Boot Camp – In the middle of the night Garrett is taken from his home to Harmony Lake, a boot camp for troubled teens. Maybe some kids deserve to be sent there, but Garrett knows he doesn’t. Subjected to brutal physical and psychological abuse, he tries to fight back, but the battle is futile. He won’t be allowed to leave until he’s admitted his “mistakes” and conformed to Harmony Lake’s standards of behavior. And there’s no way to fake it. Beaten, humiliated, and stripped of his pride, Garrett’s spirit is slowly ebbing away.
Chasing Pleasure With Pain – Haywood Robinson was just seventeen when she was sent to a behavioral modification program in Montana-a horrible and painful experience. This raw and emotional memoir chronicles Haywood’s struggles with mental illness and her lack of a diagnosis until her thirties. It fearlessly tells of her experiences with toxic relationships, abortion, love addiction, eating disorders, and attempted suicides, and outlines her difficult climb back out of the darkness toward recovery.
She wants readers to truly understand the agony of mental illness and the many difficulties people with mental illness go through every day of their lives. She hopes parents who read this book will consider dealing compassionately with their child’s mental illness rather than resorting to a program that uses attack therapy and brainwashing…because those experiences usually do far more harm than good. Lastly, she wants people like herself to know they are not alone. That their feelings are valid and they are important.
Dead, Insane, or In Jail – The Dead, Insane, or in Jail memoir series tells Zack Bonnie’s story of his years at the Rocky Mountain Academy (a CEDU school) in Northern Idaho in the late 1980s. Tricked into going there at age fourteen, Zack ran away after several weeks, only to be returned there later that summer, where he remained for over two more years.
Gone to the Crazies: A Memoir – Alison Weaver’s privileged upbringing hid the darker undertones of her childhood until her parents shipped her away, at fifteen, to the cultish Cascade School, warping her perception of reality. Upon graduation, set adrift in New York’s East Village in the 1990s, her life began a downward spiral marked by needles and late-night parties. Stumbling into free fall and mingling with fears of death, she was forced to face her darkness. Here is Weaver’s thoughtful exploration of what it means to fight for identity and equilibrium.
Help at Any Cost: How the Troubled-Teen Industry Cons Parents and Hurts Kids – The troubled-teen industry, with its scaremongering and claims of miraculous changes in behavior through harsh discipline, has existed in one form or another for decades, despite a dearth of evidence supporting its methods. And the growing number of programs that make up this industry are today finding more customers than ever.
Institutionalized Persuasion: The Technology of Reformation in Straight Incorporated and the Residential Teen Treatment Industry – This is Marcus’s undergraduate thesis, written in 2013 and 2014. His graduate thesis, Totalistic Teen Treatment: A Qualitative Analysis of Retrospective Accounts (2019), is now available in paperback and as a free PDF, online. Institutionalized Persuasion provides new information about the history and dynamics of coercion in residential teen treatment settings. While private sector programs continue to make millions utilizing dangerous yet unregulated methods, adolescents are abused each year in the name of treatment. By addressing the root causes of harm and presenting new strategies for the prevention of institutional child abuse, Institutionalized Persuasion offers a unique perspective on a highly controversial, persistent problem.
Jesus Land: A Memoir – Tells the story of a white girl who was sent from the Midwest to a Christian reform school in the Dominican Republic after she and her black adopted brother fought back against the racism and bullying that was directed toward them.
Totalistic Teen Treatment: A Qualitative Analysis of Retrospective Accounts – This original qualitative research analyzes adult reports about the experiences and impacts of totalistic teen programs. In the United States a wide array of residential treatment centers, therapeutic boarding schools, wilderness/outdoor, and intensive outpatient programs provide psychological and behavioral programming to “troubled” youth in totalistic settings. These programs are characterized by insularity, autocratic power structures, and intensive group practices. Some individuals may experience genuinely therapeutic responses to such treatment while others may experience a range of negative effects. Although federal investigations and dramatic news reports provide anecdotal evidence suggesting some program types may be problematic, few empirical studies have explored the relationship between program design and quality of life within totalistic settings, and very little is known about the way such programs impact adult development. This research used a purposeful stratified sampling technique to identify interview participants with a wide range of experiences within 25 different totalistic teen programs
Trapped in Paradise: A Memoir – Memoir of the life of a ‘student’ of the WWASP run Tranquility Bay and Spring Creek Lodge Programs. Imagine what it would be like being taken from your home in the middle of the night by complete strangers? ‘Trapped in Paradise: A Memoir’ details the history of a troubled teen and her inner-struggle of being held against her will in the controversial Jamaica facility, with little contact to the outside world. The story details the life of the troubled teen prior to being sent overseas to a controversial reform school for two years. The book has a great depiction of what it is like for a child to grow up with physical abuse, in a family whom also struggled to deal with mental illness. Particularly, obsessive compulsive hoarding addiction, anxiety and severe depression.
Troubled: The Failed Promise of America’s Behavioral Treatment Programs – Each year thousands of young adults deemed out of control—suffering from depression, addiction, anxiety, and rage—are carted off against their will to remote wilderness programs and treatment facilities across the country. Desperate parents of these “troubled teens” fear it’s their only option. The private, largely unregulated behavioral boot camps break their children down, a damnation the children suffer forever.
If you are in an urgent situation and need help call 911. If you are having suicidal feelings call toll-free 1-800-273-8255. or text HOME to 741741 If you are LGBTQ and in need of support call the Trevor Project hotline 1-866-488-7386. If you are a child being abused or know of a child being abused, please call 1-800-422-4453.