Gratitude Training is an LGAT with up to 100 students at the time. Sociologists coined the term large group awareness training (LGAT) to refer to seminars and meetings incorporating self-help, pop psychology, and business motivational techniques. People pay a sum to attend, often having learned of the LGAT through word of mouth. Within the context of a large group of people attending for the same purpose, these meetings promise to help attendees achieve personal "breakthroughs", a more positive outlook on life, or better social and business skills. LGAT seminars typically last many hours over the course of 3 or 4 days, or over a succession of two weekends. For best cultic results, keep your subjects thoroughly detached from the outside world.
Within the narcissistic framework constructed by the training, the infantile use of splitting and dividing takes place. The the relational world becomes one of "all good" and "all bad" as the students become the minority group to transform the world. We are the "2 per cent" is the battle cry. In order for the Gratitude Training experience to he taken in, it needs to be idealized as an all-good object. In this way the Trainer cannot be questioned nor the content. Participants whose opinions deviated from the trainer or the founder (like me, Mark M Robbins, were seen as a threat to the feelings of elation and well-being enjoyed by participants. Such threats had to be actively defended against in order to preserve the fantasy of omnipotence cultivated within the training. Dissenters are shown the door. My very simple story with Gratitude Training LLC is as follows:
1) I (very innocently) signed up for "Gratitude Training" with my twin 19 yr old sons. It is a self-growth training. It is called a "Large group awareness training" (LGAT) similar to Landmark, Lifespring, Summit, and the original "EST" Trainings in the 60's. Thus the entrapment techniques used by these groups have had 50 years of refinement.
2) Parts 1 and Parts 2 (9 days total) were effective and also incredibly intense! They use a process of breaking you down and "trauma bonding" with others to lift you and the team up to conclude with a euphoric high through the use of "love bombing." I am new to South Florida and I was interested in creating community. And it did achieve this goal (too much so).
3) It works to achieve more vibrancy and love etc. for nearly 100 per cent of the students. Just like robust weight training adds muscles 100 per cent of the time. Parts 1 and parts 2 work at a near perfect rate of efficacy. We are all made the same way.
4) THE GOOD NEWS - It created a tight community for me and I got closer to my kids.
5) THE BAD NEWS - The positive effects are used in sinister ways. Part 3 begins what I call the "80 day indoctrination phase" where we (the students) are bombarded with "hooks" to entrap us. Mentors, coaches, captains, small groups, committees, large group calls, service work... it never ends. Being older and wiser, I could see the strategy. Before you know it, the (very questionable) New Age spiritual teachings along with the community bonding had it so I and my teammates only wanted to be with each other. We were elite and special.
6) RED FLAGS (A) We the students were asked to do "service work" which would be OK if it were a non profit like a church. But our service work padded the bottom line of the partnership (fund raising, managing events, signing people up etc.) (B) Of even greater concern to me was to see "graduates" (of a 3 1/2 month program) giving ridiculous amounts of time to Gratitude Training LLC. This is no lie - volunteers for Part 2 of the training would give 60 hours (5 days time 12 hrs) of their time to help support the training. The trainers and a few other staff got salaries. The rest were all "volunteer."
7) The secrets are so tight and the cult is so close that most staff would state that they are gladly volunteering (despite neglecting their kids, families, and careers). The most common complaint of family members is that they are "losing" their loved one to Gratitude Training. This of course would be the common complaint of any cult.
8) Despite the good intentions of "volunteers." It is ALL ILLEGAL. Workers in a "For Profit" company must be paid. Period. AOL paid out a $25 million settlement when the "volunteers" for their chat rooms decided they wanted to be paid!
8) I was asked to leave GT when I questioned the business practices. The fact that I was then completely cut off and isolated from the community proved to me that this is indeed a cult. I explore this further in my blog.
I look forward to speaking with you. Mark M Robbins (570) 592-3246