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Messages - asha-kun

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When I first watched this movie (a few years out of residential treatment) I couldn't sit through the first scene without a crying shaking meltdown.

Some years later, with perspective, I didn't mind it.  I even think it might be fun to be in the military (if they let me, which they wouldn't.)

The drill instructor, compared to the Bellefaire staff?  Was NICE.  Even benevolent, in a way.  If asked to choose between dealing with him and dealing with John "No-Neck" Sgroi, I would choose the drill sergeant from Full Metal Jacket.  Any day.  I don't know what that says about life, the universe, the troubled teen industry or me or anything...aside from being incredibly fucked up, that having Sergeant Nasty barking orders at me would be a preferable experience to the ones I had.

That and...Full Metal Jacket is a genius example of why this kind of discipline/"treatment" is a piss-poor therapeutic technique for anger management, or instilling blind obedience.

They even say in the movie that the training isn't meant to create robots, it's to create killers.

The troubled teen industry wants to create robots.  And yet, these are the methods they use.  Methods that instill a deep abiding rage.  Enough rage that those who go through it are left with a desire to kill.

But ex-troubled teen inmates are not being sent to war.  They are sent back to their homes.  Back to their parents.  Back to their schools.

The chickens are going to come home to roost, if they haven't already.  I'm not going to shed a single tear.

This madness has gone far enough.  Now, it's like these systems and the people who enable them are asking, nay, begging, for it to blow up in their faces.  And they will deserve it.

(P.S.  I almost hate Gomer Pyle now, out of sheer bitterness, because he could leave his situation if he wanted and I wasn't allowed the option of leaving, yet he took the weak way out of something nobody was forcing on him.)

Some of the short stories/memoirs I had to read with the Partial Hospitalization group are popping up in my memory right now--bits and pieces of them, anyways.  A lot of it, the context etc., I can't remember.  This...disturbs me.  A while ago I saw that one of these creepy program gurus wrote short stories of allegorical crap, I'm not sure if they were his, or whose they were, but I don't know what they were called and google search turns up nothing useful.

One of them was obviously a metaphor for drug addiction, using a family of bears where the father bear has been eating poisoned food from a toxic waste dump and he's abusing his mate and cub.  I don't remember the ending, only that the conclusion seemed rather manipulative and broken-Aesop for its particular genre.

Another was from the perspective of a tree--a tree that looked healthy outside but was rotting from the inside and eventually died, fell over, and re-grew into...something, the details of the end are another blank spot.  The phrases I remember were something about the dead husk of the tree "open to the sun and rain and sky," "from that wetness and rot and moisture being reborn" I dunno.

We also read from Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul, Tough Stuff Edition.  I found it on Amazon.  (I called it "Chicken Soup for the Completely Fucked-Up Tortured Soul," needing comic relief, but I digress.)  I'm not sure which of the "real life" stories were from that book, but the one about the girl whose mother throws a pot of boiling water at her and the skin on her face falls off might have been from there.  The one where I started giggling while the group was reading it, got ripped a new one for laughing, felt like a horrible person because I was laughing at how over-the-top luridly hideous it was and...yeah, I don't know what that is.

There was another one, I don't think it was even from that book, about this one boy who was a runaway and a gay man took him in and then proceeded to use him as a rape receptacle and other degrading homersekshul acts--that was a small part of the whole story, but for some reason it sticks out, maybe my insecurity at having homophobic crap hurled at me, maybe they did emphasize it in a homophobic way, maybe one of my peers said something bigoted, I don't know--and at the end of the story, this kid is going to be sent to jail if he can't reach his mother on the phone, so he calls about five times and she doesn't pick up because she's too drunk to answer.  Oh hello manufactured fear of abandonment!  

But yeah what the crud was that all, especially the first two, and why would I have this weird mindblank and gross violated feeling about this stuff?  This wasn't just "the story disturbed me due to its content," there was something else going on.  I had read lots of stuff back then that disturbed other people and I was just fine.  The WAY it was discussed tweaked me out, and something is not right here.  I have to stop typing.

Thought Reform / Re: Reversing Operant Conditioning?
« on: September 27, 2010, 08:57:31 PM »
Are there ways to reverse the effects of operant and instrumental conditioning? Yes.

Are there ways that do not involve doctors, legitimate and scientifically-studied psychotherapeutic modalites, and/or medications? None that I know of, or would recommend to anybody.

This is good to know, but...that in itself is the problem.  Psychotherapists won't take me seriously if I say I've been harmfully conditioned by a residential treatment center, or worse, they'll think what happened was for my own good and the good of society and I'm just a resentful crazy.  Even some of my friends have told me "it could have been worse, at least they didn't beat or starve you."  While I know this is a fallacy, as you mentioned in your re-post, it shows the common attitude towards the situation.  My most recent therapist, for another example, often downplayed the effects of what happened as my own oversensitivity.

The short answer to asha-kun's question is that the therapeutic process along the road to recovery and self-autonomy will seldom be comfortable. There are no simple solutions for quick fixes in that domain. It's not easy to get better.

I know this.  Quick fixes don't exist for these sorts of things.  However, there's another problem--the way I define "getting better," to many of the therapists I've known, means "getting worse."  What I define as "free and happy," most of them define as "unhealthy and out of control."  I have no plans to hurt anyone who doesn't consent or threaten me, but even so, almost all therapists nearly worship stability.  Stability of emotion, thought, action, everything--and I don't value it at all, as long as I'm happy.  If I'm "unstable" and unhappy, attempting to stabilize me makes things worse, if that makes any sense.

Thought Reform / Reversing Operant Conditioning?
« on: September 27, 2010, 12:36:34 AM »
What operant conditioning is: (POTENTIALLY TRIGGERING...well, it was for me) http://

Are there ways to undo the effects of operant conditioning?  Better yet, are there ways to undo the effects without the same methods used in the first place?  The bits of advice I've been able to find all point back to more behaviorism, more shrinks, more medication and more of everything that I'm not going near again.  If there is a way for people to rid themselves of the effects, will doing the things they were conditioned against be just fine/enjoyable again, or will it always have a subtle uncomfortable tinge to it?

Though both are toxic institutions, from what I've experienced the psych ward does have two advantages.

1.  Psychiatric wards have edible, non-moldy food and real live canned beverages.

2.  Time done in children's psych is definite, and short compared to time in a program.


Thank you for replying.  It's very courageous of you to have posted the Caveat Emptor on MerchantCircle, and an excellent idea.  I will definitely do the same.

There's an alarming lack of information, honest information, on Bellefaire to be found.  All I've found by Google search is a parent testimony on http:// of fraudulent and abusive happenings,and a blatant falsehood quoted in an article on the Parmadale Murder:
Bellefaire JCB in Shaker Heights, which also treats troubled children, uses restraint as a last resort, said Jeffrey Cox, clinical director.

"For us, disruptive is not enough," he said. If a child were to punch a staff member and walk away, that would not be a restraint situation because the immediate danger would be over, he said.
from http://

At the moment I don't know what else to say but thank you.

Quote from: "Pile of Dead Kids"
Apparently no one here has heard of this particular hellhole. Have you talked to an attorney about any of this?

There are a lot of organizations that might be able to help stop this from happening to anyone else- disability-rights organizations, ISAC, etc, etc.

But the lawyer- someone who is obligated to help you, and let you know what you can legally do from here- comes before that.

If you want to post a lasting record of details about Bellefaire's practices, you are welcome to do so on our wiki.

Believe me, I would like to take legal action, but I don't know if there's anything I can do at this point.  I don't have anything I could build a case on, other than my own experiences which weren't written down or recorded at the time they happened.  My family and I are also short on money.  About the wiki, is there any particular format which I need to follow, or can I repost the contents of my original post in this thread?

*cheers loudly*  I hope that travesty gets shut down for good.  It's about time the JRC got investigated.

The Melting Pot / Re: What are you reading?
« on: February 24, 2010, 01:48:03 PM »
Titus Andronicus (for the millionth time,) and The Heroin Diaries, by Nikki Sixx.

Hey, is anyone going to respond?  Sorry I forgot to include a link...http://  This is what I was in.

The Troubled Teen Industry / Re: Total Transformation
« on: February 23, 2010, 02:43:26 PM »
From his website:
"I have a very personal understanding of kids with behavior problems because I displayed severe oppositional, defiant behaviors as a child and teenager. For the past 30 years, I've been a behavioral therapist, focusing my work on helping behaviorally troubled children and teenagers turn around their behavior and take responsibility for their actions."

Translation: "I'm perpetuating the cycle of abuse like a good cog-in-the-machine!  Go me!  *whirr-click*"  
Reading that site made me barf in my mouth a little.

My name is Asher (formerly Rayah.)  I'm twenty years old, now almost twenty-one.  I was sent to Bellefaire JCB's intensive residential treatment program for nine months, from ages 13-14, in Cleveland Ohio.  At the time I lived in Hudson, Ohio.  The reasons for my being sent there were family conflict, breaking rules and psychiatric diagnoses--mostly anger issues, though.  I had undiagnosed Asperger's and diagnosed Tourette's which no one fully understood.  I'd been bullied horribly in middle school, and at home my stepfather constantly criticized and bullied me too.  I had also started to feel like I didn't belong in a female body--I already knew I was bisexual, but I didn't know what gender dysphoria or transgender was at the time.  I had (and still have) a gifted IQ, but my grades weren't very good save for AP English.  At the time I also had a very active imaginary world with my own alter ego and pretend husband/imaginary friend--I knew the difference between fantasy and reality (it's just that I didn't give a damn as long as it made me happy,) but people saw this as a problem.  It's true that I got in fights with my mother and some bullying classmates, both verbal and physical, and I was enamored with violence and aggression.  I challenge anyone else to say THEY wouldn't react similarly if they'd been subjected to constant bullying for factors out of their control.

Before Bellefaire, my mother sent me to Akron Children's psychiatric ward twice, both times because I fought back when she tried to use physical force to make me comply with her.  The first time, I refused to go to sleep because I wasn't tired, and she tried to shove Benodryl down my throat. The second time, I'd just been "mouthy," she grabbed my wrist to drag me someplace and I stabbed her in the hand with a spiked cuff I'd been wearing.  After two trips to psych, both of which were painful on their own, I was told I'd be sent to Bellefaire.  I do remember the phrase "tough love" being bandied around, and having the impression that Bellefaire was a nice, calming, quiet place where I could work out the strife on my mind.  When I drove out for the initial evaluation, everyone was nice, and the buildings looked pretty.

I was dead wrong.

During intake, I had to sign a form of some sort, and I was asked if I'd been sexually abused (the reason for this was related to restraint policy--they didn't restrain rape victims, and since I wasn't a rape victim, apparently it was o-tay!)  They asked about food allergies, but when I told them I had non-allergy dietary restrictions (there are lots of foods which I cannot stand the taste of, to the point of nausea,) they didn't believe me.  Just outside the unit, which had doors that only opened one way without a key, I was strip-searched.  I wasn't allowed any jewelry, or any clothes deemed "inappropriate," i.e, that showed any shoulder, back, chest or stomach at all, or that had any so-percieved "objectionable" associations or messages.  I wasn't allowed to have CDs or a CD player.

Once on-unit, the first thing I noticed was how disgusting the living conditions were.  Everything had a layer of grime on it.  The furniture and carpet was ratty and stained.  In the eating area, the tables had food residue on them, and there was an old tomato stuck to the ceiling.  My room had no lock on the door, just like all the others.  There was a large patch of dried orange juice on the wall, which I initially thought was a bodily fluid.  (Needless to say, I never drank the orange juice.)  The bedframe and windows had graffiti and gunk on them.There was a color-coded level system in place, based on how well we obeyed and complied--level red was punitive, for those who had recently been restrained.  On level red, one could not have access to the radio or any of the supposedly fun activities in the commons.  No using the cruddy foosball table, no watching the movies the staff had picked out for us, no leaving one's room after a very early time in the afternoon.  At first, level reds weren't allowed to wear their own clothes, but this rule was lifted to avoid legal action, if I remember correctly.  Level orange was the basic level most were at--still no access to one's own CD player, but at least you could leave your room in the afternoon...after asking staff permission to cross the line, which they could and did refuse from time to time.  Level green, which I only saw two people get to, had CD player allowed, maybe a few other minimal "priveleges."  To get to level green, the rest of the kids on the unit had to give you a majority vote of "yes," which often amounted to whether they liked you or not.  Level green could be revoked if you stepped on too many toes.  As for the highest level, blue, I never saw anyone get to it, so I can't comment.  There were also point cards to be filled out by the staff based on whether whe did what they said or not.  In the "cottage," as the locked unit was called, there were certain invisible lines in places we had to ask a staff to cross.  Not asking permission and crossing them, or just crossing them anyways, was grounds for restraint.  Restraint itself, I found, was often used punitively--if the staff didn't want you to do something, and you didn't obey their orders, you'd get tackled.  Face-down restraint was used--I remember the first night I was there, I got restrained face-down with a large man sitting on me and my limbs wrenched behind my back in a position that even those into sexual bondage wouldn't advise.  As one staffer said, more or less, the staff WERE the rules.  (This particular staffer seemed to enjoy power trips, and used his authority as a dick extension.)

Some of the staff verbally taunted the kids rather often, (one of them liked to scream like a damn drill sergeant--"This ain't Burger King have-it-your-way!" was his pet phrase,)  and let them bully each other, including allowing fights to happen without intervention until they either got too vicious or they stopped being amusing, at which point one or both of the participants were restrained.  On several occasions, other girls entered my room to shove me around and recieved little or no consequences for doing so.  The staff criticized me for lots of things, including the fact that I got restless and needed to pace back and forth.  When I said I couldn't eat the meals they provided (which, for the record, were moldy at times,) I was told to "take responsibility" and that I was "choosing" not to eat the food...never mind that the taste made me gag.  I ended up drinking water out of the shower from a styrofoam cup most of the time.  I was also mocked for being smart, using big words, etc., and told I "wasn't that smart" or I was trying to act superior.

Speaking of showers, every morning had a regimented hygiene routine, which involved taking a shower and washing exactly the way the staff said.  I have sensory integration disorder, which many people with Tourette's and Asperger's also have, and taking showers is physically painful for me.  They made me do it anyways.  Some mornings I would curl up on the floor of the shower whimpering in pain until I could collect myself enough to get up.  I wouldn't wash my face or my hair, which I was yelled at for.  I got yelled at a lot for my less-than-perfect hygiene, I think in particular because I was physically female.  I eventually found ways to cheat.

During the day, everyone had to attend an on-unit school.  That wasn't so bad, but we were still graded on our behavior in addition to our academics.  The academics were ridiculously easy, and I didn't feel like I learned anything new.  Then there were the PH (i.e, group therapy) sessions.  We would sit around a table, do worksheets designed to instill in us the "correct" way of thinking, not all of which even applied to my own issues, and then discuss our answers with the rest of the group and the supervisor.  Other times, we would have to read rather disturbing and lurid stories about abuse, rape and other nastiness, and then discuss either our reactions or our similar experiences.  Of course, in both scenarios, there was a line to be towed, and certain opinions that could not be expressed without getting criticized and/or bitched out by the other kids.  And we did have to discuss, whether we wanted to or not.  The worst of the groups, though, was "girls' group."  All it consisted of was sexual shaming and guilt.  You could only ask questions about topics deemed "acceptable," i.e, state-sanctioned safe-sex shit, nothing remotely kinky, nothing involving unusual sexual proclivities or male sexuality.  Lots of people were told their sexual practices or interests were gross and sick.  For me, as a boy trapped in a girl's body AND someone with non-standard sexual interests, it was hell times a thousand.

On the topic of sex/gender shaming...I received a lot of it.  My assigned therapist and the staff alike seemed to view my bisexuality, gender dysphoria and sexual fetishes as manifestations of some neurosis or behavioral problem.  The therapist refused to understand why I was disgusted and uncomfortable with female body-related stuff, including menstruation ("but doesn't it make you feel special and fertile?" she asked at one point.  PUKE.)  I tried to express to her, at one point, that I wanted to be a boy, and she flat out told me that she didn't believe me.  As for the staff, they told me such charming things as, "you don't want to be a boy, because that's like Sodom and Gomorrah," "it shouldn't be your job to protect a husband, the man should protect you," and "you should be more ladylike."  When I developed infatuations with other girls on the unit, this was viewed as a problem because 1) emotional connections like those were not allowed, be they very close friendships or romantic interest, and 2) the crushes I had were same-sex.  At one point, I was coerced into sexual activity by another girl on the unit, and when I tried to tell someone, it was "my word against hers" and nothing came of it.  I wasn't believed until she tried the same stuff on some other people.

I was eventually allowed home visits, but only after the staff and my assigned therapist saw enough change in my behavior, i.e, compliance, i.e, breaking into obedience.  On these home visits, I was not allowed to argue with my mom or stepdad about close to anything--it was do as they said or they had every right to send me back to the locked unit.  They also did not allow me to listen to any music they were told or considered to be inappropriate.  They and I were told I was "suggestible," meaning something along the lines of "this kid will turn into a violent psycho if she views or listens to ANYTHING remotely edgy," which was as far from true as it could get.  I tried time and time again to tell people, in my own way, that I enjoyed the media I did because I felt moved by it, I could relate to it, it helped me feel strong and confident and happy when I went through difficult times etc. etc., but they dismissed my words as manipulative--"you just want to listen to metal music and watch R-rated movies, and we can't let you do that.  Nice try."  I also wasn't allowed to listen to music at a volume in my headphones that my mom thought was too loud.  On home visits, my stepdad would keep antagonizing me as usual, making his critical little comments, and I had to sit there taking it and do what he told me, or else it was back to Bellefaire.

On the topic of media: I was a huge Marilyn Manson fan.  I liked various metal genres the most, and dark, violent, action-packed and/or transgressive movies like The Crow, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, Rocky Horror Picture Show, and A Clockwork Orange.  I had my own religion which I made up, based on the short story "Sredni Vashtar" by H.H. Munro (it's in the collection called Surprising Stories by Saki.)  I was also into anime and the Harry Potter series.  Any or all of these things were seen as a problem, threat or red flag at one time or another.  It varied.  Looking back, it seems rather bizarre that I wasn't allowed to openly enjoy the things I did and felt passionate about, i.e POSITIVE EFFING COPING MECHANISMS, but at the time I felt like a heretic forced to worship my gods secretly--and that's precisely what those things were to me.  The building blocks of my personal religion.  Just like the devout find inspiration and joy in Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Wicca, Buddhism or any faith right up to the Flying Spaghetti Monster, so did I in mine.  I couldn't help what moved me.  No one can.  Yet I was singled out for condemnation and pathologization on these grounds because I was "maladjusted."  "Emotionally disturbed."  I was bad and crazy because of what I liked, and I liked what I did because I was bad and crazy.  There was no way out, in that vein of thinking...and I was trapped in the middle of it.  I wasn't even allowed to talk about it on-unit.

After I was discharged, the experience being bad enough on its own, I was emotionally and psychologically abused again by two therapists, which is beyond the scope of this topic.  It's taken me a long time to feel anywhere close to functional again.  My mom regrets what happened now.  She divorced my stepdad when I was seventeen.  Eventually she let me listen to my favorite music and watch my favorite movies again, and stopped seeing my imagination as a malevolent force in my life.

By now, though, the things I used to love are poisoned.  I know I enjoy them on some level, and I want to do so again, but after what I went through everything in the world feels...dull.  Bleak.  Obsolete and dead, like all the magic has been sucked out of life.  I keep remembering what I went through, over and over again.  I have flashbacks that cause me physical pain.  I have nightmares.  I lose sleep over them.  To this day I have trouble trusting my mother, even on little things.  My mind is clouded with an obscene amount of self-doubt and self-deprecation, to the point where I feel as if I can't trust myself to know what's true or false.  I've always been somewhat nervous as a person, but afterward I developed such excessive anxiety in everyday life that I'm often afraid to leave my apartment or talk to people I don't know.  I apologize compulsively, which I never did before.  When I try to do things that I enjoy, I'm often struck by a sense of crushing and sickening guilt.  Again, I was never like that before.

So those are my experiences, in a nutshell.  Even now I'm hesitant about posting them on the internet, because I don't want to sound self-pitying or whiny ("oh boo hoo, I couldn't have a CD player for emo devil music" and so forth,) and I still struggle with feeling like I deserved to be locked up because I'm a transgendered aspie wierdo with tics and an aggressive personality.  Other people's experiences, I know, were far worse than mine...but mine was still, by definition, bad.  Unless I'm full of shit.

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