I Spent 16 Months of My Childhood Locked in a Warehouse


From HuffPost: “When I was a kid, my mother locked me in a warehouse and left me there. For 16 months. Her husband had been beating and molesting me, but then I hit puberty and started fighting back ― and nobody wants to deal with a loud, angry teenager.

The warehouse was occupied by a ‘tough love’ program called Straight Inc. Straight branded itself as a drug rehab for kids. The American Civil Liberties Union called it ‘a concentration camp for throwaway teens.’ Straight opened in 1976 with a single facility in Florida; over the years it would branch out to include operations in California, Georgia, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Ohio, Texas and Virginia. My stint began in one of the more brutal branches in Springfield, Virginia; I finished my time in the Stoughton, Massachusetts, warehouse. […]

Straight had a brilliant formula for getting us to believe we were addicts and admit to our misdeeds, whether we were one of the handful of kids who actually had a drug problem or one of the vast majority who had barely drank a beer.

The strategy:

Lock us in a building with no windows.

Beat the crap out of us verbally, physically and psychologically.

Make it clear the beatings won’t stop until we not only admit but believe we are evil druggies.

Show us the look, the behavior, the thoughts we need to adopt, in the form of kids who have earned what we most crave: tiny slivers of freedom, and eventually, release from the warehouse.

It’s a time-tested, proven method for behavior modification. A congressional investigation of The Seed, the program from which Straight Inc. was a spinoff, compared it to the brainwashing techniques used in Communist North Korean prisoner of war camps.”

Article →


  1. Doesn’t appear to be any mention of drugging. As much as people are going to have bleeding hearts for this story, I’d personally say this person got off easy, and I’d love to trade places with them if I could anyway. Considering I’m still suffering the effects of the neuroleptics drugs I was forced on when I was 13 over 20 years ago at Hawthorne center in northville/livonia, I would had taken corporal punishment with a smile in comparison. Oh and I would love to hear the journalist hit them with this one too; “Aren’t there other ways to correct children’s behavior that doesn’t cause permanent brain damage? Psychiatry admits that these disorders weren’t made up and aren’t new and have been around since recorded history, is this the first time in history that child rearing has involved causing permanent brain damage using medical treatments?”

    The worst assault, battery and torture is done physiologically within. The rest is just life, as brutal as it can be, and people have evolved to overcome it; you cant overcome brain damage induced movement disorders anymore than you can overcome cerebral palsy. Maybe find some happiness here and there anyway, but your “life”, in a normal-persons sense; occupation, love-life, etc, is over.

    Even psychiatry tacitly admits this is numerous ways; denying tardive dyskinesia’s existence for 20 years, almost no research at all into the “disorder”, rejecting the fact the drugs even cause brain damage (to which they do far beyond that which produces TD), and admitting in textbooks and training manuals that the only way to treat TD is “prophylactically” and yet go on to prescribe, coerce and even force the drugs on just about everyone, including millions of childrens, oh but of course they’re still in denial of the new ones causing it or having unsubstantiated beliefs like the number is “1 in 6,000″ or that so many movement disorders and symptoms of neurological damage by neuroleptics/”antipsychotics” isn’t TD because it doesn’t mirror an exact description of just one variant of it, and of course they never diagnose it either.

    I really wish a journalist would do a “hit-piece” on this, especially in regards to children and forced drugging. See an old video of little jimmy or sarah doing O.K., but then one day blahblahblah wouldn’t go to school or started having temper tantrums, then all the sudden they’re rocking back and forth grunting, turning their head, pulling their shoulders up, twisting and contorting in ways most people didn’t think was possible. Then stick a camera in a psychiatrists face and ask how this is an appropriate children’s medication for “behavioral healthcare/medicine.” – something that shouldn’t even exist, the term itself sounds borne of human rights violations. Oh and I would love to hear the journalist pull this question out “Psychiatry claims these disorders weren’t made up and have been around at least since recorded history, are there any other ways to correct behavior or otherwise rear children without using medicine to cause permanent brain damage?” Oh and this one “Psychiatry’s biggest claim of the last 50 or so years are that mental illnesses are brain illnesses, that brain health is essential to mental health and wellbeing, wouldn’t drug-induced brain damage contradict the goals of psychiatry?”

    Report comment

    • And of course since they’re bound to make up nonsense about it being rare and rarely permanent, “Shouldn’t psychiatry be held responsible for when this does happen? Most people who suffer this wind up on SSI and stay trapped in the mental health system the rest of their life while living in poverty, where they’re often coerced or forced to continue taking the same type of drugs. Why isn’t this considered medical malpractice, or even a human rights violation? Would you do this to your own child if you have one?”

      And of course, pry into just how little (routinely nothing) they look for evidence of child abuse, or how the parents and/or the environment may be impossible for any child to grow up healthy in.

      Then again, PBS’s “the medicated child” showed a kid develop TD, and the parents with the female child on thorazine that went on to become celebrities. The father wrote a book where he admitted to abusing her, even shaking her as a baby, and from the “my kid has bipolar disorder” crowd, HE GOT SYMPATHY!

      Where is the investigation into that? Psychiatry; letting bad people off the hook by silencing (even destroying) their victims. It’s what their profession truly does, and why it was even created. Asylums were the first prisons, to lock up “the fools” at most often their families request to avoid embarrassment for them not conforming to social and cultural norms.

      It’s wasn’t even long ago, 1950’s and 60’s and even into the 70’s, that a husband could commit his wife to the “mental hospital” for trying to divorce him; parent’s could have their gay or transgender teen locked up, electroshocked, destroyed even, ultimately hidden from sight. I’ve come across many anecdotes online suggesting that the latter still happens, just with some smoke and mirrors to suggest they’re doing it for other reasons. They don’t, or at least rarely, treat the patient for their own good, as the patient sees and feels and ultimately prefers it. If they did, I’m sure many people would prefer humane and empathetic treatments, which are virtually nonexistent and far from the standard, especially if you’re not rich. Most prescriptions written for psych drugs for demanding pill poppers are written by general docs/family docs anyway. By the time you get to psychiatry, it’s a matter of control, not of improvement and quality of life. If it were, they certainly wouldn’t use drugs that cause brain damage, certainly without admitting it and giving everyone a choice without coercion. That’s the discussion our society ought to be having; can brain damage ethically be considered medicine, and if so, when? And what’s the difference between that and bashing someone’s head to zonk them out? Does calling it medicine really change the reality of the damage that’s being done to people, that if it were called anything else, would we even be having this discussion or would it already be illegal due to the bill of rights?

      All in the name of medicine, by people who are legally recognized as doctors, but with more authority than police officers and since mental health courts are kangaroo courts, more authority than even the courts.

      Report comment

      • That is one of the less obvious problems with the DSM – it allows abusive parents and professionals to blame the children for their own inability to appropriately handle the children in their care. I read a study at some time in the past where children with abuse histories were significantly more likely to be diagnosed with “ADHD.” Some psychiatrist actually commented that this was because “ADHD” kids are more difficult and it makes it more likely that their parents will abuse them! The least powerful person always gets the blame when the DSM is involved.

        Report comment

  2. I think that people need to notice that it doesn’t matter what the juvenile is being accused of: a “druggie”,
    a “commie”, “anti-Semmite”, etc, etc. The whole point is to isolate an individual for whatever reason that the parent or the parents’ social group has. It is about conformity and terror. Again, the juveniles have embarrassed their parents–that is the key issue (not drugs). Also, many of the parents of these juveniles were hypocrites because they glamorized drinking…

    There are no civil rights. There is no opportunity for the juvenile to defend him or her self.

    I was in high school in the early 80’s and Straight was whispered about as where you would go if you got out of line. And there were students at my school, Indian Hill H. S. in Cincinnati, who were sent there.

    Report comment

  3. That being said, sometimes I almost wish that I had been sent to Straight; because at least those people eventually got out of that specific torture program.

    People who are in the psychiatric labeling system do not have a way to graduate or escape–at least I haven’t found it.

    Report comment

  4. Restore juvenile justice. When juveniles act out– parents and teachers should talk to them about why they acted out. Maybe there is an actual reason that could be explored in a constructive way. Maybe dialogue should be tried before punishment. (I say maybe but I mean of course it should).

    Report comment

  5. Yes, I am being ignored again…but that happens a lot when you speak truth to power.

    I realize that I live only a couple of miles away from the Cincinnati Straight, Inc. former indoctrination site in
    Mount Repose, Ohio. I did not realize until today that there was a local Straight– I thought everyone was
    bussed away to Florida.

    It was/ is a popular idea for parents to ship away your child (with their deviant behavior) so that you didn’t have to confront it (and the causes of it) yourself. Unfortunately, that is still happening in different packaging today.

    Report comment

    • I agree, John. There is frequently a collaboration between the parents, who want the professionals to “fix” their child, and the professionals, who want the parents’ support in keeping the child in “treatment,” with no respect for what is going on for the child. Often (not always) it is the parents or the family that needs to be “fixed.” It sounds like you needed support you didn’t get.

      Report comment

      • There is also conspiracy– a word that has been belittled lately, but it does describe a political phenomena in which a scapegoat is chosen and a whole community (including students, parents, and teachers) piles on to trick and confuse that individual. I know this occurs because it happened to me.
        This has gone on since 1981. The object of the game is to heap scorn on the condemned man until he self-destructs. See Kafka’s The Trial.

        Report comment

      • Yes, I most certainly needed support that I most certainly did not get. I got the opposite. I got scapegoated in the worst way; and it is not over yet.

        However, I realize, finally, what has happened and I have truth on my side. The truth is that I was run over in my driveway in 1966. The truth is that my mom gaslighted me about that accident. The truth is that I was brain-injured in that accident; and that she was negligent.

        The truth is that she never took me to a neurologist to get an official brain-injury diagnosis, because that would have made her officially negligent.

        Report comment

        • It sounds awful, John! No one should have a parent who doesn’t care. Sadly, it happens far too often. I have worked with foster kids for over 20 years and I have seen a lot, including a teen whose mom in fact backed over her in the driveway. She said she THOUGHT it was accidental, but couldn’t be sure. It’s just wrong to have to feel that way about a parent or caretaker!

          Report comment

  6. Dr. Steven Katkin was mentioned in one of the articles that was mildly critical of Straight– mostly for political reasons. He was actually one of the many people who had jumped on the bandwagon of scapegoating the confused teenagers growing up in a crazy world.

    He was still practicing in 2012 when I got out of the Lindner Center; and he was still riding that gravy train of blaming the teenager (and always siding with parents, who were negligent in my situation).

    Katkin was not trying to help me at all after my ten day stay at Lindner. He wanted me to internalize the
    shaming that Lindner had started. He was practically laughing at me. I even asked my mom to the third and final visit; and then it became crystal clear that there was a professional/parent conspiracy against an adult child of parental negligence. They were both laughing at me…and they weren’t even trying to hide it.

    Report comment

  7. Hi there Johnchristine,
    Sounds like this spot really was traumatic for you. I am sorry that you have had such a very difficult time. It never should have happened and it is not fair.
    TD symptoms are awful. I developed Parkinsonism. Bad enough.
    And I have heard folks relate how their parents pathologized them and none of the professionals were able to see through the actual truth.
    Ohio used to have an Empowerment Coalition but no more. I have no idea what happened or why or where they are now. I think the website is still up.
    There are other places in the country to move to though even globally it seems things are hard.
    I found Tai Chi, yoga, walking, reiki, art, music helpful things to do in community or online.
    Start doing some research and check all things out there may be some help.
    Reading if you can, on the neuroleptic reading was difficult and my ability to read as I did has been compromised but hard to say because of feeling anxious or lingering affects of treatment.
    OMT in my old church community with the ladies guild there was a woman who for years ran what they called the sunshine commity- she would keep her ears to the ground and eyes above the horizon for anyone that might need a card to be sent for a variety of reasons.
    It was small and simple but when oneis in hardship even a little bit helps
    One of the hard things for me is to hear folks pain and what does MIA have responsibility for?
    We all are people of the Great Human Trauma and even if the nonidentified or professionals do not identify as such with those of us who do I bet my life they are part and parcel- either they are in denial or they for whatever reason are not able to admit to whatever.
    One human cannot go through ten years of life without experiencing trauma and trauma can be living the life of the idle rich different than poverty or abuse but one can have millions and without love really what can any human become?
    It would be nice someday to have some sort of way to cope with the pain of some of the articles.
    It seems folks are trying very hard but maybe some sunshine in a very small way might help.

    Report comment

  8. What I am dealing with is a very organized scapegoating campaign. I have reached out to many people who I believe I offended in 1981, including my mom, brother, aunts and uncles. All of them are extremely facetious when they speak to me. It is obvious that they are mocking me because I have embarrassed them. It makes no difference how many times I apologize. They are following an agenda that does not allow for any restorative justice; which is what is needed.

    I was run over in the driveway in 1966. I was brain-injured in that accident. I was gas-lighted about that accident. My mom made certain that I wrote in my fifth grade autobiography that the accident was my own fault (even though I was only 18 months old at the time). Clearly, my mom was negligent.

    She called me demeaning names: Cakey, Bonzert, Poosey as I was growing up. The names did not help me to build any self-esteem; and I am sure she knew it. That was gas-lighting.

    Report comment

  9. I watched Nancy Reagan give a speach at a Straight, Inc. center outside Washington, D.C. I think it was around 1984. She appeared almost flustered, having listened to the teenagers endure being humiliated by their parents. She praised the juveniles; but her real sympathy is with the parents. It is almost as if she has already dismissed the juveniles by the time she starts to explain her true colors…she is with the parents and the children are mere scapegoats (although she did not say it out loud, of course). This is a power play and she was definitely giving power to the parents; and everyone knew it.

    The war on drugs was a war on scapegoats, mostly African Americans and Latinos–but also some middle class white kids. “Just Say No” probably would not have been as effective without Straight, Inc. But the truth about Straight, Inc. was getting out, and it was compared with North Korea re-education camps. It was all about brainwashing and intimidation.

    Ronald and Nancy Reagan represented a backlash against the ’70s young peoples campaign to end the War in Vietnam. They were popular for that; but many young people were mercilessly scapegoated in that backlash.

    Report comment

  10. I just want to remind everyone how deeply political Straight, Inc. was and how deeply political psychiatry is today. The culture of the ’80s was a culture of fear and conformity; and I think that the culture made a drastic change between 1979 and 1980 during the transition from Carter to Reagan. It you did not conform, there could be dire consequences, which I am still facing today.

    Report comment

  11. I also remember a mock trial that happened in social studies in 8th grade. That was in 1978-79; and it was the very beginning of the war on drugs. The trial was about marijuana; and I didn’t see how it was relevant to eighth graders at all. I did live a sheltered life…but when I got to high school in the fall of 1979 there was a noticeable drug presence in the two smoking “lounges”–just outdoor covered patios.

    By the time I graduated in 1983, there was virtually nobody using the smoking lounge anymore. Compare that to 1979 when both smoking lounges were packed everyday between classes, at lunch, at every opportunity.

    Report comment

  12. Straight, Inc. was supported by people at the very top of power in America, including Nancy Reagan and I believe Mitt Romney and many others. This organization was proven to be corrupt and oppressive from the top all the way down. The “positive peer pressure” turned out to be extremely abusive. I don’t think that the Straight, Inc. ever got punished for its abuses. Please correct me if I am wrong. I also believe that the founder of Straight is alive and well in Florida. Shouldn’t there be repercussions for scapegoating children?

    Most, if not all of the problems, could and should have been dealt with by the family itself. By putting “professionals” in the middle, including the abusive peers, the problems in the family only get worse. This is also true with psychiatry. The first counselor that my parents made me see was clearly not on my side. I remember asking him who he was working for; and it did seem to surprise him and make him uncomfortable. The answer was obvious: he worked for my parents and his job was not to help me but to make me miserable. That was my first of many bad experiences in psychiatry.

    Report comment

  13. I guess I am the only person who remembers Straight, Inc. It is true that I never got sent there; and I am thankful for that. However, the culture that existed during that time has been detrimental to me.

    If you watch any of the videos about Straight, Inc. the media at first was very appreciative of Straight. They kept saying that there were reports of abuse (but, wink, nod), but by golly the program works. Hugh Downs was one of the anchors who seemed to give it a pass, as did many others.

    The truth was and still is that parents did not want to talk to their children, because it got very messy if they did so. (or they feared that it would.). So they shipped them away to let Straight, Inc. do the parenting for them. What everyone got was a lifetime of broken trust.

    Report comment

  14. What I want to say is that the WHOLE TRUTH MATTERS. I mean not just the part about juvenile bad behavior.
    I mean the part before that, the part when the child got run over in the driveway. The part when the child was gaslighted about the accident. The part when the child was called demeaning names over and over. That part is crucial to understanding why that child grew into a confused adolescent with low self-esteem.

    Report comment

  15. If you do a web search of Miller Newton and Straight, Inc. you will find out how much of a cult / scam that organization was. It was a fraud that depended on secrecy and isolation. No one was allowed to tell the outside public what went on inside of Straight, Inc. Does that sound familiar to what happens on the psych wards? Although some information does get out, a lot of it stays in the psych ward where patients are humiliated by staff and other patients (and by doctors, with real m.d.s).

    Fred Collins sued Straight, Inc and won $220,000 because of the abusive practices. Other patients won million dollar settlements.

    One of the videos I watched had a New Jersey official commenting that all parents either really liked Straight, Inc. or really hated it. There was no in between. He said that was a warning sign to him that no one felt unsure of how good of a program it was.

    Report comment

  16. Straight was described as a prison by many of the juveniles who were sent there. Many fell way behind in school. I personally know a person who fell behind a grade, because she was sent to Straight, Inc. That wasn’t too bad, because other people fell behind two, three and more years. The main problem with this situation was that the parents were desperate and they did not think that they could help their children by themselves. The parents were the first victims of the cult of Straight; and then their children.

    That same situation, of course, happens in psychiatry. Desperate parents will do anything to make things “right”…and they fall into a trap (at least their children do). Of course, in psychiatry the years can go on much longer than at Straight; and that is why psychiatry is so dangerous.

    Report comment

  17. The professionals, unfortunately, do know that they are running a gravy train; and they will run it until they are shown to be the frauds that they are.

    I think it is fair to say that the drug scare of the early 80’s was similar to the McCarthy anti-communism campaigns. People were shocked and astounded to find out that the person down the street was found out to be a communist. If you watch the videos of the Straight juveniles confessing to the numerous drugs that they tried, it does seem that they are exaggerating in order to please someone in authority.

    Again, I think that the War on Drugs was a pushback, in the early 80s led by the Reagans, to the Young People’s successful effort to end the war in Vietnam in the 1970s.

    The culture was angry at young people in the early ’80s; so no wonder the DSM began to expand exponentially. There weren’t enough pages in the book to fill the amount of anger that people had toward young people. So, of course there were tons of scapegoats, people who did minor misdeeds that were exaggerated in order to fill a societal need of venting their anger.

    I think it is again important to notice the hypocrisy of many of the parents. Many of the parents who were so outraged that their little Elana or Danny was smoking weed or trying LSD, these same parents were alcoholics. In my opinion, the majority of the Straight juveniles were very minor drug experimenters. It was the parent’s shock and shame that sent Elana and Danny to the Straight private prisons–not real serious drug addiction.

    Report comment

    • “I think that the War on Drugs was a pushback, in the early 80s led by the Reagans, to the Young People’s successful effort to end the war in Vietnam in the 1970s. The culture was angry at young people in the early ’80s; so no wonder the DSM began to expand exponentially.”

      Thanks for pointing that out, johnchristine. I’d never put that together before, but you are onto something. Psychiatry as retribution for (and the reining in of) young people’s challenging the illegitimate authority and pointing out the hypocrisy of their parents’ generation and the powers that be; also for their exploration of consciousness, spirituality, and experimenting with substances that can expand those aspects of self and society.

      Report comment

    • The culture was angry at young people in the early ’80s

      This is a little vague — what/who do you mean by “the culture”? The ruling class? It wasn’t “young people” who stopped the war, it was mainly the people of Vietnam who kicked Uncles Sam’s ass and forced the US to hightail it out of there. Of course the anti-war effort at home helped hasten the Vietnamese victory.

      It’s true though that someone like Ken Kesey or Abbie Hoffman likely would never slip through the cracks today, they’d probably be neutralized on antidepressants.

      As for Reagan, the 1980’s version of the Yippies would chant at smoke-ins, “Pot is an herb, Reagan is a dope!”

      Report comment

  18. I am speaking about the business/political elite culture that I grew up in, Indian Hill, a northeast suburb of Cincinnati.

    Again, I want to emphasize the change that I saw in the smoking lounge between 1979 and 1983. When I began high school the lounge was packed with people. When I finished high school the lounge was empty.

    We had dozens of peer counselors at our high school; and I think they replaced the political activism that once existed. I admit that this is speculative, and it is possible that that activism was never very strong in our part of town.

    Report comment

  19. Yes, I do think that The Reflections on a Pathologized Adolescence is a lot like what parents and other adult leaders, including Nancy Reagan, did to hundreds of juveniles during the Straight years.

    The individual child is not sick. He/ she is responding to a crazy world or his/ her own crazy family; and his / her response will not sound so crazy if you just sit down with him or her and listen. Don’t ask what is wrong with you? Ask what happened to you?

    The crucial question is do we want to help people or not? The DSM way is not helping.

    Report comment

  20. There seems to be special privileges to people who were fooled only by the doctors. Others, were fooled by the doctors, by the parents, by the teachers, by the classmates, by the board of education, by the police.

    Just because a lot of people agree to go through with a conspiracy doesn’t make it any less un-American.

    This is a vindictive conspiracy that people should not take pride in. I was run over in the driveway and brain-injured. I was gas-lighted about that accident . I was called demeaning names over and over. I was told to write a made -up story in my auto-biography in order to clear my mom of negligence.

    And if someone thinks I am or was anti-Semitic, you are mistaken. I am not and I never was.

    Report comment

  21. Again, I need to defend myself against extremely vindictive family, prosecutors, and former friends. Public humiliation is their goal and they have been largely successful; but does no one besides me think that they have gone way overboard?

    Run over.
    Gas-lighted (brain-washed).
    Coerced into writing false info to clear my mom of negligence in 5th grade autobiography.
    Etc., etc.

    Report comment

  22. Psychiatry has a long history of siding with the adults when juvenile misbehavior is considered. That is why restorative justice is crucial to bringing some balance to the situation. Psychiatry needs to be ignored as the fraudulent science that it is.

    Report comment

  23. I think people should examine what causes parents to send their children to Straight (when it existed by that name). Probably fear would be the first cause. Shame might be a close second.

    Meanwhile, it seems unlikely that the parent ever has a meaningful discussion about their own fears and shame about the juvenile drug use. All that the teenager experiences is the parent’s anger.

    Then the child is sent away for weeks, months, or years. What does that do to the family? It wrecks the trust.

    Report comment

  24. Again, I think we need to say what is it that is causing parents to over-react (in most cases at Straight, in my opinion).

    This is less about the parents caring about the child’s health, in my opinion. This is more about conformity and the national hysteria in the early ’80s about drug use. This was a national crackdown on drug use, because the older Americans felt out of control, after the successful Young People’s movement that ended the Vietnam war.

    Report comment

  25. I think that this deserves close examination, because it is clear that most of the parents did little to no research about Straight before sending their children there. There was an urgency in the political air that made them rush into action–without careful consideration about whether it was in the best interest of their child or their family. In that sense, what the parents were doing (sending their children to Staight, Inc.) was a political act. They were conforming to the social norms at the times which said that street drugs were extremely dangerous and that these children need “treatment” now. After all, there was a War on Drugs going on that was led by the new president Ronald Reagan and his wife Nancy; so it must be real.!?

    I have watched several of the Straight videos and I have noticed that there is never an African American in a Straight video. Perhaps there were some–but I didn’t see any. Why? Well, it is fairly easy to conjecture that most African Americans were skeptical of the War on Drugs from the beginning. They know that there are always excuses for harassing their community and for locking up people of color.

    Report comment

  26. Also notice that Reagan was siding with doctors’ prescribing powers by going after street drugs. The individual who wanted to experiment with drugs in the ’70s was now going to have a more difficult time to get his drugs.
    The people selling the drugs were often people of color who could not find other work in their urban areas; and they became targets of the police, more than the buyers.

    Report comment

  27. Am I the only person to wonder why Miller Newton never went to jail after all of the accusations of abuse at Straight, Inc. and Kids of Bergen County (his second organization after Straight). He was directing his staff to abuse people and they were following his orders, and dozens– if not hundreds of juveniles– were abused.

    Report comment

  28. The history of abuses in psychiatry are so similar to the abuses in Straight that I am surprised more people don’t comment. (unless someone is telling them not to, which is possible).

    Straight was a cult. These people were brainwashed and abused. That same mindset of “get with the program” exists in psychiatry. It is cultish behavior to “just do it” (take your pill)–don’t think about why,
    don’t think about the legitimacy of the obviously fraudulent authority.

    Report comment

        • Commenting as moderator:

          John, I understand your feelings, and a lot of people feel that way. I’m going to post this not only for you, but for anyone who is feeling that way. It is an act of power for me or another moderator to choose to remove what someone has posted, and that can easily feel like bullying to anyone. I try to be very, very sensitive to this fact when I make moderation decisions.

          I guess the question is what is meant by “censorship.” If I or anyone is removing comments because their content is considered unacceptable by the management, that would be censorship.


          “the suppression or prohibition of any parts of books, films, news, etc. that are considered obscene, politically unacceptable, or a threat to security.”


          What happens here is that we have certain standards of behavior that are expected and are implicitly agreed to by anyone who posts. These standards are posted and available for anyone to read. When we remove comments, it is intended ONLY to reflect concerns about whether or not it violates the guidelines that are written on the site. I always try to work with anyone whose comments are moderated and give them an opportunity to re-post an edited version that doesn’t violate the guidelines. And I have in a few cases been talked into leaving the post unchanged once I understood the intent.

          So no, we don’t do censorship here, though I understand why it might feel that way. Anyone is free to post any idea or thought or story they have, as long as it fits within the posting guidelines. In fact, I sometimes get pushed to censor certain viewpoints that aren’t popular in the community, and I always refuse to do so. Everyone has a right to their viewpoint and to express it here, as long as it is done in a way that respects others’ rights to do the same.

          I hope that clarifies things, and I do apologize for any hurt feelings that may have happened along the way.

          —- Steve

          Report comment

        • The vote against Carter in 1980 was a vote against the difficult reality of the day (that individual consumer behavior was contributing to a worse national security situation). Instead of voting for Carter’s intelligent, prescient agenda; voters chose Reagan’s Hollywood version of the truth (fiction). They voted for more dependence on foreign oil, more unrestricted consumerism as usual.

          The vote against Carter was a vote against the idea that ordinary individuals can control foreign affairs. It was a vote of fear and authoritarianism.

          Report comment

          • Straight, Inc. adopted a strategy of fear and authoritarianism; and it was effective but abusive. Leaders like Nancy Reagan and Ronald Reagan were willing to look the other way.

            And where is the accountability for leaders like Ron and Nancy who supported abusive programs like Straight, Inc. or the “Freedom Fighters” in central America, who were right wing killers of democracy. Many hundreds of people were murdered for Ronald Reagan’s human rights disaster posing as a policy.

            Report comment

          • This is exactly like the scapegoating that Straight, Inc. did. It is picking on the targeted individuals in order to further a political agenda.

            Nancy Reagan was pretending to support the juveniles who were imprisoned in the Straight, Inc. center where she spoke. But I think most people saw threw that false cheerleading–as soon as she pivoted and showed her true colors, her true support of the parents.

            Most of these parents were scapegoating their children who had not done anything really bad, in my opinion. The parents could have had a conversation with their children that would have made the trip to Straight, Inc. unnecessary.

            Report comment

          • That Nancy Reagan / Straight, Inc. video is on youtube. I think it was 1984 and it was outside Washington, DC; and Princess Diana was with her–but did not speak (Diana probably was wondering what in the world she had gotten herself into–because it was very awkward–and the tension was high).

            Report comment

          • “1985 Straight, Inc.: A Pilgrimage of Hope” is on youtube

            Why is it so awkward? Because Straight, Inc. was a fraudulent and extremely coercive organization. It was a de facto prison that was pretending to be “therapeutic”. Does that sound familiar? It should.

            It was cultish and it was abusive from the top Miller Newton all the way down to the peer counselors.

            When you watch the video, the parents and other adults are in complete control. The juveniles are encouraged to list all of the drugs that they supposedly abused. It is not likely that they ingested all of these drugs. They are performing in order to impress their leaders–like the minders in North Korea.

            Again, it is very awkward to watch; because it is about mind control–not any serious drug abuse, in my opinion.

            Report comment

          • Furthermore, why were authorities (businesses,government and doctors) so angry at children for experimenting with drugs? Because they wanted to maintain their monopoly on prescribing drugs.

            Don’t chose your own drugs–take the drugs We Tell You to Take.
            That is the message. And it, of course is extremely authoritarian and induces fear.

            Report comment

          • The other reason the Nancy Reagan video is awkward to watch is that it brings you back to the group meetings we had at Lindner Center. These were awkward because they were phony: we were supposed to confess that we had some sort of disease (which was a lie).

            We were / are all human and we all make human errors. Now all we need to do is to forgive each other humanely, by allowing for restorative justice. That was not happening in group. Group was only about telling each other how bad we were and how we needed the drugs (if you were playing along correctly).

            Report comment

          • I am re-watching Nancy Reagan talk about how much she loves the Straight juveniles (it is Not convincing); and she says, “Just stay with it”. (with what, the brain-washing, the abuse???). She even gives a fake laugh, because she knows that what she just uttered is nonsense.

            Then, she turns to the camera and makes her big pivot. “And to the parents, I know how hard it is” (to scapegoat your children). The parents are her real audience. The parents are her bread and butter.

            She is in the circus arena, surrounded by scapegoats who know that she is a phony. And she is nervous that someone will expose her right there–too bad it didn’t happen. I am sure some of them wanted to, but they would have been severely reprimanded, it’s obvious.

            Report comment

        • Nancy tells the parents, “I know that we’ll beat this; we have to.” Then she gives a nervous chuckle (because she meant we’ll beat the kids, one way or another).

          It was not a convincing speech. It was very awkward; and the coercion is palpable.

          Report comment

          • What do you do if you are a juvenile in that room with Nancy Reagan, the first lady; and EVERYONE KNOWS she is not being honest about Straight, Inc. or the War on Drugs? Almost everyone must have known that something was not right. You can feel it in the video.

            What do you do? The power imbalance between the juveniles and the adults is mind blowing. The audience is obviously totally brain-washed, because why did no one scream out at her? Someone knew she was LYING.

            Report comment

          • I guess that is where the expression, “I know which way the wind blows” means. If you are in the same room with Nancy Reagan and she is holding all the cards, you just have to play along in the game until you get out.

            Report comment

          • That is the power of intimidation and coercive aura. She has been deceased for three years and I am still afraid of Nancy Reagan. Of course, it wasn’t just her–it was her cult and her countless minions who were ready to lay down and die to keep her going.

            Report comment

          • I think that you could count the peer counselors in the high schools as Nancy Reagan’s minions. There was huge influence that may have been filtered out a little, but it was still very strong. The peer counselors were certainly not pushing for juvenile political empowerment/engagement–at least I didn’t see it.

            Report comment

          • Nancy and Ronald Reagan were a tag team of intimidation. The first thing Ron did was to fire the air traffic controllers. That set the tone for how things were going to go. Labor unions were going to be targeted and this trend would continue for decades.

            Meantime, homelessness started to become a huge problem. There was a hands off approach by the Reagans–this was a personal problem that reflected on the individual’s character, not an economic problem. It was a heartless approach that is still considered valid by many people; but it is hogwash.

            Report comment

          • Once again, your analysis is spot on. He broke the ATC union which had a chilling effect on unions nationwide, and he also promoted the idea that if you’re not doing well, it’s all your fault. “It’s Morning in America,” and if you’re not happy, you’re not trying hard enough. Very good fit with the psychiatric worldview, which not coincidentally began to expand its influence at just about the same time.

            Report comment

  29. In my high school, students (who knew what was happening) were groomed to be smaller adults, in their dress. My brother went to Brooks Brothers in downtown Cincinnati when he was 14 or 15 in order to have custom fitted pants and to buy the same style of button down shirts that the business people wear.

    People like my brother were able to become less likely targets because they looked like the people in power.
    Also, he rarely wore sneakers, which most of the Straight victims were wearing. He wore dress shoes.

    The parents, like my mom also kind of knew what was happening and they were ok spending money for custom fitted corduroy pants. However, I think she was relieved when I didn’t beg her to take me to Brooks Brothers, like my brother did.

    Report comment

  30. People don’t live in a vacuum. The culture is part of the problem. Why were students rushing to buy clothes so that they would look like smaller adults? Why were they careful not to look like the teenagers of the ’70s?
    The tee shirts were going away quickly in my high school. Why did students, aged 13, 14, 15, 16 want to wear button down shirts and custom fitted corduroy pants?

    Report comment

  31. I just viewed Jimmy Carter’s “Crises in Confidence” speech from July, 1979. This was a remarkable speech, because the president was challenging the whole country to strive for energy independence from the Middle East. The president wanted each citizen to take responsibility for making our national security stronger by lessening our dependence on foreign country resources.

    It is a good speech but it was not popular. It was a speech against special interests which were becoming dominant in politics. It was a speech against conspicuous consumption which was becoming a way of life for those who could afford it. Likewise it was a speech against greed.

    The president tell the public that two thirds of the people don’t vote. People don’t feel like they are counted by politicians.

    Carter was a one term president

    Report comment

      • I know that the media panned the speech; but many others were paying attention and they know that Carter was telling it like it was. He was being realistic, in a surreal way. Very few if any politicians have been so candid. I think many people did appreciate him a lot for that.

        Report comment

      • The media panned the speech, because (underlined) it was prescient and intelligent.

        Again, Carter pretty much predicted the two wars in Iraq. He was asking the public to restrain our conspicuous consumption. Of course, the corporate media loves conspicuous consumption–it’s their bread and butter–so they panned the speech.

        I feel like I cannot say this enough: the corporate media DOES NOT CARE about ETHICS. The corporate media has no problem running ads of dangerous, addictive uppers and downers everyday, all day.

        Report comment

      • It was a good speech because Carter was basically saying that individual people have the power to control the destiny of the whole country. That was supposed to be an uplifting speech; but all people really heard was that we should cut back on the national obsession of conspicuous consumption. And that was a downer to most people, especially the corporate media, which of course loves conspicuous consumption (it is their business).

        Report comment

        • Empowering the individual like Carter tried to do, is the opposite of what Straight, Inc. did (and what psychiatry does too often). Straight, Inc. destroyed the individual self-confidence; and it was a cult of oppression.

          Once again, it is remarkable how many desperate parents embraced this unknown entity that promised to cure their child of a non-problem (in most cases, in my opinion). I still argue that the parents (and Nancy and Ronald Reagan) over-reacted to something that was much less of a problem than they made it out to be.

          So then there were scapegoats, because twelve year olds and most teenagers do not become over-night drug addicts, in my view.

          Report comment

      • Carter called the Energy Crises a Struggle for Freedom; and he even called it a war.
        He knew that war was very much inevitable if we could not become much more self-sufficient in producing our own energy. We were vulnerable because we could not control the price or production of foreign oil.

        He was simply telling the public and the media something it did not want to hear. He was almost brutally honest, and he listened to public criticism.

        He almost had a Mister Rogers persona; because he was almost naive politically. He made himself open to criticism because he didn’t pretend to have all of the answers. Also, he admitted that the would be no way to avoid sacrifice to the Energy Crises.

        At the end of the speech, he said, “Working together, we cannot fail.” He knew that the country was already divided; and he wanted to use the Energy Crises to bring the country back together. Unfortunately, that did not happen and he was voted out of office.

        I would argue that Carter was right in his speech for energy independence; and the nation failed itself by voting for Reagan in 1980.

        Report comment

          • Steve,
            I just think that you should explain why this is such a different conversation. I was making observations that seemed obvious to me in response to both articles.

            That said, even this time, your comments are only one or two sentences long, so they seem pretty dismissive.

            Report comment

          • I don’t have a lot of time to make comments, John. I am mostly moderating others’ comments for appropriateness, so I don’t have a lot of time to make lengthy remarks. Additionally, you have summed things up so well in most cases that there isn’t much to say besides, “I agree, and I’m glad you said that!” You’re talking about a lot of things that occurred just as I was coming to adulthood. I grew up in the 60s and early 70s and related to the student protest movements big time. The election of Reagan was such a grave disappointment to me, yet the media and a lot of Americans somehow continued to portray him as some kind of hero or amazing leader when he was mostly a figurehead B-movie actor acting out his greatest role. The same scum that were really behind him were behind Bush, Bush II, and continue to have influence on Trump, though Trump is pretty hard to control. These are not nice people, and you are absolutely right that they were terrified by the youth movements and did all they could to shut them down. Limiting employment and creating economic anxiety were not accidents that happened, but in my view were part of the plan to get us so worried about our daily survival that we (especially the young) had no time or energy left for organizing. It’s been very effective, unfortunately.

            Report comment

  32. Carter predicted the Iraq wars by noticing that dependence on foreign oil was dangerous to national security.

    Carter knew that we had to develop energy independence; and although he thought coal was a good resource back then, he was generally on the right track. He was ahead of his time in arguing for solar energy development.

    You can argue that Carter was a scapegoat, because he was a one term president and people did not want to hear the truth. They didn’t want to be told that our greed and conspicuous consumption was contributing to our dependence on foreign powers.

    Report comment

  33. Reagan became popular because he was delivering a message of Fantasy Island. Greed was good; and no one wanted to think about any Crises in Confidence speech that Carter delivered.

    Reagan struck a chord that even he must have been surprised at. He was like Trump in taking people back to “the good old days” when racism was worse and when problems like inflation and dependance on foreign oil were less significant. The War on Drugs was a big part of his agenda; and it was a culture war.

    They called it the Reagan Revolution. It was not the usual revolution–it was a taking back by the establishment of power. The sixties and the seventies were over; and the eighties were taking over with a vengeance.

    The scapegoats became the Straight kids and others who were seen to be rebelling against the new status quo, the Fantasy Island era.

    Report comment

  34. Again, I believe that the Reagan Revolution was largely a power takeback by the old guard against the newly politicized young peoples movements of the 60s and 70s. That was bad news for confused teenagers
    who had been run over in the driveway as toddlers.

    Report comment

  35. In other words, it was not in the corporate media’s interest to portray Carter’s message of awareness of conspicuous consumption. It was not in their interest for people to cut back on using too much gas and oil.
    The corporations were almost always wanting to boost their profits, and if that meant using oil from other countries, that was fine with them. Correct me if you think I am mistaken.

    Report comment

  36. The corporate media’s agenda is to sell whatever people will buy. They do this by monopolizing the media.
    The corporate agenda is to DOMINATE the conversation so that people really believe that their twelve year old must be sent away to Straight, Inc. for months (even if this juvenile has never even been away from home for summer camp, for example) because there is a REAL Danger that Elana or Stevie is going to become an ADDICT for LIFE.

    Report comment

  37. The same way the country dismissed Carter’s idea of civic responsibility for the Energy Crises, people like my father had quit his teaching job in the inner city public school. Although this happened before Carter, the effect was the same; because the country was becoming more and more divided between economic groups.

    Report comment

  38. To be blunt, there has got to be much more tolerance for juveniles who screw up during their high school years. I think the phrase, FIND NO ENEMY is appropriate.

    Confused teenagers who screw up can be taught with kindness. How the school district reacts to the confused teenager is crucial. I maintain that the school, my parents, my friends, my relatives all reacted in the most draconian way. They were not trying to understand my confusion. They were scapegoating me immediately in order to send a political message.

    Report comment

  39. FIND NO ENEMY philosophy is the opposite of what psychiatry does, and what Straight, Inc. did. The scapegoat is the fundamental reason d’etre for these institutions.

    FIND NO ENEMY philosophy does coincide with restorative justice; and I still think this proceses can and should be allowed to work for me.

    FIND NO ENEMY philosophy to me means OPEN DIALOGUE. It means to actually try to understand why the confused teenager acted out the way he did. The confused teenager can be understood; if the people in authority actually make an effort to understand him.

    Report comment

  40. It is helpful to me to compare the way society treats the individual and the way we deal with foreign countries.
    If you take the FIND NO ENEMY approach, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan should never have happened.
    Most people realize now that there never were any weapons of mass destruction. It was an excuse to find an enemy; and to vent our anger after 9/11.

    Report comment

    • Hi johnchristine,

      I just wanted to say that I enjoy your commentary, and completely agree with all that you’ve posted here about the state of things in the world and some of the political events and players that led us here. Your comments remind me very much of some of my favorite “news” comedians – Jimmy Dore, Lee Camp, and their ilk – with directly calling things out for how they are without pulling punches or beating around the bush as if their were some silver lining to be found among all the corruption. I won’t pretend to understand what you’re currently struggling with but I wanted to let you know I appreciate what you’ve been writing here.

      Report comment

  41. Why am I so obsessed with all of this? Mostly because people in power are obsessed with sneaking into my home and torturing me every night.

    I could let go a little if the torture were to stop. I could let go a little if there was a start of open dialogue.

    Report comment

  42. I think John that with the forum we have here- it is very difficult to go into your life as it is for you now. You are reaching out here and seem to have some very spot on thinking with our American history. You also seem to be in distress and I and probably others can’t help you with all of it.
    I know when I was literally lost in anxiety due to trauma and who knows what else I had and still at times have a sense of not only all is not well but something is way off kilter.
    And most of us here would say duh but that is our world our individual lives are so unique. And we process our lives especially after trauma in different ways. I do not have a good sense of your life now just feel that every day is hard.
    When I was tangled in trauma old and new the best way to get myself through was the simple act of checking my body. Am I able to move my fingers and toes?
    Can I breathe? Can I move my knees and elbows?
    Can I scribble on a pad?
    CanI walk?
    Can I sit?
    We are unable to see your life as you live it but those are some simple things I did when things were really bad for me.
    My situation got better but is still hard.
    I just learned how to endure with life as it is. Nothing made sense, nothing seemed to get better.
    I am living a life option z. Not what I had hoped for in terms of life. Many of us and most humans are.
    One has to go second by second minute by minute. And if writing helps – go for it. I hope for better days for you.
    You are smart and perceptive and some of us share the same memories of the shift in the country. Dwelling on all that – I don’t know how helpful since the daddy’s are still ongoing. Again minute by minute. My latest thought there are only so many worms in a can of worms. They are of a limited quantity!
    Thinking very small and acting in small ways. Folks do this in psych units. If nothing else one learns to keep going though not the keep going one dreamt of but whatever works for the moments.

    Report comment

  43. The comparison between Straight, Inc. and the Thought Police in Orwell’s 1984 seems appropriate.
    What the heck were the parents so upset about? I really don’t think it was about the drugs so much.
    I think it was more about their little babies growing up and beginning to think for themselves and to
    experiment–to try and fail. The parents were being control freaks.

    Report comment

  44. Straight, Inc. is another industry that was built on a faux outrage idea. Most of those children were scapegoats in my opinion; and there was very little drug problem if any. I know teenagers experimented with drugs; but the parents certainly over-reacted by sending them to Straight, a very abusive organization that
    parents trusted wrongly and blindly.

    Report comment

  45. My high school superintendent, Robert Boston was the driving force in bringing Straight, Inc. to Cincinnati.
    The school administrators were turning a blind eye to the abuses of the program; because they simply wanted compliant students–and if that meant zombified, brain-washed, intimidated inmates, then so be it.

    Report comment

  46. The school to prison pipeline took off in the 1980s; and Straight, Inc. was a scapegoating system. It was for parents who did not want to sit down and have a real problem solving conversation. They sent their
    children to Straight, because they themselves panicked. To be fair, the whole suburban culture was panicking that their babies were going to become drug addicts and die. Who was fanning these false narratives? Ron and Nancy and their fanatic followers–and there were many.

    Report comment

  47. The author of this article, Cindy Etler, says that parents paid Straight, Inc. to make their children disappear.
    This is a true story and it happened a lot; and it is still happening.

    The ACLU called Straight, Inc. “a concentration camp for throwaway teens.”

    There seems to be a cover up by the powers that be happening right now. They do not want to admit how
    much fear and intimidation were at the top of the agenda at Straight, Inc.

    Psychiatry is very closely related to this same kind of brain-washing, in which the authority figures, and the peers together try to break down the individuals belief in themselves.


    Report comment

  48. I still find it unbelievable that the first lady Nancy Reagan endorsed Straight and that school superintendents embraced Straight. They put on a show for them when they visited; but the reality of the programs were far different. The juveniles were spit on, sat on, yelled at, confined for months, and generally terrorized. That was the program. And Nancy Reagan and Robert Boston either didn’t know or didn’t care to know the truth.

    Report comment

  49. I remember when my high school friend John Lilly sang in the school music festival. He changed the lyrics of
    Neil Young’s song the Campaigner from “even Richard Nixon has got soul” to “even Bobby Boston has got soul”.

    I wonder if John Lilly was aware when he sang that song that our high school superintendent was responsible for bringing Straight, Inc. to Cincinnati. I say that because Straight, Inc. was an indoctrination/ brainwashing center that was extremely abusive. A lot like psychiatry.

    Report comment

  50. In hindsight, John Lilly and Bobby Boston were both on the same side, with regard to the conspiracy against me. It was a political alliance to stamp out deviance, and it has been brutally unforgiving.

    I am still asking for restorative justice–which will be a correction from the extremely punitive situation I am in now.

    Report comment

  51. Hello, the superintendent of a prestigious public high school in Cincinnati actively recruited an abusive, brainwashing cult to set up shop locally in order to terrorize his students. That happened around 1979-1980. That happened…people should be outraged.

    Then, freakishly, the First Lady of the United States endorsed the program and the “war on drugs”.
    She even brought Lady Dianna, a real princess to tour the place where teenagers were abused at a Straight center outside of Washington DC. Nancy was endorsing brainwashing and abuse. She was endorsing torture.

    This was definitely a backlash against the young, smart, and organized youth who had helped to end the war in Vietnam…because the old guard was still furious and looking for revenge…

    This weird dynamic is partly why The Reagan’s were so polarizing. It still feels a little risky to speak poorly of them, even though they are long gone…I don’t even understand exactly how my own parents felt about them…except that they seemed mesmerized by them, like everyone else. It was as if the Reagans turned everyone into happy zombies—and if you weren’t happy, then people noticed and you were persecuted.

    Report comment

  52. For those who believe in peer programs, be aware that Straight relied on peers in order to make it seem legitimate and fair. Nothing could be further from the truth. It was abusive brainwashing. Children were locked up in warehouses, and the peers were just pawns who were used by the adults in charge. The agenda at Straight was fear, in order to get the children to obey. There was no thought of restorative justice.

    Report comment

  53. The peers in Straight were mostly intimidating, tall, male and older teenagers. I think of them as the goon-squad because they did sit on people and find other ways to humiliate and wear people down.

    It was a combination of physical and psychological torture, and remember this was an organization that was endorsed by the First Lady of the United States.

    Report comment

  54. The condemned teenager finds himself in an existential situation. He has been isolated without trial and without any chance to dispute the charges against him. He is not allowed to apologize and seek forgiveness. Instead he is tortured and made into a scapegoat. This is fascism.

    Report comment

  55. It is interesting (but wrong) how private companies like Straight used techniques like brainwashing and torture and were somehow able to get the government to approve and endorse them. What kind of democracy are we?

    Instead of open dialogue and restorative justice to deal with minor problems like drug experimentation by teenagers, the trust between parents and their children was severed by the intervening private company which clearly had a one sided agenda. So this actually makes the problem worse. There is no trust after torture and brainwashing.

    Report comment