WWASP Seminars were the backbone of the WWASP program, essentially it was both their marketing scheme and their premise for their own perverted brand of therapy. These seminars were run by a company called Resource Realizations (or Premiere Educational Seminars) a spin off of the Lifespring Seminars started by former Lifespring facilitator David Gilcrease. Seminars were required to be participated in by both the parents and the students including seminars that both the parents and children would attend together. Seminars were broken down into 4 initial stages, Discovery (level 1), Focus (level 2), Accountability (level 3) and Keys to Success (level 4+) As the child and parent both progressed through these seminars they would then be given the responsibility to staff these seminars.
WWASP Seminars used many verified tactics of brainwashing and mind control. Playing on the psychological responses to intense emotional distress, Resource Realizations used both negative and positive aspects of manipulation to indoctrinate it’s participants into the program. Encouraging absolute trust and loyalty to both the methods of the seminars and the program. For parents the threat was, if you don’t devote yourself 100% to this program your kid will be dead, insane or in jail. For kids, it was simply that you would not move forward in the program, nor be released until all seminars are passed. The fear of being kicked out of the seminar would force kids to participate in humiliating processes, attack therapy and would often lead kids to admit to things they had never done, just to pass for “dealing”. WWASP Seminars also utilized deprivation of sleep, food and bathroom breaks to keep people on edge and more likely to break down.
The outcome of such an intense experience was an extraordinary high, the feeling of a life changing experience and ultimately a cult-like loyalty to the program. This afforded WWASP the power to easily manipulate it’s followers and to maintain a system of free marketing, as recruiting became a requirement of parents once they started staffing seminars. Students who did well in seminars advanced through the program in about a year’s time. Students and parents who could not pass the seminars would be held back, extending their programs for months, even years.
By Meyla Atkinson – CrossCreek.WWASPSN.org
Before even setting foot inside the first seminar, the child has already witnessed the effects of seminar for a full week. The most alarming aspect was the screaming. The dining hall was positioned just next to the seminar room, so plenty of noise could be heard almost every meal. Some classrooms and the isolation rooms were above the seminar room, these were also full of noise from the seminar. Loud, disruptive music was also common, as was hearing the facilitator screaming at a particular child. The child would witness other children, (perhaps their friends) entering the room, hear intimidation and wailing from torture, and thus be intimidated and half the work breaking their spirit was done before they ever set foot in seminar. Girls who “chose out” inevitably cried and came back looking quite disheveled. Russian interrogators knew simply the implication of torture or seeing one’s compatriots return injured from interrogation made perhaps 30% confess. Both often played on the affections for loved ones.
Night was often used by the Russian gulag to extract confessions and wwasp used night to it’s advantage in seminars especially. These ran late into the night, often until 11pm, followed by hours of “homework” and early morning rising, the most profound impact being serious sleep deprivation. Children Physicians recommend 8-10 hours of sleep for adolescents, but during seminar our already meager seven hours of sleep was reduced to much less, sometimes four hours or less per night. Sleep deprivation makes critical thinking difficult or impossible. So the teen is left very vulnerable to giving up or changing core beliefs to match what wwasp teaches.
The facilitator was a particularly cruel and unempathetic tormentor, akin to the interrogator in the gulag. He employed many psychological interogation methods, especially psychological contrast: one minute he was speaking in a friendly, sympathetic tone, with an appealing face. The next minute he was screaming, arms raised aggressively in the child’s face. He would often use foul language He was allowed to lie, and often did, sometimes creating elaborate untrue scenarios to confuse and dismay the children.
During seminar in WWASPS, they regularly denied the children water bottles, limiting water intake to four short breaks, even in sweltering summer conditions. Gulag likewise deprived a person of water during interrogation. Both policies resulted in dehydration, muddied thinking, and an increased susceptibility to the mind control.
Music was used to install fear and induce compliance. Specifically the theme to 2001: a space odyssey was played whenever everyone had to sit down. Often there would be tricks: not enough time to get to your seat, not enough chairs, last minute instructions that were hard to comply with. The intent was to single out the slowest, least interested children to “chose out.” There was always punishment for choosing out, usually at least another month of time at the facility. The fear of choosing out was in everyone. The child who chose out would have to write an essay on why she was accountable for leaving the seminar early, what she would do differently to not chose out in the future, often 5 or 10 pages front and back margin to margin. Sometimes she might lose her level, or the confidence of the group in her sincerity, all because of how well she performed such trivial tasks and tests. The effect was to put the child on edge all the time, wearing her down much quicker by constant fear of making trivial mistakes.
Humiliation was a common event in seminar. Slut-shaming was rampant, and the girls who had sex were particularly humiliated. Sometimes they were asked to dress slutty and put on dance performances for crowds of cheering or jeering peers and staff. Children were encouraged to share personal intimate details about their lives with dozens of strangers. Girls who had been sexually abused were especially humiliated for it. Although blame was an unacceptable idea, the idea of accountability was redefined to encompass blame and define the responsible party (the child in all circumstances.) They taught even a woman raped at gunpoint had chose her rape over being shot, therefore she was accountable (responsible, at fault, could have chose differently.)
Breaking the Vow of Secrecy – A parent’s account of the WWASP seminar Discovery
Can I Trust Them? – Companion story to Breaking the Vow of Secrecy