Why We Must Talk About Fight Club

By Duff McDuffee on July 13th, 2009 1

Have you seen the movie Fight Club? The unnamed protagonist lives a modern life of quiet desperation. Working as an auditor for a major automobile corporation, he flies around the country investigating deadly car accidents, to calculate a cold-hearted cost-benefit analysis for whether the company should recall the dangerous cars they manufacture. In response to his meaningless and unethical work, he becomes a hyperconsumer–purchasing his liberation in the form of cute Ikea furniture and a Yin-Yang carpet. He learns to cope with his insomnia (presumably fueled by his inner torment) by consuming cathartic experience; joining self-help groups under false pretense, he finds liberation when he surrenders to his sadness.

But he grieves for problems he does not have, for there are no support groups for what truly ails him. His addiction to these groups increases until he spots another faker. Eventually he develops a bad boy multiple personality, starts an underground full-contact boxing ring, blows up his apartment, and eventually forms a destructive cult that engages in acts of terrorism that eerily predict 9/11.

It is significant that many people–especially personal development bloggers–list Fight Club as one of their favorite movies. Why do we love this movie about a self-destructive, violent cult leader with Multiple Personality Disorder? Because we suffer as he suffers, and we find similar self-destructive solutions.

(Note: the embedded video contains violence and has one “swear” word.)

We are torn apart inside. We have meaningless work. We buy stuff we don’t need. We are addicted to consuming Personal Development books and blogs that rehash the same ideas again and again, never really getting to what is most important. But worse than that, sometimes our rebellion is even co-opted into obedience to a new destructive authority–in the name of freedom.

We Must Talk About Fight Club

Rule #1 of Fight Club is “You do not talk about Fight Club.” This is a great rule if you want to create a destructive terrorist cult like Tyler Durden. Cutting off lines of communication with arbitrary and absolute rules creates a insular culture, unable to take feedback and evolve.

The truth is, we are all already members of Fight Club. We have an inner war raging, a war between parts of ourselves. We try to kill our “resistance” to the culturally conditioned goals that we choose for ourselves because there is seemingly no alternative. We reinforce an inner dominator hierarchy using thought-stopping affirmations such that we never question the values underlying our choice of outcomes.

The Personal Development community itself is a Fight Club. Using techniques of hype and ego-inflation, we have cultivated this inner war by selectively labeling beliefs as “limiting” and then attempting to destroy our often quite reasonable fears. But why do we never talk about these things? Because unwritten rule #1 of Personal Development culture is “you do not talk about Personal Development culture.” Of the 1000’s of Personal Development books and blogs, very few engage in critical discourse, truly questioning the assumptions of any other. This is beginning to change. As the personal development blogosphere matures, it is inevitable that the dialogue will deepen.

Personal Development Itself is Developing

On a typical personal development blog post, you will see endless positive and enthusiastic comments. Less than enthusiastic feedback or critical thinking in general has typically been considered “negative thinking” within our culture. Not surprisingly, groupthink and guru-worship ensues in such an environment devoid of dialogue. But in the last year or so, more blog posts have been receiving critical feedback and dissent. Popular blogger Merlin Mann has harshly criticized the culture of blog articles with “17 Superficial Tips to Optimize Your Life!” which many of us have participated in writing and consuming. To quote Mann:

In more instances than we want to admit, tips not only won’t (and can’t) help us to improve; they will actively get in the way of fundamental improvement by obscuring the advice we need with the advice that we enjoy. And, the advice that’s easy to take is so rarely the advice that could really make a difference.

This blog will probably not be as enjoyable as Lifehack or ZenHabits. It will almost certainly have far fewer tips. But hopefully it will have more of the sometimes painful inquiry that we all really need to truly grow and develop.

While the criticism has at times been rich, there have been few clear and positive directions proposed. Some of us who have given a critique of Personal Development culture have ceased in order to engage in the creation of the very structures we criticize. Tyler Durden started out criticizing authority and culture and then created a cult of mindless obedience and terrorism, a fact so often left out of the personal development blog articles written enthusiastically with his philosophy. Do we really want to innovate like a terrorist cult leader? If we are to find truly positive directions for the field of Personal Development, we must not fall into the very errors we see presently. Rhetoric alone will not form a new paradigm–a new view must be congruent with new actions that do not recreate current problems. Even whether or not a new paradigm is needed should be up for question–perhaps an older one, dusted off a bit, would do just fine.

None of us can clearly see ourselves objectively without feedback from our peers and community. Nothing grows in a vacuum–we grow through nourishment from the sun, the Earth, and the interconnections between all things. We do not need more advocates for going at it alone. Neither do we need more $47 a month gated communities of self-help seekers. It is time for personal development to develop into a mature, online, and open-source dialogue where multiple perspectives are honored, and the complexity of what it is to be human is engaged with compassionately.

What is Beyond Growth?

Beyond Growth is a Philosophy Club, a Peace Club, a Culture Club. It’s membership is free and open to all who seek self-actualization and are deeply curious about what it means to live “The Good Life,” individually and collectively. On this blog we will fearlessly explore the hidden assumptions of Personal Development and the culture it is embedded within, as part of the wider dialogue taking place within the blogosphere. Instead of just questioning our beliefs that are counter to achievement-based consumer culture, we will attempt to hold all beliefs up for question, while understanding that this isn’t completely possible, and that inevitably we will value some things more than others. We will remain open to even questioning the very way in which we are questioning, reflecting upon our reflections, and criticizing our criticisms. I believe we can also engage in a respectful and intelligent dialogue while simultaneously acknowledging the need to “agree to disagree” when our views and values differ.

We will explore more widely what it is to be a fully “self-actualized” human in the postmodern context, in the global context, and in the face of converging crises of ecology and society. We will highlight specific techniques and discuss the pros and cons, the relative effectiveness, and the appropriate and inappropriate contexts for each technique. And hopefully, we will inspire some original thinking that could lead to true happiness and fulfillment for all of us. We hope that you will join us by subscribing to this free blog and adding your intelligent commentary in the comments section below each article.

That is what I intend for this blog at this time. However, Beyond Growth is collaborative by nature. My co-founder Eric Schiller has a different but overlapping perspective. We hope to get other regular contributors as well, perhaps even inviting particularly useful and interesting commentors to write guest posts. Part of what I value about dialogue is the notion that all of us thinking together can be smarter than each of us thinking independently. I hope to explore with you what the future of personal development can become.



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55 responses to “Why We Must Talk About Fight Club”

  1. This makes me very excited. The literary aspect of Fight Club is nothing like the movie, in the sense that the author, Chuck Palahniuk, didn't mean for us to make an entire conscious life idea from it. He just wanted to point out the errors of people's ways. He did that well. Personal development, for me, is about bucking the concepts of society, cutting through the trash, and really looking into ourselves for what we really are about. To listen to the community, we will be stereotyped, and I don't like that. For whatever reason, people seem to need those labels to make them feel real. I do everything I can to prevent myself from falling into the "plan" of society ideas, and thus, though, I think I've created my own habitual societal idea…it's frustrating. I don't like having society make me WHO I am supposed to be. I refuse to have kids. People tell me all the time that I am nutters for that. "Isn't your biological clock ticking?" No. It isn't. I don't want that responsibility. I like being on my own, doing what I want to do in life. But see, this is not normal by societal law. So, I struggle. I fight the good fight, wanting to be more like Tyler Durden, but I know that's too extreme. There has to be a balance. It's finding that balance that I seek in my own personal development. I hope that through this blog, we will all come away with knowing something more about ourselves…again, I am excited to talk about the realities of Personal Development. Thank you for letting me be a part of that.

  2. Having been involved in many “beyond” groups, there are always new previously unseen “norms” that crop up, and then it is not so beyond anymore. Any rigid adherence to dogma puts one right back where you started. Which isn’t all that bad if you want to truly engage in the process of the process. And, that process however dark and deep it goes calls us all to live with integrity. The abyss is calling, and in the midst of the abyss, there are some very confusing messages. It is rare to come across one who can be still within that space, and stay with the process. Let’s see what develops here!

    • Wise feedback. Almost certainly norms will form in this exploration–hopefully they will nor solidify into a rigid uncritical dogma, but some norms are ok (like respectful and intelligent communication). I don't think this blog or exploration will lead to any kind of ultimate truth, but hopefully will provide a unique perspective and exploration that can compliment other intelligent dialogue. I hope you will join us in the discussions.

  3. Lots of wonderful thoughts to digest here. I'll give a longer reply later.

    p.s. I hope you will write some stuff for this blog. I'm deeply enjoying your perspective.

  4. Marcad says:

    > Doesn't it actually express frustration at the inability for men to take their "rightful" place as authority figures?

    Perhaps baser than "authority figure"? Isn't that too modern an interpretation? How about going back further into prehistoric instincts?

  5. Marcad says:

    I think Tyler Durden references "hunter gatherer" directly in the film.

  6. Welcome back to the blogging world. This is a pretty intense analogy, and I'm curious what sort of writings will follow.

    I agree that the stuff that drives eyeballs (tip articles) usually does not lead to personal growth. It's something I've thought about a bit, though I'm not sure whether I've been able to pull off the sort of writing that really does make an impact.

    I'll be curious to see both your skepticism and your suggestions as this blog goes forward. Excellent start!

    • Yea, I was attempting to be provocative to launch the blog. Future articles will probably range in intensity and controversial-ness. Good to see you here nonetheless.

      Some tip articles can be useful, as Mann says too, if you are actually engaged in doing something, have a deep reservoir of knowledge, and just are missing a little inspiration or advice. But I think we've long since past that level within the PD blog world, as all the existing blog articles still exist.

  7. You say "the spectre of overbearing authority." Do you mean that while there are authorities within society (obviously), they have become less overbearing? Or that the arms race of romanticism exaggerates the degree to which authority is overbearing? It does appear to me that some of the rebellion within culture and personal development culture specifically does seem to be in response to a straw man of oppressive authority, given that those of us "rebelling" are often quite privileged and using rhetoric of rebellion to gain positions of power within the community. By contrast, one could point to the very real and nasty authority in say Iran, rather than one's boss or teacher, who is quite reasonable and flexible in contrast!

    I like how you took it further, yet I think the protagonist is not as one-sided as you portray him here. Clearly he questions his consumerist lifestyle, and yet he just as clearly grabs for power just as soon as he can, and yes, attempts to lead a group of men as a dominant and abusive patriarch.

    I would push it further in asking "Why does someone seek power?" I would guess that in many cases, one does so to feel powerful, and to feel powerful so one can pursue a life of expression or freedom. It is not in my opinion a very good strategy for doing so, especially when done in very dominating ways, as this severely limits the freedom of others–just as in the example of the pick-up artist. Dominating is a very limited and as you said, child-life form of freedom, if you can even call it that. I think domination or power through intimidation is much more of a trap than a freedom.

  8. One more thing–I also wonder if by seeing Durden as a power-hungry monster (which on the surface he surely appears) presupposes or leans towards the idea that people are basically power-hungry, greedy, and selfish. I think it's both more true and useful to see human beings as basically good, although often going about things in upside-down ways that are not particularly useful, or even downright harmful.

    If we habitually frame humanity as evil, then why would we act to change, since we are basically violent, etc. But if we frame humanity as basically good, then we simply need to discover more intelligent ways of getting our individual and collective needs met by working together with other basically good people. What do you think?

  9. Right, there are places where authority really exists and where resistance is appropriate – but even then, its not necessarily the case that resistance to authority is undertaken in the name of individualism; it could be in the name of legitimate authority, or some mix of both

    Very interesting! Your comments have got me thinking in new directions about some individuals within the personal development community online that talk of freedom but yet are clearly amassing power, money, and fame. I tend to think that the legitimate authority should rest with the people, as in democracy.

    It is precisely this mode of pseudo-resistance against consumerism that sustains it.

    I totally agree. The fundamental problems with consumerism won't be solved by consuming better products.

    to me it seems a bit absurd to claim that our problem today is that we just aren't getting enough pleasure. Just the opposite: the problem is the lack of any greater moral significance to one's life, beyond enjoying your own pleasures and tolerantely and non-judgmentally leaving other people to enjoy theirs.

    I'd love for you to expand this argument against individual hedonistic pleasure-seeking into a full article for this site. How do we get caught in this trap? What real alternatives exist?

    The equivalent of "empty signifier" in NLP terminology is "nominalization"–turning a specific action into a static noun, for example a woman might say to her husband "our *relationship* isn't working" to which one could ask "how specifically are you or I relating that isn't working for you?" With "freedom" one could question, "what specifically are you wanting to be free from or free to do?"

    "Integral" definitely became an empty signifier, most especially when Mr. Wilber would use the term. I remember a particular meeting at his loft for I-I, where Ken was telling us how we were all wrong in our categorizations of things in terms of spiral dynamics. Nobody in the room understood how he was coming up with his answers, and one man asked deferentially if he would teach us his great knowledge, but the emperor wasn't wearing any clothes, and there were no reasons behind his labels. He just "knew" something was teal and not orange, etc.

    Nominalizations are not useful in contexts where specificity and precision is needed for mutual understanding, but very useful in inducing hypnosis where the individual makes his own understanding that might not be shared by the speaker. For getting agreement in large groups as a politician, for example, you must use such empty generalizations, for the individuals would never totally agree as to the specifics and there isn't enough time in a political speech to begin to hash out such details. Or for facilitating hypnotherapeutic processes, it can be more respectful to speak in "artfully vague language" when for instance mentioning something the client finds shameful, or isn't in full conscious awareness. Making everything totally conscious can be psychologically harmful, or at least not as elegant.

    How does your alternative way of framing an inquiry into freedom avoid the problems of cafeteria-style consumerist personal development? Seems pretty much the same to me, although less dogmatic.

  10. I totally agree that beneath everyday normality lies disgusting perversion and violence, but I don' t think that we should conclude from this that therefore people are basically evil, but instead that many things we are doing aren't working that well and we haven't been looking at them–which we should! The tendency I've seen amongst some social critics (seems like Zizek might be included here) is to go from the premises that people are doing awful things therefore humanity is awful. I think that's neither true nor useful. An optimism born of despair, eyes-wide-open is possible, in my opinion.

    I don't agree with that Romantic interpretation of Tyler's behavior either. Clearly he is engaged in harmful and immoral acts by any definition.

    I'm not sure I understood your explanation of Badiou's notion here.

  11. Jeff Schiller says:

    I consider myself somewhat of a personal development junkie. But, I don’t feel completely torn apart inside. I don’t see my work as totally meaningless. And, I don’t buy a lot of stuff I don’t need. Maybe I’m just a little bit different, ignorant, or seasoned.

    I’ve had my go around with some of the gang of “The Secret,” including Bill Harris, Jack Canfield, James Ray, Joe Vitale, Denis Waitley, and Dr. Ben Johnson. I respect and value some of their work. Some are so blatantly in it for self promotion and ultimately the money that it makes me want to puke. Good, well-intentioned teachers are out there, but, will they fall prey to this new authority that you allude to?

    I view personal development and growth as a responsibility. I can’t just sit back and take life at what others perceive to be face value. I live life with a possibilities mindset. Sometimes this mindset will take me down a dead end road. But, there are always things of value to be absorbed along the way. You can’t always win the game, but the experiences during the loss can teach you how to possibly win the next one.

    I become bored easily, and wander away from similar self help teachers who try to dress up the old ideas with a fresh coat of cheap paint. If I don’t believe that I’m getting my money’s worth, I have no problem registering a complaint. Does that make me unique from the rest of the flock? I have never felt a sense of devotion to a teacher. I view them as an information source, not as a guru to be revered.

    • If we had more students of personal development like you, we would scarcely need a blog like this! Thanks for your input, Jeff.

      I see many of the "up-and-comers" in the online personal development world as falling into new versions of the old extremes–get-rich-quick schemes, amassing power, creating self-promotion machines, etc. Without an open dialogue, these problems in our community will simply continue unchecked.

      Many of the things I'm interested in critiquing have to do with the extremes of cult-leadership and followership, consumerism, narcissism, etc. within personal development. I'm also interested in more effective techniques for growth, when to work on yourself vs. work politically or culturally, and the overlays of personal development and traditional religion. I hope we will cover a range of topics that can be interesting even to the seasoned and wise personal development junkie.

      I also agree that personal development and growth is a responsibility. There are a great number of things that can only be done with individual initiative, the willingness to change, and a vision for the future. These and more are wonderful things that we must be careful to maintain in any critique of personal development culture.

      Thanks, and hope to see you back in the comments in the future.

  12. Blake says:

    I like the new venue, and I commend you highly for undertaking such a challenge.

    I have a question or two for you, and I'll base them off of this line- "And hopefully, we will inspire some original thinking that could lead to true happiness and fulfillment for all of us."

    Who do you consider as 'all of us'? Is it your hope to develop ideas that can be accessed by the masses, or is it something that will be difficult for all but a few to understand? Or, phrased slightly different, do you believe there are intelligence prerequisuites in seeking what you want to achieve?

    The writing here is deep. The authors and the those who left comments above are obviously highly intelligent people. But what about those who maybe don't have such an intellectual skill-set? Will these critiques harm then in a way, leading to questioning and self-doubt as opposed to a flawed but functional 8th-grade level intelligence of personal development.

    • Well, the ideas discussed certainly won't appeal to all humans on the planet. They are written in English, posted online, for a crowd already interested in personal development, who is also interested in philosophy, spirituality, culture, etc., and is probably fairly privileged. So this blog will likely appeal to a pretty small crowd indeed–I'm hoping for a few hundred to a few thousand max. But hopefully the fruits of this dialogue will be beneficial to the people not participating directly in it, and the ideas perhaps will spread into the larger personal development world online at least. We'll see.

      I hope that any fairly intelligent person who likes ideas and could read the New York Times could read and participate here. Any more specific knowledge or background requirement and we'd risk being too obscure. I'd like to allow strange tangents in the comments, as with MrTeaCup and me above, but also keep the articles broad enough to be readable by your average, intelligent college or late high school student.

      My guess is that questioning the fundamental premises of personal development won't harm too many people, as they probably won't be interested, or will get angry and leave. But if it appears that we are doing harm, I will do my best to change course and integrate the feedback. I think Socrates did great good for the world, but then again, the Greek government had a different opinion. :)

      I hope you'll come back and join us for some hopefully fruitful conversation.

  13. Blake says:

    "My guess is that questioning the fundamental premises of personal development won't harm too many people, as they probably won't be interested, or will get angry and leave."

    I suppose that's more likely. Please don't try critiquing my beloved Law of Attraction, or I might be one of them. Haha. 😉

    Looking forward to more!

    • Just to be clear, I didn't mean to say that we will be *purposely* pissing people off, just that the nature of questioning unconscious assumptions tends to piss people off who aren't ready or willing to have that kind of inquiry. A fine line, but a worthy one to try and walk!

      And I hope you're kidding about the LoA… :)

  14. Chris Edgar says:

    A stirring manifesto — looking forward to more! (But now I'm being a vacuous yes-man commenter.) :)

    • Lol :) Ironic indeed, as you are usually one of those folks who brings me back down to earth with your wisdom and sanity when I've strayed off too far. I hope you'll be back in the future to drop in some of your wisdom into the dialogue.

  15. Welcome back Duff. I have to say that I was pleased to find your newsletter in my e-mail this morning,and that you have set out on a very ambitious goal. The Personal Development/Productivity Blogosphere has evolved quite a bit in the past two years, with writers and thinkers coming and going.

    A group of us got together last year and created the Work.Life.Creativity forum to further a similar goal of creating conversations around integrating these practices into a next-generation Development skill-set.

    I am looking forward to seeing more of your creative applications & analysis of the cultural aspects of our developmental methods.

  16. Gina says:

    Aloha Duff!
    This is fabulous…although I will have to watch Fight Club again with new awareness. I am in the middle of big change again and the issues are core, deep and nothing a list could help. The possibility of dialog and the space to welcome change is exciting to me.
    Looking forward to much more from you!
    Aloha~ Gina

  17. Joseph says:

    Hi Duff

    In my writing I refer to the tendency in some Christian circles of denying violence yet simultaneously invoking it through the biblical language of spiritual warfare (and that Wilber does the same in his third-tier-language Wyatt Earp moments). I think this is also going on with the popularity of Fight Club: we can clearly read it as a critique of a dysfunctional and pathological society (and masculinity), but simultaneously get a buzz from the bloody knuckles. This duality is summed up well in the famous line, at once optimistic and nihilistic: “lets evolve, let the chips fall where they may”.

    There’s a lot of having-cake-and-eating-it going on. The most insidious occurrence of this dual thinking is happening in the LOHAS marketplace where everyone acknowledges the unsavory nature of capitalism and profiteering, and then revision it to “conscious capitalism”, “social profit”, “green business”, “triple bottom line”. Reminds me of something someone said to me the other day: "history doesn't repeat itself, but suffering does".


  18. kate says:

    duff . . . you so should read jed mckenna . . . if there were a jed mckenna . . . which there isn't . . . but the pretend jed mckenna wrote three books, and they are wonderful for setting things on fire :) blaze on . . .

  19. Herbert says:

    At first, I was like "OH BOY ANOTHER FIGHT CLUB POST!" I really loved Fight Club. Boy, did we open a can of worms here, haha. It's interesting to see these ideas being brought up (even though I'm sure I didn't understand some of them), and this most certainly is interesting.

    Keep up the posting, it's very original and more than readable. I love it. And hope to understand it more (maybe I'll give it a second read).

    • Thanks for the comment and the support, Herbert. If you don't understand something someone has written here, feel free to ask questions about it, as you are probably not the only one, and I'd like our conversations to be accessible.

      Hope you'll subscribe and join us in discussion of these topics.

  20. Bakari says:

    Well Alright!!!

    I agree with your position. I admit that I am a self-development junkie. I have been since I was a pre-teen. At the same time I am an academic and as of late I have been truly bothered by the number of people who are involved in providing advice for others but it is difficult to tell what would qualify them to offer such advice.

    I am not saying that academic credentials are required; unless you are telling people how to obtain a certain type of degree or how to conduct research. What I am saying is that more objective proof should be injected into the advice given.

    • I too am bothered by lack of credentials, yet I'm not sure what kind of academic credentials would qualify someone to help me live a better life!

      Positive psychology seems like a good start, but is based in philosophical hedonism (the purpose of life is happiness, and happiness is a persistent positive mood). If anything, philosophy should be our guide, as we could then consider amongst possible alternative conceptions of The Good, yet few if any academic philosophers live the philosophies they study.

  21. […] I was looking up clips of Fight Club for my first blog post, I found an interesting related video on YouTube. In the clip below, the pick-up artist and […]

  22. Jacq says:

    Duff, I'm kind of confused on this – I'm assuming you know that Palahniuk was inspired to write Fight Club after attending a Landmark Forum seminar? The parallels between Landmark's teachings and the novel and movie are very clear (to one who has attended a Landmark course). I found the same thing with The Matrix (same influence on that movie).
    However, I believe C.P. also used to belong to something called the Cacaphony Society, which likely had a lot of influence on the book as well.

    I guess I'm wondering if you think there is some value in personal growth seminars that are based on the kind of premise that LF is based on – to bring all of your beliefs into question – yet not to instill their own?

    • I didn't know Palahniuk was inspired to write Fight Club after attending a Landmark seminar, but that makes sense. If this is true, it's clear Palahniuk also saw the cultish aspects of Landmark and related LGATs, as the main character's alter ego quickly goes from inspirational underground boxing ringleader to cult leader.

      Thanks for the link, I'll check that out.

      I guess I'm wondering if you think there is some value in personal growth seminars that are based on the kind of premise that LF is based on – to bring all of your beliefs into question – yet not to instill their own?

      I think LF, est, Lifespring, PSI Seminars, and related Large Group Awareness Trainings absolutely instill their own beliefs in participants, and leave many beliefs unquestioned. I think some of their processes are valuable and interesting for sure, but on the whole I consider such LGATs to be very destructive, like the extreme sports of personal development. Few people have any idea of the very real psychological (and sometimes physical) risks they will be encountering. When a participant experiences such predictable negative side-effects (such as suicide, psychosis, depression, bipolar, anxiety, etc.), LGATs vehemently and often viciously deny culpability—an ironic twist for organizations dedicated to dealing with psychological shadow.

      The basic approach, largely pioneered by Werner Erhardt who founded est prior to Landmark's Forum, is to "break you down to build you up." This works well for cult indoctrination or to forge a military service person out of a civilian, but is far too violent a process for me to recommend for the average seeker. There are much more kind, gentle, and precise processes and formats to do similar inquiries into one's belief system and values, and to change one's behaviors, emotions, and thoughts. As they are usually much more subtle and less flashy, these approaches get far less attention.

      • Jacq says:

        Thanks for the feedback! I do think that those kinds of programs can be a "gateway drug" for many people. For myself, the Landmark course (~ 7 years ago) was my "exit drug". That doesn't mean that I would recommend that anyone else take it because it would depend so much upon the person and how grounded they are to begin with – and how can I know that? I did see pretty much everyone *appear* to get a lot of benefit from it – and it amazes me that it resolved some long-standing issues for me permanently. Yet I never went on to take another course beyond the intro from them because they kind of freaked me out as well. (I'm not a big fan of feeling myself being put into a hyper-emotional state against my rational will).

        Although I did go to a free lifespring-style course last year just for entertainment… :-) It was "meh". Been there, done that, decluttered the T-shirt. There were lots of messed up people there though that I could see were sucked in by the high.

        BTW, Joe Vitale said Luke Rhinehart's "the book of est" was his #1 pick of books ever. Which is bizarre, because IMHO, no philosophy could be more different from LoA than est.

        Please don't think I'm a gullible idiot, but in a sense, I have quite a bit of respect for Erhard despite his shady past – he stepped away from the adulation and limelight (even now, when he doesn't have to) and seems to want to genuinely help people. It's an interesting story anyway – to see how someone can move from the ultimate of gurus and can walk away from all of that.

        • I definitely don't think you're a gullible idiot. On the contrary, you seem like a thoughtful and intelligent individual. Erhardt is an interesting character, to be sure. I'm not convinced he stepped away from the limelight or if he was forced into hiding though. I did watch the recent movie that came out about his life, but seemed more like a propaganda film than a documentary to me.

          It sounds like you got the best of what a course like that can offer. I do think that for some people, courses like this can be a very useful thing. Honestly I don't know of any equivalents that are much safer, although I hope to help nudge this industry in that direction if I can.

  23. Jacq says:

    Thanks for that Duff, I had the same thing happen to me as a kid, and oddly enough LF helped – I think. I'm still not sure what really happened. I think I decided that I could let my life be defined by what happened and be a passenger, or be brave enough to be the driver. And part of being the driver was not getting sucked into another seminar – ever!

  24. […] to avoid falling into a meaningless void. We can see this same aggressive nihilism in the movie Fight Club, where the ultimate solution from Tyler Durden is to form a violent, anarchist cult that seeks to […]

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