Calling All Cedu Survivors

Hello, hello, Cedu survivors, escapees and graduates… and likewise, to all from similar, sister and satellite programs (the Benchmark, NWA, Tranquility Bay nexus).

I’m working on a documentary about the subject, in an effort to tell some stories and elucidate some hidden histories from our lives – the time we spent in strange isolation from the world, in one of these very odd schools, with their very odd, and then often invasive and abusive, philosophies.

This blog up for you to say hi, drop me notes, post links, ask questions, or fill me in on what you’re reading and discovering about the schools.

I’ll be posting video clips as editing continues. The basic premise is as follows: Make this work available to a wide audience, the widest audience, but especially, to those who will want to know about these schools: that is, parents who are considering sending their child away; or, a young person, who is being sold on the idea of going.

Don’t be shy, or strangers. Do check in, do post relevant links, do be friendly, and not afraid of making your experience or opinions known about the bizarrery we call Cedu.

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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 May 22, 2008, in Surviving Cedu. Bookmark the permalink. 197 Comments.

  1. CEDU Reunion!

    Get your butt to HOUSE AROUND THE PIT! Come join in the fun…

    Activities:

    Propheet walks
    Dyads
    Pillow Pounding
    Dinner Dishes
    Chopping Wood
    Scooping Poop

    HOW FUN!!! COME ON!

  2. terrifying. truly.

    Pay to relive it? Are they on drugs?

    (No! No drugs, just Raps!)

  3. I am in the process of picking up my jaw off my keyboard. Did these people go to the same school has we did? Or did it change drastically when we were there what 4 years later? It has to be a joke. Has anyone contacted to tell them that they must be still confused and brainwashed? Somebody needs to. Please tell me they aren’t serious.

  4. I think it’s a cool idea. I love getting together with you guys!!! Just saw Chris B. too! That was AWESOME! I think it would be fun to see us all together again. Remember how much we laughed in March?

    You all are my POW’s…. We survived! The Prison camp! I will always love you guys on such a level that it is hard to explain.

  5. It sounds like they’re all tongue-in-cheek about the reliving each experience. I’m sure they are just a bunch of survivors that made friendships despite the chaos that is Cedu, just like us. I received an invite too, through MySpace, but it looks like it’s really only for those that went there in the early to mid 80’s. Are they opening it up to everybody? I would like to see one (help organize) for those of us from the early to mid 90’s, maybe on a lower budget scale.

  6. Yeah… maybe. Maybe not. I’ve run into more than a few defenders of the faith, and it’s always a bit shocking to me.

    There are more than a few hangers-on and true believers to the ‘dyad’ cult out there…

    I mean, if it works for you, I guess, scream away. But leave me out of it. And other people’s children!

    I’ve tried to understand it, and get beneath the surface, and it’s a little of what Laura commented on – the program had its razor-sharp, iron-hard Spartan years, and then, there were periods of less-maniacal insanity.

    Cedu California seems, from the many I’ve interviewed, to be the home of the hard-as-nails cult mindset. The RMA experience, while full of oddities, including raps, propheets, 2-month fulltimes, etc, had a looser ethic for some. That is, according to some I’ve spoken with, it was possible to go through much of the program without having your psyche ripped apart by the likes of a Bentz family, Abell, Bonano, Sauders, Decker-type staff, or to have been a play-thing of a Wiens, Bonano, Laird or, again, the Bentz family. That is, it was possible to hide away from it, to a greater degree.

    But then again, it is at RMA that the most egregious, illegal examples of student-on-student abuse have been reported to me. And there too, select staff (C.Wolf, according to interview subjects), encouraged, participated in, or turned blindly from prohibited and even illegal activity, including major and profoundly traumatic events of student-upon-student abuse.

    So…

    Right, reunion.

    I suppose I’m more interested in meeting with individuals who want to talk openly about the experience, and what it meant to them, than in meeting in a group to ‘relive’ what I would not have chosen to experience, if the experience had been voluntary and transparent.

    So… no party hat for me!

  7. Different eras – different mind sets and levels of intensity…I’d agree with that.

    Maybe the staff at RMA relied more on the older students to do their dirty work for them. Hence the rules seemed more lax and unspoken, but still brutally enforced, just not by the top authority.

  8. Hi Rob,

    Some, though not all, of the RMA’ers I’ve spoken with/interviewed, said that the program was essentially a lighter xerox copy – a clone with much of the fervor lost. RMA had a few true-believers, namely C.Wolf, a favorite student of Wasserman himself – but many (or most?) in the RMA staff were, I was told, “hippies”, people living in the mountains in Idaho, going along with the program, enough to get along.

    That said, the tales of horror coming out of RMA, for some of the students… well, deeply criminal abuse.

    Anyway… got to get back to editing!

  9. Hello. I’m a cedu graduate. My tenior was from 12/3/85-6/18/88. I had the utmost privilage being dealt with during this time by lorie saunders, william and pam abell,dean and guy bonano,andy grenier, jill and rudy bentz,jim johnson, and a vast array of other faculty whose names have seemed to have vanished from my memory, unlike their faces, which I don’t think I’ll ever escape.

    The theraputical control of each and everyone in the program was astute and demand respect more than understanding. The slave aspect of running a
    “non=profit” school was inforced through guilt and self worth. The dread cry of “Own your work, and be proud” would often make some of us chuckle in which we would be given dishes, or work detail in which aside from your weekly duties,you would be assigned to an area of the campus,dinning hall,kitchen to perform a no talking, no singing, no whistling, no humming, just work, and as fast as possible.

    Scholastically, we received 6 hours of academics a week. 3 hours on tuesday, and 3 hours on thursday.Due to my age at the time of my graduation(15), I didn’t recieve a high school diploma. I was the only one. Although I attended every single class with the other 23 graduates. I watched them all receive their diplomas along with their certificate of completion. It was the final insult. Denied onstage, what I rightfully earned.

  10. I could see how that would feel like a complete waste of that part of your life. I can’t commiserate because I did get a Cedu HS diploma, worthless as it was. I think that a lot of us feel that way about that period we were there, though, that we wasted valuable living time to get oppressed and abused at Cedu with no choice in the matter. It’s interesting that you say “I had the utmost priviledge…” I’m assuming you’re being sarcastic about that.

  11. I received my high school diploma from CEDU and as a result I started college at an 8th grade level. !3 long hards years to graduate. I was so far behind.

    I wasn’t academically prepared for college. I was prepared to be a wood chuck, work in a lumber mill, be a maid, a gardener or perhaps a farm hand.

    I just remembered a pretty funny memory a few weeks ago. When my peer group was in upper school they “put” us in a “math” class (once) where a new teacher came in and taught us this “thing” called Mortenson Math.

    We didn’t like this method of math or the teacher. So, as a group we decided to facilitate our own rap during class to tell the teacher what we thought about this interesting elusive mathematical concept.

    We blew her away. Reamed her a new asshole. Ran our thinking at her. TOTALLY INDICTED HER ONE BY ONE.

    I never attended another “math” class and I never saw that woman again.

    We were in upper school man, We had the tools to nip THAT in the bud.

  12. I went to Amity and Elan. Both therapudic schools. I have a vast knowledge of both schools and their history and wouldnt mind giving any info I can. Both schools were based on Synanon but Elan is closer to what Synanon was. Amity is a CEDU sister and implements the lifespring ideas- this is where the propheets came from. I found Elan to be better for me personally since it was more real with students running the show opposed to staff. Also Amity always gave me the feeling people couldnt leave because you felt you could not do it on your own like you could never really leave the school behind. I learned alot about life and myself through both schools. I dont agree with all the methods used, especially Amity with you always having to have something wrong with yourself. I do feel that in order to succeede at either place you had to WANT to change. Again any info I can provide please feel free to ask. Nothing Lasts Forever.

    Kevin

  13. Hi Kevin,

    Thanks for this, and yes, I’ll be writing you an email for some follow-up.

    I’ll look up the schools on the web, too. Do you have any links to reading from students on these schools? Are they listed on Fornits?

    I’ll have a look…

  14. MESSAGE FROM FOUNDER

    Thank you for your interest in the Monarch School. My name is Patrick McKenna and I would like you to know how the Monarch School began.

    I dreamed of establishing this school long before I actually brought the dream to life. But, before I even knew I had this dream or that in the future I would realize this dream, I had to experience some of what many of you are living today.

    I was a teen in trouble. My parents and I suffered through our family struggles until my parents happened to discover a new kind of boarding school that eventually changed my life. Were it not for my parent persistence and courage, I am not sure where my self- destructive path might have led me. During my stay at school, I realized that my life had changed forever because of the gifts I was being given. I began to dream of a school and plan for the day when I could establish one of my own.

    Many years later, after varied life experiences, including marriage and children, I arrived in a place personally to begin planning how I might accomplish this dream.

    I imagined a place where children would be surrounded by positive experiences. One which could reawaken the desire for education and where they would be able to discover their true selves through creative processes including art, outdoor adventure, and vocational activities. A place where their personal lives would be well supported as they grew. I gathered several gifted and experienced educators and we spent many months planning the curriculum and contacting the key staff we knew would be needed to make the dream reality. The Monarch School property was acquired and building plans drawn. We were committed and prepared. We then contacted trusted colleagues in the educational world and announced our plans. Our first students enrolled in the summer of 2001.

    Monarch School is a living, breathing home and school. It is an active campus, full of life and love. We invite you to share in this dream and be a part of an education that can benefit everyone.

    Sincerely,

    Patrick McKenna

  15. 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.

  16. Liam, I wanted to direct you to a book my wife and I picked up in a free box on vacation this week. It is called “Oh The Glory of It All” by Sean Wilsey. He is a CEDU survivor who also attended Cascade and finally graduated from Amity with a fairly interesting story to tell. It was published in 2005. She said to me at dinner, “Didn’t you used to work at a place called CEDU for a while?” and told me about the book she was reading. The book is largely about his CEDUesqe experiences…

  17. Thanks Jason,

    and for your great comments too. I’ll send an email your way, would love to talk more,

    Liam

  18. john friedman

    I just stumbled upon this website. I am amazed that it exists. I had no idea that cedu filed bankruptcy and shut down. its almost too good to be true. i try to block that hell of a place out of my memory as much as possible. since the day i escaped through the san bernardino mountains i’ve wanted to personally see to the destruction of that place. i’m glad to see that their brainwashing didn’t grab hold of everyone who was locked up there. i am amazed at how many survivors there are out there.

  19. I attended RMA 92-94. Can’t wait to see your documentary. Being sent to RMA was one of the best & worst things i have ever been through. Best “new friends”, worst “everything else”. When I saw the script for the I & Me workshop it brought back a flood of memories, how in the world were you able to get your hands no that? Liam, wishing you all the best with your documentary.

  20. I attended RMA 92-94. Can’t wait to see your documentary. Being sent to RMA was one of the best & worst things i have ever been through. Best “new friends”, worst “everything else”. When I saw the script for the I & Me workshop it brought back a flood of memories, how in the world were you able to get your hands ON that? Liam, wishing you all the best with your documentary. RMA / CEDU is one experience that I would never recomend or ever do again.

  21. My son went to CEDU before it folded–it was a horrible place with untrained people running it.

    Do you know anything about HYDE Academy?

    • Hi, Kay. I attended Hyde directly after NWA (CEDU) … It was the best thing for me after the trauma of CEDU. It is a great place!

  22. I went to Northwest Academy…it was the worst year of my life. I graduated 5 years ago and I am only now beginning to live a normal life where I don’t have nightmares about that place. Sure, I wasn’t the ideal CEDU student – but thats because I wasn’t a fan of being brainwashed and turned into a dependent zombie…they treated me horribly and I don’t think a lawsuit is enough. I think some of those councilors should go to jail for what they did to us up there. I’m glad you’re making a documentary, but I can’t watch it, I’m finally not thinking about that horrid place every day.

  23. I have never felt right again after I left that place (RMA ’98-99)
    and they deposited me in college directly after and that collapsed on me too because I could not take anything seriously that had structure. I still feel that I took something with me from there. Perhaps it was just that I lived through it. I do not identify with anyone who has not been through those schools. I am interested in seeing there dream exposed for what it is so that we all might finally get some closure and move on from it. Help us all with your documentary.

  24. A good and lucid discussion of the Cedu rap can be found ongoing here at fornits:

    http://www.fornits.com/phpbb/viewtopic.php?f=11&t=25715

  25. Liam,

    That story of a rap is truly brilliant. A “low key” rap at that. Everyone has potential for the hot seat.

    It would make a very good scene for part of a movie. Like an introduction to how raps work.. and then later in the movie you could have one of those snot filled brutal raps with puke and popped blood vessels and cop outs and full times… EVERYONE GET REAMED and the worst of the worst disclosures are shared… WOAH.

    Those raps that when you weren’t in them and you walked out on the one you WERE in you would say to yourself, “OMG Thank GOD I wasn’t in THAT RAP!!”

    Maybe one of those days that Rudy was PMSing and took his shit out on EVERYONE.

  26. Hey, I went to Amity too in the ’90s.
    I have difficult memories of the place. I have really amazing love for the students/friends that I met there, and for that I am truly grateful, but remembering “raps” (ps i read that fornits thread…. chillingly accurate..)Maybe the fear factor is what put me off. Maybe it’s the fact that unqualified staff (that frankly had their own demons) were irresponsible with their own stuff took them out on us…. Or MAYBE, just MAYBE it’s the questionable management of funds and the staff diddling that puts a sour taste in my gullet. I did have *a few* great staff members there and for that I am eternally grateful. It just galls me that it has taken me so many years to get over and recover some of the atrocities that occured there, at a place that my folks (god bless them) sent me to with the honest hope to help me.

  27. rma was easier? I attended Cedu for all of 92 and rma for 93.
    Rma was much more full of crap! I got the hang of what I needed to do to b ok at Cedu. But at rma I was being yelled at for the clothes I wore.
    I still talk to a few people from Cedu. I try to explain it and people don’t get it.
    I was there when Caroline was but wasn’t affected by any of that. But I did runaway from both places as well as the group home I was in in between. Thank goodness for reading writting and painting I think that’s how I survived!

  28. I’m really looking forward to the opportunity to view your documentary. I was sent to Running Springs when I was about 14 by the juvenile court system in California. I was there for about a year and a half, until one day when I walked away from the fundraising operation they referred to as “the raffle”I guess it was probably about 1973 or 1974. I’ve spent so much time trying to forget, that I’ve become horrible with the dates of events that happened in my own life.

    I’m 50 years old now. A couple of years ago somebody showed me some of the basics of the internet. What a grisly realization it was to discover the fornits site and to vaugely become aware of the real impact the experience has had on me. It seems awfully wierd to me that the very first thing I would ever Google would be the term CEDU.

    It sure would be nice to be able to garner a little better percpective. I’m afraid I’ve paid a tremendous price for drinking way too much of the Kool-aid. It’s kind of like someone mentioned on fornits not long ago, It’s the gift that keeps on giving. What A drag.

    Anyway good luck…………..

  29. That’s the very first thing I ever looked up on the internet too. Only it was before google. I was using the search engine excite.com

    Pretty strange.

  30. Sometimes I read the stuff on fornits and wonder if maybe an unspoken truth may be that people actually were brainwashed beyond an extent they care to admit. Although I can’t clearly articulate what peculiar notions were put in my head or what psychological damage has been done, I have a sense that even though a lot of great work has been done to shed light on the subject there remains ( not to go all Manchurian Candidate or anything ) within the minds of those subjected to these treatments a cause, as yet unidentified.

    Really strange……..

    Was any ultimate goal ever expressed by the originators of these programs regarding the future behavior of the programmed subjects?

    I think I have a habit of asking lame questions whenever I just want to sit in a room and weep and listen to the sound of others weep.

    It’s like no matter how much astute and realistic analysis I read on the subject and no matter how accurately it describes the condition of my psyche and my behavior post-cedu, it always seems like something is missing.

    Oh well………….

  31. @ Rick
    I can’t say for sure that this is what you mean, but perhaps this article can shed a little light.
    http://cafety.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=216&Itemid=35
    …in particular it claims of this common psychological effect.

    Second-generation thought reform programs expose participants to exercises and experiences that disrupt psychological defense systems, causing some individuals to be flooded with emotions and others to dissociate and split off parts of their awareness. Psychological decompensations and the onset of other symptoms appear related to the combined effects of features described earlier, especially to rapid, intense arousal of aversive emotional states and to dissociation-producing techniques.

  32. Thanks…
    I just read Singer and Ofshe’s article and sure hate to see that terms like “imposed psychopathologies” so directly relate to me.
    Late………….

  33. I went to Ascent the summer of 08 and I was at NWA from 98-99 and received my high school diploma from the school. My senior year of high school was NWA. I didn’t complete the CEDU/NWA emotional growth portion because my mother pulled me to send me to college. Since leaving NWA life has been challenging. I have been in college but have had a hard time maintaining friendships. My family never speaks about NWA, and tends to keep things around that quiet. It was hard accepting that, since at NWA/Ascent we were all encouraged to “express express express.” Would love to hear from some old NWA’ers. I was there during the existence of peer groups 1 through 10.

  34. Liam,

    I was in 5 programs (1982-1986) and I think 3 out of the 5 bore a resemblance to CEDU. I was in PDAP (like STRAIGHT), DAPA (hospital based) , and Timberlawn (this link will tell you alot about T-lawn http://fornits.com/phpbb/viewtopic.php?f=14&t=25762&p=314487&hilit=timberlawn#p314020 ).

    Raleigh Hills did not bear a resemblance to anything. It was an aversion therapy place that i was in very briefly. Also I was in a psych ward for awhile just because I had come out and no one knew where to send me or what to do with me. The first three programs were definitely fashioned after CEDU.

  35. Hi!
    Yeah, I’ve wanted to get back together with a lot of people I went to school with for a while. I keep in touch with most of them on my myspace account. My family and I had to drive through Idaho to move for the military and I called one of my favorite staff members and met up with her in Sandpoint. It was a surreal feeling. I watched the documentaries last night and it felt like a punch in the gut. I’ve tried to supress a lot of those memories (profeets, raps, etc.). I’ve been in therapy for the last 6 years trying to make sense of why I feel like a peice of shit all the time and it’s starting to make sense to me! Anyway, I could blab a lot more but I just want to say that I appreciate you all going public. It makes me feel like it’s not this big, dark secret anymore.. Thank you!

  36. 1.(From former bca student
    Paul Johnson: Is a fake misunderstanding of kids type of man that spends his life ruining relationships and kicking people out of BCA for no reason, then lies to everybody about it.
    Shawnale Wilson: Just a phoney sheister out to make a buck on comissions from selling parents a cheap overrated, abusive program. Fake friendliness, fake smile, fake care, fake person – perfect salesperson – would be great in a used car lot.
    Teresa Dodd: She has angry and fake written all over her face. She was my team leader and tried to put me on b.s. restrictions. I think she enjoys giving people consequences.
    Mark Hewitt- A complete idiot who gets paid to make the students on his team look miserable by his ridiculous programs. i seriously think that guy gets a plesaure out making kids look like fools.
    Linda Daggy- The most uneducated therapist I’ve ever known. Half the time she doesn’t know what shes talking about and is most of the time trying to make her students miserable by having her manipulate your parents on conference calls. Very, very deep hatred for that woman.
    Doug Marshall- He actually tried for a point in time to intentionally deepen his voice, but i guess he gave it up becuase by the time i left he still, and will always sound like a six year old boy. All he cares about is himself and his outdoor b.s.

  37. Shea – I don’t know any of these people, or the program. Can you elaborate on the program you’re describing for those unfamiliar with it?

  38. I was at Boulder Creek Academy. Its right down the road from the old RMA campus. It’s the same type of school that CEDU was. I’m sorry I wasn’t specific. My bad.
    BCA was owned by Brown schools the same company that owned CEDU. It’s now owned my Universal heath services.
    The same stuff goes on their (raps are now called groups though), Restrictions, Work assignments, and all the other consequences. If you have anymore questions, post it on this page and I will reply and answer with honesty.

  39. I am a Cedu survivor. Graduated in 89. Would love to hear from you

  40. Wow. I am a cedu grad (5/2000 – 6/2002). I have both good and bad memories of that place. I’ve since become a student of psychology to try and better understand what was going on there. I think cedu had some good ideas and could have been a really amazing thing. Even now I still have things that i took away from cedu that are valubale. Unfortunately, the system was not set up well and was rife with corruption. It was far too easy for students to manipulate the system and far too common to see staff make bad choices. Many of the staff that were there in my time possesed no formal training in any of the helping professions. Some had never even been to college. While i believe that anyone is capable of helping another person, you should have some formal training on how to help if you are going to work in an environment like cedu. I’d like to help with this documentary in any way i can so please let me know what i can do to help. Also, several former cedu staff from my time have facebook and myspace pages so they could be contacted.

  41. Over the last few years I have been doing a lot of research on CEDU. Obviously not as much as you!!! I was there from 5/94-6/98. I am still in touch with about 40 people I was there with. I would love to tell you about my experience there.
    My mom died 1 month after I got there. I was allowed to see her for a few hours before she died and was allowed to only see the actual funeral. All of this was supervised by a staff member who flew with me and watched over me the whole time. I still was not allowed to talk to anyone except for my father on the same schedule as everyone. All through my stay I was accused of not dealing with anything other than my mother dying. I would love to tell you about that. I also used to visit as an alumni. A year after my graduation I spent a week at CEDU with someone from my peer group. We stayed at Dennis’s camp. Dennis on the ride up the mountain from the airport asked me to spend time with a girl who was having a really hard time being there. So I became her big sister for the week. Her name was Paris Hilton.
    I would love to be a part of what you are doing for us in any way possible. I have been waiting for a email back! Please write back soon!

  42. Wow.. I am not too sure how I came across this website.. but I find myself.. sitting here at work.. having these flashbacks of BCA. I was there from June ’98 – May ’00. My very first memory was having two escorts come and get me as the ass crack of dawn to telling me they were ready to take me. (I knew I was being sent away, but had NO idea what I had just gotten myself into).

    I do have good and bad memories of that place.. the ‘good’ was the friends that I made (many of my friendships started off by planning a get-away from the school) But I do still keep in touch with them. The bad memories.. well lets just say I still have a scar on the top of my hand… from beating pillows that felt like sandpaper on my skin.

    I am glad that I found this page.. I have only seen the first part of the doc. … but wow… Dead on!!!

  43. Yep, I was there in 1980 and wisely split two weeks before I turned 18.

    My deepest “fuck you” to Cedu and the kool-aid drinkers.

    Sorry Dan Earle, I didn’t die like you said I would, you dumb ass.

    Infact, I’m happily married with a new grand son. Life is truly good.

    Ah, too bad about yours, though. Karma’s a bitch!

  44. I was at Cedu HS from 95-97. I graduated in ’97 and at 30 years old I still have nightmares that I am being forced back there. In retrospect, I would have broken the rules a lot more, run away, gotten sent to NWA or Ascent (again), and would have been home sooner. Those that followed this equation were usually successful at escaping the system within a year as parents were forced to begin questioning the schools’ methods and the money they were handing out. Had I done the math, my parents would have run out of money much quicker too. Yet, the staff had me so shook I could barely speak. When confronted by a bear in the wilderness some say to curl up in the fetal position and cover your head so as to reduce the damage the bear can do (not that this is what one should do). This is similar to how I played the Cedu game. I hid as much as possible, said as little as possible, and when prodded gave the staff what they wanted with the exception of the whole “primal scream” thing. I refused to do that in raps which did cause some ripples later on, but I survived. Each day I had to remind myself of the world outside of Cedu and remember to not let their negativity set in. I read newspapers in the library just to remind myself that the outside world still existed. Looking back, this is my whole problem with the Cedu experience. A basic truth about human beings in general is that negativity reinforces negativity and positivity reinforces positivity, yet we were constantly being bombarded with negativity. This isn’t revisionist history here. Literally, everyday we were being told what we were doing wrong. The rewards and positive moments were few and far between – the end of a propheet, values challenge, and the once a year wilderness trips. Other than that, it was a complete s*!# show.

    Moreover, the staff were a bunch of frauds! I remember my first parent visit when my mom came and visited me and she bought me a new tie. That day, after she left we had a formal Sat. night dinner and I decided to wear the tie she had gotten me. Emotionally I was still reeling from seeing my mom for the first time in six months and the tie was all that I could cling onto from my family and the outside world – it was symbolic to me. On my way to dinner I ran into a “counselor” who shares the same name as a famous brat-pack actor and had a lisp. Now I don’t think this guy was too fond of me because he was a rather jockish former frat boy type who usually took a liking to the jockish guys in the program and the pretty girls who he liked to pick nicknames for. Anyway, he asked me where I got the tie. I proudly told him it was a gift from my mom. Then he proceeded to tell me how it was the ugliest tie he had ever seen. I, chocking back tears, nodded and just walked away. Now I’m no fashion guru, but I liked the tie, my mother has always had nice style, and this was coming from a guy who routinely wore track suits and wore those swishy nylon pants with weird stripes and stuff like that. As a sixteen year-old I had more style in the tip of my pinky finger than he could ever hope to have. Subsequent to this, I was subjected to getting lugged in front of the whole school, put on bans for long stretches of time, put on full-times, constant embarrassment, sleep deprivation, and a host of other things that are probably still buried deep within my subconscious, but I will always remember this. Maybe it’s petty but this beast of a person had just attacked my mom. Who does this? What kind of counselor or mental health professional berates people, makes fun of them, and plays favoritism like he did routinely? – The kind who has had no formal training and is in no position to be supervising “troubled” teenagers.

    I also remember in a propheet (I forget which one although I’m pretty sure we were yelling at and/or beating some sort of inanimate object) we had to stand in front of everyone and tell them our worst most secret shameful act ever. So I thought about it and came up with mine – I had already disclosed it probably a hundred times in propheets and raps before and when I told it to the group, this counselor (and headmaster) decided that this wasn’t good enough. I pleaded with him for probably fifteen minutes or so because genuinely this was the worst thing I could think of, but he refused to believe me. Apparently everyone else had more appalling tales to tell and I kinda think this guy was getting off on hearing them and was disappointed that mine wasn’t as juicy as my other peers. He told me I wouldn’t successfully complete the propheet unless I “gave in” so I made up a big fat juicy lie of a disclosure. These were the kinds of things we had to resort to. I know for a fact that many of you Cedu survivors out there yelled at the floor at least once – just to get them off of your back.

    One more thing on the faculty – there was a woman P.A. who had blonde hair and a pointy red nose who was oddly fascinated with girls’ sexual disclosures. Her eyes would light up like a christmas tree when the subject came up in a rap. And did she ever love to yell at people! Oh, and M.W. (the flying-Dutchman) was obviously a child molester. We knew it then and I’m sure he has interesting stuff on his computer today.

    After Cedu I managed to get into college, graduate, work for a few years and then enter medical school. I did well enough, but I do not credit Cedu for my successes – not one bit. If anything their lack of education was detrimental and I had to struggle to catch up in college. Except for math (thanks Ken!) I was way behind the curve in science, social studies, and especially writing. God, you think they could have ever helped us with grammar while writing in journal after freaking journal. As a health professional all I can say is that this was gross negligence pure and simple. These were not credentialed, educated people running the show. They were petty, judgmental, manipulative, nasty people. There were a few exceptions, but even then, why’d they let it go on – they knew better! And the methods they employed were outdated, cultish, and mean-spirited. I came out of Cedu with more demons than I went in with. I don’t think about Cedu much at all anymore, but in my opinion they should round up the former staff and throw them in jail for practicing without a licence!

    Anyway, Liam feel free to contact me. I have plenty of fodder for your documentary.

    Cheers!

  45. Hey, I stumbled on this site and you have peeked my interest. I went to Cedu for a few months in 2002. Cedu still crosses my mind, it was a strange place and I am glad it is no more. I still wonder about the other kids that were there with me, where they are (especially the ones who ran). I was waiting for someone to write a book or make a doc and am glad you did. Can’t wait for it, I subscibed to your YouTube channel and hope you keep posting. thanks, Sam

  46. I just passed by this page and was interested to hear about your documentary, although I am not sure if my experiences are what you are looking for.
    In June I left a facility called New Leaf Academy located in central Oregon. Since I have returned to the real world I cant help but recognize the unethical and overall unnatural way this program oppresses its residents in order to attain large amounts of money from trusting parents.

    One of the main administrative employees of New Leaf, Marci Padgett, was a pioneer in the CEDU programs. Along with her late husband, John Padgett, she founded the Amity School in Italy.

    New Leaf was founded by Craig and Christie Christiansen, (although they retired about a year ago). They later developed New Leaf’s sister school- New Leaf Academy of North Carolina- and I believe they are also the founders of several other CEDU-Type programs.

  47. Were you in a cult? An abusive relationship? Abused as a child? Have a look:

    http://www.wellspringretreat.org/professionals/index.php?page=16

    Warning Signs

    Some survivors or coercive abuse don’t realize they were involved in a destructive organization or relationship. And many who have been emotionally damaged in these types of situations are unaware that their struggles are related to their experience. Below are some tips to help you spot a client who is suffering as a result of coercive abuse.

    * Severe guilt. Even after they intellectually break from the group or relationship, abuse victims can suffer from debilitating guilt due to extreme emotional attachment to the group.

    * Abuse “hopping”. The person goes from one abusive group to another or from one batterer to another.

    * Inability to stay away from the abusive group or individual. (The battered women’s syndrome.)

    * Vacillation between speaking very negatively and very positively about the abusive group or individual.

    * Family problems that were not present prior to the individual’s involvement with the abuser

    * Irrational sense that society is “out to get them.” This may result from the cult’s tendency to foster an “us vs. them” mentality.

    * Inability to think for himself or herself. Victims of exploitation are often deprecated to the point that they believe themselves to be incapable of sound decision-making.

    * Loss of a sense of purpose and zest for living which set in after involvement with the group or abuser

    * Extreme fear of the supernatural.

    * Fear of facing the future without God. Cult victims are often taught that to leave the group is to leave God.

  48. i wish i knew about the doc…

  49. I watched all the clips (i think) on the cedu documentary and I wanted to offer some hopefully constructive critical comments about the documentary..

    PLEASE do not make a one sided documentary on cedu where every person says.. yes it was shitty, yes it was shitty .. yes it was a cult, it messed me up, they abused me, I learned nothing from this experience, it was just fucked up, i got nothing, I wasted my life.. Even Auschwitz survivors have more interesting thing to say about thier captors and thier situations. I am a previous inmate of Cedu myself, Rocky Mountain 95, baby! Love it! Just kidding… but it would be interesting to hear what people were thinking and believing AT THE TIME that they were in there.. like .. I really believed him when he told me I could run the school someday and I felt like a leader, and when the child molesting boy was crying in my arms I felt like even he didn’t deserve that much pain ..ect. I mean ALOT of unique, totally unique sitautions came from the amazing boys and girls that were stuck in that school.. even though they (we) were all manipulated, i mean even the staff people, some of the things that came out of us were real.. they were still our experiences.. I don’t know if Im saying this right, but.. For example.. I saw your comments on the girl babbling about her inner child and this giant snot bubble forming on the floor… funny and sad at the same time, yes.. but even scarier or maybe potentially more interesting is the possible fact that you knew what she meant by that! You probably , having been through it know what she means .. and it would be cool to explain that.. cause that’s unique. Anyone can make fun of crazy people or disown a fucked up group but if we can talk from the perspective we had when we were at at the time.. i think it would be cool. Just a thought. Thanks for doing this!

  50. Good comments Griffin – interesting perspective, and most definitely will consider/include.

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