What's a 'Cedu'?

Funny question? Funny word. Not so funny meaning, to those who experienced it (though we laugh at the ridiculousness of it, at times)…

Who knows what a ‘Cedu’ is? And what do you want others to know about it?

And what do you want the future to know about places (whoops, it is a place, gave it away) like Cedu?

I await your responses….

Okay…Some hints for the curious Hint, Hint, Hint, Hint.


About Liam Scheff

"Author, Artist, Film, Permaculture." Liam Scheff is a writer, artist and stand-up lecturer on issues that people usually don't make comic books about. (Visit liamscheff.com). Liam's highly-praised book "Official Stories" reveals the complex details behind the myths of our times.

Posted on April 30, 2008, in Surviving Cedu. Bookmark the permalink. 48 Comments.

  1. What’s a cedu?

    I dunno… what’s a cedon’t du?

    Is there any relation to Husker Du?


    Well, then f*** it.

  2. Jonny,

    that’s not very elucidating for the uninformed reader… you can do better than that!

  3. Okay…

    I’ll start the ball rolling.

    Cedu (see-dew) was a boarding school, that pretended to be a …

    No, I have that backwards.. It was a cult, that pretended to be…

    No… It was a cultish…

    Reform School?

    Mountain-top fun prison?


    It was a sandy eyesore at the top of the San Bernardino mountains… a property once owned by, and maybe built under the auspices of Walter Huston, the director (and father of John, grandfather of Angelica, none of whom had anything to do with the rest of the story).

    It was a place where ‘dreams hang high, and hopes never…”

    Can anybody finish the rhyme?

    That’s what we were told, in any case.

    It was an odd, odd, truly odd place, where many many many children, whose parents were, perhaps, not the most attentive, active, present, conscious, grounded, dedicated, perhaps, where parents like this, were able to leave their children, to be raised..

    Or I should say, their adolescents,,, to be educated in the ways of adulthood, by strangers.

    Who were the strangers?

    That’s a good question….

  4. Charles E. Dederich University

  5. Now, how can we verify that for sure? I asked a former staff, who had a long, lugubrious tale about the ‘Raps’ also being called “see-do’s”, which sounded far-fetched.

    I mean, if you’re going to abbreviate see-do, wouldn’t you go with “Seedo?” or “Seedu”, (and then only if you were being truly abusive to the language?)

    I asked him if it could mean, C.E.D.U. – Chuck E. Dedhead U. – and he said, “maybe, I don’t know,” and then went on about how Mel Wasserman – (who is Mel Wasserman, the reader might wonder – he was a furniture salesman in Palm Springs, who started informal group therapies, modeled on contemporary ‘alternative’ therapies developed by places like Synanon – attack therapy, in other words) – so, he went on about how Mel Wasserman used bits and pieces from every off-center, alternative philosophy from the era – the 50s, 60s era.

    But I have found no one who could verify to me that is was just so, in person, though I have seen it in writing…

  6. CEDU.

    Since 1989 CEDU meant “See yourself as you truly are and DO something about it” to me.

    This never made sense to me. Once I graduated in 1991 it took up another meaning. A water craft! I would tell people I went to an emotional growth based reform school called CEDU and they would say, “A Jet SKI?!?!”

    That was pretty confusing.

    17 years post “seeing myself as I truly was and doing something about it”, I am in therapy for the heinous experiences I endured at the hands of several Narcissistic, Borderline faculty that had free reign over my life for 36 months.

    I am NOW starting to “SEE MYSELF” as I truly am, and I am actually “DOING SOMETHING ABOUT IT”

    I spent 17 years post CEDU trying to prove to my family and the world that I did not belong there. Now, I am just starting to live the life I want to live..

    haha that’s funny.

    I just said I WANT TO LIVE!!!!!


    Can’t wait to see the documentary!

  7. A CEDU is a dumping ground for parents to have a justifiable excuse to ditch there kids who may be causing a little ruckus in there young, shady, turbulent, adolescent lives..

    example..” You better be careful billy-ray and not give me any lip, or we are going to have to pull CEDU on your ass.” Later on Billy-ray discovers that CEDU is not the jet ski he had in mind.

  8. What’s a CEDU? It’s a nightmare. It is definitely a place where hopes hang high…. But all my dreams died. I hoped for almost 3 years a hero ( parents) would rescue me. That’s when I learned that hero’s aren’t real. That’s where I learned, it’s just you and me kid. That’s where I learned every man for themselves. That’s where I learned never to trust a soul. That’s where I learned the only one that can save you is your self. That is where I learned to plot and plan, to watch and to run whenever there is a moment , because it might just be a while before escape can come again. That is where I learned to be tough as nails and to not care. That is where I learned that 24 hours is way too much time in a day and that forever is forever. I was so wise at 14.

  9. LA!! YOU CRACK ME UP! Billy-Rae didn’t get his Jet Ski! HAHA He got brain washed instead!

    I guess they both have something to do with water?!?!


    Love you mushy mushy love butt!

    (La was my best friend at CEDU and one of the ONLY reasons I survived partially intact)

    I LOVE YOU!!

  10. CEDU is place where all my childhood fears turned into reality. There were monsters under my bed. I was going to be a child for ever, My parents really really didn’t want me, and that hell does exist.

  11. La, Heather,

    do you think that staff there, any of them, regret what they did? Regret working there, putting kids through the abusive ‘attack therapy’, the all-night sleep-deprivation processes, where they excoriated them in 2-6 am scream-in-your-face ‘therapy’, and made them list the details of their lives – sorry – the painful, embarrassing, or down-right abusive details of their lives?

    Do you think that any of the staff members, say Pam Abell, or Rudy Bentz, who were top level screamers, do you think they think about it with regret?

    Just wondering out loud…

  12. I don’t think Rudy feels bad. But I have his email if you would like to ask him.

    I know Pam does. She had told T.K. that she was sorry for what we went through and tried to make changes to soften the program. Although… I don’t think they changed the ILLEGAL propheets.

    ILLEGAL PEOPLE! I was 14 years old and forced to stay up for 24 hours! THAT”S ILLEGAL.

    They can’t even treat inmates in the prison like that.



    Smoochies to you Liam!

  13. I have a 13 year old son, I love him very much. Despite my own problems in life and sometimes “bad days” I NEVER put the burden of my shit on him and I would NEVER EVER EVER EVEN THINK of sending him off to be raised by other people.

    I can’t live a few days without him.

    36+ months!?!?!? HEYLLLLL NO!

    Our parents didn’t want us and were too selfish to pull themselves together and be … ugh… F-ing parents!

    I say, Don’t have kids if you can’t take the responsibility.


  14. Smoochies Heather,

    Describe what makes it illegal – what a propheet is, and what makes it illegal?

    (You know, they’re still conducting them at ‘clone’ schools, like Benchmark, Mt. Bachelor, etc..)

  15. Yes, I know that this is still going on. It’s sick. Here is part of my testimony for CAFETY specifically about the propheets…

    “Propheets: There were seven 24 hour propheets based off of chapters in Kahlil Gibrans book “The Prophet” They propheets get their name because we were “learning to put feet under the prophet” Supposedly learning “tools” that would later help us succeed in life.

    Here is list of the propheets in order through the program

    The Truth, The Childrens, The Brothers, The Dreams, The I want to live, The Values, The Imagine

    The basic outline of propheets were the same during the 24 hour period, but the intensity and harshness increased with each one. Basic outline: Your “peer group” enters a secluded building away from the rest of the school at around 5pm. All the windows are covered so you never know what time it is. The kids would sit in a semi-circle of hard chairs with one of more faculty at the front in plush arm chairs.

    Dirt lists are written and disclosure circles start. A few emotional growth based exercises and bio-energetic exercises are done with the attempt to weaken you. These exercises are usually harsh in nature and the faculty will take personal experiences from you and berate you with them. (example: If you were molested by an uncle… they would yell something around the lines “Yeah, you deserved it didnt’ you….. You asked for it because you are a whore”. Most were physical and emotionally humiliating.

    A certain song designed for each propheet would be played repeatedly for hours on end. Around 2 or 3am, a rap is started. You would only be allowed to wear a short sleeve shirt, sweatpants and socks. The room was kept at around 50 degrees all night and faculty would come up behind you and slap their hands really loud if you were to fall asleep and make you stand behind your chair.

    This rap would end around 6 or 7 am where you would have some meaningless uplifting exercise, eat a small breakfast and take a nap for 1 hour or so. The rest of the propheet (about 6 hours or so) was designed to “build you back up”. The next day exercises were usually soft in nature. Unfortunately, the emotional trauma, physical exhaustion, and malnourishment would defeat any feel good moment. You would exit the propheet around 5pm the next day and re-introduce yourself to the school and share your newfound personal wisdom. ”

    Little food, NO sleep, verbal abuse at 3,4,5,6,7 AM….

    I’m telling you… it’s not a pleasant experience. For all the readers… try it sometime. I could facilitate one for you….

    You won’t be pleased.

  16. OH and BTW, CEDU wracked a “fight club” mentality into us..

    “What happens in Fight Club, STAYS in Fight Club”

    If you were to divulge information to anyone that was not IN a propheet with you, your punishment would be harsh.


    Your phone calls were monitored and if you said the “wrong” thing they would hang up the phone, LOCK IT AGAIN, and send you off the wrath of your peers and faculty for “breaking an agreement”

    F-ED UP!!!

  17. “Cafety” the Community Alliance for the Ethical Treatment of Youth

    Here: http://www.cafety.org/

    Children, or parents of children who’ve been through abusive and coercive boarding school treatments should contact Cafety, and add your testimony.

    There is currently increasing interest from the US Dept of Justice on this issue; there have been hearings, and I presume, an ongoing inquiry.

    Walking through America today, assembled as it is of colorful outdoor malls, big box chain stores, large public schools crawling with social workers and lawyers, it may be difficult to feel especially sorry for teenagers.

    I admit, it can be a challenge, given how they – or images of youth – now dominate commercial culture. But there is a hidden world that is so far out of most people’s imaginings of modern secular American society, that it’s probably simply hard-to-believe.

    And that’s part of the problem – as a species, I think we show a tendency to avoidance when it comes to dealing with our problems, (not just Americans, but people); if money can be spent on a problem in order to quiet it, money will be spent.

    And that’s what Heather is describing above – what happens when parents spend money (not time, not involvement, not energy) – on dealing with their kids.

    How kids get in trouble is another story. Most of the kids who went to Cedu, and who go to similar schools, have histories of abuse, or neglect, or have drug issues, which often relate to the poorly understood problem of addiction, which manifests early in life.

    Some of the kids, to be sure, were probably thoroughly rotten, from the start. But not most, that I knew. Not close to many. The majority of kids who get sent to these schools usually have this in common:

    They had normal problems, or, in some cases, extraordinary problems. And they had parents who were incapable of being parents, for a variety of reasons. Some were making real money in business, or entertainment, and gave no time to their kids; some of the parents had severe and unresolved issues of their own, but somehow managed some financial success; some reasonably well-intentioned parents who were having trouble reaching their teen, were naive enough to be convinced by very slick educational consultants (who received reimbursement from the ‘schools’ for their trouble);

    but the commonality was this:


    They had enough of it. Sometimes just enough. Sometimes not enough, and they borrowed (or stole) from their child’s college fund, or grandparent-donated inheritance.

    But it took a certain number of these – $$$ – to pay someone to lock up, or contain your teen – who often just needed some time and energy, and personal involvement by the parents, on a consistent basis, with some normalizing therapeutic guidance – it took some dollars to get somebody else to do it.

    And when you give your child away, you’re committing a grave, irrevocable act, in my opinion.

    Anyway… more on the ‘Cedu Experience’…. The web will help the curious in researching it. The people posting on this blog are ‘grads’ or really, survivors of the experience.

    More to come.

  18. if you want to verify CEDU stands for Charles E. Dederich University, talk to George Olive in the Cali Dept of Education. Another resource is to post a heads-up on fornits.com’s cedu forum and ask an old student about it (occasionally, they’re around).

  19. Congress has now legislated that we cannot torture FOREIGN prisoners of war by using such methods as sleep deprivation, verbal abuse and forced work regimens. Somehow, it is still okay to use these methods on our own American teens in therapeutic boarding schools in order to make them more productive members of society (sheep). Many of these schools and centers took their doctrine from the Synanon cult and Cedu was one of the first.

    Cedu and its progeny have been in operation in some form or another for almost forty years. So, for the same duration of time that we’ve had former Vietnam POWs trying to reintegrate into society, we’ve had survivors of therapeutic boarding institutions trying to do the same. It’s really not a stretch to connect the two traumas. How could such a grave injustice go on in this country for so long without hardly any notice?

  20. That’s really well-said, Robert. That’s an interesting and illuminating comparison. I wouldn’t have thought to put it that way, straight away… but you’re right. The Cedu/Synanon practices that have been mainstreamed do employ those methods: sleep deprivation, verbal abuse (to put it mildly), and forced work regimes.

    It’s revealing, when placed in a context of the Geneva convention for treatment of prisoners of war…

  21. Back to the question of faculty feeling remorse. Yes, I believe they feel guilt, to what extent I am not sure.I received an apology from Rudy Bentz about 2 years after I had left CEDU. I even got some tears with his apology. He was not specific though on what he was sorry for, just an apology what happened and what CEDU may have done to me.( but Rudy was CEDU).

    Another friend of mine got some sort of an apology from Bill Valentine. My opinion is that they don’t what the fuck they are really apologizing for. Are they apologizing for lying to my parents? Or screaming at me for hours on end about how much of a useless whore I am at 14. Or are they apologizing for stealing my teenage years from me? Or making me dig trenches for no reason at all? Or that the reason I am adopted is because I was a mistake and my real family didn’t want me. I don’t think the apologies were for that.

  22. They are apologizing because they got caught. They are showing contrition for when judgement day comes and they are up on the stand in court, it will look good that they pretended to show remorse…or maybe somewhere deep down in there they know they should feel guilty about what they did and come to terms somehow, but can’t articulate why just yet.

  23. I want an apology. We were taught to take responsibility for OUR actions. We were taught that WE cause our own pain.

    A mans word is his bond?

    Be a Brother’s Keeper?

    The harder the truth to tell the truer the friend who tells it?

    I’ll tell you… To the degree that you are abused, to the same degree you will be angry!

    I think they should own up their own philosophy and take some responsibility for what THEY did. Maybe the hardest “truth” they have to tell themselves is owning up to the mental fuck we all got. THEY need to be “good friends to themselves and be honest with themselves for once! haha…. I suspect this will never happen, which leads me to my last cliche for the day…..

    Life is a feast, yet men are still starving.

  24. When I got the apology it was way before any of this came out. I know Rudy was in some split with the school, which is why they left to go to the other side of the coast to start Hidden Lake. ( Where a CEDU alum, friend of mine went and worked and got raped.)

    Whatever There is no apology in the world that could make a bit of difference in my mind. I am tired of talking of a pipe dream called an apology. I don’t even want one. I want this to stop. I want Rights for teenagers. That was the biggest thing at CEDU that they loved to through in our faces. Was ” What are you going to do? Who are you going to call, that is going to believe your crazy ass.

    They use to taught us with the fact that we had no rights and that they were signed away by our oh-so- caring parents. I would get so frustrated..because I knew it wasn’t right, yet they had the upper hand. What rights did I have? Who was I going to call? Who would listen to a crazy teenager like ,me. That is where the hopelessness and despair came in. They had me. And there was nothing I could do but make the situation worse by bucking the system. Gosh… I can still feel that pain and that I am so screwed feeling.

    But I sure as hell was going to do my best not to give in. It sucks being 14, and just knowing no one has your back, and you are the automatic lier. I remember one time when I ranaway, and got picked up by the police, I refused to go back to CEDU, I said anywhere but there, and they said looks like juvi for you. I said fine. I tried to tell the cops and anyone with authority and they had nothing for me. They turned there heads. That when I knew had to take care of myself, because no one else sure as f#$%k was.

  25. I wrote this comment on another page as well. I was a student at the new Boulder Creek Academy after it re-opened for two years. The school is a complete SCAM, they want to get as much money out of you as they possibly can,I finally escaped on December 19. They manipulate kids into believing ridiculous things and that if they werent there they would be failures in life. It was the absolute worst time of my life. The staff are more interested in making your life miserable than helping you. I’m in full support of whatever documentary you are making. I hope that BCA gets shut down, for the good of all man kind. It made my life miserable.

  26. Jonny Possibly

    About a week after I arrived at CEDU, a peer group graduated. The day before, I had been through my Truth propheet. Prior to that, I had been in two raps, sawed several cords of wood, muled the cart up to the kitchen to stock the stove, smushed… It was your proverbial baptism of fire. I had been provided with a fairly comprehensive idea of the program dynamic in six days. My mental state could be best described as shell-shock.

    I was sad about this, my first, graduation, because I had befriended one of the girls in the peer group. My first connection, and she was going. I knew next to no one. I sat through the commencement feeling rather lonely, and then they call a young man up to the stage to give his speech. I will refer to him as Tobias. Some people in this blog may remember him.

    Even as he walked up to the microphone, I could tell Tobias was different, but I wasn’t sure how. At first, I thought maybe he had a condition such as Downs, but it didn’t seem that way. He didn’t possess the facial characteristics or mannerisms, nor did he seem to have any impairment intellectually. Being a teenager, I was, of course, judgmental, thinking “What’s up with this guy? He seems to be a bit on the wrong side. What’s he doing here? What did they send him up to this place for? Oh man, I hope I don’t have to listen to him struggle to string two words together. I want to get out of here and say goodbye to one of the few friends I made.” Within two seconds of seeing him, I already wasn’t too keen on him. I thought he was a goof.

    In 2001, my nephew (I’ll call him Wallace) was born with autism. I am in NO WAY an expert on this subject, but when I first started re-examining my CEDU experience, I thought about Tobias, and I recognized similarities between him and my nephew. I wish I could cite specifics, but it was so long ago, all I can go off of is feeling. What I remember most is how Tobias sounded when he spoke. How he formed vowels, and s’s… especially those. I recall when Wallace first started speaking in English, as opposed to his own language he had been using for about a year and a half, his vocalizations sounded very similar.

    I do not know if Tobias was autistic, or if he had something such as Aspergers. But what it did seem like was that he possessed a condition that caused him to experience and perceive the world in a very different way. He came across as incredibly sensitive.

    I was in shock. How on god’s green earth did this kid make it through this program? I’d been subjected to a crazy propheet run by a freakishly sadistic woman, two raps, bizarre, seemingly pointless work, forced affection, for just one week, and I was a wreck. How did *he* make it through x years of this?

    My sentiment was immediately echoed as he finished his speech. The house gave a raucous, round of applause… I think Tobias even got a standing ovation. All I remember when this happened was a churning feeling in my gut, and the repetitive chant in my head “They shouldn’t be clapping for this. They shouldn’t be clapping for this. I don’t know why, but *they should NOT be clapping for this*.” I felt nervous, for some reason, worried, as if the sheer volume level of the applause might cause some discomfort for Tobias. (If memory serves, he seemed quite alright with it.) I realized, pretty much tonight, that what disturbed me about this gesture which, outwardly, seemed like an outpouring of support, was really one, huge, admission by the entire staff and student body of exactly what was going on in my head just seconds before Tobias finished speaking.

    “We can’t believe this guy survived our program.”

    I asked my friend about sensory conditions such as autism. I said “What do you think life is like for Wallace? What is he seeing, hearing, smelling, touching?” He said, “Well, based on my discussions with other parents, and with doctors and teachers, and being with my son, the easiest way for me to wrap my head around it is to liken it to one, big acid trip. The volume on everything is turned up. Really really up.”

    Liam, what happened to most of us who went there, you, me, our friends, the people in our peer group, that was tragic and unfortunate.

    What happened to Tobias was criminal.

    I think that in retrospect, and with hindsight, that out of all of my experiences at that school, all of the workshops, propheets, nerve jangling raps, mindless work details… probably the most disturbing, horrifying, and chilling moment I had at Rocky Mountain Academy…

    …were those five minutes from that Sunday graduation in July.

  27. I don’t get it. I can’t believe any of these people went to the same school my son did. Now, six years after his two years at CEDU, he still calls his counselors from there to talk. They remain friends and mentors to him. They visit us. They were all getting really lousy pay to live in a boring remote place because they cared deeply about helping kids with problems. They were devastated when the school went bankrupt and closed abruptly and gave weeks of their time, unpaid, to make sure the remaining kids got taken care of, the frantic parents were reassured, etc. Most of the parents there were killing themselves — mortgaging their houses, borrowing money, raiding their retirement accounts — to help their kids, and like us they did not get to that point until they had tried every kind of therapy, counseling, intervention, rehab they could find. There was one abusive counselor, a couple of parents complained about him, and it took about a month from the first complaint until he was gone. The whole process was entirely transparent. We live close to CEDU so we were there for every visit and got to know the place and the staff extremely well, and what I’m reading on this site just…. baffles me.

    If anybody else stumbles on this thread, and had something close to my experience, I’d love to hear about it.

  28. I just wanted speak up as a CEDU survivor and let everyone who reads this know that all the statements listed here about these programs are 100% true and accurate. I almost never share my CEDU experience with others since most people can’t imagine such things actually take place in this country. Let this be a testimony that we were held prisoners in our teenaged years and tortured with methods that are categorized as war crimes. Even adults in the military see such tactics as cruel and unusual. We’re not making things up or exaggerating: IT WAS REAL. The damage we sustained is beyond description. I’ve spent thousands of dollars in every medical and new age setting trying to heal this trauma. It’s been well over a decade for me since I got out of that evil place and I still have night terrors about it. Yes, I was at a point angry with my naive parents, but I’ve learned to forgive them. However, I can’t find it in myself to forgive the staff members who tormented us with the belief that they were helping for years on end. The mentality they had is not far from that of the terrorists that attacked the USA on 9-11. By an ironic twist of fate, the Brown schools were shut down for something along the lines of tax evasion (the true reason remains unclear, but it had to do with money) and staff was not even compensated for their last two weeks work when they found out the schools were being shut down. Personally, I’d like to see that God forsaken place burn to ashes with the former staff members locked inside while playing “What the world needs now” over loudspeakers to drown out their screams.

  29. Hi Angel,

    I’ll send you an email in the next couple days.

    Have you been on Fornits? Lots of people to talk about the experience with there, who will understand the oddity of it all.

    You mention the song, “What the world needs now, is love sweet love.”

    (We should explain that certain songs were played there on a loop, over and over and over, 13, 16, 24 times, for essentially what would likely be considered ‘brain-washing’ or conditioning purposes).

    When I was out of the place, in my early 20s, watching Spike Lee’s “Mo Better Blues,” I seized upon the line, played on the melody riff on a horn, “what the world needs now… is not another love song!”

    Oh well. It wasn’t Dion Warwick’s fault – or Burt Bacharach’s!

    What some crazy people did with scraps of pop culture – how very strange, strange, strange it was.

    Anyway, check out fornits, and Cafety.org – you can find links to both on my blogroll.

    I’ll be in touch,


  30. Another side note, myself and some other former Cedu alum were kind of happy to know that the old Cedu grounds in Running Springs almost DID burn down during the last big spat of forest fires last summer, but then we all realized that something was going on there that needed to continue. A healing process on the field of old ghosts if you will. An organization run by Orthodox Jews had bought the grounds and turned it into a summer camp. Watching videos of it, I realized that these kids were genuinely happy there and having the times of their lives.
    How sad if these kids had lost their summer camp and place to gather with others that shared their same spirit of fun and wonder. Every little jewish kid that has a ‘summer to remember’ there takes a chip out of the monster of Cedu evil that hovers over that place, until finally the demons should come to rest. So maybe, let’s not wish it to ashes, but wish it would never fall into evil hands again.

  31. Johnny propheet

    As a survivor as well, I would like to speak up to the attrocities and torture that took place there. Hours upon hours of verbal assualt and battering, forced to stay up all night and cry for hours, to songs like “What the world Needs Now” and other equally horrible sappy tunes. For me the hardest part were the dreams. I was tormented by dreams for years and years. I still have some occasionally, but I have come to peace with all of it. I think the weird thing that I struggle with sometimes is the fact that there are people who came out of this experience and still talk about Cedu like it was a good thing. I went to back to the old campus and talked to the rabbi who runs the campus. He asked me if I was “alright?” He said a lot of students coem back and the campus is haunting for them but another staff there mentioned how people come back and say it “saved their life.”

  32. Interesting reads. Every once in a while something triggers my CEDU history and I take a look online to make sure it wasn’t all just a dream…since nobody would ever believe me.

    I am a survivor of the Middle School (1991 – 1993) and like many others used to wish that whole property in Running Springs would go up in flames.

    Then a couple of years ago, that changed. I’ve been involved with the Jewish organization (Chabad) that now owns the property. I left my reform Judaism roots behind years ago and connect very much with the Chassidim.

    Not knowing my background, my Rabbi passed out information on the programs at their “new Running Springs campus” and I had to sit down…I wept as I am weeping now writing this.

    Baruch Hashem for seeing to it that this property, with such an evil history, get into the hands of such a wonderful organization. The kids, and adults alike, who go there to learn, have fun, and celebrate are working hard to reverse the evil deeds done there.


  33. Dov,

    Great story – I’ll send email, this week/weekend. I think we all wished it would tumble into the sea, at some point. Glad the place was taken for better use.


  34. As far back as 1974 we were being told that CEDU was verbal shorthand for “see yourself as you are and do something to change it”. It seemed like the majority of the staff had their roots in Synonon but I was never aware of a so-called “Charles E. Dederiech University” until I came across the term on fornits.

    Even though I can’t confirm that CEDU stands for “Charles E. Dederiech University, It sure makes sense to me

    I do remember the occasional story recalling how much tougher the terms and conditions were prior to my arrival, ( such as complete head shaving as opposed to very short crew cuts ) but the word Synonon was almost never mentioned and Chuckie d.’s name was never shared with me.

    It totally blows my mind that they were able turn that thing into such a cash cow and that it developed into such a behemoth.(maybe not so much if I really thought about it).
    But for the longest time I figured that place must have whithered away and died.

    It also blows my mind that the techniques they used and are described by survivors from decades later than my experience sound almost identical to what I went through.

  35. Hi Rick,

    No, the words “Dederich” and “Synanon” were never mentioned at Cedu – but now, in reading the histories of Synanon, I find every parallel –

    the format – raps, agreements, ‘cleaning up resentments/anger’/etc, with someone, the screaming, crying, self-anihilating therapies, the all-night, multi-day wearing-away-at-self ‘experiential’ cultish, quasi-religious invented ‘therapy’ experiences –

    the invasive, abusive, denigrative tone of even normal conversations, and the absolutely insane level of personal cruelty exhibited in the ‘game’ (cedu’s ‘raps’)

    and even the language – ‘splitting,’ ‘contracts,’ and then the readings lifted from Kalil Gibran and R.W. Emerson, (de-contextualized and inappropriately applied to the nonsense we were experiencing).

    I’m now reading these books, which I can recommend for your investigations:



  36. Thanks,I hope to get my hands on those books as soon as I can….
    I recently came across a quote by Charles E. Dederich, something to the effect of “leading the world into the 21st century”
    How much do you think that aim impacted the minds of the survivors of the program?
    I hate to admit it, but I’m sure that type of crazy idea has rolled around in my mind for a considerable period of time.

  37. To this day many former students are deeply divided as to their feelings about Cedu. This intense experience has produced many protractors and detractors. In order to discuss this topic it is important to understand the history and development of the program.

    Mel Wasserman was a former Synanon cult member who developed the Cedu program using the Synanon model and included various elements of psychology and new age philosophy as well as maintaining a controlled environment that isolated it from any outside information and influence.

    The program was structured in a way that precisely followed the methodologies described by Robert Jay Lifton. Robert Jay Lifton was one of the early psychologists to study brainwashing and mind control. He called the method used thought reform, and offered the following eight methods that are used to change people’s minds.

    Milieu control

    All communication with outside world is limited, either being strictly filtered or completely cut off. Whether it is a monastery or a behind-closed-doors cult, isolation from the ideas, examples and distractions of the outside world turns the individuals attention to the only remaining form of stimulation, which is the ideology that is being inculcated in them.
    This even works at the intrapersonal level, and individuals are discouraged from thinking incorrect thoughts, which may be termed evil, selfish, immoral and so on.

    Mystical manipulation

    A part of the teaching is that the group has a higher purpose than others outside the group. This may be altruistic, such as saving the world or helping people in need. It may also be selfish, for example that group members will be saved when others outside the group will perish.

    All things are then attributed and linked to this higher purpose. Coincidences (which actually may be deliberately engineered) are portrayed as symbolic events. Attention is given to the problems of out-group people and attributed to their not being in the group. Revelations are attributed to spiritual causes.
    This association of events is used as evidence that the group truly is special and exclusive.

    i.e. knowledge about the program could only be known through progression.


    Individuals are encouraged to confess past ‘sins’ (as defined by the group). This creates a tension between the person’s actions and their stated belief that the action is bad, particularly if the statement is made publicly. The consistency principle thus leads the person to fully adopt the belief that the sin is bad and to distance themselves from repeating it.
    Discussion of inner fears and anxieties, as well as confessing sins is exposing vulnerabilities and requires the person to place trust in the group and hence bond with them. When we bond with others, they become our friends, and we will tend to adopt their beliefs more easily.

    This effect may be exaggerated with intense sessions where deep thoughts and feelings are regularly surfaced. This also has the effect of exhausting people, making them more open to suggestion.

    i.e. confession in raps, telling story, propheets, writing assignments

    Self-sanctification through purity

    Individuals are encouraged to constantly push towards an ultimate and unattainable perfection. This may be rewarded with promotion within the group to higher levels, for example by giving them a new status name (acolyte, traveller, master, etc.) or by giving them new authority within the group.

    The unattainability of the ultimate perfection is used to induce guilt and show the person to be sinful and hence sustain the requirement for confession and obedience to those higher than them in the groups order of perfection.

    Not being perfect may be seen as deserving of punishment, which may be meted out by the higher members of the group or even by the person themselves, who are taught that such atonement and self-flagellation is a valuable method of reaching higher levels of perfection.

    i.e. purity could only be gained by confession within the group.

    Aura of sacred science

    The beliefs and regulations of the group are framed as perfect, absolute and non-negotiable. The dogma of the group is presented as scientifically correct or otherwise unquestionable.

    Rules and processes are therefore to be followed without question, and any transgression is a sin and hence requires atonement or other forms of punishment, as does consideration of any alternative viewpoints.

    i.e. propheets were kept secret and claimed to be infallible.

    Loaded language

    New words and language are created to explain the new and profound meanings that have been discovered. Existing words are also hijacked and given new and different meaning.
    This is particularly effective due to the way we think a lot though language. The consequence of this is that the person who controls the meaning of words also controls how people think. In this way, black-and-white thinking is embedded in the language, such that wrong-doers are framed as terrible and evil, whilst those who do right (as defined by the group) are perfect and marvellous.

    The meaning of words are kept hidden both from the outside world, giving a sense of exclusivity. The meaning of special words may also be revealed in careful illuminatory rituals, where people who are being elevated within the order are given the power of understanding this new language.

    See Cedu lingo list: http://wiki.fornits.com/index.php?title=CEDU_lingo

    Doctrine over person

    The importance of the group is elevated over the importance of the individual in all ways. Along with this comes the importance of the the group’s ideas and rules over personal beliefs and values.

    Past experiences, beliefs and values can all thus be cast as being invalid if they conflict with group rules. In fact this conflict can be used as a reason for confession of sins. Likewise, the beliefs, values and words of those outside the group are equally invalid.

    Dispensed existence

    There is a very sharp line between the group and the outside world. Insiders are to be saved and elevated, whilst outsiders are doomed to failure and loss (which may be eternal).
    Who is an outsider or insider is chosen by the group. Thus, any person within the group may be damned at any time. There are no rights of membership except, perhaps, for the leader.

    People who leave the group are singled out as particularly evil, weak, lost or otherwise to be despised or pitied. Rather than being ignored or hidden, they are used as examples of how anyone who leaves will be looked down upon and publicly denigrated.

    People thus have a constant fear of being cast out, and consequently work hard to be accepted and not be ejected from the group. Outsiders who try to persuade the person to leave are doubly feared.

    Dispensation also goes into all aspects of living within the group. Any and all aspects of existence within the group is subject to scrutiny and control. There is no privacy and, ultimately, no free will.

    i.e. Threat of being sent to Ascent or other program for wrongdoings.

    Robert Jay Lifton, Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism, W.W. Norton & Co., Inc., 1963.

    Lifton’s Brainwashing Processes

    Robert Jay Lifton was one of the early psychologists to study brainwashing and mind control. He called the method used thought reform. From an analysis of two French priests who had been subjected to brainwashing, he identified the following processes used on them:

    Assault on identity

    Aspects of self-identity are systematically attacked. For example the priests were told that they were not real Fathers. This has a serious destabilizing effect as people lose a sense of who they are. Losing the self also leads to weakening of beliefs and values, which are then easier to change.


    Constant arguments that cast the person as guilty of any kind of wrong-doing leads them to eventually feel shame about most things and even feel that they deserve punishment. This is another piece of the jigsaw puzzle of breakdown.


    When the person is forced to denounce friends and family, it both destroys their sense of identity and reinforces feelings of guilt. This helps to separates them from their past, building the ground for a new personality to be built.

    Breaking point

    The constant assault on identity, guilt and self-betrayal eventually leads to them breaking down, much as the manner of the ‘nervous breakdown’ that people experience for other reasons. They may cry inconsolably, have convulsive fits and fall into deep depression. Psychologically, they may effectively be losing a sense of who they are and hence fearing total annihilation of the self.


    Just at the point when the person is fearing annihilation of the self, they are offered a small kindness, a brief respite from the assault on their identity, a cigarette or a drink. In those moments of light amongst the darkness, they may well feel a deep sense of gratitude, even though it is their torturer who is offering the ‘kindness’. This is another form of Hurt and Rescue, albeit extreme.

    i.e. acceptance of others by group. “I don’t judge you.”

    The compulsion to confess

    Having being pulled back from the edge of breakdown, they are then faced with the contrast of the hurt of potential further identity assault against the rescue of leniency. They may also feel the obligation of exchange in a need to repay the kindness of leniency. There also may be exposed to them the opportunity to assuage themselves of their guilt through confession.

    The channeling of guilt

    The overwhelming sense of guilty and shame that the person is feeling will be so confused by the multiple accusations and assaults on their identity, that the person will lose the sense of what, specifically, they are guilty of, and just feel the heavy burden of being wrong.

    This confusion allows the captors to redirect the guilt towards what ever they please, which will typically be having lived a life of wrong and bad action due to living under an ideology which itself is wrong and bad.

    Reeducation: logical dishonoring

    The notion that the root cause of their guilt is an externally imposed ideology is a straw at which the confused and exhausted person grasps. If they were taught wrongly, then it is their teachers and the ideology that is more at fault. Thus to assuage their guilt, further confession about all acts under the ideology are brought out. By mentally throwing away these acts (in the act of confession) they also are now completing the act of rejecting the whole ideology.

    Progress and harmony

    The rejection of the old ideology leaves a vacuum into which the new ideology can be introduced. As the antithesis of the old ideology, it forms a perfect attraction point as the person flees the old in search of a contrasting replacement.

    This progress is accelerated as the new ideology is portrayed as harmonious and ideally suited to the person’s needs. Collegiality and calm replaces pain and punishment. The captors thus contrast in visible and visceral ways how wonderful the new ideology is as compared to the sins and the pain of the old ideology.
    Final confession and rebirth

    Faced with the stark contrast of the pain of the past with the rosy glow of the future that the new ideology presents, the person sheds any the final allegiance to the old ideology, confessing any remaining deep secrets, and takes on the full mantle of the new ideology.

    This often feels, and has been described by many, as a form of rebirth. It may be accompanied by rites of passage as the person is accepted and cemented into the new order. The rituals will typically include strong statements made by the person about accepting the new ideology fully and completely, swearing allegiance to its leaders. Saluting flags, kissing other artefacts and other symbolic acts, all solemnly performed, all anchor them firmly in the new ground.
    – Robert Jay Lifton, Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism, W.W. Norton & Co., Inc., 1963.


    Conversion to a different way of thinking and different beliefs appears in many different situations. Although the techniques here are drawn from studies of brainwashing and cult conversion, they are surprisingly common, at least in more acceptable forms, in many other groups and organizations.

    • Breaking sessions: that pressure a person until they crack.

    • Changing values: to change what is right and wrong.

    • Confession: to leave behind the undesirable past.

    • Entrancement: open the mind and limit rational reflection.

    • Engagement: that draws a person in.

    • Exhaustion: so they are less able to resist persuasion.

    • Guilt: about the past that they can leave behind.

    • Higher purpose: associate desirability with a higher purpose.

    • Identity destruction: to make space for the new identity.

    • Information control: that blocks out dissuading thoughts.

    • Incremental conversion: shifting the person one step at a time.

    • Isolation: separating people from dissuasive messages.

    • Love Bomb: to hook in the lonely and vulnerable.

    • Persistence: never giving up, wearing you down.

    • Special language: that offers the allure of power and new meaning.

    Thought-stopping: block out distracting or dissuading thoughts.

    Mel Wasserman also borrowed heavily from Synanon and its founder Charles E. Deiderich. Claims have been made that Mel named the school CEDU to stand for Charles E. Deiderich University, rather than “see what you do and do something about it.” A look into Synanons’ history gives insight into the therapeutic underpinnings of Cedu.

    Synanon, is the first ever self help–no doctors– drug rehabilitation program, founded by Charles “Chuck” Dederich Sr. (1913–1997) in 1958 in Santa Monica, California.
    It went from the first ever no doctor involved self help drug rehab (Synanon I), to a building of a new society in Synanon cities to lead the world into the 21st Century (Synanon II), to becoming a self-claimed religion (Synanon III). Eventually followers took on the paranoia of its founder, Synanon developed the Imperial Marines and commenced a Holy War against its enemies. Its ultimate doom came when Dederich and members tried to kill by means of a de-rattled rattlesnake in the mailbox, Pacific Palisades lawyer Paul Morantz who was battling Synanon in the court and trying to expose the Foundation for criminal conspiracies.

    Dederich volunteered for a Dr. Keith Ditman LSD experiment and felt he had a cathartic break through and now understood the world and that good and bad were the same. He studied on his own in a library and his AA speeches changed from typical religious overtones to a psychological/philosophy slant.

    Dederich preached “Act as If” which meant do not try to reason as to what Synanon asks they do; as thinking got them there, just trust what they were told and act as if it is right.

    Synanon emphasized living a self-examined life, as aided by group truth-telling sessions known as the “Synanon Game.” Control over members occurred through the “Synanon Game.” The “Game” could be considered a therapeutic tool, likened to group therapy; or a social control, in which members humiliated one another and encouraged the exposure of one’s innermost weaknesses, or both. Members were to confess in games and no secrets were allowed. Synanon instituted “containment” which was disallowing contact with outsiders. One was to participate only in Synanon. Synanon’s goal, Dederich said, was to lead the world into the 21st Century. Dederich experimented with environmental manipulations so as to recreate the heightened awareness and inner discoveries he experienced while taking LSD.

    To recruit needed non addict club members, Dederich created The Trip, forerunner of Werner Erhard’s EST training, which was a combination of group psychotherapy, coercive persuasion, mysticism and old fashion spiritual revival. Dederich designed an efficient program of individual emotional breakdowns followed by a mass group euphoria all designed to re-educate individuals into the Synanon II philosophy and lifestyle. It was first offered to the selected few as an honor, but the entire population was eventually targeted. Dederich called it an “insight producing” experience. Dederich said: “At the end of this rainbow, there will be a pot of gold. Through dissipation, or long hours of activity without very much sleep, we hope to bring about in you a conscious state of inebriation… we want to get you loaded without acid.”

    A Shepherd led them through candle-lit and incense-burning corridors to a locker room filled with rows of Army cots with name cards. Each person stripped and put on white robes. Watches were taken as time was no longer important. Women removed all makeup and jewelry, a symbolic stripping of past selves. The Guides, all experienced game players, turned each group from enthusiasm to a depression and defeat, wallowing in its collective shame. Sitting in comfortable green armchairs, they made the dope fiends tell their tales of drugs, rape, crime and beatings. The squares were pushed to confess their prior loneliness and despair. The games turned on one than another. Disoriented by lack of sleep, each was moved to the point of intense disillusionment. Aids, who did their homework, provided ammunition to the Conductors on each Tripper. Everyone was to cop-out (confess to past sins). The result was implantation of a common bond and sense of ideals, all identified with Synanon.

    Each Tripper was to write a paper on some feeling or admission. A big shot would advise the Trippers they were not really chosen as an honor, but each was really selected because each was a resister, thinking he or she knew better the direction Synanon should go, part of the “dummies that hold Synanon back.” “Maybe,” Dederich said, “one day we will just put dingbats like you against the wall and wash them off and bring them back into the human race.” Dederich would elsewhere declare that if you kept people up long enough you can make them believe anything.

    At eight a.m. Monday hand in hand the Trippers went down the corridor toward the sounds of band music. Now in a ballroom the Trippers were surrounded by hundreds of cheering, clapping Synanites. The Trippers, many of whom had been awake for 65 or more hours, were hugged and cheered. A hoop-a-la began (Synanon’s dance). Everyone bonded. All had pain. One just had to surrender to Synanon.

    Despite the Trip conversion success, the old-timers, the Retired Dope Fiends, aka The Walking Dead, remained a problem. As the alcoholics had not wanted change. Curing dope fiends was what they wanted. Dederich placed them in a 72 hour game (“stew”) and harangued them for not seeing his vision. Later the “flies” (Dederich trained youngsters) took over the attack. When all were exhausted Dederich returned and offered forgiveness for surrender.

    October 10, 1978, two Synanon members placed a de-rattled rattlesnake in the mailbox of attorney Paul Morantz in Pacific Palisades, California.

    Morantz had successfully brought suit on behalf of a woman abducted by Synanon, winning a $300,000 judgment, obtained release of children, gave information to the press and lobbied (defeating) another Synanon bill written by Herschel Rosenthal. The snake bit Morantz but did not kill him. A drunken Dederich was arrested on December 2 in Lake Havesu.




    …But the Cedu program contained other elements as well. Dederich developed Synanon using the philosophies of Werner Erhards’ “Erhard Seminar Training” or Est. When Mel Wasserman developed Cedu he included elements of Lifespring. Both of these Large Group Awareness Training seminars (LGATs) were packaged to be sold to large corporations as being a unifier and motivator of employees and to aid employers in achieving the maximum potential from their workers. In fact, Wasserman purchased the rights to use Lifespring and modified it in order to create CEDUs’ final workshop, The Summit.

    What are these organizations and where did they come from? Lifespring and Est were born out of the new age Human Potential Movement of the 60’s and 70’s.

    The human-potential movement is a term used for humanistic psychotherapies that first became popular in the 1960s and early 1970s. The movement emphasized the development of individuals through such techniques as encounter groups, sensitivity training, and primal therapy (primal scream).

    The “Human Potential” movement is a branch of the “New Age” movement that is especially packaged to be acceptable to corporations, government, small businesses, and the educational establishment in the form of “motivational seminars” or “Learning to Learn skills”.

    Its principles are based on eastern mysticism and the occult, but the terminology has been changed to sound scientific and psychological.
    Claiming that humans have unlimited or infinite potential, the goal then becomes to achieve this infinite potential.

    • This is accomplished by rejecting traditional beliefs that limit us and avoiding any negative thoughts.

    • The subconscious must be reprogrammed by daily affirmations, positive thinking, and constant self-talk (e.g., “I am great, I am wonderful, I will achieve!”).

    • The ability to be reprogrammed can be enhanced by consciousness-altering techniques that create a state of higher suggestibility, such as meditation, visualization, guided imagery, and other inward looking activities. These are also promoted for stress reduction.

    “Self” is said to be the source of all success and each person can “take responsibility” to “create his own reality”.

    Encounter group — A form of humanistic therapy in which participants meet with a trained leader to increase self-awareness and social skills through emotional sharing and confrontation.

    Primal therapy — A form of humanistic therapy that originated in the 1970s. Participants were encouraged to relive painful events and release feelings through screaming or crying rather than analysis.

    Sensitivity training — A form of humanistic group therapy that began in the 1950s. Members participated in unstructured discussions in order to improve understanding of themselves and others.

    The Human Potential Movement is a loose chain of several hundred psychological supermarkets in which a customer can buy almost anything their heart desires:

    • Sensitivity Training,

    • Interracial Encounters,

    • Creative Divorce Workshops,

    • Heterosexual Body Sandwiches,

    • Nude Psychodrama,

    • Attack Therapy,

    • Vomit Training.

    The Human Potential Movement opened the door for traditional psychology to break away from its therapeutic norms, boundaries and ethics and allowed for its broad based application to groups of people seeking self help and therapy.

    The Human Potential Movement was a response to the creation of Humanistic Psychology most notably due to an American psychologist named Abraham Maslow. He did this by coining the term “self-actualization” and positing that it was factually a human need in the field of psychology. Traditional psychology would discount this theory and categorize it simply as an opinion or belief, but it gained enough notoriety to be accepted firmly as truth by some and then there were others that purposely abused its’ stature. By placing this idea alongside the widely accepted psychology as defined by persons such as Freud it gained unearned credibility.

    Maslow popularized the concept of self-actualization, based on his study of exceptionally successful, rather than exceptionally troubled, people. Selecting a group of “self-actualized” figures from history, including Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865), Albert Einstein (1879-1955), and Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962), Maslow constructed a list of their characteristics, some of which later became trademark values of the human potential movement.

    In addition Maslow developed a theory, again presented as fact, describing supposed human needs and listing them in a hierarchal format. The achievement of each need could only be met by meeting the requirements of the previous needs on the pyramid. The needs are listed as follows:

    • Self-actualization

    • Self-esteem

    • Belonging (to a group)

    • Safety (shelter, removal from danger)

    • Physiological (Health, food, sleep)

    What the pyramid suggests is that one’s self esteem and ability to attain self actualization are dependent on ones position among a group. Self evaluation thus is determined by the group setting one is surrounded by. As an individual, realization of this goal is not possible. For employees to believe in such a concept creates a valuable situation for employers, hence the popularity of LGATs such as Lifespring and Est.

    As well as the integration of the above stated information analysis of the Propheets would indicate that Mel Wasserman developed much of it from traditional psychology as well. Through simply comparing and contrasting similarities can be seen. For instance in analyzing The Truth Propheet a patchwork quilt of ideas can account for its creation.

    The Truth

    Those who have been through the truth know that it used imagery to describe ones perfect self as a chrome ball that has been tarnished by painful events and wrongdoings in ones childhood. The goal then was to recognize those events and react in an emotional catharsis for the purpose of cleansing the soul and becoming pure. This would relate to concepts presented by Sigmund Freuds’ theories of etiology.

    Sigmund Freud attributed mental or neurotic disorders to deep-seated or hidden psychic motivations. The unconscious played the primary role in Freud’s approach. According to Freud, the person in conflict was unaware of the cause because it was too deeply embedded in an inaccessible part of the mind. Freud postulated that the occurrence of previous traumas, unacceptable feelings, or wanton drives enacted a defense mechanism that enabled this burial into the unconscious. As a means of survival, a person might push such unsavory thoughts and memories as far from the conscious mind as possible.

    Childhood, according to Freud, was the time when many repressed motivations and defense mechanisms began to thrive. Without control over their own lives, children have no way to resolve such emotions that include frustration, insecurity, or guilt. These emotions essentially build up while the child’s personality is developing into adulthood. Every psychological disorder from sexual dysfunction to anxiety might be explained after talking about the repressed feelings a person has harbored since childhood.

    Then there are other elements to the Propheet that suggest that New Age ideas from the Human Potential Movement were included. Primal Scream, which John Lennon helped to popularize (coincidence?), was present as participants were directed to undergo a forced emotional catharsis to remove the tarnish from the chrome ball. Many could claim it was effective, but the act of screaming results in exhaustion and hyperventilation which in turn produces a euphoric effect on the participant.

    Screaming and heightened emotional states affect the brain in the same way as exercise in that they prompt the release of endorphins, serotonin, adrenaline and dopamine. Before you can understand your emotions it helps to understand what causes them. Our brains and endocrine system are a veritable narcotics factory, producing an array of natural chemicals that act as stimulants, depressants or pain-killers:

    • adrenaline prepares the body for fight or flight: your heart starts pounding, your pupils dilate, you start to sweat and get “butterflies” as your digestive system switches off;

    • endorphins, natural pain-killers many times stronger than morphine, are released by the pituitary gland;

    • dopamine, released in the middle area of the brain, is chiefly responsible for pleasurable sensations;

    • anandoline, a canabinoid, stimulates the appetite;

    • PEA, a natural stimulant, performs in a similar manner to amphetamines such as speed;

    • melatonin controls your sleeping patterns and stimulates the immune system; and

    • serotonin is believed to play important roles in a number of areas: sexuality, anxiety and depression.

    So the perception that one has experienced a moment of spiritual cleansing can be easily misunderstood by the participant due to the pleasant “high” produced after such an experience.

    As well aspects of Liftons thought reform studies are applicable. For instance, in The Truth, it began with disclosing events from childhood that were painful (i.e. death in the family, abandonment , name calling) that were supposedly for addressing traumatic moments. But as the Propheet progressed participants were pressured to reveal deep secrets about ones’ self that could be considered an act of self betrayal.

    For instance the questions initially posed were, “How were you hurt when you were a child?” And progressed to, “What is it that you can’t tell anybody about?” After being led down a path of openness and sharing as well as engaging in various acts (tactile drills, guided imagery) that produced exhaustion, psychological defense systems had been dismantled for many of the participants. This resulted in many disclosing things about themselves that crossed a personal boundary and thereby betraying themselves. To return to Liftons’ studies:


    When the person is forced to denounce friends and family, it both destroys their sense of identity and reinforces feelings of guilt. This helps to separates them from their past, building the ground for a new personality to be built.

    Breaking point

    The constant assault on identity, guilt and self-betrayal eventually leads to them breaking down, much as the manner of the ‘nervous breakdown’ that people experience for other reasons. They may cry inconsolably, have convulsive fits and fall into deep depression. Psychologically, they may effectively be losing a sense of who they are and hence fearing total annihilation of the self.


    Individuals are encouraged to confess past ‘sins’ (as defined by the group). This creates a tension between the person’s actions and their stated belief that the action is bad, particularly if the statement is made publicly. The consistency principle thus leads the person to fully adopt the belief that the sin is bad and to distance themselves from repeating it.

    Discussion of inner fears and anxieties, as well as confessing sins is exposing vulnerabilities and requires the person to place trust in the group and hence bond with them. When we bond with others, they become our friends, and we will tend to adopt their beliefs more easily.

    This effect may be exaggerated with intense sessions where deep thoughts and feelings are regularly surfaced. This also has the effect of exhausting people, making them more open to suggestion.

    The Truth Propheet set the stage for the participants further progress in the program. It was re-visited time and time again in every Propheet, in the telling of ones story, and in Paps. In general the pressure put on the students to re-affirm their confessions, to themselves and publicly, depended on whether or not they were following the program or not (“in agreement” or not). Essentially any wrongdoing, no matter how big or small was attempted to be corrected by staff, by re-addressing this unrelated but painful confession as punishment. (i.e. “Are you living your lie or your truth?” One or the other, no in between.)

    In terms of the effect Cedu had on students it would be far from accurate to suppose that a highly diverse group of pre-adult participants in various stages of development would or could respond universally to this kind of psychological experimentation. In an environment devoid of licensed therapists practicing a random collection of powerful psychological tactics upon a variety of subjects it is likely that the results will be chaotic.

  38. I have added much more information to this thread and believe it will go a log way toward explaining the Cedu experience.

  39. Thank you for putting this together. My boyfriend attended CEDU and ever since he found out about this site and about the documentary, he started telling me a little more about his past. It’s been a positive thing in his life. He has gone through a lot in his life and CEDU was a huge part of it all. Please help this information spread faster so that more and more survivors will feel that they too have a voice. I believe that the people that went to Cedu probably had a hard time explaining what they went through to their parents and loved one’s, probably because they weren’t believed. My boyfriend’s mom still believes Cedu was the best thing that she ever did for her son. She is an amazing woman and was a single parent trying to raise 3 wonderful boys. My boyfriend was the youngest and the one that gave the most trouble to his mom. But his father was assasinated and he never got over it.

    Fortunately, my boyfriend is a successful attorney, an extremely loving person and an amazing human being, but it’s taken him a long time to get there. He’s also bi-polar, used to use drugs and tons of alcohol and had a reckless post-cedu life. Anyways, it’s been a long and difficult road for him and I thank you for doing this, and for giving back to all of the CEDU survivors. Lets all unite and revolutinize the way these schools are monitored by the government, lets put a stop to this NOW and lets give our children the chance they deserve to live, to love and to learn from their mistakes in a positive way. Not a traumatic way. CEDU NEEDS TO STOP NOW. THIS NEEDS TO COME TO LIGHT NOW.

    Thank you for listening to me and for allowing me to post this on your site. My Heart Goes Out TO ALL OF YOU CEDU SURVIVORS. With Love, Me.

  40. Liam- Have you had any contact with ex-Amity School residents. Amity was the sister school of Cedu and Cascade. I went there from 89-91 . I can relate to almost all of these stories . Amity was started by John & Marci Padgett, who both worked under Mel Wasserman for several years.

  41. OK so I am reading these accounts and I remember us realizing that a great way to get some sleep is to literally pass out and so Qualls, Chris D, Dashley and several others in our peer group start talking about if you lock both of your knees straight, it will make you pass out! lol I think that it was Chris who actually did it…lol…ahh the scheming!
    I don’t ever recall telling all of my secrets but did tell John Padgett that several issues were none of his fucking business. Go ahead dude rip into me cause’ in my head I was going “la la la la I can’t heeeaaaarrrrr you!” lol

  42. Hey, this isn’t much but Chuckie D also came up with ‘Today is the first day of the rest of your life’ which was a workshop ‘tool’ or secret saying that you learned after going through the Choices (I Want To Live[?]) workshop/propheet at the CEDU clone school Monarch.

  43. namenotimportant

    hey liam to answer your question “do you think that staff there, any of them, regret what they did? Regret working there, putting kids through the abusive ‘attack therapy’, the all-night sleep-deprivation processes, where they excoriated them in 2-6 am scream-in-your-face ‘therapy’, and made them list the details of their lives – sorry – the painful, embarrassing, or down-right abusive details of their lives?”

    I do know of at least two members of the CMS staff who shortly after I graduated. Quit out of moral reasons and personally called at least two or three of the parents on their team and told them to pull their children from the program. I’m not sure if that qualifies as regret or guilt or what but it seems as though their conscience got the best of them and they chose to do the right thing. I’m not sure if you really wanted an answer to that question but since I had one I thought I’d share it with you.

  44. I made some statements before about the history behind Cedu and have found that I did not make some important distinctions.

    One part of Cedu’s history is connected with Lifespring and that organization is a child of the Human Potential Movement. I also was describing that in connection with Humanistic Psychiatry, which is utilized by the HPM, but in looking into the history I found information that I think is very important to understanding point of contention between these viewpoints. I also think it is very important in understanding the Cedu experience as well.

    To summarize Humanistic Psychiatry is a school of thought that was “developed in the 1950s in reaction to both behaviorism and psychoanalysis.” “The humanistic approach was distinguished by its emphasis on subjective meaning, rejection of determinism, and concern for positive growth rather than pathology.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychology

    The Human Potential Movement “formed around the concept of cultivating extraordinary potential that its advocates believed to lie largely untapped in most people.” “those who begin to unleash this assumed potential often find themselves directing their actions within society towards assisting others to release their potential. Adherents believe that the net effect of individuals cultivating their potential will bring about positive social change at large.” Critics of the HPM say it “has not succeeded in its goals, but has instead created an environment that actually inhibits personal development. Such critics may claim that the HPM encourages childish narcissism by reinforcing the behavior of focusing on one’s problems and expressing how one feels, rather than encouraging behaviors to overcome these problems. One can view this criticism in the terms of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. This analysis characterizes the failure as an exclusive focus on helping individuals fulfill their “Deficit Needs”, without moving individuals up the hierarchy to “Being Needs” (self-actualization). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_Potential_Movement

    My main point here is that Humanistic psychology is the study of healthy individual personality development, and the tactics of the HPM are to utilize Humanistic Psychology to promote successful behavior on the societal level. This goal of heightened success and productivity at the societal level, though, can be at the expense of individual development. I believe this also represents the beliefs of the Cedu program and here is the real evidence for that:
    Before, I referred to one founder of Humanistic Psychiatry, Abraham Maslow, and his ‘hierarchy of human needs’. But please look at this information on the other founder Carl Rogers.

    “Carl Rogers (January 8, 1902 – February 4, 1987) was an influential American psychologist and among the founders of the humanistic approach to psychology. Rogers is widely considered to be one of the founding fathers of psychotherapy research and was honored for his pioneering research with the Award for Distinguished Scientific Contributions by the American Psychological Association in 1956. The person-centered approach, his own unique approach to understanding personality and human relationships, found wide application in various domains such as psychotherapy and counseling.”

    “Development of the Personality

    With regard to development, he described principles rather than stages. The main issue is the development of a self concept and the progress from an undifferentiated self to being fully differentiated.

    “ Self Concept … the organized consistent conceptual gestalt composed of perceptions of the characteristics of ‘I’ or ‘me’ and the perceptions of the relationships of the ‘I’ or ‘me’ to others and to various aspects of life, together with the values attached to these perceptions.”

    “In the development of the self concept he saw conditional and unconditional positive regard as key. Those raised in an environment of unconditional positive regard have the opportunity to fully actualize themselves. Those raised in an environment of conditional positive regard only feel worthy if they match conditions (what Rogers describes as conditions of worth) that have been laid down by others.”


    Rogers identifies the “real self” as the aspect of one’s being that is founded in the actualizing tendency, follows organismic valuing, needs and receives positive regard and self-regard. It is the “you” that, if all goes well, you will become. On the other hand, to the extent that our society is out of sync with the actualizing tendency, and we are forced to live with conditions of worth that are out of step with organismic valuing, and receive only conditional positive regard and self-regard, we develop instead an “ideal self”. By ideal, Rogers is suggesting something not real, something that is always out of our reach, the standard we cannot meet. This gap between the real self and the ideal self, the “I am” and the “I should” is called incongruity.”


    Rogers describes the concepts of congruence and incongruence as important ideas in his theory. In proposition #6 he refers to the actualizing tendency. At the same time he recognizes the need for positive regard. In a fully congruent person realizing their potential is not at the expense of experiencing positive regard. They are able to lead lives that are authentic and genuine.
    Incongruent individuals, in their pursuit of positive regard, live lives that include falseness and do not realise their potential. Conditions put on them by those around them make it necessary for them to forego their genuine, authentic lives to meet with the approval of others. They live lives that are not true to themselves, to who they are on the inside.

    Rogers suggests that the incongruent individual who is always on the defensive and cannot be open to all experiences is not functioning ideally and may even be malfunctioning. They work hard at maintaining/protecting their self concept. Because their lives are not authentic this is a difficult task and they are under constant threat. They deploy defense mechanisms to achieve this. He describes two mechanisms: distortion and denial. Distortion occurs when the individual perceives a threat to their self concept. They distort the perception until it fits their self concept. Denial follows the same process except instead of distorting they deny the threat exists.

    This defensive behavior reduces the consciousness of the threat but not the threat itself. And so, as the threats mount, the work of protecting the self concept becomes more difficult and the individual more defensive and rigid in their self structure. If the incongruence is immoderate this process may lead the individual to a state that would typically be described as neurotic. Their functioning becomes precarious and psychologically vulnerable. If the situation worsens it is possible that the defenses cease to function altogether and the individual becomes aware of the incongruence of their situation. Their personality becomes disorganised and bizarre, irrational behavior, associated with earlier denied aspects of self, may erupt uncontrollably.”

    Now, going back to his Partner, Abraham Maslows pyramid of human needs.

    “Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a theory in psychology, proposed by Abraham Maslow in his 1943 paper A Theory of Human Motivation”
    His theory is that to fully “actualize” as a person, to be able to develop fully, a person must be able to satisfy the successive needs on the pyramid. They are:

    Physiological>Safety>Love/Belonging>Esteem>Self Actualization
    (Details on these.) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maslow%27s_hierarchy_of_needs

    “Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is also predetermined in order of importance.[5] It is often depicted as a pyramid consisting of five levels: the lowest level is associated with physiological needs, while the uppermost level is associated with self-actualization needs, particularly those related to identity and purpose. The higher needs in this hierarchy only come into focus when the lower needs in the pyramid are met. Once an individual has moved upwards to the next level, needs in the lower level will no longer be prioritized. If a lower set of needs is no longer being met, the individual will temporarily re-prioritize those needs by focusing attention on the unfulfilled needs.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maslow%27s_hierarchy_of_needs

    …and some other pertinent things on Carl Rogers.
    Carl Rogers developed a theory of personality and consciousness based on 19 propositions. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carl_Rogers
    Nineteen Propositions
    His theory (as of 1951) was based on nineteen propositions:[6]
    1. All individuals (organisms) exist in a continually changing world of experience (phenomenal field) of which they are the centre.
    2. The organism reacts to the field as it is experienced and perceived. This perceptual field is “reality” for the individual.
    3. The organism reacts as an organized whole to this phenomenal field.
    4. A portion of the total perceptual field gradually becomes differentiated as the self.
    5. As a result of interaction with the environment, and particularly as a result of evaluational interaction with others, the structure of the self is formed – an organised, fluid but consistent conceptual pattern of perceptions of characteristics and relationships of the “I” or the “me”, together with values attached to these concepts.
    6. The organism has one basic tendency and striving – to actualize, maintain and enhance the experiencing organism.
    7. The best vantage point for understanding behaviour is from the internal frame of reference of the individual.
    8. Behavior is basically the goal directed attempt of the organism to satisfy its needs as experienced, in the field as perceived.
    9. Emotion accompanies, and in general facilitates, such goal directed behaviour, the kind of emotion being related to the perceived significance of the behaviour for the maintenance and enhancement of the organism.
    10. Values experienced directly by the organism, and in some instances are values introjected or taken over from others, but perceived in distorted fashion, as if they had been experienced directly.
    11. As experiences occur in the life of the individual, they are either, a) symbolized, perceived and organized into some relation to the self, b) ignored because there is no perceived relationship to the self structure, c) denied symbolization or given distorted symbolization because the experience is inconsistent with the structure of the self.
    12. Most of the ways of behaving that are adopted by the organism are those that are consistent with the concept of self.
    13. In some instances, behaviour may be brought about by organic experiences and needs which have not been symbolized. Such behaviour may be inconsistent with the structure of the self but in such instances the behaviour is not “owned” by the individual.
    14. Psychological adjustment exists when the concept of the self is such that all the sensory and visceral experiences of the organism are, or may be, assimilated on a symbolic level into a consistent relationship with the concept of self.
    15. Psychological maladjustment exists when the organism denies awareness of significant sensory and visceral experiences, which consequently are not symbolized and organized into the gestalt of the self structure. When this situation exists, there is a basic or potential psychological tension.
    16. Any experience which is inconsistent with the organization of the structure of the self may be perceived as a threat, and the more of these perceptions there are, the more rigidly the self structure is organized to maintain itself.
    17. Under certain conditions, involving primarily complete absence of threat to the self structure, experiences which are inconsistent with it may be perceived and examined, and the structure of self revised to assimilate and include such experiences.
    18. When the individual perceives and accepts into one consistent and integrated system all his sensory and visceral experiences, then he is necessarily more understanding of others and is more accepting of others as separate individuals.
    19. As the individual perceives and accepts into his self structure more of his organic experiences, he finds that he is replacing his present value system – based extensively on introjections which have been distortedly symbolized – with a continuing organismic valuing process.
    Additionally, Rogers is known for practicing “unconditional positive regard,” which is defined as accepting a person “without negative judgment of …. [a person’s] basic worth.”[

    What I am really getting at here is that Humanistic Psychiatry itself is providing the guidelines to understanding how the human personality develops, but it also gives all the information you need to control and shape personality development.

    you are still reading ( I really hope some people find this interesting) There are some very important clues in the above information that, I think, are key to identifying the true intention of the program.

    In the above information Rogers talks about the “I” and “Me”, but his perspective on this is one of unity, wholeness and integration. “I” and “Me”, to Rogers, is the same thing, they are not separate. As he said “I” and “Me” both symbolize self concept, the awareness of self, both words symbolize the same thing. Additionally he defines a healthy personality as one in which the self concept is fully differentiated from other, meaning “self-actualization” is a state of achieving independence and autonomy. He says undeveloped self-concept is a result of an environment where positive regard is conditional upon the persons behavior. He says in this environment people “only feel worthy if they match conditions (what Rogers describes as conditions of worth) that have been laid down by others.”

    I really am going somewhere with this, but before it comes together there is another very important concept that Rogers talked about. This was ‘incongruency’. Here he talks about the split between ‘real self’ and ‘ideal self’ as well as “I am” and “I should”. I think this concept of splitting is important in considering the intention of the “I and me” propheet at Cedu, that being the conceptual split of the self into Thinking and Feeling. There is more to say about this, but to expand on this idea I think this information is key:

    This book claims to have been the first book to cover the subject of personality splitting.

    Subpersonalities: The people inside us. John Rowan. 1990

    It chronicles the various instances of personality splitting in psychotherapy. It describes various ways to split the mind into separate and autonomous regions. It quotes Carl Jung:

    “The tendency to split means that parts of the psyche detach themselves from consciousness to such an extent that they not only appear foreign but lead an autonomous life of their own. It need not be a question of hysterical multiple personality, or schizophrenic alterations of personality, but merely of so-called ‘complexes’ that come entirely within the scope of the normal.” Jung 1936”

    Various descriptions of splitting include:

    Primal split- Of Primal therapy. Primal therapy regards any defense mechanisms as neurosis. “Primal Theory indicates that the healthiest people are defense free. Anything that builds a stronger defense system deepens the neurosis. – The Primal Scream, Arthur Janov, 1970” It focuses on “the real self” and “un-real self” or “false self”. This false self is the defensive (neurotic) self that has been established to protect the real self from being vulnerable in an environment that denies the real expression of himself. (*note: This concept of real and unreal self (even the specific reference to ‘Truth’ and ‘Lie’) do not have their origins in Primal Theory. Earlier references to this are found in works by R.D. Laing and Donald Winnicott, however both use it to describe how this split can result in mental illness, specifically schizophrenia (split mind http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Winnicott , http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ronald_David_Laing . Laing fully covers the progression of mental illness as a result of this self concept in his book “The Divided Self”.).)

    Split between child ego and adult ego- From Transactional analysis, Eric Berne. Founded on the principle that everyone has parent, adult, and child ego states. “We all have within us a Parent, Adult, and a Child, and these can sometimes be in conflict with one another.” The book quotes Berne: “An Ego State can be described as a coherent system of feelings related to a given subject and operationally as a set of coherent behavior patterns… repression of traumatic memories is possible only through repression of the whole pertinent ego state. Early ego states remain preserved in a latent stage, waiting to be re-cathected. – We would add to this point that the whole ego state may not only be repressed, but split off. This comes out in the way in which an ego state can switch in with great power.”

    Splits in Gestalt therapy- Fritz Perls, and Gestalt Therapy, “laid all the stress on internal conflicts rather than external conflicts.” “Gestalt school lays all the stress on polarities as a form of conflict.” Perls refers to what he calls “The famous self-torture game” which makes use of the conflict from these polarities with a conceptual split which he calls “topdog underdog”. The basis for this game is that “we carry around certain “shoulds” which we do not really intend to honor. We carry them around with us until they beat us over the head with the thought-‘I still haven’t written to my grandmother,’ –or whatever it may be. The reply is something like,’I will do it but I haven’t got time.’ In Perls terms this is the topdog underdog at work.” Perls states,”The topdog is righteous and authoritarian; he knows best. He manipulates with demands and threats of catastrophe. The underdog manipulates with being defensive, apologetic, wheedling… This is the basis for the famous self torture game.”

    The book also has sections on Neuro Linguistic Programming and Hypnotherapy.

    I’ll try to get to the point here. CEDU KNEW IT WAS TRYING TO PREVENT PERSONAL GROWTH, the tools were meant to stifle you with inner conflict. The “I and ME” seems to have been taken from Rogers’ theories, but they twisted the concept to fit Rogers’ description of psychopathology by creating a self concept that is incongruent. I think all the tools were for that purpose, to create a split in self concept then fully polarize the parts by imparting the belief that you could banish, or exorcise, one of them. Furthermore they kept us in an environment in which positive regard was highly conditional upon behavior, which Rogers says cannot support self actualization. I’m sure you can see how Maslows hierarchy of needs was a tool cedu used to control people with their system of rewards and punishments. All in all I think it was elaborately set up to be exactly what Perls calls it, ‘The Famous Self Torture Game’.

  45. … and it may sound unbelievable but… Out of the Journal of Humanistic Psychiatry… Carl Rogers worked in the CIA mind control project MK-ULTRA, so I guess his work was pretty respected.


    “Carl Rogers and the CIA
    Journal of Humanistic Psychology 2008; 48; 6 originally published online Oct 24, 2007;

    Carl Rogers was a pioneer and leader in the humanistic psychology movement. Although his many professional activities and accomplishments are well known, the story of his association with the Society for the Investigation of Human Ecology—a front organization for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)—is barely known and has never been explored in any depth.”

    ““It is my hope that we have helped to clarify the range of choice which will lie before us and our children in regard to the behavioral sciences. We can choose to use our growing knowledge to enslave people in ways never dreamed of before, depersonalizing them, controlling them by means so carefully selected that they will perhaps never be aware of their loss of personhood.” …… (Rogers & Skinner, 1956, p. 1064)

    What Rogers did not mention and what virtually no one at the time knew was that while Carl Rogers was voicing these noble sentiments and was becoming arguably the leading spokesperson for the emerging movement in humanistic psychology, he was also working with the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).”

  46. Name (required)Mitch Lieber

    I was at cedu from Dec.75 to Jan. 78
    Would like to get in contact with others who was there at that time.
    I was on the raffle for one and half years.I raised a lot of money for cedu.

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