A Salt Lake woman is suing a local company and its owner, accusing them of running a psychologically abusive self-help workshop that led her to attempt suicide.
In a 3rd District Court suit that charges the firm with negligence, Lynn Apprilliano said she first attended a four-day self-help seminar called "Possibilities" run by a firm called The Training, under the direction of owner John S. Webb. That $300 seminar "used gentle techniques and was a peaceful experience for the plaintiff," the suit said.But following this experience, according to the complaint, high-pressure sales people convinced her to take a second, $650 seminar called "Break Through," which used "harsh techniques such as verbal abuse, humiliation and pressure to break plaintiff down psychologically."
The suit said no psychological screening of participants was done.
The complaint alleged that Apprilliano was made to pretend she was Liza Minnelli and sing and dance before the group, and men were made to shave their legs and pretend they were ballerinas.
Apprilliano said Webb, who could not be reached for comment, told participants to stop taking any prescription medicines because they would interfere with his program, and she complied with that instruction.
After the program's second night, Apprilliano "suffered a breakdown," went home and was unable to sleep or eat normally for 10 days, the complaint said.
On March 6, 1988, she burned all her program materials, following the defendants' instructions that others not be allowed to see them, then attempted suicide by stabbing herself in the stomach, the suit said.