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Insight vs Breakthrough from doing Landmark Forum
Posted by: Katydid ()
Date: January 22, 2003 01:19AM

Hi Hope:

I am back after a break, although I have been checking the boards and following the discussion. I haven't felt up to contributing - but I am here, now.

So, I did the Landmark Forum this past weekend and the conclusion is this evening. By background, my first LF was in 1996 and I did the Advanced Course in 1999. I have never done a seminar, although I am now signed up for one.

So, first, I wanted to get back to what I perceive you may have gotten out of LF. The problem, of course, is that I didn't know you before your experience with it.

From reading your posts, you seem like you are:

1. Well Read and Well Informed: you are well-read and well-informed about both your own medical conditions and LF.

2. Committed: You seem very committed to helping inform others about LF and about the experience you had with your therapist, i.e. the experience of being disbelieved and unknowingly (by your therapist) manipulated. Your commitment to informing others may be extremely helpful to folks who read about your experiences. I assume you also inform and discuss with folks in your everyday life.

3. Open-minded: Despite the miserable experience that you had, you seem to be open-minded to other people's experiences, to the fact that someone may get something out of LF . . .

4. Responsible for yourself and wellbeing: Additionally, you seem to have taken your medical issues by the horn and are not relying on others to tell you the real deal.

As I said, you may have been all of these things before LF, but it sounds like your experience was so intense and so unpleasant, that you have tackled the issues you discuss with tremendous vigor. I find that admirable.

So the LF weekend was fine. I am a federal criminal prosecutor by profession - I approached LF and LEC with cynicism and skepticism and did a lot more reading about it before I went this past weekend. So - things that drive me nuts about it are the evangelical nature of the format, the jargon, lexicon or whatever, and the invite everyone you know (and don't know) to Tuesday night and here-ever-after multi-level marketing stuff. None of my skepticism or cynicism changed and all of those same things drove me nuts this past weekend.

I nontheless decided to review LF because I did find it helpful the first time I went (less so the Advanced Course) and am hoping that it will be helpful this time around, too. Where I am in my life is I am 41, recently married to the most amazing person, disabled, in chronic-pain, not currently working. I come from a chaotic family with an alcoholic parent and was sexually abused as a child. I left home at age fifteen. In the past copuple of years, I had a horrible set of things occur in my work place (probably another website for that!) and have no interest in going back when I am medically able to do so.

So, why go back to LF: First, it was something to do. Second, Iwanted to meet some new people since I am home and isolated so much of the time. Third, LF/LEC staff and volunteers are very positive people with a can-do attitude. Finally, For the last year, I have not seen a professional future or satisfying personal future. For me, the LF concept of "story" and "racket" have been helpful - For example, I realize that every time I begin to think about a professional future or meeting new people, I make up about 4.2billion resons why it won't work, it'll never happen, it's stupid, it's pointless, people will ridicule me. . . blah blah blah. Did I know this before I went to LF? Yes. Did sitting through three days of other people explaining why they were destined to be unhappy help me examine myself more closely? Yes. What did I take away from it - a renewed sense that if I want something to happen in my life, it's up to me to make it happen, despite the 4.2billion reasons why I think or feel it won't.

I think you are fundamentally correct that LF does utilize cognitive behavioral therapy techniques (and probably others). Great book called the Feeling Good Handbook, by the way, outlines the basic principles and gives practical exercises in gognitive therapy. I won't call the techniques LF/LEC uses therapy, because therapy is designed to help people get well and feel better; I think LEC is designed to get people to think in a particular way and assumes that the outcome will always be "better" and, of course, it is designed to make money. Going back to the camera/film/Washington Monument analogy from my earlier post, I think the biggest problem with LEC is that people who attend the programs conclude (as LEC says its so) that LEC's viewpoint is the only one, the right one, the best one, etc. It's like folks completely abandon every ounce of comon-sense and life experience. Hello?

So - I guess my experience with LF is a mixed bag - I share so many of the concerns that other folks have about the consequences of running out into the world and using all the jargon on people who have no clue what you're talking about or droning on and on to anyone who will listen (i.e., close friends, family, people at the bu stop!). Isn't it still the individual who does that that is responsible for the consequences of exercising no independent judgment or discretion? I think a lot of folks who come to LF are fundamentally unhappy with themselves, their jobs, their families and their lives and are especially vulnerable to falling off the edge if given a push (or even a strong breeze).

I can relate, as I have suffered for depression for 10 years and I mean MAJOR depression; I see a pyschiatrist now. Isn't every individual responsible (whether vulnerable or not) for deciding whether to attend a program like LF and for exactly what they take out of the program? If I were so depressed as to be vulnerable, I wouldn't do Landmark or anything similar. I won't even watch a sad film or talk with any of the toxic folks in my family when I'm depressed, 'cause I know it could be the thing that pushes me over the edge in the great bottomless chasm.

Whatever else happens, I hope that anyone who has any type of bad experience - from LF to personal tragedy to professional disaster to bitter divorce - can find a way to enjoy the rest of their lives. I have a brother who calls himself a born-again Christian. Maybe he is - but he has spent since 1975 (27 years+), being angry and complaining about every single thing that has ever happened to him (and not to him) inside our family). It dominates his every waking minute. His anger and frustration have ruined his life. According to him, all of his siblings are going to hell. It's really sad to see him suffering. Whatever your experience with LF - live your life. Whether its for 15 minutes or the next 50 years - its your life and you deserve to be happy. Don't let the landmark kooks (as I call them) continue to dominate your thoughts the way they did during the LF. If you got something out of what they propose - great. If not - great. Even if all you got was that you absolutely do not subscribe to what they sell . . . at least you can take their viewpoint and put it in the garbage.

Anyway my arms are about done for the moment, although I still have lots to say!

Regards - K

p.s. Are you just dying to know whether I had a "BREAKTHROUGH" or transformation?

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Insight vs Breakthrough from doing Landmark Forum
Posted by: Hope ()
Date: January 22, 2003 12:31PM

No - I'm not dying as I don't believe that LE provides the tools for any kind of breakthrough. They go back on their word regarding their definitions of breakthrough and insight. My feeling is you got a gentle reminder that only you can do what you gotta do.

""Isn't every individual responsible (whether vulnerable or not) for deciding whether to attend a program like LF and for exactly what they take out of the program? If I were so depressed as to be vulnerable, I wouldn't do Landmark or anything similar. I won't even watch a sad film or talk with any of the toxic folks in my family when I'm depressed, 'cause I know it could be the thing that pushes me over the edge in the great bottomless chasm.""

That is pretty similar to narcissistic blame-shifting. People going into Landmark have no clue what they are getting into because Landmark does not say up front what they are about, so if they do go in, have a negative experience, Landmark just washes their hands of the whole experience. They don't even want to know what the problem was. They displayed to me in many ways how they are not really concerned for the wellbeing of their participants. Their replies to my concerns was just a blanket statement - The Forum is going to help you see your situation clearly and we guarantee a breakthrough.

I have no doubt at this point that they knew my doctor, since I learned he did ALL of Landmark's programs. Both he and LE labeled my taking responsibility of my health as my racket and a control problem. If I was just lying around complaining and doing nothing, that would also have been my racket. They've got to get out of playing doctor\therapist with people.

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Insight vs Breakthrough from doing Landmark Forum
Posted by: Katydid ()
Date: January 23, 2003 02:48AM


I know what blame shifting is but not what narcissistic blame shifting is, but I think I understand what you're saying:

If you are on safari, you can avoid or minimize the risk if snake bite and malaria because you KNOW that the snakes and the mosquitos are there. However, you cannot avoid a trap intentionally set in the trail for you because you don't know it's there, nothing you've read or studying would cause you to expect a trap and it is pirposely obfuscated by branches and leaves (what are those traps called). And if you fall in and break your leg, the folks who set it have some obligation to acknowledge that they set the trap, that they share responsibility for your injury and maybe even drop down a ladder - Not stand at the top and shout down nonsense at you ad then wlak away.

In other words, individuals are not solely responsible for what happens during the Forum or their choice to participate or to stay for the remainder because LF doesn't tell attendees what to expect, the people who introduce them don't tell you what to expect and what is going to happen (and is happening) is purposely obfuscated.

I can see your point.

Bu the way - I think how you started out this thread is really on point. Insight v. Breakthrough. It's all in the lingo.

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Insight vs Breakthrough from doing Landmark Forum
Posted by: Hope ()
Date: January 24, 2003 01:02PM


I tried to PM and email but you're not set up. If you wish to have an off-board correspondence, you can edit your profile. At the end of each post is a little menu bar. If you go to one of my posts and click on profile, you will find my email and access to PM.

I posted a reply to something you said about responsbility but I didn't write it very well. I didn't mean to imply you were a narcissistic blame shifter!

Sorry 'bout that.


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Insight vs Breakthrough from doing Landmark Forum
Posted by: Katydid ()
Date: January 25, 2003 01:05AM


Apology unnecessary, since I didn't think you intended it as a personal attack, but more a general observation about the phenomenon of blaming the injured party. I was just trying to connect the two concepts - narcissim and blame shifting.

So I tried to PM you but I can't until I change my profile. Regrettably, I can't figure out how to change my profile. I clicked on the edit profile button but didn't see an option to change PM options. Advice?

Thanks for starting this thread - having just reviewed the LF - I was much more in tune to the orignial question - insight v. breakthrough. For example, an insight I had this weekend was that I live my life "my way." "My way" has been remarkably successful, but the foundation of it is "I wanna" and "Idon't wanna." Is this bad? Is this good? Neither, necessarily. However, although I have excelled in common measure as an individual and am very successful at one-on-one interactions, I have never belonged to any group for any period of time and I always wind up walking away because I wanna do things my way, not the group way. So, I left the field hockey team, the choir, the rotary club, two different therapy groups and the list goes on and on . . .

Now, does this mean that I'm going to run out and join a group and stay in no matter what? No. But it does give me the opportunity to notice other options other than just walking away from every group. Which is good, because I am shifting professional opportunites and may benefit from being associated with groups to facilitate that . . .

So, that was an insight. Was it a breakthroguh? I don't remember the LF definition of a breakthrough, but for me, the proof is in the pudding - can I successfully integrate myself into a new professional organization, make a commitment, enjoy the experience and not spend all my energy worrying or complaiing about how the organization runs and who the queen bee is . . .

That's all for now.

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Insight vs Breakthrough from doing Landmark Forum
Posted by: Hope ()
Date: January 25, 2003 03:37AM


At the top of the page, below and to the right of the word FORUM, there is a small icon "cp user" to click. You will see a horizontal set of icons. Choose Edit Options for a bunch of options regarding private messages or email, being notified of replies to your threads, etc.


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Insight vs Breakthrough from doing Landmark Forum
Posted by: karmal64 ()
Date: February 23, 2003 01:03PM

Hi, Hope:

You said: <<When I was having second thoughts about attending the Forum, the Landmark representatives guaranteed "breakthroughs." They were very clear when they distinguished these breakthroughs from mere insight. I told them I wasn't going to waste my time and $ with the Forum if their definition of breakthrough was the same as my definition of insight. They insisted the breakthroughs would be so clear that I would know the difference. Yet, in the end, while discussing my history with a rep, she called it a breakthrough and was congratulating me. That's when I started requesting a refund. What I was discussing wasn't even insight, just rehashing old history to see where the Landmark people would take it to effect their breakthrough. >>

Clearly the "stories" technology has been "borrowed" and repackaged from rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT) and cognitive behavior therapy(CBT)(see "Feeling Good" by Dr. Burns). I've had some experience with the latter, but instead of "stories" the psychological term is cognitions; essentially that we have an experience from which we have a mental interpretation of and an internal dialog about therefrom. This internal dialog or cognition seem to correlate directly to how we feel about the situation and ourselves. There is a synergistic relationship between emotion and cognition that can spiral downward into depression and related emotions or upward towards high self esteem and similar. It was CBT that I learned of the concept of subconscious beliefs; that our feelings and behaviors can be profoundly affected (effected? Never can remember which is which) by these subconscious beliefs. But what I learned is from CBT was how to become a better observer of my automatic responses to triggering situations. And thus I had some astonishing experiences that I would term epiphanies, insight, breakthroughs or a rose by another name. And I paid less than 7 bucks for the book, and all I had to do was a lot of writing and experiment with doing things alone versus with other people. It was a very enlightening experience that in a way I guess is really never over, for it seems that there is always something to learn about one's self. Unfortunately Landmark realizes this and uses it to perpetuate itself indefinitely with also minimal overhead and a work force that is almost entirely pro bono. Evil genius that. I guess what I'm trying to say in perhaps an overly verbose manner is that we can have insights or breakthroughs with just a book, a pencil and some paper. I thought it all sounded too simple and obvious to have any merit or power. I was very wrong, and I have benefited greatly. I concede that Landmark has the potential for benefit by virtue of the fact that it illegally uses the aforementioned psychological techniques; but it twists them by inserting its own self-serving cognitions into the all-too-ready-to-accept brain of the trainee. Anything that can be used for good can also be used for evil. Clearly it would take little imagination to subvert REBT or CBT to insert harmful cognitions into an individual thus making them think that Landmark has a monopoly on "insight" and that they must spend there life perpetually in yet again another advanced forum. When is enough ever enough for these forum junkies? I doubt that they even know themselves. Is it by design? I wouldn't be surprised in the least. Why sell something only once when you can turn each customer into a long-term source of revenue. Like I said: Evil genius.

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Insight vs Breakthrough from doing Landmark Forum
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: February 23, 2003 11:37PM

I will go looking for his books!

There is another big difference between your experience working on yourself using Dr Burn's books, vs Landmark: you created your own learning enviroment when you worked on yourself using Burns' books. In many problematic LGATs, the social environment is imposed on you, and its not a learning environment--its an indoctrination set up.

In the problematic LGATs you are in in a controlled and highly controlling environment that makes you focus attention on the trainer. You're given all kinds of cues to focus outside of yourself, bond with the group, and a combination of fatigue and sensory deprivation is used to make you highly suggestible. You risk become estranged from your own inner process, estranged from your adult capacity for critical thinking and inner reflection.

Plus, you pay several hundred dollars to do most LGATs. This puts you under pressure to convince yourself that the whole thing is worthwhile, because it is painful to decide 'This is bullshit' after you've given up an entire weekend listening to a windbag, and coughed up a large chunk of money. (The more we sacrifice, the more we seek to convince ourselves that the sacrifice is worthwhile. Its a basic principle from social psychology that if you want to modify people's beliefs, you are much more likely to do so if you can persuade them to 'do something.' THis has been verified over the past 30 years in many different experiments--it is what research psychologists call a 'robust' finding.)

By contrast, when you worked on yourself using Dr Burns' book, 1) you paid only $7.00, and were not under self imposed pressure to convince yourself that you were in on a good deal.

2)You were by yourself, and you could read and reflect as quickly or as slowly as you liked, which gave you time to check Burns' concepts against your own lived and felt experience. You could stop when you were tired. You didnt have to 'prove anything' to anyone.

3)Most importantly, you were free to observe your own inner processes, at your own pace. You were not under peer pressure or in a group-trance. Your discoveries were your own(!!)

According to Dr Arthur J Deikman, a psychiatrist and mystic, indoctrination and abuse are utterly incompatible with genuine self development. Real spirituality honors inner freedom and like AA, trusts in 'attraction not promotion.'

Your use of Dr Burn's material was 'anti-indoctrination'; best of all, when you did your cognitive psych work, you could go to the bathroom whenever you wanted to!

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Insight vs Breakthrough from doing Landmark Forum
Posted by: patrick-darcy ()
Date: February 24, 2003 01:45PM

this is one fascinating truth about the forum.
after reading the posts in this thread u
understand something. people will tell u
that landmark should not attempt to call
illness a racket. but, then they go on
and say that because of this or that the
forum has value.

people dont understand that one thing
the forum does do to most people is
allow them to rationalize landmark to
their benefit even though they will
agree that landmark is bad ins respects.

i have talked to so many people over the
years its always the same. some complain
that calling ilness racket and go on to
praise landmark in another way. some say
that landmark is dispicable because a few
people end up in the hospital with some
problems but then they immediatly come
up with some other reason landmark is good.

its fascinating , the people that attend landmark
when they are done dont realize it but they
explain away the negative and go on with
some percieved positive.

they are completely unaware that their way
of thinking has indeed been modified.

where else would u mention that some group
is hurting people by using their illness to
gain control over them or to put them down
and tell them they are just running rackets
and then in the next breath mention the
positive .


they dont know they are losing their sense
of right or wrong, maybe its because that
is one of landmarks ways of communication.

in landmark there is no right or wrong, there
just is and if u believe this in some way then
the person sitting next to u that has a real
breakdown has no meaning.

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Insight vs Breakthrough from doing Landmark Forum
Posted by: karmal64 ()
Date: February 26, 2003 09:31AM

Hi Corboy:

You said:

<<Best of all, when you did your cognitive psych work, you could go to the bathroom whenever you wanted to!>>

Yes. God bless America: where we can have a bathroom right off of the master bedroom!


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