"I thought the group is harmful and negative and cult-like"

March 9, 2006
By a Forum graduate

I enrolled in the Landmark Forum in 2005. A friend recommended the program to me. All my friend had told me is that great changes were going to happen in my life and that I could benefit from the program.

The content of the program appeared esoteric and very abstract to me. The Forum Leader discussed terms such as "rackets" and "strong-suits," more specifically, ideas we have created about our past; childhood issues that we bring into various life situations.

Fortunately, I consider myself to be a very sharp and perceptive person. I sensed things were not quite right by observing my surroundings. I did not sense any warmth or compassion from many of the people involved in this Forum. In fact, many of the volunteers appeared robotic. They had this glazed look in their eyes. And jumped like scared rabbits when the Forum leader would bark orders.

What I found disturbing about the Forum is that you start from 9:00 AM in the morning to 12:00 PM Midnight. There were three breaks; two 30-minute breaks and one dinner break for one hour and thirty minutes. Nevertheless, I found this long schedule exhausting. Not to mention, I felt mentally foggy by the end of each day.

What really upset me was the Forum leader calling people up to the microphone to talk about their childhood issues. In many instances, people would discuss various forms of abuse from their past concerning their parents. I would see people bare their souls in front of a crowd of 165 people. I did not like the manner in which the Forum leader would emotionally corner these people and press psychological buttons within them. Many of these people were brought to tears and more.

In one instance, A girl discussed being sexually abused by her stepfather during her childhood. She expressed her pain and feelings toward her stepfather.

The Forum leader then prodded the girl, "What Ideas did you make up about your stepfather?"

The girl responded, "That my stepfather is not a good person"

The Forum leader then replied "Okay, this is just an idea that you have in your head about your stepfather. You created it. You need to change this idea"

Later the forum leader instructed the girl to call her stepfather and tell him that she forgives him. She also went as far as to instruct the girl to invite her stepfather to the Forum so he could see her progress.

At another point in the Forum, the Forum leader led the group through a guided imagery/hypnosis. She instructed the crowd to close their eyes and instructed us that if someone starts reacting to the exercise (guided imagery/hypnosis) "Leave them alone. Ignore them-don't baby them - they'll be fine."

The Forum leader instructed people to go back to a painful time in their life. During the exercise, I could hear one lady hyperventilating and crying. At times the hyperventilating was pretty intense. I could see this lady was reliving some trauma from her past. As well, there were some other people reliving personal trauma based on what I could here going on around me.

I feel that the Forum is very shotgun and reckless concerning the emotional wellbeing of its participants. As well, I feel that only a trained professional (i.e. psychologist or psychiatrist) should be delving into people's abusive past.

As well, I feel that they were employing some form of mind control based on the repetition of themes, associating strong emotional anchors to the forum as well as the other techniques such as guided imagery/hypnosis.

I truly felt emotionally tired and confused after each day of the Forum. However, my gut instinct kept telling me this Forum is fundamentally wrong.

The forum cost me $500.00. The following program is $1,000.00 (creative leadership program).

We were told that we needed to take this course to "invent" ourselves.

The slick Forum leader kept pulling out quotes from Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela saying, "I am not free until every person is free." She instructed us to bring friends and family to the Forum so we could "free them."

Basically saying, that we were not free until we freed our friends and family from the bondage of their past. And that the Landmark Forum is the gateway to a better life.

Unfortunately, My friend who referred me is pretty involved in the Forum. She has taken the $1,000.00 creative leadership program and volunteers much of her time. When I informed her that I thought the group is harmful and negative and cult-like, she responded to tell me that I was probably confused and lost at the time. She also went on to tell me that policemen, priests, doctors and people from all walks of life participate and rave about Landmark Forum.

What is also disturbing is that Landmark Forum now has a curriculum targeted towards children. A little kid came up onstage on our last day. He started to plug the Forum and explain how the Forum helped him overcome his fears and made him a better child.

Anyway, I am happy to have come across your Web site. I just wanted to share my story with you.

Unfortunately, the Landmark Forum appears to be gaining momentum and population penetration.

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