I read several of Tony Robbins books, bought many items off ebay and gotten them from the library and the Tony Robbins stories you describe here just do not mirror my experiences. In fact, they're so alien that I have trouble believing they're real.
First off, I do not believe that the science behind the criticism of LGAT is valid science. There is nothing wrong or harmful about having a large group experience. That is scientific fact. A charismatic call to change the world for the better can change the world for the better. So all discussion of the "Large Group" aspect of Large Group Experiences is Bad Science. In fact, large group activities are a whole lot of fun with lots of positive outcomes. Seeing plays, movies, sporting events, political rallies are all Large Group events. Getting together with people who believe what you believe and having a lot of fun is exhilarating! So in descriptions on this site about Large Group events, no dividing line is made between positive group experiences and negative. It's as if one is lumping the Lyman Family in with an extended biological family. It's not mind control in the scientific sense and trying to shoe-horn that definition onto it is junk science. By this logic, and I mean by the logic that I've seen while researching skeptical reviews of LGAT experiences, anyone who is charismatic and who tries to rally people in public or tries to sell something charismatically is using these techniques. Simply not happening. Simply a lie made up with pseudo science pasted on it. Why would a site like this resort to weird pseudoscience?
I purchased Tony Robbins material in 2002 and since that time no salesman has ever called me. Never. Not one. Every email that I've received from Tony Robbins's company has been no different than the kinds of emails I get from any company I do business with: Thanks for buying, did you read this piece, there's a discount here, would you like to fly here for this event, Tony's going to be on Larry King, etc. I've heard from other Tony Robbins readers that some local franchisees have put on the hard-sell, but every time someone posts those kinds of critical messages to Tony Robbin's bulletin board, volunteers track down the numbers and find out what franchise was hassling customers to get them reprimanded by the US branch. Nobody puts up with hard-sell tactics and certainly not Tony Robbins fans.
The Open-Source nature of the Tony Robbins bulletin boards, where he is openly criticized by people who actively modify the messages in his books, changed my opinion of the whole thing. No one on that board respects him so much that they don't give him crap about stuff they disagree with. Here is one important thread:
How much of what Tony says do you agree with?
Those posts that disagree with Tony using science, politeness and decency are not moderated, deleted, or changed. The above thread is months old. Just about every day someone counters Tony's older discussions of things like his Alkaline Diet, "green" drink, crystals or other techniques. This give and take, this philosophical arguing and reasoning that goes on between the serious Tony Robbins readers. "I believe this, but don't believe that, show me the proof" almost Socratic discussions which are things that DEFINE groups as NOT cult-like. If there's nonstop philosophical arguing then there's no central belief system. Nothing is lock-step.
The Tony Robbins company continually pays for this board to exist. This directly calls into question the truthfulness of some of these posts I see above. They simply are not true. Tony is criticized every day on his own website and the company does nothing to stop it or counter it and in some senses, encourages these discussions. Cults are criticized every day on Tony Robbins' board. I was reminded of the Rick Ross site because there were warnings about Landmark over there and one Landmark proponent was like, "If you believe Rick Ross, read his forums." And I came over here, and found a lot of junk without logic like this foolish thread.
I started reading adn listening to Tony Robbins books and tapes from the library, for free, and got inspired. I was not where I wanted to be in my career and needed a jumpstart. I started looking for a book to change my mindset. I repaired relationships with my family. I got up earlier, exercised more, and got to bed earlier. I ate better. I volunteered more and donated money to causes I believed in. I stopped letting people's comments hurt me. I did this all, not through common sense, because that concept is a load of BS. If "Common Sense" worked then there wouldn't be a homeless person in America, you know? Sports teams know the value of coaches and trainers. Tony Robbins is no more and no less than a coach. His concepts are vague enough so that people can interpret them using their own histories, personalities, faith (or lack thereof, I'm an atheist scientist) and their line of business. It's not a one-size fits all solution, it's a high-level solution where you have to fill in your own details. No one tells you how to think, they make you do the thinking based on your experiences.
All together I spent about $200 on Tony Robbins material over 3 or 4 years. So, you know, 1/100th the cost of my car. I bought one expensive CD set, listened to it, loved it, was inspired, then sold it on ebay for almost 75% of what I paid for it. I never heard of anyone spending $30,000 on Tony Robbins material and the people I know online who are really, really into his stuff buy most of his cds used. No one I know is spending more than a few hundred dollars on his material and shows a year. I bought one of his books last week at a garage sale for $1. One Dollar. Oh yeah, that's culty all right, with that dollar I could have, um, well can you buy a small French fries for $1 where you live? The $1 used book is reality. The Thirty thousand dollar seminars- not reality. Pardon me if the scientist in me says, "Prove it." I doubt anyone can back up these kinds of "it happened to a friend of mine's friend" or "read this story I found on a newsgroup" tall tales.
And some of my online friends like to "Crew." Crew are the cause of most of the phony and hyperventilating controversy over Tony Robbins. The company has a plan for people who have been to an event before but either don't have enough money to go again or want to go again but DON'T WISH TO PAY ANYTHING to see the show. They give serious fans a chance to see the show for FREE. You tell me the problem with letting people who already paid once go again for free. Great! All one has to do is volunteer to run various processes (Crew) and you get in and get to do all the stuff FOR FREE! You give some of your time and you don't have to pay $700 for a ticket!!! Well, some posters here called them "TonySlaves" or make fun of them? Why? Jealous that people get free stuff? What's someone's problem that they have to invent irrational controversy? What do you personally gain from making fun of others? The volunteers got into the show for free. That's not slavery by definition, that's BARTER by definition. I did this in college all the time- In my city all the major theaters have usher programs. Ushers help patrons to their seats and help coordinate with the people putting on the plays and they get to see the play for free. I did this for three years on the local Shakespeare circuit. Far from being "slaves" volunteer help at live performances has a LONGSTANDING TRADITION of these kinds of volunteers. Were the above posters so culturally sheltered or uneducated they didn't know stage volunteers are traditional? The people who are critical of this are unreal! They turn a blind eye toward critical and rational thought and say volunteer must equal slave as some sort of tenet faith! Creepy!
Have you ever helped out at a homeless shelter? It was a royal pain. I doubt I made a difference in anyone's life because they were so messed up. But you know, I did it, sometimes just for me. That's what volunteering means people. You do it for you because you know you're getting more benefit than the people you're helping. I've been told the crewing experience is gives back much more than one gives.
Look at Tony Robbins company from a scientific perspective and it passes all criticisms with flying colors. I experienced no high pressure sales and spent maybe $200 in 4 years. Why did no one try high-pressure tactics with me if they're part of the system? What part of these posts are fact and what part are fantasy.