their mothers and tell them how great they were. I don't know if she phoned her mother (she didn't like her much), but she this did start her on her longest running catchphrase: "Day in, day out, work my fingers to the bone for you ungrateful kids and you never even say 'thank you'!" Took me a few years to work that one out, and one day it clicked and I said, "Actually, I do say thank you, all the time. What I don't say is, 'Thank you Mom, Just for being you' or 'Thank you Mother, for having brought me in to the world', and I don't say that because it sounds stilted. do you really want me to say that just to be saying that?"

As for the way of communicating with my family, ironically, I am the only one who doesn't seem to get into feuds with everyone else. Or at least, I'm the only one who hasn't gotten into feuds with any of the others in adulthood. Sometimes I've felt like a go between (all the way from England!) -- they pass on messages to me about each other, and I guess they think I'm going to pass them on (I don't, no way. I don't want to get involved in all that). And it was me who talked my Dad into speaking to my sister again (he was packing his bags saying, "I've had it, she's crazy, I can't take any more"). Even when I was younger I felt like I played go between (I know that doesn't sound like it makes sense from what I've written before about my relationship with family -- but you have to keep in mind that a lot of the source of my bristling and frustration was that I am fairly logical whereas my family members tend to be very emotional. Sometimes my logic infuriated them as much as their emotionality/lack of reason aggrieved me, but I couldn't really have been described as the black sheep of the family. My Father and brother stopped speaking on a few occasions and I'm pretty sure that on each occasion it was me who brought them back together. Not because I'm such a big cheerleader for my brother, I just couldn't stand to see how blind they were to each other (my Dad hasn't got a clue about communication -- I'd see him saying stuff to my brother and think, "Can't he see how patronising that is? Can't he tell that's just going to light the blue touch paper?" -- I remember being 11 years old and explaining to my Dad that he and my brother had so many fights because my brother was 16 and starting to feel like an adult, but Dad was still treating him like a child. Imagine an 11 year old explaining that to a 52 year old! Totally out of character, my Dad actually took that on -- !! -- and they started to get on better after that.)

None of which really matters -- they all still drive me nuts so there's probably still room for improvement as far as communication goes :)

similarities between LGAT and pop psychology?
Posted by: Sylvia ()
Date: September 12, 2004 09:16AM


Hey Savernake!

You sure had a challenging mother. She really kept you going didn’t she? (laughing) I hope you don’t mind me using some humor here, like the ‘Mission Impossible’ theme. It helps me deal with MY mother right now. She was such a non-communicator, verbally anyway.

So, I guess that the New Woman Magazine was kind of your mother’s daily battle plan material. Maybe it had concrete examples that she could just pull out easily and put into practice, whereas her other reading was more ‘academic’ stuff. It was great that you figured out that hey, you did say thank you and pointed it out to her. But it took a while and it must have been hurtful in the meantime, living with the ‘reputation’ of being ungrateful. And it must have bugged the crap out of you that she had that mis-perception in her mind.

I am, and always have been, in a similar position with my brothers. I observed more when we were growing up and tried to be logical and practical about our situation with our parents. They didn’t expect me to be a go between person actually but when we were very young my little brother - 3 years younger than I - would ‘freak out’ and cry when he was scared or angry - like when my parents would go out at night, leaving us alone without a baby sitter. Nice, huh? I would tell him not to cry, it was pointless, and it would give him a headache. Actually though he expressed his emotions, and probably slept better at night! My older brother - 4 years older than I - didn’t cry by that time. He just went to sleep, and I couldn’t wake him up for ANYTHING, even once when the parents went out boozing when I had the flu. I felt very alone that night, throwing up in ye olde toilet. I was about 7 or 8 years old at the time. I understand my older brother’s ‘sleeping habit’ better now. He was just ‘checking out’. He felt as unsafe as I and my younger brother did.

Our parents did a lot of dangerous behaviors with us, like driving drunk with us in the back seat of the car. Both of them did that. Somehow they managed not to kill us. My father didn’t make it though. After several car accidents during his life, usually driving into ditches, he finally bit the dust when I was nine years old. Eight months later my mother married another full blown alcoholic on Halloween. She called us from Nevada, where they got married to announce the good news - after the fact. As I have said, she was a non-communicator, even on a big decision like that she didn’t consult with us before she made a decision. The only decision we were allowed to make was what to call our new alcoholic. We decided to call him by his first name. We children basically ignored both of them for the next ten years, and vice versa. My mother always kept a job, but like my father, my step-father rarely worked and created shit loads of drama. Finally my step-father quit drinking - after hallucinating during one of his frequent motel room binges - and he did it cold turkey. I admired that. He was a hardworking, responsible person after that. My mother never did give up the booze. I understand why now. It was still painful then.

I can totally understand an 11 year old explaining a situation to her 53 year old father. You had less practice ‘not noticing’ than he did. He was on auto-pilot whether his thoughts and behaviors worked well or not. He didn’t want to ‘notice’ that it wasn’t working, so you had to fill in the blanks for him. I’m glad he ‘got it’ and the relationship changed a little.

I’m doing this with my older brother right now. He has almost drunk himself to death. He only started drinking eight years ago when his other addictive behaviors stopped working. His health is in jeopardy and it’s scaring his children. They aren’t very young chronologically but my brother’s and his ex-wife’s lack of awareness has kept them ‘in the dark’ so to speak. My brother’s permissiveness and his ex-wife’s denial and enabling of all of them is getting them all into a deep hole. So, the ex-wife called me for help. She has little credibility with my brother right now.

So, as opposed to ignoring them, which I have been doing for the last few years, which I have had to do to maintain MY sanity, I have agreed to help her (all of them really) as much as I can without hurting myself in the process. I’m working with the ‘ . . . courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference’ part of the serenity prayer. I think that sometimes people get stuck on the ‘God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,’ part of that. It’s a good part. Sometimes we just can’t change other people. But, we can give them information, hang out, have them over for dinner, offer alternative ways of viewing situations, etc. We can’t MAKE them change, but we can HOPE to have some positive effect. I have learned a lot about not going over the edge with them over the last few years, so I’ll just keep plugging along - occasionally but regularly - and hope for the best. Meanwhile I’ll be taking care of myself and working on my own future.

My parents were sort of 'The Anti-parents'. They loved us more in their thoughts than in their actions. But, it helped me think for myself and I learned not to necessarily trust authority figures in all situations. That saved me SOME trouble over the years. I learned to 'think on my feet'and adapt my behavior to different and potentially dangerous situations. It hurt me too in that I have had difficulty trusting people and committing in relationships. So, now I am more aware and can make different choices than I did in the past.

All families drive each other nuts to one degree or another. I just hope you won’t ever allow yours to drive you literally crazy. I did, but never again . . . Right now ye olde Depakote drug is assisting me on that. Ah! Mood stabilizers. So useful sometimes.

See ya later,


similarities between LGAT and pop psychology?
Posted by: liebnitz ()
Date: September 15, 2004 01:50PM

Hi Sylvia,

I enjoyed reading your posts. You made some good points but I'd like to clarifiy something regarding your comments/question below:

"Justin Sterling, whatever his real name is, has used this fact to create his men’s weekends - unfortunately . . . He’s over-doing it and getting in his punches at women and turning them into evil ‘bitches’ in the way he uses them during the weekend. Of course it is staged that way to goad the men into getting back to their tougher style and they get to release some anger about women that they have saved up, but somehow it just seems to make it worse. I don’t know . . . there’s something very wrong there. Do the men deal with their ‘father issues’? Or is it a bad mommy versus idealized, good daddy thing? "

There is no "bad mommy thing" going on here. In fact there is no discussion of Mothers in the Men's Weekend. Andthe women that volunteer in the Men's Weekend don't participate because it will make men hate women. On the contrary, many of them do it because their own relationships have been enriched by participating in Sterling or men they know have benefited from the Men's Weekend.

My wife did it many years ago and a couple of years ago I did the Men's Weekend to essentially "join" her "cult". I was more than pleasantly surprised by the seminar. The take home message was about saving children from the ravages of divorce by keeping marriages together. Treating your wife with more love, respect, and tolerance for differences was emphasized. It was the opposite of what some posts on this website would have you believe.

Justin Sterling's birth name was Arthur Kassarjian. He's a bit of an egotistical jerk at times but he has put together something that has worked for some people. My marriage has never been stronger and although I hate to admit it, a short, fat, arrogant bastard named Justin Sterling has to get some credit for renewed passion and deeper love between my wife and me.

similarities between LGAT and pop psychology?
Posted by: rrmoderator ()
Date: September 15, 2004 08:42PM

The above post is misleading.

See []

This was written by a Sterling graduate.

Note the "$50 buck tips."

Also see []

I have received many complaints about Sterling. Marriages have been broken up by Sterling's teachings and Sterling's philosophy didn't save his marriage.

See []

Sterling is an old "ESTie" and based a large part of his "weekend" on the course now known as the Landmark Forum.

See []

Mixed into Sterling's message is a bit of Robert Bly "Iron John" and John Gray's general teachings.

To better understand the problems often posed by mass marathon training programs--

See []

I would not recommend the Sterling programs to anyone under any circumstances.

similarities between LGAT and pop psychology?
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: September 16, 2004 03:21AM


According this this article, the former participant reported:


'Meanwhile, the whole thing was being video taped'.

I would not want to be part of a videotaped event unless told about the videotaping process well before arriving, and before I'd paid or signed anything whatsoever.

I hope that videotaping is not typical of a Sterling event and is no longer being done. It would completely violate informed consent for people NOT to be told [i:299aa85f71]well in advance [/i:299aa85f71]that they were going to be videotaped.

And even then, I'd only participate if given a written, legally binding guarantee that the videotaped material would remain confidential.

By way of contrast, we have had instructors videotaped at our gym and at a Zen Center I visited,and great lengths were taken to preserve confidentiality.

At the Zen Center, we were told one week in advance that the lecture would be videotaped, and that only the speaker would be filmed--not the audience. That ensured that anyone who felt the slightest bit uncomfortable could choose, whether or not to attend that future lecture.

And at the gym, the only person videotaped was our instructor--and even then, she asked our permission in advance.

similarities between LGAT and pop psychology?
Posted by: liebnitz ()
Date: September 16, 2004 01:36PM

One of your links in response to my Sterling comments had this quote:

" also frequently inquired as to the relevance of the Sterling message to the gay and lesbian community. Although the organization purports to heal relationships, which couldn't be further from the truth, I couldn't understand how it was relevant to many of the people living in the San Francisco Bay Area. My boyfriend assured me that there were many gay and lesbian Sterling members, but he never could explain how the teachings applied to them. If Sterling's entire plan for living revolves around satisfying a man and helping him achieve true manhood, what's in it for lesbians? Or the male partner of a man pulled into Sterling? "

I don't no what is in it for Lesbians or Gay men but I do know that one of Justin Sterling's closests confidants who is heavily involved helping to develop his programs is in fact a lesbian. I know her significant other much better and she is also heavily involved. They are both wonderful women that are very successful professionally and appear to be getting a lot from their Sterling participation.

Now why would 2 successful, intelligent Lesbians support the work of this purported misogynist? It doesn't add up.

Rick, is this the best stuff you can come up with? The anonymous post of a former girlfriend of some misguided guy who probably was misinterpreting what he himself had heard? Anonymous posts of third hand information.

The other link points out some of the crude things said in the Men's weekend. Much of it is accurate but not in context. It was "locker room humor" used in a hyperbolic style. It was meant to be humorous, not taken seriously. And it was meant to stay in the locker room. I'm convinced if women new what men were thinking they'd never stop slapping us!

He also talks about "short term recreational relationships" with the women in their weekend. I don't know what he tells them. But he often uses humor and hyperbole to make a point. Some people take him too literally. I can also see how some people would be offended. That's why it's not for everybody. I don't agree with his views on the "short term recreational" stuff. But it could be I missed out on a lot of fun before I settled down with my wife. i still had fun mind you, but I still feel a little guilty about it(Catholic)!

The follow up programs were not for me so I am not involved anymore. But through my wife I sometimes see these people socially. Some of them are quite decent people. In fact most of them are. There a little to touchy feely for my taste but the world is made up of lot's of folk.

Some are even queer folk, and that's OK.

similarities between LGAT and pop psychology?
Posted by: rrmoderator ()
Date: September 16, 2004 09:19PM


Thanks for the admissions, despite the spin you attempted to place upon them. Sterling's quoted statements are quite telling and their intent is self-evident.

Apparently you are not concerned that you were probably videotaped naked during the weekend you participated in.

See []

But those who share their persoanl stories anonymously here anonymously obviously are embarrassed by their previous association or involvement with Sterling and wish to remain anonymous for that reason.

Justin Sterling was convicted for fraud previous to starting his weekend. He has no license as a relationship counselor or any professional training. He is apparently a high school graduate without a college degree.

Mr. Sterling has nothing to recommend him, other than his personal experience, which is a failed marriage. His divorce included abuse allegations, which warranted court ordered supervised visitation with his daughter.

Sterling is a for-profit privately owned company with a history of bad press, complaints (including the Better Business Bureau in San Francisco) and allegations of personal injury. NBC News broadcast two critical reports in both LA and NYC regarding Sterling and cited his criminal record, this news broadcast included statements made on camera by victims of the Sterling programs.

There are obviously many alternatives to Sterling, which are far less risky and controversial for married couples and singles than Sterling. This would include counseling with a local licensed marriage and family counselor, clergy, support groups run through local social services, community centers or churches and consultation with a board certified clinical psychologist.

Again, the following paper outlines in some detail the inherent risks posed by mass marathon training.

See []

Sterling has been repeatedly accused of using coercive persuasion.

To better understand such techniques see the following links:




And for anyone approached by a Sterling devotee about the weekend you can read detailed accounts about the weekend and review press articles at the following section within the Ross Institute database.

See []

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