Landmark’s Racket…….. Testimony of a wise one.

My experience with Landmark Education woke me up to the biggest racket of all… the one they are running.


My first encounter with Landmark was in 2008 when a friend asked me to attend an introductory meeting. It sounded interesting, so I went along although the persistence to sign up was a big turn off. I cannot remember how many phone calls I received after that – several – until I asked them to please stop calling and I was not interested.
Fast forward to 2013, the same friend suggested another Landmark evening, this one based around relationships (which I was struggling with). Having put the past experience into the recesses of my mind, I went along. I heard many enthusiastic, smiley people describe how much their lives had changed: marriages healed, better jobs and new beginnings. I found myself signing up for the forum to begin a few months later.
The first morning of the forum began with talk of “integrity”, a reasonable request related to being on time. I see this now as a plight for obedience to the leader and with this as the first request, we began to fall in line with what was expected of us, and the status quo of the group. Following this were direct challenges to our ways of thinking and being in the world.

These included witnessing participants being yelled at, called assholes, and told all their whining and whinging was self-inflicted. Stories of abuse, losing loved one’s to murder, infidelity were revealed – which only had meaning as the individual had given it meaning. It felt like we were in the midst of a tsunami, and for survival, had to stick together. We were told we would receive the “answer” on Sunday afternoon at 4.52pm (life is…empty and meaningless).
Landmark leaders are extremely charismatic and trustworthiness increases as the weekend wore on. As the tempo peaked, whatever the leader said was for a good cause, and as he ripped people apart psychologically, he would then tell us all how much he loved us.
By the end of the weekend, I certainly felt different (transformed is the Landmark lingo), on a high, and signed up eagerly for the next course, which was promised to be a hundred times better.
I participated in the seminar series: 3 hours once a week for 10 weeks in which the basic concepts of the forum are repeated in depth, this time by an unpaid volunteer. It was during this experience I started to see some cracks in what I had been sold: mainly this was not a one off experience, but one in which to really attain an incredible life, there laid ahead of me many different Landmark programs. The push in the forum to bring family and friends to an introductory meeting also intensified, and we were told we were being selfish if we did not want others to experience what we had. We were told living a regular (reasonable) life was the lowest level of living. There was the importance of “distinguishing the machine” (the mind) and increasing pressure to breakdown ego defences and coping mechanisms.
A few months later the weekend of the advanced course came around. An equally charismatic person – who told us in the first few minutes it was not a “feeling good” weekend, led this. Next came the “integrity” talk as people walked in a few minutes late. I saw the very strong push to conform to the leader’s request, who then had participants go to the microphone to ensure the rest of us would be on time, by pleading, cajoling, and then requesting. We were told we were all responsible for everyone else “getting it” that weekend… more pressure to conform to the group and challenge anyone who was not following the party line.
Any challenge or disagreement with a Landmark concept was met with a belittling of the individual, a character assassination – all in the name of bringing awareness to “rackets”, “strong suits”, “trump card” and “the act”. The process continued with more (psychological) breakdowns, in what I considered to be an unsafe and dangerous way. There were no mental health professionals on standby, and removing ego defences is usually a long process, ideally with a skilled practitioner.
I was disturbed witnessing several women talk about physical and sexual abuse as children, to be told they were responsible for this “occurring”, and to bring whoever had perpetrated them to the forum (think of the pain they are in, you can free them from that). There was a hint of desperation in the room, a wanting more from the experience: the answer to life to be revealed, the pot of proverbial gold at the end of the rainbow.
There were many points at which I felt like walking out on that first day. Other participants told me that by staying I would have a “breakthrough” and challenged me to look at which “act” I was making those decisions from.
We were told to suspend our critical thinking for the weekend, and start believing as the leader did. That there would be a funeral of the self that weekend and then we would have the opportunity to recreate ourselves.
Approximately 30-40% of the day was spent on “enrolling” people to Landmark. That our growth and greatness was directly linked to this action. When I opened a line of questioning with other participants and wondered if anyone else felt if it was right to think they knew what was best for anyone else, I was met with condemnation and swiftly told I was running a “racket”.
I had had enough after 12 hours. The next morning I did not go back. It was a struggle to fight through knowing what was right for me, vs. the increased pressure from phone calls during the day from other participants and staff of Landmark enquiring where I was, and what they could do to get me back?
I experienced significant paranoia for a few days, as I fought to regain myself and battle against the messages that had been instilled: I would be living a life of mediocrity and despondency if I didn’t continue on the Landmark path, which would be hopeless and futile; I was acting out of a negative place by believing my own thoughts, which must be overcome in order to achieve greatness; but most of all fighting for one’s individuality over the power of the group.
The greatest gift Landmark inadvertently gave me was the belief in my own judgement and intuition. Ultimately, I could feel parts of myself (humility) slipping away the more I progressed with Landmark, and narcissism, aggression and a yearning for power increasing. The pressure to “enrol” those around me in my life to the Landmark ways was suffocating, to the extent we were told only Landmarkers who marry each other would have successful marriages (many contradictions abounded). The black and white way of looking at the world, as well as magical thinking, felt immature and shallow.
I also met several people who had been involved with Landmark for decades and continued to take the courses, so clearly the transformative experience needed to be re-experienced time and again…..

My experience with Landmark Education woke me up to the biggest racket of all… the one they are running.


10 Responses

  1. From what I’ve seen, Landmark works well for narcissists, because it validates nihilism and the notion that nothing ‘s their fault.


  2. I went to Landmark this weekend not knowing what it was or what to expect.
    One thing I got out was the courage to reveal a secret I had been hiding for more than 15 years from everyone, especially from my family and my mom: the secret of living with an addiction to pornography. I had gone through years of guilt, then anxiety and despair. It robbed me of my joy of living and any sense of spirituality, and made me feel my life was mediocre.

    I felt more power over my dilemma once I started sharing this that Sunday, and felt reassured I’d get real help if my family knew about this and supported me through it.

    More importantly, after the final “revelation” that Sunday, I felt free and like this porn issue is a thing in the past (or will be). :)


  3. It is a disgrace that there are no strict criteria preventing the promotion and operation of such scams, from the Dept of Health for example. Money making schemes that have their product as ‘unsuspecting people’s mental and emotional well being” are despicable. . From my observation point, the Landmark ‘training’ actually PREVENTS people from taking charge of their daily lives, NOT empowering them, like they make out. They are getting away with it because they operate ‘in the shadows’ – in itself a tell tale sign of something extremely underhanded

    Liked by 1 person

  4. When a group is pinpointed as abusive there is a tendency to start a new one, at least, they will make some effort towards presenting it as new particularly in areas that have not heard of Landmark or not very familiar with other cults. The language may not change, however, the group I am aware of that is making changes is the Educo cult; Tony Quinn is piggybacking on the ‘new age’ cultic expressions and those who have trained under him for years have changed the name of the Tony Quinn Centre to the POSITIVE PSYCHOLOGY COACHING INSTITUTE. The people who run this place are steeped in Quinn’s mind-bending ‘philosophy’.

    It’s a disgrace and an insult to the public that the educational system in Ireland has no guidelines available to ensure protection from cultic mind controlling groups.


  5. I never heard about this racket until recently. A women in our town in the Midlands started a community project, telling us that by joining and helping out the town, our lives would be transformed and we would be able to create new realities. She talked a lot about ‘getting it’ which seemed odd – it transpires that this is a cover up for Landmark and her aim is to go around putting pressure on people to join the course and pay euro 400 – most people don’t have money like that to spend and don’t want to be cornered by her… also gives a very bad impression of the projects that people are starting up, if it becomes associated with such a racket…..Ann B


  6. Anonymous

    Do you think you could report it to the Gardaí? They are running a racket. The person who answered the phone to you sounds like a nasty bully.

    Why is it that pressure to extort money is not seen as a criminal offense when it comes to cultic groups?


  7. Hi Jane! Gosh! I’m facing a similar issue today. I attended the forum and then a first seminar (out of 10), but I don’t feel comfortable with it at all. I called today to ask for a refund (I registered for the advanced course during the forum), but I received a series of circular questions regarding my resistance, responsibility avoidance, making people wrong, etc etc etc and a final “you are running racket, so I won’t process your refund” answer, I feel very frustrated. I don’t know what else to do! It’s crazy how they say exactly the same everywhere in the World!!! How you are labelled as having a “racket”, “resisting”, or “being “uncoachable” when you don’t do what they want you to! Impressive!


  8. Glad to be free of the LM pressure. After receiving numerous calls as to why I had left, I could have a “breakthrough”, etc etc I got to the point of letting LM know I would report them to the police for harassment. A swift response that I would not be bothered again followed. So far, this is true!
    Thanks for your responses.


  9. They want you to let down your sceptical cautious defences and submit your mind to their way of thinking allowing them to get you to pay for the privilege.
    They use a set of well known psychological techniques to bend you towards their will.They want to break you to remake you.
    The sad fact is that any good life coaching techniques can be freely found in books on the subject you don’t need to pay them for the privilege of passing on their tainted advice .
    .Landmark leave good people alone to get on with their life without forking out cash to your money making racket ,the cost is simply too dear mentally and financially,not worth it.
    .Stay away don’t let yourself or friends be recruited.


  10. Reading your post reminded me of the Educo cult. Thank God you left when you did. I sincerely hope you get the support that you need.


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