The Truth About Craig Academy
751 N. Negley Avenue
Pittsburgh PA 15206
This is where my serious problems in life truly manifested themselves. If
there was ever a place I would consider to be Hell, this would be it. While
it may not rank with The
Straights in terms of brutality it nonetheless was very damaging to me.
With twenty years of hindsight I can see how dangerous that place truly is.
And to think that I was tempted to retrieve my records from there just to
prove how sick I was! The fact is that I was never diseased but
wonder how many children were psychologically damaged by the practices of
that facility? Are they still doing the same thing today? I remember only
a few names of fellow kids there and far less the
real names of any of the staff (they used their first names only, just like
within A.A. meetings, to protect their anonyminity and to shield themselves
from any accountability in the long term , especially when the children grow
up and realize the truth). Two full names of the staff I remember are of
the nice computer teacher by the name of Susanne Juffe and a severely misguided
Child Development Specialist ("CD") by the name of Donna Powell. A
teacher by the name of "Marti" gave to me a Christian religion book by C.S.
Lewis titled "The Problem of Pain" while she, ironically enough, ignored
the daily atrocities of the facility itself (I found George Orwell's "1984"
far more compelling then and especially relevant now). In the end
what I had to show for those lost five years which multiplied into twenty
was an addiction to alcohol, a severe maladaptation to the outside world
and a distrust of psychiatrists.
According to their official website,
Craig House-Technoma, now known as
Craig Academy, is an alleged partial hospital/partial
school environment for children with "severe emotional and behavioral
disorders". If that doesn't show such an obvious connection with the
recovery group movement and the addiction treatment industry let's quote
from the Fifth Chapter of Alcoholics Anonymous: (pp. 58, emphasis
"There are those, too, who suffer from grave emotional and mental
disorders, but many of them do recover if they have the capacity
to be honest."
Is that a coincidence, even as it plays
The Synonym Game? Hardly! According
to the Craig Academy's web presence's description of their program (emphasis
The Behavior Management Program at Craig Academy is called the Student Transition
and Expectation Program (STEP). This program is designed to
address the behavior issues that are responsible for the student being admitted
to Craig Academy. STEP is a positive reinforcement program
based on increased responsibility and privilege.
I wish that I made any of this up! I was just browsing the site as of this
writing (2005/03/12) and it's right there! It's
one thing to quote the P.R. and notice the
Buchmanese. It's another to get right to the Big
Question concerning all of this: "What actually went on (or, if my intuition
is correct, currently happening) within that building?"
routine was quite simple: You were bussed in, usually via transportation
outside of the public school system (I don't know who specifically paid the
transportation costs but I believe that they were figured into the billing
somehow). You'd enter the building and proceed to your Group (!) room
(there were no class rooms in Craig House). These rooms were numbered
from one to twenty and were spread out over the three floors of the main
part of the Craig House building. The population of the groups was usually
around nine kids per group. You'd have your "free time" which consisted if
your choice of recreation before the morning "group therapy". The morning
"therapy", which lasted about a half-hour, was relatively mild since the
paraprofessionals (usually trainees using Craig House as a place to train
for their Ph.D.'s) were clearly in charge but one thing was certain: You
must share or be ostracized. More on that later.
The actual school education was tailored to each individual
student. So, within each group room you had a mix of various kids
with different abilities. Unfortunately, the side effect of this was that
the smarter ones were usually ostracized for wanting to advance past some
of the more insipid teachings. Eventually a group room or two were used for
standard classes such as biology or algebra. The tragic part is that some
of the educators for these classes were so stupid that one did not even know
what an electron microscope was (she, the biology teacher, thought the difference
between that and an optical microscope was that one used a light bulb and
the other a mirror as its light source!) As I mentioned earlier, not all
were that ignorant. Susanne Juffe was a brilliant computer teacher and I'd
always try to get special privileges to spend some extra time there. If it
wasn't for her I wouldn't have attempted in capitalizing upon my computing
expertise. She and I had a crush over each other which was reciprocated
weekly to bi-weekly "psychiatrist-monitored" "group therapy" was the
crown jewel of this facility. This occurred once or twice each week and had
an allotted time starting at 45 minutes and would continue for as
long as it took to get each kid within the group to share (usually
an hour or more, depending upon the resistance of the person within the "hot
seat"). These therapy sessions were held within a room within a single-floored
wing of the building outside of the three-floored plan. This wing held another
conference room and various individual social worker offices.
The layout and atmosphere was unique at the time: The "psychiatrist" within
this room which doubled as his office, had a fixation with Lysol. Therefore
the room always reeked of its familiar stench. His desk and bookshelf was
at the far end of the room. Between his desk area at that wall was a large
open space. The chairs for the group therapy sessions were in this space
and arranged in a circle (another coincidence I'm sure). The "discussion"
would begin with each person within the circle taking their turn around the
circle. There was "crosstalk" but it wasn't the type along the lines of anything
helpful from the "psychiatrist". Usually this would be of a confrontational
nature by the kids themselves!
When someone didn't feel like sharing during their turn (the "hot seat")
that's where the confrontation kicked in. The person within the hot seat
was usually battered emotionally by the kids within the circle itself. Yelling,
teasing and extreme condescending disbelief was the norm until the person
told something so outrageous and heinous then full acceptance by the group
would then be given. The "psychiatrist" would keep taking notes of what
transpired, specifically the "confession" which arisen from the person within
the hot seat during this example of tough
As I stated, this would go on until the person shared and, likewise, the
kids themselves would get agitated by being held back from their next activity
and remaining within this Lysol-sterile room by this person. One person that
I remember was tough-loved into sharing for a half-hour until they cracked
under the peer pressure. I also wonder
if the kids just fabricated extreme stories just to get out of there. I know
that I exaggerated there just for the sake of receiving some relief and sympathy
to the point that one would wind up believing such nonsense. What's sick
is that all of this information was considered "valid" and was placed within
one's file. Such daily reports were filled out by the CD's and, likewise,
the juicier bits were provided to the parents during what I consider the
occasional evening debriefing sessions.
If anything this tactic is what I would consider something which was the
primary reason why Craig House was such a violent place. The pattern became
obvious as the oppressed suddenly found themselves longing to be the oppressors.
Even I, at one point, even beat up kids younger than me (physical abuse passed
on and on). Craig House was not just intellectually violent through the group
therapy sessions but physically violent as well. Daily fights and kids "snapping"
were not occasional occurrences. It was considered "normal". And, yes, I
"snapped" too. It was a great way to get out of work at the time or to find
an excuse to just blow off some steam or just to get rid of the boredom.
Likewise, all the kids did it maybe because of the fact that there was no
such thing as recess there. Who knows? CD calls were the regular klaxons
during the day that one became used to hearing. I'd hear them go on with
frequent regularity..."CD Level 3...CD Level 2..." with the "levels"
being the floors of the facility. What's bizarre was that kids were physically
restrained by the CD's staff no matter how innocuous the behavior. It was
these occurrences which overshadowed the physical fights between the kids
just as if Peter called too much attention to "The Wolf".
Teachers and staff became desensitized to the actual physical violence between
the kids. Since they were so accustomed to kids "snapping" that very subtle
altercations, such as gangs of kids sneaking up on one kid, torturing them
by slapping them all the while the kid is telling them to stop it, and soon
a full-blown fight ensuing. The cries of the kid, clearly heard by the teacher
or CD's within a group room of three to four kids, are brushed aside.
Nothing to see here. He's just "snapping" again. I nearly lost an
eye when a thrown pencil's tip struck just beneath it and, when brought to
the attention of one of these adults, was just brushed aside as though
nothing had happened.
Such inattention to detail also allowed me to find a way to develop my alcohol
addiction. I remember a photo which a kid by the name of Bill S. brought
in depicting him sitting on a couch between two gorgeous girlfriends in front
of a coffee table with 16-ounce Budweiser cans stacked upon it. I figured,
"Why not?" I don't know specifically when but I realized that a beer at night
helped to calm me down for the next day. Given the problems of such a
"therapeutic" environment and its distance from where I live and its location,
good friends were few and far between. So I found beer and wine coolers to
be a great relief from that place. Heck, I even bragged about it with fellow
kids there and in front of the staff no less! I even got so ripped
on gin the night before I vomited right into the group room's trash can during
class, got sent to the nurse and nobody minded! I even went as far
as to playing hooky and enjoying the day free of that horrific place and
a pleasant buzz. It was freedom! It was, in the end, a habit which had a
purpose at the time and lost its allure as I suffered the consequences
which mounted from my drinking habit nearly two decades later. I never drink
now, despite what cult indoctrinees would attempt to have me
come to believe.
Never, while at Craig House, were my parents notified of my absences. Likewise,
I played it so well, I got away with every one of them there. It was only
when that, thanks to my dad, that he got me out of that place and found a
way to get me enrolled in a Vo-Tech school. Needless to say that I only played
hooky only once while in Vo-Tech. My parents were immediately notified
and I took the punishment accordingly. It's as if not a single adult cared
(short of Ms. Juffe) at Craig House. I'm guessing that most of them just
arrived for their paychecks and, since the violence was natural, accepted
it as is.
Anyhow, what does any of this have to do with A.A., recovery from substance
addiction and the larger grand scheme of things pertaining to the recovery
group movement and its business arm, the addiction treatment industry? Clues
were left earlier.
performing some research on Synanon I learned of what
the "Synanon Game" was. The description of it awakened within me those memories
of those vile group therapy sessions at Craig House.
From a webpage which described a part of it:
After a few months, I started playing the Synanon Game. That
was a circle setting, where Synanon people ironed out differences, called
former drug addicts and character disorders back into the realm of reality,
and took care of the business of running a residential rehabilitation program.
... I pretty much cried through my first three years of the Synanon game.
another webpage which went into more detail:
The central feature at Synanon was regular intense group encounter sessions
known as the "Game." During the game, participants would viciously verbally
attack each other, leveling allegations that may or may not have been true.
Truth, in fact, became whatever the bullying leadership decreed.
Notice that this tactic, this "Game" wasn't being used on drinkers or druggers
within Craig House: IT WAS BEING USED ON ALREADY TRAUMATIZED KIDS!!!
Kids who may have been abused already so they abuse them more!
The description I provided is exactly what those group therapy sessions were:
an outgrowth of a cult based upon another cult. If you read the quoted material
near the beginning of this article that cult was A.A., which begat Synanon
and, unfortunately, the Synanon Game begat Craig House within my formative
In further context, given the nature of the American addiction treatment
tragedy, here I have compelling evidence that the same thing is happening
over and over again while the blinded-by-benevolence do-gooders
deny that nothing bad is happening. It is such a frequent
occurrence within American culture that there's even a slogan for that!
The slogan? "Some people have to get worse before they get
What horrific Bill$hit!
This is the reason why I spent most of this day just writing this one page
alone. I think back and realize that we have a tragedy which is leading towards
more damaged lives in the long run. As long as people remain silent and let
their precious freedom of speech atrophy then we'll never hear about these
problems. The only way to prevent that atrophy is to
EXERCISE! EXERCISE YOUR FREE SPEECH RIGHTS!!! SAY SOMETHING!!!
I had to say something. This tragedy must end and it will end eventually.
However change will never come as long as citizens ignore what's happening
around them. When more parents who have their children within such places
learn the nature of the beast they'll withdraw them outright. I hope they
find out from me and fellow survivors of that place rather than learn the
hard way several years later.
Nobody there, just like within "treatment" centers or within "the rooms",
gets better: They get worse! I know why!
AFTERWORD: As I mentioned I remember
some of my fellow "classmates" names. So here's a brief anonymized list:
Brian D., Antion J., Jeffrey H., Shawn M., Shawn
H., Matias S., Scott S., Bernard "Bernie" C., Ted
"Mow 'em Down" B., Augie C., Ken W.,
Chris R., Theodore "Ted" B., Krista R. (I'm guessing
that the entire R. family sent their kids there), Dana from the Natrona
PA area, and Bill S.. If you or any others who recognize
you're reading right NOW please E-mail me! We have a LOT to
discuss and I will protect your anonyminity!
Note: When The Watson Institute/Craig
Academy scrubs its website I'll upload its web pages I captured today
(2005/03/12) in .PDF form.
UPDATE (2006/11/20): I've received some interesting E-mails from a
couple of people who were imprisoned within "Craig Hole" around the time
I was there. While I can't post them right now (I'm protecting their anonyminity)
it's nice to know that I'm not the only one who feels the same way about
that place. I am inspired to work on another website which can provide a
beacon in the dark for those who were traumatized by that hole and the cretins
who run it.
Specifically, what I'm interested in are stories which detail that place
from former students all the way up to former (or current) employees. While
there's no money involved the reward is, of course, the knowledge that you're
helping others by educating them of the nature of that place. In other words,
you're fufilling a legal obligation that Craig Academnt fails to deliver
on: Providing Informed Consent!
more slience and no more lies: "Special education" is NOT that
special. It's downright harmful in so many ways.
Finally, a couple of book links:
The Magic Feather is a book which I wished I had
in my possession long ago. I have it now and it's a very chilling read as
how these "special" educators and the gulags they run actually harm kids
and how one couple were able to get their own child out of special education.
I learned of its existence through Stanton Peele's excellent book,
"Diseasing Of America".
For those who have been through it all, you will feel very betrayed and upset.
That doesn't mean you're sick. It means that your human rights were violated
and you were literally mindraped by these cretins. NO HUMAN BEING
should have to go through that, espeically not within the United States of
America (a country which is turning more and more into AAmerica as
I type this). It's okay to be angry so be very wary of those who dare abide
by the doctrine of A.A. and claim that anger
Apologists for the systemic failure known as the social services system have
bashed the book and its authors as being "angry" and "one-sided". One has
to wonder if any of that passive aggression by such simpletons is actually
being channeled right back to their own clients; clients who just happen
to be children. Likewise, there is another side to their system of lies:
The truth! Of course those deceitful (deceit-filled?)
charlatans will be offended by that!
If you're a parent,
get this book! If you're a parent whose child is in "special"
GET THIS BOOK! If you were a victim of the system
then you're in the right place. You're not stupid, you're not braindamaged
and not diseased. You were abused and violated further!
You know what to do. ;->
free to send me your story. Just as it's an insult to tell a rape
survivor to simply "forget about it and move on" (or act as if
it never happened), the same applies for the survivors of the mindrape of
"special" education, its gulags and its bureaucratic predators within. Don't
be afraid of being shamed (a.k.a.
gaslighted) by them for they are
the pathological monsters of our time. They are completely WRONG!
Bring about justice by exposing their little "therapeutic" cult.
Back to the About: dr.bomb page.
Last updated 2006/11/20 - Added a lengthy update, links and fixed some
Updated 2005/03/17 - Added additional names.