Author Topic: DAYTOP Did Me Great Harm in the Long Run  (Read 55319 times)

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Offline SEKTO

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DAYTOP Did Me Great Harm in the Long Run
« on: December 01, 2008, 07:54:12 PM »
My name is B and I graduated from a DAYTOP outpatient facility (located in what was called the "Dresser building") in Dallas TX in 1993.  

Back when I was a senior in High School, my parents caught me smoking grass and tripping on acid and put me in DAYTOP on the advice of my guidance counselor.

Fifteen years later, I am just now starting to see that DAYTOP is nothing but an abusive cult disguised as a drug treatment program.

And it blows my mind to start to realize what happened to me there.

I am beginning to consider myself a victim (yes, a VICTIM) of the early-90s Troubled-Teen Industry hysteria.

The DAYTOP program in general is certainly a thought-reform environment, whether at the outpatient or residential level.  

In retrospect, knowing and understanding what I now know and understand about abusive groups, it was definitely very cult-like.

The way they broke down my boundaries, controlled my thoughts, emotions, and behavior, shamed and humiliated me before my peers and re-defined my personal identity amounts to psychological torture that was inflicted on me; in some groups/cults, they'll call the confession sessions "Hot Seats," but in DAYTOP, they are called "Encounter Groups" or "Marathon Groups," which were run by a bunch of thuggish fools with no training in psychology whatsoever.

It has taken me years to even understand what happened to me there, to even begin to recover from my experience in DAYTOP.  

That place was as traumatic as the eleven months that I later spent in Iraq in '05.

Their approach is very confrontational, very emotionally traumatizing to a kid:  "WE'LL SCREAM AT AND HUMILIATE YOU UNTIL YOUR WILL IS BROKEN AND YOU'LL WANT BE SOBER FOREVER!!!"

Their goal is to make you dependent on DAYTOP (or by extension, on groups in general) by reinforcing your identity as an addict and generally "broken" person.  

They'll make it so you are dependant on DAYTOP, or else some other group.

Later on in life, I spent time in a religious group/cult in an unconscious attempt to re-create the "therapeutic community"/groupthink environment to which I was accustomed in DAYTOP, and which I mistakenly began to see as a good and healthy way of living life.

After I got out of that place (it took me a year and a half to graduate) me and all of my Daytopian buddies all fell off the wagon together big-time.  I never partied so much or so hard in my life as I did with other Daytopians.

So I am a DAYTOP graduate, an ex-member of an abusive religious group (DAYTOP is abusive and cultic, but not so overtly religious to my recollection) and an Army veteran.  That's three groups.  

DAYTOP got me started in the unhealthy groupthink mentality.

I am a little angry with my parents for putting me in that place, but they didn't know.  We thought that it was a good thing at the time.

It all started with DAYTOP.  I can pinpoint it to them now.  I am starting to understand how profoundly detrimental an effect that place has on my life.  And it grieves me.

What are your thoughts, readers?  I am in intensive psychotherapy now for trauma and PTSD-related issues and am only just now beginning to come to terms with all of this.
« Last Edit: December 01, 2008, 10:11:45 PM by SEKTO »

Offline psy

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Re: DAYTOP Did Me Great Harm in the Long Run
« Reply #1 on: December 01, 2008, 08:22:42 PM »
Quote
in some groups/cults, they'll call the confession sessions "Hot Seats," but in DAYTOP, they are called "Encounter Groups" or "Marathon Groups," which were run by a bunch of thuggish Puerto Ricans with no training in psychology whatsoever.

There is a variation of this group confrontation in every program I can think of mentioned on this website.  A lot of it came out of Synanon, a cult in southern California (although the techniques themselves are much older).  If you research Synanon's "Game", you'll find that it's methods been copied all over the country in nonprofessional therapy cults and cultic groups.  One notable example was Straight Inc. which called the encounter groups "raps".  This term is also used in many other programs (this, of course is no coincidence).  Judging by the language you've used, I'm guessing you probably already know a lot of this.  Does your therapist have experience with cults/cultic groups and understand how they work, of have you had to do most of the research on your own?

Sadly, your experience as you describe it is hardly unique.  Indeed, the influence of similar cultic groups seems to be growing rather than shrinking.

Oh... and welcome to Fornits!
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Offline SEKTO

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Re: DAYTOP Did Me Great Harm in the Long Run
« Reply #2 on: December 01, 2008, 08:34:25 PM »
Quote
Judging by the language you've used, I'm guessing you probably already know a lot of this. Does your therapist have experience with cults/cultic groups and understand how they work, of have you had to do most of the research on your own?

Sadly, your experience as you describe it is hardly unique. Indeed, the influence of similar cultic groups seems to be growing rather than shrinking.

Both.  I am a serious researcher of cults and new religious movements, and my therapists are two of the foremost experts in the area of abusive and controlling relationships in the US.  My therapists have a huge amount of expertise and experience with cult-trauma survivors.  More later.  I'd like to keep this chat going if it's OK with you.  I find it very cathartic.
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Offline psy

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Re: DAYTOP Did Me Great Harm in the Long Run
« Reply #3 on: December 01, 2008, 08:56:39 PM »
Quote from: "SEKTO"
I'd like to keep this chat going if it's OK with you.
That's what this discussion board is for.  I think you'll find a lot of people here with similar experiences, though the "book knowledge" does vary from person to person.
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Offline SEKTO

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Re: DAYTOP Did Me Great Harm in the Long Run
« Reply #4 on: December 01, 2008, 09:05:22 PM »
Two things about DAYTOP I remember quite well:

First, I'll tell of a Jewish lesbian "counselor" (DAYTOP grad from NYC and unqualified armchair psychologist) and self-described "diesel dyke" (that is not a homophobic comment from me, that's actually how she described herself to us) who we had there that I'll call "Marcia."  I used to dread going into the encounter groups that Marcia would run, as she was especially confrontational and vicious in her approach, to the point of being sadistic about it.  She'd encourage us to scream at and verbally abuse one another. She'd make fun of me relentlessly, telling me how phony and plastic and shallow that she thought I was.  She'd encourage the others to pitch in and tell me how weak I was too.  I remember when I made it to "coordinator" (the top of the DAYTOP chain of command) and she was teaching me how to conduct "haircuts" she'd tell me I that I was "too soft" with my counseling approach and encourage me to yell at people with the intent to shame and humiliate them.  She, in effect, was teaching me how to verbally abuse my peers.  She once humiliated me in front of the entire "DAYTOP family" in morning meeting by making me dance around in a silly fashion  while everybody laughed at me.  And all in the name of helping me to "overcome my issues."

The second thing that I remember really well was the periodic visits by The Monsignor, and how we'd all have to meet together and he'd pat us all on the head, one by one, like little kids or pets or something.  He'd never walk up and shake your hand like a grown-up, he'd pat you on the head like you were a cute four-year-old.   I always found that to be weird and inappropriate.

They'd verbally abuse and humiliate us, a bunch of teenagers, and teach us to do the same to one another.  Incredible.

If there are any good things I remember about DAYTOP they'd be: the fact that I made friends for life there; two of my best friends are DAYTOP grads and they're doing well, we used to party like mad but they are sober now with wives and kids and good jobs.  Also, at least in DAYTOP they taught me how to identify, get in touch with, and appropriately deal with my feelings.  It was genuinely therapeutic and beneficial in some respects.  So it wasn't all bad, just mostly bad, and the residual effects of all that verbal abuse and degradation and groupthink indoctrination remain with me and negatively impacts my psyche to this day.  It took me fifteen years or so to figure out that DAYTOP, the "drug treatment program" was a  front for an abusive cult group.  It blows my mind.  

Can I tell you anything about DAYTOP in those days?  Any questions or comments?
« Last Edit: December 01, 2008, 10:17:47 PM by SEKTO »

Offline psy

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Re: DAYTOP Did Me Great Harm in the Long Run
« Reply #5 on: December 01, 2008, 09:32:30 PM »
Quote from: "SEKTO"
That place was as traumatic as the eleven months that I later spent in Iraq in '05.

That speaks volumes.  How parents can send their kids into such environments never ceases to amaze me.

Quote
Their goal is to make you dependent on DAYTOP (or by extension, on groups in general) by reinforcing your identity as an addict and generally "broken" person.

I think that's probably the longest lasting portion of the damage right there.  Learned helplessness.  I tend to think that the vast majority of people in this sort of "treatment" would have grown out of their behavior had they not had a "fuckup" identity drilled into them.

Quote
They'll make it so you are dependant on DAYTOP, or else some other group.

Interesting you include "some other group".  If you're referring to what I think you are, i'd tend to agree.  Institutionalized 12 steppery performs a forced conversion function as a front group for the 12 step religion as a whole.  You might find this chapter of this book (link) by Charles Bufe interesting.  It's a controversial viewpoint that some are very opposed to but personally I think it makes a lot of sense.

Quote
After I got out of that place (it took me a year and a half to graduate) me and all of my Daytopian buddies all fell off the wagon together big-time.  I never partied so much or so hard in my life as I did with other Daytopians.

Must have been easy when you believed you were powerless.  In my cynical opinion this learned helplessness performs a "return to sender" function: programming a person to self destruct without the group.  You can only function as a member.  Further, you naturally try to help others you see as who you were before the cult (everybody, since history is revised).  They turn you into a deployable agent of the cult... a missionary of sorts.

Quote
I am a little angry with my parents for putting me in that place, but they didn't know.  We thought that it was a good thing at the time.

That's why I believe education on this subject is so important.  If most parents truly realized what they were doing was not in the best interest of their kids, they wouldn't.  Personally I don't blame people for what they do in ignorance (including my parents), but I admit it did take time for me to get past my resentment.
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Offline psy

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Re: DAYTOP Did Me Great Harm in the Long Run
« Reply #6 on: December 01, 2008, 09:40:52 PM »
Quote from: "SEKTO"
She'd make fun of me relentlessly, telling me how phony and plastic and shallow that she thought I was.

Different groups call it different things.  In the group I was in they used to say you were wearing "masks".  Metaphorically, they would encourage you to cut off your own face (believing it to be a mask) and replace it with what they wanted...  but their mask never seems to stick for too long without a milieu (or compatible milieu) to support it.  The scars, however, I would argue last a lifetime...  self/identity doubt, etc...

Quote
She once humiliated me in front of the entire "DAYTOP family" in morning meeting by making me dance around in a silly fashion  while everybody laughed at me.  And all in the name of helping me to "overcome my issues."

Most programs listed on this site have some form of this or another.  Some have marathon LGATs where humiliating "skits" are performed in a ritualistic fashion in addition to what you just described.

Quote
They'd verbally abuse and humiliate us, a bunch of teenagers, and teach us to do the same to one another.  Incredible.

Many programs on this site recruit from within.  My guess is that they were grooming you for staff.  Did Daytop recruit staff from within?
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Offline SEKTO

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Re: DAYTOP Did Me Great Harm in the Long Run
« Reply #7 on: December 01, 2008, 09:51:02 PM »
Quote
Interesting you include "some other group". If you're referring to what I think you are, i'd tend to agree. Institutionalized 12 steppery performs a forced conversion function as a front group for the 12 step religion as a whole. You might find this chapter of this book (link) by Charles Bufe interesting.
No, I was not specifically referring to Bill (though he and I used to be buddies; DAYTOP would take us to Bills' place once a week or so), but groups in general, all kinds, whether religious groups, military groups, self-help/recovery groups, whatever.  They are all basically the same.  I got used to groups and got to the point of believing that that was a good and normal and even superior way to go about my life.

In a sense, if you've seen one cult, you've seen 'em all.

I have been in a religious cult, visited and mingled with several different religious communities and various communes, (some cultic, some not), DAYTOP, AND the Army (which I consider to be cult too, but at least you get paid and get some benefits) all in an effort to re-create the phony sense of "community" that I experienced as a teenager in DAYTOP.

That's what it comes down to, doesn't it?  Learned helplessness.  Exactly what I need to hear.  

Quote
Must have been easy when you believed you were powerless. In my cynical opinion this learned helplessness performs a "return to sender" function: programming a person to self destruct without the group. You can only function as a member. Further, you naturally try to help others you see as who you were before the cult (everybody, since history is revised). They turn you into a deployable agent of the cult... a missionary of sorts.

The Daytop Philosophy, recited like a prayer or mantra every morning before Morning Meeting, programmed us to be group-dependent, taught us groupthink  right away.  Here it is:

I am here because there is no refuge.
Finally, from myself.
Until I confront myself in the eyes
and hearts of others, I am running.
Until I suffer them to share my secrets,
I have no safety from them.
Afraid to be known, I can know
neither myself nor any other, I will be alone.
Where else but in our common ground,
can I find such a mirror?
Here, together, I can at last appear
clearly to myself not as the giant
of my dreams nor the dwarf of my fears,
but as a person, part of a whole,
with my share in its purpose.
In this ground, I can take root and grow,
Not alone anymore as in death,
But alive to myself and to others.
« Last Edit: December 01, 2008, 10:31:46 PM by SEKTO »

Offline SEKTO

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Re: DAYTOP Did Me Great Harm in the Long Run
« Reply #8 on: December 01, 2008, 10:03:36 PM »
Quote
Many programs on this site recruit from within. My guess is that they were grooming you for staff. Did Daytop recruit staff from within?

Bingo.  They most certainly did.  Most of the staff there were DAYTOP grads themselves.  There were some that were not grads, but the organization certainly did recruit potential new counselors from among the persons going through the program.  The director of the place even offered to fly me up to NYC to go through DAYTOP internship and counselor-training and the whole nine.  I went to college instead.
Quote
Interesting you include "some other group". If you're referring to what I think you are, i'd tend to agree. Institutionalized 12 steppery performs a forced conversion function as a front group for the 12 step religion as a whole. You might find this chapter of this book (link) by Charles Bufe interesting. It's a controversial viewpoint that some are very opposed to but personally I think it makes a lot of sense.

Hmmm, I'll study this out and will get back with you with my thoughts on it soon.  Thanks.
« Last Edit: December 01, 2008, 10:27:15 PM by SEKTO »

Offline psy

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Re: DAYTOP Did Me Great Harm in the Long Run
« Reply #9 on: December 01, 2008, 10:09:51 PM »
in the group I was in the played Kenny Rogers "Tell it All Brother" on repeat in an LGAT during the "disclosure circle" portion.

Perfect song for what lifton called the cult of confession

here is a link to the song (not recommended for CEDU vets):
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RpPcoVrmDHY

Imagine being in a sleep-deprived state wit that played on repeat for hours... being surrounded by everybody pouring their hearts out all around you, confessing to everything included but not limited to rape, bestiality, even murder.  Obviously some of it was probably exaggerated (if you've ever confessed to belong, you know what I mean), but that just made the group effect stronger.  Suffice to say they got it all from you.  Different groups have different implementations, but you're right...  once you've seen one cult, you've seen them all.  The general tune is the same:  Thought reform + origin + group power structure.
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Re: DAYTOP Did Me Great Harm in the Long Run
« Reply #10 on: December 01, 2008, 10:22:06 PM »
Quote from: "SEKTO"
Until I confront myself in the eyes
and hearts of others, I am running.
In other words: you are most accurately viewed through the eyes of others.  How you see yourself is not correct or accurate. You are not "real". Only others can tell you who you are.

When I took that to heart (and that took a lot of pressure, confrontation, etc...), I flipped out.  I mean I went nuts.  I had a breakdown of sorts.  I couldn't figure out who I was, whether I was real.  I felt only they could tell me who I was.  It took me a good while to figure out who I really am after that.

Eventually I came to the conclusion that what I do defines me, not the other way around, and effectively I have the choice of who I want to be.  Before the program I never really thought about identity.  I just accepted myself for who I am.  The program was the first to bring in the foreign concept of multiple identities (a clean one and a dirty one).  What I wouldn't give to have that full measure of peace again. Thanks to the program there is always a trace of an instinctive, phobic, fear that somehow I am not who I think I am.  Knowing something does not always make fear go away, which is why I used the word phobia (implying irrational fear).
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Offline SEKTO

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Re: DAYTOP Did Me Great Harm in the Long Run
« Reply #11 on: December 01, 2008, 10:24:55 PM »
So, you were a part of CEDU?  I that the group you were part of?  If not, may I ask what group you were a part of?  Just cannot help but wonder.

Also, please expand on what you mean by The general tune is the same: Thought reform + origin + group power structure.

What do you mean exactly in using the word "origin"?

Elaborate please?
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Offline psy

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Re: DAYTOP Did Me Great Harm in the Long Run
« Reply #12 on: December 01, 2008, 10:35:24 PM »
Quote from: "SEKTO"
So, you were a part of CEDU?  I that the group you were part of?  If not, may I ask what group you were a part of?  Just cannot help but wonder.

A CEDU clone, actually.  CEDU (now defunct) reportedly stood for Charles E. Dederich University (CED = Synanon founder).  It started in the same area and was staffed with Synanon members.  It also incorporated some LGAT seminars crafted out of est and LifeSpring.

Quote
Also, please expand on what you mean by The general tune is the same: Thought reform + origin + group power structure.

What do you mean exactly in using the word "origin"?

Elaborate please?

Origin?  Origin of the group.  Where it came from (who the leader was, where he got his ideas, which bits of which cult he ripped off, etc...).
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Offline SEKTO

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Re: DAYTOP Did Me Great Harm in the Long Run
« Reply #13 on: December 01, 2008, 10:36:48 PM »
Quote
Further, you naturally try to help others you see as who you were before the cult (everybody, since history is revised). They turn you into a deployable agent of the cult... a missionary of sorts.

Can you elaborate as well on this point a little please?  "...naturally try to help others you see as who you were before the cult (everybody, since history is revised)."  I do not quite take your meaning here.
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Re: DAYTOP Did Me Great Harm in the Long Run
« Reply #14 on: December 01, 2008, 10:45:42 PM »
Quote from: "SEKTO"
Quote
Further, you naturally try to help others you see as who you were before the cult (everybody, since history is revised). They turn you into a deployable agent of the cult... a missionary of sorts.

Can you elaborate as well on this point a little please?  "...naturally try to help others you see as who you were before the cult (everybody, since history is revised)."  I do not quite take your meaning here.

Well.  Imagine you tried pot a few times or even were a casual smoker, got sent to a program like Daytop, and ended up being programmed into believing you were some sort of uncontrollable drug fiend (they would reframe the actions in your past to constitute grave flaws and signs of "illness"... that's the history revision I'm talking about).  Two things would then happen on leaving the cult: you would become an uncontrollable drug fiend the likes of which do not occur naturally and you would see other casual pot smokers (or even those who experimented) as destined to inevitably become uncontrollable drug fiends.  In their best interest (especially if you were a parent) you would then coerce or convince the hapless pot smoker that: you were just like him, he is destined to become an uncontrollable drug user, and he needs treatment (you would then refer to the program).  Without realizing it, you're performing a missionary action as a deployable agent of the cult.

Ironically, this just repeats the cycle and does far more harm than good, simply resulting in one more debilitated human being.

PS: if you've done this, don't beat yourself up about it.  I've done it before I realized what was up.  Nobody should be blamed for what they do in ignorance, IMO.
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