Author Topic: Paul Morantz: The Center for Feeling Therapy  (Read 4766 times)

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Offline Awake

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Paul Morantz: The Center for Feeling Therapy
« on: August 28, 2011, 12:07:58 AM »
I think someone who deserves an honorable mention here is none other than cult exterminator extraordinaire, vanquisher of Synanon, Paul Morantz. Paul Morantz is a lawyer who has handled some high profile cult cases, notably successfully suing Synanon.

Although on Paul’s website he helpfully suggest reading through the material in a certain chronological order, ... t-section/    I am skipping ahead to his great story about the Center for Feeling Therapy, “what the L.A. Times called “the longest, costliest, and most complex psychotherapy malpractice case in California history.” Great read, as relevant as his work on Synanon. Here it is


« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »

Offline Ursus

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Re: Paul Morantz: The Center for Feeling Therapy
« Reply #1 on: August 28, 2011, 01:35:19 PM »

    HUCKSTERS Supremo Trois
    From left: Joseph Hart, Richard Corriere, Jerry Binder

    I found Morantz's mention of Dr. Louis Jolyon "Jolly" West to be... well... intriguing. West was another one of those recipients of MK-ULTRA grants. Info on the Web about him is, shall we say, controversial. I s'pose it shouldn't be too surprising that some of the brainwashing experts are ... not necessarily against brainwashing. Just brainwashing as practiced by the "other" side.
    « Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »
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    Offline Ursus

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    Temple of Dreams - History
    « Reply #2 on: August 29, 2011, 12:02:58 PM »
    Below are a few archived pages from the website Temple of Dreams. I had come across this website a few years ago; apparently, it is no longer.

    The author, Lane Sarasohn, along with his wife Carol, were/are quite interested in dreams and dream interpretation, and appear to have explored a few cults and cult-like organizations (e.g., The Center for Feeling Therapy, the "teachings" of Carlos Castaneda, etc.) as well as other counter-culture experiences along the way.

    Here Lane Sarasohn relates their involvement with The Center for Feeling Therapy shortly after its transition to its third phase (the phases occurring in rough parallel to the books authored by the core founders). It was the second phase the Sarasohns were more interested in, however, so physical immersion did not last all that long. On the other hand, the philosophical and ideological impact, via the Center's books and the overall concepts put into practice at the Center itself, appear to have lasted much longer:

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    In 1977 my wife, Carol, and I were tv writers living in Westport, Connecticut, when our friend, comedian Richard Belzer, suggested that we get hold of a new book called "The Dream Makers." He knew of our interest in dreams - Carol had recently read Patricia Garfield's "Creative Dreaming" and I was a big fan of Carlos Castaneda. While reading and digesting this simple, but profound book we each experienced a series of revelatory dreams that changed our perception of ourselves and put us into a heightened state of awareness that reminded us of being high on LSD. It went on for weeks and seemed very magical.

    Six months later we moved our family to Los Angeles to enter a radical therapy founded by the authors of "The Dream Makers," Richard Corriere and Joseph Hart. Their program was called The Center for Feeling Therapy, and, at the time we joined, it consisted of a group of thirteen psychotherapists treating a community of about 300 patients. Community was an important concept at the Center and it was something that we, too, wanted very much to have in our lives.

    Feeling Therapy had many valuable lessons to teach and most are contained in an earlier work by Corriere and Hart, "Going Sane: An Introduction to Feeling Therapy," but the program itself was a disappointment. It had stopped stressing the importance of dreams and was promoting a regimen called Psychological Fitness. I left the therapy after three months and Carol dropped out a few months later. An article that describes the rise and fall of the Center for Feeling Therapy appeared in the August, 1988 issue of California magazine. (Click here to read "When Therapists Drive Their Patients Crazy" by Carol Lynn Mithers.)

    For the past twenty years we've used the techniques of interpreting dreams that we learned at the Center and have helped our children and friends understand the important messages that are expressed by our unconscious minds in the images of dreams. It seemed tragic that an important intellectual achievement had been dismissed because of its association with a discredited therapeutic practice, but we were busy with our show business careers and had no time for teaching or writing about the interpretation of dreams.

    In the Spring of 1998 a new wave of powerful, life-altering dreams prompted the establishment of Temple of Dreams. Through the Internet the dream interpretation techniques learned at the Center and evolved over twenty years by personal trial and error can be passed along to other dreamers seeking to enrich their spiritual lives and deepen their self-understanding.

    To find out more about this revolutionary way of learning from and living from your dreams read the teachings, visit the dream archives, or check out the programs offered.

        Lane Sarasohn
        Temple of Dreams
        Desert Hot Springs, CA
    « Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »
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    Offline Ursus

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    Temple of Dreams - Teachings
    « Reply #3 on: August 29, 2011, 12:11:10 PM »

      "Dreams are pictures of feelings."
        - Richard Corriere & Joseph Hart
          "The Dream Makers"
      All of us dream, but few of us remember our dreams and fewer still have any sense of their meaning. Margaret Phillips Johnson, who teaches dream analysis at the C.G. Jung Institute in Los Angeles put it concisely: "You can think of a dream as a letter the unconscious sends the ego." The letter, however, is written in hieroglyphs. Further complicating matters, there are as many hieroglyphic languages as there are dreamers. Hence, an image vividly remembered from a dream can mean one thing to one person and something else to another.

      The Rosetta Stone for interpreting dreams was discovered in the Seventies by psychologists Richard Corriere and Joseph Hart and set forth in their book "The Dream Makers: Discovering Your Breakthrough Dreams" (Funk & Wagnalls, New York, 1977). Several years later, their therapeutic community, the Center for Feeling Therapy, crashed and imploded, resulting in California's longest, costliest and most complex psychotherapy malpractice case. Along with everything else lost in that legal and emotional cataclysm was an innovative and wonderful way of understanding and learning from one's dreams. Easy to grasp, but profound in its significance, Corriere, Hart and their fellow therapists had discovered that "dreams are pictures of feelings."

      The feelings we experience in our dreams are what is meaningful about them. The images and events that occur in our dreams are expressions of those feelings. "I'm in a speedboat. Someone else is driving. They are being reckless and I'm afraid. I tell them to slow down and be more careful." This is a dream about not being in control. Perhaps someone else is calling the shots in our life. Perhaps it is an aspect of our own personality - our anger or our bravado - that is making the critical choices that affect our safety and happiness. Not only does this dream afford us a clear vision that someone else (or something else) is controlling our current situation; we also catch a glimpse of our True Self - intelligent, aware, and sensibly concerned for our own well-being.

      Friedrich Nietzsche observed that "we are all artists in our dreams." Our dreaming minds are capable of re-creating familiar scenes and familiar persons with great clarity and incredible attention to detail. We can also create in our dreams original - even extraordinary - places, events, and situations without the least bit of mental effort. There's no such thing as writer's block in the mind of a dreamer. Words, sounds and images flow in a torrent from our unconscious, mimicking reality so convincingly that we rarely know that we are dreaming while we're fully caught up, emotionally and intellectually, in the imaginary reality of the dream. But there's more to the art of dreaming than just painting perfect pictures. There's a profound, mysterious, insightful wisdom working behind the scenes in our dreams, trying to lead us out of our pain and confusion, out of our bad habits and insane behavior; trying to inform us who we are and what we need to do in our waking lives to become healthy, happy, free and secure. Like great art, it is the moral and intellectual content of dreams that makes them worthy of our serious consideration, not their "mere" ability to create fully realized imaginary worlds.

      Here, then, are ten lessons to get you started on the dreamer's path to greater self-understanding. Since we, too, are on that path we can't tell you where it ends. But we know how far we've come and that each part of the journey brings its own rewards. It helps to write down your dreams and talk about them. Some will be easy to understand, but others will baffle you for a very long time. Understanding our dreams is much more an art than a science.

        Lesson 1 -
      "Dreams are pictures of feelings."
      Lesson 2 - Using your dreams to find your True Self.
      Lesson 3 - "How would I change this dream?"
      Lesson 4 - Separating the wheat from the chaff.
      Lesson 5 - The importance of recurring dreams.
      Lesson 6 - Word play and the language of dreams.
      Lesson 7 - What was your role in the dream?
      Lesson 8 - Why there's no such thing as a bad dream.
      Lesson 9 - Encounters with guides, gurus and gods.
      Lesson 10 - Philosophical implications.[/list]
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      Offline Ursus

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      When Therapists Drive Their Patients Crazy
      « Reply #4 on: August 29, 2011, 01:38:03 PM »
      Here's that above mentioned 1988 article by Carol Lynn Mithers:

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      C A L I F O R N I A
      AUGUST 1988

      When Therapists Drive Their Patients Crazy

      From the outside -- on TV and radio talk shows across the nation -- the Center for Feeling Therapy looked like a promising new approach to psychotherapy. From the inside it was an object lesson in insanity.


      IN 1975 ANY OLD-TIMER WHO LIVED NORTH-WEST of Sunset and La Brea knew the Center for Feeling Therapy people. They had started taking over the neighborhood the year before and were hard to miss - the cars with bumper stickers declaring GOING SANE, the four bungalows on Gardner Street where the individual fences between them had been torn down and replaced by a new one that enclosed all four like a fort, the dozens of communal houses in the adjoining ten square Hollywood blocks that erupted at all hours with shouts of anger ("I hate you, I fuckin' hate you!"), howls of pain ("I feel bad, I fuckin' feel bad!") or less frequently, shouts of triumph ("I feel good, I fuckin' feel good!").

      "Are you one of them?" a woman in her sixties asked when she saw me moving into a house on Martel Avenue.

      "No," I answered.

      "Thank God," she said, then stopped and shot me a suspicious look: if you aren't, what are you doing here?

      In 1974 Mark, the man who had been my lover through college, began feeling therapy, which was, I soon discovered, not therapy in the traditional sense of the word but a community and a way of life. In this world all that mattered was having and expressing feelings. It was not unusual for a social encounter to end with one person saying, "I don't feel like talking to you anymore"; it was not only acceptable but essential to tell a lover he or she was fat and you hated it; and the sound of shouting and sobbing was a constant, unremarkable background noise.

      Soon after Mark began feeling therapy, he and I broke up -- NIT (not in therapy)/Center relationships rarely survived. But for a while I hung around, living on the fringes of the Center world. For all their shouts and sobs, I found Center people appealing. They were friendly and warm, and in a confusing era they exuded supreme confidence in what they were doing and where they belonged. I envied the community they had found and liked being an unofficial part of it. I dated some Center patients, went to a Center "prom," attended a one-day therapy workshop where I talked about my dreams. And when the Center's two leading therapists appeared on Tom Snyder's Tomorrow show, like the rest of the community I stayed up late to watch them. Hearing something with which I was even marginally involved discussed on national television was exciting; it was like being part of something important.

      "Sometimes I wish you would come into the Center," a man I dated told me, but I always knew I would not. Constant focus on feelings was tiresome, and the lingo all patients adopted never expressed anything I wanted to say. I didn't find feeling therapy awful, but by the time I lost touch with it in 1977, I did think it was silly. The Center stories I told were jokes. "I'm having a lot of feeling talking to you," Mark once said to me after we'd had a fight over the telephone. "I have to hang up. I have to talk to someone and find out what I'm feeling." I have to talk to someone and find out what I'm feeling. Everyone laughed.

      IN SEPTEMBER 1987 THE longest, costliest and most complex psychotherapy malpractice case in California history came to an end when the Psychology Examining Committee of the California Board of Medical Quality Assurance revoked the licenses of Joseph Hart and Richard Corriere, former heads of the Center for Feeling Therapy. For more than two years the state had been trying its case against thirteen members of the Center's former professional staff, and now all those accused of incompetence, gross negligence, fraud, patient abuse or aiding and abetting the unlicensed practice of psychology had either lost, surrendered, or, as in two cases, had severe restrictions placed upon their professional licenses.

      Since 1980, when the Center closed, complaints from former patients had been coming in to the board, and the stories eventually collected in more than 900 pages of declarations were so nightmarish and bizarre that at first investigators found them hard to believe. A man whose therapist told him he was "living his life like a baby" had been required to spend several weeks living like one --eating baby food, wearing diapers, sleeping in a crib. An overweight woman had been told she "looked like a cow" and was ordered to take off her blouse and crawl on the floor mooing. A woman had been ordered to go to her father's grave and tell him he had "made her crazy" and then to confront and humiliate her mother. Women who already had children had been told to surrender custody because they were too "crazy" to care for them; those who became pregnant were informed kids were "a suck" and were pressured to have abortions. And patient after patient recounted instances of sex with therapists, of being hit, kicked, punched, ordered to strip, called "dead," "insane," of being told how often to have sex and with whom, where to live and work, how much to weigh, what to eat, what to think, what to feel.

      Through two years of state hearings and several civil suits that resulted in a reported $6 million in settlements to former patients, a portrait of Center life emerged that was not silly but ugly, brutal and frightening. Perhaps by 1987 it should have been hard to be shocked by the existence of a weird, cultish group. But this had not been some hidden, far-out sect. The men who had run the Center held Ph.Ds from Stanford and the University of California. They had written three books that were published by the mainstream press, chosen as Psychology Today Book Club selections and quoted in such magazines as Mademoiselle and House & Garden. They had given lectures across the country and had been written about in glowing terms in a number of newspapers. From 1975 to 1980, they had been regulars on the talk show circuit, speaking of their theories and work on literally hundreds of television and radio shows, including The Tonight Show, Tomorrow, Merv Griffin, The Mike Douglas Show and Good Morning, America.

      What had happened? On the surface most people saw a new psychotherapy promising happiness, fulfillment and utopian community. In reality there were 350 people who had spent up to ten years of their lives in what administrative law judge Robert A. Neher called an "almost gothic maelstrom."

      PERHAPS IT WAS TRUE, AS Lisa said later, that at first "the therapists seemed to think they'd found some secret -- that they had the potential for developing perfect lives for people." Yet almost from the start it seemed clear that the founders had their eyes on something bigger than the transformation of individual lives. The release of Going Sane in 1975 was heralded with buttons and bumper stickers, and later the Center had its own public relations firm, Phoenix Associates. "The image you want to convey (not say) about them," ordered its manual, "is that Dr. Richard Corriere and Dr. Joseph Hart are the Freuds of today. They are future Nobel Prize winners."

      Patient-staffed Phoenix Associates was tireless in its promotional efforts, and the media were happy to cooperate. Joe and Riggs, billed as the Butch Cassidy and Sundance Kid of psychology, were perfect talk show guests, serious professionals who were not afraid to joke. Popular Los Angeles host Michael Jackson would later recall Riggs as "charismatic" and "charming." The newspaper feature stories about the Center were unfailingly positive -- replete with glowing images of a new community united in an idealistic quest, of the Gardner Street compound where dogs lazed in the sun, patients dropped by to shoot baskets and bare their souls and therapists talked in quiet intimacy on back porches.

      Lost in all the hyper were hard questions about exactly what went on at the Center. What was not mentioned was that many Center therapists were not initially licensed clinical psychologists. And what no reporter, talk show host or book publisher ever learned was the extent of the disjunction between relatively innocuous theories the Center founders discussed in public and the daily reality of those who lived feeling therapy. "We think therapy should be fun," said Riggs. In truth it was more often filled with dread and fear. The standards for living "from feeling" were so endless and so inflexible -- always be honest, always be expressive, always be thin -- that they almost guaranteed constant failure. And the Center's whole social system was set up to ferret out and punish that failure. Friends and housemates were expected to monitor and "bust" each other for falling into old, unfeeling ways, and patients even learned to police themselves: "negative" thoughts -- like "I hate this therapy and want to leave" -- had to be admitted to others for correction.

      "All I can think of is the word fucked," says Lisa. "There was always this severe, severe personality flaw -- you were 'fucked' in some area. You were almost gone. You were seriously ill. It was real serious."

      Severe flaws required severe corrective measures, according to the testimony of former patients. For example, having roommates who were too accepting could mean being assigned to others more inclined to confront and bust. Not having "proper" amounts of sex could mean being ordered to have more. Who it was with wasn't important; bodies were "biologically wired for sex," and having it was "like shaking hands." Getting pregnant and believing yourself ready to have a child required firm correction of your "misconceptions" of motherhood. Buy a doll, strap weights to it, carry it around and change its diapers, one woman was instructed. That pregnancy ended in abortion, as did all pregnancies (no one knows for sure how many) during the Center's nine-year history.

      In the early years at the Center "socko therapy" was considered a good way to get someone out of his head and "in his body." Donna remembers "a period of time when I was getting beat up in every session. I'd go in there terrified of what was going to happen. One night my therapist kicked my whole right side, my ribs. My face was black and blue." And leaving the group was not a reasonable option. When Lorraine, who had been assigned for five weeks to a boyfriend she didn't like, told her group she was leaving therapy, she was tackled on the Center steps and dragged back into the building. "You're trying to kill yourself!" the group berated her. "You might as well commit suicide."

      Not all therapists were as hard on patients as others, but none hesitated to give orders. They may have believed they were helping their patients -- although later it would be hard to see how that included having someone put her head in a toilet bowl, as one patient alleged, and telling her this was where she belonged. But it was clear that the mixture of worship and fear with which the therapists were regarded brought an ever-mounting grandiosity of self-perception to all who lived in the compound. While most therapists understand their patients' idealization of them to be transference and a temporary part of the therapeutic process, feeling therapy took it for truth. "Once when I was dating Dominic and we were having trouble," recalls Lisa, "he said, 'I don't understand why you don't want to be with me. I'm one of the eminent therapists in the country.' "

      The literature the Center had first sent out to prospective patients talked of a therapy that would last from six months to a year. But as the founders' dependence on the community deepened -- dependence on the low-cost and volunteer labor, financial support and legitimacy it provided -- all talk of completing therapy stopped. "I want you to know," Riggs told a Center gathering, "that we expect you to be with us for the rest of your lives."

      Patients didn't argue. "God, we were so arrogant," recalls one woman. "It was like being a super-race. We knew what life was all about. We would talk about how lucky we were to be in a place where we could express our feelings. And Riggs and Joe had become public figures, so there was a certain identification that allowed you to feel terrific. At the same time, we all felt like shit inside because we were busted all the time. It keeps you in such a state of turmoil and fragmentation that you act like a crazy person. And then they say, 'See how crazy you are? You can't leave therapy, you're too crazy.'"

      "[I keep] reminding myself," one patient wrote in his diary, describing what had been most remarkable about his day, "that if I don't make it in therapy, my life is ruined."

      IN 1977 THE FOUNDERS MOVED CENTER HEADQUARTERS to 7165 Sunset Boulevard. The new building was sleek, with gray carpet and expensive chairs; the new image -- prosperous, almost corporate -- aptly mirrored changes taking place in the Center itself. Joe and Rigg's new book, The Dream Makers, contained no messianic talk about saving the world from insanity as Going Sane did, just lots of pop-psych anecdotes, tips and exercises. And with the appearance of the book, the Center's publicity machine geared up to go mainstream in a big way. As in the past, it played to media fast to respond and slow to ask questions. Many of the reader comments on The Dream Makers that Joe sent to his editor at the now-defunct Thomas Y. Crowell publishing company were in fact testimonials from Center patients who identified themselves only with their hometown addresses. "The Dream Makers," a press release from Crowell dutifully relayed, "contains ideas so powerful that readers across the country are reporting that merely reading the book has changed their lives." Newspaper stories were no less knee-jerk: Joe and Riggs, gushed a Honolulu paper, "may be onto the biggest thing to hit psychotherapy since Freud kicked cocaine." In 1977 and 1978 alone, founders -- usually Joe and Riggs -- were guests on 134 radio and 104 television shows, including back-to-back appearances on Merv Griffin  and The Tonight Show and four appearances on Good Morning, America. Geraldo Rivera reported from the Gardner Street compound that "all of them coexist in what apparently is one big, happy family."

      In fact, what the Center family was doing more than anything else was growing. In the Center building, staff-room walls were covered with a ten-year plan for Center growth around the globe. Workshops and satellite clinics opened in Montreal, Boston, Munich, San Francisco and Hawaii. New programs for the public blossomed. And even therapy changed to suit the needs of promoting this expansion: patients were now pushed to renew contact with family and friends -- and to make sure their relatives attended Center events. A number of long-standing patients were turned into "junior therapists" who carried much of the staff load although many had no professional licenses whatsoever. In 1978 the outpatient Clinic for Functional Counseling and Psychotherapy, staffed by eighteen (also mostly unlicensed) Center patients, opened.

      Increasingly the Center community was urged toward permanence: patients were encouraged to contribute money to build a community gym and to become involved in the Hollywood West Neighborhood Association, a political Center group. New patients were actively recruited. Ironically, one of them was attorney Morantz, the man who would later be attacked by a rattlesnake put in his mailbox by Synanon members. Morantz went to an open house in 1978 with two Center women who had sold him office plants. "First I was taken to some homes. Everyone I was introduced to wanted to instantly love me," he said. "Later I was taken to a restaurant in Hollywood. Of course, the tab was picked up. It didn't take too much for me to see that something unusual was going on, that this was actual recruitment. Right away, I thought something was wrong. This is not what happens in therapy. Then we went to the open house. All through this, it became more and more obvious that it was important to the women who'd brought me that I like this, that I join. Which also told me that there was pressure, and brownie points to be won by my joining. Again, a very terrible sign. In the open house they showed a slide show. I expected to hear about the therapy, but the entire show was nothing but how completely wonderful the founders were. Then they broke off into so-called therapy demonstrations, and in one they described how patients would do therapy on other people by mail. At that point I raised my hand and said, 'You're describing therapy being given by unlicensed individuals through the mail, and that's against the law.' A hush came over the room. The presenters replied, in essence, 'You're talking legalities and we're trying to save the world.'

      "I had no knowledge, of course, of what was going on at the Center, just my suspicions. So when two years later my telephone rang and my first two Center clients contacted me and started telling me what had been going on, I kind of felt that that day I had been there for a reason."

      Most of all, more attention than ever was focused on money. The price of the first two months of therapy, originally $2,500, had gone up to $4,500. Many of the founders were driving Mercedes and wearing Bijan suits. The men and women who staffed the clinic -- whose negligible salaries were accompanied by the promise of future riches -- understood that though people who signed up for the clinic were entering what was billed as a ten-week program, "if you were a good therapist, "as one clinic worker put it, "the client would stay forever."

      "We expect to be world renowned," Riggs told a cheering Center audience around that time. "We expect to be rich. We expect to be famous. I don't believe Carl Rogers should be more well known than Joe Hart."

      It was all a far cry from the organization that had once assured a Los Angeles Times reporter that "we want to have a small family business," and as the quest for empire grew, life in the community began to change. In truth there had always been cliques and "in" groups at the Center, and the whole place had operated in a kind of hierarchy of "sanity" based on seniority. "The longer you were there," David said, "the saner you were." Still, one of the Center's central myths was that someday all patients would become sane, and with the achievement of sanity, all would become equal. Then one night in the fall of 1978 even that pretense was dropped, as men and women were taken from their old therapy groups and assigned to one of thirteen numbered groups that clearly spelled out their standing in the feeling hierarchy. Groups six through thirteen were for patients new to the Center. Groups one through five were for the old-timers. Group One was the elite; Group Five, called Tombstone, was for "losers."

      With the change, physical brutality eased, but class divisions deepened; within the new system, being demoted a group level was the most intense humiliation one could face. And assignments pushed for more and more surrender of independence and control. "My boyfriend and I were assigned to a special $1,000 couples week," recalls a long-term patient. "The third night, we were sent home. Jeff was told he had to wear an apron all night and wait on me hand and foot because he was too passive. Later, because he wanted more sex than I did, they sent us home to have sex every hour on the hour for exactly seven minutes. Then they started work on 'rebuilding' our new relationship: I had to call him 'my hero,' I had to swoon, Jeff had to pick out all my clothes for me. Every single thing I did, I had to ask permission. That was to be my new way of being.

      "I got pregnant [that week], and Jeff wanted the child. I said, "Don't tell a soul you want it; you'll get crucified. There's no way they'll let me.' But he didn't know the rules. He said he wanted it."

      "Where have you been, Daddy?" Jeff later testified the therapist asked when he returned to his group after the abortion. "Did you bring it home in a bottle?"

      Perhaps such exertion of control over patients' lives was only an extreme variation of what had always gone on at the Center. Increasingly, however, control was also becoming an issue at the top.

      Actually, life in the compound had never been as harmonious as patients would have liked to imagine. Jerry and Dominic were often the butt of jokes that portrayed them as comic bumblers; Riggs tended to treat Steve Gold, who sometimes stuttered, as if he was not very bright. And in the mid-seventies there was plenty of bitterness when both female founders were stripped of their right to do individual therapy. The private lives of the therapists could be as messy as their patients': although Steve Gold and Carole Suydam married, Jerry and Linda Binder divorced, and when Riggs began dating (and later married) blond, beautiful patient Konni Pederson, who had been seeing his old teacher, Dominic (who ultimately recoupled with Linda Binder), many a Freudian eyebrow might have raised.

      Still, each founder had his own loyal group of fans and area of operations to control. If any one person could be called the Center's leader, it was Joe Hart -- the oldest therapist, the most credentialed, the wise man and theorist. But in a way, Joe had never fully become part of the therapy community. Although like the other therapists he had participated in violent sessions with patients, at most times his speech remained slow and soft. During groups he did more talking about psychological theory than hard-core busting. And at night he went home to the wife he had married in college (a woman who had adamantly refused to join the Center) and a young daughter they were apparently "sane" enough to keep.

      The community, however, had proved the perfect environment for Riggs. He could be childish and obnoxious, but when it came to expressing feelings, he was absolutely fearless. "He wasn't scared to say his horrible thoughts to you," recalled Lisa. "Everyone else was a little scared to hurt people's feelings. He could just yell at you, scream at you, decimate you. It was considered incredible that he was that powerful and that open. I thought of him as my idol. Everyone thought that the person they wanted to be like was Riggs."

      By the end of the seventies, it was clear that Riggs's influence was dominant. It was Riggs who led the elite Group One, which applauded as he entered the room. It was basketball, Riggs's favorite game, that became the Center's sports obsession. It was Riggs, who had always dreamed of being a cowboy, who persuaded the other founders to buy a cattle ranch in Arizona for a vacation retreat. It was Riggs who oversaw Management Achievement Consultants, a small firm that gave managerial advice to patient-owned businesses in return for a hefty chunk of their profits and whose services patients felt they could not refuse.

      In 1979 Joe and Riggs published a new book, Psychological Fitness: 21 Days to Feeling Good, and Butch and the Kid began yet another round of publicity efforts. Joe Hart, noted the San Francisco Examiner, was "a remarkably fit-looking psychologist" who bore "an unnerving resemblance to Robert Redford." At home, however, the tension was growing. In early 1980 Joe suddenly withdrew from the Center community and took a teaching job at USC. He had come to believe, he later told David, that the Center should be a place where people came and went, not where they spent their lives. Patients should have families and children. Perhaps that was all there was to his complaints -- he did leave his own brother behind in the therapeutic community. But before he left, he wrote a letter to Dr. Louis West, head of the UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute, requesting information on the subject of brainwashing.

      Joe's departure was never really explained, but patients were warned to avoid him. "Joe's crazy," they were told. "He's going through some things of his own and he doesn't want to talk to anyone." As usual, no one really questioned the news. But afterward, a ground swell of resentment against all of the founders began to build. Junior therapists were growing increasingly angry at the salary discrepancy between them and the founders. "The last full year I worked there I made $13,000," said one. I hated it. I talked about it and was told I was acting out, but that was the one thing that would not die down in me." Clinicians were under unremitting pressure to recruit clients and were fined if they lost them. "It was a nightmare," said one. "We were busted so hard for losing clients, we were humiliated, torn apart. It was like living a phobia. The anxiety was just horrible."

      Both clinicians and junior therapists were given vacations at the ranch, but the time there simply made all the inequalities more obvious. Only three couples were allowed in the comfortable ranch house, with Riggs and his wife, Konni -- herself a junior therapist -- permanently occupying the master bedroom. Everyone else slept in the cowboy's quarters down the hill and might be awakened at 5 A.M. if Riggs wanted a corral built. "There goes the general," people would say when Riggs went by on his motorcycle. Everything had to be done Riggs's way; if it wasn't, it was "crazy."

      That had always been the line. But the junior therapists and the men and women who ran the clinic -- who perhaps were beginning to have a sense of their own economic power within the Center -- were starting to believe that the real craziness lay elsewhere. "I had always seen the founders as being very confident, having it all together," said one clinician, "But when Riggs conducted the staff meeting he totally emasculated and busted every one of the founders. And they turned into timid little boys right in front of my eyes. When I saw that, I got really scared. When Jonestown happened in 1978. I'd had some doubts and there was talk about how we were different, and I must have put them aside. But when this other thing happened, I started putting it together. I started thinking, My God, we're just like that."

      Such "negative" thoughts could still get you busted, but busting didn't make them go away. "I wanted to be an adult," said Lorraine, "but I couldn't see where you'd ever make the transition. I was living with a guy who was in Group One, and what was clear to me was that even Group One people weren't equal. I told my boyfriend, 'You know, where I grew up, my parents weren't the wealthiest people in town and they weren't the most powerful. But they were part of the community and they were respected, and they were equal with the other people in the town.' I said, 'I don't see how we're ever going to get there.' And Dennis didn't bust me. He didn't have an answer. There was this unseen, undiscussed, growing discomfort. It was as if the grass was soaked with gasoline but nobody noticed."

      And then someone lit a match.

      THE IDEA WAS TO BUST Riggs. The founders took him on in private sessions all week, then on the night of Tuesday, November 4, 1980, as the insane outside world watched Ronald Reagan be elected president, Jerry Binder followed Riggs into Group One. Only one man began to clap, then stopped in confusion. According to patients, Jerry told the group, "Riggs has been going through a hard time. I'm here to help Riggs because we're trying to make some changes. You can start by saying what you think. What," he added, "you really  think."

      There was a pause, then Riggs sat, slump-shouldered, while the shouting began. "You upset me when you called me a 'beast!'" one woman screamed.

      "You've been running a plantation here!" said another.

      "You hit people and throw them against walls because you have no idea how to do therapy!" a man yelled. "All you know how to do is beat people up!"

      "You broke up my relationship with my husband! said one woman. "And I really loved him."

      The screaming went on and on, and it was not constructive criticism; it was rage. "Things are going to change around here," relieved patients in lower groups were told that night. Riggs had been a little crazy. Rather than doing therapy, he was going to get it; everything was going to be all right. But people in Group One knew better. "It's all over," a friend told Lorraine that night. "It's all over."

      By morning everyone had heard what happened in Group One, and a wave of release started to spread through the community. Through the day and into the evening patients poured into the Center to confront the therapists, who began to confess to their own exhaustion and ambivalence. Every morning, Lee Woldenberg told a secretary, he had had to stand in the shower for half an hour before he could face walking into the Center. Jerry Binder -- who had already broken his arm by punching a wall in frustration -- shouted that he hated his diet and tore off his Bijan vest.

      The talk turned to money; one of the bookkeepers had seen things she didn't understand. And that afternoon the founders revealed what would be the final blow: some of the money patients had donated to the community gym fund had ended up going to the ranch. (After the Center folded, patients were notified that they were entitled to refunds of gym contributions.) In effect, the clinicians' salaries had also helped pay for the ranch: "That's how we could afford to buy and keep it," the men and women who had been putting in 80-hour weeks were told. "By not paying you."

      The news of betrayal spread through the community, and with it went wild rumors: Riggs had Swiss bank accounts; bags of money had been delivered to the compound in the middle of the night. By Thursday night, when the whole community gathered in the big auditorium to confront the therapists, who sat before them on the stage, feelings that ironically had been denied and suppressed for nine years came bursting out: anger about beatings, humiliations, careers lost, babies aborted, love affairs ended, roommates broken up. And "Where's the money?" everyone wanted to know. "Where's the money?"

      "Riggs just sat there looking stoned," remembered Lisa. "He'd say something and people would scream at him. It was what we had gotten for years, but he was getting it from everybody all at once." Every now and then his eyes welled up with tears, but few people believed they were real. Out in the hallway someone threw up. One man sat on the floor crying: "Don't take away my Center," he wept, "it's my whole life." The chaos and the intensity of the hostility were frightening, but even more terrifying was the growing realization that something had happened here, something terrible -- something no one had even seen.

      "I never wanted a goddamn community!" a patient heard Steve Gold say. "All I ever wanted was to do therapy! Why did I allow it?"

      "I want to call a lawyer immediately," Lee Woldenberg told another therapist.

      "I can't feel my heart," Riggs's wife, Konnie, said over and over as a friend led her away. "I can't feel my heart."

      That night Riggs was sent to his parents' Orange County home for his own protection, and the streets in the Center neighborhood filled with patients screaming at the higher-ups they felt had wronged them, apologizing to each other for all they had done. One die-hard Group One man slugged another, then collapsed in recriminations. "If I'd been in the Third Reich," he told his girlfriend in anguish, "I'd have been a Nazi."

      Within days the Center building was padlocked. Communal houses broke up as roommates expelled roommates, couples separated, people moved away as fast as they could. Everyone knew it was over. The bond had snapped. "It wasn't the money itself that was important," remembered a clinician. "It was that the idea of trust had been broken. It shattered the idealism. It was like waking up."

      And awake, everything looked different.

      "You know," a woman from Group One said later to a therapist, "Riggs really did use me."

      "Face it," the therapist told her. "We all had our slaves."

      I HAVE TO CALL SOMEONE and find out what I'm feeling. For a long time after the Center broke up it was like that; being in the real world felt like being a kid on the first day of school, looking around to see what everyone else was wearing, trying to figure out what was normal. Things are easier now -- in some ways everything that happened at the Center feels like a long time ago. But the past hasn't just gone away. A new spate of patient lawsuits will either be settled soon or wind for years through the courts. In November 1981 a defamation suit was filed by Center therapists -- including Joe and Riggs - against, among others, two patients who had told a local TV news reporter in early 1981 that their business had been pressured to accept the overpriced services of Management Achievement Consultants, a Center company they said was run by Riggs. The suit also named UCLA's Louis West, who had called the Center "a cult." Last April the Center therapists' suit was dismissed, and the defendants have now filed their own suits charging malicious prosecution.

      For ex-patients there are still times when old Center reflexes come up, always that moment when a new friend or lover asks casually what was happening in '75 or '78 and it's hard to know what to say. There is residual physical damage -- migraines, knees ruined by months of enforced exercise, a legacy of bulimia left by rigid diets. The bad dreams don't come as often, but they still come: images of running down streets in Hollywood, of trying to escape a deadly dark figure by jumping into a hole that turns out to have no bottom. Dreams, as Joe Hart and Richard Corriere once said, are pictures of feelings.

      Thinking about the Center still gives those who were there what they once would have called "lots of feeling." There is nostalgia for the original vision. "I think there was a basic need for everyone to say, 'I've been wearing a mask for all these years and this is who I really am,' " said David, who now has a master's degree and works in a group home for abused boys, "and there was something very honorable and lovable about doing that." There is also confusion over what went wrong and who exactly is to blame. "I think," said Lorraine, who now runs her own business, "the top people -- with a few exceptions -- weren't inherently evil. They got caught up in something they believed. And they believed, after a while, that because they were worshipped, that justified anything."

      But mostly there is anger. "The waste," said Donna, now a computer systems analyst, pounding her fist against the table. "The waste. The waste. I wasted ten years. I lost myself for that long."

      "I was in such pain because I couldn't express my feelings," said Lisa, a social worker who now works with the elderly. "I can do that now. People think I'm wonderful at work. So they did give me that. I got what I wanted. But sometimes I feel like I sold my soul to the devil to get it."

      In March 1986 Werner Karle, in a signed declaration, acknowledged to the Board of Medical Quality Assurance that feeling therapy involved "physical and verbal humiliation, physical and sometimes sexual abuse [and] threats of insanity." If allowed to retain his license, Karle promised to do community service and to take an educational course on ethics. Eight months later he died during an epileptic seizure.

      The other founders, who either could not be reached or refused to be interviewed, have not publicly expressed remorse or admitted wrongdoing. ("I'm not interested in commenting," Joe Hart said by telephone. "I'm not responding to this at all," Riggs said and hung up.) Their attorney told the medical board they were not villains but innovative therapists treating "lost souls" who were "uncertain of their place in society." The psychologists were not being tried for what they actually did, the attorney later argued in a brief, but for how the Center ended: "It was a natural grief reaction to fear that with the closure of the Center, many of [the patients'] personal gains might be lost. For some this led to strong feelings of hostility against their former therapists."

      Like their patients, the founders have scattered. Like their patients, many have become parents. The attorney general's office has appealed an earlier ruling allowing Lee Woldenberg -- who now practices in Ohio -- to keep his medical license as long as he restricts his practice to radiology. Dominic Cirincione is reportedly doing personnel work; his wife, Linda, who wasn't charged in connection with the activities of the Center, is working in insurance. Jerry Binder reportedly has a business involving plants, and Steve Gold is writing and "reevaluating" his career.

      In January, Joe Hart, who for five years had been head of the student counseling center at Cal Poly Pomona, requested reassignment to another position. He is now director of the academic advisory center. "His work here has been exemplary," says Dr. Robert Naples, associate vice president for student affairs. "What happened, or didn't happen, happened years ago."

      Richard Corriere is in private practice as a "personal coach" in Aspen, Colorado, and New York City, advising clients on how to manage stress and career problems. In 1986 his newest self-help book, Life Zones, was released in paperback. During a break in the Board of Medical Quality Assurance hearings, he flew to New York to talk about the book on CNN, which in 1981 had done its own report on the Center's demise and alleged abuses. He was introduced as a "prominent psychologist."

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      « Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »
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      Offline RTP2003

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      Re: Paul Morantz: The Center for Feeling Therapy
      « Reply #5 on: August 29, 2011, 03:59:18 PM »
      Quote from: "Ursus"
      . I s'pose it shouldn't be too surprising that some of the brainwashing experts are ... not necessarily against brainwashing. Just brainwashing as practiced by the "other" side.

      Of course it shouldn't be surprising.  BEing "against brainwashing" is as effective as being "against bullets".  It's a technology that is going to be used by any group that has the power to do so if they think it will benefit their agenda.  Human beings are fucked, we're too smart for our own goddamn good.  I'd take one happy idiot over twenty H-bomb inventing geniuses any day.  Except on those days when I feel like the world needs to be nuked.  Then I'd settle for anyone with the strontium 90 and the balls to use it.  Let it come down, I say.  The whole shithouse is fucked, and starting over ain't necessarily a bad idea.  Let's see what the sharks and cockroaches can do over the next 500 million years.........the monkeys have sure as hell fucked it up.
      « Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »
      RTP2003 fought in defense of the Old Republic

      Offline none-ya

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      Re: Paul Morantz: The Center for Feeling Therapy
      « Reply #6 on: August 29, 2011, 04:48:33 PM »
      RTP2003 wrote:
      "Let's see what the sharks and cockroaches can do over the next 500 million years.........the monkeys have sure as hell fucked it up".

      Amen Brother, where man walks, the grass dies.
      (and they said I couldn't be dark and serious)........
      « Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »