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See excerpts from actual
 treatment materials:

Steps to Healthy Touching
a workbook for ages 5-12

Roadmaps to Recovery
a workbook for ages 6-12

a workbook for ages 11-21

Jefferson County, TX
treatment program
assorted materials
(Warning: these materials are sexually explicit and seethe with hatred.)

Comparison with treatment
for conduct disorder

Ethical Treatment for All Youth
Email: etay@ethicaltreatment.org

About the author


01 Feb 2005

Several of the programs you cite say they make use of the information in Yochelson and Samenow's The Criminal Personality. Nothing could be further from the truth. They use some of the terminology and even some of the treatment suggestions (poorly), but there is a definite lack of understanding of the contents. These volumes were intended for the use of professionals with extensive prior training in psychology or other cognitive scientists (anthropology, sociology, information science, neurobiology).

Yochelson DID use the term "thinking error" in his texts. It's the short form of a topic common to any field where logical argumentation is necessary. The full term is "errors in critical thinking" or "critical thinking errors", and it is an alternative term for "logical fallacy." Yochelson gave a set of examples of such but made certain to mention that the list was not all-inclusive, and that the ones he used for examples were the most common. He also made sure to point out that these fallacies were common to all people and occasional instances of such were not definitive in terms of the patterns of personality disorder that he was describing in his books. For the record, a persistent "thinking error" is more properly described clinically as a delusion. A delusion is defined as a belief, that is false within the available frames of reference to the subject, that persists despite contradictory evidence or argument.

The books warn against becoming overly cynical (assuming all that the patient says is a lie), the use of empathy or sympathy therapies, or adversarial technique. They DO make mention of the use of an AA technique only because it was merely another term for a technique already common to cognitive therapy: "a searching self-inventory" as another term for self-critical examination of ones own beliefs, but they did not advocate the use of the methods of that program for treatment; it was merely anecdotal.

I guess the conlusion I'm trying to draw here is that these programs are using an excellent resource in an innappropriate and abusive manner. While I do not subscribe to the psychoanalytic view espoused in them (I prefer the Humanistic and Behavioral schools in that order), but the works are very well written and factual as far as could be expected.

05 Feb 2005

By definition a thinking error is a misinterpretation of available information. The term "distortion" is also very pejorative because it implies a person's basic thinking process is fundamentally flawed. A typical person makes frequent thinking errors, even in the social context. Why? Because day-to-day living requirements often requires certain simplifications of the available information to us in order to be able to function, otherwise we would all be effectively paralyzed trying to critically analyze our every action. The problem with the criminal personality, according to Yochelson, is that these thinking errors are simply very persistent and common. He even made sure to note that difference in the text. The sex offender treatment people make the mistake of assuming a single error means an automatic pattern. Plus adversarial treatment stimulates its own pattern of thinking error because the person, especially if their education isn't very high, doesn't have the opportunity to think things through. FYI, they also call it "defensive mechanisms" and "denial". They come at the person with a set of accusations as part of the adversarial process and place the burden of proof on them. Ever try to prove innocence? The typical lack of training and insight among these people is very disturbing.

Yochelson's books were based on a real experimental (and the subjects were really allowed informed consent!) program for people under criminal sentence. Yochelson practically LIVED with people with a wide range of criminal convictions in an in-house treatment center. He was the academic adviser and guide to Samenow's own research project concerning patterns of college drop-outs. They discovered that Samenow's studies were finding some interesting similarities to what Yochelson was researching and they decided to combine their work.

As part of the program, Yochelson allowed some of his more advanced patients to try to apply some of the same technique and theory that he was developing on their fellows. I just repeated his observations. When I heard my own "therapist" admit that he truly did not really understand the book - which the entire program was supposedly based on - he refused to use it (good for him!), but your testimonials you have on site about the lack of training and the general criminal patterns of those treatment staff and programs triggered a memory about his statement. I have other, probably much better examples of poor training, but that was the one that had the strongest memory for me.

Richard R.

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Understanding the Issue

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Deja vu