Does anyone recognize this??
Posted by: righttofight ()
Date: March 04, 2003 01:30AM


You're a genius.

That was an incredible description of something that has deeply affected me personally and still is as we read this.

I was a social psychology student at UCLA in the 80's and I wanted to do my graduate work at Stanford. I love the field. I love what you wrote. I changed my direction in school but I still have the love of the science. You brought into focus exactly what works in this and the proper perspective.

My ex who is lost forever is a vulnerable one. Not stupid. Not evil. She is naive.

The woman who runs/ran the company that borrowed that borrowed that borrowed from WE was/is a poor, fat lonely Dutch hairdresser with an offensively thick accent and a coarse arrogance. She took her savings to invest in controlling people for a living and profit. She lives alone with multiple cats in a poor neighborhood. But she was determined to give people the message that she is transforming the world. Changing people's lives one by one and therefor saving the planet from itself.

My ex bought that.

I layed on the floor of a convention hall emotionally so tired that I could not stand in the circle this Dutch woman created of first level participants. She was getting a consensus of those who would go on to the next level. Everyone raised their hand dutifully. But three girls. Young, 20's. Two lived at home. One worked at Starbucks. The Dutch woman congratulated all of those that raised their hands as "winners". She then started to berate the "three" as "losers". Working at Starbucks could hardly afford the $1000 for the next level. A lot of disposable income.

I layed there so overwhelmed and tired I could not speak up against this offensive workshop owner. I have a deep feeling of fairness when it comes to picking on the defenseless. I think of my Jewish relatives in Europe who were defenseless, then dead.

Later, in the parking lot one of the girls was crying. I consoled her by telling her (get ready for this) that the training is good and works but it's just the owner that is maligned. You see at that point, I wanted to see that this works. [It took the third level to show me how manipulative they are and even then a friend who disaffected from Scientology to point it out.]

Even later, I had to confront this owner about meddling in my personal life. My ex had seen the same offensive traits I had seen. But after targeting my ex in the workshops through a variety of psych techniques "identification" "transference" "love bombing" "hidden persuasion". Several months later my ex thought this disgusting woman was close to Ghandi.

At one point near the end of our relationship she was so obsessed with describing how wonderful this Dutch woman was over and above the fact this woman owed my ex money for unrefunded enrollments and over the fact we were suppose to be having a relaxing dinner - I lost it. Told her I thought she was being "mind controlled". She ran into the bathroom of the restaurant for 15 minutes because after three months of the work Corboy was describing - my ex's mind was no longer her's. They had "transformed" her attitudes and opinions. We broke up the next week.

It is frightening to touch someone who use to be soft and warm to feel them cold and defensive.

It is like touching a cadaver in a coffin. There is no life inside. Just cold bones and skin that does not have warmth.

She was gone. I cried a million times over losing her soul to these people.

I wish there was a legal way to educate/or stop/or regulate these types of companies.

One day . . . Any ideas?

Does anyone recognize this??
Posted by: Hope ()
Date: March 04, 2003 01:38AM

Thank you Corboy. The last thing people need to hear, especially from a "psychologist" is that there was something wrong with them to begin with.

Does anyone recognize this??
Posted by: Jana ()
Date: March 04, 2003 04:27AM

Here's an excerpt from his latest email:

Well here's how things stand right now:

I'm taking the Circle of Excellence course and I'm staying down here for the entire time, which is almost 3 months. I'm on track to doing great things down here.

He's a goner.

Does anyone recognize this??
Posted by: righttofight ()
Date: March 04, 2003 03:30PM

He is a goner.

I am sorry.

I wanted to clarify Jana's comment.

The therapist I saw regarding cults said that there is something about people who are particularly drawn to them that have a need to fill a hole. Something in them is drawn to the simplicity of the cults. That is why I said there is something "wrong" with them. An oversimplification to be sure.


Does anyone recognize this??
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: March 05, 2003 07:20AM

..but vulnerability is on a continuum. There's the 'ordinary' vulnerablity that comes from being human, from wishing to be connected, and from the ordinary human desire to avoid a painful emotional experience that social psychologists call 'cognitive dissonance.'* (See footnote below)

Then there are deeper forms of vulnerability that come from lifestyle disruptions and bereavement.

Still other forms of vulnerabilty are caused by a history of personal abuse in an authoritarian family, growing up in a toxic religion or belief system, from which you emerge heavily dependant on the approval of other.

Finally there's a very deep kind of vulnerability that comes up when you are in a place where you wish to tap into the spiritual dimension of life. The problem is, there are spirtual counterfeits out there, and few of us are taught how to distinguish reliable guidance from crooked indoctrination.

Footnote on Cognitive Dissonance. This concept was devised by a social psychologist named Leon Festinger back in the 1950s. (He infiltrated a UFO cult and his account, When Prophecy Fails is a classic in the field of social and cult psychology) 'CD' has been tested in decades of research and is quite useful in predicting how people will respond to specific scenarious. If you read some social psychology textbooks and concentrate on cognitive dissonance, you will learn one of the most important ingredients that go to make a cult.

'CD' is an unpleasant state of mind that we experience when we do something that we know is injurious to our welfare, because this induces a state of inner conflict. With rare exceptions, most people are not willing to consciously experience or examine painful states of mind; we prefer to avoid or repress them and go for states of mind that are neutral or pleasant. The more you become able to tolerate and examine your painful states of mind, the more you can become curious about your painful states of mind, the more empowered you will become--and less vulnerable to manipulation.

A common example of 'CD' occurs when you know the health hazards of smoking cigerettes and continue to smoke. Because its painful to know you're doing something that is slow suicide, you will be strongly tempted to rationalize that smoking isnt as dangerous as the research indicates, or that you have lifestyle factors that protect you. I knew a pathologist who did autopsies on scores of people who died from smoking related lung cancers and heart ailments; Dr F smoked like a chimney. He argued that the research findings on the dangers of cigarette smoking were inconclusive. Dr F was a brilliant man, but he was unwilling to suffer cognitive dissonance. (Years later, he did eventually quit smoking.)

A classic example of cognitive dissonance is to pay a ton of money for an LGAT workshop and then face evidence that you've been screwed. It hurts like hell to know you've paid a lot of money only to be shafted, so to avoid cognitive dissonance you find ways to ignore the many clues that you're being exploited.

One key method in cult recruitment is to get people to make a commitment. Once you have made a commitment, it is painful to know that you are not following through on it...which leads to cognitive dissonance. So you are likely to do the assigned task..which leads you deeper into the cult.

Some time back I read some material about how Mormon missionaries recruit converts and their training manuals (accordng to an ex Mormon) emphasize the importance of persuading a prospective convert to make a commitment to do something, no matter how small that intial commitment is. The Mormons are using a potent tool from social psychology--and so are other groups.

The more commitments you are persuaded to make, the more you risk cognitive dissonance if you eventually come to question the validity of the group and its teachings, because the more of your time, money and presence you invest, the more cognitive dissonance you will experience if you decide 'I gotta get out of here.'

Cognitive dissonance is a valuable concept to keep in mind if you want to understand how a cult operates, because cult trainers exploit our efforts to avoid cognitive dissonance. Again, these folks did not learn their methods at random.

IMOThese LGAT leaders and trainers are EXPERT SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGISTS. Expert but not professional.

And they hvae decades of experience by now. A new group doesnt have to start from scratch; its leader can easily get powerful material from other groups already out there.

To return to my theme: IMO problematic LGATS and their trainers are expert social psychologists who are not professionals, because they are not accountable to any code of ethics, either scientific or spiritual and dont make their methods success rates or casulty counts available for public scrutiny.

Does anyone recognize this??
Posted by: righttofight ()
Date: March 05, 2003 07:54PM

I have never subscribed to any internet thread or discussion group in my life. I had always thought they were for people with nothing to do. I have to tell you that you (collectively) are saving my life with your posts. Really.

I have gone through such devastation with the loss of my girlfriend to this LIFESPRING type cult (MITT), reading these posts is helping me survive.

Social psychology was my field in school. I do not practice. But I understand everything corboy is saying. I never realized how cognitive dissonance makes such a huge difference in us. But I understand.

My ex came from an abused childhood and was very afraid of not meeting the approval of others. Very afraid. Her anxiety level would spike every time she thought she was going to come near breaking a "commitment" set forth by this cult training.

What I experienced in her "transformation" was scary. And it was a result of CD. She was being "targeted" by the owner of this company to detach from me and support her company. I was outspoken against the company. I had sent an e-mail broadcast to other people in the training decrying this as a cult.

Slowly, I could see CD taking effect with her, where she found it harder and harder to justify seeing me. 15 days after spending a loving holiday where we were talking about marriage, she was asking if we could be just "friends" and "date". 30 days later we had broken up. She made it so unbearable.

When something like this happens to someone you love - you go through severe depression. They are emotionally "dead".

Today I spoke to some people from the "Leadership" training that I dropped out from. They are casualties. Walking wounded. Broke. Unable to pay rent. They were broke when they took this training and they believed it was their last resort. Because they did not bring in enough enrollments - they were deprived of their final weekend workshop - the weekend where they get all of these emotional goodies for "playing the game". "Playing the game" means in their lingo - bringing in the dollars. This one person was blaming herself for being duped. I told her she was an emotional victim and it was not her fault.

It is not any of our faults if we fall prey to this type of manipulation. We are only human. I only pray there was some way we could legally expose or stop these companies. Certainly in California, a referendum would be suitable. And, I am not sure if these larger companies are as powerful here to stop it.

Anyway, I appreciate the posts. Thank you.

Does anyone recognize this??
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: March 06, 2003 05:59AM

before we go to bat to try to stop these groups--which includes writing any feature stories.

These LGATS are powerful. Most important thing we can do is post warnings on places like whenever an LGAT with a troubled track record advertises a training.

You could post a warning in the LA craigslist in their 'community' section and give the URL for this discussion thread. If you choose to describe what happened between you and your girlfriend, make brief, dignified and eloquent.

Its the hardest thing to do when you're heart broken, but a long anguished description will only make you look like you're the one who is crazy and distract from the actual damage and deceit being perpetrated by the group.

Key thing is to say, in so many words, 'Just in case you have been dumped by someone you love after he or she has been reeled in by a group doesnt mean that you were bad or that your loved one was gullible. These set ups are practicing social psychology in a manner that is expert--and utterly unethical. They are wrecking people's relationships, bleeding them for money, and ruthlessly discard people as soon as they break down and are no longer useful to the group.'

You can also point out that in today's depressed economy, its harder to find cheap housing and a job and get back on your feet if you leave or are ejected from an exploitative group. An error in judgement is much harder to recover from today than it was 5 years ago. People deserve to be warned that these franchises are dangerous to your mental, emotional and financial wellbeing--and to your intimate relationships, too.

I remember being fascinated by reading about Philip Zimbardo's 'Prison Experiment' and Stanley Milgram's 'Obedience to Authority' experiments. I wanted to do that kind of research. Ironically, by the time I read about them, the American Psychological Association tightened its ethical guidelines to the point where such work can no longer be done by honorable researchers. But... IMO these problematic groups are doing their own experimentation on human subjects and under the auspices of religion or the First Amendment have cleverly made their authoritarian behavior exempt from normal guidelines of accountability.

Dirty pool.

A feature story would be fantastic, but the publisher and journalist would have to do scrupuluous airtight fact checking, make sure not to misquote sources, and have the resources to hire good lawyers and be able to survive a long, scary lawsuit.

Does anyone recognize this??
Posted by: righttofight ()
Date: March 07, 2003 01:37AM

The owner's name in Los Angeles is Margo Majdik.


Even in the community training she is despised. Heavy handed. Disgusting attitude. You can see the greed in her eyes. This is only my 28 year old opinion.

They are a little company. But from an acorn . . .

The doctor I learned from at UCLA was Ann Peplau. And I studied the "prison" experiment at Stanford. This is why I was alarmed when the processes were starting to match between the workshop trainings and the experiments.

But you are very right about the fact they use social psychology techniques that are honed and proven. What is interesting is that they are usually morons who did not put in the effort to learn the actual principles like Werner did. Basically it is idiot savant. Where they learned is borrowed. They get off on the control they have. "They" being the leaders, organizers, etc.

Does anyone recognize this??
Posted by: Jana ()
Date: March 10, 2003 05:05AM

My friend called me last evening. I was shocked to hear him speak. He sounded exhausted, emotionally and physically. I asked him what was wrong. He admitted they (ChoiceCenter Worldwide, Inc aka Lifespring) were "pushing" him rather hard. He told me that he had to use the bathroom, and had to "hold it" for four hours, because he was in class. I asked him if this was logical thinking? Why would ANYONE deny someone the right to relieve themself. I'm hoping this got him thinking.

While we were talking, his other line rang (I assume they urged him to get a cell phone, for easier communication). The caller was his "counseler". I could hear the entire conversation. She asked him what he was doing, and he said he was on the phone with his roommate. I assume he has told her I have been sending him info about Lifespring. She immediately asked him what we were talking about (BOGGLE). He told her general conversation. He did not tell her the truth. She then asked him if he had his list of names of family and friend that he wanted to "share the experience" with. He replied yes, and she proceeded to ask him for the list of names.

After his call with her concluded, I asked him to think about what had just happened. I asked him if it was logical to reveal to a near stranger the contents of a PERSONAL communication with a friend. I also told him that if someone asked me that info, I would reply it was none of their damn business. He seemed to be listening, but was so exhausted, I could tell he was in an emotional state.

I urged him if he had ANY doubts whatsoever, to follow his gut instinct. I reminded him that he had PAID for this, and he didn't owe them anything. He said he was looking forward to the "community service" aspect of the training. He was hoping it would be something that would benefit children. I informed him that community service to Lifespring, is working for free in their call centers, trying to recruit others so Lifespring makes MORE money. I asked him to consider all the people that were in his workshop, and multiply that number by the cost of the workshop. It's pretty easy to see who is gaining something from this organization.

After we concluded our conversation, I immediately called a friend of ours, who is concerned about this as well. He is going to be contacting the parents. I doubt if this will help, as the individual is an adult, but we decided at the very least, we could educate the parents about Lifespring.

I will keep you all posted as this develops. I would like to thank all of you again, for your most excellent help in this matter.

Does anyone recognize this??
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: March 10, 2003 11:29AM

advise him to make NO major decisions while he is exhausted. He needs to get sleep (in his own bed) and some food of his own choosing. And he shouldnt sign any papers either.

Tell him this is what his future will contain: people monitoring his conversations. Shortage of sleep. Constant pressure to perform.

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