ESCAPE FROM THE CENTER FOR FEELING THERAPY (The Cult of Cruelty)
ESCAPE FROM THE CENTER FOR FEELING THERAPY
“The Cult of Cruelty.”
In Memory of Dr. Margaret Singer
by Paul Morantz
(c) Oct. 2010
This is the story of what the L.A. Times called “the longest, costliest, and most complex psychotherapy malpractice case in California history–Rains v. the Center For Feeling Therapy. This November marks the 25th anniversary of the Center’s closing due to revolt of its members.
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As the criminal case and my civil case with Synanon concluded in l980 and only a few cases remained with that organization of which I was certain would soon be settled given the overwhelming evidence we had, a sad realization came to mind.
I was 35 years old and the emotional highlights of my professional life were behind me. It was inconceivable that anything in the future could have the intensity of my fight with Synanon. What could happen that would ever reach such emotional heights? What legal case could be compared to the intensity of one where they tried to murder you and it became a running news story for several years?
It was as if I lived the part of an Alfred Hitchcock character. The guy, minding his own business, accidentally discovers a terrorist plot that endangers society. The bad guys have good reputations and it is difficult to convince anyone of the danger. Worse, the bad guys become aware that you have figured it out and you know they are aware. Therefore, you either stop them your self or you die.
It is great dramatic fun when we watch it in the movies and the plot with its many variations have entertained us over and over again through out our lives whether it’s Carry Grant in North by Northwest or George Clooney in Michael Clayton.
But living it is another thing. It is beyond explanation although this site is an attempt to communicate it. I would later realize that I suffered post traumatic stress syndrome but I certainly did not think that was the case at that time.
But I did know that the rest of my life could be emotionally flat due to such an experience. I realized because a loved one had fled in fear I might need danger for emotional attachment. It seemed clear that having emotions over any litigation again like this was not likely. What could compare to this?
How wrong I was.
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I often joke that the divine power that had sent Golden State Manor, Synanon and est across my path was far from ever being through with me. During the Golden State Manor case I received a clue that Synanon would follow by the ironic selection by the defense for their expert Dr. Keith Ditman who in August of l957 had given the LSD to Charles Dederich from which experiences Dederich would later claim the concept of Synanon came into vision.
Now in the midst of the Synanon wars I received the clue to my next assignment.
Brainwashing would be again the issue but at the moment this time the target was me. I had to escape first in contrast to my helping people escape Synanon. Also before my entrance into the litigation all had escaped and my job was basically mop up. But before it was over I would attend more depositions, review more documents, interview more witnesses and spent more time than I did on Synanon. And I learned still more on the frailties of human beings.
The crystal ball to my future came in June of l978 in the midst of my getting the Butler kids out of Synanon (See Escape from Synanon III) when two young girls from the “Plant Pushers” who went to different buildings each day to sell plants met me in the lobby and sold me some plants. Having purchased from them they usually looked me up when they returned to my building and showed me the plants they brought. As I was not very good with plants I was often replacing them. My system was not adjusting to the plant, but the plant had to adjust to me. If it could live in the chosen space and be watered once a week fine and if not it had to be replaced. You might say I had a brown thumb. It made me a continual customer of the Plant Pushers.
I also would pick plants for my mother or gifts for a friend. I always thought plants made more sense than flowers because they could live a long time. And so the Plant Pushers became my friends, too. That they were young and girls may have something to do with it.
As I approached D-day in the plan to rescue the Butler children in June of 1978 I became so concentrated that the world around me was nonexistent. I remember after the rescue seeing a stranger in our office and finding out he had been hired weeks ago. But what I had been experiencing was so intense I had just not “seen him.” And in this condition with an apparent game day scowl the Plant Pushers found me alone eating lunch at the building outside Café.
They sat down and wanted to know why I was so sad looking. I told them about Synanon, the brainwashing, cruelty,violence and my hope to get 3 children out. The girls then said that as I was in such stress I should consider coming to the Center For Feeling Therapy where people lived stress free. I listened as they told me they were part of a community who lived together in harmony by following a better lifestyle. They said they lived in Hollywood around the Center for Feeling Therapy building where their lives were guided by wonderful therapists.
I listened and said what they were describing sounded like Synanon.
But they protested that no one was harmed and everyone was happy. They were having an open house on Friday evening and I should come see. They seemed happy and I decided to go. My curiosity was to see what made it different from Synanon; that it could succeed as they stated while Synanon had failed. We agreed to meet at a restaurant across from the Center building in Hollywood.
After I entered the restaurant they joyfully greeted and hugged me. Then they took me from table to table and introduced me to other members. Each member stood up and shook my hand and tried to make me feel important as they expressed how happy they were I was attending. As I looked around I realized that at each table a prospective recruit or recruits sat all waiting to be taken at the same time across the street to the Center for “Open House.”
The members were very organized, like Open House Night was a regular activity. I realized that I and the other non-members were there as recruits. While I was aware of what was going on because of my work, the others present who were being treated so graciously were unaware they were targets.
After dinner I was herded with the others across the street and into the Center Auditorium. A film was shown. It was about how wonderful and great Richard “Riggs” Corriere, Joseph Hart and other Founders were and how fortunate it was that they had dedicated their lives to making the world better for everyone. What was missing from the film was any explanation of the Center process or theory of therapy.
When the movie was over you really knew nothing more than you knew before it started other than that you have been watching smiling faces and fantastic people. Then a speaker came on stage and told of what a nerd life he had before he found his way to the Center. Then he introduced his wife who was a striking blond, the message being that if you joined the center you could be transformed into a person deserving such a mate. The hairs on the back of my neck were standing up.
We were then shepherd into another room where a woman explained the Associate Program. She said that after several months of therapy members would be able to be therapists themselves by being giving clients therapeutic advice to non-members for $50 an hour (which went to the Center) by mail and telephone.
At this point, my hand went up in the crowd. It startled the woman as apparently she was not used to being questioned. I said, “it is illegal in the State of California for an unlicensed individual to give therapy and it is unethical to give therapy by telephone or mail.”
The woman looked at me for a moment as if she had no idea what to say. Finally she said, “What we are concerned about here is not technicalities but helping people.”
I saw my Plant Pushers faces. They had the look of horror and disgrace. They knew it was known that they were the ones who brought me. They were responsible. They looked as if they feared punishment. Worse, I saw angry faces staring at them. And at me. Time to exit.
As I drove home I knew at the Center I was not going to find a Synanon alternate that somehow worked but rather a clone. I suspected the worst. But the worst I could dream up was nowhere close to the reality I would discover two years later after it all ended. I would litigate against the Center therapists for 5 years for what they did and stand over administration proceedings to revoke their licenses, taking part in over 225 days of depositions, countless motions, reading a room full of diaries and note books of over 40 patients covering the mean time of five years each, many 9 years.
What came out was what some have called the most horrific and brutal school of psychotherapy that probably ever existed and ultimately licensing revocation hearings that were among the longest in California History. Two books were written, one entitled “When Therapy Goes Insane ” by Carole Mithers.
For me the ultimate moment in investigation was when I read a transcript of a Center press conference at Esalen, where a Center leader after describing their process was asked by a reporter, “This sounds like Synanon?”
The Center therapist responded in agreement. “Like with Synanon”,” he said, “critics fail to see that once one learns to live from feelings he needs to live in a feeling community.”
Yet the recruiting brochures sold it as a 6 months to a year program.
While as stated I had escaped recruitment in l978, so had all of the approximate 350 patients in late 1980 when the phone call came asking for me to lead the resurgence, i.e. sue. They were all going through the pains of separation and trying to reconstruct their lives and adjusting to how they would make their own decisions. They had come long ago thinking they were inept and needed transformation and now added was the concept there were so stupid they had bought in. A majority had received some counseling from a meeting with thought reform expert Dr. Louis Jolly West , the head of Psycho neurological Department at UCLA, and CBS had interviewed many for a televised a news special called “The Cult of Cruelty.”
It had been the way that the Center ended that perhaps makes it distinctive in terms of its historical significance. It confirmed Dr. Robert J. Lifton’s theories written in 1962 (See Characteristics of Totalitarian Movements) stating that people subject to thought reform at a suppressed level have a repressed anger to the control that if allowed to surface could rupture into rage. This was the basis of revolutions.
In support Dr. Lifton pointed to the events in May of l956, when satisfied with control, Mao Tse Tung decided to allow some independent thinking and freedom of debate to allow people to vent grievances. It was thought this would lead to new ideas and improvement. Mao called this letting a “Hundred Flowers Bloom” expecting this to be “as gentle as a breeze or a mild rain.” Instead it became a hurricane of disillusionment. In six weeks, the movement had to be squashed and refresher courses on thought reform instituted. The former critics had to denounce the criticism; those who did not were arrested.
This is what happened at the Center but the hurricane could not be stopped from running its course.
Ted Patrick’s theory (See Ted Patrick) was also confirmed. He said deprogramming occurs when a person realizes one lie. His brain will then work out all the others on its own.
The Center’s control over its members was based on the belief of 2 lies. One was how the Founders lived in perfect harmony. The Founders lived in a series of homes in the Hollywood area on Sierra Bonita with the rear facing Gardner Street where the fences were removed in between. There was a basketball court, barbecue, pool and Jacuzzi. This was known as the Compound. The therapist, the lie said, lived perfect lives due to the mental state each and reached by going through therapy themselves. The goal for each patient was one day to be worthy of living in the Compound although they could never reach the Founders’ level because the Founders, too, were still doing the therapy and continuing to evolve. Thus the patients would never catch up. At the time of the end the patients lived in assigned apartments surrounding the Compound hoping one day to be accepted in.
The 2nd false representation was that the therapists themselves had gone through the same humiliations and physical striking as the patients and as they have now happy lives it was proof that the experiences patients were suffering was necessary and good as it led them to an ultimate state of perfection.
In November of l980 some founders and junior therapists themselves in a attempted coup against its leader Richard “Riggs” Corriere let it be known both representations were false. Life was not Shangri-La in the Compound and the therapists were not happy with their own therapy received. They and the patients would be treated better.
Revolutions result, per Lifton, not from the tightness of controls but the lessening of controls that allows its members to taste freedom and then hunger for more.
This is what happened.
Money was collected from the patients to a build-a-gym-fund but no gym was built. However, a Ranch was purchased in Arizona where “Riggs” Corriere could play cowboy. Patients were rotated up as an honor to come to the Ranch but when present were used as ranch hands without pay, some sleeping in the barn. Riggs also worked the other therapists hard who were not so overjoyed at playing Ponderosa. Therapists back in Los Angeles, temporarily free of Riggs wrath, were verbalizing anger over their low pay and Riggs grandiose ego. They talked about Riggs dictatorship and pressure he was applying on everyone to make the Center grow. But the only one who would get rich was Riggs.
Patients at the Center reported to their groups on a Tuesday night as usual. Group 1 being the highest was led by Riggs. The lowest group—Tombstone– was for the people who were such losers they were in danger of being tossed out into the bad outside world where they would not have other people with whom to live with who also had ability to live by their feelings as they were taught. Their support would be gone.
This was just one aspect of the system of rewards and punishment, i.e., a person could be moved up or down in group number based upon loyalty. The higher the group you are in the more status you had, group 1 patients having almost therapist like power.
But on this Tuesday evening each group was told surprisingly by its therapist-leader that not all was well and changes were coming, including less hitting (Sluggo Therapy) and demands on recruiting. In group 1, with Riggs the leader still wearing his Cowboy hat in Arizona, therapist Jerry Binder asked Rigg’s group to speak about what they think of Riggs. They responded with paying Riggs homage and expressing loyalty. But Binder stopped it and said what he wanted was what they really felt, and it was OK now to speak. He urged them to say what they really felt.
Expressing feelings of anger towards another in the Center was called a “bust” which was similar to a “haircut” in Synanon, i.e., a person stands while another shouts their disapproval with derogatory words about their behavior. In the Center, a therapist could bust a patient by shouting, swearing or even striking. Often other patients would join in and patients were taught to bust other patients outside the therapist presents if they witnessed negative thinking. Patients were sometimes physically struck and pushed around the room by their fellow patients until the thinking was corrected. The idea was to “interfere” with your fellow patient for the patient’s benefit. Some patients contended they eventually learned to self punish themselves or a negative thought.
But the idea of busting Riggs had been before unheard of and it was known prior critical statements had led to terrible punishments. Binder had to make an effort to get them past their fear and speak up.
Finally a patient did the inconceivable act. She shouted her anger over her treatment by Riggs and the pain he had caused. Other patients slowly joined in and then like wildfire it ignited, each trying to out do the other. The emotional release was so extreme that it was reported that some patients threw up over the balcony.
They fell like dominoes, patients suddenly free to talk to others about the complaints of brutality each had suffered. For two days the therapists busted Riggs over his treatment of them. Patients were allowed to watch. He was accused of being a dictator, cursed for his ethnic demeaning, particularly of jews who made up a significant portion of the community. Dr. Lee Woldenberg, it was said, complained he was not allowed to go to his father’s funeral and feared that he would go to jail for what they had done. He said since he had been part of a cult he was not responsible for what he had done to others. Another therapist complained of being struck in the face. Inappropriate sexual behavior was discussed.
Riggs denied guilt at first, but finally broke and apologized. Earlier, Riggs had warned the therapist if his power was ever attacked the Center would end. His prediction proved correct.
While the therapists at the Center tried to calm patients, the atmosphere in just 48 hours turned hostile. Vandalism occurred, threats were made and Riggs, in fear, left the state for Aspen. Colorado.
Now it was my job to explain to them what had happened and to seek redress against their abusers. How did this all come to be?
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To start, we have to go back to the 60s when America was undergoing social and cultural upheaval. By the 70’s hippies wanted to merge their social awareness with moneymaking and became yuppies. The humanistic movement led by Abraham Maslow and Carl Rogers optimistically assumed the conceivability of transformation in behavior, attitudes, and encouraged people to participate in self-awareness that would free their inner selves. It led to such a concentration of self that the term “The Me Generation” was dubbed. It’s big error was it embodied the view that everyone has an innate tendency to goodness and self-realization.
It did not recognize it’s basic premise was false. Many have tendencies labeled as anti-social and their inner nature were anything but good. And so wanna-be-cult-leaders and self-help scams had a large market open to them; the ultimate demonstration of the movement’s horror potential displayed in the earlier Synanon violence, Manson murders and Jonestown murder/suicides.
The search was on for a newest and quickest way to reach self-actualization with the promise of rewards similar to he/she who would build a better mousetrap. In Marin County there was wooden hot tub therapy and in Los Angeles anywhere where you got to wear a robe was popular. You counted the number of Hollywood stars in attendance and if you got past 5 you were probably in a cult. By the 70’s people were looking for a quick fix nontraditional form of therapy.
After John Lennon (fn1) in a Rolling Stone article praised Arthur Janov’s Primal Therapy,(fn2) where people screamed out their anger to be rid of all contaminants, the Primal Institute was besieged by applications.
Janov was different than est, Synanon or Moonies in that it was still operated by a trained and licensed psychotherapist. Primal therapy argued neurosis is caused by the repressed pain of childhood trauma that could be resolved through re-experiencing and expressing the resulting pain during therapy (the primal scream). Janov criticized the “talking therapies” as they dealt with reasoning and not the emotional source of Pain. Scientology, also rising in popularity in the 70’s, was similar in theory. Both held the promise that through emotional re-experience one would be freed of past traumas.
So with the overflow of applicants at the Primal Center, Riggs and other Primal therapists thought the time was right to exit and start their own Center for Feeling Therapy. The prominent Joseph Hart, a student of Humanists Founder Carl Rogers, himself, also led the way along with physician Lee Woldenberg, Dominic Cirincione, Jerry Binder, Werner Karle, Steve Gold, Nancy Gold and Linda Binder. They would later be joined by 2 lawyers acting as therapists, Michael Gross and Paul Richler, and two true believer patients Paul and Patty Swanson. “Riggs” was the head man. Yet he was not yet a licensed psychologist. Nancy Gold and Linda Binder, the two women, later lost their titles as Founders.
Together they perpetrated what many considered to be the most outrageous psychological malpractice in the history of the profession.
Those who came were predominantly young, often college graduates peering out at the world they faced in fear, wondering if they would succeed in love, business and friends, feeling they had not so far and in need of some help to make their way to nirvana. Mistaken or not, most believed they lived Thoreau’s lives of quiet desperation not yet knowing that many were only feeling the pains of going through the difficult and unsure process of going from student to adult.
The Center operated from 2 corporate entities, a profit and nonprofit corporation, that had benefits tax wise. The real property itself was placed in the name of a partnership. Joe Hart and other founders were teaching courses at UC Irvine and recruited 25 students into the Center when it was opened. One day I would ask a department head at UC Irvine if they were aware of the student recruitment and I was told yes. I asked why it was not stopped and he said that there was a campus belief in allowing alternatives ideas ever since Angela Davis sued UCLA in the free speech days. I remember concluding I should have sued UC Irvine as well for turning their heads on students being convinced to join a therapeutic community with its teachers. Therapy is for those in need, teachers are not there to experiment with their lifestyles. Hart, while committing the acts he would at the Center was also teaching at my alma marter, USC. What was great about this was then after the Center litigation was over I was teaching at U.S.C. and one of the persons I taught about was Joseph Hart. I would play his tape of his striking his patient while demanding confession.
The Center was almost incestuous in nature. The therapists were allowed to have sex with patients as long as they were not assigned to them. But one female student at UC Irvine had had sex with Riggs, Cirincione and Woldenberg before the Center ever opened. After it opened, Joseph Hart joined in with her and others as well.
Relationships appeared restricted to each other; arguably incestuous in nature. As to therapists, Steve Gold was married to Carol Gold while his sister Nancy married John Hart after being the girlfriend of Richard Corriere. Riggs married Connie who was previously the girlfriend of Dominic Cirincione who at one time had been Riggs’ school teacher. Dominick married Linda Binder previously the wife of Jerry Binder. Warner Karle married the girlfriend of a patient and Jerry Binder ultimately married a patient himself. Paul Swanson married therapist may Patti Swanson and lawyer/therapist Michael Gross married a therapist as did lawyer/therapist Paul Richler. Only Joe Hart had a non follower wife, Gina, but she left and did not reunite until the Center ended.
It was said that while Connie was still Dominic’s girlfriend, one night driving in the desert in the darkness of night Riggs ordered Connie out of the car as punishment and drove off with others. Later he returned for her and that night he took her to his tent and later they married.
The pitch was that all were disordered by parental denial and discipline which denied their feelings. From that one could deduce that Riggs held his parents responsible for some childhood pain resulting from a restricted environment. The Center theory contended that a denial of “I want ice cream” interfered with the true feelings of wanting ice cream and thus caused harm which was defined as “insanity.” To become sane one had to be able to express their feelings and receive back true responses to them. Until people learned to live from their feelings all people on the street were just as insane as those in asylums.
They needed to recognize at the Center each was finally at “home.” In this therapeutic community, people would live from their true feelings and do only what they would want to do and by their very nature of their goodness there would be no racial discrimination and all people would be equal. People would not have to go to school and teaching would be unimportant. They would be a band together driven by mutual interest. It was even claimed that those who did not have the therapy could not have true sexual gratification.
The skill of a Center therapist was he/she could recognize what your true feelings were (and thus convince the patient what they were ). The therapy was also “Save Your Own Ass” which meant that a therapist should not let a patient disorder him by not living from his true feelings. Thus in a tape-recorded session when Dr. Joseph Hart, the darling of Humanistic Founder Carl Rogers, accuses a patient who talked of winning a chess match of setting the other person up and the patient denies it, Hart physically strikes the patient in the face and throws him around the room. In doing so Hart is protecting himself by expressing his feelings over thinking that the patient is lying. Hart warns this is what patient will get if he tries to set Hart up. By the end of the physical striking, the patient confesses and Hart starts demanding that the disgusting patient start confessing all of his life crimes. The patient would stay for approximately 8 years until the Center fell.
The Center was in my opinion was a classic mental imprisonment by using what I have called the double-bind, i.e., that the patients are taught they are miserable people who could not exist without the Center and at the same time because they are at the Center they are part of a superior race that, as Synanon too believed of itself, was the best of the 20th Century. People outside the Center were called “NITS (not in therapy) and therefore for Center patients well-being all should be recruited to the Center. Patients were taught to bring their friends and families and people that might seem open (as the Plant Pusher girls had done with me). Thus because of the contrasting images–a success because you are there, but a mess without the Center– leaving was psychologically difficult.
To fit the times, in contrast to the long and never ending traditional talking therapies, the Center advertised that one would be cured from 6 months to a year. But by the time a year was up such promise no longer seemed relevant nor remembered when they were still there, some 9 years later, but somehow not well enough to leave. Of course, in the promotional material it did not say once you obtained a cured status to maintain it you must never leave. This revelation was only revealed later.
The thought reform began even before the patient got there. To get in, each had to write a confession of how bad their life was and prove how desperate they were for help. After the first writing, they might be told they have to confess more and show more need to be accepted. Each expressed their willingness to submit to the Center’s guidance. Many who came had no more troubles than those that accompany youth but believed they were such losers they would do anything for “transformation.”
Loneliness, of course was a factor and there was no doubt the Center supplied the missing family and friends.
Like Synanon did, the Center would change to keep up with the times, later changing its emphasis to the current fad of dream therapy and then adopting to the physical fitness gym craze, classifying themselves as endowing “psychological fitness.” But despite titles and new verbiage for each book they would write on their new emphasis, the basic system did not change.
The Founders publicly admitted that their system “washed” people into a new belief system; that if misused their therapy would be the equivalent of an electric saw cutting off fingers; that they could make people believe that Atlantis as arising from the sea and that it would be easy to “use” patients but denied due to their virtue that the same would happen.
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When a person arrived he was assigned to a therapist for a three-week intensive. This involved staying all day in a room with a therapist. The person was not to wear jewelry or makeup. During this time the patient’s innermost fears and emotions were probed and a declaration of dissatisfaction with life was promoted. It was, in my view, as if Dr. Lifton’s book on brainwashing was open and the therapists was enacting after reading the pages, obtaining the desired goals of confessions and then more confessions. The inductee was segregated from his normal surroundings, not allowed to read a newspaper or watch television and was kept awake for long hours. As a final humiliation one might be instructed to disrobe and to display his/her nude body to other patients for comments.
The verbal assaults, as with most thought reform campaigns, centered on the claim that the patient’s parents had ruined the patient’s life. Parents were described in one instance as “war criminals.” He/she was to accept therapists as “knowing ” with entitlement to being “arrogant.” The therapist was the lie detector (in Scientology the e-meter) that would recognize a disordered expression.
Salvation was the Center and only the Center. They were above everyone else and at the same time so pathetic they would be devastated if they ever left. They were sane because they were there, but all those not living from their feelings on the outside were insane and would make you insane as well. Like Synanon (containment) associations with NITS was discouraged.
And it worked. The Center achieved a remarkable dropout rate of only 20%., 13% leaving in the first months, meaning as to those who were still there after a few months only 7% ever left. If you were there six months it was arguably akin to welcome to Hotel California where the night man said you can check out anytime but never leave.
Patients were taught to be responsible for others and it was their duty to keep them there and guard against negative thinking. Friendship was to replace therapy and friends were to punish for negative thoughts by striking their friends and/or convincing them not to leave, in some cases physical restraining attempts at leaving. Another form of punishment was for therapist to levy financial fines from patients for ill behavior.
Like all malignant cults, the Center developed its own internal language. It went beyond just therapeutic terms, and included, as Dr. Lifton explained, a restriction of language that reduced reality by using old and new words with more narrow definitions.
The community was talked of as a new culture, a tribe and spiritual community. Comparisons of the therapists were made to Temple priests, exorcists, shamanists and Krishna communes. Only a Center therapist could give actual therapy. Other therapies had not gone far enough in providing the religious and philosophical need for personal meaning. The patients were taught to become therapists as a community could only work with each giving therapy to the other. No one could be transformed without being a therapist responsible for the others. Many patients obtained marriage and family counselor licenses or assistance permits and were assigned patients to work with. Some worked without any license.
A central feature of no privacy, common in all thought reform environments, was present. Alll thoughts were property of the community and secrecy and privacy were not to be maintained. It was the duty of each patient to express his negative thoughts to the community so he could be “helped.” (In Synanon this was called “breaking contracts.”)
Like Synanon, relationships were controlled and children were forbidden. Thus time would all be spent on the Center projects which created businesses that it controlled and from which patient’s worked such as the Plant Pushers girls that sold plants in my building. And they could better serve the therapists personal needs and recruit. Like at Synanon, pregnant women were told to have abortions and one who resisted was made to carry a doll around with her until she finally surrendered and aborted. She surrendered when weights were attached to the doll. Another woman, today a psychologist and cult expert, Donnie Whitsitt, was told to give up her children to her ex-husband as she was not fit to be a mother.
For patients to see their sins, assignments were given designed to humiliate. One woman had to moo like a cow; another accused of being a “suck on the group” had to bring a black dildo to group and suck on it; a former beauty queen was to wear her beauty pageant gown for a week sans makeup or shower and sleep in it; a man had to wear diapers, suck on a bottle and sleep in a crib. A patient who failed to lose her directed amount of weight was ordered to gain 20 pounds in order to experience being fat. A woman said to be too promiscuous was told in her group to get ready to be laid by every man in the group. This person claimed that when she went to Riggs he physically attacked her for saying she was leaving. Another claimed during her intensive a naked man grabbed her by the hair, pulled her down the hallway and dumped her in a room in front of Riggs where she was told she was too crazy and then locked in a room to think about it.
One Mexican-American patient who had criticized Riggs was assigned by Steve Gold for 2 weeks to be a housemaid for others while another was given laughing gas and then told to discuss sexual fantasies. Another was to assert her fingers into her vagina during group therapy and another was ordered to bang her head against the wall until allowed to stop. A therapist wrote that one patient was to become so humble she would not feel her “herpes hurting her cunt.” A document confirms that one patient was ordered to court or girl he did not like, i.e. have a “surrogate girlfriend” which not only indicates the cruelty to the patient, but to disregard for even the 3rd persons, i.e. the non-member targeted girl . Another patient was busted for failure to “get laid.”
Activity was regulated. Schedules were made for various people from the moment they woke up to the moment they went to sleep, including times for eating, seeing friends and sex. Even the type of sex was sometimes directed.
Center patients had to have permission to date and permission to break up. Permission is to who they could live with was also needed. They were told what clothes to wear, what their weight should be and what television program should be watched or not watched.
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Above all, they were we to be loyal to the Center. Richard Corriere and Joseph Hart wrote books on the Center and appeared on Geralda Rivera, Johnny Carson and other television shows billed as the Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid of psychotherapy who were dancing over the tombstone of an outdated Sigmund Freud. Just as Charles Dederich said at Synanon re himself , Center patients were told that the Founders would eventually win a Nobel Prize. Center patients were to call in to radio talk shows and ask questions pretending to be just listeners who were awfully impressed with what they were hearing. They would attend lectures and lead hand clapping and on street corners, like Moonies selling flowers, handout cards promoting the Founders books.
To teach to want to live from true feelings patients were assigned to go to bars and ask for sex. As result, women had considerable sexual promiscuity while the men had continual face slapping. Couples were assigned what days they could have sex, even ordered as to how many orgasms they should experience. Sex was like “shaking hands.” One document noted an assignment for a patient to have sex every day. At least one therapist, it was said, sometimes masturbated in hot tubs to show they were free. As stated, therapists had sex with patients not assigned to. As would be expected it was difficult for some patients to deny a therapist’s advance given the trust in the therapist knowing what was best, the concept taught they benefited from “favor” to therapists by having close “contact” and the esteem they would find in the community as their selection would be a stamp of sanity. In some instances, there were multiple partners. Unfortunately, as therapist moved from one affair to another, the discarded patients in the closed-in community had to witness their old therapist lover with a new patient-lover.(fn3)
Being taught to say your true feelings led to many patients being fired. New employment was encouraged for all in one of the many Center related patient-run businesses such as CAR (California Auto Repair) and Miskis Construction Company. One wealthy patient, Winn McCormack, was assigned to work for the construction company for one year without pay. Some businesses would give the therapists expensive gifts in return for their assistance. The Construction Company help build the compound and CAR gave Riggs a specialized dune buggy, ironically the vehicle of choice of Charles Manson. Ultimately the Center created MAC (Management Achievement Consultants) which assisted the operation of various patient businesses for either a flat billing rate or percentage of the gross. MAC in turn hired Riggs as its business advisor. Some businesses, some claimed, were instructed to pay MAC under the table to avoid taxation.
As stated, to oppose any Center concept was a negative thought and a suggestion that the person may still be crazy. Therefore patients were taught to recognize negative thoughts and beat them down without help from anyone; and when observing a negative thought in another, out of love, will save that person as if performing an exorcism. Patients were told they could “flunk therapy” which entailed not doing what a therapists told them.
As Dederich admitted to Synanon’s use of brainwashing, and was also so stated in Synanon’s resident historian Steve Simon’s dissertation, the Founders in their books admitted much of what the Center did, stating it “conditioned” patients to act in certain ways by use of “behavior modification” through strong intermittent reinforcement.
When the Center ended, so did many relationships. Patients who loved their mates found out that the other was only with them because of pressure. Some stayed married but feared the future of the relationship without the Center’s control. The Founders stated therapy was to be replaced by friendship, admitting the therapy was intended to set up social structure, omitting it supplied Founders with workers, supports and a financial base.
The goal was to bond patients to life at the Center; to take young people concerned they were living desperate lives, confirm that, and teach a lifestyle that held out as a carrot stick of promise of happiness—a lifestyle that included dedication and servitude to the Founders.
Center documents, brought to me by Doni Whitsett, suggested money was behind it all. The Center’s goal was to make the Founders rich.
There was a document displaying a “Funnel” showing how the issues reached the Center. At the top was the associate program where patients gave cheap therapy by mail and telephone. At the bottom of the funnel was the Center community. The midway from the top to the bottom was the real moneymaker—The Clinic.
The Center itself was limited in financial growth. By its geographical nature, like Synanon, it could not have an unlimited population. But the Founders, the Whitsett documents suggested, had a plan to exploit the world. Patients were trained to become therapists and to obtain some form of license that could allow giving of therapy. In some cases it was a psychological nurse license, a psychological assistant, an M.F.C.C., etc. Then clinics were set up with plans to recruit clients to the clinics that would make millions for the Founders. Clinics could be built limited only by the financial growth necessary to keep building. But the plan was they would be expand from city to city. The Center ultimately owned 64 pieces of property, including the Arizona Ranch and the square blocks creating the Compound in Hollywood. Some clients were directed to take on Center therapists as financial consultants either directly or through MAC. Patients were directed to work for various patient-businesses as part of therapy, some without pay.
Some therapists at the clinics had gone through the Funnel and were part of the Center compound. As it had been taught to be well it was good to have contact with the role model Founders and to do therapy was part of therapy. It was easy to teach the desire to be a junior therapists working at the clinic (clinicians) for low pay, long hours and treated as slaves who could be punished, even fined, for failure to reach recruiting goals and for losing a patient.
As part of this plan Riggs wrote out a script, which was in Whitsett’s Clinic manual, wherein the clinicians would direct a patient to invite someone close to the patient to come to therapy so they could work on their relationship. Once the invitee arrived, it was scripted what the clinician would say to the guest in order to get the newcomer to become a patient. The clinician would say things in substance like now that the friend is here why not discuss things the friend would like to improve in his/her life. Added was how happy the clinician would be to discuss how the Clinic might help the target accomplish those goals.
Thus, people who had not even entertained the idea of going to therapy were being seduced as invitees to come with their friend/patient unaware the goal was their being convinced they could benefit from being a client. In California, such use of therapy as a recruitment tool is unethical. But as the woman who said to me in l978 when I remarked that certain Center practices were unethical, that per the documents ethics did not appear to be a criteria that the Center considered.
Clinicians, it was written, were taught that the Center was business and clients were investments; the Center selling the prestige of being in therapy. Financial information was taken on each prospective client so that the client would be treated in a fashion that would “max out” his ability to pay. The clients were encouraged to take out loans.
Another method to make money and recruit was to establish the Phoenix Associates which was a patient run public relations group designed to promote the Founders including delivering patients to cheer and clap when a founder was to lecture, or phone in with rave reviews when a Founder was on a TV show or radio show. The “underground” consisted of patients who pretend to be disinterested non-patients who would respond positively at the lectures, appearances and talk shows. They were also show up at college campuses and airports to give out Dream Maker cards that promoted the Founders new book. Contests were held as to who could give out the most cards. Riggs, per Whitsett documents, advised “every time you hand out a card– I exist– I’ve done this for years.”
According to Donni’s written clinic documents the goals was to establish 38 clinics in Los Angeles in 10 years with $4000 in payments from each patient. They would take areas where the highest income families were and they believed that they could eventually gross over $1 billion and provide 50% as salaries.
Another writing said the goal is to have 978 clients by next year and grossed $1 million. They bragged they had done one half million that year. Riggs and Warner, per the writings, boasted they are “the vanguard of a new psychotherapy and school.”
The Center even held a recruiting contest in which one competing patient team call themselves the “Body Snatcher’s.” The recruiters, per Donnie’s documents were to proceed in a “charismatic” style so that the target would like them.
A “target marketing’ profile was written. They wanted someone from Brentwood, Beverly Hills, Westwood, the type that can pay. One clinic was given a recruiting quota for one month of 40. The written complaint was they had only obtained 38 the previous month. It was written that the most “important thing now is recruiting– Recruit family and friends of the one-week (a Center workshop for the public) yours NOW!! This is the best time.”
It was very important to communicate, per the writings, a message to the recruit that at the Center they will be taken care of and they were also to say how wonderful it was listening to Riggs and Werner and to advise about how successful the therapy is. They were to say it was like hearing Freud speak and that the Founders were the foremost psychologists in the country, if not the world.
“Take your quotas seriously! You are responsible for numbers!”
That this was all a fraud was apparently not internally concealed, per the documents, or it is just assumed all therapists trusted all their instructions. Elsewhere (see Characteristics of Movements) I have stated smoking guns were found in all these type of cases I handled. The leaders gave too many written orders, and their egos lead them to tape record and write books. Whitsetts’ saved her copy of the Clinic manual and documents which gave written documentation of the plans, with multiple pages referring to the subject of recruiting and bringing back “terminations (patients to quit).”
At one time I asked a California Psych Board investigator why Center licenses were not removed when their books were published detailing unethical conduct. He said, “who reads.?
And I responded well read this piling on several Center books, brochures, manuals and patient diaries that had been in the possession of patients.
The Whitsett documents included instructions to keep an ambiguity about the organization in order to avoid lawsuits and to get patients to sign certain consent forms that might prevent them from ever suing while being told they were “just a formality.” In one document entitled “Ethical Consideration Re: Notes on Client Visits” it is stated that “it is important to document what you ( the therapist) are doing with your clients in order to protect yourself and the client should suit be brought against us or you for malpractice.” The document then gives examples of the “right”” wrong” ways to describe particular events that occurred in therapy including assault and humiliation. Instead of “busting” for being a “creep” you write about intervention to improve behavior.
The clinicians, per the manual, were given “Hints On How To Persuade” and recruitment quotas. They were instructed to tell the targets they were many talk shows Riggs had been on and that outsiders are psychological barbarians. It was written, “We are the only psychologist in the world who are in the 20th century.” The Clinic rule book stated the job was mostly to feed the therapy. They expected in the future to get people in groups from the Clinic into the therapy community. People were not to be told what it is, but only taught that a “Phase 2 was coming.”
The manual taught how the therapist were to be dominant in a session including telling a person to shut up, keys them or ridicule, even threatened.
One page referred to the value of asking questions that call for full disclosures and indicate this is success Scientology had in this area. Memos were written stating that goals were to “step up recruitment” and “step out termination.” If a therapist has a patient thinking of leaving the patient is to be told to take steps to prevent it accusing him/her of planning to fail.
One Clinic document instructed telling patients “I recommend that you increase your therapy impact right now by bringing in your brother, sister, etc.. Another document assigned one clinician to get 60 to 75% of people from a dream course (a Center public workshop) into the Clinic. Another added Donnie Whitsett was assigned to get two terminations to return.
They were even instructed in the documents to tell the same “Center Story” I had witnessed at the auditorium in June of 1978, i.e., that it all began because the therapists got themselves together because they felt good and wanted to share.
Sometimes the clinician manual used the words “sales” and “closing.”
It was written: “if you can get a person to believe they need your product, they will move a mountain to get it… best technique is to get a person to admit that they are not getting what they need. Use classical questioning… adults pay more attention to the face and tone of voice than the words. Paint a word picture to someone in their words that make them value what you have.”
A document directed lying by clinicians– “give a false deadline– I’m limited as to how many people I can take..”
Written orders stated “in each session, set a sales goal. Not therapy.
The clinician therapists were directed, per the manual, to practice selling one time a day for 5 minutes. They were to practice such sessions before doing them. Clinicians were further fined for losing clients or failure to bring in. A “hot list” was to be kept on high-priority people. It was to be advertised that they don’t take everybody because they are the best.
Paul Swanson, per Whitsett documents, directed it was a clinician’s job to know why a person was going inactive and to hold them. They must come to sessions, he wrote. Forms were kept for recording efforts of recruitment and the hours spent. Under “Training with Konnie” it was directed:
“Eyes…manipulate them, stare them down… are you going to commit?… Are you ready to commit your self to a successful life…? I want you to know you can have this.”
The target, per Whitsett documents, was also to be told he had to qualify and that he would not even be selected unless it was thought that person would benefit the Center as well. To get the clinic clients into phase 2, it was written, the theme was “bonding.” If the people claimed to be too poor there was a directive to suggest they takeout loan. If the prospect said he lived too far away, one clinician suggested he/she was to be busted for being lazy.
On another document Swanson directed each client must be maxing out his client’s ability to pay and another clinic directive stated that a patient in therapy for a year is not paying more would be a waste of the therapist skills, adding,
“Think of clients as your investment. By increasing their functioning, you are increasing your salary. Don’t have to recruit more people, just increase functioning.”
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Hart and Riggs were intelligent people. This was not done, I believe, through error or good intentions, and while some other Founders and therapists would claim victim status Hart never did publicly. They knew sex with patients was not appropriate (how could they not?), and what they were doing appears from Whitsett’s documents to have been mainly for exploitation. While most cults offer a save-the-world motivation, and the Center did say they were the best, per Whitsett documents the goal appeared primarily money; a lot of it. They knew directing their patients to patient run businesses was interfering with their lives, because it was, and was to their profit. Patients became what Synanon called “dog robbers,” people assigned to the needs and care of a therapist which might run from cooking food to shining shoes. Therapists are supposed to help patients; but at the Center, per Whitsett documents, it was the intention the patient support the greed and self aggrandizing of the Founders.
When it ended 9 years later, the victims’ self-respect was shattered, their financial assets nil– as obtaining their own personal wealth had not been their goal. Worse, they lived with the knowledge the younger years had been stolen and could never be regained. And who would be they trust again?
Sometimes I debated over which was the worse horror. Both Synanon and the Center, and all cults that reach a malignant stage, create victims who live at two levels that conflict back and forth for supremacy—one that they are so happy because they have been taught they are sane and at same time have fear of having their negative thoughts arise and expose them as insane. As Dr. Lifton wrote, if the latter surfaces in mass the anger leads to a massive emotional explosion. Physical violence even murders is what you may have if the conflict is not stopped.
The Center used “hitting” but never reached Synanon’s violence. But on the other hand Synanon probably never was the psychological threat the Center was to its own members. Charles Dederich wanted to be rich, but he had also the goal to be the Godfather of a small experimental community wherein he was worshiped and designed better behavior, even if most of it came from his childhood ailments (See birth of Charles Dederich and Synanon). Rather than conquer the world, he wanted to be left alone surrounded by his faithful. Further, in earlier years there was an actual effort by many in Synanon to make it a great place for educational and an exciting life. There were at times achievement in those goals.
Est and the Center sought global expansion so in some other ways were bigger threats. As stated their goals were money (for est see Escape from est — How I saved the Los Angeles Police Department). The Center patients, in my opinion, were far more harmed when the Center ended, then were Synanites, and certainly far more angry. They had lived believing any negative thought was a denial of true feelings and were given “assignments” to write down and review their faults, a constant reminder of an alleged better life now at the Center and how happy they were to be around the therapists. They believed the pitch if they learn to live from feelings there would no longer be social or sexual games, people would want to learn, there would be no racial discrimination, children would be equal to adults and people will live for the good of society.
When a patient disagreed with a Center therapist the therapist could bust the patient and direct a patient to his true feelings. And if that direction was not acceptable to another therapist a patient could be busted again and further redirected, never knowing which wind to follow. They never could be right.
While Synanon was a mixture in the sophistication of its population, the Center basically consisted of intelligent middle-class persons, professionals, left to ponder what could be so wrong with them if they ever could have been in such a state of servitude to people who in the end one could say that far less morals if not far more problems than they.
They were returned to society years later basically untreated for whatever problems they did have and unable to separate out what they didn’t have but were told they had. From the moment of their intensive they had been convinced to confess their craziness and to find more to confess. They had placed their vision of reality in the trust of the therapist. Bonding into the new community they were discouraged from contact with the prior life that they now had to re assume. Would their new found friends accept them or understand? In the Center it was okay to “eat with your hands” or “bust” another person with intent to interfere with their perceived disorder. But in the outside world, that accomplished lost jobs and being shunned. Their fears of their future that may have led them to the Center in the first place had now been magnified,for many almost a decade of advancement potential lost. They had been taught to forget society and lived by the Center rules of status which for some may have temporarily abated their fears and problems. But that status was now gone as were the given friends, places to live, mates and even jobs.
How were they even to learn to make decisions? Abuses they had suffered had been rationalized as therapy, but now that fraud had been exposed suppressed suffering surfaced. Dr. Lifton wrote this process turns people into something childlike and now these mostly young adults plucked just shy of adulthood were still very short of such status.
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The lawsuit was filed in 1981 and I represented over 40 plaintiffs. I might just as well have represented many of the Founders and the therapist as arguably all save Riggs was harmed by the experience though I suspect that Riggs would say he was the victim of betrayal.
The first year and a half little activity took place in the case, which was good for me as that time allowed me to finish two more Synanon cases and assist the Department of Justice on the Synanon tax case. It is possible the Center lawyers needed that long to prepare before starting the depositions. With approximately 8 defense lawyers and over 225 days of depositions it was a cash cow for court reporter’s Patty Porter. In fact everyone made a lot of money. The insurance companies one might think would want an early settlement to avoid such cost but a medical malpractice insurance case cannot be settled without the permission of the defendants. We were not going to accept anything less than every dime available and thus defense lawyers wisely sought certain concessions from the insurance carriers before settlement to protect the defendants future exposure and somehow it never got resolved until trial was set. Having made an offer for full policy limits, the insurance companies risked by law being responsible for the entire judgment– which might have set the Guinness world book of record– if consent was given. Each was playing their own form of Russian roulette until finally they found their solution and the case was over
All the Founders and therapist were defendants. Yet I could see in most their own pain. One defendant broke down crying during deposition, and admirably and surprisingly the defense allowed me to take the therapist into a room alone and talk to her. Silently without comment they did it trusting I would never use this event in court, that the person needed help and I was probably the only one in the room who could give it.
What I new about cults was that those that bought in so deep they became part of the tyranny that oppressed the others suffered the most guilt and damage. They suffered not only what was done to them but for what they did to others; after the fall it hurt being defined as part of “them” and being shunned by the former members. Some of my clients who were too close to the top suffered similarly and were less accepted by my clients. While there were exceptions, some came knowingly to the top wanting power, say Dan Garrett, Dr. Doug Robson, Walter Lewebel in Synanon, Nazi Paul Joseph Goebbels, possibly Joe Hart. I had no doubt this woman was torn apart by the experience and her own resulting punishing conduct, as did the Swansons.
The lawyers never even asked me what I said. I told her that it was all right to cry. That all the plaintiffs had generally broken down and cried at the start of the 2nd day of the deposition. I said while she was a defendant I knew she was a victim to. “Everyone in that place was a victim.”
I assured the woman defendant that her life would return, that the litigation was just the post drama, there would be a settlement, no trial, but until then it had to be played out. I told her my clients in the end find the experience cathartic and healing. I said I expected she would to.
A gag order exists on the contents of the depositions in order to protect overall privacy of the non suing patients and unfortunately I cannot tell what testimony was given by Founders, including Riggs and Hart.
Lou Marlin and Stanley Saltzman headed the defense team. Both did the majority of examination. I had obtained a court order limiting the depositions to four days without due cause. A few went over. Both Marlin and Saltzman were brilliant attorneys and their examination, which I cannot quote, generally tried to take what the plaintiffs believed of themselves and thus question if so what was so wrong to bring it to their attention by blunt mechanisms. Second they hit at if it was so bad why do you stay? Marlin was brutal at times and eventually I took his condescending conduct before the court which put some limits on him. Fact is, this was Marlin’s weakness. A jury if sympathetic, as I believed it would be, such conduct by Marlin would be seen as an extension of the defendants. Lou and I were at war with each other. And he was clever. When serving interrogatories he varied the order of questions for each client to make it more difficult for me to set written guidelines for my clients in answering but I countered back with a formula referral system that allowed me to give advice to all questions one time rather than each one separately to each client as it had been designed to achieve.
In the end Marlin changed and before the case ended we were good friends. He was the brightest defense lawyer I battled but this was a war no defense team could win.
Saltzman was just as effective and maybe more as he could do it without being cold blooded. At first he was unfriendly but as time went on and he saw that I was obsessive enough to see this to the end, prepare all those plaintiffs and get them through depositions day by day, he knew, too, it was all just being played out. Once he said words in effect that a case like this can only get through if there is a Paul Morantz. I was not sure if it was a complement or a put down; perhaps a combination.
The first couple of depositions arguably went well for the defense in the sense of the plaintiffs were at a lost as to what to say to the challenges. But the remainder of the patients were told the questions they would face by me as each week I was in deposition by day and preparing the next at night. We also had designated time off. Knowing the approach, the patients had no problems with the questions. They were confused how to explain their conduct because it was not conduct that was rational or could be explained. I instructed they could answer as to how their beliefs were forced upon themselves and I told him before responding to any questions know there are two answers—one what they believed while at the Center and the other what they believe now and should ask to give both answers. If the questioner’s did not allow the same at least the record was set that there were 2 answers. Then they would give whatever prospective they were asked, not worried they had not been given full opportunity to explain. Importantly I advised when commentating on their self image to point out if it was created by the Center.
In advance of deposition, each plaintiff verbalized and thought out how he/she gave up his/her autonomy, what fears made them stay. They also listed the worst events and the ways they were now suffering harm.
As I suspected they might several of the Founders appeared at each deposition. I suspected this because given the dominance of the therapist they would have to consider that the ex patient just might come apart and redress to their past state. One of my clients could not testify in their presence and I attained a court order allowing him to testify in a chair with his back facing the room and his staring at the wall.
But as to the others, I rallied, in substance, saying you should hope that all the therapist show. “Because then you are going to look them in the face, right in the eyes, and tell the truth. And then the truth will set you free (In old Synanon saying).” And it did.
When we took Riggs deposition I rented the Riviera Country club in my Pacific Palisades so that as many of my clients who could would attend and watch Riggs forced to answer under my cross-examination. Seeing him in that way would demystify him. The ex female student from UCI Irvine that Riggs and the others used as a sex toy spent a lot of time assisting me. As she had been a Riggs dog robber and part of MAC it helped her regain acceptance from others. I also knew Riggs would likely cringe to see his former No. 1 fan, participating in going after him, worse, now my friend.
I initially had another attorney assisting me but his failure in this area and the expense we faced required more help. I split from the lawyer and instructed the plaintiffs to choose who they wished to represent them. I believe about 5 stayed whith that lawyer and he then made quick settlements .
I brought in Tom Girardi, of Girardi, Keese and Crane, who was probably the most feared trial lawyer of the time (and still is). He also seemed to have considerable political and judicial clout and was a master at keeping everyone happy. It seemed he gave gifts to many, perhaps some that judicially today would not be approved. Adjusters both feared and admired him and all wanted to be on his good side. But Tom loved the case and trusted me to do the job. He made a fair fee deal with me that took into consideration all the work done prior to his involvement and took over the huge financial responsibility. He also assigned Tim Milner to assist me who was an excellent attorney. Tim was eventually able to understand the concepts and relieved me at some of the plaintiffs’ depositions .
A book could be made on the depositions but the depositions were sealed to prevent inadvertent testimony becoming public re a non-suing person’s therapy. What we were all hearing and witnessing day after day was pain. Group dynamics definitely formed and an atmosphere of joking took over as a necessity to relief, an agreement we all knew would benefit no one to point out at trial, but a necessity for our own sanity.
As always, in all my cases, there were the smoking guns. And in this case, like Synanon, a smoking arsenal.
A young defense lawyer, my age, James Von Sauer, was a surprise. From the start he resisted the defense pressure to play team ball. He took the position that all of what the plaintiff’s were saying was true, but that his clients Paul and Patti Swanson had been patients originally too and were equally victimized and what’s more were suffering for what they had done. It was a brilliant move that took guts. But the idea was to save them from punitive damages which are not insurable. By testifying to truth against others, James knew I probably would not ever ask for punitive damages of the Swansons. And he was right.
In the middle of the case I got married. James attended the wedding. Eventually other non-founder therapists started seeing a similar light. After Jerry Binder lost his license in his administrative hearing even Lou Marlin surrendered having Werner Karle recount, apologize and state it was an abusive cult. It saved Karle’s license as he was able to make a deal for probation and temporary suspension in turn for testifying against the others. He would also lecture on what happened at the Center.
Joe Hart had actually left the Center shortly before its fall which was a major event the defendants had to soothe over with what most believe was a feigned explanation to their patients. But luck would enter. As stated above, after the Center fell the patients had undergone a mass session with known brainwashing expert Dr. Jolly West, who had spent a lot of time on television explaining Jonestown. Just before he left Hart had written Dr. West a letter asking for information on “brainwashing.” Dr. West gave us the letter.
Worse for Dr. Hart, his brother John wrote a dissertation on the Center called “From healing to hurting” basically stating what we contended. And we got a hold of it.
Dr. Hart lost his license and if it is true as I suspect that Dr. Hart finally figured out the horror of what they were doing and thus contacted West for information, and he most likely knew of his brother’s dissertation, somehow he should have separated himself from Barash and Hill, their private attorneys who controlled the case and who may have made the mistake of not providing him separate counsel who could have given him the opportunity James and Lou ultimately gave theirs—admit the truth and take a suspension.
Under the law, when intentional claims are pursued that may not be insurable the insured is allowed to select his own counsel. The Founders, save Karle and Binder, chose Barash and Hill. The carriers, as their right, brought in Fonda and Gerrard, Saltzman’s firm, into the case, which meant they paid two firms. They let Marlin proceed without assistance. Neither Barash and Hill nor Fonda and Gerrard saw the conflict or if they did they did nothing to prevent all swimming or sinking with Riggs. No attorney who represented Riggs, in my view, could represent any other defendant as to do so would deprive those of opportunity to argue, at least alternatively, that if there was responsibility it laid solely on Richard Corriere.
The other non Barash and Hill represented defendants could make decisions like the Swanson’s to tell the truth, as even Karle represented by Marlin did, but it was impossible for the other Barash and Hill clients to claim they were victims and point the finger at Riggs when their attorneys also represented Riggs. I suspect, perhaps, the role of Riggs dominance, that even Hart may have fled, was just not seen until they were too deep. I have little doubt that Saltzman saw it later, I am sure knowing myself I must have said something to him about it. Letting him know he made a mistake would be also be a reason for him to to push settlement. I felt comfortable that this case would settle.
Barash and Hill made an even bigger mistake. They filed a lawsuit by their clients against patients who had spoken on CBS show for defamation. We cross complained against CBS saying if there was any defamation it was the manner of CBS presentation which it controlled. What I was trying to do was get CBS in to the fray for its financial ability and contribution. I also did not like that the news, knowing of likelihood of suits, could use people for ratings but not protect them. The appellate Courts ruled CBS was not responsible for anything said not true and did not allow the suit.
Saltzman had told Barash and Hill not to do the defamation suit (Hart action) and Marlin wisely kept his clients out of it. What it did first was allow my clients to tender the defense to their insurance carriers (mostly home owner policies) which allowed them to select, as the complaint sought non insurable damages for intentional actions, their own lawyer, which was me. This allowed me to be paid for my time for the five years while holding a large contingency fee in our case outcome.
Now I was on equal footing for the next 5 years, i.e. paid for every hour they worked me although I doubt the pay was equal. I took the normal defense fee and cut it in half as I felt that was just since I had a contingency fee in plaintiffs’ case and both cases were consolidated for discovery. I then split that fee equally with the carriers. From what I understand, Barash and Hill did not so divide their fee half to each case suggesting they never expected to win Hart (defamation) action, a fact I planned to point out when I won the Hart action and filed a malicious prosecution case against the firm and the Hart plaintiffs. I let them know I would so file often loudly appraising Barash and Hill furniture. Barash and Hill and the Founders insurance companies also ended up in a fee suit.
Even better, because of the Hart action, my client’s insurance companies picked up the deposition bills saving Girardi a small fortune in advance expenses and saving my clients having to deduct from their settlement those high costs. Also, some of the insurance carriers brought in their own firms, in addition to me, which gave me additional attorneys to assist. All of them knew this was my area and deferred to me. I started each deposition and I dolled out the work loads, always careful that anything that required my specialty was only done by me.
One time I got angry at one of the woman lawyers on my team for errors and she started to cry. I apologized and said, “It’s not my fault my mother raised an asshole.” She then laughed.
Barash and Hill, also to my delight, sued Dr. West who despite talking on CBS had a policy not to be an expert witness. If he had not been sued he would have not agreed to testify. Also of luck, the State of California for its license removal cases hired Dr. Margaret Singer, my friend and the expert on brainwashing. I already planned to use Dr. Singer, but now the state was paying the bill to educate her on the case. Another large savings for Girardi and an ultimate saving to my clients.
Added to all this our judge retired before trial and somehow the case was assigned to Judge Jack Tenner who everyone knew was a good friend of Tom’s. Judge Tenner was a judge in my opinion who did what he wanted to get what he wants, a breed of few, but not unfamiliar.
The Hart action was a distraction to settlement. The defendants did not want to dismiss it when I was telling Barash and Hill they were all going to be sued for malicious prosecution.
The prospect of a malicious prosecution over the Hart defamation case became better near the end when in the Hart case we deposed Dr. Lee Coleman.
Dr. Coleman was my hero, friend and expert in my big first case (See Escape from Golden State Manor) when with passion he analyzed records and testified as an expert for the first time, stating the Thorazine records indicated drug use to control. We both had admiration for each other and I called him first about being involved with Synanon on the issue of brainwashing. I had then not known he had been referred to me by a Scientology front group, not then that would have that mattered.
But he told me then, to my surprise, he was on the other side on this issue and thought the whole thing was made up by therapists to persecute religions. I wonder what he thought later when he read Synanon tried to kill me with a rattlesnake.
Now he was hired to testify as an expert for Hart plaintiffs that statements by Dr. West about the Center were not qualified based on a single meeting with patients. This boo boo by Barash and Hill was bigger than their filing the Hart case in the first place.
One, they had to realize my past relationship with Dr. Coleman, the trust he might have in me, and the possibility he might thus turn. When he showed up for deposition it was like seeing an old friend, and he let me know he was glad I survived the rattlesnake.
Second, they hadn’t really prepared him on what was in the Center documents and patient diaries, so they ran a real risk because Dr. Coleman was basically anti-psychiatry, a critic of the drugs and talk therapy. In his book Reign of Error he would ultimately write while with medicine there is some scientific rationale in psychiatry “you can do just about anything you want to” including what ever to make someone “more manageable.” Some treatments, he wrote, were in essence “torture.”
The lawyers should have foreseen Dr. Coleman’s response to what I would present in documented evidence. At this time, Dr. Coleman was making a good deal of his living as an expert, and if I could not turn him, I feared I may have been responsible for a Frankestein’s monster, i.e. introducing him to field of expert testifying.
In advance I obtained everything he had written and hit pay dirt. He wrote an article about where he was asked to determine if a boys home used “brainwashing” (the same thing I asked him to look into re Synanon but he refused) and he answered affirmatively showing a good deal of knowledge on the subject.
I thought what an impeachment tool if he testifies brainwashing is a myth or tries to deny Center methods correspond. He would never be able to testify again as his credibility would be destroyed for any litigation anywhere. I decided in the end he had been a friend and I gave him a message, stating, before we started, “I want you to know I have read EVERYTHING you have written” and hoped he got the message. If he knew I knew about what he wrote about brainwashing he would then, I assume, testify consistently with his article.
The result was Coleman mid-deposition, having also been shown internal Center documents, came over to our side, it set things me up for me to demand in writing based on his testimony the Hart action be dropped as it is clear any prosecution could only be malicious.
Instead, Barash and Hill dropped Dr. Coleman as their witness, instead hiring new expert. But as we had spent money deposing him by law we could call him to the stand.
* * *
Tenner near the end asked me to help fund settlement by having the insurance carriers for the defendants in the defamation case contribute because it would be cheaper than continuing to defend the Hart action. I was asked to ask them to come to court to discuss it. I refused, saying to me that would be a conflict and I would have no part of it. These carriers had a duty to indemnify my Hart defendants, but not to pay off my plaintiffs and Imy duties were owed to defense of their insureds and to their carriers. The carriers could do it, but I would not advise or participate. I told the Judge he would have to call them on his own.
After that, I dropped out of the settlement conference and let Girardi finish it. I went skiing with my wife taking along our one year old son. My being there was not a necessity. Girardi was clearly better at closing than me and with my feelings towards Tenner I thought I might interfere.
In a mountain restaurant in Utah I instead watched my son take his first steps standing up,
Some of the other smoking guns included Steve Gold’s letter to a person saying he is recovering from his experiences in the “cult.”
Each patient was instructed at the Center to keep a diary and maintain their own records. A big mistake. Approximately 40 patients turned over approximately 3 banker boxes each that I would search through. Somehow from Synanon I had learned to speed read through documents with my eyes automatically halting upon on a discovery. There would be pages upon pages of nightly dreams and meaningless notations, and then would appear one jewel, a reference to a assignment they were given, busting or other wrongful treatment. Reading it sometimes became both fascination and horror seeing how patients could describe nightmarish actions, their humiliation, but treating it as somehow for their benefit. But I had seen the same before with Synanon, and later again, over and over, in other cases.
One patient, call her Diane, had a letter addressed to a prior therapist she never sent. Expressing it as if she had wonderful therapy, Diane described doing volunteer work for her new Center therapist as a means of “contact” with her therapist. Diane described herself as constantly exhausted and that when she was pregnant she went ahead with the abortion. She talked about how the Center patients were recruited to itemize responses to a Center contests in the Star News. She described her therapists declaring she should be “chained” to a male patient romantically that she did not want. Diane wrote she went along because she knew any attempt to break up an appointed relationship would be met with strong opposition as being an inadequate expression of feelings. So she stayed in the relationship for 5 weeks but was yelled at and made to feel a horrible failure and non likable person in group. Diane eventually, she wrote, said she was leaving but others that caught her on the steps and dragged her back into the Center struggling. Diane wrote she was accused of trying to kill herself by leaving and told she might as well try suicide. Diane said she was pushed up against the wall when then struck she hit her attacker in the face who threatened to kill her if she tried it again. She wrote that later Joe Hart commented that the violence seemed to upset her. Domenic, she wrote remarked “just stay around for a while.” Calling herself “scared shiftless” Diane continued to go to therapy. Hart, she wrote, commented that Diane was becoming more “emotionally dependable.” Diane wrote she started trusting him now even though she felt it was “risky to trust them.” She penned:
“ It seems like I’ve been wandering through a dark tunnel for a long time. I’m still in the dark, but I think there’s a light up ahead. Maybe there’s an end to it. I want so badly to feel good here again. “
Upon his reading the letter, she claimed Werner Karle told her not to send it. I often wonder what if she had? What if her prior therapists had read the letter? Would he have contacted the California licensing Board? Would he have boarded a plane to Los Angeles? Would he be armed?
One can only assume that if the letter had been sent to Diane’s prior therapist the Center might have then ended then. I tried to imagine sometimes the scene of an army of state investigators descending upon the Center led by the former therapist, who if like me might have also brought the Marines; the patients huddled in confusion like the children at the end of the movie in Lord of the Flies when an adult rescue team finds them as they had evolved alone on an island.
Doni Whitsett turned over her Clinic Manual which was the source of the Center Clinic financial motivation quoted above. It also contained directions to write entries in patient charts so as not to reveal busting or assignments. By example:
“ WRONG: John was really into her today. I busted him for being a creep.
“ RIGHT: client appear defensive and resistant today. I confronted him on his negative attitude and opinions.”
Threats of being tossed out or a sent to the clinic were recorded. Another document said: “it took 10 years for Riggs to develop his compound, and develop close ties to his friends” while another said,“Riggs needs us. Otherwise, he would not have environment to function in.”
Still another said that the Founders needed patients for their own survival.
Rains v. Center for Feeling Therapy also resulted in a landmark legal decision (see posted Rains v. Center for Feeling Therapy). The defendants succeeded in having our cause action for battery based on hitting (Sluggo therapy) thrown out on the grounds it was part of consented to therapy. I filed a writ of mandate, which are rarely granted hearings as the appellate courts have little time for pre-judgment appeals. But this one was granted a hearing and the appellate court reversed holding the alleged representation the hitting was therapeutic, while concealing it was for control, vitiated the consent.
A Professor considered the leading authority on Torts stated that the decision forces all doctors to properly explain their procedures are risk suit for unconsented battery.
* * *
In incident occurred during Joe Hart’s deposition I will never forget. There was an exchange between a Barash and Hill female lawyer objecting that I was reading questions from a book and should show the quotation to the witness and my responding I was not quoting the book and pushed it to her saying show me where I am reading it. It was a large round table and all were startled, most of all me, that anger shook within me released my hands in a two handed push such the book did not slide across the table as intended but flew never touching the table top across the diameter of a large round table like in Camelot that all the attorneys circled, all the time the book no more than an inch off the table in flight, but slightly rising. It reached her with such force she could have been harmed if her hand did not raise and deflect it. Even then it’s force caromed the book and it hit the wall hard.
It is something I knew I did not have the strength to do if I tried it again and wondered if anyone could do it. Retired Judge Jerry Pacht, who I had known well when he was on the bench, was Judge Tenner’s discovery referee. He was called in and after hearing the facts told me to go home for the rest of the day. The next day in front of the lawyers I gave the female lawyer an apology gift. She opened it and found a catcher’s mask which got everyone laughing. She took it pretty good which made me sorry for having to sue her later for the malicious prosecution of the Hart defamation action.
Trying to figure out what caused that book to fly remains for me an unresolved mystery. Was it all the pain of the Center case? Synanon, too? Anger that brainwashing is real? Was it my childhood hatred of being called a liar? Maybe all. But what I think most was maybe at that moment I had become a Center patient/therapist; Joe Hart striking a patient so he was not disordered by concealing his feelings towards the patient. I had heard all at the depositions, read it in the therapists books and seen it the records. The Feeling theory was that you disordered yourself if you did not express your feelings whatever they are. At that moment had I followed the theory I studied for so long, did I follow the command of my feelings and somehow pushed that book with strength my wrists did not possess?
I should have asked Joe Hart what he thought since he saw it and was there when I returned the next day and we resumed.
During the years falling the Center’s fall, the former Center patients kept in close contact, as did Synanon Splittees who formed the Network of Friends. Some difficulties between the ex-patients could be seen that paralleled who had more power in the Center and who did not. Some busting may have resurfaced when ideas for dividing the settlement were debated.
When the litigation ended, so too it seemed did their association. Synanon members eventually re-united through a closed web-site around 2000 but I doubt if any Center regrouping ever took place. Synanon members still had some fond memories of their closeness, Center patients only had pain. Personally, I thought while they definitely needed each other to cope with at the Center’s end and society re-entering, it was best they dissociate and scatter in order to put the hell behind them. Unlike most other groups, including Synanon, I am not sure I ever met an ex Center patient who found the experience positive.
I believe three ex patients rallied for the Center and testified for the therapists, testimony including the other complaining patients were wimps. But 3 was not a large number and as I watched them I concluded they were still seeking Founders’ favor, to show they were sane and worthy of the compound that no longer existed. I doubted they had less pain, it was just more masked and departmentalized.
One of those that three the stand for the therapistshas since written me about the pain he suffered there, including losing his wife to a Center therapist. Another who had testified, and had never done well with women, had been given a girlfriend by Center therapists. He was her therapy assignment,one of many artificial relationships the Center created. A problem here was the assigned women has been said to have been lesbian. Whenthe Center was over she left him for a girlfriend. He committed suicide.
I suspect the other has long since suffered as well.
With Golden State Manor and John Gottuso there were latter case reunions. With Synanon a decade ago I tried to organize one but could not get enough key figures to commit to same date. I regret that. With the Center, I never entertained the thought. To me it would be like asking concentration camp members to a party celebration fifteen years later. I didn’t think such a get together would be beneficial.
The insurance companies loved the job Lou Marlin did and started sending him work. He went from a lawyer working out of his home to a large defense practice. But he and Stanley Saltzman recognized each other’s talent and formed their own law firm, Marlin and Saltzman, which specialized in class action lawsuits which is where the money is in law. Good lawyers make fortunes in class actions and I am sure they are both well-off beyond dreams. The work on a large class action is highly time consuming, as was their experience together on the Center case, but it is generally far more financial rewarding than a cult case.
For years I kept in some contact, sometime calling Stanley to ask what he thought about a particular class action idea, always telling him to say hello to Lou who remained in Orange County.
James Von Sauer went into private practice and after a life of crazy romances recently married. He now lives in Republic, Washington. From 2003 to 2006, perhaps at my influence, he became the Prosecutor for Ferry County and is currently running for Judge. On his online site resume he lists among his complex cases, Rains v. Center For Feeling Therapy.
He also let the voters know his pre-law experience as:
1972-78 Free-lance actor, soundman, and asst. cameraman;1974-75 Automotive repair, Louie the Wrench, Hollywood, CA; 1966-67Tortilla Flats, NY, NY, food service, dishwasher, second cook, and, bartender; 1967-69 Art restoration apprentice to Roy Mosier, Hollywood, California; 1973-77 Bartender at the Bel-Air Sands Hotel, Edna Earls’ Fog Cutter Restaurant, Martoni’s and the Jolly Roger Restaurants; 1972-73 Bellman, limousine driver, and bell captain at the Bel-Air Sands Hotel.
Michael Lamb represented Dr. West and we became good friends during the litigation. When the Center case settled the Hart action was dismissed by the court on motions. Earlier, we had made a summary judgment motion attaching all the hot documents and arguing what the patients had said on CBS was true based on Center’s own documents. Other comments, we said, were justifiable opinions over a public concern and public figures. Tenner ordered it heard by a private judge which the law does not provide (private judges can be appointed for only discovery matters, not to resolve legal issues) and assigned the case to Judge Jerry Pacht.. Judge Pacht, who I had always respected, denied the motion but gave a speech, I have no doubt directed by Tenner, that the Hart action was weak and should be dismissed with a promise by patient/defendants not to sue for malicious prosecution. This would help Tenner get the case settled.
We filed a writ on the denial and the Supreme Court granted a hearing which meant it most likely was going to grant dismissal on free speech grounds, but when a back-load of work developed in l986 due to Chief Justice Rose Bird and two associates being removed, the writ was dropped by the High Court from their calendar. The voters had removed Bird for her voting consistently against the death penalty.
When the Hart case came to trial we refilled the motion in a series of motions in limine form arguing for advanced rulings as matter of law each basis of the suit was without merit and no trial was warranted. Again, we attached the Center documents with admissions and repeated the same arguments on free speech. The judge, preventing a 3-month trial or longer, granted our motions and the Hart case was over. I had two client/ex-patients who were not part of the Center lawsuit and thus did not participate in the settlement. So they sued Barash and Hill, Hart and Riggs for malicious prosecution, as did Lamb for Dr. West. Barash and Hill had not only made an error in filing the suit, they errored in naming two patients who had not sued and thus as they did not share in the settlement they were not motivated to drop their claims for wrongfully being sued. A malicious prosecution action requires that the original case be brought without supporting facts and for malicious reasons. Barah and Hill could have claimed it believed their clients, but once all the documents were discovered they were on notice the persons sued had spoken reality. Added was the ultimate testimony of their own expert Lee Coleman once he had been shown Center documents. Malice could be inferred from it being a tactic against the Center plaintiffs, an effort to silence them and not a bonefide claim. As it was, all the malicious prosecution suits were quickly settled.
Two of the Hart defendant insurance carriers did not pay their portion of fees and costs. The other carriers picked it up. But I sued the non-paying carriers and then settled for what they owed plus for bad faith damages for not defending. One company, Farmers, did not even pay the settlement and was sued again. Then they coughed up even more. After taking a normal contingent fee from the settlements the carriers that had picked up the non paying carrier’s tab were reimbursed. One adjuster told me I was the only attorney he ever knew do something like that.
A Pepperdine law student, Tony Ellrod, worked on the Hart dismissal motions and following he assited on the Molko case wherein the California Court confirmed right to sue for brainwashing (see Escape from Unification Church). Ellrod today is a partner at a major defense firm.
I did not keep track of the other defense lawyers. I don’t even remember
all their names. Michael Lamb I saw in court a year ago. I didn’t recognize him at first but heard the judge say his name. I followed him into the hallway and said Michael its Paul Morantz . He didn’t recognize me at first. Then he saw I was not in good health. We hugged. I asked him to call me but he never did.
To my knowledge the State Bar took no action against Paul Richler or Michael Gross for practicing psychotherapy without a license. The statue does make exception for attorney’s counseling but I do not expect this was the type of counseling meant to be excluded. Even if counseling legal, if the conduct was so wrongful it arguably may have required action anyway. If asked, I would have said no. They were just victims like everyone else and there was no reason to conclude that free of the Center they could not practice law. Of the therapists, it seemed they had the fewest complaints. They probably had their own damages.
Judge Jack Tenner became a sought after retired judge hired for dispute resolution working at J.A.M.S. He died in 2008 at age 88. He was honored as a Judge who was involved in many of the city’s civil rights struggles over the last 60 years, including fighting restrictive housing covenants in the 1940s and helping to elect some of the area’s most prominent African American officeholders — including the late Mayor Tom Bradley.
One story on his death said: “A specialist in personal injury, product liability, malpractice and wrongful termination, he was known for his fairness and powers of persuasion that brought warring parties to the settlement table. He handled complex, multimillion-dollar settlements as a private judge or mediator in cases such as the Erin Brockovich case involving water contamination by Pacific Gas & Electric in Hinkley, Calif.”
Tom Girardi was a key figure in that contamination case for the Plaintiffs.
Art Janov continues on. In 1993 Janov stated his therapy has been investigated for over fifteen years by independent scientists and the findings confirm Primal Therapy is able to reduce or eliminate a host of physical and psychic ailments in a relatively short period of time with lasting results. Center therapists had made similar claims.
In 2010 Janov said primal therapy is one of the most heavily researched private psychotherapies extant in the world. On October 10, 2010, the anniversary date of my snake bite, Janov advertised on the web:
“Become a Primal Therapist.
“The Primal Center and Foundation is now calling for student applicants for the Fall semester. Please contact the Primal Center for information.
Dr. Arthur Janov “
As I had from Sanford Gage (See Escape from Golden State Manor), I learned a lot from Tom Girardi. Most of all was that after many conversations I had asking his input on responding to each of multiple options the defense might employ he made the good sense response, “Why waste the time trying to figure out the response to each rather than wait to see which one they select and then respond to just that.” I never forgot that advice for the rest of my career and applied it to all aspects of life.
As stated above, the case was settled while I was skiing. I spoke to Girardi on the phone and he paid me a compliment, saying he gave a lecture the other day (Girardi was and still is LA’s most powerful lawyer) wherein he stated to the audience that if he was ever in trouble the lawyer he would hire was Paul Morantz.
We reunited quickly again on a Scientology case that was in far away Riverside. For court appearances Tom some times had me delivered in his company limousine with Tim Milner. Tom breakfasted when available at a caboose shaped restaurant and generally that is where we met. We made a settlement in that case and I thought Scientology was acting very reasonably but our client would not accept it. Girardi then withdrew. Scientolgy had sued the client for defamation and I was his counsel paid by his carrier. But an agreement was made where the policy was sold back to the insurance carrier for a significant sum that was then given to another lawyer to finish his own case against Scientology. I did it because I believe the law was heading to no insurance coverage for all acts that could be only committed intentionally and so it was better to settle for a sum that another attorney would accept as a fee. Later a legal decision came down confirming my prediction was right. In the end, the new lawyer obtained probably a better settlement then we had. The client was courageous having also published a book on his experiences in Scientology for which they sued him also.
Unfortunately, that was the last I saw of Tom Girardi. The fee in the settlement of the Center case was held up in distribution for considerable time in trust while issues of referring attorney’s interest and interest of attorneys whose clients left them for us were resolved. When that finally occurred and my portion provided was missing one half of the interest on the money assuming it had been maintained in a savings account. After countless efforts at communication were ignored I was forced to file a lawsuit. I was then paid one half of the interest although I have no idea how the money was invested or held. Tom’s position seemed to have been that he was accounting for not getting any of my defense fees for defending the Hart defamation case for the insurance carriers. I countered that was my time, I did not bill full-fee and I had asked him if he wanted his firm to work on the Hart action and be billed at the same rate which he had declined. A legitimate issue or not, it was last I saw of Tom.
Girardi certainly did not miss me. While the Center at the time may have been one of his biggest cases, if not biggest, Thomas V. Girardi in 2003 was inducted into the Trial Lawyer Hall of Fame by the California State Bar. He is former President of International Academy of Trial Lawyers limited to 500 trial lawyers. He also became the first trial lawyer to be appointed to the California Judicial Council, the policy making body of the state courts.
Girardi obtained more than 30 verdicts of $1 million or more and has handled more than 100 settlements of $1 million or more. He has tried more than 100 jury cases.
Ultimately Girardi was behind a settlement, $4.85 billion – with pharmaceutical Merck for personal injuries to consumers of the drug Vioxx. It included:
In Re Vioxx Coordinated Cases, JCCP Case No. 4247
Settlement, $1.9 billion – for California consumers were defrauded by the manipulation of natural gas prices.
Natural Gas Antitrust Cases, JCCP Case Nos. 4221, 4224, 4226, 4228
Settlement, $1.7 billion – for California consumers were defrauded by the manipulation of natural gas prices.
Girardi’s advice to me once in the 80’s was put it in real estate. I assume he did. He may be thus the wealthiest lawyer who ever lived. I would have been a lot smarter to forget the interest claim. Maybe that is what you are suppose to do if you want to hang along and get the opportunities to go after the big bucks with the big guys.
But for me, I knew I was where I always would be, fighting cults. And for that I might need every dime I earned.
By Lois Timnick, The Los Angeles Times, April 21, 1986. Copyright Los Angeles Times:
“ In what has become the longest, costliest, and most complex psychotherapy malpractice case in California history, the state is seeking to revoke the licenses of 13 psychologists and other mental health practitioners after investigating complaints of fraud, sexual misconduct, and abuse from more than 100 patients at the now-defunct Center for Feeling Therapy in Hollywood.
“The center – a once trendy “therapeutic community” that in the 1970s attracted a host of professionals seeking a fuller life – closed down five years ago and civil lawsuits filed by ex-patients have already been settled for more than $6 million, but the therapists have continued to practice elsewhere.
“As former patients confront their therapists in a cramped hearing room in a downtown Los Angeles state office building, one central question permeates the proceedings: Are the complaints merely the distortions and fantasies of troubled patients, as the defense suggests, or was the center a cult run by greedy, manipulative therapists who “brainwashed” patients into subservience, as the prosecution contends?
“Deputy Atty. Gen. William L. Carter, who is prosecuting the case, calls the case a tale of “brutality and fraud” made possible by brainwashing.
“Defense attorney Thomas Larry Watts and the key defendants declined to be interviewed. However, in his opening arguments Watts portrayed his clients as innovative therapists who developed unconventional techniques to treat “lost souls”: young adults caught in “the radical peace movement of the ’60s and the Yuppie generation of the late ’70s and the ’80s,” and consequently “uncertain of their place in society.”
“Good Reasons for Techniques
“He predicted that ex-patients’ testimony “as to certain alleged events will range from outright lies, we believe, to such extreme exaggeration as to be totally unreliable . . .”
“Center psychologists had good reasons for their techniques, he said. For example, a psychologist might ask a female patient who was acting seductively in a therapy session to take off her blouse “as a technique to cause her to see her own behavior for what it is.”
“It has been three years since the state, through four professional licensing agencies within the Department of Consumer Affairs, moved to revoke their licenses, but hearings did not begin until late last summer.
“ Prosecutor Carter said the delays are the result of a combination of factors: the Board of Medical Quality Assurance’s initial skepticism about the bizarre allegations, stalling tactics by the defense, the difficulties of tracing witnesses years after the alleged violations, the scheduling problem posed by a series of hearings estimated to require a total of 61 weeks, and the sheer volume of the cases – which involve 150 witnesses, 200 pages of allegations, 800 pages of affidavits, and nearly 4,000 pages of documents.
“The psychologists are accused of having “engaged in and/or abetted the unlicensed practice of psychology, committed acts of dishonesty, fraud, or deceit, committed corrupt acts, engaged in sexual misconduct and other physical abuse of patients, and committed numerous other proscribed acts constituting grossly negligent conduct . The accusation states that their techniques smacked of “cult brainwashing,” and that “in order to break down and control center members [they] utilized racial, religious, and ethnic slurs, physical and verbal humiliation, physical, especially sexual, abuse, threats of insanity and violence, and enforced states of physical and mental exhaustion.”
“The Center for Feeling Therapy, which opened its doors in 1971, grew out of the human potential movement of the ’60s, when many in search of psychological fitness flocked to primal therapy or gestalt workshops. The center’s founders, some of whom trained at Los Angeles’ Primal Institute (which later disavowed them), were hailed by their patients. as “new Freuds” and trumpeted by an active public relations staff.
“By the time the center closed in 1980, it had about 350 members – mostly college-age men and women in their 20s and 30s who lived communally in a compound of Hollywood houses and operated a host of small businesses, such as car repair, construction, and plant sales. It also established clinics in Boston, San Francisco, Munich, and Hawaii.
“Feeling Therapy” combined the patients’ re-experiencing the past, expressing present feelings, dream analysis, and behavior conditioning in a rigidly structured setting and at a cost of thousands of dollars. The goal was to recognize and respond to one’s true feelings by working through “primal pain” caused by parental denial and discipline.
“Among the defendants are center founders and leaders Richard J.Corriere, now practicing in Aspen, CO, and New York City, and Joseph T. Hart, Jr., now director of counseling at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. Both once taught at University of California, Irvine. The others are Stephen D. Gold of Mission Viejo, Michael R. Hopper of Fairbanks, Alaska, and Werner Karle of Corona del Mar. (Many states have reciprocal revocation policies that allow them to honor out-of-state license revocations).
“ Karle, in an effort to keep his credentials, has admitted to many of the allegations against him and his colleagues and, in testimony and a signed stipulation, acknowledged that “feeling therapy involved patient brutality” in a cult setting practiced largely by unlicensed individuals.
He said he had ridiculed some patients, calling them “stingy Jew,” “nigger,” and “crazy,” and abused, struck, threatened, pressured, and had sex with others.
“He asked to recommend that he be suspended for one year while he performs community service, including lectures to professionals about the danger that group therapy can produce “group thinking or cult-like thinking.”
“Corriere, 38, who has attended the hearings sporadically, conservatively dressed in gray pinstripes and aviator glasses, has yet to take the stand. Hart, a hulking, red-haired figure in corduroys, has completed two weeks of testimony in which he denied some of the allegations and attempted to explain others.
“Tape of Session
“For example, both the defense and prosecution played a tape recording of a therapy session conducted by Hart in which sounds of a patient apparently being beaten up are heard, and in which the therapist tells the man, “One more ___ time and I am going to rip you apart . . . I’ll knock the ____ out of you.”
“I believe I said ‘kick,’ ” Hart testified. He explained that he was only “directly confronting” the patient, and that while he had poked him with a batacca (a padded bat) and slapped him several times, he had not caused injury.
“ Several satisfied patients have testified that they were helped by center therapy, and last week defendant Hopper took the stand.
“Earlier, 19 former patients testified about specific incidents on which the charges are based. A few examples:
- “When one woman became pregnant, she testified, she was persuaded by Corriere and Hart to have an abortion for her therapy to be successful, although she very much wanted a child and had been trying for several years to conceive.
- “Another woman testified that Gold “assigned” her to have sex weekly, despite her objections, and that Corriere helped her complete the assignment by becoming her partner.
- “Corriere repeatedly struck a male patient in the back, kidneys, and stomach for more than 30 minutes, the man testified, because he complained of boredom. During the beating, Corriere taunted him, “Oh, the Harvard graduate is bored?”
- “An overweight woman was told by Hart she was a “cow” and ordered to take off her blouse and crawl around on the floor, several witnesses testified. She complied, sobbing.
- “A male patient was tied, wrapped in plastic, blindfolded and gagged by Corriere and left alone to hear a tape of his own voice, he testified, because he was “a nobody with no personality.”
- “Patients said they were ridiculed for their religious beliefs or race. A Catholic woman testified that she was forced to make a mock confession, with Corriere as priest, in which she held a crucifix, saying, “I refuse to give in to what you taught me.” Jewish patients were taunted as “kike” or “Jew boy.”
- “Other patients testified that they were pressured to donate large amounts of money to the center, administered “laughing gas” (nitrous oxide) in therapy sessions, and instructed to fight other patients, lose unreasonable amounts of weight, avoid medical treatment, work for little or no pay, and not try to leave the center because they were too “crazy.”
“They said they signed up for what they thought was a brief psychotherapy program run by licensed mental health professionals; instead, they wound up rejecting their past lives, friends, families, and often jobs for periods of up to nine years while receiving “therapy” from other patients and trainees.
“ As the result of an earlier, separate hearing, an administrative law judge has recommended that center psychiatrist Dr. Lee S. Woldenberg’s license to practice medicine be revoked, but that the physician be given 10 years’ probation on condition that he work only as a radiologist. He is said to be doing that in Toledo, Ohio. The proposed decision is still under consideration by the Board of Medical Quality Assurance.
“The board’s psychology examining committee has adopted the recommendation of another administrative law judge that psychological assistant Jerry Binder’s license be revoked and that the Corona del Mar resident’s application for licensure as a psychologist be denied. The proposed decision will become effective Friday.
“A separate hearing on accusations against Corriere’s wife, Konni Corriere, as a psychiatric technician, was interrupted and will be resumed this summer.
“And accusations against five marriage, family, and child counselors will be heard in September. They are Domenic L. Cirincione of Manhattan Beach, Carole A. Gold of Mission Viejo, Michael D. Gross of Pacific Palisades, and Patrick K. Franklin and Paul W. Swanson of Incline Village, Nevada.
“Moreover, the lengthy state hearings are only part of a series of legal actions involving the center. More than 50 former patients filed suit against the therapists; the therapists countersued those patients and others for libel, slander, and emotional distress.
“The insurance carriers and defense attorneys are also at odds over who should pay the mounting legal fees. About 24 patients have settled out of court during the past two years for amounts ranging from $2,500 to $200,000 each.
“And last January, a group of 31 former patients, represented by attorneys Tom Girardi and Paul Morantz, the anti-cult lawyer who was the victim of a rattlesnake attack by Synanon adherents in 1978, also reached a settlement, which is to be paid by several insurance carriers.
“The terms of the settlement have been sealed, but sources close to the case say it is about $6 million.
“The alleged victims of the Center for Feeling Therapy who have testified at the state hearings appear to be intelligent young professionals, hardly disturbed enough to remain immobilized for years in an atmosphere as destructive as their testimony would indicate.
“Anticipating such skepticism, prosecutor Carter called Berkeley psychologist and noted brainwashing expert Margaret Thaler Singer as his final witness. Singer, who has evaluated several former patients, testified that the allegations made at the hearing are “extreme departures from the standards of practice of psychology.”
“The goal of psychotherapy,” she testified, “is to help patients learn skills in thinking and in control and proper expression of feelings and in getting along with others so that therapy can end.”
“Center therapists, however, used brainwashing techniques to manipulate and control patients for their own purposes, she said.
“She concluded. ‘It was a cult.’”
Lois Timmick, the author, was close to Dr. West, who after the Center case became a high priced expert. I hired him once before he passed on in l999 at the age of 74.
Werner Karle’s opportunity to lecture on how therapeutic groups can become cults as part of his license plea bargain was cut short. He was found dead after agreeing to testify against the others, allegedly have fallen off his roof while repairing it. He did have a history of epilepsy.
Bill Carter’s job was made easier by my presence as I provided him with key documents as to each Defendant Center Therapists although my constant supply of information probably drove him crazy. As administrative hearing findings are admissible in civil cases, my clients had an interest, as did society.
Today Carter is the Supervising Deputy Attorney General.
Margaret Singer never refused to assist me in a case and referred people to me. She died of pneumonia on November 23, 2003 in Berkeley, California, at the Alta Bates Medical Center. She was 82. An obituary in The New York Times described harassment, death threats against Singer, and dead animals found on her doorstep, due to her “battles” involving cults and brainwashing. A biography of Singer published by Thomson Gale states that her “enemies among cults” were responsible for harassing her. She had been twice nominated for the Nobel Prize for her work on schizophrenia and is considered the best authority on cults although the American Psychology Association with support of cult groups did not adopt her findings.
Another obituary that appeared in The Los Angeles Times claims that cult “operatives” went through Singer’s trash and mail, picketed her lectures, hacked into her computer and released live rats in her house. Statements made by her family to the San Francisco Chronicle, include allegations that one “cultist” worked her way into Singer’s office, stole students’ term papers and sent notes to Singer’s students, and that groups harassed her family as well. A Time Magazine article described Singer as an outspoken Scientology critic who traveled under an assumed name to avoid harassment.
I told the San Francisco Chronicle, “She looks just like the little old lady from Pasadena -until she speaks. Then she just grows in stature, and you see how incredibly smart she is. And tough.” I also told the Chronicle. “She is a National Treasure.”
In 2006, with no Dr. Singer to testify, I testified as an expert witness on cult conduct citing my own studies and works of Dr. Singer and Dr. Lifton, probably becoming the first expert to so qualify. The case settled after my testimony was over.
Wikipedia tells the story on the Center and calls the lawsuit the largest ever psychology malpractice suit in California. “They were represented by Paul Morantz, who specialized in suing cults.”
Richard “Riggs” Corriere had finally become a licensed psychologist during the latter part of the Center’s existence. He had been head man while having only an assistant authorization. During a break in his license revocation proceedings he appeared on CNN to tout his new book Life Zones where he smartly described himself as living in New York giving life coaching to people which he was careful to say was not therapy, knowing his license was going to be gone. When Riggs had fled the Center it was for Aspen and I believe he alternated between Aspen and New York.
I contacted CNN and asked them if they knew whose book they had just promoted? They got back to me and said they were shocked and implemented procedures to make sure nothing like this ever happened again. I asked them if they were going to do a new story on the fact they had promoted his book interviewing him while his license revocation proceeding was going on. I was told no.
Corriere and Hart’s licenses were revoked on September 27, l987. following a 94-day hearing before Administrative Law Judge Robert A. Neher.
The L.A. Times wrote Corriere:
“ …was found guilty of misrepresenting his professional qualifications and of fraud and deception at the center, which closed in 1980. He now practices in Aspen, CO, and New York City as a ‘personal coach’ and ‘counselor.’
“ Neher found that the therapists preyed on ‘young and credulous persons who were in a unique position to be misled,’ and that no patient who testified at the hearing could be deemed ‘to have consented to or anticipated the almost Gothic maelstrom that they were being drawn into.’
“He said the center purported to offer treatment by the world’s “premier psychotherapists” in a set-up that allowed the therapists ‘to solicit money, sex, or free labor from patients’ and to coerce them into ‘obsessive devotion.’ ‘By any definition it was a cult,’ Neher wrote of the center.
“The committee also revoked the license of former center psychologist Steve Gold, and placed another former center therapist, Michael Roy Hopper of Alaska, on conditional probation for five years. In all, 12 therapists associated with the center lost or surrendered their licenses since 1980, when the “therapeutic community” disbanded and state professional licensing agencies began legal action against its leaders.”
*………………………………………….. *……………… ………………………………*
Joe Hart started a new career at Eastern Oregon University in La Grande. He did not do counseling, but administrative work involving computers and extension education. As to his resume on his online website, former patient Win McCormack, editor of the Oregon, a weekly paper, (See Escape from Rajneeshpuram) wrote Hart, saying, “Joe, there seem to be years missing from your resume.”
His current online resume says:
Of course I enjoy Net surfing and Web roaming, but I also like various sports (real, not virtual) such as golf, tennis, fly-fishing, skiing, and hiking. I’m interested in digital photography… electronic music, digital audio recording, and podcasting.
“My main professional interests are the facilitation of distance learning, improving instructional design, applying educational technology, and using online instructional resources. I’ve been involved in computer-assisted instruction since the early days of mainframes and terminals. It’s exciting to me that the reality of computer-mediated communications has finally caught up to the futuristic promises. In 1998 I authored a chapter on “Becoming a Better Distance Learning Student” for the Prentice-Hall book, The Distance Learner’s Guide. A new edition of that book, appeared in 2004, released by Pearson (see the book’s web site for references and links). In 2004 I co-authored a paper for the EDUCAUSE ECAR Research Bulletins on “Instructional Repositories and Referatories…”
” I try to be multi-lingual when it comes to computing because I work with users who operate from many different platforms (Mac and PC/Windows, etc.)…
” Educational Background & Professional Affiliations:
B.A., Psychology, Lewis and Clark College
M.S., Clinical/Counseling Psychology, University of Wisconsin
Ph.D., Experimental Psychology, Stanford University
Faculty member at the University of California, Irvine, University of Southern California, and University of Redlands. Educational administrator at California Polytechnic University and Eastern Oregon University. Retired as Director of Distance Education at Eastern Oregon University.
My most active professional work was with distance learning organizations: the University Continuing Education Association, EDUCAUSE, and WICHE/WCET: (the Western Interstate Commission for HE/Western Cooperative for Educational Telecommunications). I was the Oregon representative to the WCET Steering Committee for three years. During the 2002-2003 acadmic year I was on sabbatical, investigating the growth of online instructional repositories.
Here’s Looking at You:”
There is no mention of his time at Primal, the Center for Feeling Therapy, his inquire to Dr. West re brainwashing, the three books he participated in relating to the Center, his association with Richard Corriere or what happened to his California therapy license.
It is unknown if Stanford University late revamped or not its course(s) on experimental psychology.
Jerry Binder became an educator, writing and teaching about the Jewish role in American life, the reverse from the Center’s Antisemitism which included calling Jewish characters negative (“You are acting like a Jew!)
Long ago I was made aware a father was concerned that his ex-wife who had custody of his child married Richard Corriere. Apparently, they met when Corriere was giving training/counseling to her company Legal Assistants corp which I was told Riggs renamed Jobs in Cities. The company ended, I am told, about 5 years later. The father, I am told, got custody of his kid.
- Com lists Riggs for once appearing on the Johnny Carson show. Riggs, like Hart, has gone digital, and is now CEO of a company which on its site describes itself as a digital tools company incorporating a wide range of fully integrated modular applications and lets clients choose from inventory desired digital applications.
The site says its technology collects, analyzes and responds to client data and adapts to the user experience.
Its vision, its site states, is to is to provide digital tools to engage, connect with and monetize their audience and advertisers; to do good for our customers, partners, society, employees, and investors and will serve “social good” and provide “children free reward-based learning of the highest quality.”
It offers careers, stating, as the journey continues, the shared passion is “transforming” the company and offers an environment for free ideas and learning.
Like Hart, Riggs resume leaves out the Center experience.
It says Corriere is a technology driven entrepreneur whose ventures have pioneered web and mobile service for companies and their customers, having pioneered an interactive communication tool for management and employees for MCI, KN Energy, Scientific Atlanta, and the Global 100 Saint Gobain and ealier company of his
developed a comprehensive suite of Internet-based management tools for J.P. Morgan Chase, Deutsche Bank, CNBC, Comedy Central, KN Energy, Ascom Timeplex, Anderson Consulting, Watson Wyatt, and Avon. Accenture acquired the other company in 2001. Accenture says it helps clients become high-performance businesses and governments.
It is said its first automotive client was Chrysler and has since help launch the Mitsubishi Outlander.
It claims to have partnered with FOX Television and major auto dealers. It says it has a SiriusXM dealer online rewards-based training program.
Years back I was asked on a documentary was Fox Television brainwashing. I said no, all anyone has to do is turn the channel, but did say its coverage of Irqaq war was irresponsible and its media intended to influence politically.
According to Domain Tool “Richard Corriere” owns about33 other domains
and his company is associated with about 241 domains.
McCormack, now an expert on cults and, who went into the publication business, and was a lead investigator of the Rajneesh tragedy (See Escape from Rajneeshpuram)
on line has claimed:
“One of the revelations during the Center’s breakup was that Richard Corriere had been lecturing his therapy group on the virtues of Adolph Hitler. Among other statements Corriere had made was this: “If Hitler had won World War II, he would have eventually done good for the world, because all human beings, deep down, want to do good.”
During its existence Riggs & Hart authored 3 books describing 3 phrases of the Center as it morphed to match current public phases. At the start, Going Sane wrote of the Center in Human Potential terminology. When dream interpretation became in, they wrote the Dreammakers. . Final when Olivia John sang lets get physical, they wrote Psychological Fitness.
A site, supported by advertisements, called Words of wisdom, wise quotes, inspiring quotes, great wisdom past includes:
“Richard Corriere & Joseph Hart Dream Makers. Without forgiveness life is governed by an endless cycle of resentment and retaliation.”
(1) Lennon who suffered from twice abandonment by his mother, which may have been source of his dependency on Yono, was tailor fit for the theory. The Beatles had before advocated the Majanrish Maharishi Mahesh Yogi Transcendental Meditation (TM) which had also been accused of having cultish and thought reform aspects. TM n the mid 1970s, like est, was very popular, operating 370 US centers manned by 6,000 TM teachers. At that time, the Maharishi also began approaching the business community via an organization called the American Foundation for SCI (AFSCI), whose objective was to eliminate stress for business professionals. The Maharishi’s message was a promise of “increased creativity and flexibility, increased productivity, improved job satisfaction, improved relations with supervisors and co-workers. This was the forerunner of the business consultants for psychological fit environments industry which Riggs would later become one of. In January 1988, the Maharishi’s palace in India was raided by Indian police, who reportedly confiscated $500,000 in cash, securities, and jewels. The raid occurred was over taxes and the movement was accused of lying about expenses. The Maharishi moved out of India and created a “Master Plan to Create Heaven on Earth”, to reduced crime and increased prosperity. In 2000, Maharshi created the Global Country of World Peace, a country without borders, and appointed its leaders. In 2008, he announced his retirement from all administrative activities and went into spiritual silence until his death three weeks later.
The Beatles were also supporters of Timothy Leary who showed them “Lucy in the Sky” through acid and ruined a generation plus as the pied-piper of LSD. He was called “the most dangerous man in America” by President Richard Nixon, one of the few things Tricky Dick said I absolutely agreed with.
(fn 2) In 1968 The Primal Institute was founded by Arthur Janov and his first wife, Vivian.
In January 1 1970 Arthur Janov published his first book The Primal Scream. In March Arthur and Vivian started treating John Lennon and Yoko Ono.
In 1973 a birth simulator was in use at the Primal Institute. The simulator was a 10-foot-long adjustable pressure vinyl tube. The patient was covered with a substance to simulate birth. Reports were made of finger bruises on patients reliving their births. In 1977 Arthur Janov filed suit against Psychology today for calling Primal Therapy Jabberwocky.
In 1982 the Germany courts ruled insurance companies did not have to pay for Primal Therapy. In 1982 Arthur Janov and his second wife offered Primal Therapy in Paris until the Parisian operation closed it down in August of 1985. Janov wrote then a letter saying he would not “not live anymore in the midst of pain and misery; after 35 years of seeing patients, it is time for me to live my own life.”
During the Center litigation I found Janov at his home in Malibu where he agreed to speak to me. He was curious to hear what had happened at the Center. He said he had concluded when the therapists worked for him that Riggs was a sociopath. He also was surprised and pleased I saw the similarities between Primal and Scientology theories.
(fn3) At Synanon, word got out Dederich was not performing all the time with his new younger wife he had taken after his wife Betty died in 1977. Dederich not wanting to admit weakness stated he was practicing a form of sexual tension by not finishing each time. He advocated that all others follow, but this notion was not as successful as most were.
(fn4) It was alleged Center had forced the abortion of McCormack’s child by making the mother see what carrying a child around would be like by directing she full time carry a doll with weights tied to it. After learning about cults from me, and his experience, McCormack believed Corriere should have been arrested for murder. I transmitted the idea to authorities but no such action was pursued. After the Supreme Court decision in Molko in l988 (See Escape From Unification Church) there might more precedent for such a claim, i.e. no consensual use of thought reform (brainwashing) to force an abortion regardless of whether or not therapists is doing it for self interests (kids get in the way) or for conceived best interest of patient. I have no knowledge at what age a fetus, if any, must be to be eligible for being classified as murdered.
(fn5) Before a limited gag order by court on formal discovery,interrogatories, depositions and court documents were sent from case court were sent by some former patients to University of Alberta which maintains them as an archive. So researchers do have access. As they are thus public the gag order is irrelevant. A court has no power to seal anything ever made public. USC archives gets my files. See http://www.usc.edu/libraries/finding_aids/records/finding_aid.php?fa=0346.
(fn 6) Not long ago I went with a group of friends, including my son, to see the movie Inception. At the end, as the audience exited the popular movie seemingly having loved the experience I stood swearing at the film in almost uncontrollable anger. I finally asked one of my crowd, a young man named Jake Shirer, if he understood why I hated the film. He said correctly, “because they were brainwashing.”
What I had seen on the screen in fact had led me to memories of the Center and the need to write this story. This film, in contrast to the original Manchurian Candidate where the heroes fight mind control, or the film Dreamscape where the hero goes into a dream to save the dreamer from intruders, has a plot for the hero, played by Leonardo DiCaprio, to lead a team into the brain of a person so as to implant the idea as to what he should do with his father’s inheritance.
Leonardo’s character is motivated by the reward of getting to return to the United States where he is accused of a criminal action and for the others its money. The one hiring the unit wants the target to make a decision to get out of businesses that compete with his.
The female lead actress plays a person with a conscience always wanting to make sure that the others know of certain psychological problems of Leonardo’s character that might get in the way. But never does her conscience ever consider the ethical right or wrong of others for greed to psychologically convince another without consent as to what to do with his/her life.
The movie says it’s okay to manipulate another, even making him do something by a method he cannot control or fight, forcing him to believe wrongfully he has accepted it, if it meets your goals.
What a sad moment for society I thought that this movie was made. What a bad commentary on the morals of all who participated. No one seemed to recognize it was a horror film. Yet I knew somewhere out there, at least approximately 350 people existed who might have seen it and definitely recognized it’s terror.
(fn 7) CANHELP one of many sites seeking for a fee to offer alternatives to those with life threatening cancer (now run by a social worker) was founded by Patrick M. McGrady who co-authored with Richard Corriere, Ph.D. of Life Zones as well as a book on Nathan Pritikin. It’s website does not list medical physician licenses, and is, like the Center, was to some extent, arguably engaging in activities if done in California for what it lacks appropriate licenses to do. One may not treat cancer, in my opinion, in California, for cancer, if not a licensed physician, whether alternative to medicine or not.
Psychological treatment would be limited to psychological handling it, stress management to avoid cancer might be permitted, but could not be represented as a cure.
Pritikin, which took over Synanon building in l978, and many have thought the health diet program had cultish characteristics.
fn 8 Dominic Cirincione, too wound up in business consulting. His current company notes his past fields of clinical psychology but fails to mention it was the Center or the outcome that resulted. Instead it brags of his internal management consulting, training,executive coaching and that his Doctoral work in Organizational Psychology “focused on the subject of Individual and Organizational Integrity.”
It is stated Dominic has served as r Rain Bird Corporation, Rank Video Services America, Hyundai Motor America, and American Honda Motor Company Inc. and currently principal in his own firm which promotes Fitness.
His clients it is said include, Universal Music; ARCO/BP; American Honda Motor Co. E.& J Gallo Wineries; Sit ‘n Sleep, Pacific Care, Baxter Biotech, Amgen Corporation, Pacific Life Insurance, Time Warner Cable , and KFC YUM Corporation, and others.
Dominic focuses on creating emotionally intelligent relationships in the workplace and restoring a spiritual dimension to the world of work. Typical consulting assignments include, conflict resolution, communication styles and skills, facilitation of meetings, team building and one on one coaching.
Dominic mentions his several years studying philosophy and theology in the Jesuit order but his 9 years at the Center remain silent.
However most everyone at the Center, except probably Riggs, and maybe Hart, was a victim. Dominic may be just where he would have been but for perhaps his own victimization, and one only hopes he separated out what has been said the cruelty he once received and dispensed.