Landmark Education Forum – is it a “racket”?
A family member recently went on the Landmark Forum’s 3-day weekend course. She came back very inspired and energised. She is the kind of person who has never much been into this sort of thing, but had made many attempts at psychological “self-help” in some form or another over the years. She came back with a new language. She talked about living “authentically”, about giving up her “rackets”, terms which did not sound at all like her. She insisted that if she had had the money she would enrol everyone she knew. She herself had been enrolled by a friend who had insisted she attend. This friend also paid for half the fees. I had no idea what the Landmark Forum was about. (The family member was unable to give me a unbiased opinion.) So I “Googled” it.
Lo and behold – heaps and heaps of sites appeared – many worth checking out, although some were disturbing as they suggest that the Landmark Education Forum is a scam. I do want to say, for the record, that I am happy that the family member attended the course and that this person did find alot of value in it – but then, her expectations were not unrealistic.
My own (google) investigation revealed the following:
Landmark Education Forum is a business. It was bought in 1991 by the associates of it’s founder, Walter Erhard, (previously John Paul Rosenberg), after he began to get some bad press. All Guru’s get bad press so I won’t go into the details – you can Google it yourself if you are interested.
Erhard developed a “Large Group Awareness” training that became known as EST (Erhard Seminars Training) in 1971. It was a part of the Human Potential Movement and involved intensive 15 – 20 hour seminars over a number of days with huge groups of people.
Those critical of EST called it brainwashing. EST was very goal oriented, as is the LEF. Participants are made to take responsibility for their lives, get on with the future and not “live in the past”. They are encouraged, while attending the seminar, to telephone or contact people who they feel they have unfinished business with – in some cases to confront that person and open communication with them. Which, I suppose, is great – especially for people who are truly “stuck” and unable to get on with their lives because of some minor thing that has been blown out of proportion. But there are those who feel that this could be dangerous for some people – especially if they have been abused and have no support structures around them to help them through the trauma after they have come away from the Forum.
“I participated at Landmark Education for 6 years and have to admit it made a huge difference in my life. I also had some bad experiences at LEC, especially with their staff and other leaders. I found the negative experiences to be shame-based and that there was a hierarchy that had to do with power and dominating an individual. Any time I questioned an individual above me, I was told I wasn’t accepting their coaching. They never looked at the possibility that they might be contributing to the situation.”
“What disturbs me is the fact that they used bright fluorescent lighting with no windows, didn’t allow food or drink in the room, and required such long hours. Hell, if you sit in a fluorescent-drenched, stuffy room for three days and nights, with little hydration and no [unsupervised] communication with the people there, you will probably believe just about anything.”
“I went to the Landmark Forum, but walked out an hour before the end of the first night. I am a social worker with a background in psychology, a master’s degree and am currently working on my LCSW. The manner in which individuals were treated at the Landmark was shocking. I can’t believe that I sat through hours of watching the facilitator humiliate individuals. They chastised me numerous times for ‘sticking out’ and making problems for the volunteers. It is scary that no one was allowed to be by themselves for long periods of time or deviate from the Forum rules in any manner. They said that the reason I wanted to leave was due to my ‘rackets.’ But the Forum seemed similar to cult recruitment and I demanded a refund. They said my money would be refunded, but I ‘me still waiting. I can’t believe that I allowed myself to attend something like the Landmark Forum.”
These are comments that I have copied from Rick Ross’s website (see previous posts) regarding the Landmark Forum. Although I have never attended their seminars, and therefore cannot give a properly informed opinion, the idea of sitting in a room with over a 100 people for more than twelve hours at a stretch over a few days is a bit off-putting. The best article I came across was by a journalist named Karin Badt. She claims in her article, “Inside the Landmark Forum” (www.huffingtonpost.com/karin-badt/inside-the-landmark-forum_b_90028.html ) that she really found the Landmark Education Forum to be helpful. She found their methods of marketing (by persuading attendees to recruit their friends and family) off-putting. She felt their critism of critical thinking problematic. But she didn’t knock it entirely. It’s a good article, I urge you to read it.
If you have attended, I’m interested to hear your comments.
And a bit of wisdom from the folks at “Living In -Formation”, which I think sums it up nicely:
Every behaviour has a positive intention…
If you’re willing to look behind any behaviour, yours or another’s, you’ll find that the original motivating value is positive and purposeful. If the behaviour is a negative or unwanted one, then you can explore alternative and healthier ways of satisfying the value which the behaviour is trying to fulfill. If someone has done something which you find unacceptable, then aim to discover the positive intention behind this. When you find it you’ll be able to accept the situation/person better and respond more resourcefully. Now that’s freedom!
(Written by Jevon Dängeli – NLP Trainer & Coach www.neuro-linguistics.net )