In my previous posts in this series, I explain how my mother’s Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy (MSbP) behaviors throughout my life led to my kidnapping and psychiatric hospitalization in the troubled teen industry (TTI) – specifically – in Red Rock Canyon School. This post describes what I experienced during my imprisonment there.
Days at Red Rock Canyon School
The days were long and boring. This daily schedule we followed is reprinted from here:
|07:15 – 07:45||Room chores which consists of making bed and rotation of cleaning bathroom, sink/mirror area, vacuum, and dusting/straightening up room.|
|08:00 – 08:25||Breakfast – last 5 minutes clean up.|
|08:30 – 09:20||Group Therapy.|
|09:30 – 12:30||Academics.|
|12:30 – 13:00||Lunch.|
|13:00 – 15:00||Academics (Some of the teenagers will be taken from the class and given individual therapy).|
|15:00 – 15:30||Free time. Activity decided by the majority in the peer group.|
|15:30 – 17:00||Group therapy where the teenagers are allowed to criticize the behavior of others in the group.|
|17:00 – 17:30||Dinner|
|17:30 – 20:00||Various activies, the so-called “Mandatory Enrichment Classes” lasting an hour. The rest of the time is for exercising.|
|21:00 – 21:30||Free time in the units.|
|20:10 – 21:00||Positive Peer Community Meeting – reflection of the day.|
|21:30 – 21:45||Getting ready for bed. Lights out at 21:45.|
I’m going to explain what the code words in the above schedule really meant in my experience.
“Group therapy” or “mob rules”?
We followed a modality called “positive peer culture”, or PPC. It’s ironic because what PPC was supposed to be was “kids helping kids” and building positive self-esteem through empathizing and reaching out to others, and all that hokey crap; but in reality, it was tearing each other down in confrontational groups (see hours 15:30-17:00). Now, because we lived in such a closed-in environment, in such tight quarters, everything was a big deal. In the grand scheme of things, someone not making their bed correctly is insignificant, but if that is all you have, and all you have to focus on, then it become scandalous, and material worthy of a deep tongue lashing.
“Academics” or “workbooks and Oregon Trail”?
On the Red Rock website, they brag about their excellent academics (see hours 09:30-12:30). In my experience, although I must say, this was quite a few years ago, all I did was sit in a classroom and work on workbooks and worksheets. It was one of those correspondence high school classes; something like you would see on daytime TV commericals, during Maury or a soap opera or something. I remember taking an art class and having to draw a picture they sent to me and Red Rock would send it back to the company and they would grade it. I got a very good grade and I was so proud of myself.
We did get computer time though. We would play Math Blasters or Oregon Trail. I didn’t want to die of typhoid or cholera.
I don’t really know how far I got in school during this time. I was there for 14 months; I guess it didn’t matter though, because as I will describe in a later post, schooling was much worse at my second institution I was placed in: S.A.F.E.
“Free Time” or “Thought Control”?
It seems like we had free time (see above 15:00-15:30), but free time is a bit of a misnomer because it was “free” in as much as they would allow you to be free. It was dictated by the rules and norms of the program; many spoken even more unspoken.
Free time was spent reflecting on our various “issues”. Why were we there? What could we do to improve ourselves (but to the standards of the program). Self-reflection wasn’t so much how we could enrich ourselves as individuals, or improve our self-sufficiency, or really even think for ourselves; it was more how we could better exist under the black cloud that were the rules and regulations of the program. Not only was outer dialogue dictated, but inner as well.
In sociology, we learn about behavior regulation and how people self-regulate because they were internalizing the norms of society. This explains why this program, and S.A.F.E. even more so, was so efficient at brainwashing. It filled your time so that even free time wasn’t free and very quickly, an individual learned to self-regulate based on the norms of the program because not doing so would result in punishment in group therapy.
“Postive Peer Culture” or “Punishment”?
When I say “punishment”, on the Red Rock website, it says that the measures they use aren’t punitive, but allowing individuals to grow through “positive peer culture”. As I described above, part of this positive peer culture was the group therapy, where an individual’s seemingly minor transgressions would be dissected by the group, which would often lead to heavy confrontation, tears, and verbal abuse.
It was a release for the individuals, because if you were the lucky one not to be stood up in group, you could release that pent up aggression on someone else, and they deserved it! How dare they not tuck in all four corners of their bedspread!
“Mandatory Enrichment Classes” or “Killing Time”?
Everything we did was about filling up time. Mandatory enrichment classes (see above 17:30 – 20:00) included such delights as singing Credence Clearwater Revival on karaoke amongst tattered chairs and purple shirts. Such fun!
Now that you have an idea what my days were like the 14 months I was imprisoned in Red Rock Canyon School, I will, in my next post, relate several instances at Red Rock that really stick out in my mind as being – how should I put it? – quite troublesome!
Have you been imprisoned in a place similar to Red Rock Canyon School? Do you know someone who was?
If so, leave us a comment! Tell us the place, and how they were similar or different from Red Rock Canyon School.