❀ the cult of: ➥motivational speakers ➥life coaches ➥personal growth gurus ➥new-age charlatans ➥AWESOMENESS FEST

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can we call awesomefest Burning Mind

― puff puff post (uh oh I'm having a fantasy), Thursday, February 2, 2012 2:03 AM (4 hours ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

lol

wolf kabob (ENBB), Thursday, 2 February 2012 11:53 (2 years ago) Permalink

honestly that is the freakiest thing about this phenomenon to me, the way it seems to curdle people's ability to use language properly. a college roommate got really into the landmark forum and it was like she just spoke gibberish all the time suddenly.

― horseshoe, Thursday, 2 February 2012 06:55 (5 hours ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

i know 'did u go to grad school' has been a go-to ilx zing recently but seriously, all this reminds me a little of that - i'm not calling BS on grad school but i think there's an ability to change the register you speak in, & then feel like, as a byproduct, you're handling/relating to things in a totally different way. so w/school it's saying 'unpack' & with this it's DREAM ACTUALIZATION, like there's some social comfort in fluency of the particular vernacular, maybe bc it can separate you & non-believers.

really loving this thread, gonna put this on my résumé:

unschooled and yet probably has the equivalence of a college degree in the events and trainings she has attended

quick brown fox triangle (schlump), Thursday, 2 February 2012 12:30 (2 years ago) Permalink

it was in the early '00 that i first heard of personal growth gurus /motivational speakers; i was a working poor and fairly stressed out about it, their sales pitch intrigued me so i downloaded some of that to figure out if it could be of any help, brandler, robbins , the big names and the b listers... listening to that while playing video games i finally began to feel weird then noticed something that was -in the unsaid- , some sophistic strategy like some sort of "guru's nlp secret of the trade" most of em were using... i don't know exactly what they were doing or what they think they were doing but i figure that they were manipulating to make me feel bad, to aggravate my distress to big up he worth their "solutions" and most importantly to install themselves in a position where i am dependent of them in the long term.

Sébastien, Thursday, 2 February 2012 12:38 (2 years ago) Permalink

What's the difference between Mind Valley and Emerson et al's Brook Farm? Is it the difference between a resort and a commune?

Burritos are one of the things I'm nostalgic about!!! (Eazy), Thursday, 2 February 2012 13:23 (2 years ago) Permalink

Many people in the community wrote of how much they enjoyed their experience and, in particular, the light-hearted atmosphere.[68] One participant, a man named John Codman, joined the community at the age of 27 in 1843. He wrote, "It was for the meanest a life above humdrum, and for the greatest something far, infinitely far beyond. They looked into the gates of life and saw beyond charming visions, and hopes springing up for all".[74]

Burritos are one of the things I'm nostalgic about!!! (Eazy), Thursday, 2 February 2012 13:27 (2 years ago) Permalink

landmark is this super-culty west-coast based semi-offshoot of scientology (maybe not an offshoot, per se, but they emerged around the same time and w/similar ideas.) basically a self-help pyramid scheme, promises to get rid of all negative energy etc, the usual. you go to these seminars that are apparently super intense and you're supposed to just talk and let all your secrets out or whatever and basically talk away the pain with other people and then you're all bros and you're supposed to recruit friends into the group and they make you teach courses as well (as part of your membership.) it's similar to scientology in that it tries to be all super-positive but if you question it, they get aggro. plus it's "suggested" that you should cut negative people out of your life (which = lots of non-landmark folks, which i think is what sort of happened to my two friends.)

omar, i don't want to minimize your experience with this but this is all pretty much not true. it's is a semi-offshoot of scientology in the sense of werner erhard did scientology before "inventing" Est (which is what Landmark really is an offshoot of). but they don't promise to get rid of all negative energy, you're not supposed to let all your secrets out while talking at a seminar (they're pretty rigidly organized and are mostly lecture-based), you don't talk away the pain, they don't make you teach courses, and it is not only not suggested that you cut out negative people from your life but the organization is primarily designed around improving people's relationships w/ family members / people in their actual real lives. I've done courses with Landmark (tho not for many years) and I've literally heard ppl in positions of leadership tell groupies, "If you do this course and what you get out of it is you start to hang out and Landmark with all your new Landmark friends, you've basically wasted your time. It's only of value if you use it in your life."

Re: what "it" is, is primarily (it seems to me) basic continental philosophy and I suspect it's not dissimilar to those practical philosophy courses they advertise on the MTA subway.

nb I think it fits really nicely on this thread but if we're going to talk about it we're should probably talk about what it actually is and not call it a super-cult. And I'm sure your friends did ostracize you bc of Landmark, but I know that isn't encouraged at all.

Mordy, Thursday, 2 February 2012 14:00 (2 years ago) Permalink

I was busy yesterday and now wish to bask in the wealth of this thread.

namaste, folks!

mh, Thursday, 2 February 2012 14:11 (2 years ago) Permalink

tbf, Mordy, these groups don't have to directly tell you that people are full of negative energy or that you have to ditch your family. When you're going full speed ahead on your goal to get to awesomefest or whatever any dissenting or critical voice is going to seem negative!

mh, Thursday, 2 February 2012 14:13 (2 years ago) Permalink

I read a book that synthesized the origins of est/Synanon/Landmark/etc and how those philosophies/organizations lead to a lot of those teen death camps (my term for them) where "troubled kids" whose parents have a lot of money send them to an island or the woods or whatever to be "straightened out." This book was interesting for a lot of reasons, but seeing the development of that seed of an idea that lead to a lot of the weirder and more aggro incarnations of expensive/dubious self-help was my favorite part. The book is Help at Any Cost: How the Troubled-Teen Industry Cons Parents and Hurts Kids.

I'm trying to think of all the ways I can inspire you (Abbbottt), Thursday, 2 February 2012 14:24 (2 years ago) Permalink

Fun fact! I used to work at a psychic hotline in the mid-90s and after it went tits up, the owner became a freelance life coach, which she remains to this day.

There's a Landmark thread around here somewhere.

gonna give her the old fuquay-varina (Jenny), Thursday, 2 February 2012 14:26 (2 years ago) Permalink

tbf, Mordy, these groups don't have to directly tell you that people are full of negative energy or that you have to ditch your family. When you're going full speed ahead on your goal to get to awesomefest or whatever any dissenting or critical voice is going to seem negative!

True, but there are enough organizations (like Scientology) that directly tell you that people are full of negative energy and that you have to ditch your family that you should at least distinguish. For what it's worth, though, Landmark explicitly coaches people to repair bad relationships with people in their lives. Cynical interpretation: So that they can bring them to the next meeting. Optimistic interpretation: Who cares why? People report that the biggest stuff they've gotten out of the course is renewing relationships w/ ppl esp ppl they've had bad blood with for a long time.

Mordy, Thursday, 2 February 2012 14:30 (2 years ago) Permalink

Jenny, did you work for Miss Cleo?

mh, Thursday, 2 February 2012 14:31 (2 years ago) Permalink

Jenny, were you Miss Cleo?

Burritos are one of the things I'm nostalgic about!!! (Eazy), Thursday, 2 February 2012 14:36 (2 years ago) Permalink

psychic hotline

Did you pick up the phones before they rang?

insert 2012 appropriate display name here (snoball), Thursday, 2 February 2012 14:39 (2 years ago) Permalink

occupational hazard

Mordy, Thursday, 2 February 2012 14:42 (2 years ago) Permalink

ugh this thread is so disturbing

obliquity of the ecliptic (rrrobyn), Thursday, 2 February 2012 14:45 (2 years ago) Permalink

and i haven't even watched any of the videos

obliquity of the ecliptic (rrrobyn), Thursday, 2 February 2012 14:48 (2 years ago) Permalink

Not Miss Cleo - it was a small, independently owned hotline located in Boulder, CO, called M0rningst@r Psychics. I was the customer service manager.

It was one of the most weirdly dysfunctional workplaces I have ever experienced.

gonna give her the old fuquay-varina (Jenny), Thursday, 2 February 2012 14:50 (2 years ago) Permalink

I'm sorry, she is not a life coach. She is an "@uth3nt1c pr0sp3r1ty c0@ch."

gonna give her the old fuquay-varina (Jenny), Thursday, 2 February 2012 14:52 (2 years ago) Permalink

and i think that in some ways, a certain sort of educated and non-shammy "life coaching" is interesting and works for some people, but this is, well, something else...
xp

haha a friend of mine was a phone sex worker when she finished high school and worked next to the psychic phone line workers. the stories she told me. so dysfunctional. but oh the easy access to good/bad drugs.

obliquity of the ecliptic (rrrobyn), Thursday, 2 February 2012 14:53 (2 years ago) Permalink

I don't want to derail, but it's kind of relevant, but it wasn't like a phone in from home kind of place. They had a really intense interview and selection process for the psychics, who then had to undergo training in the methods espoused by the owners. Customer service rep's job was to talk to people and tell them who was reading at that time and use our psychic abilities to make a good match between the caller and the psychic, including telling the person to call back at another time to talk to somebody who might not have been on shift.

The two owners totally ganged up on one coworker was sick a lot (she was just kind of sickly and allergic to everything), put her in one of the reading rooms, and basically took turns berating her for being so negative and bringing her sickly negativity into the office, and told her that she was sick so often because she was negative and drew all the sickness to her and, by proxy, to everyone she worked with.

gonna give her the old fuquay-varina (Jenny), Thursday, 2 February 2012 15:03 (2 years ago) Permalink

It's like... all of these elements on their own could be functional, but some people need a lot more direction than "hey, I could do yoga" or "hey, I could use a way to figure out how to organize my professional life or emotions" and it's like a little life view and motivation wrapped up

so basically it's the same as people who are way too into organized religion. kind of has the same smell as megachurches where all your social events are at or through the church

mh, Thursday, 2 February 2012 15:03 (2 years ago) Permalink

Jenny, that's kind of like the obvious "you're not doing what we like / you're not with the program: you have negative energies!" formula in a nutshell!

mh, Thursday, 2 February 2012 15:04 (2 years ago) Permalink

Mordy, you obviously know more about Landmark than I do, but my other roommates and i used to have house meetings about how we were worried this roommate of mine had joined a cult. because:

1) she was spending a lot of money on Landmark classes
2) she had begun speaking in a hyper-technical space alien sounding jargon
3) she was constantly trying to recruit us to come with her.

i believe you that a lot of what the lectures were for was personal relationships, because she was constantly trying to use her Landmark-isms on us, but it was still creepy and seemingly substance-less in execution. at the time i remember thinking that Landmark seemed to be preying on this girl's social anxiety.

horseshoe, Thursday, 2 February 2012 15:06 (2 years ago) Permalink

lol, i'm such an ilx outlier. i'd say like at least 65% of my social life goes through my local synagogue (even worse, a chabad house!) xp

And yeah, horseshoe, obviously it's not a great experience for a lot of people. For one, you've gotta figure that the kind of person who would take a class like this to begin with is going to be in a particular place in their life. Fwiw, to lead introduction courses, or teach seminars, etc, you have to prove a very high level of personal success (in economic/health/relationship areas) in your life (generally to become a Landmark Forum leader -- the company is employee-owned by all Forum leaders -- you have to have complete financial independence -- or at least used to. I don't know if you still do). But anyone can take the course. Well, not anyone. If you have a history of mental illness I believe your psychiatrist has to sign off on your forms. I do know a number of ppl who lied on their applications that they don't have a history of mental illness tho.

Mordy, Thursday, 2 February 2012 15:09 (2 years ago) Permalink

One thing a lot of participants in the seminars do, that is discouraged in the courses and obviously really dumb, is try to Landmark their friends. They tell you to share authentically about your life and be honest about your relationships, but not to analyze your friends using the paradigms of the course. But of course everyone leaves the course and starts telling all their friends about "enrollment," and "authenticity," and "creating possibility," and "running rackets," and "winning formulas/strong suits." There is a highly specific jargon, and I'm not sure that it has value per se, but it certainly has more value when contextualized + discussed + unpacked (lol unpacked- academia another one of my cults) than it does when you're enthusing about how "enrollment is causing a possibility to be present for another such that they are touched, moved and inspired by that possibility" to your roommate that you really want to come to your "graduation" Tuesday night but just wants to read their book and not hear you overshare about your weekend.

Mordy, Thursday, 2 February 2012 15:12 (2 years ago) Permalink

Mordy, you don't seem like a person who uncritically follows anything, though.

mh, Thursday, 2 February 2012 15:13 (2 years ago) Permalink

omar/horseshoe: i am unfamiliar with landmark!!!! enlighten me!!

― ⚓ (gr8080), Thursday, February 2, 2012 3:05 AM (6 hours ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

mordy mentioned it but landmark used to be EST which was HUGE in the 70s and is in many ways the granddaddy of all this shit

lag∞n, Thursday, 2 February 2012 15:14 (2 years ago) Permalink

Mordy, you don't seem like a person who uncritically follows anything, though.

I critically follow everything, lol. But yeah -- I'm not trying to paint an uncritical picture of Landmark, just trying to add some nuance + historical context.

Mordy, Thursday, 2 February 2012 15:15 (2 years ago) Permalink

My experience with people who got into Landmark - blessedly limited - is on track with horseshoe's.

Jenny, that's kind of like the obvious "you're not doing what we like / you're not with the program: you have negative energies!" formula in a nutshell!

YES. I would be shocked if at least half of the people I worked with didn't go on to be hardcore Landmarkians/Awesomefest attendees. They were basically living The Secret before The Secret was even a thing. Actually at the time I think the Celestine Prophecies was the bullshit, dumbed-down pseudospiritual handbook du jour.

I did, however, take a lot of Tarot reading classes and it's nice to have a skill to fall back on.

gonna give her the old fuquay-varina (Jenny), Thursday, 2 February 2012 15:16 (2 years ago) Permalink

The purpose of est was "to transform one's ability to experience living so that the situations one had been trying to change or had been putting up with, clear up just in the process of life itself."

hmmm

horseshoe, Thursday, 2 February 2012 15:16 (2 years ago) Permalink

Is that supposed to make sense?

gonna give her the old fuquay-varina (Jenny), Thursday, 2 February 2012 15:17 (2 years ago) Permalink

Also, I don't want to sound like I'm blaming the participants and letting the business off-the-hook. I fully think the business is responsible for the kinds of participants it attracts, and responsible to deal with them ethically and responsibly once allowing them to take their courses. I'm just pointing out that these kinds of businesses are always going to attract a particular group of participants. For instance, I don't think it's possible to take a Landmark course and go crazy because of the course. I think it's possible to start with a precarious mental situation and then have it degrade by taking a course. But I also studied Kabbalah + Chassidic philosophy for three years and met ppl who experienced psychotic episodes from that as well.

Mordy, Thursday, 2 February 2012 15:18 (2 years ago) Permalink

but is the course worthwhile in any way?

horseshoe, Thursday, 2 February 2012 15:19 (2 years ago) Permalink

The purpose of est was "to transform one's ability to experience living so that the situations one had been trying to change or had been putting up with, clear up just in the process of life itself."

Let me translate? The stuff that you've been trying to change, or the shitty things you've been just suffering with - they will clear up without actually addressing them directly, just by changing your perspective. A huge part of the model (which IIRC Erhard got directly from Hubbard and was probably responsible for their rift and for Scientology trying to defame and then later kill Erhard) is that resisting things causes them to persist, and what is actually required is a contextual shift. That context shift is generally supposed to be creating a possibility -- generally something life-affirming and positive for your community. The idea is that you throw yourself into good works and the shitty stuff will disappear.

Mordy, Thursday, 2 February 2012 15:21 (2 years ago) Permalink

fwiw i would not have characterized my former college roommate as mentally unstable, before or even during the Landmark thing. she was odd and sort of bullheaded but she seemed pretty okay, honestly. i guess that could have been an elaborate front, but i don't know.

horseshoe, Thursday, 2 February 2012 15:21 (2 years ago) Permalink

the main diff between the current milieu and landmark or w/e motivation seminars of old is the internet, like est/landmark is this huge org w/curriculum and and a marketing budget and whatnot but w/the internet you can just throw yr own shit out and see if it sticks, which is obv lol m/l how the internet has effected other industries, but i think w/this one which is a marketplace of ideas it has created this strange dynamic where everyone is an aspiring teacher, its just a bunch of teachers trying to teach each other, they make noises abt being students too but theres this hardly concealed undercurrent of ambition to dominate, and everyone is just sort of talking over each other in this inane gibberish, its v sad!

lag∞n, Thursday, 2 February 2012 15:22 (2 years ago) Permalink

xp to horseshoe -- idk, I thought it was for me. I'm not going to plug it though. I'm way more fascinated by the political stuff -- like why Erhard had to flee the country and the whole network of mass encounter groups that were exploding in the 70s (and which obviously stuff like Mindvalley is the child of).

Mordy, Thursday, 2 February 2012 15:22 (2 years ago) Permalink

Back to Mindvalley briefly -- I was looking at their website and they remind me of Entertainment720.

Mordy, Thursday, 2 February 2012 15:24 (2 years ago) Permalink

mindvalley is my fav name for anything, really disappointed i didnt come up w/it myself

lag∞n, Thursday, 2 February 2012 15:25 (2 years ago) Permalink

Wonder if these businesses are designed specifically to attract those types of people. When people are looking for help and guidance they're vulnerable, and some people when they're vulnerable are very suggestible or at the worst looking to lose themselves into something ... don't know much about Landmark itself, but you get people who can be easily exploited. Makes me sick to think about.

Rethinking your context about stuff is a good idea ... reminds me of Buddhism or even 7 Habits/Dale Carnegie kinda stuff, and totally appeals to common sense. But even that can be a hook all depending on how it's used.

Spectrum, Thursday, 2 February 2012 15:26 (2 years ago) Permalink

mindvalley is v arrested development-y

horseshoe, Thursday, 2 February 2012 15:28 (2 years ago) Permalink

ok can we stop being analytical and go back to finding awesome craziness to link?

mh, Thursday, 2 February 2012 15:28 (2 years ago) Permalink

life coach FAQ

the parable is the parable of the (Lamp), Thursday, 2 February 2012 15:29 (2 years ago) Permalink

Interesting btw how Tony Robbins has shifted from sketchy/cult-y to more the TED Talk style of self-improvement.

Burritos are one of the things I'm nostalgic about!!! (Eazy), Thursday, 2 February 2012 15:34 (2 years ago) Permalink

I had a roommate who was really into Landmark. Mostly it seemed like she had never reached an adult level of emotional function, and Lmark was showing her how to grow up. It was kind of like remedial emotional life skills, or at least that's what she was getting out of it and coming home to talk about.

It seemed like kind of dumb obvious shit to me, but she was a nice person who meant well and had had a lot of bad/violent things happen to her, and been poor and without options. Considering all of that, she had kind of made a success of herself, and she looooooved Landmark.

one little aioli (Laurel), Thursday, 2 February 2012 15:36 (2 years ago) Permalink

Mostly it seemed like she had never reached an adult level of emotional function

tbf this describes like 90% of the human beings i interact with on a daily basis on ilx and in real life.

Mordy, Thursday, 2 February 2012 15:37 (2 years ago) Permalink

lol there are some outlier TED Talks that are suspicious

mh, Thursday, 2 February 2012 15:38 (2 years ago) Permalink

I happen to know some people on ilx and irl too, and when I say that she was emotionally dysfunctional/unlearned, I mean in comparison to the other people I have known.

one little aioli (Laurel), Thursday, 2 February 2012 15:45 (2 years ago) Permalink


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