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Simplified LGAT

Three years ago I wrote a fairly lengthy bit about Large Group Awareness Training (or LGAT) methods and practices, and how they all fit together to form coercive persuasion that should make any informed body run in the opposite direction (which remains my highest traffic article of all time, with nearly 5x the activity of any of the next highest I’ve done).  While the analysis was decent, I think I’ve found a far simpler way of relating the mechanics of how these organizations assert dominance so effectively while trying to literally (actually literally, not that stupid “emphatically figuratively” crap) change people’s minds:

It follows the playbook of the Borderline Personality Disorder “Queen” variant, with just a little “Witch” thrown in: it’s all about control.  I’ve always found it interesting that folks using these practices rely on dominance while selling the contrasting idea of empowerment, but with the idea of BPD thrown in it all makes a lot more sense.

See, the controlling BPD subject, specifically a mother with the affliction, relies on overt expressions of authority (the big-and-loud assertion that “I’M THE BOSS”), use of belittlement and denigration, and inverted mirroring (whereby, instead of someone seeing themselves validated through the eyes of such a mother, has the mother insist on seeing herself validated in her children) to maintain her position at the top.  In such cases it’s usually because of deep fears of abandonment and loss of control based on experiencing reversed roles earlier in life (wherein she had no control, and may have frequently felt such abandonment).

However it happens, the message to the child is the same as the LGAT message to the participant: your success (past, present, and future) belongs to and validates me (and my practices, philosophies, and/or fees), and your failures belong to you and your inability to be like me.  I will continue to be in control because I’m what really matters around here (and this is for your own good).  Also, don’t leave me.

Interestingly enough, the academic studies of LGATs specifically recommend against involvement by borderline people – which may be specifically because BPD breeds BPD, so someone with the condition almost certainly grew up in an environment where one or both parents also had it.  Exposure to those same techniques, albeit shrouded by glossy brochures and slick sales pitches, is likely to exploit the same channels established in difficult childhood and amplify the (potentially destructive) effects.

What “empowerment” is imparted for your several easy installments of cash and weekend retreats?  Magical thinking that you yourself are also able to be “in control”, not only of yourself but of the universe as it pertains to manifesting your circumstances (including the other people therein).  No amount of propaganda or positive emotional reinforcement can overcome the cognitive fallacy for long, which is why continued participation (and hard sales tactics) is such a big deal with these folks until the neurosis is well and truly on its way to becoming a more psychotic break with reality.  At this point the child becomes the next BPD Queen, validating the flawed parent and perpetuating the cycle.

It also does a lot to explain why these places are able to continue to profitably operate: there are a lot of people out there who, for whatever reason, respond consistently to “borderline” type environments (likely from their own troubled up-bringing), and see it as a way of breaking out of the damage, indecision, and powerlessness they’ve known their entire lives.  Even if it does paradoxically mean becoming (at least superficially) the next version of the same weapon which originally wounded them.

Understanding them better doesn’t mean I empathize with them more: I still see LGATs as harmful and parasitic, and say to anyone I can, “RUN!”  It’s severely messed up, particularly seeing as how the entire thing could share common roots with such a terrible psychological problem.

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