For twenty years, all kinds of trainings, seminars and master classes have become our daily reality. At these group classes, they undertake to teach both quite practical everyday skills (eat right, increase the sensitivity of the vagina and effectively use Facebook for business and self-promotion), and solve global life issues, sometimes beyond reality (become healthy, happy and rich; fill up with energy for the next ten years of life; materialize desires, make astral travel and open the “third eye”). Examples are quotes from the offer of Kyiv training centers.
The statistics of the demand for thematic trainings can be seen on the largest Ukrainian portal TRN.ua, where about 3,000 programs are presented in 25 categories. Leading categories: “Management, company management” (424 trainings), “Personal development, time management” (288), “Sales, work with clients” (232). Over the seventy years of the existence of group trainings, their thematic top list has not changed. And, as before, most of all questions, complaints and disagreements are caused by methods of personal growth.
“It is easier to change individuals as a group than to change them individually.”
“A person remembers unfinished situations well and easily forgets completed ones, so in order to change a person, he must be freed from the inertia of negative unfinished situations.”
These statements of the American psychologist Kurt Lewin formed the basis of the theory of training. In 1944, Levin founded the Center for the Study of Group Dynamics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, from whose research the history of modern psychotraining began. According to Kurt Lewin’s theory, any group of people from an ethnic community to a board of directors can be changed through three stages:
Where “defrosting” is the destruction of the existing value system and life orientations of group members, “transformation” is a new motivation and “freezing” is the consolidation of “grafted” priorities. At the first group trainings, the benevolent and respectful interaction of the psychologist with the group was reminiscent of the communication of a university professor with students. Kurt Zadek Lewin was a 100% idealistic Democrat. Having experienced “anti-Semitism of the worst kind” in childhood, and in his youth the hardships of the First World War, he devoted his life exclusively to altruistic goals and was sincerely convinced that group trainings would help make society more humane.
Twenty years later, when hippie America was hungry for “enlightenment,” Alexander Everett, a British elementary school teacher, launched a four-day Mind Dynamics workshop in Texas in 1968. During the period of general enthusiasm for Eastern cults, Everett declared his training as a symbiosis of Helena Blavatsky’s theosophy, Zen Buddhism, cabalism and Rosicrucian symbolic philosophy. Although, in fact, he used the techniques of Kurt Lewin, generously seasoning them with esotericism, fashionable at that time. The know-how of Alexander Everett consisted in the idea: a person is what he thinks of himself. Like the trainings of Kurt Lewin, the Mind Dynamics seminar was aimed at getting rid of negative unfinished experiences and at the same time demonstrated the influence of the mind on emotions. Everett’s training has become a real forge of personnel in its field. Listeners and then instructors of Mind Dynamics have gone on to become America’s most famous, successful and wealthy coaches.
In 1970, Alexander Everett sold his popular training to Penn Patrick, owner of Holiday Magic, a network marketing cosmetics company and creator of the first psychotraining for managers. Patrick was going to use Everett’s training as an additional tool for his distributors. Penn Patrick’s harsh methods would later be used in the Lifespring personal growth trainings, namely, the confrontational system of interaction with the trained group, psychological bullying and humiliation, regulated trips to the toilet and even beatings. Soon lawsuits from ex-employees rained down on Holiday Magic, its activities were declared illegal and the company was closed.