For-Profit Therapy Damaging America’s Youth
If you were to poll the average American about the use of behavior modification and brainwashing in today’s society, they would likely respond by naming cults, POW camps, secret government agencies, and foreign propaganda films. Should you attempt to explain that these tactics are currently being used today in America against unwilling children and teenagers, they would likely respond in disbelief.
For those of us who have endured the troubled teen industry, we understand firsthand that these practices are alive, well and thriving in this underground industry. While a comprehensive total of the number of privately run “behavior modification” facilities for teens and children is unknown, it is estimated that tens of thousands of children move through this system every year, virtually unknown to the general public. Due to lack of Federal (and in many cases State) oversight, these programs are able to operate independently without licensure, inspections, or any comprehensive definition of the type of treatment, length of stay, or admission requirements that they must adhere to.
According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, behavior modification and brainwashing are defined as the following:
Behavior Modification: psychotherapy that is concerned with the treatment (as by desensitization or aversion therapy) of observable behaviors rather than underlying psychological processes and that applies principles of learning to substitute desirable responses for undesirable ones (as phobias or obsessions) —called also behavioral therapy, behavior therapy
Brainwashing: a forcible indoctrination to induce someone to give up basic political, social, or religious beliefs and attitudes and to accept contrasting regimented ideas, 2: persuasion by propaganda or salesmanship
While these definitions seem vague by nature, a brief search on facilities currently operating the United States notes the following within their literature – all quite similar to the definitions described above:
Island View – a high-impact residential treatment facility operated by Aspen Education Group with ties to Republican candidate Mitt Romney‘s former company, Bain Capital – offers the following advice to parents as to how not to sabotage their child’s treatment opportunities.
What do you mean by “shutting the door?”
Imagine that your child is standing in a corridor with both sides lined with doors. There is a door at the other end of the corridor. That’s the door you want your child to go through. It is the door that leads to success, well-being and personal happiness – in your opinion. Unfortunately, your child thinks that walking through that door is stupid, impractical, lame, not cool and utterly ridiculous. Perhaps at some conscious or unconscious level, he may have a desire to walk through the door but fear of the unknown, effort to get to the door, or any other underlying issues may make it impossible for him to walk through this door without some sort of a assistance.
The problem is that he is being distracted by all the other doors that are lining the corridor. To you, the signs on the doors read: Party, Drugs, Negative Friends, Hanging Out, School Failure, Depression, Psycho-Neurological Problem, Learning Difference, Manipulation, Excuses, You Don’t Understand, Loss of a Close Friend, Divorce, Low Self-Esteem, etc.
Your child, distracted or mitigated by these doors will opt to slip through one or more of these doors. If we let him do so, will he ever get through the door at the end of the hall? Maybe, but when? This year, next year, when he is 20? The reason you place the child in a treatment facility is that you thought that the time is NOW to make the change.
The best way to make it happen NOW, is to shut all other doors so that the only door that can be opened is the one you want him to walk through – the one at the end of the hall.
Shepherd’s Hill Academy, a private Christian behavior modification center in rural Georgia describes its multi-step programs as the following:
New Creations Wilderness Therapy:
The challenge of living in the woods without electricity or flowing water takes the teens out of their comfort zone. It requires they learn new and more effective coping and teamwork skills. They participate in experiencing life without the negative cultural influences that so often draw attention away from the responsibilities and obligations of the real world. Rights and privileges are taught to be exercised only to the degree that responsibilities and obligations are fulfilled.
Without a healthy concept of authority, teens have no reference point for moral right and wrong. As the teens see staff and leadership submit to God, an Authority greater than themselves, the reference point becomes clear. This, in turn, fosters a sense of security which frees the teens to better submit to their authority figures and to God.
Our ability to think and reason is rooted in the spiritual nature of our being. As the confusion of the culture is removed, they are challenged to choose and think for themselves about the reality of the inevitable issues of life such as origin, meaning, morality, and destiny.
Upon transitioning to the Next Step Program, the resident moves out of the wilderness program and into a home on campus. They are allowed more individual freedom and chances to make “right choices.” They also have the opportunity to gain back certain privileges they did not enjoy in the wilderness program, such as TV and video games. The Next Step Program offers the teen a chance to exercise their new healthy behavior patterns while living in a safe and structured environment. Although they are still in a controlled environment, they have many more opportunities where they must choose the way they will act and/or react to any number of societal situations. They are assisted in practicing healthy social interactions and relationships with their peers in a supervised environment. In other words, they get to practice behaving appropriately in the real world.
All in all, Shepherd’s Hill Academy embodies the qualities necessary to transform trouble teens into productive, caring, and spiritually mature young men and women. With God’s help, we strive to bring about the necessary behavioral changes in struggling teens to become responsible and fruitful citizens who know how to think!
The Judge Rottenberg Center, a special needs program located in Canton, Massachusetts that accepts students as young as eight years old struggling with Autism, Aspergers, and other “severe, case-hardened problem behaviors” offers a few highlights of it’s “holistic” medication-free program.
Use of highly consistent application of behavior modification procedures both in the education/treatment of its students and in the management of its staff. JRC offers intensive behavioral treatment based on peer-reviewed and accepted methods of behavioral psychology, which has been extremely effective for students who could not be effectively treated with psychotropic medication, psychotherapy, or positive only behavioral programming.
Positive reinforcement and non-intrusive procedures are tried first to determine if they can be sufficiently effective. If not, JRC considers supplementing them with professional approved “aversive” behavior modification techniques such as brief shock to the surface of the skin.
The most commonly used restrictive procedure at JRC is an electrical stimulation device that JRC manufactures called the Graduated Electronic Decelerator (“GED”). The GED unit consists of a transmitter operated by a JRC staff member and a receiver worn by the student. The receiver delivers a low-level surface application of electrical current to the student’s skin upon command from the transmitter, as part of a designed behavioral treatment. Minor side effects may consist of a redding of the skin and, on rare occasions, a small blister may appear if the device is not making full contact with the skin.
The implementation of the GED device leads to the immediate deceleration of a student’s aggressive and self-injurious behaviors, allowing that student to progress both academically as well as socially. For the approximately 50% of the current JRC population that have the GED as part of their treatment program, the average (median) student received only one two-second application during that week. 46% received no applications at all and 78% received fewer than ten applications during the entire week.
For most of us, it is unthinkable to consider the very idea that these types of facilities exist and are exercising these practices. The following links offer unique, brutal glimpses into the types of torture, abuse, and brainwashing being forced upon teenagers in the name of “behavior modification.”