French Documentary Transcript:"Voyage to the Land of the New Gurus" Video

Aired to approximately 1.5 million viewers in France

France 3 Pieces a Conviction "Incriminating Evidence"/May 24, 2004
Directed by Karima Tabti

HOST ELISE LUCET Good evening. Tonight, a special edition of "Incriminating Evidence." An unprecedented investigation of the secret world of the new merchants of happiness.
In a society that's losing its bearings, there are more and more of them, coaches promising to improve your performance, live better with others. We are going to dive into the heart of one of those companies. It never opens up to television cameras. Maybe this is what they don't want you to find out.
CUT TO LANDMARK FORUM LEADER ALAIN ROTH, LEADING SEMINAR Let the fear enter your body, your breathing, your gut.
NARRATOR This is a company with surprising methods. 80 people closed up in a big hotel for 3 days, subject to the whims of one man.
CUT TO ALAIN ROTH (coaching a woman in The Forum)
You're an asshole.
WOMAN Yes I'm an asshole, but I love her.
ALAIN ROTH It's serious. No, you don't love her! You love yourself!
NARRATOR Try to imagine. We made our preparations in utter secrecy. With this miniature camera and high-tech equipment, we got inside this company. It's called Landmark Education. Started in America, it's in 26 countries. At least 700,000 people have been seduced by it.
CUT TO ANONYMOUS LANDMARK PARTICIPANT They made me feel I was valued, exceptional. I would open a four-lane highway in my life.
NARRATOR But it's not harmless, at least that's what French authorities think. Since 1995, Landmark Education has actually been considered a sect.
CUT TO PSYCHIATRIST JEAN-MARIE ABGRALL These guys aren't trained, as if tomorrow you set up shop as a psychotherapist. That's what's shocking.
NARRATOR Improving your life, happiness, reconciling with loved ones. Everyone wants that. This company understands that well. But in the voyage through life, no one walks away unscathed.
CUT TO COUPLE SITTING AT DINING TABLE, WIFE: Anyone could be taken in. Anyone could be taken in by this.
HOST ELISE LUCET In a few moments, we'll go inside Landmark Education's world. Or rather, we'll infiltrate this organization. The images you'll see are sometimes shocking, Some of the people you'll see are mistreated, destabilized. They crack. We'll talk with our guests: lawyers, experts in brainwashing and sects, but also with men and women like you and me, who once thought Landmark Education could help them feel better. But first, the facts. Here we begin our unique voyage.
On a cold morning in December, we were given an appointment in a three-star hotel in Paris. Inside, a company is offering a 3 day personal development workshop in exchange for 395 euros. Disguised as an unemployed man looking for direction, we arrived that morning equipped with hidden cameras. We are immediately directed by several people…wearing name tags bearing their first names, toward a meeting room. The first test on the road to personal development is signing a document that’s referred to here as a contract. Six pages, actually written by Landmark Education, the real organizer behind this big working weekend called The Forum. This is what we can read to you from it.
VOICEOVER, READING EXCERPTS, LANDMARK FORUM CONTRACT Each client certifies that he/she will take responsibility for any physical or psychological damage or emotional disturbances that may occur during or after The Forum. Each client also agrees that Landmark Education is free and clear of any liability.
NARRATOR And an even more unsettling question:
VOICEOVER, READING CONTRACT Have you ever been hospitalized for psychiatric care or mental problems?
NARRATOR If the answer is yes, the document recommends not taking part in The Forum. Once this matter is taken care of, the workshop can begin. In a room completely cut off from the outside world, over 80 people will spend 72 hours together. The rules are strict: no note-taking, no leaving without permission, and only one meal per day. The staging is exact. Facing the audience is a director’s chair. On this chair is a man. His name is Alain Roth. He calls himself a coach. He’s actually the director of Landmark Education in France. On the first day, he explains the agenda to us, which is called The Forum.
LANDMARK FORUM LEADER ALAIN ROTH The Landmark Forum is a place, for 3 days, for you to fuck with the course, be unreasonable, do the things that you have never done, and abandon all your reasons and explanations for not doing it. Are you interested to win a game called: "You bust out and nothing’s the same" ? Is that possible? It is. And there are things that produce these results: Technology itself. We invented a technology -- a conversation that literally revolutionizes what is possible. If you do The Forum as it is meant, there’s a 99.99% chance it will work for you. If you do it your own way, I can’t guarantee it.
NARRATOR A life transformed in 3 and a half days. A life where everything becomes possible. In these first three hours, Alain Roth never lacks for arguments to lure in his audience. First break. A chance to find people who’ve come here to become coaches in their daily lives.
FORUM PARTICIPANT 1, MAN What I want is to succeed in selling myself, to say OK, this is what I want to do, this is what I’m doing. A sort of recognition.
NARRATOR More confidence in yourself?
FORUM PARTICIPANT 2, MAN For me it’s about knowing if I make good decisions at the right time. I don’t always feel like I make good decisions.
FORUM PARTICIPANT 1, MAN It’s funny because I’m also wondering - Is Landmark a sect?
FORUM PARTICIPANT 2, MAN Yes, I asked myself the same question.
NARRATOR Among the participants, doubt already exists. The question has already been asked. A chance to continue forming an opinion, because everyone is to return to their seats. Now, they tell us, is when the course really begins. In the first exercise, everyone is asked to take the floor to divulge their personal problems to the audience. Daniele is the first to give it a try. Alain Roth invited her to confide to the attendees. Her troubles: she doesn’t get along well with her daughter.
DANIELE, FORUM PARTICIPANT, AT MICROPHONE My daughter, right now, when everything could be going well, right now, what I’ve told her applies: "You can’t trust men." So, she’s with a man who’s no good for her, and I can’t stand him.
ALAIN ROTH What’s this? She’s going out with a man you’re not in love with?
DANIELE Well, I control her since, in any case…
ALAIN ROTH You are right that men…
DANIELE that men cannot be trusted.
DANIELE She’s heard that all her life. She was barely born when it was: "They’re all bastards." I’ve always made sure to – secretly – to make her believe that men are difficult.
ALAIN ROTH So you do that subtly. You release the poison slowly.
DANIELE I realize that she’s totally taken it in…
ALAIN ROTH You used your daughter to show your point of view. You ruined her life. It must be hard to look in the mirror. That’s the cost, huh? And what’s more, you claim you love her. Are you kidding or what?
DANIELE I love her. I warned her about it.
ALAIN ROTH You’re getting your revenge by living through her. You’re an asshole. Yeah.
DANIELE No, no. She…
ALAIN ROTH Wait. You have to wake up a little and start to accept how much of an asshole you are. Really. And stop pretending otherwise. What’s controlling your life is a mechanism that’s about destroying your daughter’s happiness to get your revenge on men. And you tell yourself, you tell yourself you love her. It’s a disgrace!
DANIELE Yes, I’m an asshole. But I love her.
ALAIN ROTH It’s serious. No, you don’t love her. You love yourself! No, no, no. You are a…
DANIELE I sacrificed myself for her.
ALAIN ROTH No, you didn’t sacrifice yourself. You sacrificed her for you!
NARRATOR This public humiliation has now been going on for 30 minutes. Under the violent words, Daniele cracks.
ALAIN ROTH You spend your life whining. It’s not a pretty sight: "Boo, hoo, hoo. I’m not happy." At the same time, you assassinate everyone. Seriously, there are limits.
DANIELE (crying) I admit, I admit that I managed to –
ALAIN ROTH You’re the one who did it!
DANIELE I admit that I managed to convince her that men are jerks –
ALAIN ROTH No. To destroy her romantic life!
ALAIN ROTH Bravo! And to make her feel guilty. Bravo! So don’t be indecent and say you love her.
DANIELE But since I didn’t want her to –
ALAIN ROTH You claim you want her to be happy. You make it so she’s unhappy. It’s a racket. It’s inauthentic.
DANIELE But she’s in a relationship and needs to –
ALAIN ROTH And now you want her to get away from this guy who you got her together with. Or some other guy, or to make it so she isn’t with any others. You have destroyed what is possible in her life. You! And you have the indecency to say you love her.
DANIELE I admit it. Yes, I admit it. But what do I do about it?
ALAIN ROTH Stop feeling guilty, to begin with.
NARRATOR 50 minutes later, Daniele is worn out. It doesn’t matter, he pushes even harder.
ALAIN ROTH Guilt is even more disgusting. You spend your life kicking yourself to make yourself feel better, by letting those you’ve destroyed die off. If you want to do something for her, I don’t know, you could kill yourself. No, that’s not good enough. No, kick yourself. Find something that makes you suffer. Get cancer. Make it last for 29 years, so you suffer and die. That way you’ll feel better about your daughter croaking. So you have to accept it.
NARRATOR Alain Roth now takes the opportunity to teach everyone a lesson, in his own words.
ALAIN ROTH We are criminals when we feel threatened. This is called "a racket." That’s the distinction "racket," when you feel threatened in your identity. It’s not even a physical threat. No one is dying. You’re rejected, not wanted anymore. You write off all men, and you instill this in your daughter. You use her for revenge. It’s about destroying. It’s not about loving!
In a few moments, we’ll continue this voyage into the heart of Landmark Education, and witness the rest of it hour by hour. But after this particularly violent scene, we should discuss what happened with out guests: Brigitte Thelier, who attended a Landmark Education workshop, Pierre, who lived through the same experience and wants to remain anonymous, and Jean-Pierre Jougla, a lawyer and a specialist in brainwashing in sects. First, I turn to you, Brigitte and Pierre, because I saw you react very strongly during that clip, as if it still hurts to see these images.
BRIGITTE THELIER, PAST PARTICIPANT, THE FORUM That’s true, I attended this workshop in ‘96. And seeing Alain Roth again in his chair, really, it makes my stomach turn.
ELISE LUCET It hurts you?
BRIGITTE THELIER It hurts me a lot.
PIERRE, PAST PARTICIPANT, THE FORUM It’s very, very difficult to see that again. I’ve seen even worse. But this sets the tone well. They put someone in the hot seat for 50 minutes and destroy them.
ELISE LUCET You have also see students break down on stage? You mean that this is what really happens in these Forums?
PIERRE Yes, it’s even a little watered down. It’s worse than that sometimes. That’s about a mother-daughter problem, we see how abusive it is. There’s no reason to make a scene. So, imagine about subjects that are much more painful. There, they can’t take it.
ELISE LUCET And how was it for you, for the 3 days inside this workshop?
BRIGITTE THELIER Well, I think I’m like anyone else. I have my share of problems, now and then. But when I saw some people, like in the clip, how they were able to explain their problems in depth, how he was able to say, "How you’ve ruined your life! Do you realize the destruction you’ve created around you? All problems come from you. But, now I’m going to fix it. That’s why I’m here, to fix everything." I didn’t want to. I found myself with 200 people that I’d never seen before, with a character who knew absolutely nothing about me. And even if deep inside I had problems, I didn’t want to air them there.
ELISE LUCET Did either of you ever just want to get up and walk out of the room?
PIERRE No, because at that price you stay until the end.
BRIGITTE THELIER Maybe so. But you’re also being watched closely. The point is that you just don’t leave the room like that.
ELISE LUCET So, Jean-Pierre Jougla, you’re a lawyer and also an expert in brainwashing. Could it be said that what happened between Alain Roth and Daniele is brainwashing?
JEAN-PIERRE JOUGLA, COMMENTATOR First I'd like to go back to your question, "Did you ever want to leave the room?" No. They were simply in a state that made it impossible to leave. From the beginning you saw the brainwashing set in motion, through things that seem harmless. For example, confining people for 3 or 4 days in a room with no windows. No sense of time passing.
ELISE LUCET No bearings?
JEAN-PIERRE JOUGLA No bearings. And, commitment to a completely objectionable contract.
ELISE LUCET But a valid one?
JEAN-PIERRE JOUGLA No. If you brought it to court, if would be thrown out immediately. But people there don't know that it's invalid, and so are put in a position of inferiority, passivity.
ELISE LUCET Is it dangerous to put a person through that in front of 200 people?
JEAN-PIERRE JOUGLA Of course it is. No one would think of playing around with this. Roth using techniques that could be used in behavioral psychology groups, but where people know it's reciprocal.
ELISE LUCET Meaning "face-to-face"?
JEAN-PIERRE JOUGLA Face-to-face, removed from any public confessions. That's where you get into totalitarian methods.
ELISE LUCET For breaking down the mind?
JEAN-PIERRE JOUGLA It completely breaks a person down, while preventing most people from realizing it. But brainwashing is just that: it happens without the victim knowing it
ELISE LUCET In a few moments we will continue our infiltration of Landmark Education, and you will see the surprises that lie ahead. But you are surely wondering where Landmark Education comes from. Who created it? How many students does it have? Is it a sect, as some speakers have wondered? Here are the answers to your questions.
Landmark Education: To know more about it we did a quick search on the internet. In the Yellow Pages, this company is just a continuing education firm. On its website, this American company, based in San Francisco, provides films that sing its praises. Smiles and applause, the workshops seem to take place in a perfectly good mood.
CLIP FROM PROMOTIONAL VIDEO "Created in 1991, Landmark Education is one of the global leaders in personal development."
NARRATOR The company confirms it is present in 25 countries with more than 475 employees. As of today, Landmark Education has over 700,000 clients around the world. In France, Landmark Education is directed by an HEC [business school] graduate, by this man, Alain Roth. Registered with the Registry of Commerce in 1993, the French subsidiary today occupies offices in the 10th district of Paris.
But as early as 1995, the company’s name appeared in a parliamentary report [Les sectes en France], that listed 172 movements with a sect-like nature. Between the river bank suicide and the About-Men Club, is Landmark Education. To establish this list, the Assembly members relied on work conducted by police officers in the General Information Division, where they considered 10 criteria that define a sect. In the investigation notes, there is a question of brainwashing and mind control at Landmark Education.
We contacted the French headquarters by phone, asking to speak with Alain Roth.
ALAIN ROTH Yes, hello.
REPORTER I’m calling because we are preparing a show –
NARRATOR At the same moment, the reporter we planted is next to him, in the Landmark Education offices.
REPORTER - so I wanted to contact you to have a chance to meet with you.
ALAIN ROTH So, what needs to happen in that case is that you go to our department that deals with the media.
NARRATOR Impossible to ask Alain Roth the slightest question, he sends us to his superiors in the U.S.
ALAIN ROTH Listen, you’ll have to speak with them first.
REPORTER Very well. Thank you.
ALAIN ROTH You’re welcome.
REPORTER See you soon.
ALAIN ROTH Good bye.
ALAIN ROTH (TO STAFF) OK, well, Yeah, they’re doing a show on sects.
NARRATOR As soon as the call is over, Alain Roth tells his American superiors about it.
ALAIN ROTH [ENGLISH] This is Alain Roth. I don’t know if we know each other.
NARRATOR Negotiations last for a few weeks. In the end, Landmark Education agrees to an interview. But surprise, it will not be with Alain Roth. Instead, the company offers us an interview with this woman, Sophie McLean. Coming from New York for the occasion, here is how she presented the company’s activities to us.
SOPHIE MCLEAN, SPOKESPERSON, LANDMARK FORUM LEADER It is an international personal development company for which we created this teaching that is known to have a first course called The Forum. 3 days and an evening that examine what it means to be a human being. So, in general, you come and look at your life. You look at your values. You think. It’s a weekend that was designed to examine what a human being is. And it gives extraordinary results in the areas of your life that interest you.
NARRATOR Landmark Education also wants to point out that its courses are meant for people in good emotional and physical health, as signified in the contract signed by every client.
SOPHIE MCLEAN People who are not doing well do psychology or psychotherapy. Right? People who are doing well do personal development.
NARRATOR As for the classification by the French Parliament of Landmark Education as a sect, Sophie McLean disputes it.
SOPHIE MCLEAN First of all, it’s totally untrue of course, but I will tell you that we learned about it in the newspapers that we were considered a sect. No one did an inquiry. We were not – No one came to observe our seminar.
NARRATOR According to Sophie McLean, several international experts say the same thing in different studies: that Landmark is not a sect.
SOPHIE MCLEAN There is this extraordinary person in America, his name is Dr. Raymond Fowler. And we also have someone in Germany, Dr. Nedopil.
NARRATOR According to her, a French expert also vouches for Landmark Education.
SOPHIE MCLEAN The expert on cults in France is Jean-Marie Abgrall. We allow you complete freedom, you can take all the notes you want. And then let us know. Make us a report and then tell us – huh? – what you think.
NARRATOR Jean-Marie Abgrall: A psychiatrist and legal expert, who has, according to Sophie McLean, written a report stating that Landmark Education is not a sect. But Landmark refuses to release this report. To try and learn more, we met with Jean-Marie Abgrall. He says he’s never really taken a stance.
JEAN-MARIE ABGRALL, PSYCHIATRIST, LEGAL EXPERT It's not true that I said it's not a sect. I neither wrote that it is a sect nor that it's not a sect. I haven't taken a stance.
NARRATOR According to our information, for his work Jean-Marie Abgrall was paid more than 45,000 euros. He agreed to let us in on the important points of his report. In the report, he says that during a Forum he has not found any element of constraint or allegiance to a charismatic leader. Nevertheless, he confirms that he warned the company about insufficient selection and monitoring of the students at Landmark. He says that such methods could put some participants in danger.
JEAN-MARIE ABGRALL, M.D. My critique is of techniques that haven't been mastered at all. There is no control of a psychologist. They just put anyone in there, which means that if this guy takes a blow, he leaves alone in a daze, there's no one to take control for him. They don't exchange information - there's no real inspection of the technique. These guys aren't trained, as if tomorrow you set up shop as a psychotherapist. I mean, that's what's shocking
You have surely gathered by now that we wanted to invite Alain Roth to the set. Despite multiple phone calls and repeated faxes – and I have the latest one here – he refused to come on the set, and of course we’re sorry about that. Let’s go back to Brigitte Thelier and Pierre who are, I remind you, former students of Landmark Education. Since both of you attended your workshops, have you also asked yourself the question: cult or not a cult? – Pierre?
PIERRE Yes, because that’s what motivated me to register for The Forum. When I first heard about Landmark, I had two close friends who were doing it. And when we got together I asked questions. It was never possible to get the least bit of information. I only heard it’s "what happens," it’s "what was said," it’s "extraordinary." The responses, the vocabulary used was completely incomprehensible. The questions were only a "racket," a "winning formula," etc. When you don’t have the keys, you can’t detect it. So when you ask for details, it wasn’t possible. They told me, "Do it! You’ll see how good it is."
ELISE LUCET So we’ve heard Pierre. Brigitte, as far as you’re concerned, was it important for you to know whether Landmark Education is a sect?
BRIGITTE THELIER I would simply answer that, having lived through those three days, my experience tells me it is a sect. It’s a sect because it’s a place where you’re treated like a puppet or marionette. As soon as I’m treated like a puppet – like an object – I’m not myself anymore. It means someone has power over me. And in that case it’s a sect.
ELISE LUCET On that note, Jean-Pierre Brard, you are deputy mayor of Montreal. You were vice-president of the investigating committee on sects in the Assembly. As we heard, Landmark Education says that you classified them as a sect, without having investigated it. What’s your response?
JEAN-PIERRE BRARD, DEPUTY MAYOR, MONTREAL I say that Ms. McLean must be Pinocchio's little sister and that, little by little as she's talking, her nose must be growing longer. Because, obviously, she's lying.
ELISE LUCET But precisely what are the criteria that lead you to say it’s a sect?
JEAN-PIERRE BRARD It's very simple. Clearly, there's a guru who destabilizes people to enslave them, to make them subservient, which has been said by witnesses. You can also see that they make you relinquish critical thought, and break the person down so that they can pick up the pieces. You can also see that there's a network of money. This hasn't been mentioned yet: The ultimate goal is to press its power and clean out the students' wallets. And by using the students, to attempt to earn more. So, there are the criterion of domination, a network of money, subordination and brainwashing. So it's a sect.
ELISE LUCET But you know, for those watching, it’s far removed from the caricature they have of a sect. It’s not The Mandarom Sect. It’s far from The Order of the Solar Temple. Why?
JEAN-PIERRE BRARD It’s not that far. You still have a group, you have a pyramid structure. You still have jargon that separates you from your family and society. And you still have the element of money from people that are victims.
ELISE LUCET Jean-Pierre Jougla?
JEAN-PIERRE JOUGLA What influences public opinion is only the storefront. The sects you cited have a religious pretense, and hide behind that screen. Here, there’s no religious element. But there’s still a doctrine. The basis of Landmark’s doctrine essentially rests on a philosophical concept. It’s the concept of authenticity. "We’re going to teach people to be authentic."
ELISE LUCET We’ll see that.
JEAN-PIERRE JOUGLA So, we’ll get back to it.
ELISE LUCET Now with these initial explanations, we return to our immersion back at The Forum. Despite what we saw, no one objected. Everyone decided to return. But this time, the session begins with questions that are not necessarily welcomed, as you’ll see.
Back to the workshop. Before continuing with the course, Alain Roth makes a proposal. For those who want to leave the workshop, the door is open. For those with questions, they should ask them now.
ALAIN ROTH So, if you have a question, raise your hand and ask it.
NARRATOR Up front, a woman voices a criticism.
MURIELLE, WOMAN WITH QUESTION Yes, I would like to know why there is so much harassment.
NARRATOR Murielle complains of being harassed by the Landmark staff, of incessant phone calls to get her to register for the workshop.
MURIELLE When people –
ALAIN ROTH Wait, wait. Turn on the microphone. Don’t destroy the microphone. Thanks.
MURIELLE What I wanted to say was –
ALAIN ROTH Wait a second. Where’s your name tag? Because I don’t want to harass you too much. Thanks. You don’t make a distinction between what’s happening and your interpretation. You confuse the two, as we’ll see: There is no harassment. There is what happens.
MURIELLE May I say something?
ALAIN ROTH Wait, wait. You will say what you want, The Forum isn’t "I go to the microphone and I talk." There’s a leader who leads the discussions and I’m the leader. So, I will give you the floor, but let me create a certain context first. So, "harassment" never happened. That’s an interpretation.
MURIELLE So, if you tell me "It’s not true," I don’t see how I can talk to you.
ALAIN ROTH Yes, but hold on. You didn’t have ten people demanding, "You will enroll, you will enroll."
MURIELLE No, I also had someone call to ask me if I had a problem. Another one asked something else.
MURIELLE But when you get three, maybe four calls in the same week, you’re overwhelmed.
ALAIN ROTH Ok, but you call that harassment?
MURIELLE Yes, I call that harassment.
ALAIN ROTH But is it harassment?
MURIELLE Well, yes.
ALAIN ROTH That’s because you interpret it that way. You could interpret it another way.
ALAIN ROTH That people are calling to support you, they’re committed to making something happen for you.
NARRATOR In all, an exchange of 15 minutes. Clearly, it is difficult to make criticisms.
LANDMARK STAFF MEMBER We’re going to take a 30-minute break. It’s now 4:10 PM. Be back in your chairs, ready to start, at 4:40 PM. Thank you.
NARRATOR During the break, we head to the hotel bar. We find Murielle, who was complaining about harassment. For her, Alain Roth’s verbal abuse is unacceptable.
MURIELLE I feel a bit of something. The approach is a bit terrorist.
MAN, PARTICIPANT IN THE FORUM Wait. He’s coming. Suddenly we’re interrupted. Alain Roth comes by in person to convince Murielle not to leave the workshop.
ALAIN ROTH What’s happening with you, Murielle? You tend to go it alone, instead of looking for people who can support you. It would be good if, before leaving, you spoke, since you’re suffering and worn out because you resist.
NARRATOR A few minutes later, the operation of seduction is successful. Murielle has changed her mind.
MURIELLE Yes. No, he’s very nice. I was afraid he wasn’t listening, but he was. He head it. All of it. I felt – not kindness – but I felt something very human.
MURIELLE No. More. Guys in communication are taught to lend an ear. No, I felt something searching on a deeper level.
NARRATOR It’s 9:30 PM. The day is almost over. But before leaving, there’s one more exercise in store for us. For this one, Alain Roth asks us to close our eyes.
ALAIN ROTH No one will enter this room, so you don’t have to worry. There are two people sitting next to you. Create an experiment where you fear the two people next to you. Get ready to do this experiment, where you’re terrified, terrified of the two people sitting next to you. Let the fear enter your body, your breathing, your gut, your entire life.
NARRATOR This introspection is perfectly orchestrated by the coach. No improvisation, everything is written down.
ALAIN ROTH You are trying to escape. There is no place to go. How to continue to be with yourself, and be present?
NARRATOR In this row, the man in red is going to crack.
ALAIN ROTH When you were a little boy or a little girl, you said to yourself, "Never again. I won’t go through that again."
NARRATOR With these words, he starts to sob.
ALAIN ROTH You decided it is better not to feel anything again, so suffer as you have. And your whole life became about making sure you would never suffer again. At that moment, you sentenced yourself to death.
NARRATOR It’s been more than 48 hours since the workshop began. The students are beginning to feel the physical and emotional fatigue. Years later, those who went through it still remember the experience.
PIERRE, ANONYMOUS FORUM GRADUATE It was very annoying, very annoying, because we’re cut off from everything. We start at 8 AM and finish at 10 PM. There’s a meal break at 5 in the afternoon. We are only allowed to drink, and only at certain times. We have no contact with the outside world, with curtains and only inside lights. So, we don’t know any more. We lose our sense of time.
LAURENT MOURNAIS, FORUM GRADUATE It’s difficult to get a perspective – impossible. And that’s what I understood. At Landmark, they don’t let you get a perspective.
REPORTER, PIECES A CONVICTION Critical thinking isn’t possible?
LAURENT MOURNAIS That’s just it, we don’t have the time to.
PIERRE At any given moment you defenses are down and, It’s not that you accept it, but you enter into it, If you don’t go along with it, it can’t work.
Brigitte Thelier and Pierre, as former students of Landmark Education, You lived through this moment of returning to early childhood fears. What were you feeling at that moment?
BRIGITTE THELIER I took it as a game of his, a game that makes you very, very scared, But still a game, so, I didn’t want to be a part of this mechanism. I understood that it wasn’t the right place for me.
BRIGITTE THELIER Already. So, of course, I did what everyone else was doing. And it’s frightening to see again, as in the clip, people breaking down, crying. It’s emotional abuse. Why, in a personal development workshop, bring out suffering through abuse, bring out fears?
ELISE LUCET Same for you, Pierre?
PIERRE I remember the exercise very well, but I didn’t do it. I thought it was stupid. I didn’t get into it at all. I opened my eyes and looked around, and when you open your eyes, it’s appalling. There’s a little bit of giggling and some more or less go along with the game, But some people are completely taken in who break down like that man, absolutely.
ELISE LUCET So, Christian Lujan, you are a psycho-sociologist and psychoanalyst. Why did Alain Roth bring out these fears from childhood? What’s the purpose?
DR. CHRISTIAN LUJAN, PSYCHOANALYST He is in a position of total power. And we're in a mechanism that has no place for the subject. Individuals are objects, objects of this total power. Everything is in coded language. Everything is organized, everything is structured. The goal is to destabilize the individual and to negate - and I emphasize this - the notion of the subject. The individual doesn't own his own past. Only they know what's good for him. At any moment, an exercise like this can take away a person's introspection.
ELISE LUCET So, Jean-Pierre Jougla, you’re an expert in brainwashing. We’re quite struck at the beginning of this clip where Murielle can’t even ask a question. What’s happening there?
JEAN-PIERRE JOUGLA He makes fun of any response of hers. But that’s not the problem. It’s the stranglehold he puts in place. And what frightens me is that in very little time, 3 or 4 days, we’re seeing what takes a sect 2 to 3 years to instill. The sect phenomenon is gaining momentum. And reviving childhood fears is not harmless. It puts the students, at least the ones who go along with the game, in the position of a child. This sets up the strangle hold of the guru. Because there’s an incest-like relationship between an all-powerful father and a child who is not even allowed to doubt, to question, to think critically. The only thing left is to listen.
ELISE LUCET Let’s return to our voyage into the heart of Landmark Education. The students are beginning their third day of The Forum. Many of them are worn out, awaiting new ordeals. But the tone is going to change radically.
Sunday morning, in the north of Paris, the Landmark Education personal development workshop continues, on the third day. At the entrance to the room are two assistants. Their mission: hand out name tags to the participants. For the, volunteering for Landmark changed their lives.
REPORTER I’ll keep the name tag.
NARRATOR You’re a volunteer here? For a long time?
VOLUNTEER ASSISTANT 1 No, this is the second time. In any case, the second Forum.
NARRATOR And really feeling the change?
LANDMARK VOLUNTEER ASSISTANT 2, MAN My family says I’m completely transformed. In my professional life, they trust me like they didn’t trust me before. For people who live an ordinary life, I’ve become the guy they go to. But I don’t have more technical skill than before.
NARRATOR Because you got the possibilities you wanted to create?
VOLUNTEER ASSISTANT 2 Yeah, because I confirm, because I take into account what people say, because I’m present for people, present for everyone, for my colleagues as well as my bosses. It’s Landmark that transformed me.
NARRATOR This man admits that he is heavily recruiting people around him.
VOLUNTEER ASSISTANT 2 My ex-wife and daughter are coming, I have colleagues that are coming, There are people I work with in other associations that are coming, They go nuts. They ask me "How do you do it?" You want to see? Fine. I’ll invite you to a presentation. It’s no mystery.
NARRATOR Today the workshop takes a new direction. Forgotten are the insults and public humiliations. Today, Alain Roth offers the workshop participants what, according to him, is a different way of life.
ALAIN ROTH So, how to be authentic? Here’s the bad news: For everyone, without exception, it starts by being authentic through your inauthenticity. That’s how it starts. We enroll people by saying, "I’m a great guy." Thinking positively by saying, "I’ll talk about myself, and reveal I’m an asshole."
NARRATOR To make his point, Alain Roth prompts Jacques, a doctor and father, to call his son to ask his forgiveness. Word for word Jacques rehearses his lesson with Alain Roth.
JACQUES I’m calling because I’m thinking about you. I was reflecting on the relationship we have and I’m not on a good course with you. What I wanted was for you to make me happy, and I didn’t really think of you. I’d like that to end. Would you help me do that?
ALAIN ROTH No! And I created the possibility – I created the possibility…
JACQUES And I created the possibility by calling you, so we can discuss it.
ALAIN ROTH No. To be -
JACQUES - to be your father.
ALAIN ROTH Will he be moved?
ALAIN ROTH Not, "Oh yes!" Will he be moved?
JACQUES I will make sure he is.
NARRATOR Once these phrases are learned, Alain Roth asks everyone to write to their parents, or call up friends with only one goal: to ask forgiveness. Most of the students do it.
LANDMARK FORUM PARTICIPANT, WOMAN I just wanted to talk with Mom just for 3 minutes, if she has time.
NARRATOR Back in the room, Jacques, the father, is relaying to the audience the details of his conversation with his son.
JACQUES Hey big guy, I’m doing something that’s about you. I talked about you because that was why I came to this Forum. And I noticed something, that I’ve spent my life doing this shit to you to make you into this gem, into an image that flatters who I am. The kid cracks. He cries. And I say, "I propose a solution. Now I will be your father, and be there to help you, and not give you shit all the time. Do you want me as a father like that?" "Oh," the kid says, "Yes, I’ll take it." "Good. Listen, we’ll talk. I love you." He says, "I love you." I haven’t said that in 25 years.
NARRATOR There’s general euphoria. Like Jacques, many students are under the spell. The rest of the exercise is instructive. We now have to learn to help others. How? By inviting them to an evening at Landmark Education.
ALAIN ROTH Ultimately, what creates dignity in being human is to be prepared to make a difference in others’ lives. If you could bring your parents together again, your father and brother the joy of being brothers. And for you and your brother, and for your wife, a taste for life. Nothing would make you happier than that. That takes the courage to say, "It shall be." Now, there’s a path that takes you there, and it’s called The Forum. It’s necessary, and effective. It lasts 3 and a half days. Does it mean more clients for Landmark Education? Yes. So what?
NARRATOR It’s almost midnight. Before the workshop ends, surprise! Alain Roth has homework for us to do. With at least three people who haven’t done Landmark Forum, share what is has done for you, and invite them here for your graduation Tuesday night.
It was part of our exercises and that’s what we had come for, the exercises. So I spent my evenings on the telephone, at work too. Sure. It wasn’t difficult, since it’s why we were there, part of our exercises.
LAURENT MOURNAIS, FORUM GRADUATE I wasn’t pushed to invite my parents. It was I who decided to, but they did push us to invite people close to us, with whom we weren’t authentic, and be able to explain ourselves.
Tuesday night. Another big Paris hotel, where the last evening of the Landmark workshop is taking place, which began four days earlier. Jacques, the doctor, is here with an acquaintance who is pretending to be a guest.
GUEST I’m his mom.
JACQUES She’s my mom.
REPORTER How are you?
NARRATOR He has also heeded Alain Roth’s advice, his mother is with him.
REPORTER You’re bringing –
LANDMARK PARTICIPANT, MAN My best friend, a boy who decided to live.
NARRATOR True to their commitment, each of the participants arrives accompanied by one, two even three people they’ve invited. In all, over 250 people are here this evening. Gathered in a large room, Alain Roth asks the students to approach the microphone to praise Landmark with the aim of getting new guests to sign up.
LANDMARK FORUM PARTICIPANT, WOMAN, AT MICROPHONE I made the decision and what I’m going through is, Well I really woke up and I feel alive, like never before in my life. Right now, what’s happening is really very strong.
FORUM PARTICIPANT, MAN, AT MICROPHONE I promise you it’s extraordinary. No? He’s gonna tell me it’s not extraordinary. It’s the choice you make to be responsible for your life.
ALAIN ROTH It’s the possibility – Yes – It’s the possibility –
FORUM PARTICIPANT, WOMAN, AT MICROPHONE It’s the possibility to be happy to be alive, whatever the circumstances.
JACQUES, DOCTOR, FORUM PARTICIPANT Today I went to operate. I operated like never before. In complete simplicity. All was in good form. My assistant didn’t recognize me. So, if you have 5 minutes or 3 days, Don’t hesitate. Do it. Whatever your purpose in life, it’s really worth it.
NARRATOR After this set of testimonies, each with more praise than the other, each new guest is taken aside. In another room, following a well-oiled ritual, the facilitators attempt to convince them to sign up.
PIERRE, ANONYMOUS FORUM GRADUATE They had a gathering with presentations, there, I understood nothing. I said, "They’re crazy." Then the guests are isolated into groups in little rooms, where they’re told how it will change their lives, etc. The rest of the time was nothing but the seduction. I had to sign up at all costs. They put all their energy into it. They made me feel I was valued, exceptional. I would open a four-lane highway in my life.
LAURENT MOURNAIS They promised exceptional results, the kind that would change your life, without explaining what that means. But still, it’s "You’ll see exceptional results!" That’s what my two friends told me, so I’m still into it. So I think I will see exceptional results. Yea, why not? We’ll see.
NARRATOR As for the students in The Forum, personal development has only begun. He (Alain Roth) strongly recommends that we continue by signing up for another workshop.
ALAIN ROTH This will revolutionize your existence, without changing the circumstances in your life. It’s worth every euro, every single euro, and every minute that you spend. And I’m certain that if you knew the kind of results that the Advanced Course produces, everyone would have signed up. The Advanced Course, which your Forum has prepared you for, it’s this one with these dates. It costs 625 euros. But if you sign up tonight or by Friday at 3 PM, it costs you only 525 euros.
Jocelyne Berthelot is with us. You also participated in the Landmark Forum. And you still volunteer for the organization today. You have watched this show from the beginning. What do you think about everything that has been said?
JOCELYNE BERTHELOT, FORUM GRADUATE, VOLUNTEER FOR LANDMARK Well, I’m stupefied. I didn’t – All that I saw, on the television, I didn’t see anything like what I went through. For me it was a wonderful experience. And I’m stupefied.
ELISE LUCET Your involvement in Landmark Education goes back many years?
JOCELYNE BERTHELOT I took part in a Forum in December 2002. Then I did 4 seminars with them.
JOCELYNE BERTHELOT And then – Well I’m not really a Landmark volunteer. I only volunteered at a Forum, because – it was a good experience for me, so I wanted to relive it.
ELISE LUCET So, what did they do for you?
JOCELYNE BERTHELOT Made me feel more at peace with who I am. People talk about self-confidence. It gave me confidence in myself. I came here right away because I thought I could be part of a debate. Well, I would have been until a while ago. I’m not saying that you’re wrong, simply that I didn’t see it.
ELISE LUCET Mona Vasquez, you’ve been listening for a few minutes. And I see you were listening intently. Your experience is totally different. You spent several years in Scientology. You entered when you were 20 years old. Are there similarities with what you’ve heard so far? Did you go through this?
MONA VASQUEZ, FORMER SCIENTOLOGIST, AUTHOR Yes, I was also stupefied, I should say. But not in the same way as her. First I’d like to correct one point: I didn’t "enter" Scientology. Someone lent me a book It didn’t contain the word "Scientology." A friend lent me this very interesting book, So there wasn’t any question of me getting into a movement –
ELISE LUCET But you spent 7 years there –
MONA VASQUEZ 7 years I didn't see go by. But it's important to point out that the follower doesn't realize he's in a sect. If he did, he'd run the other way. Once he's put under, bamboozled, hypnotized, you're in a sort of haze, and you don't realize it. The follower is the last to realize it. The family takes action, but not the follower. To answer you, I was glued to the video clips. I was a little uncomfortable because I heard all the terminology from Scientology. There was a whiteboard at the beginning with exactly the same words that Hubbard would use, the founder of Scientology. I worked in Denmark at the parent organization of Europe. So I was at the heart of Scientology. So I know the terminology very well, and all of it's the same. On the other hand, I think they may have diversified. If I may –
ELISE LUCET That’s why you’re here.
MONA VASQUEZ I think that cults are very quick. As soon as they sense they are being labeled by the press, or in government reports, they rush to diversify, to take another angle.
ELISE LUCET We’ve obtained a document, obviously kept secret by Landmark Education, from a presentation of the Landmark Forum that you must have attended, Jocelyne. And it’s pretty shocking, because right from page 1, for example, it says that the introduction doesn’t last more than two minutes. On page 2 it says that you have to write key words on the board. On page 16, it says you have to move the chair to the right. On page 22 you have to move the chair to the left. There are even possible answers from participants so the facilitator knows exactly what to say. Did you realize this, Jocelyne?
JOCELYNE BERTHELOT Um, I’m absolutely stupefied, again. What you said seems impossible because every person, when he goes to share his experience, will say something different. That means it’s not possible that Alain, for whom I have the utmost respect –
ELISE LUCET - You call him "Alain?" -
JOCELYNE BERTHELOT Yes, for me he’s a very great person. That there was a plan, um, for his entire seminar, I totally agree. But he can’t plan what he’s going to say, since he doesn’t know what they’ll say. Everyone is different.
JEAN-PIERRE JOUGLA, ATTORNEY, VICE PRESIDENT, UNADFI He doesn’t care at all what the response is. He take’s a word from what you say, and develops it, embellishes it and makes it personal. Since you’re involved in a situation, you don’t notice. You just saw a clip in which they ask each of you to make two or three family members or friends come to The Forum. For Roth, that means getting new followers who are immediately trusting. They are brought by someone close to them, Dad, Mom, sister, brother. You bring people you don’ hesitate about. This makes it even harder when you realize that someone has pulled a fast one on you. You would bear guilt for the fact that you personally brought people into something that you suddenly discover is negative, or even harmful, for personal development. With that, the mechanism of brainwashing is clinched. The circle is complete, and it will be very difficult for the person in it, who has come to love Alain Roth, to see him as a manipulator.
ELISE LUCET You seem completely shocked.
JOCELYNE BERTHELOT (Crying) Yes, yes. I almost want to – I want to cry. But I didn’t see any of that. And, for me he’s a great person. What you’re telling me –
ELISE LUCET I assure you it’s not meant to cause you any problems Jocelyne, honestly.
JOCELYNE BERTHELOT Well, it has. I’m fine. We have the right to have problems. But I can’t seem to explain how – I feel like – I’m fifty years old, I feel like I don’t even have half a brain.
ELISE LUCET No, no. You seem OK.
JOCELYNE BERTHELOT I – I came here to tell you my experience. For me it’s great. What I’m seeing, I’m floored. I’m having a hard time believing you – Very difficult.
ELISE LUCET I also want to talk to you all about something you hear both in Landmark Education and Scientology: vocabulary that, for people on the outside, is completely incomprehensible. You’ve heard this of course, Jocelyne. Alain Roth says you have a "racket," you must be "authentic," you "create a possibility." Why control vocabulary like that?
JEAN-PIERRE JOUGLA There are several reasons. I’m sure Mona could add examples from Scientology. Mainly, it lets them say things that only mean something to those who share this knowledge. It’s a feeling of superiority, because when you use these terms, you know very well that people who haven’t been initiated, can’t understand it.
ELISE LUCET So now, we continue our voyage. As I mentioned, we didn’t stop at filming the Landmark Education Forum. A second inquiry was conducted at their offices, and chance really helped things when our investigator, Laurent Richard, was asked to become a volunteer for Landmark.
In the 9th district of Paris, a building like any other: the French headquarters of Landmark Education. The Forum finished a week before. Someone called to offer a chance to master the teaching without paying a thing, by becoming a volunteer assistant. Still equipped with a hidden camera, I accept the offer, and continue my voyage to the heart of the company. My first meeting is with the Financial Director of Landmark Education. She’ll be supervising my work at the company’s financial department.
LANDMARK FINANCIAL DIRECTOR, PARIS OFFICE Would you be interested? For being an assistant, it’s an agreement for 13 weeks, at 3 hours per week. As we discussed, it can be at different times of the week. What there is to do – Well, there’s data entry. It looks like this, in fact. It’s called the "DFC", or the "Daily Financial Controls." It’s the receipts for the previous night’s course.
NARRATOR A real accountant’s job. No contract or salary, no health insurance and nothing to sign. In this apartment, 20 people work full time. Most seem to have the same status: volunteer. They’re everywhere, even in the bathrooms.
[Laurent Richard, reporter for Pieces a Conviction, speaking with a Landmark Education volunteer who is cleaning the bathroom] :
LAURENT RICHARD And this is volunteering?
PHILIPPE, VOLUNTEER As you can see. So here I am, an assistant. And it's OK. I'm happy to do it because it's why I'm here. I'm here. This needs to be done. So I do it. It's not hard, you can say. –
NARRATOR I've already met this man, on the third day of the Forum. He was handing out nametags to participants, already as a volunteer.
PHILIPPE, VOLUNTEER It's a little hot. I'm tired, but otherwise ok. It's true, I don't want to do this all the time. I have other things to do, you know. But stuff like this here, I chose it. I said, "OK, I'll do it." I like a challenge. You know, try to come up with something. And to see what brings me, to see into my life. As it brings me things that are real. Yeah. Really. Given that I can share with people, and when there's a person here at the same time, like a coach, we share things that are happening in our lives, make challenges. In fact, I notice that it has really changed things. And concretely. Because, sometimes you just say, "It's changing."
LAURENT RICHARD But yeah it really, it changed things?
PHILIPPE, VOLUNTEER Yes. It really taught me things - a breakthrough. Because you train yourself to live differently from before, you know?
NARRATOR Suddenly we are interrupted. A man pokes his head in.
PHILIPPE, VOLUNTEER Yes, it's sparkling. I didn't use water, because drying takes forever. With "Mr. Clean" everywhere, I got off as much as I could.
NARRATOR He's a supervisor; and also a volunteer. In fact, his job is to supervise Philippe's work. Volunteers, assistants, constantly being overseen by other volunteers: another side of the Landmark company.
LAURENT RICHARD How many assistants are there right now?
FINANCIAL DIRECTOR Well, I have no idea. I – I don’t know. I know from Guillaume, there are a lot. Maybe 25.
LAURENT RICHARD 25 assistants?
FINANCIAL DIRECTOR I don’t know. But they told me once. It’s a lot.
NARRATOR Volunteers working in the headquarters of a commercial company, is it legal? Officers from General Information, in this confidential note about Landmark, were worried about undeclared associates in violation of the Labor Code. The document dates from 1994, so the situation is not new. More recently, the National Assembly report on sects and money emphasized the problem once again, but apparently didn’t change anything. [Les sectes et l’argent].
To make the organization known and help recruit, the methods vary. Today, for example, I’m asked to organize a gathering at home.
MAN, VOLUNTEER, LANDMARK PARIS OFFICE Do you know about "Introduction to The Forum" at home?
VOLUNTEER, PARIS OFFICE We have to talk about it. When are you here until?
LAURENT RICHARD Well, I’m doing a group later, but I’m eating here around 6:00.
VOLUNTEER, PARIS OFFICE You’re eating at 6:00? So maybe we’ll get a few minutes. Otherwise, another time. It’s something I take care of. It’s the possibility to have an introduction to The Forum at your place.
VOLUNTEER, PARIS OFFICE To organize it, invite some friends. A facilitator will come. At the same time, your job is to organize a nice event where you invite 3 or 4 friends, family, parents.
LAURENT RICHARD But in my apartment?
VOLUNTEER, PARIS OFFICE In your apartment.
LAURENT RICHARD And how many of you come to my place?
VOLUNTEER, PARIS OFFICE No, no. You can decide. It’s just a facilitator who comes.
NARRATOR Presentation meetings, dialogs with people close to you, phone calls to family, to friends.
VOLUNTEER, PARIS OFFICE That’s why it’s better to first call, people from your address book.
NARRATOR To make Landmark known and recruit even more followers, everyone pitches in, the boss as well as the volunteers. After all, that’s their mission when they’re at headquarters. My job as junior accountant doesn’t exempt me.
Laurent. I’m the communicator, and I’m offering you to do a summary of the course for you. So you can get back to me.
SECOND MESSAGE Hello, I’m calling on behalf of Landmark Education.
NARRATOR He also asks me to enroll everyone around me. The harassment is ever-present.
THIRD MESSAGE I’m calling to see if you have people you’ve invited, or people to contact.
NARRATOR One day, I’m asked to call back for a workshop on perfection. A chance to invest myself more by attending a very strange course, called the ILP.
LANDMARK VOLUNTEER, ON PHONE I’d like to speak to you about coming to a presentation of ILP.
LAURENT RICHARD ILP. Remind me, what is it?
LANDMARK VOLUNTEER, ON PHONE It’s the most remarkable, and the most crazy, program that we have at Landmark Education. It’s training for mastery of the conversation of enrolling and getting sign-ups. It consists of 4 weekends that are in Amsterdam.
LAURENT RICHARD How long does it last?
LANDMARK VOLUNTEER, ON PHONE The program? That’s the thing. It lasts 6 months.
NARRATOR Six months of unpaid labor for Landmark Education, an offer I’m going to refuse, like all the others.
My infiltration has lasted a month now. Tonight, I have an appointment with a Forum participant, from the weekend when it all began. It’s the doctor, the father who went up in front of everyone to talk about reuniting with his son. The workshop changed his life. That’s why, he tells me, he launched a large recruitment operation.
JACQUES, DOCTOR, FORUM PARTICIPANT When I left I was ecstatic, ecstatic. But at the same time, since I know I tend to want to impose on others, I said to myself, this time, I won’t be stupid, and say, “You’re going to do it! It’s amazing!” I tried and I managed to do the enrollment. I said to people, “I had an amazing experience. I’d really like you to experience it, I won’t make you do it. I don’t want it because I told you to do it, but for you to be at peace.” Really sharing it does me good.
LAURENT RICHARD It does you good?
JACQUES It does others good, too. It’s going to bust out everywhere!
LAURENT RICHARD Who did you enroll?
JACQUES My whole family. My wife, my kids, my associate, my assistant.
NARRATOR But this doctor doesn’t only enroll people close to him. With trust built through common experience, he reveals that he’s been recruiting well beyond his family circle.
LAURENT RICHARD Your associate is a surgeon?
LAURENT RICHARD Is she signed up for The Forum?
JACQUES Well, she hasn’t signed up yet, but she’s coming to the presentation.
LAURENT RICHARD There are a lot of doctors here!
JACQUES Lots! You saw them. Doctors, nurses, psychiatrists.
LAURENT RICHARD Why are there so many doctors and nurses?
JACQUES Because we’re all in the shit. When we’ve tried every possible treatment on a patient, and they’re useless, what do we do? We give up. We do nothing. We don’t care. And it bugs you.
NARRATOR In a few seconds this doctor admits that he just sent his first patient to Landmark Education.
JACQUES You share it with the patient. And I can tell you, these guys are great for enrollment.
LAURENT RICHARD Just like that? A patient you see?
JACQUES I did it. Just like that.
JACQUES I did it once. I said, I can’t let him miss out on it. It’s too obvious that he needs it. So I told him about it. But I kept him guessing. I told him, “What you need is relaxation, self-confidence.” “Oh yes,” said the patient. “Well, there is something that could interest you.” I don’t know if he did it, I didn’t ask about it. I didn’t take responsibility.
LAURENT RICHARD Did you want him to do it?
JACQUES Oh yes. The guy needs it. If he does it, he’ll be transformed.

Below is the link ot the video of the above script