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.
its setting thought reform consists of two basic elements:
the exposure and renunciation of past and present
the re-making of a man in the Communist image.
Thought Reform and the Psychology of
Totalism: A Study of "Brainwashing"
(p. 5 of 1998 printing)
by Dr. Robert J. Lifton
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.
"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.
Phase is the period immediately after a child enters
the program . . . .involves developing honesty
about one's past as a "druggie".
therapeutic modality can best be described as
Therapy. . . The basic instrument of this
re-entry or re-acculturation is the large group
. . .
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
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.
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.
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,
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.
. 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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
fits my model of a destructive, mind-control cult.
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
is a very successful substance abuse recovery program and is
a valuable tool in assisting our youth in overcoming their drug
and alcohol dependency.
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.
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
The fall 2000 issue of CULTinfo, the journal of the Leo J. Ryan
Foundation, published a three-page article on the$traights. FACTnet.org
is the world's most widely read cult information page on the internet.
It too has covered the Straight story. The old Cult Awareness
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
a former alcoholism counselor talking about the Straight-legacy
program Kids of Bergen County
[Bergen Record, 7-27-86, p. A17]
me anymore, I was them. I thought what they thought, I did what
they wanted me to. I could feel a sense of brainwashing.
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.
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]
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.
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.)�
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.
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.
former national clinical director Father Doctor V. Miller
Newton, Saint Petersburg Times, June 7, 1998, p. 9
employed at Straight.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.��
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.
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
- 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.
- 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
States Marines are taught to stand up for one another and to
have pride in their unit. They trust one another.
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.
boots are treated badly by a trained drill instructor. Boots
do not routinely participate in training other boots.
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.
are taught to be intrepid.
phasors are expected to cower as they let their classmates spit
in their faces.
are broken down and taught to follow orders, be intrepid under
fire and to be respectful to others.
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.
are constantly out of doors, in the sunshine. Playing
sports is mandatory.
kids often complain of not seeing the sun for months.
They are not allowed to play sports.
boots are well fed and required to build their bodies up.
are often denied food and boots are forbidden from building
their bodies lest they fight back against their captors..
the stereotyping, Marines are taught skills often beyond
combat such as electronics. Marines are encouraged to
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.
is assumed that most Marine boots graduate.
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.
can receive mail and write or call home. They are allowed
leave in the death of a close relative or friend.
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.
are allowed to go to the library and chapel.
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
are allowed to listen to news on TV.
kids are not allowed to watch TV.
Marine boot's parent can do any thing he wants.
parents are ostracized for drinking alcohol. They may
not take a business trip or attend a funeral out-of-town without
are taught to stand on their own two feet, to make it in life.
are taught they will die without Straight.
do not concentrate on body eliminations.
are reports of Straight kids being restrained in vomit, excrement,
do not motivate
or flap their arms in order to be called upon.
are allowed to wipe themselves in privacy after defecating.
kids must be watched for fear they will commit suicide.
use all the toilet paper they need to wipe themselves after
Straight kids under consequences are given like 5 sheets of
toilet paper to wipe themselves.
are allowed to use the bathroom.
Straight kids soil their underwear because they are not allowed
to use the bathroom.
wallow through the rain and mud but finally come in and shower
and put on clean underwear.
kids often go for days in the same underwear.
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.
phasors spit in the face of Straight boots. The boot is not
always allowed to wipe off the spit for sometime.
go to boot camp for a fixed time period.
kids are often told they are there for a 14 day evaluation and
are still there a year later.
and injured Marines get proper medical and dental attention.
attention is often predicated on whether the doctor being seen
Marine boots get sick they go alone to see a doctor.
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.
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.
are allowed to date, and to joke one another about persons
of the opposite sex.
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.
Marines make themselves attractive by wearing makeup and staying
fit. They are allowed to wear sanitary napkins.
Straight students wear no makeup. There are cases of little
girls on their periods sitting in pools of blood.
doors and windows are left open in case of fire.
on the time period, windows are often nailed shut and doors
are deadbolt locked preventing escape from the inside.
can shave with anything they chose.
kids must use plastic razors. Furthermore, there are cases
of them sharing razors and even tooth brushes.
are issued carbines and bullets.
knives are hidden from Straight students.
who graduate boot camp are filled with pride and with a sense
of esprit de corps. They may not be sent back to boot
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
parents of Marine recruits are not made to attend raps and to
report on one another.
parents must attend raps and report on one another.
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
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.
assume that few Marines take their own life.
remarkably high percentage of Straight students kill themselves.
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
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.
like people in the population at large, do not confess to one
another when they masturbate.
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.
Marine recruit may voluntarily drop out of the program at any
is a prison with guards. You can not leave.
have a saying--once a Marine, always a Marine. There
is a brotherhood amongst Marines their entire life.
Straight graduates are renouncing their graduate status in droves.
[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.
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.
STRAIGHT A CIA EXPERIMENT ON MIND CONTROL GONE AMISS?
(See mirrored article here.)
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,
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?�