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Landmark Education

Landmark Education Limited Liability Company (LELLC), formerly known from about 1991 to 2002 as Landmark Education Corporation (LEC), lineal descendant of Werner Erhard and Associates (WEA) and of "est" or Erhard Seminars Training, might characterise itself as a "business selling transformation" or a business selling ontological distinctions. (See http://www.landmarkeducation.com (http://www.landmarkeducation.com) )

Others have categorised it as an large group awareness training and attributed it with multi-level marketing or "cult-like" characteristics, mentioning words like brainwashing, hypnotism, parasitism or "biz-cult". (See http://home.swbell.net/danchase/forum.htm (http://home.swbell.net/danchase/forum.htm) )

Methodology

Landmark, an international employee-owned corporation with offices scattered through North America and in several other Western-oriented countries (Kenya, for example) on other continents, promotes the "work" and "technology" of Werner Erhard, though without stressing his name, his ideological forbears (people have cited Heidegger, Scientology, Fernando Flores and Zen) or his sometimes controversial reputation. It recruits ("enrols") seminar participants ("guests") by word-of-mouth to attend a Landmark "Forum", encourages them to "transform" their attitudes ("lives") and "enrol" themselves into the "possibility" of more (and more) seminars in the future, "enrolling" their family members, friends and acquaintances in the meantime. Instances of the Landmark "Forum" have allegedly taken place in Japan, Israel, India, Mexico, Romania, Jamaica, South Africa and the Philippines, among other countries.

Many participants become volunteer unpaid workers ("assistants") for the corporation, a status the United States Department of Labor has deemed equivalent to that of employees, with rights to remuneration and benefits. If successful in "enrollment", "assistants" may join the small elite "on staff".

Stated Attitudes

Landmark presents itself as "not therapy" and opposes psychoanalysis (an attitude shared with or inherited from Scientology). Some participants suggest that some of its practices ("exercises") resemble psychotherapy, however.

Landmark forestalls some potential criticism by setting up ("creating") an atmosphere of trust and by disparaging reasoned questioning as " cynical".

At one time Landmark touted its "new" methods of training as "non-linear" learning. More recent changes in fashion have seen it associate its work with the concept of emotional intelligence.

Reactions

As the previous paragraphs may have indicated, Landmark jargon may seem pervasive and confusing. Some participants' confusion/enthusiasm has allegedly led to mental illness issues and legal action. (Compare the book by Martin Lell, Das Forum: Protokoll einer Gehirnwäsche: Der Psycho-Konzern Landmark Education, Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag, Munich, 1997, ISBN: 3423360216.) Most "graduates" of Landmark programs express quasi-religious "commitment" to "the work", at least initially.

Evaluations

A study commissioned by WEA suggests that attending a Landmark "Forum" has minimal lasting effect on one's self-perception. See J.D. Fisher, R. C. Silver, J. M. Chinsky, B. Goff and Y. Klar Evaluating a large group awareness training: A longitudinal study of psychosocial effects (Recent Research in Psychology) (Springer-Verlag, 1990), ISBN 0387973206.

Academic, peer-reviewed long-term studies of effects of attendance do not appear to exist.

Prominent Corporate Landmarkians:

  • Harry Rosenberg, brother to Werner Erhard, heads Landmark Education.
  • Art Schreiber functions in the important role of legal representative: Landmark has issued legal threats against media purveying "negative" publicity.
  • Charlene Afremow has conducted courses from the earliest appearance of Werner Erhard in "trainings" activity.

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