Treatment Abuse, Behavior Modification, Thought Reform > Facility Question and Answers

Into the Belly of the Beast, the Comparison

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Che Gookin:
Matt, making this thread for you bro. Remember what I suggested in private message. If there are any problems, I'll see them sooner or later and delete them.

Elan Versus Three Springs could be an interesting starting point if you'd like to go that route. Maybe we could drag psy into this discussion by his ears and get him to comment on CEDU.

What are your thoughts matt?

Danny B is not welcome to post on this thread.

Matt C. Hoffman:
Fair enough  don't know how to do that- but deleted or moved because of breaking forum rules works for me.

I am sorry to say that I am not very familiar with Three Springs ( school,  academy, RTC ) Where was 3 Springs located , when did it start ? It is well documented that Elan started in Maine and the founders name was Joe Ricci. I don't know how much of the Elan background story is needed - maybe this is enough.

I have no general knowlede of 3 Springs ,where it was ?, who ran it ?, what was its methodology based on -  was it a  cousin of the cult Synanon or a direct decentandant of Synanon or thrice removed ?

For example Elan was a clone of  the cult Synanon once removed -Joe Ricci got his taste of the Synanon game thru his brief time in Daytop Village of NYC. I believe he was sent there because he was busted being a common thief and told the courts that he was a drug addict to escape prison time - (referenced from the book Duck in a Raincoat, by Maura Curley. ) It is in there not going to cite spacific page number -go read the book.

Elan was a creation /incorporation ( for profit ) by Joe Ricci and a Doctor Gerald Davidson who had connections to Harvard -get into that later, if it is deemed important . Elan started in 1970,  based on Synanon thru  Joe Ricci's experience of Daytop's version of Synanon - and Daytop has a whole history in being that it is a direct split-off - spin off of Synanon.- Maybe that will be adressed later?.

Small word about Synanon -If someone is really interested , Paul is a good place as any to start getting familar with the cult of Synanon- it was a cult founded by Charles Dederich in 1958, in Santa Monica ,California. Dederich started it based on AA, the twelve step methodology .Which was based on .... seriously how far back do we need to go? The Oxford group /Frank Buchanan influencing the father of AA -Bill Wilson. AA is also considered a cult by many.

Lots of Questions here about 3 Springs - just the getting to know the wheres and the whos and the connection to Synanon -the  cult beast that spawned a large purportion, either directly or indirectly, of the  RTC's that existed or exist today.

Che,  this could be considered an introduction into 3 springs because honestly I know very little about it and I would certainly like to know more as evidenced by the questions I have asked. How were children brought into the program? how many children /people did it , could it accomadate and so forth?  

Hopefully this is what you and others had in mind in a comparing /contrasting of Elan vs other programs. In this topic Elan vs 3 Springs. Therefore let this begin. As this topic progresses (hopefully) we will be able to get into the spacifics of the different techniques used by Elan as compared and contrasted by 3 Springs, starting from day one in the life of a child/person in their journey thru hell, as they began the indoctronation into their perspective program.

And to all survivors I am sorry thay anyone had to experience what these hell-holes had/have to offer.It was a very painful experience for people that were stuck or placed in these places, a very unfortunate situation indeed.

Che Gookin:
Three Springs was crapped out of Mike Watson's ass end in the 1990s if I recall correctly. Mike Watson apparently worked at a program in Georgia, which one can't easily be confirmed as everyone at Eagletree Lane (3 springs old corporate hq) can't seem to remember. Which makes me wonder if Mike Watson worked at Hidden Lake Academy, but I can't really prove it.

Three Springs started in Paint Rock Valley near Trenton Alabama. It expanded to include a Girl's campus a while later. It rapidly began to buy up programs and open new ones until finally being bought out by Sequel TSI, which from what I can tell is just your average exploiter and abuser of children. It's hard to trace a definitive connection between Synonan and three springs.

I think it is highly possible there is none.

Three things stand out in my mind about Three Springs.

1) They had a hokey stage system involving Native American animal totems.
2) The food was awful.
3) The kids got roughly 30 minutes of face time a month with the shrinks.

Of course, I can't neglect to mention the abuse. It was prevalent in 3 springs. I don't ever recall anyone deliberately punching or slapping a kid. We had physical restraints for that sort of thing.

What specifics about day to day life at Elan stand out the most for you Matt?

Like what is a day in the life for an Elan detainee when you went there?

Matt C. Hoffman:
Che asked "what specifics about day to day life at Elan stand out the most for you Matt?"

Specifics as in the prevalent theme of Elan , generally speaking (lol,) besides the constant screaming and yelling - I remember  being kept off balance emotionally and mentally, perpetually being kept in a constant state of fear- and always the threat of physical violence, and pain, either happening to you or to someone you liked or looked up to. Elan at the time mixed adults with serious alcohol /drug problems with children from private placement like I was and children from various state institutions.  

As a child, and I was a very naive child , you looked up to these people because there wasn’t really anyone else to look up to, for conversation and a sense of protection- you felt  that they were able to protect themselves from the insanity  and violence afterall they were adults and to a child like myself  a person 3 -5 years older than me was huge . Yet there were residents that were 38 ,27, 32 years of age also. You realized in about a month quite quickly that they (the adults) were not inescapable/safe from the threats of violence/or the actual violence itself.

It became apparent as time went on that you were in an eat or be eaten type situation in this so called  community within a community as it was described to me during my first few days.

On a daily basis we were kept emotionally and mentally off balance, with the constant threat of physical harm. Hell there was a time I was put into the ring about a month or so after I got there on the side of the house, I had not been in a real fight in all my 15 and half years , I had no clue how to fight, (still don't ) I tried to hide from the eyes of the director Jeffery Gottlieb as he was looking for  a fresh person to go against Bob Gellermino, who had already gone a few rounds and even though he had been softened up ,I had no desire to go into the ring . Gottliebs eyes fell on me and he said you go in next and I protested, under my breath- the residents that heard me mumble my protestation  yelled out he doesn’t want to go in.

Gottlieb looked at me and said if you don’t go into the ring you will go the ring -against the house . I went in the ring against my wishes and barely landed a punch and they quickly realized that I had no experience in fighting. I was scared and humiliated at the same time  due to my acute boxing ineptness. There were some people that were silver mittens ,there were some kids there that could seriously fight.

I witnessed many a beatdown. Hell -there was once a director who went into the ring against a resident, because this resident was so big and I remember to this day Peter McCann sucker slamming this resident to get the advantage. Peter McCann was a cross eyed giant in stature sadistic director who took great joy in using presure points on residents and causing physical pain. He was a big scary sick cretin, he died in 1985, but not before he lost his legs to diabetes.

The threats of violence weren’t limited to  the ring -  there was ; the  General Meeting , the insane cowboy ass-kicking, the electric sauce,  forced hard labour, the constant yelling and screaming.

 Che asked "Like what is a day in the life for an Elan detainee when you went there?"

Well first we were called residents -  I remember being told it was because we were not mental patients ,even though some people came from hospital –and that we were not inmates – though many were there in liue of jail or juvee halls. Yes we were  called residents.  (this was 7-74 to 7-76.  things may have modified since then, but this was how it was when I was there -then)

The food also sucked , we were given cigarrettes a pack a day , and drank coffee like fish drink water.

It is hard to answer this question Che- because a day in the life changed from the first few weeks you were there and kept changing thru out your stay as a resident, until you achieved the goal of graduating. When you first got there , you just kinda floated for about a day or two . Other residents of  “strength” unbeknownst to you- shadowed you and constantly talked to you about the place . You had to learn a new lingo , everybody would ask you well what was your bag. Which I had no clue what they were talking about –though it meant what did you do out on the street , drugs ,steal, robberies, pimpin , hustling  what were you into on the street.

You learned in this honeymoon period how to book an incident ,what the shingle was –the literal book that incidents got booked into , you learned about the injustice system, how to give an injustice , what an attitude was – it was an unattended coffee cup or  full ashtray , book , trash , clothing – it was called an attitude because it represented an apathetic non caring attitude, it was unattended it had not been cleaned up or put away -it was just left for somebody else to deal with because of their "apathetic attitude". You learned what the the pull –up was  and the proper way to do it  and to who you could give a pull-up  to and then how to use the dump after the pull up had been given.

You learned there was a dichotomy, very similar to the U.S. Military, you learned your job in this dichotomy would more than likely be a worker on the service crew or worker in the kitchen. You learned that the expeditors were the police force ,their job was to conduct headcounts every 10 to 15 minutes ,there were no bars  or alarms to keep us in- but they knew with in 15 to 20 minutes if someone had “split” Expeditors also found people thru out the house to “knock on doors “ for “haircuts”  (straight out of the Synanon playbook) or just get people because they roamed all over the house, keeping an eye on the residents. Looking for contracts , people acting off their eyes for each other , Contracts could be cigarrette , split , and goofing off contracts.

Expeditors tried to instill guilt into people with their stares when the house would be called into the dining room for a general meeting. You were not allowed to talk as you sat for hours sometimes before the general meeting started . Expeditors were allowed to roam around and they would stare at residents and whisper to each other just to hype up the already strong paranonia that already existed just from being in Elan in the first place. Such a silly little game they played all to keep residents off balance and to try to make people feel guilty. ( I laugh at it now -but rest assured it was not funny then)

You learned in your first week what the groups were ,what haircuts were –verbal reprimands- and you were told the whys –you were told that the reason you were yelled at in these  haircuts was because out on the street you had a hard time listening when people talked to you and as a result that was one of the reasons you ended up in Elan and you needed this yelling .

You learned that the entire resident population was also called the house and you learned that the service crew cleaned the common areas of the house . I started out as a worker in the service crew. In this position we also were told what the Elan philosophy was, we studied it word by word - and what it meant –line by line, the redundancy of the philosophy was to the point that it became a part of your life. You were always from that point on in your Elan cult life always trying to get with the program.The Elan philosophy was read at morning meeting and before the house was sent to bed.

During the first weeks you learned what it was meant  by  the phrases  “buy a saddle “( straight from the line of the elan philosophy “seeing ourselves thru the eyes of others shall demand change) or” throw it out the window “ you learned about the encounter group, the static group, the sensitivity group, and  the primal scream groups.

You learned that a persons job was also their status and accorded them power over the lower ranks of residents. The highest level was the senior co-ordinator ( all co-ordinators carried special notebooks) they were the ones that were in charge of the various departments . you learned that beside the kitchen ,service  crew, there was also the business office ,and the communications department. During  your learning process – you learned that you had to request phone calls and they had to be passed up the dichotomy- you just couldn’t go to  the senior Co-ordinator and request a phone call home because that was not the proper way and you could get a haircut for not following that rule.

You learned quickly what the rules were and the main three rules –the so called ‘Cardinal Rules” 1 no violence of any kind , 2 no drugs and the third rule- was no sex of any kind.

You learned that your phone calls were going to be screened and to make sure that you didn’t say anything negative about the program , you learned what the rules were in you first couple weeks . so many rules that could get you a haircut ,a general meeting and that did not involve breaking a "cardinal rule" . Break  one those and you were certain to get a General meeting.

Funny when I think about it Elan and the directors broke 2 of their own cardinal rules, they drugged people and my god Che those directors made us be commit violence  to our fellow residents thru the ring ,cowboy ass-kickings, general meetings  and the electric sauce – shoot I forgot-what am I thinking - that was the sanctioned violence that Elan and the directors held over every residents head , therefore that made it okay , lol -NOT. It was insanely sick.

When a person first got there they learned the difference between  the house meeting, general meetings, and morning meetings. They learned where the pull up sheet was( right next to the breakfast sign up sheet) and how to bring a pull up to morning meeting , the new resident also learned that their very first taste of personal humiliation was going to be the song and dance that they would be performing on the next morning meeting or when they were prepared, as was my in my case. This everyone did you were told -it was to help break your image. speaking of images -all men who had beards or facial hair - it was shorn upon your arivial to elan. My song after about 5 days was Johnny B. Goode  by Chuck Berry – it was a terrible  rendition I will tell you.

Yes there is so much more you were taught during your first 2 weeks and as you were learning this cult language of Elan and the cult rules of Elan ,you also participated in group sing alongs. Must have sung “Our house"  by CSNY  so many times that now my skin crawl when I hear it -and quite honestly it is a good song , well written and the harmonies are beautiful ,but I can’t stand that song today . We sang Maxwell’s silver hammer, Hide your love away , Henry the 8th and many other songs. .

Eventually you were well on your way to being well  indoctrinated into the cult that was elan – thank god that hell hole is gone .

As for every seeing a psychiatrist( you didn't ) which is what Dr. Davidson was supposed to be besides being a  medical doctor and medical director of Elan  I spoke to him maybe all of five minutes during my 2 days shy of two years in that place.  There were no clinically trained personell at Elan besides Davividson during my time, that worked at Elan then.

I hope this answers a little bit of those two questions and hopefully it will cause more questions to be asked. I for one would like to know if any other programs resembled the lunacy that was elan and if so how? Did any program have the cowboy kick-ass, the ring , the electric sauce - the general meetings - the various groups and the verbal reprimands that were the "haircuts" as part of their program. How was Elan similar to other programs?

Yes the first couple of weeks were spent  learning to the point of sensory overload. And as you progressed in getting with the program what you could experience changed on an almost daily time frame and most certainly varied on a week to week  time frame.

There was a daily schedule , though it varied as well depending on many factors . The house was always being sent to bed at 11:00pm unless it was being kept up during a gm or because some one had split , the house got up at 7:00am   the house was called into the dining room for morning meeting at 9:00. lasted an hour- the house was sent to production at 10:00am house was called into the dining room for lunch at 12:00.  groups generally occurred after lunch – dinner was 5:00 -groups  could happen after dinner . and this repeated during the week , weekends were a little better, usually groups some slight free time , haircuts happened during the day and night, blasts happened all the time.  You time during the day was well occupied, the only peace was at night when you could sleep -if you could sleep.

There was a sheet called the “scratch” that an expeditor carried  on a clipboard ( all expeditors carried clip boards ) and it recorded in a rough form of shorthand the times a haircut was given –who gave it and who got it and why . This was the rough draft of the Daily report that was written up that included the  previous days activities –when ever the house was called and to where the house was sent ,all the groups –general meetings .sometimes the daily report could be 25 hand written pages and it had to be neat or the person writing it – generally the “ night man” –the resident strength that took headcounts every 20 minutes at night from the night owl –watched over the men while they slept and did head counts  and the night woman- who did the night time headcounts of the women - might have to write it up all over again . This "daily report was adressed to either the director of the house or to joe Ricci. It was the daily written record of the previous days activities. this scratch passed thru many different expeditors hands and sometimes it was hard to read the different handwritings.

A new resident learned that if you split that they would send out trackers to look for , these were residents sent out in twos that looked for the splittee at various places on the road and generally stationed at the toll collection booths in Gray Maine. And god forbid if you got caught.

A day in the life of an Elan resident was never the same unless you were shotdown – and that is when you lost your job and just cleaned and hit the pans. (washed the pots and pans and dishes of the  house from breakfast ,dinner and lunch), some folks got to clean dumpster with tooth brushes,  some got to move piles of Maine white granite boulders from one big pile to another and then back to the original spot all the while getting blasted on the spot for moving too slow.

Seriously thank god that hell hole is closed it has been the destruction and death of many a good person.

Che Gookin:
Jesus fuck... I'm not sure how to respond.

Congrat Matt, you are probably one of the few who has managed to render me speechless.

Will read your post again and comment after I've had a chance to reflect on it. Till then a day in the life of a 3 springs detainee:

Detainees were worken up a 6 in the morning
Between 6 and 7 o'clock they had to get dressed, clean their cabins, make their beds, and make sure their campsite was in passable order.
7 o'clock breakfast. If you were late for breakfast you were not allowed into the dining hall but had to eat in front of it.
7.30 or so to 8.00 detainees were issued meds if they needed them and then hygiene time.

(It wasn't until nearly after a year all the groups started putting hygiene time on their morning, lunch, and dinner schedules, before then the detainees rarely brushed their teeth on a regular basis. I got worried that the boys in my group weren't developing good tooth brushing habits so I made it mandatory and everyone put their toothbrushes and some toothpaste in a tackle box we took everywehre we went. Parents loved it, kids didn't mind, and the other groups soon started doing hygiene time in the shower house. My group didn't they just used a nearby spigot and we would brush our teeth, wash our hands and faces, and comb our hair. Wham bam thank you ma'am which also explained why they were rarely late for school or other activities, lack of opprotunity to cause trouble.)

8 to 11 school.
11 to 12 groups could go to showers, do recreation time, or hold group meetings.
12 to 12.30 lunch
12.30 to 1 afternoon meds and brushing teeth
1 to 4 block activities- (Horse barn, wood shop, self-improvement...; depended what block the detainees were in).
4 to 5 showers, rec, group meetings
5 to 5.30 dinner
5.30 to whenever... students went back to campsite held their nightly meeting.
After nightly to bed time- snack, time in cabins to read, write, and or go to sleep early, up to the detainees.

It took almost a year of bitching, complaining, and ranting and raving before my group got the point I was trying to make which was as soon as we were done with dinner we had to move quickly to campsite, do our nightly, take meds, and then hit the sack. Most nights my group, after a year of chaos and anarchy, was in bed around 7.30 to 8 o clock at night. They could read, write, and sometimes do arts and crafts, but they were not allowed to talk to each other. I pointed out repeatedly they had all day to shoot the shit and once it was time for bed... it was time to be quiet and worry about themselves. Most of them seemed to appreciate the time to themselves and more often than not they'd collectively be conked out by 8 to 8.30.

Half the time I'd have to get woken up by one of the detainees around 9.00 to remind me they had to lock up the flashlights for the night.

I'll make a confession here.. and I don't feel at all guilty about this.. but it was a sinful pleasure I had with calling in for the night to the supervisor over the radio around 8.00 to inform him/her we were down for the night. I'd then leave the radio on just loud enough to listen in on the absolute anarchy that was going on in other groups. Not that all groups were so crazy, some goons (my word for counselors), had enough sense to encourage their groups get moving fairly early. What killed most groups was nightly. They'd spend half the night yapping on and on and on about all sorts of things. I used to tell them, "I'm no damn shrink... you know what behavior got you here, let's talk about that. If you need psych help when you get home we can work with your parents to arrange it." I also used to frown upon mandatory treatment team required topics. Meaning, the treatment team for my group would demand certain topics and often I would brush it under the rug as I felt it was either a complete waste of everyone's time, it was complete fluff, or on occasion a bit too intrusive.

Mostly I just encouraged my group to get to bed, not sweat the small problems, and focused on the small problems. By diverting their attention away from fights, stealing, and that sort of major problems and getting them to focus it on keeping clean, keeping their campsite clean, and maintaining good standards everywhere we went.. It reduced the level of violent incidents over the long run.

We went from having about 10 fights and 10 restraints a day when I first started to about a restraint a month by the time I was pitched out on my ass.

Now the abuse..

Clearly Three Springs did not have the same style of physical abuse as elan. We didn't have a ring in which we forced students to fight each other. There were fights but they certainly were not encouraged. I think the majority of the physical abuse came from restraints. The rest of the abuse came from consequences which I'll explain after I've had some time to think about it. There was all sorts of mental abuse as well but that's something I need to think about a in order to give some good examples.

I'm not at all sadden about having a terrible time recalling specific incidents. Time, liquor, and my mind's natural ability to suppress memories has washed some of the more nasty incidents down a bit.

As for restraints, In my experience I got thrown into a shark tank of student on student violence and ended up doing the only thing that seemed to work, which was restrain eveyrone in the most forceful manner possible.

What I should have done is quit and got a job at Pizza hut or any other number of places, but I genuinely felt like I was doing something useful. The boys in my group really did need someone at the program to care about them as most counselors hated being with them and often pacified them in anyway possible. I was one of the few who pushed them as hard as i could to get them to behave in a manner that would facilitate their release from the program in a timely manner. Almost every single time I started to get ready to quit, one of my group coworkers would quit, leaving me one of the few experienced counselors, and making me feel incredibly guilty about leaving.

Restraints became so common place that the aversion to them that I had was replaced with a sort of tired resignation. I never liked restraining the boys in my group, I never got off on it, more I just saw it as something unfortunate that had to happen.

never did it occur to me at the time that the entire reason they were happening was the fundamentally flawwed structure of the program itself.

What I was able to do though was reduce the number of restraints over time. I won't claim I'm a saint for the work I did though, instead I'll accept the fact that i was incredibly uniformed and woefully unprepared for the mental stress that sort of work inflicts on a person. I'm not sympathetic to people who abuse kids, far from it. However, I am sympathetic to the sheer tonnes of stress a person has to endure working with kids. It's a huge problem people overlook and it is one that needs to be recognized and addressed.

You can't expect people to make rational decisions when they are constantly dealing with stressful situations. There needs to be a point at which someone intervenes for the sake of the kids and the adults.

At three springs that point did not exist. Doesn't really exist in most other programs either for that matter.


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