Sunday, December 31, 2006

LGAT News Ending 2006

Some interesting Large Group Awareness Training related posts for the end of 2006:

Challenge Day: Bringing Transformational Workshops to a School Near You.
Cult News
The Cult News article by Frank Sherwin, M.D. describes how at least three members of the Challenge Day leadership were influenced by other "seminar companies".

Notes on Asiaworks
According to the Awareness Page, the founder of Asia Works has his roots in the controversial Lifespring training, which was defendant of several lawsuits regarding deaths and psychotic episodes.

Sect covered up sex assaults on two children
The Sidney Morning Herald
The Age has obtained a document showing the Brethren leadership ignored written warnings as early as 1991 that the perpetrator, a serial molester, had "sexually assaulted many young women within the sect".

The Hillsong Cult
The Daily Behemoth
Post which provides some interesting links to other posts/discussion boards on the subject.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Mad TV - Dr. Phil's Plastic Surgery Show

Let's take a break from the potential dangers of Large Group Awareness Training for this post, and inject some humour into this blog with a funny Mad TV sketch entitled: "Dr. Phil's Plastic Surgery Show."

Some Interesting Links:

Phil & Werner - The Zero Boss

Natalee Holloway's parents sue ex-suspects, who sue Dr. Phil show - Bradenton Herald

Ex-Holloway Suspects Sue Dr. Phil - E! Online

Natalee Holloway's Parents File Suit - Associated Press

Slimming the Amway - Metro Times

MEDIA; Dr. Phil, Medicine Man - The New York Times

Class action sought for 'Dr. Phil' diet suit - CNN Law Center

Settlement Reached on Dr. Phil Diet Plan - ABC News

Interesting Discussion Threads:

Dr. Phil, Oprah, etc.

Dr. Phil and est

Troubled Teen Industry

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Counting the cost from all sides

I was reading through the message boards on the Rick Ross website and I came across a couple of intriguing posts regarding PSI Seminars.

Both of them are posted below and it is eerie how they echo the same story, but told from different sides. I have checked and the two women involved are actually relating different, but very similar experiences.

I thought by posting them it would be a touching and painful example of what LGATs can cost people, including those directly affected and those indirectly affected.

The first post:

Hi, I have read all the posts here on PSI and I would like to add what happened to me. I had a friend, a very good friend, recommend PSI to me about three years ago. I attended the basic class and immediately felt invigorated. I noticed a change in my attitude towards my husband and family. Looking back on it I was a bitch. Nothing was good enough and I wanted more from my relationships then was reasonable. I tried to get my husband to sign up for the basic on the third day of class. He refused after he asked me to describe what they do there; I told him that he would have to experience it for himself, which I see is a common statement in most of these posts. I was angry at him for not wanting to support me in my need to have him attend. Later I came to understand why. The facilitor told all of us that PSI is a tool to a happier life and everyone in your life will not understand what you have gone through until they attend also. I remember the slogan “resistance is persistence.” If the people who love you don’t attend the seminars they are holding you back, so you need to leave them behind.

At the end of the basic I signed up for PSI 7 at a cost of $3000.00 dollars. I took the money from our joint account. My husband was obviously upset with this but I didn’t care. I felt this change/experience was worth the cost and the grief it cost me with him. He put his foot down and said enough is enough.

I went to the ranch and participated in the pole, the wall, the ledge, the barn dance and wore the clothing that was selected by my PSI buddy. Clothing that I felt uncomfortable wearing in even a private setting. I looked into the eyes of several men, strangers to me up to then, and felt like they actually wanted to have a relationship with me, beyond the physical. I felt they had seen the real person underneath. I came home gushing like I had the time of my life. My husband was angry as I left without a word of warning to him or my family. He had even called the police to report me missing. I even signed up for the Leadership Seminar for $3600.00 dollars and charged it to my credit card. My husband blew up at me, asking me if I had lost my mind.

I told him upon my return that if he loved me he would find the time and money to attend the training. I told him that it would save our marriage. Looking back on it our marriage was on its fifth year and we were both happy. We were both looking forward to our lives together and starting a family. And more importantly he was my best friend. He suggested marriage counseling and we set up an appointment.

After speaking to the therapist I felt like she was ganging up on me so I refused to go back. Three weeks after returning from PSI7 I left my husband and filed for divorce. I gave up the man I had married, the one who protected me from harm. The man who told me he loved me more than anyone in his life. I gave up my husband, my best friend, for my own self interests when I should have known better.

I was out on my own and loving the attention I got from my PSI brothers and sisters. The support for my move, or shift, was almost overwhelming. I felt that the people in my group were the only ones who could understand; they were the only ones who would love and support me; my husband and family were strangers to me now even though I had their love and support for my entire life. I would communicate with my PSI group on a yahoo group site, but the communication was short lived as they started having their own problems. The group stopped talking and the messages died out after a few short months. In the meantime I quit my job and started looking for something better.

While waiting for the divorce to go through I stayed with my best friend, but the relationship was strained as my husband and her husband were also friends. Her husband started watching me and would inform his wife that under no circumstance would she be going to PSI. I tried to get her to go to PSI. I tried so hard to convince her that this was the right decision for me but she continued to tell me that I should tried to work things out with my husband. I saw this as being unsupportive, moved out and dropped that friendship. We were friends for 10 years. I had learned one thing from PSI and that was not to do what people expected me to do. I moved in with my mom and this was more than she could take. She asked me to leave after two months. I was staffing the basic and playing PLD and trying to get others to enroll for the basic. I failed to see that I was on a course of self destruction and I was still looking for a job.

In the meantime the divorce was finalized, the house was sold and after taking a loss on the property I moved into an apartment until I could save some money. I bought a house a few months after the divorce. I bought the house for more then I could effort and I didn’t care. I also bought a new car and later had that repossessed because I couldn’t afford both the car and the house. I felt that this was my reality and everything would be alright.

After a time I decided that I needed to find another man in my life. I see references to that “number 10 relationship.” This was what I was looking for. I attempted liaisons with several men and could not find one that could understand why I had this attitude towards life. I wanted more and I wanted it immediately, but the world was not cooperating with my reality. I turned to an internet dating service and started looking for the “perfect” relationship and after meeting a few men I found the one I was looking for. He wined and dined me, told me that I was perfect for him. I thought I had found that number 10 relationship. I took this relationship for what I thought it was, LOVE. I was so involved with the relationship with this man that I decided immediately to move in with him when he asked me. We had only dated three months. I sold my house and moved in with him. The little money I had earned from the sale went into a joint account and he spent it on one of his new toys. I failed to pay attention that this man, my number 10 relationship, had just divorced his second wife a few short months before I met him on the internet. He had four small kids from his first marriage and I became a baby sitter when he wanted to go out with the boys on weekends and drink half his salary.

It was about 2 years after PSI7 he asked me to marry him. We were married and a few weeks afterward he quit his job and had me put him and his four kids on my health insurance. He stayed at home and would expect me to wait on him and his kids hand and foot when I got home from work. It was a few short months later when realizations started to hit home. I was asking myself what the hell I was doing with this man and his kids. He was treating me like I was nothing more than a maid. This was my number 10 relationship?

I realize now that I am the failure. Not as a PSI graduate, but as a human being and as a woman and a wife. I was duped into believing that PSI was the answer to everything wrong in my life. I threw away my first husband, a man I loved for a relationship with 78 strangers. People who said they loved me, not because of who I was, but because of what they had made us. The relationship with these people did not last. My first husband suffered the most as he tried several times to get me to see reason after I left. I threw away my friends as they refused to see my point of view when in actuality I should have seen theirs. My point of view was more important. My family disowned me after my outbursts towards them when they refused to listen to my new found views on life.

It is now too late to go back and fix the wrongs I did, and I have tried. My ex-husband refuses to talk or even see me, and I can’t really blame him. I left him without any explanation. I didn’t even shed a tear over the loss of our marriage, he once said I ripped the heart from his chest and didn’t even think enough on our relationship to take the time to smash it. And he was right, that is exactly what I did.

Now I am in a broken marriage to another fool who takes me for granted, treats me like I am his slave, and I have no where to go, no one to turn to, and this is what I wanted in life? Even the friend who introduced me to PSI dumped her marriage and is pretty much in the same boat I’m in. And I hate her for getting me involved in this.

I was a stupid, arrogant, self centered fool. I agree, PSI does give you the tools, the tools to destroy your life. It destroyed my life with a good man and earned me the likes of the “Al Bundy” personality I’m with now. I am ashamed of what I did. I am ashamed of what I have become and I would not recommend PSI for anyone.

Sorry for the long post.

The second post:

Hi everyone, thanks for letting me join. I started doing research on PSI a few weeks ago as I have a major problem with my husband. First I have not attended PSI nor have I taken any Large Group Awareness Training Programs, therefore I have no idea what they do there except what I have learned on the board and other sites. My husband has also not attended PSI.

My husband and I have been married for about 2 years this past October and were dating a year before that. The relationship is very good except for the fact that his first wife attended PSI7 a few weeks before she left him about five years ago. (This was my first marriage and his second.) Unfortunately my husband still runs in the same circle of friends as his ex-wife. The rumors run rampant, people think she is out of her mind and naturally they go to him and tell him what’s going on in her life.

My husband has started coming home these past few months with the rumors that are currently going around about his ex. A few months ago, after several failed relationships, she started dating guys from an internet dating service, apparently met a man who has been married twice before and has some children from one of those marriages (not sure which). This new guy it seems is not the nicest person. Lately it seems she has made some drastic changes to her life style. I would have said it appears that she is suffering from a midlife crisis but after reading this material I can see she might still be under the influence of PSI. I would add that I do not know if she is still attending the seminars.

When she left my husband a few years ago she immediately purchased a new house and car, neither of which she could afford. The house was lost to a foreclosure and the car repossessed several months later. Several times she has called my husband asking him for money and because money was tight he gave her what she could so as to not damage their credit rating. He found out later she was buying more of these seminars and it had placed him in a hole financially as well. After being gone for six months she filed for a divorce leaving him with most of her bills.

Now when I met my husband I was taken with the shy, but confident person he was. He was a kind and caring man who loves his family and friends. He would give you the clothes off his back and is always ready to lend a hand to a friend. He has a heart of gold and I love him for the person he is. During our dating relationship I thought he was haunted by something in his past as there was always something distant about him. I fell in love with the man and I initiated a relationship with him after he had been divorced for two years. But I now believe that my husband still loves his ex-wife, and it is hard for him to gain some distance from his relationship with her. According to him he was unaware what PSI was about at the time she was initially going to it as she was very level headed when they were dating and later married. She always had a sharp sense of herself and took care of things like most of us do in the course of our lives. After taking PSI she returned with a new found attitude and started spending money like it was water. She spent their savings and charging the seminars to their credit cards, which left him in debt to the amount of $30,000 dollars. Guess who had to pay when she left and divorced him?

So for the past few weeks my husband comes home and seems to be depressed. Last week he told me the reason that he is having problems with all this and that is why he is sometimes preoccupied; he is worried about his ex-wife. He told me that he considered her the ‘true love’ of his life and continues to love her in a spiritual sense. He says he loves me, but is still haunted by his feelings for her. He said he sometime thinks of her when he sees something or someone that reminds him of her and is sadden when he thinks of the loss of his marriage. He said he is reminded of the good times and thinks that his marriage to her could have been saved if she had stayed away from PSI. These memories cause him to become depressed and more so lately when hearing the rumors about the damage she is doing to her life.

Now I have tried to understand why he feels this way and that’s why I am checking out these websites. I am afraid that I am going to lose him because of this. After reading the material here I am scared to death. I can’t see how someone can throw their marriage away after attending these seminars, but after reading several examples here I understand that she is too far gone to help. I also see why my husband has these feelings. I feel that this has scarred him more deeply than he lets on and I feel so bad for him. There was nothing he could have done to save his marriage and yet he stills feels responsible. How do I get him to understand this is not his fault, that it was her responsibility? I have tried to make him see what this group did to her but he still feels that he is supposed to take care of her. He even broke down and cried, cried so much I thought he was having a nervous break down.

I don’t want to tell him that this is putting our marriage in trouble for fear it will cause him to go into a deeper depression, and I don’t want it to be the end of my marriage, but it seems he is more concerned with her then he is for me. I am very scared for him as he has come to be very depressed about all this and it seems to be getting worse. I don’t know how much more I can take. For that matter I don’t know how much more he can take.

Anyone have any suggestions?

Interesting Links

Psi Seminars Search - Rip-off

Psi Seminars / Psi World - FACTNet Message Board

The Awareness Page - Data and historical information on Psi Seminars origins

Friday, December 01, 2006

Self-Help Group Backs Off Attack on Internet Critic

November 30, 2006 - Press Release - Electronic Frontier Foundation

Self-Help Group Backs Off Attack on Internet Critic

Landmark Forum Withdraws Subpoena for Identity of Anonymous Poster

San Francisco - A controversial self-help group has backed off its attack on an Internet critic after the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) intervened in the case.

Landmark Education, known for its Landmark Forum motivational workshops, served a subpoena for the identity of an anonymous user of Google Video last month, claiming that a French documentary posted by the user infringed Landmark's copyrights. The piece, entitled "Voyage Au Pays Des Nouveaux Gourous" (Voyage to the Land of the New Gurus), is highly critical of Landmark and included hidden camera footage from inside a French Landmark Forum event along with panel discussions about the group. The piece had also been posted with English subtitles on popular U.S. video sites YouTube and the Internet Archive.

In a settlement reached Tuesday, Landmark agreed to withdraw the subpoena to Google and end its quest to pierce the anonymity of the video's poster. Landmark has also withdrawn its subpoena to the Internet Archive. EFF represents both the anonymous critic and the Internet Archive.

"We're glad that Landmark withdrew its subpoenas, and our client's right to speak anonymously was preserved," said EFF Staff Attorney Kurt Opsahl. "Hopefully Landmark has learned its lesson and will cease its campaign to stifle criticism by misusing the DMCA."

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) allows a content owner to issue a subpoena for the identity of an alleged infringer without first filing an actual lawsuit. The provision can be used to intimidate Internet users who wish to remain anonymous online. As part of the settlement, Landmark released any and all claims it may have had against the anonymous poster, and the poster agreed not to re-post the video. The video is currently available online from other sources, including the Australian Cult Awareness & Information Centre, and bit-torrent.

"Landmark's legal threats took an emotional toll," said the anonymous poster, known as "John Doe" in the settlement. "When I found out that my identity might be revealed based on a bogus copyright claim, I was really worried that Landmark might try to retaliate against me."

The settlement is part of EFF's ongoing campaign to protect the right of anonymous speakers on the Internet. Earlier this year, EFF helped to preserve the anonymity of online embroidery fans critical of an industry group, and also protected the identities of users of an online message board discussing Oklahoma public schools.

Corynne McSherry
Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation

Kurt Opsahl
Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation

More Information:

Letter confirming the subpoena withdrawal

For the full settlement agreement

For more on Landmark's subpoena campaign

For the video

Media Coverage:

Landmark Education stumbles stupidly to hollow settlement
Cult News

Landmark Education wants to make French news report a “forbidden video” on the Net
Cult News

Why did Landmark Education leave France?
Cult News

Landmark Drops Copyright Infringement Subpoenas On Google And Anonymous Critic

Google faces legal challenges over video service

See also the Related Prior Posts section in the post:

Second EFF Interview on Landmark Education.