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OT: Landmark Forum / Landmark Education

I am totally interested in this seminar, but the information form is a little freaky. They want fairly detailed information on it, which kind of freaks me out... Mother's maiden name, friends, therapy history... WTF? I'm all for the New Age/Oprah/Guru/Best Life stuff, but would love to hear what folks on PeerTrainer have to say about this.


Mon. Sep 19, 5:56pm

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My friend did landmark

2 of my friends did now that I think of it. One loved it, made up with her brother, got real with all of her friends (her words). Sounds kind of Dr. Phil to me but a lot more intense? I heard that it's the new EST and EST used to be this real psychological mind blowing thing a long time ago. They used to give psychology tests to make sure you were fit to take it and made you sign all of these waivers.

Monday, September 19, 2005, 6:34 PM

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I did it, but you should investigate

I did it several years ago. I got something out of it, but I very quickly became turned off to the cultish aspects of it.

I dunno, some people say it changes their lives, but you can become pretty annoying with all the jargon and self-righteousness to your friends who didn't do Landmark.

You really should do more research. It evolved from est (Werner Erhardt's controversial group from the 70s), but is much less aggressive (est seminars often featured the leader calling you an a**hole) and has been remade with a corporate veneer, and what they call "new technologies" (different methodology).

You should also know that Landmark is controversial, and many people consider it to be cultish, at least in the sense that people who are really into Landmark can become very fanatical.

The premise of it is based in existentialism -- basically no one is reponsible for your life but you, and whatever has happened to you -- even great tragedies -- has no meaning except the "story" you tell yourself about it. You assign your life your own meaning, so if your life stinks, that's because of the story you tell yourself about it. There's also an emphasis on language as being the primary way of assigning meaning to the world, so they emphasize absolute honesty and reconciling with your friends and family. There's also a strong tendency towards perfectionism -- if you fail at something, it's always your fault, and never due to external contingencies. The main rhetoric is about "living the life you want to live."

That's the basic philosophy (there's more, but that's the essentials). The real force of the program, however, comes from the way the seminar is conducted. It's rigidly planned, there's a charismatic and authoritarian leader, and it lasts for a weekend from early morning to late at night, with homework, so that you have little time to sleep and no time to do anything but think about Landmark. They give you a few breaks, but they are short and they always give you homework for the breaks which involve talking to other people, so you spend your breaks bonding with other people over Landmark.

This method of training (which is similar in some ways to est) meets many of the characteristics of what is called Large Group Awareness Training (LGAT), although that term itself is controversial. LifeSpring is another alleged LGAT.

Unless you've done something like this, it's difficult to understand the enormous psychological impact it has on you. I gained great insight into how groups of people can be virtually convinced of anything. By the end of the seminar, it's difficult not to be a "true believer," which can be a powerful incentive for changing your life. But in my opinion, it comes at a cost -- you have to maintain an allegiance to Landmark and it's philosophy, and your fanaticism may alienate those around you.

That said, I don't think it's necessarily harmful and might even be useful. I withhold judgement on it's usefulness. But I do recommend doing some research first. A good start would be Wikipedia -- type "Wikpedia Landmark" into google. The entry has links to other sites.

disclaimer: the above is only my personal opinions about Landmark, and not stated as fact.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005, 11:09 AM

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Thank you both so much for your comments...

It definitely seemed odd at the information night. On one hand there is an excellent public speaker who is highly skilled at communicating. She made an excellent presentation and so forth, but then you are supposed to talk to everyone at the information night and it is the most motley group of people... Mixed in with the people who emanate power and purpose, there are the low-cofidence, low self esteem people that you can tell have a lot of drama because their bullshit filter is broken.

I'm picturing three days with a roomful of people who are like "my life sucks" and haven't even bothered to do basic things to change it.

(disclaimer: The above is just my opinion, not a reflection on actual Landmark practices.)

Two questions:

How agressive was the Landmark Forum in pursuing you after you'd taken the course?

How does the Landmark Forum compare with the Tony Robbins seminars/tapes?

Tuesday, September 20, 2005, 1:47 PM

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I have never been to a Landmark seminar or even heard of it, but Tony Robbins seems far less weird.

Robbins talks about many issues, but I think the core of what he teaches is to be clear on what you want, and then take daily action towards that goal. Over and over Robbins uses the words "action" and "followthrough"

I think his core thesis is fairly common sense. I mean, who would have a problem with setting a goal and taking daily action towards it?

Landmark on the other hand does seem a tad weird.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005, 7:05 AM

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my answers to OP's questions

1) how aggressive was Landmark in pursuing me after course?

Not too bad. They want you to sign up for a followup course that takes place over several weeks. I don't remember what it's called, but this one doesn't cost too much money. You have to commit to it though. I didn't do it. They also want you to take the Advanced Forum course, which is more expensive (I think?) than the intro Forum. I seem to remember you have to actually tell them, I don't want you to call me, but I may be wrong about that. I still get flyers in the mail from them, but only a couple times a year.

2) I never took Tony Robbin's courses. He has his detractors as well.

Re: your comment about a room full of "my life sucks" people... actually, it wasn't like that really. A truly wide range of people (I took it in NYC) in age, success level, and outlook.

The Forum has no toleration for self-pity, so you won't be subjected to that. Also discussions and testimonials are very much directed by the Leader. People discuss the difficulties in their life, but the leader will essentially point out that this is a "story" or a "racket" (Landmark jargon).

Don't get me wrong -- it's a very powerful experience. I am just of the opinion that life-changing seminars of these sorts come with certain costs -- I think in order for them to succeed at really changing your life, you have to allow yourself to become a fanatic and this can take a toll on your relationships. Landmark graduates can be quite smug and self-righteous. I'm not saying everyone is this way, though.

Thursday, September 22, 2005, 9:41 AM

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Landmark will be very aggresive with you once you've (paid) for the forum because they want to keep you coming back. The folks who are doing all the encouraging/motivating are essentially trying to keep you there and have you bring others in. In as much as it is a good program as my former therapist had advised, she did tell me (warn me) about their aggresive recruiting. If you really need Landmark it's great however I've come to view it as a phsychological /therapudic pyramid scheme.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005, 2:46 PM

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This is so true my best freind got very self righteous. She was preaching to me things I had learned years earlier in therapy. She got so aggresive I got a call from a family member of hers asking me if they should be worried, because she was getting so darn aggresive (demanding) that they go to one of the introductory classes.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005, 2:50 PM

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Slightly OT

Anyone see those 6 feet under episodes (I think 3rd season) where the mother and her gay friend at the flower shop take a course that's something like Landmark? The course they take uses a lot of jargon that revolves around "building your own house" as a metaphor for your personality.

Everyone gets sick of her talking about whether she has "a sturdy foundation" or a "well-constructed roof" -- and even she finally gets sick of it, saying to her friend (after he's gone on this way for quite a while), "Listen, I no longer feel to need to express my feelings in architectural metaphors."

Reminded me a bit of Landmark jargon, as I think it was intended to... all the talk of what "rackets" people have, etc.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005, 9:01 AM

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