Getting out of Landmark Education
Date: April 25, 2012 04:01AM
I've just come out of what was a hellish 3 years of involvement with Landmark "education". They should call it Landmark Indoctrination" because that is what it really is. I went deep into the dark heart of this place (I wanted to be a landmark forum leader) so really got to see what these people are really all about. And it's very nasty stuff. They are soul stealers who have put a glossy front on what is a dark and evil organization that is only concerned about money and power over people's lives.
I did the forum because a good friend of mine invited me to her 'graduation' and while I was there said she thought I was an amazing person and would get so much of out of it. I'd already been very successful in my life, and am open to learning so signed up. I went in there excited to learn. I was open minded, and now I realize very naive. I was young - in my mid 20s - and had no idea what I was letting myself in for. Notice how landmark never tells people to say what actually took place in the courses, but only 'what they got out of it'. There is a reason for that.
When I came out of the forum, I couldn't place the feelings that I felt. I felt numb, spaced-out and weird. But also euphoric. Manic even. I lost sense of time and seemed not to have any cares in the world any more. I knew that something 'profound' had happened, I just didn't know what exactly.
What ensued after that was a gradually increasing crushing depression. Yet, I didn't link it to what I had heard during that weekend. I just couldn't figure out what was going on with me. I was crying a lot for no reason, and having alternating highs and lows. One minute I would feel on top of the world, the next I would feel a dark dark sense of fear and danger. I would bump into friends in the street and they would ask me if I was ok because I had a glazed look in my eyes. I turned into a zombie.
I knew that landmark had altered my life, and since it was them that did that and I didn't know what exactly had happened, I continued on with them into the 10 session series. I even asked the person leading the course if what I was feeling was normal. She said yes, and that it was just my 'machinery' telling me otherwise.
The symptoms got worse and worse. Anyway, it's such a long story. By the end, having gone through the "curriculum for living", seminars, the intense indoctrination course that they call the "introduction leaders programme" and more, I was on the verge of suicide. I was deeply in debt (which I had not been before), I was having racing thoughts (when I usually had a still mind prior to doing the forum), I often felt as though I was having out of body experiences, and I felt as if I was losing my mind. I nearly did lose it. This had never happened to me before in my life. I was also being bullied because I am an outspoken person who asks questions, which they did not like. They tried to make me believe that there was something wrong with me because I dared to question why I had to do certain things. There was a person assigned to me as a 'coach' in a programme who was determined to make my life hell. She did everything she could to make me have a breakdown, somehow believing that she was 'making a difference' with me.
Now I know that what I was experiencing was post-traumatic stress disorder. Landmark's 'technology' on the surface seems good, but it is not. It puts a depressive way of thinking into people's heads. It certainly did with mine.
After doing the Forum and other courses, I found it impossible to think straight. My thinking was just circular. It's empty and meaningless and empty and meaningless and empty and meaningless... That is just illogical circular thinking that traps your mind. A lot of my work is based on ideas and strategy, and I was finding it more and more difficult to work because my mind was in such a mess.
I have looked at Beck's Depression Inventory which is one of the most widely used tools for measuring the severity of depression.
Taken from wikipedia, it says "Beck developed a triad of negative cognitions about the world, the future, and the self, which play a major role in depression. An example of the triad in action taken from Brown (1995) is the case of a student obtaining poor exam results:
The student has negative thoughts about the world, so he may come to believe he does not enjoy the class.
The student has negative thoughts about his future, because he thinks he may not pass the class.
The student has negative thoughts about his self, as he may feel he does not deserve to be in college."
When you look at landmark, they instill negative thoughts about the world, the future and the self in their courses. They say that you (the self) are a jerk. They say you have persistent complaints, and a fixed way of being. They say you don't take responsibility for yourself. They say that your life is empty and it is meaningless. They say that way you are is just a "strong suit" which you developed as a response to a failure. They say that there is no hope for you, nothing is ever going to change and it is never going to get better. They say you are a machine: A meaning-making, strong suit racket machine. And when you die your family and friends will throw earth in your face and go and have a drink afterwards and forget about you.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. Other things I heard said during other courses are "you are screwed". "you don't know your ass from a hole in the ground". "You kill people off". "You are nasty". "You are arrogant". "This [landmark] is it". Perhaps there are people in the world who are jerks and who act in nasty ways towards people, but it is unethical to get a group of people together and start telling them all that they are like this when in reality, landmark has NO idea what any of these individuals are like. I realized that they don't care - they need to take the individuality out of everyone to create group think so they want everyone to think the same and to believe that they are all jerks, and all machines and all terrible people with no future.
Landmark's "technology" is negative and harmful. Essentially landmark is saying that people are no good and they have no future. What kind of personal development is this?
Then, they essentially say that whatever happens to you didn't really happen, that you made it up and then forgot that you made it up. So, they are pretty much telling people that they are crazy. They tell you over and over again that you are not connected to reality, that what you say is "crazy talk". They tell people who were abused that abuse is a "racket", and a "story" and that is not what happened. Again, I am sure there are people who make things up, but what right does landmark have to get people in a room and tell them that their life experiences are not real?
Landmark is a cult. Werner Erhard has done a good job of getting himself out of the picture and making clones of himself which are called "landmark forum leader".
I have researched NLP, Ericksonian Hypnosis, and also read up on Scientology and landmark uses all of these in their work. Why? To get you to drop your defenses (which is why it feels so good - just like alcohol and drugs also loosen defenses), so that you are more suggestible and so that they can plant their nonsense in your head, making you dependent on them and part of their system - either by having you become a "person who assists" (i.e. an unpaid worker) or taking more courses, where you then get to become a 'coach' or some kind of team person whose real job is to get more people to register for landmark.
I want to say to anyone who has been as badly affected as I was that there is light at the end of the tunnel. I have had to deprogramme myself. It has been testing, but this forum has helped. I have read up on cults a lot, read about those who have gone through similar things, and also have done a lot of background reading on werner erhard, est, landmark and anything else i could get my hands on. I have come to understand the techniques that were used on me and others to get us to join the landmark system. Thank God I do not like groups. That is what saved me. The peer pressure was intense, but I would not buckle to it. What got me, though, were the actual "teachings", which I took in, believing that they were beneficial.
landmark is extremely dangerous. They care about nobody but themselves. I have seen and heard many more horror stories apart from my own. My own experiences there are too much to write down, but I am so happy that I got my senses together enough to leave.
I had doubts, and when I was eventually able to express them to somebody else who validated what i was saying, I knew I was in up to my neck in some very evil stuff.
As I said, there is light at the end of the tunnel. You can recover although you will go through many phases of emotions are you realize what has happened with you. It takes a lot to come to terms with it. It has changed my view of the world. I was previously a trusting person; now, not so much. I am more guarded and less willing to go into something on trust alone. I believe this is a good thing. I also have a new found love and respect for myself and my value in the world. My future is not hopeless. My life is not, never has been and never will be empty and without meaning. And I am not a machine, a jerk or anything else that landmark says. Neither are you.
We are human beings with a fundamental human right to dignity and respect. You can recover.