Chapter 2

Straight, Inc., a destructive, mind-control cult and the myth of the Marine Corps Analogy

UPDATED 2-9-03. Updates are the former brainwashing parts of the chapter Systematic child abuse through deprivation, humiliation and exhaustion which have been moved to here.

Whatever its setting thought reform consists of two basic elements:
  • confession, the exposure and renunciation of past and present "evil"; and 
  • re-education, the re-making of a man in the Communist image.
    from Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism:  A Study of "Brainwashing" in China (p. 5 of 1998 printing) by Dr. Robert J. Lifton
Below is from Father Doctor V. Miller Newton's PhD Thesis on Straight at Union University. First quote is from page 8; second quote is from pages 6-7.
  • First Phase is the period immediately after a child enters the program . . . .involves developing honesty [confession] about one's past as a "druggie". 
  • Our therapeutic modality can best be described as Re-acculturation  Therapy. . .  The basic instrument of this re-entry or re-acculturation is the large group . . .
"One day in GROUP I raised my hand with five fingers open, signifying I needed to talk to a fifth phasor." " What is it he asked me?"  " Last night I masturbated",  I replied. He hugged me and said, your honesty will keep you sober one more day.
A 16 year old Straight student  confessing to his 17 year old student counselor

In the main   treatment professionals call it "behavior modification",  but Straight is bolder than that and comes right out calling it  re-acculturation in newspaper quotes and in its Program Manual [Appendix AC (Statement of Therapeutic Design)].  Sometimes they slipup and use the exact wording that professionals use.  From page 34 of Doctor2 Newton's first PhD thesis:

Emotional and behavioral re-education requires supervised practice.
Straight represents one of the worst excesses created by the drug war environment, where an 'anything goes' kind of intolerance towards drug users prevails. It is a cult, plain and simple, of people who seize on parents' frustrations with their youngsters and then subject the kids to torture and brainwashing to make them obedient and drug-free.
From a 1992 press release from the Drug Policy Foundation by Arnold Trebach, J.D., Ph.D., Professor Emeritus in the Department of Justice, Law and Society at The American University in Washington, D.C.
Straight, like many religious cults, has maintained its right to conceal its aims from potential inductees. . .By any objective standard, the activities of Straight Inc. and its imitators run afoul of these criteria [Susan Andersen's Four Criteria for inferring cult-like deceptive practices]. While Straight may be among the worst offenders, it is far from alone.
From Treatment, Thought Reform, and the Road to Hell by Professor Barry L. Beyerstein, a leading Canadian researcher on opiates and brain functioning who operates a laboratory at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, Canada.
. . . we left there [Straight-St Pete], on the way back I said--we walked in the motel room and I remember saying,  "It's a cult.  There is something about this place,  this is a scary place."
Sworn court deposition of Patricia Crandall, a drug addiction specialist from Minnesota, on May 7, 1983 for the Fred Collins' trial.  Ms. Crandall had accompanied Sharon Wegscheider  to do an evaluation of Straight at Straight's request.  She is relating her comments at the time to Ms. Wegscheider. 
Because the children and young adult peer staff are turned loose with a high degree of authority, moderated by like-thinking executive staff, it felt to me, in another time and another country, that Hitler had fired their imagination and captured their thoughts. And that I, as a Jew, could be the target of more than their emotional fury with a snap of a finger of their guru. It felt like a cult and a deprogramming, not a confrontational program.
Sandy Levy Barbero, M.S.W. (today a LCSW) commenting on the Straight-legacy program Kids of Bergen County where she spent two and a half days in 1989.
Straight officials have generously allowed me to witness some of their group sessions firsthand . . . I believe that Straight's treatment can be fairly compared with 'brainwashing' in prisoner-of-war camps as documented by Brown (1963, chap. 2). Thus, procedures that would be reprehensible in any context outside of a prisoner-of-war camp are considered acceptable 'treatment' in the case of drug addiction.
Dr. Bruce K. Alexander of Simon Fraser University in Peaceful Measures: Canada's Way Out of the 'War on Drugs', p. 75 and referencing Techniques of Persuasion: From Propaganda to Brainwashing by J. A. C. Brown.
[Straight is a] "fascist dictatorship" with a long history of problems. They've got all the strong points and bad points of totalitarian groups. The idea that young children who may or may not be serious substance abusers can react positively to being harassed in minor ways, being deprived of street clothes, access to things they like, and the major ways in which people denigrate them in a totalitarian environment, the idea that people can be helped by that is contrary to everything we know about what benefits people psychologically. 
Stanton Peele, J.D., Ph.D. world renowned addiction specialist and author of over 30 books on addiction including the best seller Love and Addiction.  [The Atlanta Journal and Constitution, 04-03-1992, Newspapers & Newswires  p. E/01]

Straight conducts a program that practices psychological coercion and physical assault against children under the guise of drug and alcohol treatment. I believe there is reason to fear for the physical and mental safety of any child sent to the program.
Dr. Richard Ofshe, author and thought reform specialist at the University of California, Berkeley. Dr. Ofshe received the Pulitzer Prize for his book The Light on Synanon, an expose of the cult that started the Straight concept. He and Dr. Margaret Singer, Professor Emeritus of Psychology at Berkeley, were used as expert witnesses by Ohio officials to close Straight-Cincinnati.

[SAFE] fits my model of a destructive, mind-control cult.
Steve Hassan, MS, author and world renowned expert on cult thought control speaking about the Straight-legacy program SAFE. [On August 14, 1992 Straight - Orlando closed and Michael Scaletta, the executive director for Straight Orlando, opened SAFE, Inc. out of the same facility to treat Straight's former clients.]

SAFE is a very successful substance abuse recovery program and is a valuable tool in assisting our youth in overcoming their drug and alcohol dependency.
Jeb Bush, Governor of Florida. Straight co-founder Betty Sembler was Jeb's finance co-chairman. Besides promoting SAFE, Governor Bush declared August 8, 2000 Betty Sembler Day in Florida in part for her work work with the Straights.

Wellspring, the cult recovery center in Albany Illinois, has treated former clients from the SAFE.  William Goldberg, M.S.W., A.C.S.W., a licensed therapist in Tenafly New Jersey and a cult expert has treated several former clients from the second generation Straight named KIDS of North Jersey. He has written a study on KIDS in which he likens its methods to those of cult mind control. Rick Ross, like Steve Hassan another internationally known cult expert,  tracks the Straights on his web page.   The fall 2000 issue of CULTinfo, the journal of the Leo J. Ryan Foundation, published a three-page article on the$traights. is the world's most widely read cult information page on the internet. It too has covered the Straight story.  The old Cult Awareness Network (CAN) tracked Straight and its offshoot Kids of Bergen County. Carol Giambalvo, Director of Recovery Programs & Project Outreach for American Family Foundation (the major organization of professionals devoted to the study of destructive mind control cults) spoke on "Recovery from Cults" at The Second International Conference on Adolescent Treatment Abuse and Straight / Kids Reunion in 2002.

The Seed.  In 1974 the US Senate published a report that likened the methods of a juvenile drug rehab program in Florida to the brainwashing methods employed by North Koreans on captured American servicemen during the Korean War. After that publicity The Seed abandoned its expansion program effort. One of the Seed's expansion programs had been in Saint Petersburg, Florida. Melvin Sembler, US ambassador to Italy, and his wife Betty had a son in that Seed. They, along with some other Seed parents, incorporated Straight in the image of The Seed. Here now what professionals have said about the rock upon which Straight is built.

There are indications that a cult of The Seed has developed which leads seedlings to associate only with other seedlings and to ostracize those who associate with non-seedlings. This has led to the formation of continuing limited peer groups outside the program which restrict seedlings' interaction with normal society. Allegiance to such a peer group may lead to a transfer of decision-making and opens the possibility that if the peer group shifts direction it may return its members to drug abuse or turn them to other anti-social behavior.
1974 Report by the Staff of the House Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce. [Saint Petersburg Times, 4-26-74, p. 7B].  The Seed was the immediate program upon which Straight was built.

I know many returned Seedlings, there are many here at the High School. When they return, they are "straight", namely, quiet, well-dressed, short hair and not under the influence of drugs compared to their previous appearance of stoned most of the time. However, they seem to be living in a robot-like atmosphere, they won't speak to anyone outside their own group. . . I have noticed that it is almost necessary that the Seedlings be rehabilitated into social situations upon their return from The Seed. . . I attempted to visit The Seed in order to speak to them about how we could work with them and what we should do. I asked for help. I was treated rudely, two people who went with me, were denied permission to enter and were closely watched in a separate room. In addition to rude treatment, I was told that The Seed was not interested in helping us. The Seed counselor with whom I spoke, said, "We are not interested in educators or any of the people out there because they don't know anything. The world out there stinks, we will not come to school people."

Seedlings seem to have an informing system on each other and on others that is similar to Nazi Germany. They run in to use the telephone daily, to report against each other to The Seed. . . I used to take kids there. Now, I know that a number of the children are back on drugs and I am not sure whether the method in which they do return home and the difficulties they have in school, is an improvement over their previous condition of being on drugs.
Telephone statement of Helen Kloth, Guidance Counselor, North Miami Beach Senior High School to Paul T. Schabacker, Senior Health Planner, Individual Rights and the Federal Role in Behavior Modification, A Study Prepared by the Staff of the Subcommittee on Constitutional Rights of the Committee of the Judiciary of the United States Senate, November 1974, pp. 190 -191

It's a question of philosophy. What do you want for an end product? Do you want a robot, or someone who can think and act for himself. 
Thomas Perrin, a former alcoholism counselor talking about the Straight-legacy program Kids of Bergen County [Bergen Record, 7-27-86, p. A17]

I wasn't me anymore, I was them. I thought what they thought, I did what they wanted me to. I could feel a sense of brainwashing. 
Twenty-two-year-old Lenny in 1986 describing how he felt after leaving the Straight legacy program Kids of Bergen County in 1984. [Bergen Record, 7-27-86, p. A17]
The Seed was funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse which was directed by Drug Czar Robert DuPont who later became a paid consultant for Straight, Inc. Dr. Donald Ian Macdonald, Straight's national clinical director, became White House Drug Czar.  In the first 18 months of operation a half dozen directors left Straight. Board member Theodore Anderson had this to say about Straight upon leaving, It has many of the poor points of The Seed and few of the good points. If I had to recommend one I�d recommend The Seed.

What is meant by backbiting, or criticizing behind one�s back? . . . Some comrades have something to say about other comrades, but they never speak out openly. They always talk behind one's back . . . then this can be called criticizing behind one�s back, which is prohibited by the Party.
From a captured Communist Chinese document in Brainwashing in Red China, the Calculated Destruction of Men�s Minds by Edward Hunter, p. 193. (Edward Hunter invented the term "brainwashing" in the cited book. One effective way Straight controls its members is by forbidding them from talking about what happens in the program. It is called No Talking Behind Backs. On page 61 of Dr. Miller Newton's (Straight's former national clinical director) PhD thesis on Straight he lists the Fourth Handout to the New Parent's Raps, Rule 4: No talking behind anyone's back, staff, families, or clients, by name or inference, neither positive, negative, nor neutral comments. He lists Rule 17: Parents should leave promptly after Open Meetings and raps. No parking-lot gossip.)�

Brainwashing in Communist China. Brainwashing is about humiliation, self criticism and confession. It is an educational process whereby a student spends 2 - 6 years in a prison inventing and perfecting upon a trumped-up confession with an interim goal that he actually comes to believe his invented confession and is filled with an overpowering sense of guilt and shame. In the early part of the 20th century a Russian physiologist named Ivan Petrovich Pavlov discovered that dogs, in a weakened physical and psychological state--whether through naturally occurring disease or by laboratory design--could be conditioned to give new responses to stimuli at a quicker rate than healthy dogs. Almost any college sophomore knows of Pavlov's famous experiment where a dog can be conditioned to salivate just by ringing a bell. Less known  is a Soviet medical film of the late 1920s showing a young man strapped to a table with a tube in his mouth connected to a test tube. When a bell is rung you can see saliva dripping uncontrollably from the man's mouth into the test tube! Pavlov's research, combined with early Catholic torture mechanisms for eliciting forced confessions during the Spanish Inquisition, are the basis for what Soviet Communists developed into the science of "thought reform", more commonly known today as "brainwashing."    Brainwashing was developed in Soviet Russia in order to get people to self incriminate themselves so that Joseph Stalin could have any possible opposition to his power liquidated.  The Communist Chinese take it a step further.  They actually intend to get masses of people to change their thoughts.  The Chinese added the concept of the Peer Group where a "thought reform" student shares his prison cell with seven other inmates--his Peer Group. Surprisingly, it is his fellow inmates, and not his captors, who  brutally confront him verbally, constantly yelling and screaming indictments at him,  impeaching him to  "confess all", exhorting him on, depriving him of sleep. The Chinese call the process struggling. The idea of the Peer Group is that no one gets released from "thought reform school" until everyone does what is required. And 'what is required' is that the student actually comes to believe his trumped-up confession. If the newcomer student is to ever get out, he must join the Peer Group himself and help other newcomers in their recovery. In other words the students themselves participate in their own recovery or "thought reform."   Synanon Church extended the peer group to a twelve man confrontational session and called their struggling The Game or a synanon with a small "s".    Synanons are based on Chinese-style struggles  and  drug rehabilitation programs which employ struggles or synanons are commonly known today as therapeutic communities.

When we come to Florida, we don't want to have anything to do with treatment. That's our permanent home down there in Madeira Beach. That's where our sailboat is. That's where we go to get some rest from the struggles of treatment.
Straights's former national clinical director Father Doctor V. Miller Newton, Saint Petersburg Times, June 7, 1998, p. 9



Brainwashing employed at Straight.    If you pay them well,  professional cult apologists will argue in court for you that you can't really brainwash a person.  You can't actually take a person's brain out and wash it.  Ha!  Ha!   That the United States Marine Corps has been rebuilding men for years and we are impressed with that.  Put your self  in the shoes of a newage church guru.  You have followers and you want something from them.  Sex,  money, control--whatever.   Most everyone,  especially those without training in psychology or psychiatry,  has some belief that the Communist Chinese have been able to "brainwash" people into obeying their commands--whatever that means.  It really doesn't matter if you can force a person to do something against his will,  but it does matter that you think you might be able to.  That it might be dangerous to employ thought control.   That thought control is demoralizing,  cruel and inhumane.   You don't have to understand why or how,  only that the Chinese have seriously tried it.    Brainwashing employed at Straight is well documented at [b].   Some person or persons read published accounts from the 1950s and 1960s of former inmates of Communist Chinese "thought reform" schools. Since the Communist thought they  could refit people into believing that capitalism and democracy are bad, and Communism is good, so Straight's planners wondered whether they could capitalize the process using it to convince drug abusing kids that using drugs is bad, while not using drugs and  keeping one's hair short is good. Now actually this sounds like a pretty good thing to do. Straight's businessmen use synanons and struggles in an attempt break kids of drug usage, eating disorders, disciplinary problems and emotional problems (or if they don't have these problems, then to convince them they do so they  can be cured).   Since no medical degree is required to run a synanon-based rehabilitation program, Straight's planners simply read accounts from former Chinese "thought reform students" and applied what was done to them to Straight's own young clients. Thus Straight developed the concept of the large Peer Group which yells at, criticizes, mocks, and teases newcomers, constantly exhorting them to "get honest" to "tell all". If the newcomer ever hopes to leave Straight he must learn to criticize himself before Group, confess everything, and eventually join Group consciousness and help others in their own struggle. Straight's planners learned that these Chinese "thought reform" students had been beaten and painfully restrained, so Straight beats and painfully restrains its young clients, sometimes restraining them in their own urine. (Note that Straight and beauty parlors have clients and not patients who are persons treated in medical facilities.) The planners learned that the Communist spit in a student's face, so Straight personnel spit into the faces of its clients who are not allowed to wipe the spit off.[c] From the Chinese they learned that the kids must be made to urinate and defecate in their pants, and that girls on their periods should not be allowed to wear protective padding so that they sit in pools of their own blood. They learned that thought reform students are denied proper medical treatment, so Straight kids are often denied proper medical treatment. They learned that thought reform students are deprived of sleep, so Straight kids are deprived of sleep.[d] They learned that thought reform students are starved, so Straight limited food that its clients were served. One ingenious method Straight implemented to starve its clients is by using peanut butter choker sandwiches. The kid is served nothing but a thick peanut butter sandwich with water for breakfast, diner and supper for 30 days. Ultimately he will gag at the thought of another peanut butter sandwich and refuse to eat. In this manner Straight starves children in such a way that if his parents later sue (or if criminal charges are later filed) program officials will claim the child has was never denied a nutritious meal--he just refused to eat![e] So the situation created is one of kids sitting in Straight-back chairs 12 hours a day, 5 � days a week, tired, hungry, sleepy, squirming to go to the bathroom, perhaps physically sick, being beaten or restrained without cause, and all the while the Peer Group of 200 kids yelling and screaming at them, exhorting them to "get honest". The treatment lasts at least two years.

Massachusetts officials cited Straight for requiring kids with fevers of less than 102 degrees and other flu-like symptoms, including vomiting, to participate in regular daily activities. Laura Faehner of Olney, Md. reports a time when a bug was going around Straight-DC and she and four other girls were given a common bucket to vomit in. [Howard County Sun (Maryland), 8-7-91. p2.] In 1989 there was a severe outbreak of impetigo, a horrible looking skin disease, at Straight-DC due to kids spitting on other kids and not letting them wipe the spit off. Client 90012 says a Straight nurse gave him Vaseline to put on his open sores, but did not let him see a doctor. In Nov 1982 there was an outbreak of Chicken Pox at Straight-St Pete. Chicken Pox can lead to pneumonia, encephalitis, and perhaps, to the lethal disease Reye's Syndrome. Dr. Avery Stiglitz, Straight's pediatrician, recommended that Straight keep kids who had not had the pox away from the program until the epidemic was over, but he told reporters he did not know if this had been done. [SPT 12-4-82, p. 3B]   Mark Tolbert testified in court that on or about 3-26-90, after his arm had been broken during a restraint at Straight-DC, the Straight nurse applied a pillow sprint, ace bandage and ice, advised him to keep his arm elevated, and sent him back to Group. Straight's peanut butter diets can tear down one's immune system. Straight's practice of sharing razor blades can lead to blood diseases such as hepatitis and Aids. The sharing of toothbrushes and 30 second showers are unhealthy, as is the Straight practice of 2 sheets of toilet paper to wipe one's self. A lack of sunshine can cause disease, yet some kids in these programs have been denied a walk out in the sun for 2 - 3 years!

[b]  Straight brainwashing and deprivations are well documented in many sources including: The Great Drug War by Arnold Trebach, Ph.D., pp. 19, 25-63, 71, 122, 143, 145, 146, 183, 184, 228. Professor Trebach, 202-537-5005, is well acquainted with Straight's abuses. Thought Reform Tactics: The Road to Hell is Paved with Good Intentions, in Strategies for Change, 1992, by Drug Policy Fdn, p. 249 by Professor Barry Beyerstein. Peaceful Measures: Canada's Way Out of the 'War on Drugs', pp. 74-75 by Bruce K. Alexander. Professor Alexander visited Straight and has written that Straight brainwashes children. Smoke and Mirrors, pp. 157-160, 198, 232, 283-284, by Dan Baum. Drug Warriors and their Prey, 1996, pp. 178-181, by Richard L. Miller. Former Straight clinical staff member Richard Bradbury has firsthand knowledge of Straight's excesses. Janet Kennedy, Ph.D. has data on Straight's abuses. Noted cult experts sociologist Richard Ofshe, Ph.D. and psychologist Margaret Thayer Singer, Ph.D., both at the U. of California at Berkeley, are knowledgeable of Straight's excesses, both having been called by the state of Ohio as expert witnesses in the closing of Straight-Cincinnati. Former client Terrae L. of Maryland reported to the author claims about forcing young girls to sit in their menstrual blood.

[c] Straight calls it close proximity therapy, the kids call it spit therapy. Old comers practice using words beginning with "S" or "F" and intentionally spit big globs of mucus into another's face.

[d] Recall that Pavlov found that dogs weakened by disease were more susceptible to conditioning than healthy dogs. Then anthropologist and Straight's national clinical director Dr. Miller Newton, today a neuropsychologist and director of KIDS, testified during deposition at the Fred Collins' trial that "it's not medically harmful" to deprive people of sleep. He spoke of Marathon sessions where kids might get 10 hours sleep in a 48 hour period--though it is known he  sentenced Leigh Bright to 80 hours without any sleep whatsoever. In 1996 Stanley Coren, a neuropsychologist at the University of British Columbia, published  the book Sleep Thieves, in which he writes, "the effects of long periods with too little sleep show up in a myriad of ways, ranging from harming a person's ability to function well at everyday tasks to making a person susceptible to disease because of harm to a person's immune system." In an article by UCLA  psychiatrist Dr. Louis J. West in the Cult Awareness Network News (2/94), Dr. West stated that "sleep deprivation can cause severe physical and psychological problems."

[e] Straight-Atlanta paid former client Susan White $37,000 in an out-of-court settlement. Ms. White claimed she was put on a diet of peanut butter and water for 29 days because she would not admit to having a drug problem she did not have.

In Phase II, the re-education phase, the Communist student is instructed in dialectic materialism, struggles of the masses, and other Communist doctrines. That is, once old alliances, old attitudes, old thoughts have been "washed out" of one's brain, new attitudes and ideas are implanted. In Straight, once the body and mind have been worn down, the child attends Stash Raps where he is shown druggie paraphernalia like marijuana pipes, black tee shirts with Led Zeppelin on it, jeans with holes in them, and pictures of boys with long hair. Straight newcomers shake and shudder at the sight of these images from the past. The Chinese call the process re-education; Straight's Newtonians call it re-acculturation.

Straight parents are often led to believe that the treatment will last a couple of months, but find their child, and often their other children, in treatment two years later! While the parent is denied any private contact with their child, he attends weekly synanon forums where he sings childish songs like Row Row Row Your Boat, where he is hugged by fellow parents, where he is asked for more money, and where he is alternately ridiculed and praised by his fellows and where he publicly engages in self criticism. Quarterly, parents attend a weekend-long synanon called Parents Weekend where they are submitted to tremendous psychological pressures, including group hypnosis, to conform and made to feel they are part of an exclusive group set out to save America's children from addiction. The parent is constantly reminded that her child has a life threatening disease and will die without the program, and so a parent is easily convinced that is perfectly normal not to communicate with her child. She also learns that addiction is a family disease and she learns what is wrong with her--the parent. The child loses all contact with people from her previous life. For those few who go on to graduate, many of them become program counselors. In effect, they never leave the program, and that, by definition, is a cult.��

Parents must ask for permission to travel out-of-town for work or even to attend a funeral. Since parents have program kids in their homes in the evening, any guests including preachers, must be approved by the program. Since all of the parent's free time is completely consumed by the program from housing kids, to taking them to the doctor, attending synanons on Monday and Friday nights, participating in program fund raising events, and attending recruitment events for the program such as PTA meetings, the program becomes a cult for the entire family. The parents have program kids called phasors in their homes who report on the parents activities to the program officials. However, except for Parent Weekend when parents are forbidden from having carnal knowledge of each other, parents can be alone in their own bedroom. Sometimes one parent comes to realize that he or she is in a cult. When the other does not, this can lead to divorce. When a parent realizes he is in a cult, but the child (who has undergone much more intense indoctrination) has turned 18 while in the program, the parent may find it impossible to extract the child who is now a legal adult and is now convinced he is a drug addict and will die without the program.

Straight parents hear kids screaming at other kids across the partition and they smile for they know their unruly, disobedient kid is being taught respect for authority. That their former long-haired, Led Zeppelin T-shirt wearing, druggie kid is being broken down to be rebuilt as a drug-free, respected member of society. They compare this to Marine Corps style character building. Cult apologists and paid court experts who defend cults in suits for outrageous behavior have two favorite arguments in their arsenal.

  1. They point to the Mormon Church. A hundred years ago, they say, everyone looked at it as being a cult, but now, they say, Mormons are accepted as one of the fastest growing, most respected of modern religions.
  2. They point to the United States Marine Corps. They point out that Marine boots suffer harsh living conditions. They are deprived and insulted, and are brutally confronted by drill instructors. Marines tear a person down, they say, and builds him back up in the Marine image.

The Marine Corps Analogy It is true that like Marines, Straight kids go in with long hair, wearing black Led Zeppelin T-shirts, and come out with short-cropped hairdos, wearing collared sport shirts or dress shirts. But the difference stops there. In their book Cults in Our Midst Dr. Margaret Thaler Singer and Janja Lalich address the Marine Corps argument. They give a table on pages 100 - 101 listing 19 differences between the United States Marine Corps and cults. Follows is Wesley Fager's own table comparing Marine recruits (boots) to Straight students:�

Marines Straight, Inc.
United States Marines are taught to stand up for one another and to have pride in their unit.  They trust one another.  Straight kids attack one another and rat on one another for the slightest rule infraction for fear of being attacked themselves for failure to turn a fellow in. As in the old Soviet Army,  no one trusts anyone.
Marine boots are treated badly by a trained drill instructor. Boots do not routinely participate in training other boots.   Straight kids are treated badly by the clinical staff,  many of whom are high school dropouts with their only training being that they are Straight graduates.  Fellow boots attack one another as they participate in their own clinical processes. .
Marines are taught to be intrepid. Straight phasors are expected to cower as they let their classmates spit in their faces.
Marines are broken down and taught to follow orders, be intrepid under fire and to be respectful to others. Straightlings are broken down and forced or cajoled into confessing to real or made up early childhood sexual experiences--including sex with an animal, parent or another of the same sex. They are publicly ostracized and humiliated by their group of peers for what they have admitted to. They are left psychologically broken down and scared for life.
Marines are constantly out of doors, in the sunshine.  Playing sports is mandatory. Straight kids often complain of not seeing the sun for months.  They are not allowed to play sports.
Marine boots are well fed and required to build their bodies up. Straightlings are often denied food and boots are forbidden from building their bodies lest they fight back against their captors..
Despite the stereotyping,  Marines are taught skills often beyond combat such as electronics.  Marines are encouraged to attend universities.   Straight boots do not attend school and there is little time for homework for upper phasors.  Lagging far behind their peers is a major reason for depression in Straight graduates and cop-outs.  
It is assumed that most Marine boots graduate. No one knows Straight's actual attrition rate, but the author estimates (based on his personal observation)  that only about 1 in 5 ever graduate Straight. 
Marines can receive mail and write or call home.  They are allowed leave in the death of a close relative or friend. Straightlings may neither send or receive mail,  or even call home.  They can attend the funeral of a sibling or parent only,  and then only if escorted by an old comer.
Marines are allowed to go to the library and chapel. Straight kids are allowed to read nothing including the back off a cereal box, a roadside sign,  or even a Bible. They can not even be visited by a priest or rabbi unless he is cleared by Straight.
Marines are allowed to listen to news on TV. Straight kids are not allowed to watch TV.
A Marine boot's parent can do any thing he wants. Straight parents are ostracized for drinking alcohol.  They may not take a business trip or attend a funeral out-of-town without Straight's permission.
Marines are taught to stand on their own two feet, to make it in life.   Straightlings are taught they will die without Straight.
Marines do not concentrate on body eliminations. There are reports of Straight kids being restrained in vomit, excrement, and urine. 
Marines do not motivate or flap their arms in order to be called upon. Straight kids motivate.
Marines are allowed to wipe themselves in privacy after defecating.   Straight kids must be watched for fear they will commit suicide.
Marines use all the toilet paper they need to wipe themselves after defecating. Some Straight kids under consequences are given like 5 sheets of toilet paper to wipe themselves.
Marines are allowed to use the bathroom. Some Straight kids soil their underwear because they are not allowed to use the bathroom.
Marines wallow through the rain and mud but finally come in and shower and put on clean underwear. Straight kids often go for days in the same underwear.
Marine DI's get in a boot's face and yells and screams and probably (and inevitably) sometimes spit may come out. He is not allowed to just out-and-out spit in another's face like the Red Chinese do in thought reform schools. That would be assault -- a criminal offense -- and no one's pride would let him remain in an organization like that. Everybody would quit. Higher phasors spit in the face of Straight boots. The boot is not always allowed to wipe off the spit for sometime.
Marines go to boot camp for a fixed time period.  Straight kids are often told they are there for a 14 day evaluation and are still there a year later. 
Sick and injured Marines get proper medical and dental attention. Medical attention is often predicated on whether the doctor being seen is trusted.
When Marine boots get sick they go alone to see a doctor. When a Straight kid gets sick he is accompanied to the doctor (if he's allowed to see a doctor) by an oldcomer informant who ensures the child does not tell of the abuse.
Marines are paid.  Straight parents pay dearly in their time and from their pocketbooks.  Straight parents are told mental hospitals cost  $36,000 for 30 days and that Straight is only a fraction of that.  What they don't say is that with  medical insurance your out-of-pocket expense at a mental hospital would be like $3,600.  Your out-of-pocket Straight cost will be $8,000 to $20,000.
Marines are allowed to date,  and to joke one another about persons of the opposite sex. Straight kids may not date--even after they graduate.  They must report on themselves for having thoughts about persons of the opposite (or same) sex,  or for masturbating.  If a female passes by,  male clients must drop their eyes.  They must reveal to GROUP all aspects of the sexual past. 
Female Marines make themselves attractive by wearing makeup and staying fit.  They are allowed to wear sanitary napkins.   Female Straight students wear no makeup.  There are cases of little girls on their periods sitting in pools of blood.
Barrack doors and windows are left open in case of fire. Depending on the time period, windows are often nailed shut and doors are deadbolt locked preventing escape from the inside.
Marines can shave with anything they chose. Straight kids must use plastic razors.  Furthermore, there are cases of them sharing razors and even tooth brushes.
Marines are issued carbines and bullets. Steak knives are hidden from Straight students.
Marines who graduate boot camp are filled with pride and with a sense of esprit de corps.  They may not be sent back to boot camp.   One leaves Straight labeled a drug addict -- even though he may not be a drug addict.  He is behind in his school work and his friends have passed him in school.  While a Marine knows that after leaving boot camp he can get married,  a Straight graduate lives under the constant fear of being sent back to Phase 1 for being familiar with someone of the opposite sex. 
The parents of Marine recruits are not made to attend raps and to report on one another. Straight parents must attend raps and report on one another.
The parents of Marine boots are not required to attend formal classes to understand the child's problems. They are not instructed on what they can say when they are finally allowed to talk to their child. Parents of Marine boots have unfettered talk with their kids. Straight parents must attend training sessions. They are instructed on what they are allowed to say when their child earns TALK. An informer is always present when they talk to their child.
I assume that few Marines take their own life. A remarkably high percentage of Straight students kill themselves.
Marines are not required to sit in raps and publicly discuss masturbation and homosexuality. They are not forced or cajoled into signing statements about their sex life. They are not forced to write daily diary entries about their inner most thoughts which are subject to being read by boots further along in their stay at Paris Island. Straight kids have raps where they are forced to talk about masturbation and homosexuality. They are forced or cajoled into signing statements about their sex life. They keep diary entries called Moral Inventories that can be read by old comers.
Marines, like people in the population at large, do not confess to one another when they masturbate. One kid told me that he was in rap and raised 5 fingers meaning that he needed to talk to a Fifth Phasor (another kid further along in his training). A fifth phaser (who may or may not have been younger than himself) came by. The kid whispered that he had masturbated last night. The 5th Phasor hugged him and told him that his honesty would keep him sober one more day.
A Marine recruit may voluntarily drop out of the program at any time. Straight is a prison with guards.  You can not leave.
Marines have a saying--once a Marine, always a Marine. There is a brotherhood amongst Marines their entire life. Former Straight graduates are renouncing their graduate status in droves. See link.

[See Mel Sembler with the Marines. Here's an interesting photo. On December 11, 2001 a ceremony was held at the American Embassy in Italy to commemorate September 11.��The US Ambassador to Italy, Mel Sembler, and his wife Betty (both are Straight founders) were joined at the ceremony by Mr. Marcello Pera, President of the Italian Senate. Click here to see Ambassordor2 Sembler's Marine Corps Color Guard and Italian Arma dei Carabinieri Color Guard at that event.]

The Mormon Analogy. This article is about the Marine Corps analogy and we will not get into the Mormon Analogy here.

(See mirrored article here.)

In the early 1950s accounts started coming out of Red China about a remarkable discovery to change men's minds. It was quickly called brainwashing in the West, though one prominent psychiatrist suggested "mendicide" or "death of the mind" as a more appropriate title. After careful scientific analysis it was finally dubbed "thought reform" by the Western medical establishment. What the Chinese had devised are "re-education" schools which they call Seventh of May Academies. In reality they are prisons for political prisoners which they call "students". Academy students are deprived of food and sleep, of toilet facilities and baths, of medicine. Their hands are chained behind their backs so they have to eat their meager rations and lap water out of a bowl like an animal. They defecate like a dog or cat without being able to wipe themselves. People spit in their faces and they are beaten, scolded, and incessantly urged to "tell all" in a process called "struggling". The students live under constant fear that they may be executed at any time. 

As the Chinese thought reform student is being systematically humiliated, he is made to invent a trumped-up confession and then to spend the next three years of his life re-writing it, perfecting it, rehearsing it, and defending it, until, it is felt, he actually comes to believe his own made-up story! Once it is deemed the student is sufficiently confused about his own confession, he starts taking classes to learn Communist doctrines [re-education]. Psychologically the student becomes depressed over his present milieu and overloaded with deep feelings of guilt and shame for what he has admitted to, including confessions to turn in his friends and family members for real or dreamed-up crimes. For years he is afforded no exercise, diversions, or free time for relaxation or contemplation to think things out because he spends his three years in a small cell with eight other inmates. No one graduates unless everyone does what is asked. And what is asked is that they all come to truly believe their confession. There is a nightly court where a judge questions the student about his confession and tries to trip him up, and where guards might beat him, but it is his fellow cellmates who wake him through the day and night depriving him of sleep. It is his fellow prisoners who constantly urge him to "tell all" and who spit in his face. There is no trust. Everybody rats on everybody else in order to save himself.�

Many newage (one word rendition of "New Age", rhymes with sewage) cult leaders have read these accounts of brainwashing (just as this author has) and some have attempted to use some of these techniques on members of their own organizations. Cult apologists, citing findings in Lifton's own work, argue that you can't really cleanse someone's mind. Whether brainwashing truly works or not, I'll leave that to the cult apologists to convince a judge. But I will tell you there is no denying that brainwashing is cruel, physically and psychologically damaging, and can lead to death by suicide from humiliation and depression. And, I can also tell you that, many cult leaders use it because they think it works, or at least they don't know of any better way to exert total control over their subordinates. Some cults, claiming they can make sane men saner and smart men smarter, have been accused of using thought control in their program. This is the so-called "human potential movement."��

The newage cults are not the only westerners who have shown interest in Chinese Communist thought reform. The United States government is another. In the 1960s the CIA started experimenting with thought reform and in the use of mind altering drugs to control one's thoughts as possible ways to combat brainwashing, and also as a way to try to persuade enemy agents into becoming double agents for the United States. The U.S. prison system is another government agency which has investigated brainwashing. Their interest is in a way to rehabilitate prisoners. Incredibly, in 1962 Dr. Edgar H. Schein, associate professor of psychiatry at M.I.T., addressing the topic "Man Against Man: Brainwashing" at a seminar for prison wardens and psychologists chaired by James V. Bennett, the then director of the U.S. Bureau of Prisons, told his audience,
'My basic argument is this: in order to produce marked change of behavior and/or attitude, it is necessary to weaken, undermine, or remove the supports of the old patterns of behavior and the old attitudes'; this can be done 'either by removing the individual physically and preventing any communication with those whom he cares about, or by proving to him that those whom he respects are not worthy of it and, indeed, should be actively mistrusted.' Dr. Schein told his audience that he had gotten most of his ideas by studying the techniques used by North Korean and Chinese Communist on GI prisoners of war, but cautioned his audience not to be put off by this fact: 'These same techniques in the service of different goals may be quite acceptable to us. . . I would like to have you think of brainwashing not in terms of politics, ethics, and morals, but in terms of the deliberate changing of human behavior and attitudes by a group of men who have relatively complete control over the environment in which the captive population lives.'  [Corrective Psychiatry & Journal of Social Change, Second Quarter, 1962.]�

Thus were experimental "brainwashing" programs begun in the late 1960s and early 1970s in the Marion, Springfield, and Butner federal prisons.

Thought reform is not the only tool in the arsenal of government agencies and mind control cults. Some newage ideas are coming right out of professional western psychology. Primal Scream, for one, where the patient lays on the floor in his therapists' office and screams to the top of his lungs. Another is rebirthing where a person is wrapped in a blanket and slowly emerges reliving the birthing experience. Two counselors are in prison in Colorado today for rebirthing a defiant little girl named Megan. She did not come out of her the blanket alive. Aversion therapy is another popular tool for behavioral modification. One father, fearing his teenage son was gay, sent him to a program that placed an erection detector on the child's penis. The child was shown pictures of nude males and if the detector sensed movement in the young boy's genitals, he was given an electric shock. The boy committed suicide.

In 1958 in California a recovering alcoholic named Chuck Dederich formed a foundation to treat heroin addicts which he called Synanon. The heart of Synanon was a brutal, verbal peer group confrontation called the Game (or "synanon") where addicts shouted indictments at one another. That is, addicts aided in their own recovery. Synanon was no more effective than anyone else but some slick marketing strategies plus national exposure in a book by New York psychiatrist Daniel Casriel and spreads in Look, Life and Ebony magazines made the Synanon Game a new standard of addiction treatment. Programs like Phoenix House and Daytop are based on synanons.�

A remarkable series of events converged on the month of June 1970� which has forever affected the way the world has come to look at addiction treatment. Woodstock had just occurred and shown us that middle class whites were using drugs. And Charles Manson and Green Beret Captain Jeffery MacDonald had scared us into believing that drugs make middle class kids want to kill. Through the winter of 1970 the nations' newspapers and magazines were forecasting a heroine epidemic amongst middle class American teenagers which would begin in June of 1970. All sorts of drug treatment programs started springing up all over the place. Charles Manson's trial began in June and the month before, in May, Narconon, the drug rehabilitation program affiliated with the Church of Scientology, was incorporated on the west coast. But many of the new treatment programs were Synanon-based therapeutic communities like Elan (if you've been keeping up with the Michael Skakel / Martha Moxley murder trial). Another was The Seed which opened for business in June 1970 on the east coast in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.�

The Seed was a synanon for kids-only. It was unusual in that as a start-up, experimental program founded by a high school graduate and recovering alcoholic, it got a grant for $1 million from the federal government's National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). The CIA had experimented with LSD on prisoners at the federal lock-up hospital in Lexington, Kentucky, and the National Institute of Health (NIDA's parent) had even setup an experimental synanon at Lexington which it called MATRIX. This has made more than one conspiracy theorist to wonder whether The Seed was some sort of CIA-backed mind control experiment to turn long-hair, pot smoking American teenagers into mindful and obedient, clean-cut kids with button-down, collared shirts who would fight our wars and vote for Richard Nixon's Republican Party. The theory gets even more intriguing when, in 1974, the U.S. Senate published a report which likened The Seeds methods to the brainwashing techniques employed by the North Koreans against American servicemen during the Korean War. The Senate report was a principal reason for The Seed to stop its expansion programs. But out of the ashes of one of those Seed expansion programs, some former Seed parents including Mel and Betty Sembler, opened their own Seed-like program which they called Straight, Inc. which grew to become the largest chain of juvenile drug rehabilitation programs in the world. It was so successful , in large part, because the man who administered the contract to The Seed, the director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, was psychiatrist and White House Drug Czar Robert L. DuPont, Jr. who left government service and became a paid consultant for Straight! Many Straight descendent programs continue to operate around the country and Straight Foundation (now calling itself Drug Free America Foundation) continues to operate as a think tank for American and international drug policy.�

The juvenile heroine epidemic never did materialize in June 1970 but a plethora of treatment programs to combat it did. Now thanks especially to synanons any businessman can open up a lucrative drug rehab program for teens. Today there are all kinds of specialty schools for defiant, middle class teenagers and rich kids (and some wards of the state). They are variously called wilderness programs, boot camps, emotional growth schools, achievement camps, religious boarding schools, and synanon-based therapeutic communities. Kids are treated for drug addiction, sexual orientation, eating disorders, low academic performance, or for just plain being defiant. And the programs are not cheap either, some costing as much as $60,000 a year. Accusations of abuse have been leveled at some of these programs and there have been some deaths. Many of these specialty schools employ aspects of behavior modification including elements of Communist Chinese brainwashing, and some develop novel ways to effect these techniques to avoid criminal prosecutions. Instead of using chains to restrain ( which, criminally, is bondage) they pick fights with clients and then have 4 or 5 of his fellow clients painfully restrain him. In Straight food deprivation is achieved by giving a kid food!--plain peanut butter sandwiches for breakfast, for lunch and for supper, no jelly, just big globs of peanut butter, for up to 30 days until the child is sickened at the thought of another peanut butter sandwich.�

Like so many involved in the human potential movement, many kids in newage rehabilitation programs are tricked or forced to tell their deepest darkest secret (confession) as a primary step towards recovery, often citing AA ("admitted to God, myself, and another human being") as the reason. This extorted information may then be used against the confessor, relentlessly. Many of these programs use the Chinese peer group concept--no one gets out unless everyone complies. In the Straight cult inmates actually spit in one another's faces just like their counter parts in Chinese Seventh of May Academies. In many of these programs kids are allowed no unmonitored contact with their own parents until they earn that privilege. In many of these programs kids are not allowed to discuss what happens in the program. In order to control parents, parents are often subjected to some form of a control program of their own where they will typically attend parent meetings in the evening or attend a weekend seminar from time-to-time.
It would �be another decade after June 1970 before the established psychiatric hospitals would catch on to the the lucrative market of teenage drug addiction; that's another story altogether. But the message about any program which treats teens is this. If a child can be sexually molested in a Catholic Church, can he not be sexually molested in a treatment program for teens--or physically assaulted or psychologically abused? How can a parent consent to place a child in any program where he can not contact that child at reasonably specified time periods? How can a parent consent to not ask his child what happens in this program?��And how can a well-meaning judge sentence a teenager to such a place or even recommend such a place? Look, everybody knows there are kids with problems who need help, and there are many fine programs available which are genuinely concerned with helping kids in trouble. But judges need to realize that all of these places, like private prisons, are, after all, businesses. A warden in a publicly operated prison has incentive to get a prisoner rehabilitated and back to society at large as a productive citizen. In a privately owned prison, the longer a prisoner stays, the more money the warden and guards make. Is this not an inducement for prison wardens and guards to pick fights with prisoners to stop early paroles? And while we are on private prisons, the conspiracy theorists among us ask why George H. W. Bush, former director of the CIA, is so interested in Straight which is a private prison. And why is Wackenhut, the nation's second largest operator of private prisons, so filled with former CIA men? Why is George H. W. Bush so close to Straight founders Mel Sembler and Joe Zappala, two Floridian construction moguls.? And why is a Florida-based private prison operations company running private prisons in Texas?�