Cedu Documentary Clip 7 – Propheets

The Propheets – the pillars of the Cedu ’emotional growth curriculum’; Seven overnight, all-night intensive, interpersonal, no-boundary, no-warning, no-escape adventures in 60s and 70s home-grown self-help psychodrama, distributed over a two-year period for students at the Cedu Schools.

Although Cedu California closed in 2005, the Propheets, along with much of the Cedu curriculum, have been exported to the daughter and clone schools, now in operation.

You are invited to the Propheet:

Learn more about it in the Cedu Documentary section.


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 October 10, 2008, in Surviving Cedu. Bookmark the permalink. 18 Comments.

  1. “Tell it all brother”… eek… Brings back memories.

  2. Wow… yeah that brings back memories. I remember in the propheets before the IWTL I had already come out with my hardest disclosures and there was intense pressure to have more. I racked my brain to think of more but anything I came up with was not good enough because “those aren’t hard enough to say”, so I had to keep telling the hard ones over again but in more detail. And the part where you had to stand up with your palms out (indicating that you’re open) while your peer group batters you with your issues. I’d forgotten about standing in line between life and death, 1 buried memory dug up… ? more to go.
    But the staff disclosures! That stuff really messed with me. (shudder). Well it’s probably a good thing you’re showing these clips to prepare us for what’s coming. If I saw it all at once I might just sit in the corner, piss my pants and forget my name. Nice going!

  3. A gabbing person

    Well done! Brings back memories. Wow.

  4. I found this by trying to find info about the 80’s cult “Summit Workshops”

    are Propheets something developed by Summit? I think this documentary is important.

    Yeesh. Power corrupts, but what are we being shown by this– about angry and controlling minds getting away with calling this education?


  5. Saved my comment for the last clip. I was at RMA from 84-86, went down to Cedu for 6 months (my sister graduated from there), I even spent a little time at Hilltop. I can relate to a lot of what’s being shared here, although it is being portrayed in a very singular context. Many of these recollections seem to miss the real point of the experiences they are recounting, what staff and the program were trying to accomplish, or the mere fact that staff were genuine, caring people. Yes, they definitely employed some radical therapeutic tactics, but a lot of this was based on trust in a safe environment. Oh, I got my shit tore up on a regular basis, but those same people, whether staff or peers, were always there for me afterwards.

    I was never ‘made’ to feel like a piece of shit, although I did get jolted into experiencing and dealing with some really negative feelings and behaviors that I had done everything I could to avoid dealing with. Again, this was ‘radical’ therapy, and I can relate to everything these folks are talking about. I guess I just decided to trust the process from a (almost) the get go, and i feel like I’m a happier person because of it. Yep, afterwards I went back to some of the habits, over the years I scuffed up the ol’ chrome ball, and thank god I have my own kid now to remind me during those times I may not be remembering my little kid, but i can honestly say that I still use lessons learned from my experiences there
    Couple of final thoughts: Cedu was definitely a different vibe than RMA. Maybe because, at that time, RMA was still kind of new, or had different staff, but although we both ran the same program, RMA just seemed a little more ‘relaxed’. Having spent time at both, I can honestly say, ” Yeah, Cedu kind of sucked”. Finally, I have to call a spade a spade– Rudy Benz was, and still most likely is, just a total douche plain and simple.

  6. Danny,

    What I think you come to at the end of your post is that there was indeed a Cedu/RMA split. That said, RMA had its very dark days too, as evidenced by some of the RMA interviewees who gave us accounts of the waxing and waning of abuse on that campus.

    The Cedu CA program too, unregulated and run by many former addicts and some confessed criminals as it was, degenerated severely over time, and then would reconstitute itself a bit, as some especially gangrenous staff would leave.. and some would show up and move through the hierarchy, and then the circle would continue.

    Hence the need for transparency, for oversight of this loose-cannon industry.

    Glad you’re doing well!


  7. I was a student at Cedu for 2005-2006 and was there when the facility was closed. During my stay at Cedu I was given a book by my parents titled “The Prophet” by the Lebanese American poet Khalil Gibran. The books essays seemed to coordinate with the beliefs and ideas presented within the Propheets and philosophy within the program. Is there evidence the Mel Wasserman drew any inspiration from the book?

  8. Yes. ” the prophet” and emmerson were reading material and refered to in conversation and “CEDUs” (what the groups were called in the 67, 68,….also the meaning of CEDU originally was See yourself and if you dont like it do something about it…….nothing to do with the synanon guy…………..from the reading I have been doing ….It is a sad thing that happened in the latter years….doesnt seem to have anything to do with the original days…….I still remember driving up to the Walter Huston Mansion…..for sale……and we raised the money to buy it ……..Im sorry for such a great idea turning bad for so many……

  9. Im going to agree with Dannys perception……Dr Phil is now everyday using those excact excersies on adults on national TV…..It may not be all night check yourself deep experiences but pretty damm close. There are some people at CEDU that realy didnt belong there……Prison was my alternative…..even though I ended up there right after….It was the compation that compeled me to not return. Maby things need to be put into contex a little more because I see only a few people talking. I could drum up alot more people who would admit they cant say the help and hope existed and it saved them. Eric Swick 1987

  10. Chris DiFalco

    Ahh yes more memories!! Heard names I not heard in ages but in my own head. Rudy Bentz, enough said. There were even some referances to Russ. To this Day I have not opened my scroll from the I & Me.

  11. I really agree with Danny, and its not just because we have the same name. He articulated well what I have been thinking as I explore this website and these videos. As I posted on another post somewhere on this site, I went to a school that mimicked the CEDU philosophy. I walked away from that experience with much gratitude for the care I was given there. Hard experiences like the one described in detail in the video helped tech me positive life lessons.

    I dont doubt the school I attended was “safer” than CEDU. What I am trying to say is that the techniques can be very helpful if administered in a safe environment (for example – our “propheets” occurred in the daytime. There was no sleep deprivation which led to much more beneficial experiences).

  12. Hi Dan, Erick, Danny,

    I’ll point out that you’re changing the parameters of what actually occurred and occurs for most people at a Cedu type school, to argue for your perspective.

    I can’t name a ‘technique’ used in the mock-therapy cult dynamic, at Cedu, that were ‘very helpful.’ What are you referring to, specifically?

    I’ve received a few notes from people claiming, quite defensively but opaquely, that the program was somehow helpful. When I ask for details, they usually balk, and speak in generalities such as, “I was in trouble and they saved my life,” which is the precise language and message that the Cedu program inculcated into its… disciples, or captive students.

    Is it true? I doubt it, but if you’re happier today, then good. But have you considered what less psychotic ‘therapy’ might have done?

    And if you were the ‘hard cases’ that ‘needed’ to be massively abused in order to be ‘saved,’ then where is your compassion for the many thousands who were not hard cases, but whose parents had that combination of narcissism, poor parenting skills and wealth, that allowed them financially and emotionally, to simply drop their kids off on a mountain top, and into the hands of untrained former major drug addicts and criminals for 2.5 years?

    I’ve received many notes from people saying that they’d been put through this experience, were massively traumatized, couldn’t come to grips with it, felt isolated and fragmented as a result.

    The people you see who participated in the documentary I esteem highly for their courage and their willingness to plumb the depths of these hidden experiences, and to share them publicly.

    My major goal is transparency, and informed consent. If the program we experienced had been advertised as it was to be applied, who among us would have chosen that 2.5 years of isolated, wildly other and self-abusive, sexually invasive/punitive cult experience?

    Who would have chosen as ‘mentors’ those untrained, often quite degenerate adults with no training to do therapy on anyone, and particularly not on young people?

    If you want to come up with a more accurate reading of the Cedu experience, as it existed for many or most, then please review the many pages on the Fornits website, and ask yourself if you feel that ‘informed consent’ – the ability to know about a ‘therapeutic’ procedure – was applied at any of the Cedu schools, or their clones.

    If you somehow credit the Cedu experience as a positive one, then good, glad it worked, somehow, for you. For the rest of us, at least for me, the goal is transparency, allowing better and more options to young people in difficult situations.


    Liam Scheff

  13. Exactly Liam everytime you ask someone who says the program did them good, all they say are program phrases and mantras that were pounded into their head for 2.5 years. Its sad that some people still think that they learned or gained from that sick place. I mean, come on, its all there in the I&me script. Complete mental manipulation by unwilling participants in weak emotional states with no way to leave. There is no other word for that but ABUSE….

  14. This was one of the songs played over and over in the nighttime and morning of the propheets. Over and over, and over in a loop of 10, 20, 30 repetitions.

    “Look What They’ve Done To My Song, Ma”

    (As recorded by Melanie)

    Look what they’ve done to my song, ma
    Look what they’ve done to my song
    Well it’s the only thing that I could do half right
    And it’s turning out all wrong, ma
    Look what they’ve done to my song.

    Look what they’ve done to my brain, ma
    Look what they’ve done to my brain
    Well they picked it like a chicken bone
    And I think I’m half insane, ma
    Look what they’ve done to my song.

    I wish I could find a good book to live in
    Wish I could find a good book
    Will if I cold find a real good book
    I’d never have to come out and look
    Look what they’ve done to my song.

    It’ll be all right ma, maybe it’ll be okay
    Well if the people are buying tears I’ll be rich someday, ma
    Look what they’ve done to my song.

    Ils ont change ma chanson ma
    Ils ont change ma chanson
    C’est la seule chose que je peuz faire
    Et ce n’est pas bon ma
    Ils ont change ma chanson.

    Look what they’ve done to my song, ma
    Look what they’ve done to my song
    Well they tied it up in a plastic bag and they turned it upside down
    Look what they’ve done to my song, ma.

    Look what they’ve done to my song, ma
    Look what they’ve done to my song
    It’s the only thing I could do all right and they turned it upside down
    Look what they’ve done to my song, ma.

  15. This was another, played in long sessions and in breaks between ‘events’ in Propheets:


    Some of us live in big white houses
    some of us live in small
    some of our names are written on blackboards
    some are written on walls.

    Some of our daddies work in factories
    some of them stand in line
    some of our daddies buy us marbles
    some of them just buy wine.

    But at night you can’t tell Sunday suits
    from tattered overalls
    then we’re only children
    children one and all.

    Some of us take our lunch in boxes
    some in paper sacks
    some of us kids join in the laughter
    some hear it at our backs.

    Some of our mothers sew fine linen
    some can’t sew a stitch
    some of our mothers dress up poorly
    some of them dress up rich.

    But at night you can’t tell party dresses
    from hand-me-downs too small
    then we’re only children
    children one and all.

    Some of us learn our lessons poorly
    some of us learn them well
    some of us find an earthly heaven
    some of us live in hell.

    Some of us go right on a-preachin’
    without making too much sense
    some of us hide behind the wall
    some behind a fence.

    But at night you can’t tell picket fences
    from bricks that tower tall
    then we’re only children
    children one and all.

    Some of us grow up tall and handsome
    some of us grow up plain
    some of us own the world in ransom
    some of us just our name.

    Some of our people die in misery
    some of them die in peace
    some of our people die for nothing
    but dying doesn’t cease.

    And at night you can’t tell fancy coffins
    from boxes in the hall
    then we’re only children
    children one and all
    children, children, children one and all…

    – Written by Rod McKuen, Performed by Mary Travers (of Peter, Paul and Mary). From McKuen’s album “Grand Tour”, 1971

  16. Here’s the ‘disclosure circle’ song:
    Tell it all, brother,
    by Kenny Rogers

    (pretty bloody awful song). Played over and over and over.

    Tell it all brother, before we fall
    Tell it all brothers and sisters
    Tell it all.

    How much you’re holding back on me
    When you say you’re giving all?
    And in the dungeons of your mind
    Who you got chained to the wall?

    Tell it all brother, before we fall
    Tell it all brothers and sisters
    Tell it all.

    Did you plant your feet on higher ground
    To avoid life’s mud and stone?
    Did you ever kick a good man
    When he was down, just to make yourself feel strong?

    Tell it all brother, before we fall
    Tell it all brothers and sisters
    Tell it all.

    Tomorrow just might be too late
    Now is the time
    To get your jumbled mind straight
    And seek a new design.

    Did you ever walk for a crippled man
    Pretending you were lame?
    And what made you think one feeble hand to God
    Was gonna make him call your name?

    Tell it all brother and sisters
    Tell, Tell it all
    Tell it all brother, before we fall
    Tell it all brothers and sisters, tell
    Tell it all brother, before we fall
    Tell it all…

  17. omg i cant belive that i am watching this it brings back bad thoughts and i have always wondered why i am so fucked up now

  18. The school I attended was The Cascade School in Whitmore, CA and it was full of much stuff similar to the documentary. We called the propheets “ceremonies” and the first one I attended was called “the truth” where I exposed stuff that eventually led to extreme PTSD which caused me to eventually be flown away in a helicopter months later. The school both helped and hurt me, but I would not consider their philosophies positive.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: