Dear readers: After some prolonged discussion on reddit, rebuttals appeared.
Okay, fair enough.
They fall into some catagories:
* Its more of a scam than a cult
* The product is fantastic, but I disagree with the marketing (hardsell)
* Mentally healthy people who are already well grounded benefit most. (A sly hit
at anyone who feels harmed -- insinuates that anyone who finds LEC unpleasant or feels harmed was weak.)
* EST was a cult like, LEC eliminated the bad stuff and kept the good stuff
* LEC is a business, with obnoxious recruiting tactics, but not a cult, not as bad as EST
* Just a few fanatics are ruining it for others.
(Some advised the first correspondant's troubled sister to read Alan Watts. Watts struggled life long with alcoholism and was promiscuous. He wrote fascinating books, but his know how did not translate into his own life - just Corboy's opinion.)
Im losing my sister... Dear Reddit, does anybody know about ...Sep 6, 2012 ... Dear Reddit, does anybody know about, "Landmark Education? ... Thanks again
those who responded, ill follow up but im off to work. ... PLUS hes not even
fucking done divorcing his ex-fucking-wife ...... her family by sacrificing these
things for a relationship with a man who rejects her relationship with him.
www.reddit.com/.../im_losing_my_sister_dear_reddit_does_anybody_know/ - 687k - Cached - Similar pages
[–]itsgonnagetweird 62 points63 points64 points 1 year ago
Indeed they do, but suing someone for saying you're a cult is the legal version of running and telling your mom someone said something mean about you. It may work for a while but sooner or later someone is going to go "you know, maybe there's some truth to this..."
I agree to some extent. I just wanted an excuse to show their litigation history.
[–]itsgonnagetweird 4 points5 points6 points 1 year ago
[–]pihkal 11 points12 points13 points 1 year ago
It's more of a scam then a cult. They way overcharge for wisdom that could be had for free elsewhere.
My mother was involved for a couple years, but eventually came to her senses. Hopefully your sister will, too.
The good news about it being a scam instead of a cult, is that they're less likely to keep your sister when she runs out of money.
Now EST, Werner Erhard's (not his real name, btw) original group, that was a cult.
· Now EST, Werner Erhard's (not his real name, btw) original group, that was a cult.
EST got a lot of bad press, but the company realized that it could still make the same profits and avoid the same bad press by dropping some of the manipulation/control techniques that they were using as EST. Same people, same profit goal. Not fundamentally different.
Be careful of the false dichotomy of "either it's totally a hardcore cult, or it totally isn't a cult." EST was much more heavy handed, but it was nothing like the Jonestown folks or Aum Shinrikyo. EST didn't meet most definitions of a full-blown cult, but just like it's new name, Landmark, it used some cult- techniques, just more of them and heavier handedly.
[–]g33kfish 222 points223 points224 points 1 year ago
I know this is going to be unpopular but I want to temper the black and white statement of "it's a cult." Also I have some advice for the OP at the end.
I was brought to an open house (recruiting session) and was immediately put off by the high pressure marketing they load on you. They play heavily on everyone's fear of missed opportunities and get a lot of people to sign up on the spot. Myself being eager to explore any new way of thinking about life I did sign up in spite of not because of the marketing. Also partially because a lot of what people said about its techniques sounded like what I was learning in my Masters program (studying mediation and conflict resolution).
Having completed the program I have to say that it is an incredibly slick, well dilivered amalgam of some very good philosophical ideas. In reality it's whole "point" boils down existentialism, the idea that nothing has inherent meaning, not even the "story" you've created about the events in your life and why they make you the person you are now. The idea being that once you acknowledge this as a possibility, you're now free to recreate your own meaning, and you're not limited by the stories that "made you shy" or "made you afraid of commitment." Those are all just things that happened, but you have a large amount of control of how they effect you.
Now, some background, I had already come to a lot of this conclusion on my own over about 5 years between graduating college, serving in the Peace Corps in West Africa, and now with my Masters program. So I really had no difficulty with anything they said, they were just giving me some different language to understand and explain it with, great! For some people, the facilitators really had to challenge their beliefs about the world, their agency in it, and their identity. I saw some really powerful self discovery and I saw a lot of pain as people let go of some long held beliefs that had been stifling to them and what they wanted to achieve. This was extremely emotional for these people. Essentially they were pushed, not gently, into perceiving the world and it's freeing meaninglessness the way I already did. Instead of getting there over 5 years of good and bad experiences, that experience was crammed into 2 days.
Now, in my experience, whenever you deliver a profound shift in understanding regarding world views and deliver it through a, possibly painful, emotional experience, people become attached. So what I saw at the end is a lot of people who had just begun to see how much ability they really had to effect the way they interacted and were effected by the universe and they all believed the Landmark rhetoric that Landmark is the only way to learn and utilize this knowledge.
That's where the cultishness comes in. It's not a cult, it's a business. The product their selling is the most effective tool I've ever seen at taking someone from "my life sucks, all this bad stuff happens to me and makes me unsuccessful or unhappy" to "Hey, life isn't terrible. It just is. Events just happen. I actually have a choice in how I feel about them. That's awesome cause now I can break my iphone and not rage cause it's just stuff. Or I can say, that guy yelled at me, I wonder what's going on with him? Man, I can do anything. The Universe doesn't give a damn about me one way or the other, so I can just go do/get/achieve anything I want." The product is great, but the way they market it, and the way they take advantage of the fact that most of their students have never seen this stuff anywhere else is disgusting to me. I get that they need to keep making money and keep selling modules, but they do so by preying on the very ideas they just taught you.
By this I mean, they've taught you now that all the "obstacles" in your way only stop you because you let them (not universally true, but it is to an extent). Then they convince you that your reluctance to sign up for the next session is you letting yourself be held back in your growth. Then they convince you that the magic sauce to getting along with all the people in your life is Landmark, that people who haven't done landmark can't possibly get it.
I participated because I was pretty sure I already 'got' it, and it turned out I did. But they even had me worried that I was missing something for a little while, until the "big reveal" of existentialism (they'd never call it that).
I have seen people like the OP's sister who get sucked in really deeply and they don't even see the contradiction between the Landmark philosophy (the real philosophy not the business) and what they're doing. My advice is to find ways to show them that Landmark is not the only way. There's a million and one philosophy and self help books that are all essentially teaching landmark. Heck, Siddhartha (a great introduction to the life of the Buddha) is basically about a guy figuring out the core landmark philosophy. Basically find ways to talk about the ideas using a different script. Due to the short nature of landmark training people don't really have time to properly internalize the ideas, so they cling to these scripts about rackets and authenticity like a lifeline because they don't know how to actually apply those ideas without the words.
TL;DR. I've done landmark. I HATE their business/marketing practices, but the product is rich in value. It's not a cult, it's a business.
Advice for OP: Learn as much as you can about Landmark and what it teaches and find new ways (new language especially) to talk to your sister about those ideas and how they effect your relationships. (PM me and I'm absolutely happy to offer more detailed advice.)
[–]imbignate 7 points8 points9 points 1 year ago on
TL;DR. I've done landmark. I HATE their business/marketing practices, but the product is rich in value. It's not a cult, it's a business.
This was the experience my wife and I had as well. We found it was useful because it gave us a shared vocabulary for communicating within our marriage and being able to take a step back and examine what a situation "is" rather than what the meaning assigned to it is.
We completed the first 2 courses in the 3-part series and then dropped out because of life, kids, school, etc and they didn't ever really try to get us back in. I would definitely recommend that a person have a strong mental footing in reality before doing it because
1. they request that you not take any mood-altering or stabilizing drugs during the program, and if you need them they recommend you NOT do the program
2. They do not recommend the program for anyone who's currently under the care of a licensed therapist. I was repeatedly told that they were not there to "fix" you but to take a person and show them what's "possible" in a healthy life.
Sorry OP's sister is glomming onto this. Dating her forum leader definitely sounds shifty, and you might even consider reporting it TO landmark's offices. This experience can result in a strong bond forming, but the program I went through in no way advocated confrontation with family, cutting people out, loyalty to a particular person or persons, or radically altering your life to suit them.
tl;dr: Shit's not a cult, but it can create fanatics.
Also have done Landmark courses. I concur with pretty well everything pointed out above. Fantastic product, absolutely abusive marketing practices.
Very useful if you happen to have solid mental health to begin with, but especially if you have insecurities about not being "good" enough to begin with, can become obsessive and abusive.
In Landmark you are encouraged to see yourself as the "source" of your experience of the world, as opposed to the victim of it. The problem is that when circumstances don't work out like you'd hoped, then you're encouraged to find out where you are "out of integrity" and get it corrected. Where you are most encouraged to practice this skill is in inviting others to experience the transformation that you have gotten, or in other words, getting people to the introductions.
I've witnessed someone who was involved in Landmark (who was driving six hours once weekly to attend a program), who was going to school full time and working full time have a complete mental breakdown because they weren't able to do it all. The breakdown included physiological symptoms, including panic attacks that were so intense that this person would pass out.
Landmark encouraged her to keep participating despite this. Despite enjoying some of the content, I ceased participation after that.
[–]g33kfish 16 points17 points18 points 1 year ago
Yeah this is one of the dangers I would say, and something I see in my coworkers who have done it. If you buy into the "I am the source" too much, there's no room to allow for those things which are truly out of your control. It leaves people ill equipped to deal with truly uncontrollable outcomes.
[–]pour_some_sugar 1 point2 points3 points 1 year ago
If you buy into the "I am the source" too much, there's no room to allow for those things which are truly out of your control.
If you buy into anything too much, it's going to be a problem.
However I don't think that lack of common sense is the fault of whatever it is you bought into too much.
[–]SemiautoPenguin 13 points14 points15 points 1 year ago
soAs another former Landmarker, this is 100% spot on. It's a great method/system for helping people self actualize and start to get what they want out of life, and it definitely reinforced some things I had started to learn on my own. However they market it as if they are the sole purveyors of the truth. That's what gets people to behave in such a cultish fashion; there's a specific lingo/lexicon Landmarkers will use because that is how they have been conditioned to express themselves (getting complete with someone, "that's your story, what actually happened?", "I get that", etc.) They want so desperately to bring their friends and family in because they perceive that the training has helped them and they believe it to be the only way.
Have your sister read "Man's search for meaning" by Victor Frankl and "Flow" by Mihaly Czikzentmihalyi. This stuff isn't new, Lamdmark just puts it in some slick packaging.
[–]pandasaurusrex 25 points26 points27 points 1 year ago
This, this, this.
My brother is in Landmark, his wife is in Landmark, my uncle is in Landmark, and my sister did Landmark years and years ago. Has it helped them? Yes and no.
The thing that they all have in common is that they are all pretty controlling people (less so my sister, which is why she didn't really pursue it). If things don't immediately go their way, when and how they want it, they lash out in anger and frustration. Landmark has helped this, has made them (overall) less angry people. I 100% agree with the above poster that it's a philosophy that's found in other places as well, that Landmark isn't the only place you'll find these ideas. I think that what separates me (and my sister) from my brother and his wife (who have done several of the courses) is introspection. Me and my sister are pretty introspective people and came to the realizations that Landmark can provide on our own. My brother is kind of a narcissist (so is my uncle), and really needed that group atmosphere to figure out that other people have different perspectives on things, and that that doesn't make them inherently wrong or bad or stupid. I think that's what Landmark's biggest impact has been on them, making them realize that their way is not the only, or best, way at all times. Shocking, I know.
Now, to the OP. Is your sister becoming lost to Landmark? Well, no, but she's getting pretty annoying about it. When my family members started Landmark, it was all they could talk about. They tried to get everyone to join it. But you should try to understand this from her point of view. She's spent her life feeling like bad shit just happens to her, and that people are shitty to her. Now she's in a place where they're teaching her skills to move beyond that, to think "hey, maybe my reactions are not always the best." She's being taught, at an steep rate, that she cannot change how other people react, that she can only change how she feels about the past, the present, and the future. That can be some empowering shit when you've felt like a victim of fate. She just wants to share that news to everyone she thinks might benefit from it, and to her that's pretty much everyone. So is she annoying and pushy right now? Yeah. Is she wasting her money? Not if it's helping her, overall. From my experience, the fervent follower faze passes. It might take a while, but it will.
If she comes to your nephews (I'm assuming their not little kids?), just explain to them that she's taking classes about life coaching, and that she just wants everyone to have the same feeling she's experiencing in them. That doesn't mean that the ideas are unique to the program, or that they need to, or should, do it. Just that she's found it to be personally helpful, and that she's really amped on having everyone feel as awesome as she does right now. [–]Garage_Dragon 7 points8 points9 points 1 year ago
Funny, my mother and sister did Landmark and they both got a lot out of it too. They're also both pretty controlling people. My mother sold it hard to my wife and I - even suckered us into attending the "graduation".
They may have some good points, but then I'm sure the church of Later Day Saints has its good points too. That doesn't make them any less of a cult, though.
I have a natural instinct to back away from a hard sell. I won't go near them.
[–]pandasaurusrex 5 points6 points7 points 1 year ago
soI totally agree, man. I see it as filling the same role as organized religion to some people. They are getting guidance from a community. But i think we need to be careful about calling organizations cults. Cults alienate people from their families, strip them of assets, and make it extremely difficult for the people to leave the cult. A branch of my family are scientologists, and that is a cult. They have alienated the entire family, have tons of debt they got by needing to pay for classes, etc... Is landmark that extreme? No. Is the Mormon church that extreme? Not really. I think we should reserve the word "cult" for organizations that really deserve it, lest the word become diluted.
2 points3 points4 points 1 year ago
I hope it dies down in intensity. Its a level of extremism that ive only seen with religions... something I try to stray from.
As for the kids, 6 and 2. Too young to be pushed an idea that they NEED something in order to be happy. I think everyone is entitled to happiness, but they have to find it.
[–]cms1990 2 points3 points4 points 1 year ago
I too know someone who got a lot of good from Landmark. He's one of the most successful people I know, and one of the most insightful. I didn't know him before Landmark, but he swears he wasn't the same. He has never pushed me to Landmark; just once stating that I should try an intro course. Just from this limited personal experience, I wouldn't call it a cult, but from what I've seen, it is life changing.
Perhaps Landmark itself is less the problem, and more how OP's sister is processing it?
[–]pandasaurusrex 2 points3 points4 points 1 year ago
That's what I'd assume. Every organization has its fanatics.
This is indeed an excellent description of Landmark.
To OP: I'd suggest getting your sister some recordings of Alan Watts (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alan_Watts) lecturing. He has an incredibly succinct way of talking about the same things Landmark talks about in their courses. Given that he died before Landmark (and it's precursor EST) existed, it might be a good wakeup call that Landmark is not the only way. Also, I wouldn't be too concerned. A lot of Landmark graduates (I am one) get wrapped up in their P2P marketing strategy(scheme) and wind up coming off crazy at first. I assure you, she's still your sister and will want to hang out with you and your family as long as she doesn't feel persecuted. Try explaining that you appreciate that she wants you to have the experience she had, that you're not interested and would appreciate if she would quit the hard sell.