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De Mille's The Ten Commandments."* (A woman who took est when she was 17 wrote me: "The intent of these seminars is to dig in deeply, without providing any aftercare. They are taking money, knowing what they are trying for, not allowing people's natural defenses to operate that tell them when it's a good idea to dig. Even for non-deeply troubled people, this is a concern and the impact can be negative." Programmers should be trained to handle "troubled" people and should know that they can't push every participant to the same degree without occasional disastrous results.)Another participant describes his Forum experience as "the most powerful and dangerous experience in my life." He claims that he was so disoriented after the seminar that he couldn't work for three days. Prospective participants in The Forum, which has been classified as an LGAT, were compared with nonparticipating peers and with available normative samples on measures of well-being, negative life events, social support, and philosophical orientation.
He claims that those "three days after my Forum were a living hell, unlike anything I had experienced in 21 years of formal training and six years of medical residency in New York City." However, this participant also said that he would do it again! Results revealed that prospective participants were significantly more distressed than peer and normative samples of community residents and had a higher level of impact of recent negative life events compared with peer (but not normative) samples.
Some people claim to have had breakdowns after attending such programs as Landmark Forum [see Lell, who had one after attending Landmark sessions, and Abstracts of Articles in Psychological Journals concerning est and The Forum].
According to Robert Howe, Stephanie Ney, 45, claims that a two-day Landmark Forum seminar "stripped her of her natural psychological defenses and unleashed the specter of a failed relationship with her father," leading to a nervous breakdown and commitment to a psychiatric clinic.
It is not without good reason that Landmark Forum requires prospective participants to sign a statement declaring that, to the best of their knowledge, they are mentally and physical well.
This gives notice that the program is not for the mentally or physically unstable.
Apparently, however, Erhard is not involved in the operation of LEC.
LEC is aimed at New Age explorers of the 1990s, not the Flower Children from the 60s and 70s who were attracted to est.
The training emphasizes not only how to communicate better but how to relate better to those around you, as it forces the participant to reflect on and examine his or her life.The advertised goals of LEC seem very grand and very vague.The programs are hailed as "original, innovative and effective." They "allow participants to produce extraordinary and even miraculous results, and provide a useful, practical new freedom which brings a quality of effectiveness and plan to one's everyday life." Landmark is dedicated to "empowering people in generating unlimited possibilities and making a difference.Part of their zealotry, however, derives from the intense pressure put on them to bring their friends and family into the program, and to sign up for follow-up courses.The main marketing tool Landmark uses is high-pressure direct contact with participants, including phone calls that border on harassment, according to some participants.