In 1992, right before going off to college, one of my best friends was gushing about this thing he did, called the "Landmark Forum". His whole family had done it, and they were a very together family (very close, very successful, and very happy).
I thought it was kind of weird (and expensive), but I decided to go for it. The night before the first session was on, my parents and I were watching the Barbara Walters special, when she talked to Tom Cruise, and Cruise was gushing about this "technology" of Scientology that changed his life.
Since the Forum also used "technology" in its spiel, my mom was worried for me, and urged me to take everything they said with a grain of salt.
The Landmark Forum was based out of est, but wasn't the Erhard progam (I don't think). At least, Erhard wasn't quoted throughout my program. They didn't make him out as some kind of god, like est did.
The layout of my sessions (hotel ballroom, straight backed chairs in pristine order, annoyingly happy volunteers) was the same, but I don't remember verbal abuse on the scale of that article. The fear excercise was the same (except we stayed seated in our chairs, not laying on the floor). I didn't "get" that excercise; other people were giggling about it by the end, but I didn't see what was so funny.
Anyway, I saw the whole thing through, including a "Forum in Action" followup course, but I didn't come out "transformed" (though I did come out to my best friend about my crossdressing). I took what was useful, and left the rest behind.
My friend's family took part in a lot of the courses, and remain a very loving, and happy family.
Interestingly, I remember that Landmark was involved in legal entanglements with Scientology, and that they had an outreach committee that tried its best to separate Landmark from the Church of Scientology, in the media.
While I was leery about the program I went through, I have to say that I felt very anxious reading that account in the article above. That de>
We're in this together. - Nine Inch Nails