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Why I decided to start this blog with the story of Straight, Inc.

Straight Inc LogoStraight, Inc.: Lessons Learned from a Generation Exposed to Pop. Psychology Therapy.

 

INTRODUCTION

I’ve collected volumes of information about Straight, Inc. and the pop. psychology phenomenon over the past fifteen years and I want to share this significant information with the public.

This is an important story that explains how we are often (usually unintentionally) mislead to believe erroneous and often damaging information. This has become even more prevalent in this “information age.”

During the 1970’s and 1980’s erroneous but popular information spread quickly. Now with the advancements in technology, our society is even more susceptible to being exposed to what seems to be generally accepted as sound psychological (religious, political, insert your favorite social institution here, etc.) advice, but is often unscientific, unproven, and even worse harmful.

The same pop. psychology of the 1960’s and 1970’s which enabled a huge spike in cult popularity, still exists today only in a more subtle way. Keith Stanovich, Professor Emeritus of Applied Psychology and Human Development, writes in his book How to Think Straight About Psychology, that “many pseudosciences are multimillion-dollar industries that depend on the lack of public awareness that claims about human behavior can be tested. The general public is also unaware that many claims made by these pseudosciences have been tested and proved false.”

The stories you will find on this blog are very specific examples of some of these pop. psych. movements which duped thousands of highly educated, well-respected, well-meaning families into spending thousands of dollars and thousands of hours on therapies that turned out to be nothing but pseudoscience (‘junk science’) No true therapy took place. Straight, Inc. was one of the earliest and most well-known adolescent-focused ‘teen therapy programs’ and  was the precursor to today’s “troubled teen” industry, or what I would rather start calling, the teen program industry (TPI).

If you think you couldn’t or wouldn’t fall for any junk science claims then this blog is especially for you.

My own naturally-skeptical father, who spent the better part of the 1970’s warning us against the dangers of the Moonies and other cults that sent their members door to door to recruit new members, fell for this particular scam.

Many parents who never previously considered their child might be struggling, suddenly began wondering if their child was having problems after when they listened to the testimonials, given by children who were in the program.

My parents fell for the pseudoscience (also known as junk-science) that was displayed as proof that this one particular ‘tough love’ program (Straight, Inc.) worked for kids who had been struggling in any way.

Believing junk science claims is problematic because of the harm that comes to the families who are believers in the program.

My family was involved in the first story (about Straight, Inc.), but this isn’t just my story, this story belongs to many people and the lessons learned can be applied to a myriad of people in numerous circumstances.

While reading this blog you will learn:

What junk science/pseudo-science is and how to detect it in its many forms.

  • How the seemingly well-intentioned spread of untested, unproven popular psychology can ruin lives and entire families.
  • How coercive persuasion occurs even among the most educated people.
  • Where and how this institutional persuasion occurs.
  • How situations you are in can overpower your natural individual thought processes without your awareness.
  • As Stanford University psychology professor Zimbardo has written, “How good people turn evil.” And “How ‘good’ people are seduced or induced to engage in violent, or “evil” deeds by situational forces in which they find themselves, and the psychological justifications and interpretations.
    (https://zimbardo.socialpsychology.org/) Zimbardo’s book The Lucifer Effect can be found here.
  • The above concepts will be demonstrated though the story of Straight, Incorporated, a business that billed itself as a program for struggling teens and was even endorsed by two Presidents of the United States of America, all the while being based on nothing but so-called ‘Pop. Psych’ or ‘common sense.’
Published inStraight Inc

One Comment

  1. Rich Moroski Rich Moroski

    My parents and yours seem very much a like. Back in the late 70’s and early 80’s the legitimate medical community were just short of burning sage and playing drums to treat addiction. They had even less experience in treating children who were showing signs of addiction. The entire recovery industry was stumped due to lack of any real studies that focused on children.

    This lack of information was the perfect set up for places like Straight Inc. to take advantage of some very frightened parents who by then had “only” the disinformation the Nixon administration bombarded the American public with. This “tough Love” approach was and is very misguided and in my opinion more damaging to the patients then the disease its self.

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