Author Topic: Questionnaire for Survivors of Programs  (Read 2903 times)

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Offline Antigen

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Questionnaire for Survivors of Programs
« Reply #15 on: September 05, 2005, 02:02:00 PM »
I think it's not out of line to equate the troubled parent industry w/ any other quack medicine. How many times a week do you get email promising you a bigger dick, narrower waistline, fuller head of hair or eternal youth? Do you believe them? Ever tempted to believe them? Wish it were possible but know that it's not?

Well, let me tell you, aging is not much fun. In fact, it can be downright distressing. So is raising kids, especially when they first start to leave the nest and you're just damned sure they're going to fall out of the sky and go splatt on the ground. In fact, I'd say being the parent of a young adult is even more uncomfortable, bewildering and confusing at times than having been a teenager.

The industry thrives on this fairly common, natural though disturbing phase of family life by promising a god in a bottle cure for it. Of course, there is no cure; it's just not within the realm of possibility. When people are desperate, they'll gamble. And gamble they do.

But there isn't really any magical new technology to make it easier or to ensure a safe transit from childhood to adulthood. There's no better way to raise kids than the way we've been doing it for some thousands of years.

We teach them what to do and what not to do by example. That's all we can do. It's up to them to decide if, when and how to emulate our good traits and to reject the bad ones. You just can't do this for them. Not saying only that it would be wrong and a mistake, but that it simply cannot be done. Growing up is something we do on our own, virtually alone in many ways. It simply cannot be done to us or for us. Not any more than physically putting someone's body through the motions of running will result in strong muscles and cardio/vascular good health.

America when will you be angelic
When will you take off your clothes....
America after all it is you and I who are perfect
Not the next world.
--Allen Ginsberg

« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »
"Don\'t let the past remind us of what we are not now."
~ Crosby Stills Nash & Young, Sweet Judy Blue Eyes

Offline Anonymous

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« Reply #16 on: September 05, 2005, 07:24:00 PM »
You've got that right, Ginger. Parenting a teen is distressing even under the best of conditions. And yes, you feel like they are going to do something crazy no matter how well you've taught them. But like you said, the bottom line is they need to take the good, reject the bad, and start to make their own life decisions. It is when that happens that we as parents have done our job. We just can't make them become good adults. It is something they have to want and desire.

I am the parent of a teen and a young adult so I've been there. Mine are relatively good and were quite easy to raise, for the most part. But I get a lump in my throat and sick to my stomach when one of them decides they're going to go on a road trip, for example. Especially when they want to go with a friend. Just having read that kids who ride in cars with other kids have far more chances of dying in a car accident didn't help matters.

But all in all it comes down to trust for our kids. Trusting that they have learned enough from us and that they have the foresight to do what is right. I remember how good it felt to hear from friends and my mother that they saw my youngest driving around town and that he seemed like a conscienscious driver. I still worry when he gets in the car, but I try to have faith that all that we taught him will help him through life. I know there are things beyond our control and that accidents do happen. I just hope that at least on his part he does the right things. Not only in driving a car, but in the major life decisions that are coming down the pike.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »

Offline Anonymous

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« Reply #17 on: September 05, 2005, 11:48:00 PM »
Quote
On 2005-09-05 07:19:00, Anonymous wrote:

"Anon,





I aspprteiate your kindness and empathy toward surviors ofthe abusive schools in the Teen Help Industry.



As a parent who was decieved and lied to,I resent your implication parents deliberty hurt their children. That is not always the case.



Until you have walked the long journey and have been a parent whose child was in need of intervention, please don't judge harshly.



I know our truth.  It wasnt as you make it seems.



Put the energy in shutting down or overhauling the industry.



There may be parents who use schools as a dumping ground. I never met any. We did get brain washed .That's  a fact. I didnt realize it at the time."


Which anon are you speaking to?
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »

Offline Anonymous

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« Reply #18 on: September 06, 2005, 12:08:00 AM »
Quote
On 2005-09-05 08:04:00, Anonymous wrote:

"QUOTE: Try speaking with Dr. Richard Ofshe of UC Berkeley, who is a specialist in cults, and ask him if he has ever done a study on behavior modification schools. I was just speaking about him in another thread, because I spoke with him years ago about the Synanon/CEDU connection.



He is very hard to get in touch with, however, because he is a very busy man.



Thank you for this information. I will try contacting him this week. I am happy to see others responding and hope that we can make this a survey of hundreds, if not thousands, of survivors.



I do believe this will have an impact, so thank you and keep them coming."


Let me know if you manage to get in touch with him and if so, what he thinks about the whole behavior mod industry. I'd be interested to hear his take on it.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »

Offline Anonymous

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« Reply #19 on: September 06, 2005, 12:34:00 AM »
QUOTE: Let me know if you manage to get in touch with him and if so, what he thinks about the whole behavior mod industry. I'd be interested to hear his take on it.

I will let you know once I'm able to reach him.
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Offline Watchaduen

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Questionnaire for Survivors of Programs
« Reply #20 on: September 06, 2005, 12:45:00 AM »
I will answer this for my son.  He was abused and tortured at Bethel Boys academy aka Eagle Point Christian Academy (which is now WWASP affiliated)

1. Which program did you attend?
Bethel Boys Academy, Lucedale, MS.

2. How long were you in the program?
 3 1/2 days

3. Why were you sent there?
My parents felt I was heading down the wrong path, tried pot, started hanging with what they considered the wrong crowd, grades were going steadily down.

4. Did you feel your parents were justified in sending you away?
 Yes, I was willing to go.  They discussed with me where I was going, whom they had talked to, what help I would receive.  My Dad also drove me down there and stated we would tour the place together and make a decision.

5. How did you get there? Escort service pick you up in the middle of the night, or did you go willingly.
See answer above

6. If you went willingly, do you feel the program was misrepresented to you? If so, how?
Within 10 minutes of my Dad driving off of the compound I thought I was being taken to my bunk.  Instead I was taken to an empty barracks where four grown men (i.e. drill instructors) were waiting for me.  They beat me for a half hour.  Shaved my head and deliberately sliced my head up with a razor - which would happen every two days.  More deliberate cuts all over your head.  I was regularly beaten, torture performed on me and others for no reason.  Starved, deprived of sleep, water and the right to go to the bathroom.

7. Education: Did you get a good education while you were in the program?
No school at all.  Most didn't get to attend school.  Spent our days performing labor for the Fountain family.

 Did you have teachers who gave lectures or was it all self teaching?
The kids that did get to go only did for an hour or two a day.  It was all self teaching out of elementary school workbooks.

 Did you receive a high school diploma, or were you able to finish and get a diploma on time? Do you feel the education was adequate and helped you move on to college?
I don't believe anyone leaves that hell hole with any kind of education whatsoever.

8. How was the food? And the cleanliness of the place?
What little we did get to eat was horrible.  You were constantly hungry.  One small dixie cup of water was all you got to drink.  No breakfeast for the few days I was there.  Many kids come out of there severely dehydrated.  A few have needed hospitalization.  You can't give a kid 500 calories a day, force them to exert 5500 calories a day and not walk away unharmed.  According to the Attorney General's office plenty of kids come out of there with renal failure.  We all know what causes that.  Extreme dehydration on top of being slugged repeatedly in the kidneys.

9. Were you abused? If so, how? How many times? By whom?
YES, beaten plenty of times by the drill instructors.  One of the tortures they performed on me was the drill instructor informed the older students to hold me down.  They forced my mouth open and filled it full of toothpaste.  While they held me down the drill instructor stood over me and slowly filled my nostrils with water.  I thought I was going to die.  I couldn't breath.  I also witnessed constant beatings.  When the drill instructors started unscrewing the video camera lense you knew someone was going to be beaten.  It was worse watching someone else be beaten and to hear their screams, knowing you could do nothing to help them.  

10. Did you witness others being abused? If so, what form of abuse and how often?
See above question.  It was an all day occurance. I watched a kid get slugged in the face so hard he flew against the wall behind him.  He curled up into a ball just sobbing.  His face was still black and blue when the state came in and removed him and 12 other victims.

11. Overall, was your experience positive or negative?
NEGATIVE, my family honestly didn't know these types of places even existed.  Not in the U.S.

12. If it was positive, please summarize your experience.

13. If it was negative, please summarize your experience.
My Mom and Dad have gotten together with other victims from that place and we have filed our first lawsuit.  It has 19 plaintiffs on it.  We also filed in Federal Court to get out of the corrupt George County where this place is located.  There are more lawsuits coming.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »
heryle - My son was TORTURED and ABUSED at Bethel Boys Academy aka Eagle Point Christian Academy, aka Pine View Academy, Lucedale, MS.

Offline Anonymous

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« Reply #21 on: September 06, 2005, 01:01:00 AM »
Here are some things I found on Fornits re Richard Ofshe:

1. Way back Richard Ofshe writing in The Light on Synanon wrote that it is almost impossible to put into words the raw emotions that one is placed through while participating in a Synanon Game. And he knew first-hand becasue he has played the Game at Synnaon personally. I want to say that it is impossible for an outsider to realize the shear terror that each and everyone of you kids went through at the Straights. I want to add that I persoanally can feel it, but only slightly, because like any parent I was Gamed by my peers on Monday and Friday nights and also I was Gamed especially harshly at Parents Weekend because I had brought up previously at the compound one Monday night what I had learned about abuses you kids were sustaining.

2. Mitchell, Dave, Mitchell, Cathy, and Ofshe, Richard, THE LIGHT ON SYNANON, Seaview Books, N.Y., 1980.

3. re: Freud fan. I didn't read the original German, but I did read translations. It still didn't impress me. It's still pseudoscience.

If you are interested in having your views challenged, check out "Therapy's Delusions" by Ofshe and Watters

4. Critics like Richard Ofshe have claimed that RMT patients are frequently assigned to self-helf groups which are often used to re-affirm their belief system, and that these grow into a replacement "family" (because the original family is believed to have been responsible for severe abuse). While the goal of WWASP is to ultimately return children to their families, for the period of their stay, students will have to accept staff as their family. The WWASP "therapy" sessions, too, have the goal of re-affirming the WWASP ideology and the belief of students in their mistakes (with denial being punished, sometimes physically).

5. Richard Ofshe and Margaret T. Singer, The Cultic Studies Journal, Vol. 3 #1, Spring/Summer 1986; American Family Foundation, P.O. Box 1232, Gracie Station, New York, NY 10028 (212) 533-0538

6. http://www.refocus.org/mental.html

Thought Reform Programs and the Production of Psychiatric Casualties
Margaret Thaler Singer, Ph. D., Richard Ofshe, Ph. D.
Psychiatric Annals 20:4, April, 1990

"...Psychiatric casualties appear to result from errors in the application of these attitude-change programs. The subject person's motivation to adopt the manipulator's position and to become obedient is manufactured by inducing extreme anxiety and emotional distress. Lifton reported that the managers of first-generation programs attempted to closely monitor subjects so that when they reached the brink of decompensation, pressures could be reduced. The goal was to hold the subject at the point of maximum stress without inducing psychosis. Second-generation programs have increased room for error because subjects tend to be less well monitored, the techniques used to induce anxiety and stress are more powerful and less predictable in the magnitude of their effects on an individual, and often these programs attempt to induce conformity more rapidly than did first-generation programs....."

7. And then, for comparison, see [SYNANON is referenced]
http://www.heart7.net/thought-reforming-techniques.html
Attacks on Peripheral versus Central Elements of Self
and the Impact of Thought Reforming Techniques
(c) The Cultic Studies Journal, Vol 3, N°1, 1986
(c) by Richard Ofshe, Ph.D. and Margaret T. Singer, Pb.D.

8.  Thought Reform Programs and the Production of Psychiatric Casualties
Psychiatric Annals 20:4/April 1990
By Margaret Thaler Singer, Ph. D. and Richard Ofshe, Ph. D.

The term "thought reform" was introduced into the psychiatric literature by Lifton and the term "coercive persuasion"' by Schein. Both described the organized "ideological remolding" programs introduced by the Chinese Communists after their 1949 takeover. Thought reform programs were used in the "revolutionary universities," other educational settings, and prison environments. Lifton, Schein, and other authors wrote about psychological effects in military and civilian prisoners. as well as in individuals exposed to thought reform programs in non-prison settings. These authors called attention to the manipulation processes that had been organized into effective psychological and social influence programs aimed at changing the political beliefs of individuals.

As early as 1929, Mao Tse-tung was waging a "thought struggle" to achieve unity and discipline in the Chinese Communist Party. Following the proclamation of the People's Republic of China in 1949, hundreds or thousands were exposed to thought reform programs to achieve "ideological remolding." "Group struggle sessions" convinced individuals to denounce their past political views and to adopt the new state-approved political outlook.

Neither mysterious methods nor arcane new techniques were involved; the effectiveness of thought reform programs did not depend on prison settings, physical abuse, or death threats. Programs used the organization and application of intense guilt/shame/anxiety manipulation, combined with the production of strong emotional arousal in settings where people did not leave because of social and psychological pressures or because of enforced confinement. The pressures could be reduced only by participants' accepting the belief system or adopting behaviors promulgated by the purveyors of the thought reform programs.

History of thought reform programs
There have been two generations of interest in extreme influence and control programs. The first generation of interest was in Soviet and Chinese thought reform and behavior control practices that were studied 20 to 30 years ago. The second generation of interest is in thought reform programs either currently operating or that have been in existence during the last decade in the United States and the Western world.

Far more of these programs exist than most non-specialists realize, and these newer programs are more efficient and effective. They also may be more psychologically risky for individuals exposed to them than research suggests first-generation programs to have been. Second-generation programs use influence techniques long recognized as essential elements of thought reform programs, as well as a variety of new influence techniques. Such programs can and regularly do produce psychiatric casualties.

Psychiatric casualties appear to result from errors in the application of these attitude-change programs. The subject person's motivation to adopt the manipulator's position and to become obedient is manufactured by inducing extreme anxiety and emotional distress. Lifton reported that the managers of first-generation programs attempted to closely monitor subjects so that when they reached the brink of decompensation, pressures could be reduced. The goal was to hold the subject at the point of maximum stress without inducing psychosis. Second-generation programs have increased room for error because subjects tend to be less well monitored, the techniques used to induce anxiety and stress are more powerful and less predictable in the magnitude of their effects on an individual, and often these programs attempt to induce conformity more rapidly than did first-generation programs.

Second-generation thought reform programs also pose psychological risks to subjects because of the sophistication of the influence tactics employed. Attacking a person's evaluation of the self is a technique present in both older and newer programs. However, in first-generation programs, primary attack was made on the political aspects of an individual's self-concept -- a peripheral aspect of most people's sense of self .

In the newer thought reform programs, attacks appear to be designed to destabilize the subject's most central aspects of the experience of the self. The newer programs undermine a person's basic consciousness, reality awareness, beliefs and world view, emotional control, and defense mechanisms. We suggest that attacking the stability and quality of evaluations of self-concepts is the principal effective technique used in the conduct of a coercive thought reform and behavior control program.

Second-generation programs induce changes in expressed behavior and attitudes much as the earlier versions did by manipulating psychological and social influence variables within a format that generally follows a symbolic death and rebirth theme. Second-generation programs often include techniques similar to those found in first-generation programs, e.g., group pressure, modeling, accusations, and confessions. Additional sophisticated techniques to destabilize a person's sense of self and to induce anxiety and emotional distress are also employed. Second-generation programs often incorporate technical advances in influence production, such as hypnosis to intensify recalled or imagined experiences, emotional flooding, sleep deprivation, stripping away of various psychological defense mechanisms, and the induction of cognitive confusion. Second-generation programs are illustrated by certain cults, in therapeutic communities gone astray, and in some large-group awareness programs.

What is a thought reform program?
In essence, a thought reform program is a behavioral change technology applied to cause the learning and adoption of an ideology or set of behaviors under conditions. It is distinguished from other forms of social learning by the conditions under which it is conducted and by the techniques of environmental and interpersonal manipulation employed to suppress particular behavior and to train others .

Six conditions are simultaneously present in a thought reform program:

obtaining substantial control over an individual's time and thought content, typically by gaining control over major elements of the person's social and physical environment,

systematically creating a sense of powerlessness in the person,

manipulating a system of rewards, punishment. and experiences in such a way as to promote new learning of an ideology or belief system advocated by management,

manipulating a system of rewards, punishments, and experiences in such a way as to inhibit observable behavior that reflects the values and routines of life organization the individual displayed prior to contact with the group,

maintaining a closed system of logic and an authoritarian structure in the organization and

maintaining a non-informed state existing in the subject.
The last two conditions work because there is no effective way for the subject to influence the system and because the program moves along in such a way that the subject is unaware of being changed for a hidden organizational purpose. In a closed system of logic, criticism or complaints are handled by showing the subject that he or she is defective, not the organization. Observations may be turned around and argued to mean the opposite of what the critic intended. When a subject questions or doubts a tenet or rule, attention is called to factual information that suggests some internal contradiction within the belief system or a contradiction with what the subject has been told: the criticism or observation is "turned around" and the subject made to feel he or she is wrong. In effect the subject is told, "You are always wrong; the system is always right." The system refuses to be modified except by executive order. In addition, by keeping a subject in a non-informed state, he or she functions in an environment to which he or she is forced to adapt in a series of steps, each sufficiently minor so that the subject does not notice change in him- or herself and does not become aware of the goals of the program until late in the process (if ever).

The tactics of a thought reform program are organized lo destabilize individuals' sense of self by getting them to drastically reinterpret their life's history, radically alter their world view, accept a new version of reality and causality, and develop dependency on the organization, thereby being turned into a deployable agent of the organization operating the thought reform program.

Types of psychological responses
Not everyone who is exposed to a thought reform system is successfully manipulated nor does everyone respond with major reactive symptoms. Some authors described the psychological responses and casualties seen in the first-generation groups. No definitive figures about casualty rates for second-generation programs can be offered. However, scattered anecdotal reports in the psychiatric literature, the number of people seeking treatment, counseling, and other forms of help after leaving thought reform programs, and the growing number of persons seeking compensation for damages through litigation suggests that many experience different degrees and durations of distress, disability, and dysfunction following such programs.

Actual rates of damage may be far higher than estimations made from the sources cited above. The sole experimental study of the destructive potential of encounter groups reports psychological casualty rates higher than 10% for those groups that use intrusive and high confrontation techniques with aggressive leaders. These damaging techniques have much in common with the destabilizing techniques of second-generation programs. The full range of personality and situational factors that predispose individuals to become psychological casualties are not known at this time.

Second-generation thought reform programs expose participants to exercises and experiences that disrupt psychological defense systems, causing some individuals to be flooded with emotions and others to dissociate and split off parts of their awareness. Psychological decompensations and the onset of other symptoms appear related to the combined effects of features described earlier, especially to rapid, intense arousal of aversive emotional states and to dissociation-producing techniques.

The analysis presented here is based on observations made since 1972 with over 3,000 people who have been exposed to thought reform programs in three types of closed restrictive groups: certain cults, some therapeutic communities, and certain large-group awareness trainings. At a surface level, these groups seem to be a varied lot. From the descriptions we have secured from people who participated in groups carrying out programs that met criteria for a thought reform program, we have begun to identify types of psychological responses. This work is in progress, and the following is an overview of our results to date.

At this point in our research we class the various thought reform programs into two main groupings that reflect the most characteristic negative psychological effects observed. The first cluster consists of those groups whose main effects are the product of intense aversive emotional arousal states: the second cluster is comprised of groups relying more on the use of meditation, trance states, and dissociative techniques. The thought reform systems we have studied tend to use a variety of techniques and do not restrict themselves to only one or the other of our major categories.

A program relying heavily on meditation, trance, and dissociation techniques is likely to include elements of intense emotional arousal devices; the reverse also is true. Some of the most intense emotional arousal responses can be produced by guided imagery and other trance-inducing procedures. In our preliminary classification of thought reform techniques, we have used the division of "primarily emotional arousal" or "primarily dissociative" as our major division.

Our interviewees (all of whom were reporting some form of distress) were divided into six groups according to their responses after leaving the program. The first and largest group is the majority reaction group, and the remaining five groups are the induced psychopathologies.

The majority reaction
Degrees of anomie. The majority reaction seen in people who leave thought reform programs, almost regardless of the time spent with the group, is a varying degree of anomie -- a sense of alienation and confusion resulting from the loss or weakening of previously valued norms, ideals, or goals. When the person leaves the group and returns to broader society, culture shock and anxiety usually result from the theories learned in the group and the need to reconcile situational demands, values, and memories in three eras -- the past prior to the group, the time in the group, and the present situation.

The person feels like an immigrant or refugee who enters a new culture. However, the person is reentering his or her former culture, bringing along a series of experiences and beliefs from the group with which he or she had affiliated that conflict with norms and expectations. Unlike the immigrant confronting merely novel situations, the returnee is confronting a rejected society. Thus, most people leaving a thought reform program have a period in which they need to put together the split or doubled self they maintained while they were in the group and come to terms with their pre-group sense of self.

Induced psychopathologies
Reactive schizo affective-like psychoses. These occur in individuals with no prior history of mental disorder and from families free of such history, as well as in individuals with no prior history of mental disorder, but whose families have members with affective disorders.

These psychotic episodes vary in length from days to nearly a year's duration, with most ranging from 1 to 5 months. The decompensation typically occurs in immediate response to a peak stress-inducing experience. Strong affective components, mostly of a hypomanic or manic quality, are noted near and after the decompensation. These components appear related to the behavior modeled in the group and to attitudes advocated by the group. Certain programs appear to interact with personal histories and situational properties of the group to produce depressive reactions.

Posttraumatic stress disorders. This type of disorder is described in section 309.89 of the DSM-III-R.

Atypical dissociative disorders. This type of disorder is described in section 300.15 of the DSM-III-R.

Relaxation-induced anxiety. This is a type of atypical anxiety if one uses DSM-III-R classification, but is best described in the recently growing reports appearing in research literature.

Miscellaneous reactions. These include anxiety combined with cognitive inefficiencies, such as difficulty in concentration, inability to focus and maintain attention, and impaired memory (especially short-term); self-mutilation; phobias; suicide and homicide; and psychological factors affecting physical conditions (described in section 316.00 of the DSM-III-R) such as strokes, myocardial infarctions, unexpected deaths, recurrence of peptic ulcers, asthma, etc.

Case Examples
Both of the following cases illustrate the production of psychiatric casualties in individuals exposed to thought reform programs. Neither individual described below had a history of personal or family mental disorder.

Kirk illustrates the splitting or doubling of the self that occurs when one drops an ordinary world view and accepts the alternative world view trained through exposure to a thought reform program. Professionals who treated Kirk diagnosed his condition as relaxation-induced anxiety that evolved into panic attacks and atypical dissociative states.

He affiliated with a mantra meditation group, initially attempting to "empty the mind" of all reflective thoughts for a few minutes each morning and evening. The mantra, supposedly a meaningless word, is the Sanskrit name of a Hindu deity.

Kirk has an advanced degree in a physical science from a prestigious university. A friend took him to a free lecture on how to reduce stress in one's life. Kirk was not stressed, but responded favorably to the lecturer's charts and graphs alleging scientific proof that meditation was accomplishing feats unknown to mankind -- except through the group leader's methods. Because of its seemingly scientific basis, Kirk paid his fees and began meditation lessons. These lessons began with short periods of meditation, which soon lengthened and were combined with prolonged periods of chanting and hyperventilation.

After a few months he began to have bouts of chest pains, fainting spells, palpitations, and lassitude. When he complained at the meditation center of his symptoms, he was assured these were normal signs of "unstressing" and evidence that he was reaching a higher state of consciousness. Hence, Kirk discounted his distress, accepting it as the price he had to pay to reach the leader's promised goal. Had Kirk not been following the meditation practice with simultaneous involvement with the group, he probably would have abandoned the practice as soon as he started having these adverse reactions.

During one panic attack, he was taken to an emergency room where a physician attributed his condition to "stress and pressure." He stopped meditating for a few days, and the symptoms disappeared. However, the group instructed him to increase the time he chanted, hyperventilated, and meditated. Over the years his condition worsened. Panic attacks continued; he reported he felt "spaced out" and forgetful, and he began to let his career, social life, and intellectual development decline. Upon advice from the group leader, to help his deteriorating condition, he frequently spent 8 hours a day for an entire week, chanting, hyperventilating, and meditating. He spent several individual months on such a regime.

His distress increased. He was markedly dizzy and objects seemed swirl, float, and waver in the air. He felt nauseous, disoriented, distraught and confused. At work he began to lose confidence in his abilities and worried that he had slipped into insanity.

He soon found himself unable to focus on his surroundings: when he did, things appeared distorted, obscure, and foreign. He felt overwhelmed by anxiety, depression, nausea, and debilitation. He took a week off from work and sat crying in his apartment in an apparent state of depersonalization and derealization, accompanied by a multitude of odd sensations and mental contents. He visited several general practitioners who could not diagnose his symptoms.

One day while driving he lost his memory. He was unable to recall who he was or where he was going. He parked and went into a restaurant. When he left, it took him 2 hours to find his car because he had forgotten where he had parked.

Soon after this transient but alarming amnesic episode, he resigned from his job because he could no longer instruct workers as part of his technical job. When he had to speak he felt faint, lost track of what he was saying, and was unable to function.

Beverly, now 27, was in a cult from ages 15 to 24. For 2 years after leaving the cult, she was too frightened to seek help or tell anyone what had happened during the years she was in the group. Finally, she saw a psychologist over a prolonged period. Initial symptoms were severe depression., anxiety, multiple phobias and identity diffusion. As her story unfolded during therapy, a diagnosis of posttraumatic stress disorder was made. The following is abstracted from a report written by her therapist.

The group Beverly joined was started by an immigrant who conferred upon himself the titles of guru, yogi and teacher after reaching the United States. He began to collect a small following by advertising himself as an exercise and diet specialist.

A relative of Beverly's had lived for some time in the commune he developed. The relative asked I 5-year-old Beverly to spend the summer in the commune; she remained in the commune for 9 years. Beverly was an easy mark for the leader and his assistants to completely dominate. His indoctrination and influence program led her to believe all his claims, that he was the most learned man alive, that he knew hidden health and living secrets which he would reveal to her. The group preached bizarre and ever-changing diets. Beverly came to think the leader was omniscient, omni-present and omnipotent. He treated her as his protégé, subjecting her to endless sessions of indoctrination and withdrawing alternative sources of social support until she became totally dependent on him.

She believed that he knew all the secrets of the universe. She believed that he held the power of life and death over her and her family because he claimed that he was above the law and that he could order the execution of anyone who displeased him. He repeatedly stated that I he would have her and her family put to death if she ever left him. Eventually when she did attempt to leave after almost 9 years. he put her under armed guard and prevented her from leaving.

The most traumatic episodes with the leader began after Beverly had been in the group several years. He told her that he was going to cure her of what he termed her sexual neurosis. He proceeded to rape her while she was held down. After this event, she became stunned, depressed, withdrawn and suicidal for nearly 3 years, she was anally and genitally raped repeatedly and given gratuitous brutal beatings by the leader. She became pregnant twice: each time he leader ordered her to have an abortion. Hours after undergoing one of the abortions, he raped her.

Beverly eventually ceased to regard him as divine after she developed herpes and chronic kidney and bladder infections; she saw him only as a violent, brutal rapist. At this point, the leader assigned armed guards to restrain her from escaping. She remained virtual prisoner for over a year.

She finally escaped several years ago, still believing the leader or his helper would find and kill her and her parents. This fear continues.

Beverly has a driving phobia. This appears related to the leader telling her that if she ever left him she would die in an automobile crash. After a year of treatment, she is able lo drive short distances, but only at the expense of considerable anxiety.

Beverly becomes excruciatingly anxious over what she calls "flashbacks." She vividly re-experiences how she felt when she had to sit for endless hours listening to the rambling, nonsensical lectures given by the leader. During those lectures she resented having to sit for so long yet she was unable to move or leave. She feared that the leader had magical powers and that it she incurred his disfavor, she would come to harm or even die as he claimed happened to those who defied him. Because of these negative associations with prolonged sitting, she has been unable to attend classes, church services, or similar events. Thus, her educational level remains as it was at age 15 when she entered the cult.

She has panic attacks with agoraphobia in which she has to abandon whatever she is doing and return to her apartment to feel safe. These attacks have prevented her from maintaining employment and reliably enjoying recreational activities. She has an ever-present free-floating sense of foreboding and dread.

Beverly has trouble going to sleep as fearful images of the leader intrude, arousing fear. When she does sleep she has nightmares involving his attacks on her. She sleeps fully dressed because she fears she may have to flee the leader's guards. This is not without foundation as such happened before she escaped from the commune. Her numbed, stunned state seen at the start of therapy has declined, but the rest of the posttraumatic stress syndrome remains. She feels her life is ruined and suffers generalized anhedonia.

Summary
The techniques used to induce belief, change, and dependency by various thought reform programs appear to be related to the type of psychiatric casualty the program tends to produce. Large group awareness training programs appear more likely to induce mood and affect disorders. Groups that use prolonged mantra and empty-mind meditation, hyperventilation, and chanting appear more likely to have participants who develop relaxation-induced anxiety, panic disorder, marked dissociative problems, and cognitive inefficiencies.

Therapeutic community thought reform programs appear more likely to induce enduring fears, self-mutilation, self-abasement, and inappropriate display of artificial assertiveness and emotionality.

Many people subjected to thought reform programs of sufficient duration report transient to longer lasting cognitive inefficiencies with impaired concentration, attention, and memory. Most are self-reported observations; others come from family and friends who note the inefficiencies either were not present prior to the thought reform program or are exacerbations of preexisting tendencies.

There is an interactional-transactional interplay between a program's philosophical contents, exercises, and practices, and each person exposed to it. The thought reform program impinges on cognition, defenses, affects, values, and conduct. Additionally, each person's genetic-biological make-up, life experiences, personality, and mental make-up interact with the stressors induced by the interface of the person's old value, belief, and behavior codes with the new beliefs and behavior promulgated by the program.

Prediction of any one person=s responses to any one thought reform regime is difficult, if not impossible. However, as with all stressful, conflict-inducing, and intense negative emotionally arousing situations, certain forms of behavioral pathology are more likely than other types to occur among individuals exposed to certain combinations of stressors.

Dr. Singer is Adjunct Professor, Department of Psychology, University of California, Berkeley.

Dr. Ofshe is Professor, Department of Sociology, University of California, Berkeley.

This article was presented as the Virginia Tarlow Memorial Lecture, Northwestern University Medical School, Chicago, Illinois, June 1987.

References

1. Lifton, R.J. Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism. New York, NY: Norton; 1961.

2. Schein, E. H. Coercive Persuasion. New York, NY: Norton; 1961.

3. Chen, T.E.H. Thought Reform of the Chinese Intellectuals. New York, NY: Oxford University Press; 1960.

4. Farber, I. E., Harlow, H.F., West, L.J. "Brainwashing, conditioning and DDD: debility, dependency and dread" Sociometry. 1956: 20: 271-285

5. Hinckle, L.E., Wolfe, H.G. "Communist interrogation and indoctrination of enemies of the state." Archives of Neurology and Psychiatry. 1956: 76:115-174.

6. Lifton, R.J. "Home by ship: reaction patterns of American prisoners of war repatriated from North Korea" American Journal of Psychiatry. 1954; 110: 732-739

7. Schein, E.H. The Chinese Indoctrination program for prisoners of war" Psychiatry. 1956; 19:149-172.

8. Segal, H.A. "Initial psychiatric findings of recently repatriated prisoners of war" American Journal of Psychiatry. 1958; 21:358-363.

9. Singer, M.T., Schein, E.H. "Projective test responses of prisoners of war following repatriation" Psychiatry. 1958; 21:375-385.

10. Strassman, H., Thaler, M., Schein, E.H. "A prisoner of war syndrome: apathy as a reaction to severe stress" American Journal of Psychiatry. 1956; 112:998-1003.

11. Ofshe, R., Singer, M.T. "Attacks on Peripheral versus central elements of self and the impact of thought reforming techniques" Cultic Studies Journal/ 1986; 3:3-24.

12. Glass, L.L., Kirsch, M.A., Parris, F.N. "Psychiatric disturbances associated with Erhard Seminars Training, I: a report of cases" American Journal of Psychiatry. 1977; 134:245-247.

13. Haaken, J., Adams, R. "Pathology as >personal growth=: a participant observation study of Lifespring Training" Psychiatry. 1983; 46: 270-280.

14. Higgett, A.C., Murray, R.M. "A psychotic episode following Erhard Seminars Training" Acta Psychiatr Scand. 1983; 67:436-439.

15. Hockman, J. "Iatrogenic symptoms associated with a therapy cult: examination of an extinct 'new psychotherapy' with respect to psychiatric deterioration and 'brainwashing'" Psychiatry. 1977; 134:1254-1258.

16. Kirsch, M.A., Glass, L.L., "Psychiatric disturbances associated with Erhard Seminars Training, II: additional cases and theoretical considerations." American Journal of Psychiatry. 1977; 134:1254-1258.

17. Ofshe, R., Eisenberg, N., Coughlin, R., Dolinajec, G., Johnson, A. "Social structure and the social control in Synanon" Voluntary Action Research. 1974; 3:67-76.

18. Ofshe, R. "Synanon: the people business." In: Glock, C., Bellah, R. Eds. The New Religious Consciousness. Berkeley, Calif: The University of California Press. 1976: 116-137.

19. Ofshe, R. "The social development of the Synanon cult: the managerial strategy of organizational transformation" Sociological Analysis. 1980; 41:109-127.

20. Singer, M.T., Ofshe, R. Thought Reform and Brainwashing. Document offered as proof of testimony, Queen's High Court, London, on behalf of the London Daily Mail: 1980.

21. Singer, M.T. "Group psychodynamics" In: Berkow, R., ed. The Merck Manual. Rahway, NJ: Merck Sharp and Dohme; 1987: 1467-1471.

22. Lieberman, M.L., Yalom, I., Mile, M. Encounter Groups: First Facts. New York, NY: Basic Books; 1973.

23. Yalom, I., Lieberman, M. AA study of encounter group casualties" Archives of General Psychiatry. 1971; 25:16-30.

24. Heide, F.J., Borkovec, T.D. "Relaxation-induced anxiety: paradoxical Anxiety enhancement due to relaxation training" Journal of Consulting Clinical Psychology. 1983; 51:171-182.

25. Heide, F.J., Borkovec, T.D. "Relaxation-induced anxiety: mechanism and theoretical implications" Behav. Res. Ther. 1984; 22:1-12.

26. Heide, F.J. "Relaxation: the storm before the calm" Psychology Today. April 1985; 19:18-19.

27. Lifton, R.J. "Doubling: the Faustian bargain" In: Lifton, R.J., ed. The Future of Immortality and Other Essays for a Nuclear Age. New York, NY: Basic Books; 1987; 195-208.


To see more documents/articles regarding this group/organization/subject click here.

9.  It's more than possible that this kid talking to his mom would undermine the program. In fact, it's extremely likely that any outside influence would undermine the program. That's why they don't allow it. The Program only "works" if they can isolate the new inductee. See Thought Reform Programs and the Production of Psychiatric Casualties Psychiatric Annals 20:4/April 1990 By Margaret Thaler Singer, Ph. D. and Richard Ofshe, Ph. D. for more info.

10. I also remember talking with someone at the Cult Awareness Network who told me about the connection years ago, and this was when I had first heard about it, and had begun my searching. (This was before the C.A.N. got taken over by the Scientologists, back when they were actually a legitamite organization.) But when I spoke with Richard Ofshe, (a professer at UC Berkeley, an expert in cults, and someone who is very familiar with Synanon, and who also knows of CEDU and Mel) he was unaware of any connection.
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Offline Anonymous

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« Reply #22 on: September 06, 2005, 01:04:00 AM »
QUOTE: 1. Way back Richard Ofshe writing in The Light on Synanon wrote that it is almost impossible to put into words the raw emotions that one is placed through while participating in a Synanon Game. And he knew first-hand becasue he has played the Game at Synnaon personally.

..... meaning he, Richard Ofshe, experienced Synanon himself? I wonder in what capacity he played the game at Synanon - a survivor, staffer, parent? Anyone know the answer to this?
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Offline Anonymous

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« Reply #23 on: September 06, 2005, 07:15:00 AM »
Damn, reading my CEDU/RMA questionaire compared to the other questionare responses... RMA was a fucking walk in the park. I got to go skiing, camping, rock climbing. I got good food, and a mediocre, but decent education. Shit man, it was like a fucking retreat compared to some of these other places. Nothing like getting a little perspective once in a while.

It really pisses me off to know that kids have to go through this kind of horrible abuse. i.e. beatings, little or no food, dehydration, humiliation. And the fact that people make money off of this is even more disgusting.
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Offline Anonymous

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« Reply #24 on: September 06, 2005, 10:44:00 AM »
Thank you, everyone, for helping by providing facts. We need more, lots more. I urge everyone who had a negative experience at a residential youth program to speak their minds here so that voices can be heard in a larger way.
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Offline Nonconformistlaw

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« Reply #25 on: September 06, 2005, 12:25:00 PM »
1. Which program did you attend?

ANSWER: Straight, Inc.

2. How long were you in the program?

ANSWER: 1 year, and 3 1/2 months; 4 1/2 months aftercare = 1 year and 8 months total

3. Why were you sent there?

ANSWER: Damn good question--I never tried drugs prior, rarely touched alcohol, never became sexually active, etc. I did have unresolved issues with parents divorce and separation from mother, so I guess the concerns were about my bad attitude, rebelliousness, occasional skipping school (that had been addressed and corrected), grades were slipping a bit (undiagnosed ADD)

4. Did you feel your parents were justified in sending you away?

ANSWER: NO!

5. How did you get there? Escort service pick you up in the middle of the night, or did you go willingly.

ANSWER: Willingly, but only because my parents completely deceived me.  However, unwillingly, when after I graduated and 4 1/2 months into aftercare, I was kidnapped by my parents, and 3 accomplices, with straight's knowledge, approval, and cooperation, and taken to straight where I was verbally abused and guilt tactics were used to try to persuade me to sign myself back in the program....the police rescued me because I was 18 when this incident occurred. The trigger for the kidnapping was I was caught violating the no dating rule during after care---for of all things, handholding and was still not sexually active.

6. If you went willingly, do you feel the program was misrepresented to you? If so, how?

ANSWER: It was definitely misrepresented...my parents told me that I was going somewhere to talk to counselors...I was led to believe it was a one time session, NEVER did my parents tell me that it was long term, away from home "treatment." I don?t even remember the kids who conducted my intake ever telling me what straight was really like me, but they may have handed me a bunch of paper work....the only thing I remember finding out during intake was that I would be staying there so I was extremely dazed and confused (as I never tried drugs).

7. Education: Did you get a good education while you were in the program? Did you have teachers who gave lectures or was it all self teaching? Did you receive a high school diploma, or were you able to finish and get a diploma on time? Do you feel the education was adequate and helped you move on to college?

ANSWER: NO! During the first two phases, program rules prohibited attending school of any kind, reading was also banned during phase 1 and 2---for me I did not make it to 3rd phase for 2 1/2 to 3 months, during the school year. When allowed back in school during 3rd phase, I found myself behind, and the program provided little time for homework---attending group was the highest priority...also, no tutors were provided by the program to help me catch up. As a result of this, my grades further declined and barely had a C average when I graduated.  Straight definitely set me back because I had been in college bound classes and my GPA was a tad below a B average. As a result of the final Straight induced low GPA, I could NOT get into a regular 4-year program. I had to start in a community college and "earn" my way into the 4-year program. Also, due to the emotional trauma after straight...It took me 12 years to get to a point where I was ready for college.

8. How was the food? And the cleanliness of the place?

ANSWER: the food actually served in the program was terrible...half the time I could not identify what I was eating. For example - slabs of meat with a greenish/yellow sauce---what that was I'll never know. Host homes provided a steady and consistent diet of peanut butter sandwiches. The building where I was and host homes were actually clean.

9. Were you abused? If so, how? How many times? By whom?

ANSWER: Not physically. But everyone, including myself, was verbally abused, and endured other abuses such as extreme humiliation (led around by belt loop, watched carefully in bathroom stalls and showers) coercion, mind control, etc. Also, lack of proper medical care - I don?t think I ever saw a doctor even when sick the entire length of my program.

10. Did you witness others being abused? If so, what form of abuse and how often?

ANSWER: YES, every day! All the ones I listed in answer 9 were daily occurrences. I also saw many kids physically restrained for minor rule violations such as slouching in their chair, failure to motivate, failure to pay attention to the person talking. Restraining entailed 5 kids physically forcing a "misbehaver" onto the hard ceramic tile floor, at the direction of staff, and a kid sat on each limb...the length of time a child was restrained in this manner could vary between around an hour to all day. I never saw restraints used to prevent a child from harming himself or another---it was a punishment designed to instill fear and to coerce cooperation. Isolation was also used to "correct" misbehavers. I saw many children mysteriously disappear into intake rooms, sometimes for days on end, before returning to group...since I never was in the intake rooms myself while another was being isolated, I don?t know what went on...I also often hear horrifying screaming coming from the intake rooms. As far as the frequency of restraints & isolation in intake rooms, sometimes they occurred, but other times they were every day occurrences.

11. Overall, was your experience positive or negative?

ANSWER: NEGATIVE

12. If it was positive, please summarize your experience.

N/A

13. If it was negative, please summarize your experience.

ANSWER: This is really impossible to summarize as the ordeal harmed me in so many ways, and still does even after 20 years...while in the program I was in a constant state of terror, confusion, and felt utterly helpless; never could make choices of my own; witnessed horrifying abuses; was not allowed to talk about my real issues (divorce/separation from mother); experienced the most insidious and damaging mind control imaginable - a small example of this is that I never did drugs prior, but Straight somehow convinced me that I had a drug problem (they said I regularly got high from liquid paper, which in reality I never did this) ---what does that tell you about the power of mind control/brainwashing?----

After ?graduating,? I was FAR worse than I was before straight. It took me a long time to adjust to life away from straight, I was completely wild afterward for about 7 years, where I abused drugs and alcohol, among other things, in a slow process of self-destruction. 20 years later I still am haunted and still try to cope with the damage the program caused. I will take the scars and unhealed wounds of Straight to my grave.
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quot;In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.\" George Orwell

Offline Anonymous

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« Reply #26 on: September 06, 2005, 01:55:00 PM »
Thanks to those of you who have already responded. Hold that thought .....

Before moving forward with this, we need to get some more information about conducting surveys. We are asking for feedback on this.

Do any of you know what it takes for a survey to be legitimate? Can online surveys be considered valid, such as the one on this website? http://www.keysurvey.com/?source=Overtu ... C=standard

Given that we sort of put the cart before the horse, so to speak, we are backtracking now to find out how to best get this accomplished. We feel it is a very good idea and that it is very needed by therpists and others who are joining in this fight to help the cause.

Please, rather than bash us, help us get this thing going. It's a good idea, it's needed, and we want to do it right. The information gathered could really help in many ways, people are asking for it right and left. It's just not out there and neeeds to be, so let's find a way to get this done.

Basically, I'm asking for information from anyone who has experience in this area.

Thank you.
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Offline Anonymous

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« Reply #27 on: September 09, 2005, 01:18:00 AM »
Anon, I understand a survey is already being prepared at USF, perhaps you should attempt to contact them?

http://cfs.fmhi.usf.edu/cfsnews/2005news/A_START.html
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Offline Anonymous

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« Reply #28 on: September 09, 2005, 11:06:00 AM »
Seems a survey is already under way, good to hear it. No need for me to duplicate efforts.
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Offline Anonymous

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« Reply #29 on: September 10, 2005, 06:20:00 AM »
I see the link, but where's the survey?
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