Sadeian Nation?
June 17, 2006 1:33 PM   Subscribe

Mass. school punishes students with electric shocks "They can be shocked for behaviors including ’failure to maintain a neat appearance’, ‘stopping work for more than 10 seconds’, ‘interrupting others’, ‘nagging’, ‘whispering and/or moving conversation away from staff’, ‘slouch in chair’ ' I have spoke before of American Enantiodromia. Further, Thomas Moore wrote in Dark Eros: The Imagination of Sadism , that in any culture that does not acknowledge it's skeletons, --it's sins, if you will-- will have that imagination played out in real life.
The ways of Sade are not limited to bedroom and scenes of bondage or porno theaters or forbidden books. Any aspect of culture, from the great to the small, insofar as it is engaged in issues of power has therefore Sadean qualities. Furthermore, since life is never perfect, every aspect of culture will know the split of power into torture and suffering, dominance and submission, or sentimentality and cruelty.
I wont editorialize anymore than I have, but I can't help but wonder, When did psychological abuse become entertainment? or has it always been thus? Also see: N.Y. report denounces shock use at school. I look forward to your Parallax View.
posted by Unregistered User (32 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
When did psychological abuse become entertainment?

It's been considered entertainment since the days of the ancient Greeks (see "Oedipus"). The big difference now, is that it doesn't involve actors playing psychologically humiliating roles, but real people (as in ancient Rome), in the Fox arena. A prime-time example is the ridicule and humiliation of auditioners for "American Idol" and its many imitators. How about Triumph the Insult Comic Dog. I love that crazy canine, myself. But you have to admit, we're laughing the psychological discomfort we imagine his targets are suffering, as they get new assholes ripped by a hand puppet. This trend will only get worse. How do I know this? It always does.
posted by Faze at 1:46 PM on June 17, 2006

The use of electrical shocks in the school is upsetting. One quote, though, stood out for me from the Boston Globe article:
"'This school has saved my daughter's life,' said Marcia Shear of Long Island, whose 13-year-old daughter, Samantha, used to punch herself in the head so often that she detached both retinas.

After she received a few high-level shocks, Shear said, the self-abuse stopped. 'I am livid at these people and pieces of garbage who think they know what they're doing. Let them come and sit with my child and go through what I've gone through for 11 years.'"
posted by ericb at 1:48 PM on June 17, 2006

Faze : "The big difference now, is that it doesn't involve actors playing psychologically humiliating roles, but real people (as in ancient Rome)"

I'd say the modern American humiliation-as-mass-entertainment picked up steam in a big way around the time of Candid Camera in the 1940s and 1950s. It existed before then, of course, but that really helped popularize it.
posted by Bugbread at 2:05 PM on June 17, 2006

I grok people. I am people… so now I can say it in people talk. I've found out why people laugh. They laugh because it hurts so much… because it's the only thing that'll make it stop hurting.
posted by techgnollogic at 2:15 PM on June 17, 2006

Theater of Cruelty.
posted by bardic at 2:15 PM on June 17, 2006

The big difference now, is that it doesn't involve actors playing psychologically humiliating roles, but real people (as in ancient Rome), in the Fox arena.

As you point out it definitely isn't a new fashion. You seem to be trying to make it seem like physical punishment is any different from psychological in terms of desirability without actually saying that one is better than the other.

People are bastards and the method by which they communicate their hatred for fellow human beings seems like a secondary issue. Do we even care? Isn't most of society based on small exclusive cliques and as long as they aren't "one of us" who cares what happens to them?

posted by public at 2:17 PM on June 17, 2006

This post seems rather pointless, but the school shock thing is interesting.

on preview: What ericb said.

This doesn't seem to be a case of troubled-but-good-on-the-inside inner city kid being brutalized at secretive institution. Although the lack of education of the staff and the apparent abuses aren't helping them make their case.

There's probably far more to judging a place like that then any newspaper article is going to offer. Here's to hoping the kids, whatever's actually going on, turn out alright.
posted by Alex404 at 2:30 PM on June 17, 2006

Fucking sick.
posted by caddis at 2:43 PM on June 17, 2006

Important to ask when it comes to disciplining children with a mental health diagnosis is how such a treatment buildsupon their already poor self-concept? How does this help a child feel capable, lovable, and worthwhile?
posted by moonbird at 3:05 PM on June 17, 2006

My God this school is nothing more than a pretty sick detention centre. Take a look this petition to a judgeto approve changes to a childs behaviorial program. It details food rationing as rewards, restraints - including a plexiglass helmet which cannot be removed and the "Graduated Electronic Decelerator" -- plus much more:

f) Electrical Stimulation: (DMR Level III) JRC uses the Graduated Electronic Decelerator --the "GED" and "GED-4" devices that are manufactured by JRC. The GED device consists of a transmitter operated by the JRC staff and a receiver worn by the JRC student. The receiver delivers a low–level surface application of electrical current to the student's skin upon command from the transmitter. The GED device is adjustable with a maximum intensity of 15.25 milliamperes RMS, a duration range from .2 seconds to 2 seconds, an average peak of 30.5 milliamperes, and a duty cycle of 25%. The GED 4 device has a maximum current of 45.0 milliamperes RMS, a duty cycle of 25%, an average peak of 91 milliamperes, and a maximum duration of 2.0 seconds. One or more electrical stimulations are administered to a student after they engage in a targeted behavior. The GED devices also have remote distanced electrodes. The distanced electrode configuration is a cloth Posey strap or other attachment with two standard round electrodes mounted thereon up to six inches apart. The use of the distanced electrode configuration does not, in any way, increase the output of the GED device and does not, in any way, compromise the safety of the device. The distanced electrode configuration delivers more effective applications, thereby increasing the GED's therapeutic value. Side effects may be temporary reddening of the skin and, on rare occasions, a small blister may appear

I am sorry but even uncontrollable children deserve better care than 1900s type insane asylum practices.
posted by Funmonkey1 at 3:13 PM on June 17, 2006

Thank you caddis and Funmonkey1, I agree.
Interesting and provocative post, Unregistered User.

The Trouble with Tough Love.

The problem is that inhumane treatment of children gets abused by sick people who are within the system and get away with legally sanctioned abuse. And children don't have have the money, experience or knowledge to seek the legal help they may need or be in a legal position to get away from their abusers, when they may have committed no crime.

Efficacy of Neurofeedback in the Autistic Spectrum. PubMed on what works for kids with ADHD.

Here are other articles about this psycho school, Rotenberg's abuses.

"Donovan said the school imposes a mandatory vegan-like diet, producing food like soy yogurt and whole wheat noodles that the severely autistic and mute girl found so unpalatable she would spit out nearly every bite."

Here are just a few stories about what some sick adults have gotten away with when kids have been sent to so-called experts to take care of kids labelled difficult by their parents (and from experience, I know kids sent to these outdoor psychiatric ward-boot camps who were simply too fat for their parent's preference, kids whose 'crime' was that they suffered depression or were bulimic). From TeenAdvocatesUSA, a partial listing of children killed in "programs".

1, 2, 3, 4


"The institutional maltreatment of children described in this book is condemned by international law, so it's time for Americans to ask: What is our government doing about this?" --Howard Davidson, Dir. ABA Center on Children & the Law

posted by nickyskye at 3:40 PM on June 17, 2006

Paging Dr. Milgram, Dr. Milgram to the white courtesy phone ....

Laymen should not be able to electrocute on demand, especially as punitive measures. The potential for abuse is very real.

And has been demonstrated again and again. Unfortunately, gulag schools remain widespread and attract little to know media attention, despite tactics worthy of the Stasi[1].

This is what really scares me about the currently fashionable practice of labeling any behavior we dislike a symptom and any troublesome personality traits pathologies. Because if I were to say to you, "My kid talked back to me today, so I tasered that little fucker to punish him," civilized people would regard that as monstrous and a punishment wildly disproportionate to the offesne. But if I call talking back oppositional defiant disorder, and I say that the shock, or the locked soundproof room, or being made to sleep standing up, are treatment, well, treatment can't be excessive, can it? I mean, the kid's sick, it says so right here in the DSM-IV, so what am I supposed to do?

1. I don't think I'm exaggerating. Many of these schools suggest that parents hire private bounty hunters to kidnap the child, usually somewhere away from the home and the parents, and usually without warning. Children often die, and routinely suffer serious injuries, in these institutions.
posted by IshmaelGraves at 4:58 PM on June 17, 2006

IshmaelGraves writes "treatment, well, treatment can't be excessive, can it? I mean, the kid's sick, it says so right here in the DSM-IV, so what am I supposed to do?"

Good point. It's reframing kid from "talking back" to "being psycologically disordered" and misusing psycology to justify just about anything. That's so convenient because if the doctor says so, who am I to question doctor ?

skallas writes "A handful of success stories are expected by mere chance. Let me electrocute 500 people over the span of 10 years and at least a few will be singing my praises."

Another excellent point

Consider also that, forgetting for a moment the outrage caused by violent behaviors, electro-shock conditioning just doesn't work. Conditioning work on primitive animals (Paplov dog) , but even kids can learn that administering the shock isn't related to their behavior, but the the fact the teacher is using the switch to shock them.

"Troubled" less reactive, more obedient and just simply scared kids will not react violently (which is exactly what they are entitled to do) for fear of a greater punishment and will just succumb or develop problems ; others will be so stressed they may react very violently, maybe with violence against self (suicide) or by rebelling even further and applying violence to teachers . They are learning violence pays, first by watching they teachers using it and then by applying the same violence, maybe on the teachers.

They must be stopped
posted by elpapacito at 5:40 PM on June 17, 2006

What is our government doing about this?

Taking notes on some fun new activities for Saturday nights at Guantanamo.
posted by ryoshu at 5:50 PM on June 17, 2006

Taking notes on some fun new activities for Saturday nights at Guantanamo.

Just caught the trailer for the new film 'Road To Guantanamo.'
posted by ericb at 6:14 PM on June 17, 2006

Uhhhhhhhhhh. No. nononononono. NO.

The use of electrical shocks in the school is upsetting.

Upsetting? YES, A TAD. This is fucking disgusting. I recall well the constant war my parents and I waged against all-too-frequently incompetent school administrators and teachers. That plus an electric shock device? Then again, if my parents had been paying through the nose for the privilege of having me electrocuted, I suppose they wouldn't've been so quick to take my side.
posted by mek at 6:32 PM on June 17, 2006

Let me electrocute 500 people...
Laymen should not be able to electrocute...
...privilege of having me electrocuted...

I do not think that word means what you think it means.

verb: to kill by electric shock

(sorry for the small derail, but I was shocked by the language)
posted by bitmage at 7:34 PM on June 17, 2006

I would like to see those so called educators wearing the collars and their students given the collar controllers.
posted by caddis at 7:55 PM on June 17, 2006

I'd heard about STRAIGHT, Inc. and SAFE, and was outraged already that something like wasn't being stopped.

But this is a school that is running with public funds. What the fuck?

Supporters of a bill in the Massachusetts Legislature to ban the use of electric shocks on students said they hoped the New York report would give new momentum to their efforts to force the school to change its methods or close.

Kids can't even take their fucking advil or allergy medicine without going to the school nurse to get it, and now they're getting electro-shock therapy from unqualified personnel in school?

And, there's the case of Aliah Gleason.

Aliah Gleason, a 13 year old African American girl, was forced into a state mental hospital, denied contact with her family for 5 months, restrained more than 26 times, and treated with at least 12 different psychiatric medications, some simultaneously, all as a result of a school mental health screening.

posted by overanxious ducksqueezer at 8:02 PM on June 17, 2006

(I should have linked to the Mother Jones article on Aliah.)
posted by overanxious ducksqueezer at 8:17 PM on June 17, 2006

is this country on the verge of insanity or has it already gone off the edge?
posted by j-urb at 8:53 PM on June 17, 2006

We left the edge of the cliff on our journey towards the ocean below about six years ago. It's going to be a hard landing.
posted by caddis at 8:57 PM on June 17, 2006

This is good training for those students, assuming they're being prepared for the next Battle Royal program.
posted by SPrintF at 9:47 PM on June 17, 2006

little to know media attention

posted by quonsar at 10:33 PM on June 17, 2006

It's going to be a hard landing.

Are we diving or going full belly? And how deep are the rocks?
posted by ryoshu at 1:03 AM on June 18, 2006

See what happens when you get rid of spanking?
posted by Crabby Appleton at 9:42 PM on June 18, 2006

Just wait for the riot.

Everyone knows it'll happen. The riot, in which organizationally abused kids get their hands on some weapons of their own.

Because that's how it works. That's how it _always_ works.
posted by effugas at 10:53 PM on June 18, 2006

This is soul wrenchingly disturbing. I think about the autistic kids I've known and it makes my stomach hurt to think about these kids being tasered for as little as sneezing.

W.T.F., MA?

This is barbaric. America has launched some of the most inhumane, god awful, gulags...and the vast majority of them are for children.
posted by dejah420 at 7:35 PM on June 19, 2006

Gestapo tactics.
posted by Chunky at 5:26 AM on June 20, 2006

Hi. This is my first comment. I had hoped for a more upbeat one, but this school, and it's director, are so disgusting and inhuman that I couldn't lurk any longer.

You want to know why the Rotherberg Center's director is so commited to the GED device? Because the center's director invented it and the center owns the patent on it.

He charges whatever he wants for those glorified shock collars because no one else can make them or use anything like it. I wonder how much of the $200,000+ cost per student quoted in one of the articles goes to pay for these devices?

This is a money making racket, pure and simple. It generates over $50 million a year in revenues, and he's hiring high school grads?

Let's see how dedicated to treating kids this guy is when the patent expires in 2011.
posted by Pastabagel at 7:58 AM on June 20, 2006

I and the public know
What all schoolchildren learn:
Those to whom evil is done
Do evil in return.
W. H. Auden, 'September 1, 1939'
So Samantha stopped irrationally punishing herself once she got into a school that would do it for her? It sure was good of the school to take over the important and difficult work of telling her she's bad.

Bitmage is right about 'electrocute' (thank you). And while we're getting our facts straight, I'd like to point out that the electroshock treatment that skallas linked, which is demonstrably helpful for drug-resistant depression, is nothing at all like what these kids are getting. In ECT, current is applied across the brain on a regular schedule in order to take advantage of the rebooting effect that the seizure provides. It is preceded by tranquilizers to prevent anxiety and muscle relaxants to prevent physical harm. These devices, by contrast, are providing cutaneous shocks ad hoc, with the specific goal of causing incidental pain (and, what's worse, continuous anxiety). They do not and cannot provide any of ECT's benefits.

(And I was going to add that ECT cannot be administered involuntarily, but that's not true because these are kids we're dealing with. As every red-blooded American knows, minors aren't real people.)

Metafilter: "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."
posted by eritain at 12:17 PM on June 20, 2006

So far I'm seeing a trend beyond sadism here. Profit. It only make sense that the serious sadists will find a way to make their favorite pastime (or calling) profitable. Just like common sense will reveal that sadists tend to be drawn to helping and caretaking positions, by the power and opportunity inherent in them. (Not that all caretakers are sadists)

Where is our common sense? Don't the electric shocks count as corporal punishment? Isn't corporal punishment by definition banned in public schools throughout the country by this time? Well fuck, a simple google search says only 27 states have banned school corporal punishment. But fuck me, again, it says Massachusetts has already banned corporal punishment. So what twisted freak argued the case that this collar is not corporal punishment and who accepted it?

This site discusses the red-state blue-state phenomenon and the strange parallel to which states still allow corporal punishment. And a quick summary from last year about school corporal punishment in US.
posted by overanxious ducksqueezer at 1:35 PM on June 20, 2006

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