The US Department of Justice, the Department of Health and Human Services, the National Institute of Mental Health and many other federal agencies have been in bed with the behavior-modification industry from the beginning. Turning to any federal office for protection might be naïve at best. Many survivors of federally developed programs such as Straight Inc., say that the fox should not be guarding the hen-house. One example would be the LEAA (Law Enforcement Assistance Agency), known to have been one of the main sources of funding for "beneficial brainwashing" programs within the adult and juvenile prison industry. Congress investigated many LEAA programs in the early 1970's and cut their federal funding due to gross ethical violations. The LEAA helped establish Straight Inc. with two large grants AFTER congress outlawed federal spending on behavior-modification programs. The LEAA was defamed and eventually re-named, today it's called DOJP....Department of Justice Programs.
Creating a new federal office in the Department of Health and Human Services (same bedroom as the DOJ)...("Granny What Big Teeth You Have!") the fox becomes a wolf...and to think of spending millions and millions of dollars to do this... without spending anything on research? US Citizens will be paying millions of dollars to try to make an inherently abusive treatment, safer. It's like creating a public agency to make sure that all rapists wear condoms.
America already has laws against abuse, we have standards and requirements and procedures. They have all been routinely and systematically ignored. We already have laws, what we don't have is enforcement and more importantly, we don't have an understanding of the harm being done. We don't really understand the harmful effects of these "treatments" and we don't really understand the social dynamics that turn even the best people into abusers. When it comes to talking about legislation, it is impossible to prevent abuse that isn't understood .
Zimbardo's Bad Barrels
The type of coercive reform I am speaking of begins with an assault on the very fabric of a clients psychological framework. This process of thought-reform or coercive-persuasion, consistently produces psychiatric casualties...the process itself is harmful. The same methods that seem so mysterious and sinister within cults and communist re-education centers, are the exact same methods being used in many of today's "therapeutic" programs. Joost Meerloo called it "Rape of the Mind." Even survivors who have experienced these methods first hand may not realize that the methods they were subjected to have been implemented by totalitarian powers the world over for thousands of years.
If measures that are intended to prevent abuse, assume that abuse simply occurs because of the "bad apples" we could inadvertently legitimizes the "bad barrel". If our approach is to find a safe way to carry out an inherently harmful and unethical process, we merely train rapists to wear condoms and we fail to address the real issues.
Social empowerment through awareness
Raising public awareness about the methods of coercion is one of the most powerful methods of preventing abuse. In addition to relying on the power of the government, we need to empower the general public and the professional community with knowledge of cultic dynamics and the principles of thought-reform. Light is the best disinfectant and awareness is the best innoculant. Rather than spending millions of dollars trying to tame a monstrous industry, perhaps we could spend millions of dollars raising awareness and developing safe and effective ways to meet the needs of our teenagers rather than merely changing them.
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