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Large Group Awareness Training Truth
Exposing truth about large group awareness training & human potential seminars.
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Excellent reporting by CBC News

See recent articles at links below for some excellent reporting by CBC News:

Alberta Health Services staff pressured to attend controversial seminars – Government continued to use Landmark Education despite employee complaints
by Charles Rusnell and Jennie Russell, CBC News, October 15, 2014

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by Charles Rusnell and Jennie Russell, CBC News, October 15, 2014

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by Charles Rusnell and Jennie Russell, CBC News, October 17, 2014

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by Roger Collier, Canadian Medical Association Journal, October 17, 2014

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Including response via press release from company reported on by CBC News:

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Prior relevant history and background information:

2011
Cafe Gratitude Sued for Labor-Code Violations
by Ellen Cushing, East Bay Express, August 9, 2011

2008
Reports on lawsuit by employee who claimed religious discrimination for being pressured to go to seminars:
Report by ABC News

Report by New York Post

Report by The Village Voice

Reports on Australia Defence Department using controversial seminar training:
ABC News Australia report

Australia AM radio program report

2006
Investigation by United States Department of Labor in Texas

2004
Investigation by United States Department of Labor in California

1996
Investigation by United States Department of Labor in Colorado

1989
Employees sued after being pressured to attend similar seminar program:

Report by The Wall Street Journal

Report by Los Angeles Times

Report by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

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The Program is a novel by author Gregg Hurwitz. Although it's fiction, The Program provides some great insight into abusive groups and destructive movements, as well as ways to social hack a Large Group Awareness Training.

In this case, social hack is used to refer to a method to literally disrupt and ideally completely destabilize the Large Group Awareness Training, from the inside out.

10 key ways to social hack a Large Group Awareness Training:

1) Act authoritatively. Destructive groups and abusive movements often model their staff and train their leadership after the one influential leader and founder of the group. They will not expect you yourself to also act in this manner. They often act authoritarian and totalitarian, as this is how these staff members are taught, to emulate and act like their leader and founder.

2) Bring a mental health professional as part of your social hacking group. Ideally this would be someone with a PhD in psychology or an M.D. with a specialty in psychiatry. This person would educate and brief the members of the social hacking team about tactics and methods of the group, and the dangers of getting in too deep into its thought patterns.

3) Bring an ex-member of the group in question. This ex-member should be someone intimately aware of the ways the group functions, and yet out for enough time to have fully gone through a period of cognitive dissonance and awakened back to a pattern to appropriately interact with society again.

4) Bring law enforcement or someone familiar with the law. This person will help brief the rest of the members of the social hacking team on their rights should staff from the destructive group or abusive movement falsely make claims about their actions during the seminar. This person would also be quite useful to conduct research into the possible criminal activities of the group and its founder and leader. This person should instruct all members of the social hacking team on ways to have fun disrupting and destabilizing the Large Group Awareness Training seminar, without doing anything illegal.

5) Don't follow group mentality. Refuse to stand when everyone else stands. Don't clap when everyone else claps. This will help you maintain your sense of self and independence throughout the attempts by the abusive group or destructive movement at influence and manipulation. If you are asked to explain yourself by a staff member of the abusive group, sample language from the book includes: "From what I've seen, I'm not sure if I like The Program yet. If I decide that I don't like what's going on here, I'm leaving. Thank you for having me here today." (Obviously replace "The Program" with the name of whatever destructive group or abusive movement's seminar you are attending.)

6) Politely interrupt the seminar with inquisitive questions. Make sure to be polite about this. Again, maintain a positive and happy attitude when doing this. Most likely other members of the seminar in the room full of 200 or so people will echo some of your concerns.

7) Assertively affirm your positive outlook on life. Wording suggested in the book by the fictional psychologist, character Dr. Glen Bederman is: "My Program is: I participate in activities that give me self-esteem, and I have the courage to decline to participate in those activities that do not." This frames your reason for attending in a positive way that simultaneously retains your own sense of self, independence, assertiveness, and self worth. It also signals to potential shills, dupes, and marks in the audience that they can similarly adopt your positive yet independent attitude and modus operandi while being in the seminar.

8) Maintain a positive and happy attitude. You are there to have a fun time. Act like it. Potential shills and suckers and marks will respond positively to you if you question the methods and tactics of the abusive group or destructive movement, while at the same time showing you are a happy and fulfilled person.

9) Bring a digital thermometer. Destructive groups and abusive movements will sometimes wildly alter the ambient temperature in the room where the seminar is conducted, in order to put attendees off balance. If you notice this pattern, politely but loudly question the staff on this, in front of the rest of the seminar participants so they can all hear your concerns.

10) Ask the staff loudly and politely if they are licensed to practice hypnosis. In the book, the fictional psychologist Dr. Glen Bederman asks: "Are you licensed to administer hypnosis in the state of California?" When the abusive group's leader "TD" responds: "We're not practicing hypnosis here. We're simply meditating.", Dr. Bederman loudly points out in earshot of the entire seminar: "Guided meditation is a form of hypnosis. Everyone in this room should know that."

There are plenty other helpful pointers to social hack a Large Group Awareness Training in this section of the book, and it's all there on pages 323-337.

Other educational takeaways from the book:

pages 256-263: Exit counseling with psychologist Dr. Glen Bederman; this fictional character created by the author Gregg Hurwitz is likely an amalgam of non-fiction psychologists and psychiatrists who have studied victims of abusive groups and destructive movements.

pages 270-272: The investigator meets with postal inspector Owen B. Rutherford; the author Gregg Hurwitz in the book's Acknowledgements section credits postal inspector Mike McCarthy for his research in this area. What's most interesting about this part of the book is the postal inspector character's statements about the crime of tampering with U.S. mail. The section of the book deals with an abusive group and destructive movement that takes away mail from its members that live on its controlled compound, a crime which is: "Most obviously a Title 18, Section 1708 -- theft or receipt of stolen mail matter, generally. But between theft, obstruction, and destruction, we could have over two hundred federal, criminal, and civil statutes."

Says the character postal inspector Owen B. Rutherford: "Do you know what a thirty-seven-cent stamp buys you? ... Not just delivery service. Oh, no. The thirty-seven cents buys you a fiduciary relationship with the United States Postal Service. We are custodians of private property. Namely: the mail. That private property belongs to the sender until it comes into the hands of the intended recipient. These jelly-spined bliss ninnies can't grant the right for their leader to destroy incoming mail before it comes into their actual possession -- it isn't their mail to relinquish. First-class mail must be delivered, forwarded, returned to sender, or sent to the mail-recovery center. Any other act is a violation of the rights of the sender. A violation further of the sanctity of the mail and -- make no mistake -- it is as such a felony in its own right."

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This is all from The Program a novel by author Gregg Hurwitz. Check it out!
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There have been some interesting articles lately over at the online site for The Arizona Daily Star, about Large Group Awareness Training. In addition, there are some very good articles at the paper itself. They are:
November 3, 2009 – “Large Group Awareness Training”: A touchy label after the Sedona sweat-lodge deaths
November 5, 2009 – Psychology prof calls “plagiarism” on author of 2005 study on personal-transformation seminars
November 8, 2009 – ‘Transformation’ sessions claim high cost
November 8, 2009 – It’s buyer beware for personal-transformation seminars
November 10, 2009 – Is Landmark Forum an LGAT or not? And does it really matter?
At this last one from November 10, there is an interesting statement given from Landmark Education.
Let’s look at 2 issues from the Landmark Education statement. One, is the strange attempt by the Landmark Education representative to distance the company from the term “Large Group Awareness Training”, and the other is the ties of high-ranking executives that control Landmark Education to Werner Erhard and his prior company “est”.
Deborah Beroset, Director of Public Relations, Landmark Education, said: “As I said during our conversation a bit ago, Landmark really has no place in a story about LGATs. To characterize Landmark Education as a LGAT would not only be inaccurate, it would also damage the reputation of the company, its programs, and the approximately 1.2 million customers who have participated in Landmark Education’s programs and derived value from them.”
This statement seems quite odd – especially when this statement from Beroset is compared against writings of a highly-ranked executive within Landmark Education. Take a look at the paper “The Promise of Philosophy and the Landmark Forum”, Contemporary Philosophy, Vol. XXIII, No. 1 & 2, Jan/Feb & Mar/Apr 2001 Barbados Group Working Paper No. 01-01. Full cite is here, and the paper itself is here. One of the authors of this paper is a man named Steven Zaffron. Zaffron first became an executive for Werner Erhard and was an “est trainer” in Erhard’s company “Erhard Seminars Training” (Outrageous Betrayal by Steven Pressman, St. Martin’s Press: 1993, page 217). Currently, Zaffron serves the Landmark Education corporation as CEO of “Vanto Group”, formerly known as “Landmark Education Business Development”, and in addition, Zaffron has the highest-ranking “trainer” title in Landmark Education called “Landmark Forum Leader”.
In this paper co-authored by Zaffron, the phrase “Large Group Awareness Training” is used multiple times in reference to Landmark Education. Example on page 52: “Dennison’s dissertation,7 which categorizes the Landmark Forum as a “large group awareness training” is a qualitative study based on interviews with Forum graduates. He also reports predominantly positive outcomes and in addition, briefly summarizes philosophical components of the Forum. The extensive research literature on “large group awareness training” published in the 1970s and 80s (summarized in Finkelstein, Wenegrat, and Yalom8) is framed in psychological more than philosophical terms, albeit there is some reference to the training as existential psychotherapy.” Two different academic treatises are cited as references in the paper co-authored by Zaffron (see page 59, endnotes 7 and 8, Dennison 1994 and Finkelstein 1982) – and both have the phrase “Large Group Awareness Training” in their titles.
So, on the one hand you have Deborah Beroset, Director of Public Relations, Landmark Education, saying “To characterize Landmark Education as a LGAT would not only be inaccurate, it would also damage the reputation of the company…” and yet on the other hand – there is Steven Zaffron, former executive of Werner Erhard’s est, current CEO of Vanto Group (formerly Landmark Education Business Development), and current “Landmark Forum Leader”, readily using the term and referencing multiple academic papers that also use the term “Large Group Awareness Training”.
Next, let’s look at another statement from Deborah Beroset, Director of Public Relations, Landmark Education, where she says: “I noticed your ProfNet query mentioned “est” as well as Landmark Education. Landmark Education is a different company (we were established in 1991), and The Landmark Forum is not the est program (the two programs differ in their focus, material, methodology, and delivery). The person who created est sold the founders of Landmark Education his intellectual property…”
It is interesting to see this attempt to separate Landmark Education from what Beroset refers to as “The person who created est…”. Well, the person who created est was Werner Erhard. As already stated above, high-ranking Landmark Education executive Steven Zaffron, was previously an executive within Erhard’s est training, and an “est trainer” before he was a “Landmark Forum Leader”. Werner Erhard’s brother, Harry Rosenberg, is CEO of Landmark Education. Werner Erhard’s sister, Joan Rosenberg, is listed as a Director of Landmark Education. And last but not least, attorney Art Schreiber is Chairman of the Board of Landmark Education (also see list of directors) and and is also General Counsel of Landmark Education. Prior to his work at Landmark Education, Art Schreiber was General Counsel for “Werner Erhard and Associates” (“$5 Million Lawsuit Filed Against EST”, San Jose Mercury News, December 5, 1985, page 8A.) In addition, Art Schreiber also served as an attorney representing Werner Erhard (“$15 Million Suit Against Werner Erhard Is Dropped”, by Susan Sward, San Francisco Chronicle, October 26, 1985, page 2).
So Werner Erhard’s brother is CEO of Landmark Education, his sister is a Director of Landmark Education, and his attorney is Chairman of the Board of Landmark Education.
On a side note, BoingBoing.net has published a legal letter sent to the website from a Terry M. Giles, yet another attorney for Werner Erhard. Giles owns “Tekniko Licensing Corporation”. The company “Tekniko Licensing Corporation” is also a subsidiary of Landmark Education.
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The Landmark Debate, by Al Lock - November 6, 2008, in Bangkok Post

A great article on this controversial large group awareness training organization.

A very interesting quote from the article: This sounds suspiciously like the process used by the Soviets in preparing confessions for their show trials or the first stage of the brainwashing process.

Here is another blog’s take on the article: Don’t Be Fooled: We Are Now Under Attack.

And for some enlightening historical background, read: Why did Landmark leave France?

Find out more about Landmark Education at the Introduction to the Landmark Education litigation archive - a truly invaluable resource.

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Letting the LGAT out of the Bag - This December 16, 2004 post from blogger gus van horn may be a few years old, but it is still left me touched, moved and inspired.

Current Mood: determined

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Slave Labor and Fauxlosophy PART I

- A very well thought out and detailed analysis.

Who is wise? Why, Alex is wise.

Can’t wait to see the next post “Part II”.

Current Mood: awake

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Skeptik is wise.

Even the guy’s username is wise. It is healthy to be a skeptik - it is wise to question and probe and educate oneself about these controversial types of Large Group Awareness Training organizations and companies.

Skeptik is wise.

Current Mood: chipper chipper

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What are the criteria of a ‘cult‘ ?

A relatively new YouTube user, bradbavarde, compares a description from Webster’s Dictionary to his opinion of certain characteristics of a Large Group Awareness Training organization. Take a moment to watch this video about bradbavarde’s commentary on these criteria, and decide for yourself:

Here are some additional resources discussing ‘cult’ criteria:

What is a Destructive Cult? - FACTnet

Criteria for Determining If a Group is a Destructive Cult - Cult Awareness and Information Center

Dr. Robert Jay Lifton’s Criteria for Thought Reform - ex-cult Resource Center

Defining a Cult - The Ross Institute Internet Archive for the Study of Destructive Cults, Controversial Groups and Movements

Cults 101: Checklist of Cult Characteristics - International Cultic Studies Association

What are the Characteristics of a Religious Cult? - The Prem Rawat Talk Forum

And once again, a more humorous but also disturbing take on how to start a “Mind Control Cult”:

As always, you are encouraged to watch the above videos, read the information provided at the links, research more and educate yourselves - and decide for yourself.

Current Mood: awake

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Here are some posts you may find enlightening, I know I did.

(Click on the bolded dates for the posts)

Iron Raptor looks like he’s at least using the Internet to do some preliminary research which is a very good thing. Take a look at this post from August 30, 2008.

Skeptik is wise, this post is from August 10, 2008.

Lady Nyo posts in this August 10, 2008 piece how she is “losing friends to a particular cult” and my heart goes out to her.

Though this blog is called Rambling Content, the concerns raised don’t seem rambling at all. Check out this post from August 8, 2008.

Cult News always has great stuff, very well researched, here is a disturbing piece from August 5, 2008.

Marmalade has some interesting points to consider here in this post about New Age from July 21, 2008.

The Macho Response has lots of good stuff as usual, here is a gem from July 17, 2008.

This July 4, 2008 post from the Complicity blog has lots and lots of valuable links and resources.

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Johan is wise.

Read his wise words in this post from his blog, Aventures d’un métis:A day in the life of a half-breed - specifically this wise blog post from August 27, 2008.

Johan is wise.

Current Location: San Francisco, California
Current Mood: chipper chipper
Current Music: John Denver

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