From the week of November 2, 2000

Get a Life

Personal best: The author of the article "Drive-thru Deliverance" (Amanda Scioscia, October 19) wrote a telling and misleading article on the woes and wonders of the Landmark Forum, most of it out of context. It should be noted that no one can capture the experience in writing.

I am a proud graduate of the Landmark Forum. It truly was a life-changing and healing experience. I understood that the belaboring of enrollment was simply to further their business. And if one looks closely, he will also recognize the premises of most major religions within the teaching. The method of group discussion and being put in a voluntary "pressure situation" to dig deep into one's psyche is incredibly healing to one who is searching for answers.

As holds true in any personal event analysis, whatever one is looking for, he will likely find. Period. If one enters looking to ridicule and condemn, I am sure he will find plenty of fodder. If one enters looking for understanding of a persistent problem, he may discover that as well. That is the whole purpose of the Forum, to help you better understand yourself so you can have a healthy outlook on life and healthy normal relationships that have clear communication.

The article was too one-sided to be printed with a clear conscience. The Forum did help me understand some of my issues, and now I approach them in a healthier way. I took a few other courses and have not been back, not because of any ill will, but because I feel complete with my life. I was not badgered, I was not coerced or pressured. In my perception, they are working for the good. They simply reteach the life principles as Robert Fulghum did: "Everything I need to know I learned in kindergarten."

I suggest rewriting the article with both sides represented.

Rebecca Rausch

Myself help: I did the Landmark Forum seven years ago. I have an amazing life, and I didn't even have to "sell the farm" to get it. It is not because of Landmark Education or the Landmark Forum. What I learned in those classes -- and, most important, using what I learned -- has played a major part in creating the life I have now. Landmark Education isn't a cult, religion or "scam." The Landmark Forum is a class, and as with any class, if you don't go and you don't do the homework, you're not going to get as much out of it. Amanda Scioscia's article captured her experience and provided all the evidence to back up her point of view. But what about the other 100-plus people who took the class with her? Out of that many people, she could find only one to agree with her? So what kind of results did the others have? Was it a case of not wanting to do the work to find out? Or was it because it didn't fit into her story?

In her article, Ms. Scioscia brings up the question of the long-term effects of doing the Landmark Forum. I am unsure if it is a case of Ms. Scioscia not doing her research or if she decided not to include any of the various independent reports that have been compiled over the years. In fact, the statement "seven out of 10 participants surveyed think the Forum is one of their life's most rewarding experiences" was one of the results from an independent survey done by Yankelovich and Associates. There was a more recent (June 2000) study done by the Talent Foundation (London, England) on the difference doing the Landmark Forum has on people in the workplace. I would have thought that the case study by the Harvard Business School would have been useful to mention also. But then again, maybe not; after all, that would not have fit into the article very well.

My personal experience is that people see what they want to see. For example, I would be more than happy to show Ms. Scioscia the family photos that the staff at the Landmark office have on their desk. I have noticed them for years. Given the type of reporting that was done in this article, I am starting to understand the recent survey that showed reporters being one of the lowest respected professions.

Wesley Hipke

Dangerous minds: I just finished reading your article on the Landmark Forum and found it to be very perceptive and thoughtful as well as being very well-written.

I have an interest in Landmark as a result of having a girlfriend who came out of a two-day course as a completely different and very disturbing person -- but only when she was discussing Landmark with me. In other contexts, she was fine. She had been much involved in earlier years but had taken a long break from attending the courses. Two days back and look out!

I feel perhaps that you were too easy on the question of Landmark being a cult. If one looks at the situation when Werner Erhard was in charge, there certainly was that one controlling figure (who reportedly asked to be treated as "the source") and other criteria. Methinks they doth protest too much.

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