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Topics - Ursus

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Web forum hosting / Accessing Index Difficulties
« on: March 20, 2007, 02:31:23 AM »
I had grand difficulties acessing the Index just now, kept getting a blank page, finally got in but only the upper third showed (ending just below the OFFA Forum), and a banner was superimposed containing the following error message:

Fatal error: Maximum execution time of 30 seconds exceeded in C:homefornitspublic_htmlwwfincludestemplate.php(127) : eval()'d code on line 49

Web forum hosting / Missing Thread
« on: March 19, 2007, 04:00:57 PM »
Okay, I was working on a post in the Minor Issues thread.  I accidentally put in duplicate posts.  Attempted to delete one.  Got the query "Are you sure you want to delete this post?"  I hit the button "yes."  Got put off into never never blank page land like I do when I've tried to edit (which doesn't take), figured that my delete post didn't take.  Going back through History to get to Web Forum Hosting, I noticed the whole THREAD was GONE.  Went back to the Index, and noticed that the Web Forum Hosting Forum is missing latest post info just like the Open Free For All Forum.

Kelly, it appears as though if someone tries to delete their post, they end up deleting the whole thread.  The reason the Open Free For All Forum is still showing the absence of latest post data is because no one has posted there recently.

Just my suggestion, course I don't really know...

Web forum hosting / Minor Issue, perhaps...
« on: March 18, 2007, 07:25:58 PM »
Open Free For All Forum is not registering latest post on the Index; however, latest post is noted as being on March 15th when you enter the Forum itself.

This may seem minor, but thought I'd mention it in case it is indicative of a larger glitch or issue.

Web forum hosting / Difficulties accessing mailbox
« on: March 15, 2007, 04:49:22 PM »
Received errors when attempting to access my PMs.

When clicking on appropriate link in banner appearing that I had just received a message.  Note that I am not 'webdiva':
phpBB : Critical Error

 Could not connect to the database


SQL Error : Login failed for user 'webdiva'. Only administrators may connect at this time.

When clicking on appropriate link for mailbox on upper left side of page whilst in one of the forums:
Warning: mssql_select_db(): message: Database 24 cannot be autostarted during server shutdown or startup. (severity 16) in C:\home\fornits\public_html\wwf\db\mssql.php on line 58  Warning: mssql_select_db(): Unable to select database: fornits in C:\home\fornits\public_html\wwf\db\mssql.php on line 58  phpBB : Critical Error

 Could not query config information


SQL Error : Invalid object name 'phpbb_config'.

My third attempt, clicking on the appropriate link on upper left side of page while I was in the Index, worked.

Sorry for all the details, but hopefully it'll help to pin the bugs down.

Web forum hosting / formatting problems
« on: March 15, 2007, 01:37:56 PM »
Many of the posts that are longer than a wee bit are cut short.  In some cases chopped to a fraction of their original length.  This includes previous entries plus entries post-move (earlier today).

In at least one thread, some posts have been crammed to the righthand side.

Web forum hosting / Could you let us know...
« on: March 12, 2007, 02:22:46 AM »
Could you let us know when the cut-off time arrives for "whatever you post here over the next couple of days will be quietly discarded?"

Perhaps it already has...


Hyde Schools / Zimbardo's Mind Control piece
« on: March 08, 2007, 08:36:29 AM »
Here is an interesting overview piece that appeared in the American Psychological Association's Monitor a few years ago, by the then president of APA...
President's column
Mind control: psychological reality or mindless rhetoric?
Dr. Philip G. Zimbardo

One of the most fascinating sessions at APA's Annual Convention featured presentations by former cult members. (See "Cults of hatred"). Several participants challenged our profession to form a task force on extreme forms of influence, asserting that the underlying issues inform discourses on terrorist recruiting, on destructive cults versus new religious movements, on social-political-"therapy" cults and on human malleability or resiliency when confronted by authority power.

That proposal is intriguing. At one level of concern are academic questions of the validity of the conceptual framework for a psychology of mind control. However, at broader levels, we discover a network of vital questions:

* Does exposing the destructive impact of cults challenge the principle of religious freedom of citizens to mindfully join nontraditional religious groups?

* When some organizations that promote religious or self-growth agendas become rich enough to wield power to suppress media exposés, influence legal judgments or publicly defame psychology, how can they be challenged?

* What is APA's role in establishing principles for treating those who claim to have suffered abuse by cults, for training therapists to do so and for establishing guidelines for expert testimony?

Personal freedoms

A basic value of the profession of psychology is promoting human freedom of responsible action, based on awareness of available behavioral options, and supporting an individual's rights to exercise them. Whatever we mean by "mind control" stands in opposition to this positive value orientation.

Mind control is the process by which individual or collective freedom of choice and action is compromised by agents or agencies that modify or distort perception, motivation, affect, cognition and/or behavioral outcomes. It is neither magical nor mystical, but a process that involves a set of basic social psychological principles.

Conformity, compliance, persuasion, dissonance, reactance, guilt and fear arousal, modeling and identification are some of the staple social influence ingredients well studied in psychological experiments and field studies. In some combinations, they create a powerful crucible of extreme mental and behavioral manipulation when synthesized with several other real-world factors, such as charismatic, authoritarian leaders, dominant ideologies, social isolation, physical debilitation, induced phobias, and extreme threats or promised rewards that are typically deceptively orchestrated, over an extended time period in settings where they are applied intensively.

A body of social science evidence shows that when systematically practiced by state-sanctioned police, military or destructive cults, mind control can induce false confessions, create converts who willingly torture or kill "invented enemies," engage indoctrinated members to work tirelessly, give up their money--and even their lives--for "the cause."

Power struggles

It seems to me that at the heart of the controversy over the existence of mind control is a bias toward believing in the power of people to resist the power of situational forces, a belief in individual will power and faith to overcome all evil adversity. It is Jesus modeling resistance against the temptations of Satan, and not the vulnerability of Adam and Eve to deception. More recently, examples abound that challenge this person-power misattribution.

From the 1930s on, there are many historical instances of state power dominating individual beliefs and values. In Stalin's Moscow show trials, his adversaries publicly confessed to their treasons. Catholic Cardinal Mindzenty similarly gave false confessions favoring his communist captors. During the Korean War, American airmen confessed to engaging in germ warfare after intense indoctrination sessions. The Chinese Thought Reform Program achieved massive societal conversions to new beliefs. It has also been reported that the CIA put into practice nearly 150 projects--collectively termed MKULTRA--to develop various forms of exotic mind control, including the use of LSD and hypnosis. More than 900 U.S. citizens committed suicide or murdered friends and family at the persuasive bidding of their Peoples Temple cult leader, Jim Jones.

The power of social situations to induce "ego alien" behavior over even the best and brightest of people has been demonstrated in a variety of controlled experiments, among them, Stanley Milgram's obedience to authority studies, Albert Bandura's research on dehumanization, my Stanford Prison Experiment and others on deinviduation.

Understanding the dynamics and pervasiveness of situational power is essential to learning how to resist it and to weaken the dominance of the many agents of mind control who ply their trade daily on all of us behind many faces and fronts.

Hyde Schools / On Thought Reform
« on: February 24, 2007, 12:29:48 AM »

How Thought Reform works
by the late Margaret Thaler Singer, Ph. D.
Terminology note: Today Mind control or brainwashing in academia is commonly referred to as coercive persuasion, coercive psychological systems or coercive influence. The short description below comes from Dr. Margaret Singer professor emeritus at the University of California at Berkeley the acknowledged leading authority in the world on mind control and cults. This document, in substance, was presented to the U.S. Supreme Court as an educational Appendix on coercive psychological systems in the case Wollersheim v. Church of Scientology 89-1367 and 89-1361. The Wollersheim case was being considered related to issues involving abuse in this area.

Coercion is defined as, "to restrain or constrain by force..." Legally it often implies the use of physical force or physical or legal threat. This traditional concept of coercion is far better understood than the technological concepts of "coercive persuasion" which are effective restraining, impairing, or compelling through the gradual application of psychological forces.

A coercive persuasion program is a behavioral change technology applied to cause the "learning" and "adoption" of a set of behaviors or an ideology under certain conditions. It is distinguished from other forms of benign social learning or peaceful persuasion by the conditions under which it is conducted and by the techniques of environmental and interpersonal manipulation employed to suppress particular behaviors and to train others. Over time, coercive persuasion, a psychological force akin in some ways to our legal concepts of undue influence, can be even more effective than pain, torture, drugs, and use of physical force and legal threats.

The Korean War "Manchurian Candidate" misconception of the need for suggestibility-increasing drugs, and physical pain and torture, to effect thought reform, is generally associated with the old concepts and models of brainwashing. Today, they are not necessary for a coercive persuasion program to be effective. With drugs, physical pain, torture, or even a physically coercive threat, you can often temporarily make someone do something against their will. You can even make them do something they hate or they really did not like or want to do at the time. They do it, but their attitude is not changed.

This is much different and far less devastating than that which you are able to achieve with the improvements of coercive persuasion. With coercive persuasion you can change people's attitudes without their knowledge and volition. You can create new "attitudes" where they will do things willingly which they formerly may have detested, things which previously only torture, physical pain, or drugs could have coerced them to do.
The advances in the extreme anxiety and emotional stress production technologies found in coercive persuasion supersede old style coercion that focuses on pain, torture, drugs, or threat in that these older systems do not change attitude so that subjects follow orders "willingly." Coercive persuasion changes both attitude and behavior, not just behavior.


Coercive persuasion or thought reform as it is sometimes known, is best understood as a coordinated system of graduated coercive influence and behavior control designed to deceptively and surreptitiously manipulate and influence individuals, usually in a group setting, in order for the originators of the program to profit in some way, normally financially or politically.
The essential strategy used by those operating such programs is to systematically select, sequence and coordinate numerous coercive persuasion tactics over continuous periods of time. There are seven main tactic types found in various combinations in a coercive persuasion program. A coercive persuasion program can still be quite effective without the presence of ALL seven of these tactic types.

TACTIC 1. The individual is prepared for thought reform through increased suggestibility and/or "softening up," specifically through hypnotic or other suggestibility-increasing techniques such as: A. Extended audio, visual, verbal, or tactile fixation drills; B. Excessive exact repetition of routine activities; C. Decreased sleep; D. Nutritional restriction.

TACTIC 2. Using rewards and punishments, efforts are made to establish considerable control over a person's social environment, time, and sources of social support. Social isolation is promoted. Contact with family and friends is abridged, as is contact with persons who do not share group-approved attitudes. Economic and other dependence on the group is fostered. (In the forerunner to coercive persuasion, brainwashing, this was rather easy to achieve through simple imprisonment.)

TACTIC 3. Disconfirming information and nonsupporting opinions are prohibited in group communication. Rules exist about permissible topics to discuss with outsiders. Communication is highly controlled. An "in-group" language is usually constructed.

TACTIC 4. Frequent and intense attempts are made to cause a person to re-evaluate the most central aspects of his or her experience of self and prior conduct in negative ways. Efforts are designed to destabilize and undermine the subject's basic consciousness, reality awareness, world view, emotional control, and defense mechanisms as well as getting them to reinterpret their life's history, and adopt a new version of causality.

TACTIC 5. Intense and frequent attempts are made to undermine a person's confidence in himself and his judgment, creating a sense of powerlessness.

TACTIC 6. Nonphysical punishments are used such as intense humiliation, loss of privilege, social isolation, social status changes, intense guilt, anxiety, manipulation and other techniques for creating strong aversive emotional arousals, etc.

TACTIC 7. Certain secular psychological threats [force] are used or are present: That failure to adopt the approved attitude, belief, or consequent behavior will lead to severe punishment or dire consequence, (e.g. physical or mental illness, the reappearance of a prior physical illness, drug dependence, economic collapse, social failure, divorce, disintegration, failure to find a mate, etc.).
Another set of criteria has to do with defining other common elements of mind control systems. If most of Robert Jay Lifton's eight point model of thought reform is being used in a cultic organization, it is most likely a dangerous and destructive cult. These eight points follow:
Robert Jay Lifton's Eight Point Model of Thought Reform
ENVIRONMENT CONTROL. Limitation of many/all forms of communication with those outside the group. Books, magazines, letters and visits with friends and family are taboo. "Come out and be separate!"
2. MYSTICAL MANIPULATION. The potential convert to the group becomes convinced of the higher purpose and special calling of the group through a profound encounter/experience, for example, through an alleged miracle or prophetic word of those in the group.

3. DEMAND FOR PURITY. An explicit goal of the group is to bring about some kind of change, whether it be on a global, social, or personal level. "Perfection is possible if one stays with the group and is committed."

4. CULT OF CONFESSION. The unhealthy practice of self disclosure to members in the group. Often in the context of a public gathering in the group, admitting past sins and imperfections, even doubts about the group and critical thoughts about the integrity of the leaders.

5. SACRED SCIENCE. The group's perspective is absolutely true and completely adequate to explain EVERYTHING. The doctrine is not subject to amendments or question. ABSOLUTE conformity to the doctrine is required.

6. LOADED LANGUAGE. A new vocabulary emerges within the context of the group. Group members "think" within the very abstract and narrow parameters of the group's doctrine. The terminology sufficiently stops members from thinking critically by reinforcing a "black and white" mentality. Loaded terms and clichés prejudice thinking.

7. DOCTRINE OVER PERSON. Pre-group experience and group experience are narrowly and decisively interpreted through the absolute doctrine, even when experience contradicts the doctrine.

8. DISPENSING OF EXISTENCE. Salvation is possible only in the group. Those who leave the group are doomed.

Programs identified with the above-listed seven tactics have in common the elements of attempting to greatly modify a person's self-concept, perceptions of reality, and interpersonal relations. When successful in inducing these changes, coercive thought reform programs also, among other things, create the potential forces necessary for exercising undue influence over a person's independent decision-making ability, and even for turning the individual into a deployable agent for the organization's benefit without the individual's meaningful knowledge or consent.

Coercive persuasion programs are effective because individuals experiencing the deliberately planned severe stresses they generate can only reduce the pressures by accepting the system or adopting the behaviors being promulgated by the purveyors of the coercion program. The relationship between the person and the coercive persuasion tactics are DYNAMIC in that while the force of the pressures, rewards, and punishments brought to bear on the person are considerable, they do not lead to a stable, meaningfully self-chosen reorganization of beliefs or attitudes. Rather, they lead to a sort of coerced compliance and a situationally required elaborate rationalization, for the new conduct.

Once again, in order to maintain the new attitudes or "decisions," sustain the rationalization, and continue to unduly influence a person's behavior over time, coercive tactics must be more or less continuously applied. A fiery, "hell and damnation" guilt-ridden sermon from the pulpit or several hours with a high-pressure salesman or other single instances of the so-called peaceful persuasions do not constitute the "necessary chords and orchestration" of a SEQUENCED, continuous, coordinated, and carefully selected program of surreptitious coercion, as found in a comprehensive program of "coercive persuasion."

Truly peaceful religious persuasion practices would never attempt to force, compel and dominate the free wills or minds of its members through coercive behavioral techniques or covert hypnotism. They would have no difficulty coexisting peacefully with U.S. laws meant to protect the public from such practices.

Looking like peaceful persuasion is precisely what makes coercive persuasion less likely to attract attention or to mobilize opposition. It is also part of what makes it such a devastating control technology. Victims of coercive persuasion have: no signs of physical abuse, convincing rationalizations for the radical or abrupt changes in their behavior, a convincing "sincerity, and they have been changed so gradually that they don't oppose it because they usually aren't even aware of it.

Deciding if coercive persuasion was used requires case-by-case careful analysis of all the influence techniques used and how they were applied. By focusing on the medium of delivery and process used, not the message, and on the critical differences, not the coincidental similarities, which system was used becomes clear. The Influence Continuum helps make the difference between peaceful persuasion and coercive persuasion easier to distinguish.


Not all tactics used in a coercive persuasion type environment will always be coercive. Some tactics of an innocuous or cloaking nature will be mixed in.
Not all individuals exposed to coercive persuasion or thought reform programs are effectively coerced into becoming participants.
How individual suggestibility, psychological and physiological strengths, weakness, and differences react with the degree of severity, continuity, and comprehensiveness in which the various tactics and content of a coercive persuasion program are applied, determine the program's effectiveness and/or the degree of severity of damage caused to its victims.
For example, in United States v. Lee 455 U.S. 252, 257-258 (1982), the California Supreme Court found that "when a person is subjected to coercive persuasion without his knowledge or consent... [he may] develop serious and sometimes irreversible physical and psychiatric disorders, up to and including schizophrenia, self-mutilation, and suicide."
A). Determine if the subject individual held enough knowledge and volitional capacity to make the decision to change his or her ideas or beliefs.
B). Determine whether that individual did, in fact, adopt, affirm, or reject those ideas or beliefs on his own.
C). Then, if necessary, all that should be examined is the behavioral processes used, not ideological content. One needs to examine only the behavioral processes used in their "conversion." Each alleged coercive persuasion situation should be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. The characteristics of coercive persuasion programs are severe, well-understood, and they are not accidental.

Coercive persuasion is not a religious practice, it is a control technology. It is not a belief or ideology, it is a technological process.
As a process, it can be examined by experts on its technology completely separate from any idea or belief content, similar to examining the technical process of hypnotic induction distinct from the meaning or value of the post-hypnotic suggestions.
Examining processes in this manner can not violate First Amendment religious protections.
Coercive persuasion is antithetical to the First Amendment. It is the unfair manipulation of other's biological and psychological weaknesses and susceptibilities. It is a psychological force technology, not of a free society, but of a criminal or totalitarian society. It is certainly not a spiritual or religious technology.
Any organization using coercive persuasion on its members as a central practice that also claims to be a religion is turning the sanctuary of the First Amendment into a fortress for psychological assault. It is a contradiction of terms and should be "disestablished."
Coercive persuasion is a subtle, compelling psychological force which attacks an even more fundamental and important freedom than our "freedom of religion." Its reprehensibility and danger is that it attacks our self-determinism and free will, our most fundamental constitutional freedoms.
Dr. Margaret T. Singer died on Nov. 23. Dr. Singer was one of the leading experts on thought reform and the dynamics of destructive cults. She counseled too many former members to count. Her books (Cults in Our Midst and Crazy Therapies) helped countless others to understand the process of cult behavior and the recovery process coming out of the cults. Her tenacity and sense of humor were unforgettable.

Tacitus' Realm / America: Freedom to Fascism
« on: February 20, 2007, 05:08:30 AM »
Alan Russo explores the illegality of our income taxes and uncovers something far more sinister.  Link to full-length authorized video (1 hr, 49 min): ... 7175242198

Link to "director's cut on YouTube (1 hr 49 min):

Interview with filmmaker Alan Russo (consciousmedia network; 37 min): ... 7215293198

Introductory comments plus trailer followed by director comments (filmmaker Alan Russo).  (Lone Lantern Society; 59 min): ... 9876891130

Web forum hosting / Is it my computer or is it fornits?
« on: February 20, 2007, 01:51:49 AM »
I get this error message from time to time, when trying to move from one forum to another.  Not sure whether it is my computer that has a glitch, my DSL connection, or whether it is fornits?  I'm not too computer savvy, so not sure...
Warning: mysql_error(): supplied argument is not a valid MySQL-Link resource in /home/fornits/initfiles/fornits/dbconnect.php on line 8

Hyde Schools / "Tough Love" vs. "First, Do No Harm"
« on: February 11, 2007, 10:36:34 PM » ... 29.06.html

The Trouble with Tough Love

By Maia Szalavitz

Sunday, January 29, 2006

It is the ultimate parental nightmare: Your affectionate child is transformed, seemingly overnight, into an out-of-control, drug-addicted, hostile teenager. Many parents blame themselves. "Where did we go wrong?" they ask. The kids, meanwhile, hurtle through their own bewildering adolescent nightmare.

I know. My descent into drug addiction started in high school and now, as an adult, I have a much better understanding of my parents' anguish and of what I was going through. And, after devoting several years to researching treatment programs, I'm also aware of the traps that many parents fall into when they finally seek help for their kids.

Many anguished parents put their faith in strict residential rehab programs. At first glance, these programs, which are commonly based on a philosophy of "tough love," seem to offer a safe respite from the streets -- promising reform through confrontational therapy in an isolated environment where kids cannot escape the need to change their behavior. At the same time, during the '90s, it became increasingly common for courts to sentence young delinquents to military-style boot camps as an alternative to incarceration.

But lack of government oversight and regulation makes it impossible for parents to thoroughly investigate services provided by such "behavior modification centers," "wilderness programs" and "emotional growth boarding schools." Moreover, the very notion of making kids who are already suffering go through more suffering is psychologically backwards. And there is little data to support these institutions' claims of success.

Nonetheless, a billion-dollar industry now promotes such tough-love treatment. There are several hundred public and private facilities -- both in the United States and outside the country -- but serving almost exclusively American citizens. Although no one officially keeps track, my research suggests that some 10,000 to 20,000 teenagers are enrolled each year. A patchwork of lax and ineffective state regulations -- no federal rules apply -- is all that protects these young people from institutions that are regulated like ordinary boarding schools but that sometimes use more severe methods of restraint and isolation than psychiatric centers. There are no special qualifications required of the people who oversee such facilities. Nor is any diagnosis required before enrollment. If a parent thinks a child needs help and can pay the $3,000- to $5,000-a-month fees, any teenager can be held in a private program, with infrequent contact with the outside world, until he or she turns 18.

Over the past three years, I have interviewed more than 100 adolescents and parents with personal experience in both public and private programs and have read hundreds of media accounts, thousands of Internet postings and stacks of legal documents. I have also spoken with numerous psychiatrists, psychologists, sociologists and juvenile justice experts. Of course there is a range of approaches at different institutions, but most of the people I spoke with agree that the industry is dominated by the idea that harsh rules and even brutal confrontation are necessary to help troubled teenagers. University of California at Berkeley sociologist Elliott Currie, who did an ethnographic study of teen residential addiction treatment for the National Institute on Drug Abuse, told me that he could not think of a program that wasn't influenced by this philosophy.

Unfortunately, tough treatments usually draw public scrutiny only when practitioners go too far, prompting speculation about when "tough is too tough." Dozens of deaths -- such as this month's case of 14-year-old Martin Lee Anderson, who died hours after entering a juvenile boot camp that was under contract with Florida's juvenile justice system -- and cases of abuse have been documented since tough-love treatment was popularized in the '70s and '80s by programs such as Synanon and Straight, Inc. Parents and teenagers involved with both state-run and private institutions have told me of beatings, sleep deprivation, use of stress positions, emotional abuse and public humiliation, such as making them dress as prostitutes or in drag and addressing them in coarse language. I've heard about the most extreme examples, of course, but the lack of regulation and oversight means that such abuses are always a risk.

The more important question -- whether tough love is the right approach itself -- is almost never broached. Advocates of these programs call the excesses tragic but isolated cases; they offer anecdotes of miraculous transformations to balance the horror stories; and they argue that tough love only seems brutal -- saying that surgery seems violent, too, without an understanding of its vital purpose.

What advocates don't take from their medical analogy, however, is the principle of "first, do no harm" and the associated requirement of scientific proof of safety and efficacy. Research conducted by the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Justice tells a very different story from the testimonials -- one that has been obscured by myths about why addicts take drugs and why troubled teenagers act out.

As a former addict, who began using cocaine and heroin in late adolescence, I have never understood the logic of tough love. I took drugs compulsively because I hated myself, because I felt as if no one -- not even my family -- would love me if they really knew me. Drugs allowed me to blot out that depressive self-focus and socialize as though I thought I was okay.

How could being "confronted" about my bad behavior help me with that? Why would being humiliated, once I'd given up the only thing that allowed me to feel safe emotionally, make me better? My problem wasn't that I needed to be cut down to size; it was that I felt I didn't measure up.

In fact, fear of cruel treatment kept me from seeking help long after I began to suspect I needed it. My addiction probably could have been shortened if I'd thought I could have found care that didn't conform to what I knew was (and sadly, still is) the dominant confrontational approach.

Fortunately, the short-term residential treatment I underwent was relatively light on confrontation, but I still had to deal with a counselor who tried to humiliate me by disparaging my looks when I expressed insecurity about myself.

The trouble with tough love is twofold. First, the underlying philosophy -- that pain produces growth -- lends itself to abuse of power. Second, and more important, toughness doesn't begin to address the real problem. Troubled teenagers aren't usually "spoiled brats" who "just need to be taught respect." Like me, they most often go wrong because they hurt, not because they don't want to do the right thing. That became all the more evident to me when I took a look at who goes to these schools.

A surprisingly large number are sent away in the midst of a parental divorce; others are enrolled for depression or other serious mental illnesses. Many have lengthy histories of trauma and abuse. The last thing such kids need is another experience of powerlessness, humiliation and pain.

Sadly, tough love often looks as if it works: For one thing, longitudinal studies find that most kids, even amongst the most troubled, eventually grow out of bad behavior, so the magic of time can be mistaken for the magic of treatment. Second, the experience of being emotionally terrorized can produce compliance that looks like real change, at least initially.

The bigger picture suggests that tough love tends to backfire. My recent interviews confirm the findings of more formal studies. The Justice Department has released reports comparing boot camps with traditional correctional facilities for juvenile offenders, concluding in 2001 that neither facility "is more effective in reducing recidivism." In late 2004, the National Institutes of Health released a "state of the science" consensus statement, concluding that "get tough" treatments "do not work and there is some evidence that they may make the problem worse." Indeed, some young people leave these programs with post-traumatic stress disorder and exacerbations of their original problems.

These strict institutional settings work at cross-purposes with the developmental stages adolescents go through. According to psychiatrists, teenagers need to gain responsibility, begin to test romantic relationships and learn to think critically. But in tough programs, teenagers' choices of activities are overwhelmingly made for them: They are not allowed to date (in many, even eye contact with the opposite sex is punished), and they are punished if they dissent from a program's therapeutic prescriptions. All this despite evidence that a totally controlled environment delays maturation.

Why is tough love still so prevalent? The acceptance of anecdote as evidence is one reason, as are the hurried decisions of desperate parents who can no longer find a way of communicating with their wayward kids. But most significant is the lack of the equivalent of a Food and Drug Administration for behavioral health care -- with the result that most people are unaware that these programs have never been proved safe or effective. It's part of what a recent Institute of Medicine report labeled a "quality chasm" between the behavioral treatments known to work and those that are actually available. So parents rely on hearsay -- and the word of so-called experts.

Unfortunately, in the world of teen behavioral programs, there are no specific educational or professional requirements. Anyone can claim to be an expert.

Author's e-mail:

[email protected]

Maia Szalavitz is the author of "Help at Any Cost: How the Troubled-Teen Industry Cons Parents and Hurts Kids" (Riverhead Books).

The Troubled Teen Industry / Undiscovered country
« on: February 11, 2007, 06:43:32 PM »
To what do we owe the honor, dear Gook?!   :D

Hyde Schools / Q?: Gary Kent
« on: February 08, 2007, 03:49:19 PM »
Anybody remember Gary Kent?  He used to be the wrestling coach for awhile... And isn't there now a gym facility on the Bath or Woodstock campus named after him?  Emil?  Mike?

I have recently come across some disturbing old news items linking Gary Kent to some of the WWASPs programs (see elsewhere on this forum).  Since his name isn't exactly the most unusual, I wish to rule out the possibility that there are two Gary Kents working in the teenage emotional growth industry.

Could anyone fill me in on his whereabouts in the years since the mid 1970's?  I do know for certain that he operated a program called Outpost at the Wolf Creek Wilderness School in Georgia in late 1991, which looks kind of like a 28-day program hiking out into the wilderness for troubled youth.  There is also a Gary Kent, associated with a Theresa Kent, that is associated with at least two of the wilderness programs in Montana.


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