Here is a copy of my letter to the participants of the One-month Intensive at Shakespeare & Company. It is my response to one participant's recommendation of Landmark Forum as a helpful means of self improvement.
"....Landmark Forum, as the successor to EST, is known for its evangelism, intense profit motive, and deeply coercive methods, which can fairly be described as brainwashing. Like any cult, Landmark manipulates genuine, often helpful 'self-help' insights to make individuals dependent on the group. As one disgruntled former participant put it, Landmark Forum is " an intense course that deconstructs personality and rebuilds it around continued participation in the group." It also is not unallied with Scientology, which is dangerous and freaky shit. For real. Dangerous, freaky shit.
"A weekend seminar won't kill you. You might get a lot out of it--I don't doubt P_____'s positive testimony--but go cautiously. If your sense of self is particularly tenuous, at the moment, don't go at all. If you do go, don't get conned into paying for more and more seminars.
" 'Large Group Training' is not benign and must be treated with caution (the mixture of truths and manipulative techniques will discombobulate you, to say the least.) Might Shakepeare & Company be indebted to some methods used by LGTs (including the military)? Yes, I wouldn't doubt it. But note, S&C does not SHAME it's participants, nor push overly hard for getting you into its other programs. Watch out for the shame."
Please, people. Be careful out there. There are no quick cures for the dilemna of existing.
(A local Portland screen writer, Steve Doughton, has written a compelling script about Large Group Training, called "Sprung." One thing I like about the script is that Steve neither entirely credits or discredits LGT. He's more open than I am, but remains critical. I look forward to seeing the movie.)