Sensitivity Training and Communist Thought Reform


For background information, see Brainwashing in America and Brainwashing


"Sitting in small circles, their knees touching, students shared their own hurt and the pain they had inflicted on others. The tears flowed. In some groups, half the Washington Middle School students were crying at once....

     "Critics have accused Resource Realizations' seminars, like the better-known est and Lifespring trainings of the 1970s, of 'brainwashing' participants. Gilcrease was a Lifespring facilitator for five years before starting his own company in 1986. ...Schools, eager to find antidotes to the damaging effects of cliques, bullying, and drug and alcohol abuse, have embraced Challenge Day in growing numbers...

     "After the final exercise hugging as many people as possible in two minutes, to the theme from "Rocky" eighth-grader Sydney Simon said of Challenge Day, 'It changed me. I feel more compassionate and loving toward everybody. Differences don't matter so much anymore.'" Warm embrace for kids, or merely 'psycho cry fest'?

Cris Shardelman's response to the above article:

I would like to add a few comments for those who are interested in this Seattle Times article (We will post this article later).

Dr. Harlan McNutt had been Director of the Pierce County Health Department (Washington). He  had spent 16 years as a psychiatrist  in private practice, and was on the  staff of Western State Hospital.  In private practice, he had dealt with  more children than most other psychiatrists had.  His following statements printed in the Auburn Globe News 2/14/71 is pertinent to these encounter groups. The headline was "Intermediate school members told Sensitivity  training can be very dangerous, psychiatrist warns".

"He said he knew of more than one instance of adults going into some type of sensitivity training, in full possession of their faculties, and coming out, in some way damaged.  It is confrontation, in which able people tear each other apart."

"The types of casualties of personality collapse, resulting from sensitivity training for adults, according to the psychiatrist, include depression, withdrawal, reactions, psychotic reactions, and suicidal states.  These are major mental problems which should not be brought about, if possible, he said."

"As a rule, said McNutt, psychiatrists are much more conservative about meddling in peoples' minds than any other group.  He observed that psychologists are less conservative in this way, and counselors even less so.  And now, he said, teachers are becoming involved."

"The trouble is, he said that clinical training, clinical judgment, and the ability to put the pieces back together is not a part of teacher training or background, and it takes great responsibility ".

"...local school districts were being pressed to adopt sensitivity training, and the National Education Association was reported at the board session to be pushing for its use in the schools".

Another article from the Reader's Digest, about 1973, I think, stated that the damage done to people through sensitivity training may not show up for years, long after those who created the problem are no longer around.

Lastly, ISSUES IN TRAINING, a manual from National Training Laboratories and National Education Association, called this process "Human Relations Training which includes coercive persuasions in the form of thought reform or brainwashing".  Their process was to unfreeze the person's stable equilibrium.  Next to change it through identification with new attitudes, and internalization of the new attitudes.  Then refreeze the changed attitudes into the rest of the personality.  The process was to be considered like "Chinese Communist thought reform."

 Before anyone considers allowing their children to be involved in encounter groups, it would be well to consider who will be molding their  values. Those who mold the new values are those who have been through sensitivity training, but not training to put the collapsed personality back together.

 Cris Shardelman

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