I attended the Landmark Forum during 1998.I was pressured to attend by my girlfriend and her two roommates--who were far along in the series of seminars offered by Landmark Education.
They had all met at one of the seminars and decided to live together. Though there was one woman who was not associated with Landmark who lived with them. This woman was constantly harassed both subtly and obviously to attend one of the introductory sessions, but to her credit never succumbed to the pressure.
Before this woman left though to attend graduate school--all these women went on a little trip to the beach, which turned out to be anything but relaxing. After hearing four different versions of the story--I believe that this woman was subjected to intense pressure primarily from the dominant woman in their household. It seemed to me that their household "community" was used as leverage to guilt-trip her into going to the Forum. Supposedly, she clearly wasn't a true member of the "community" (a team player) unless she did what everyone else did--that is get heavily involved in Landmark. She returned from that car ride with puffy eyes and tear-streaked make-up. I haven't heard from her since she moved.
On the final follow-up day of the Forum, I requested that my father come by and check out what they were selling. He has a degree in psychology and is a salesman by profession. I figured if anyone could give me an objective, insightful opinion about Landmark it was him. On a drive with him I mentioned casually that Landmark was based on Werner Erhard's "teachings" and his expression turned hard and instantly suspicious. He then proceeded to relate to me the sordid history of EST.
We arrived and sat down with about 300 people and after about ten minutes of listening to the speaker's pep talk my Dad turned to me and said he had seen all he needed or wanted to see and was ready to leave whenever I was. He correctly predicted that the volunteers would try to split us up into groups, separate us and that the majority of the time would be spent as a "hook" to get us, our friends and relatives to come back for more "education".
My experience with Landmark taught me a lot about the shady side of American business [sic]--including seemingly evangelistic or "spiritual" organizations. Since then I have made it a point to tell my story whenever I hear someone mention the "Forum" or Landmark Education. This is usually in the vein of --"So-and-so has been telling me I should go to this Forum thing, which it will really help me clear up some things in my life and I heard you went there..."
Mr. Ross, I think you are doing a courageous service to everyone who these kinds of organizations view as more sheep for the flock and I emphasize "everyone". Don't let anyone silence you with threats or lawsuits. I'm sure as Hell not letting them add me to their docile herd!
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