The Cedu Documentary, “Surviving Cedu,” from filmmaker Liam Scheff (who was a student there), tells the story of a half-dozen teenagers who were each sent to the Cedu School, variously described to them as a standard boarding school, a wilderness adventure school, or a therapeutic learning environment in the Western mountains of the United States.
– Cedu Brochures
But the experience of the school was something entirely different. Students quickly found themselves in a new, strange, uncomfortable and often frightening world of intense group relationships and heightened, invasive and violent group therapies. Relationships at the school between students – and staff – seemed to have little formal structure or sense of normal boundary – and a student’s life was always under threat of intense and unpredictable disciplining and punishment.
The Cedu schools (one in California, and one in Idaho) were each located in a mountain wilderness, and students soon discovered that they were teenage captives, without identification or money, in an imposing geography they could not easily or safely negotiate or escape.
The real origins of the Cedu schools remained hidden from the students, their parents – and much of the staff – until years after their graduation or departure. At the heart of the Cedu program was a philosophy that had grown out of various self-help movements of the 1960s and ’70s, such as Lifespring, Werner Erhard’s EST, and most directly, from Charles E. Dederich’s “Synanon” cult, “church,” and street-level heroin-cure program. The Cedu Schools developed into an industry of sister schools, clones and copy-cats, that are now a multi-million dollar, international – and unregulated business.
– Synanon and Cedu
“Surviving Cedu” follows the narratives of these students, 15 to 20 years after leaving, graduating or escaping from this unique, troubling and isolated world.
Clips from the documentary will be made available here and through video-sharing websites. The documentary is still in production. The schedule will be updated here.
Blogs and articles on the making and researching of the documentary can be found below.
Help build a biography of the Cedu program by leaving referenced (url, book title, etc) comments below. I will format referenced comments into the main page as we go on.
- Clip 1 – Welcome to Cedu
- Clip 2 – Come Smush with Me.
- Clip 3 – Let’s have a Rap
- Clip 4 – Propheets
- Clip 5 – Who Is Mel Wasserman?
- Clip 6 – Crime, Punishment and Fulltimes
- Clip 7 – Cedu – Come Work for Us!
- Clip 8 – I Versus Me
- Clip 9 – Run Away pt.1
- Clip 10 – Clip 11 – A Rudy Rap
- Clip 11 – Caroline the Wolf
- Clip 12 – The Summit
- Clip 13 – Paul Morantz on Cults, Thought Reform and Confession
- ASTART Video: Dr. Nicki Bush, on the Alliance for Safe, Therapeutic and Appropriate Residential Treatment Programs. The ASTART Guidelines. [pdf]
Blogs and Articles:
- The Cedu Program Resurfaces in Mount Bachelor Academy, Oregon
- Cedu Raps and the Synanon Game
- Selling the Schools – Cedu Brochures
- I and Me and Summit Scripts
- Rudy Bentz and the Swift River Academy
- Calling All Cedu Survivors
- What’s a ‘Cedu’?
- Cedu Documentary in Progress
Links and Further Reading
- Cafety – dedicated to oversight and overhaul of the troubled “troubled teen industry.”
- ASTART – an organization of professional psychologists and researchers who advocate for ethical regulation of the industry.
- Fornits – a gathering place for survivors, grads and escapees of Cedu Schools and their clones.
- Straight Incorporated – “The Synanon Church and the medical basis for the $traights”
- Synanon Pages at the Rick Ross Cult Research Institute
- Paul Morantz.com – A history of Synanon from the lawyer and cult expert who fought it, and lost, and won.
- Brainwashing, Cults and Mind-Control – Definitions and discussion [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6].
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