of Father Doctor2 Miller Newton
In 1976 while he was chairman of the board of a private boy’s prison in Florida, Miller Newton made his second unsuccessful bid for Congress. His father, Red Miller, was editor for the influential Tampa Tribune. His former business partner was the chief-of-staff for former Governor of Florida (later U.S. Senator) Bob Graham. In 1977 Miller Newton, B.A. History and Master of Divinity, enrolled in a doctorate program at Union Graduate School, Cincinnati, Ohio, apparently to study public administration. Union was more than a correspondence school because Newton did spend 36 days in colloquia and peer meetings--one was even held near Union Graduate School in Cincinnati. (A colloquium is a seminar where students and faculty meet and the students give presentations on their graduate projects.)
Miller Newton joined Straight as an assistant director in January 1980. Except for a workshop on alcoholism which he had attended in 1979 at the Johnson Institute in Minneapolis, he had virtually no experience in drug rehabilitation. One of his first assignments at Straight was to develop a method to improve parent/client retention rates. To this end he developed a manual called the SIX NEW PARENT RAPS which he based, in part, on the workshop he attended at the Johnson Institute. These six raps are mandatory training for new parents at Straight. While at Straight he changed the emphasis on his Ph.D. project and in 1981 received a Doctor of Philosophy for his paper The Organization and Implementation of Family Involvement in Adolescent Drug-Use Rehabilitation. Essentially, his thesis incorporated his manual on the "six new parent raps at Straight." The 55 pages of Chapter Five are based, partly, on his implementation of the workshops he attended at Johnson Institute (he attended a second in 1981) which he published separately as the book, Gone Way Down: Teenage Drug Use is a Disease. His thesis lists an enormous bibliography of books which he was required to read as part of his graduation requirement, but he was never tested to verify he had read any of them. In fact he never took any tests at all other than defending his dissertation to his four-man advisory panel. His advisory panel met at Straight. Dr. William Geitz, one of his panel members, worked as a clinical psychologist for Straight, but Newton claims that Geitz did not work for him, he worked for the director.
Newton--the anthropologist. In his resume Newton claims he was already an anthropologist in 1978 though his highest education level then was a Master of Theology. [b] In an early resume Newton claims that his Ph.D. is in Public Administration and Urban Anthropology. He testified at the Fred Collins trial that one of his fellow graduate students gave two presentations on black history and anthropology at one of the colloquia. Newton’s panel member for guidance on anthropology was Dr. Jean Battle. But Dr. Battle was actually in education and formerly the Dean of the College of Education, University of South Florida. George Ross, Straight’s education director, was working on a Ph.D. in Education, from University of South Florida. Newton, himself, had been an Associate Professor of Education at the University of South Florida (1969 - 73). And so Newton received a Ph.D. in Public Administration and Urban Anthropology from an unaccredited graduate school for his work in increasing parent/client retentions at Straight. [c] He attended no classes and took no tests--but claims he read a lot of books. His four-man advisory panel which approved his work met at Straight and included a Straight employee, and a college professor with tie-ins to another Straight employee. In 1983 during the Fred Collins trial Newton claimed that his degree was in urban anthropology and public administration. In 1988 in the Michael Daniels trial he claimed the actual major areas were medical anthropology and human service administration. In 1990 during the Karen Norton trial he asserted that he is a "medical anthropologist and a Board certified medical psychotherapist." He stated his concentration at Union is in medical anthropology. And finally, in an undated brochure from Kids of Bergen County, Newton claims he is a clinical anthropologist.
Newton, the neuropsychologist. In 1995 Dr. Newton published the book Adolescents: Guiding Youth Through the Perilous Ordeal. The book is endorsed on the back cover by two men. One is Ralph E. Tarter, Ph.D., Professor of Psychiatry and Neurology, University of Pittsburgh Medical School. In his endorsement Dr. Tarter says that the book "thoroughly reviews the clinical and scientific literature pertaining to the factors determining the successes and failures in this life transition." So the book reviews available literature and is not a report on new research conducted by Dr. Newton. Dr. Tarter should know because in 1993 Miller Newton submitted the manuscript to The Union Institute in Cincinnati (formerly Union Graduate School where he got his first Ph.D.) which awarded Newton another Ph.D. for his effort--and Dr. Tarter supervised Newton’s doctorate program. I do not know what other--if any--course work Dr. Newton had to complete for this degree. The degree awarded is a Ph.D. in neuropsychology. The book covers readable topics such as spirituality, sexuality, social relations, suicide, eating disorders, and depression. As a non-neuropsychologist who has read the book, I do not feel that one needs to have a solid grasp of the traditional areas of neuropsychology to understand it.
Most of the book is general, but when it does get technical, I frequently find weaknesses in his pronouncements. For example, he writes, "Remember that the adolescent is someplace in the process of neurological development, moving from the diffuse brain organization to specified brain organization and moving from simple cognitive systems to more complex cognitive systems involving the ability to think abstractly in a variety of areas." Then he knocks therapists for being too abstract and "conceptual" with their adolescent patients noting that at his KIDS program they’ve developed a "blunt, directive communication" with clients that addresses problems in concrete terms.[p.61] Newton complains of others treating young clients with abstractions, well how about this:
As has been discussed elsewhere in this paper, many authors developed the notion that sex is addictive in the same way that drug use is addictive because they misinterpreted a concept introduced by Archie Brodsky and Stanton Peele in Love and Addiction (1975). Ten years later Peele explained that what he was trying to say in Love and Addiction is that addiction is not a medical disease because it has the same compulsive profile as many behaviors we regard as quite ordinary and nonbiological, like love affairs. Unfortunately, he points out, many writers construed his book to mean that love and sex are like drug addictions; therefore they are also diseases. One of the authors who apparently got the message bungled is Miller Newton. In Adolescence Newton states: "Sexual addiction tends to produce progressive dysfunction in every other area of life, just as alcoholism and drug dependence do."[p.103] Not only does Newton write that people can be addicted to sex, but they can be addicted to violence as well! He recognizes two basic causes of adolescent violence and aggression. His first cause is that many kids become violent in response to physical or psychological threat. [But these are precisely the two threats which his own programs have been accused of employing.] The other cause, Newton writes, is based on personal power needs. "These teens literally become ‘violence addicts’", he writes, "as a result of subjective perception of a ‘high’ in the feelings of anger and rage."[p.145]
In his book, Dr. Newton specifically recommends only five long-term treatment programs for adolescent drug and alcohol abuse. All are Straight-like program: Growing Together, Pathway Family Center, Second Chance, Kids Helping Kids of Cincinnati, and his own KIDS program. His actual thesis list two other, now defunct, Straight-like programs: LIFE, Inc. and Outreach. For treating adolescents for sexual trauma or compulsions he recommends, among others, his own KIDS program. As far as I can tell only one active program is specifically mentioned as having success in treating juveniles with suicidal ideations--his own KIDS’ program.
For further reading of problems on juvenile drug and alcohol abuse he recommends a book by Straight’s former consultant Robert DuPont. The Bibliography includes a book by Sharon Wegscheider who had been one of his fellow students at Union Graduate School, and who later went to Straight and performed an independent evaluation of the program. In 1981 Robert DuPont invited a Canadian psychiatrist named Andrew I. Malcolm to do an independent evaluation of Straight. In his 1981 study Dr. Malcolm reported Straight to be "phenomenal" and that "St. Petersburg Straight could not, in any sense at all, be correctly described as a cult." Eight years later two other Canadians, both psychologists from Simon Fraser University, visited Straight-DC for a first-hand look. Professor Barry Beyerstein subsequently published the paper "Thought Reform Tactics: The Road to Hell is Paved with Good Intentions." He noted 17 methods that "cults" employ on its unsuspecting members, and concluded that Straight is guilty of using every one of them! Professor Bruce Alexander was shown The Malcolm Report on Straight. In his book Peaceful Measures: Canada’s Way Out of The ‘War on Drugs’ Professor Alexander concludes that Straight’s method’s "can be fairly compared with ‘brainwashing’ in prisoner-of-war camps as documented by Brown chapter 2 [Techniques of Persuasion: From Propaganda to Brainwashing, 1963, by J.A.C. Brown ]. He faulted The Malcolm report for providing no comparisons of Straight clients with untreated controls, and from suffering from other ‘serious methodological deficiencies’. At the beginning of this section I wrote that the back cover of Newton’s book is endorsed by two men. Ralph Tarter who supervised Newton’s Ph.D. project is one; Andrew I. Malcolm is the other. His endorsement says, "It throws more light on the often dark and troubling passage known as adolescence than any other book I have ever read. . . This is a seminal work." Newton acknowledges that June Hayo and Tony Kozakiewics, formerly peer staff (junior staff) and later professional staff at KIDS, had contributed ideas to the manuscript.