Author Topic: Essay Contest: What is Tough Love and Where did it come from  (Read 3106 times)

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Offline psy

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Essay Contest: What is Tough Love and Where did it come from
« on: December 06, 2008, 03:56:02 AM »
For each of the new blogs, i'd like to have a repeating page where parents can quickly get informed about what tough love is, where it came from, and why it's so dangerous.  While I could write it myself (and probably will write a draft), I believe in the principles of competition, and that there are many around here who are more capable and influential writers than I. What better way to create this important piece of content than to offer it up to the community to write and then vote on and/or edit collectively.

I look forward to reading your submissions in this thread.


Suggested starting point: Phyllis and David York (lots of information on them if you search on fornits, as well as elsewhere).  They wrote the book on tough love.  Reportedly it didn't go over so well with their own kids.

The reason I am suggesting this article: "troubled teen" and "Troubled teen industry" are keywords that are already firmly locked down on  "Tough love" could also get a fair amount of traffic.  How do I know this? I follow the industry's marketing (something that we should be matching):

Their target market is our target market.  Let's take advantage of their market research and copy them.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »
Benchmark Young Adult School - bad place [ link]
Sue Scheff Truth - Blog on Sue Scheff
"Our services are free; we do not make a profit. Parents of troubled teens ourselves, PURE strives to create a safe haven of truth and reality." - Sue Scheff - August 13th, 2007 (fukkin surreal)

Offline Femanon4Che

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Re: Essay Contest: What is Tough Love and Where did it come from
« Reply #1 on: December 07, 2008, 07:47:40 PM »
Although I would find great pride in at least attempting this feit  I think it is best left to the professionals... so what do you say I ask Maia Szalavitz if she would be willing to contribute? This topic is exactly what she wrote her book on so very possibly we would ask her to write something and in return we can set up an advertisement for her book that links to her shopping cart.

Id be happy to facilitate this exchange if you would be willing to grant her free advertising space.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »

Offline iamartsy

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Re: Essay Contest: What is Tough Love and Where did it come from
« Reply #2 on: December 08, 2008, 02:24:33 AM »
The Cult That Spawned the Tough-Love Teen Industry{br]
This harsh approach to helping troubled teens has a long and disturbing history.{br]
By Maia Szalavitz, Mother Jones, August 20, 2007

The idea that punishment can be therapeutic is not unique to the Rotenberg Center. In fact, this notion is widespread among the hundreds of "emotional growth boarding schools," wilderness camps, and "tough love" antidrug programs that make up the billion-dollar teen residential treatment industry.

This harsh approach to helping troubled teens has a long and disturbing history. No fewer than 50 programs (though not the Rotenberg Center) can trace their treatment philosophy, directly or indirectly, to an antidrug cult called Synanon. Founded in 1958, Synanon sold itself as a cure for hardcore heroin addicts who could help each other by "breaking" new initiates with isolation, humiliation, hard labor, and sleep deprivation.

Today, troubled-teen programs use Synanon-like tactics, advertising themselves to parents as solutions for everything from poor study habits to substance misuse. However, there is little evidence that harsh behavior-modification techniques can solve these problems. Studies found that Synanon's "encounter groups" could produce lasting psychological harm and that only 10 to 15 percent of the addicts who participated in them recovered. And as the classic 1971 Stanford prison experiment demonstrated, creating situations in which the severe treatment of powerless people is rewarded inevitably yields abuse. This is especially true when punishment is viewed as a healing process. Synanon was discredited in the late 1970s and 1980s as its violent record was exposed. (The group is now remembered for an incident in which a member placed a live rattlesnake—rattle removed—in the mailbox of a lawyer who'd successfully sued it.) Yet by the time Synanon shut down in 1991, its model had already been widely copied.

In 1971, the federal government gave a grant to a Florida organization called The Seed, which applied Synanon's methods to teenagers, even those only suspected of trying drugs. In 1974, Congress opened an investigation into such behavior-modification programs, finding that The Seed had used methods "similar to the highly refined brainwashing techniques employed by the North Koreans."

The bad publicity led some supporters of The Seed to create a copycat organization under a different name. Straight Inc. was cofounded by Mel Sembler, a Bush family friend who would become the GOP's 2000 finance chair and who heads Lewis "Scooter" Libby's legal defense fund. By the mid-'80s, Straight was operating in seven states. First Lady Nancy Reagan declared it her favorite antidrug program. As with The Seed, abuse was omnipresent—including beatings and kidnapping of adult participants. Facing seven-figure legal judgments, it closed in 1993.

But loopholes in state laws and a lack of federal oversight allowed shuttered programs to simply change their names and reopen, often with the same staff, in the same state—even in the same building. Straight spin-offs like the Pathway Family Center are still in business.

Confrontation and humiliation are also used by religious programs such as Escuela Caribe in the Dominican Republic and myriad "emotional growth boarding schools" affiliated with the World Wide Association of Specialty Programs (WWASP), such as Tranquility Bay in Jamaica. WWASP's president told me that the organization "took a little bit of what Synanon [did]." Lobbying by well-connected supporters such as WWASP founder Robert Lichfield (who, like Sembler, is a fundraiser for Republican presidential aspirant Mitt Romney) has kept state regulators at bay and blocked federal regulation entirely.

By the '90s, tough love had spawned military-style boot camps and wilderness programs that thrust kids into extreme survival scenarios. At least three dozen teens have died in these programs, often because staff see medical complaints as malingering. This May, a 15-year-old boy died from a staph infection at a Colorado wilderness program. His family claims his pleas for help were ignored. In his final letter to his mother, he wrote, "They found my weakness and I want to go home."

There is a diagram that goes with this that is an image. Can't put it in though. It is here:

While Synanon was forming on the East Coast you had this:

In 1958, James Allen founded the Addicts Rehabilitation Center (ARC) in the heart of Harlem. Over 25,000 men, women and children have come through the program since then, and Allen's dedication has inspired others to take up the challenge of helping the people society overlooks.

REHAB: TOUGH LOVE IN HARLEM follows three addicts in the ARC program as they fight the demons that dominate their lives. We'll get an up-close look at their struggles to regain hope and repair their shattered lives with the help of the Center. We'll hear from the staff, most of whom are former addicts, and see how the center's spiritual approach--they have a renowned gospel choir--informs their recovery, and we'll go on the streets to see how the temptation of crack and smack is never far away.

This is an intimate journey alongside true heroes who battle drugs and addiction every day.

Back to top

Both of these appear to have led to the Seed, Daytop, Phoenix House etc. All were RTC that used extreme measures to treat addiction.

Addtionally, I have found guidelines for parents taking in kids who have violated their parents' rules.These guidelines are from a program in Houston that makes me think of STRAIGHT's practices. Please let me know if you are interested in any of these.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »