Behind the Bastards

There’s a reason the History Channel has produced hundreds of documentaries about Hitler but only a few about Dwight D. Eisenhower. Bad guys (and gals) are eternally fascinating. Behind the Bastards dives in past the Cliffs Notes of the worst humans in history and exposes the bizarre realities of their lives. Listeners will learn about the young adult novels that helped Hitler form his monstrous ideology, the founder of Blackwater’s insane quest to build his own Air Force, the bizarre lives of the sons and daughters of dictators and Saddam Hussein’s side career as a trashy romance novelist.

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Hello, I'm Erica Kelly from the podcast Southern Fried True crime, and if you want to go from podcast fan to podcast host, do what I did and check out spreaker from iheart. I was working in accounting and hating it. Then after just 18 months of podcasting with Spreaker, I was able to quit my day job. Follow your podcasting dreams, let's break or handle the hosting, creation, distribution, and monetization of your podcast. Go to That's Wanna say I don't know less? Listen to stuff you should know more. Join host Josh and Chuck on the podcast packed with fascinating discussions about science, history, pop culture and more episodes. Dive into topics like was the lost, city of Atlantis Real? And how does pizza work? Say goodbye to I don't know. Because after listening to stuff you should know you will listen to stuff you should know on the iHeartRadio app, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you get your podcasts. Hey there, it's Ebony Monet, your co-host for the San Diego Zoo's Amazing Wildlife podcast. In this special episode, we're speaking with Doctor Jane Goodall about the fascinating journey that led to her social discoveries on chimpanzees. So four whole months, the chimps ran away from me. I mean, they take one look at this peculiar white ape and disappear into the vegetation. Bing wildlife on the iHeartRadio app or wherever you get your podcasts. Hello, it's behind the ******** the podcast that yet again opened with a tonal noises because I I couldn't couldn't think of an introduction. This is partly the fault of Sophie, who is not here today for reasons of of of pure selfishness. No, she has a bunch of unbelievable number of matings. My guest today is Aiden. That Aiden bernacchi. Bernacchi bernacchi. Aiden bernacchi. Aiden, you wanna tell the audience a little bit about yourself? My name is Adam Bonacci. I'm, as of today, 28 year old. The State Theatre major. I tweet a lot. I do a lot of, like, freelance work. It's nice to be here. Nice to have you on, Aiden. And you are? It's your birthday. So happy birthday. Thank you. Thank you for for making the time to show up in the episode. Today we're going to talk about something. Well, fun is the wrong word. Have you heard of the Judge Rotenberg Center? I'm. That sounds familiar, but not. 20%. Yeah. It it's it's not a good place. Obviously this is the show that this is so one of the reasons you're obviously you're you're an actor, you do theatre stuff, but you're also, as you said, autistic and I wanted to bring in somebody who was for this episode because we're going to be talking a lot about kind of. Well, I would say the dark ages of autism treatment, but this is still going on. Ohh, although it Oh yeah, it's bad. It's really bad. And this is a, I think when I, I, I reached out online looking, you know, wanting to do an episode that was going to touch on a lot of issues of, like autistic, like, healthcare for autistic people. Folks expect that I was either gonna do Hans Asperger, who is absolutely a *******. Yeah, we'll talk about there. There's a number of things that this could have been, but we're talking about the Judge Rotenberg Center, and specifically we're talking about the guy who who started it. So I want to start by noting that autism didn't enter the DSM. Was like a diagnosis until 1980. Obviously, people were using the term before then. It was a thing that a lot of medical professionals recognize existed. But there's often a gap between when something is sort of, like recognized and when it actually enters the DSM. And even when it entered the DSM in 1980, the diagnostic criteria for being declared autistic were, to put it bluntly, more or less ********. Somebody couldn't be autistic if they're symptoms weren't apparent before they were 30 months old, which we now know a lot. For a lot of people, it's like, not. Well, you're three or four that like, stuff become that symptoms become apparent, Umm. And a bunch of things we now recognize as signs of autism weren't recognized back then. It was it was bad. Like it just in terms of like from a from a clinical standpoint, they didn't have a good handle on like how to know if somebody was autistic or not yet. And kind of making matters more complicated was the fact that many of the doctors who were kind of pioneers in autism research were **** shows as well. Again, Hans Asperger, the guy whose name. Give us Asperger's. Asperger syndrome. Yeah. Yeah. Worked with the Nazis to euthanize disabled people. Not a well we got a little fat. Yeah. We'll we'll talk about him at some point. I bring all this up to to acknowledge that the history of even, like, recognizing autism is fraught and the history of educating autistic people through like the the the school system is equally problematic. Because obviously, like, once you know that this is a thing, schools are going to, you know, try to develop standards for how to. Had a teach people who have autism and generally they're gonna do a bad job of this. That's been most of the history of the education system and autism. And I have a little bit of personal knowledge here. I was a paraprofessional for a special Ed classroom for about 18 months. The kids I worked with. Yeah. And it was not that we had. There were kids with a variety of, of of of different kind of things. Yeah. A lot of them were autistic. We had a kid who had a severe who had a head injury and, like, had had literally had like a chunk of her brain. Scooped out in the car accident we had kids with with Down syndrome. We had you know in my classroom they were mostly I think the term we the term used at the time was nonverbal, which meant they they couldn't communicate well or at all in a lot of cases via language. You know we would develop we would use sign language, we would use like cards. We had a bunch of different kinds of systems we would try to use to help the kids, right right communicate and all of my my coworkers cared a lot, but we also had effectively 0 academic training. There were like. Out of, I don't know, 20 or so people in the, the unit that I was in, there were like two people who had gone to school to any extent for what we were doing. And the rest of us were just kind of, yeah, we didn't know what the **** we were doing. Yeah. And I would say you know from the I've mentioned being a special at a couple of times and some people I think make assumptions about the kind of the worst case scenario for that. I, I don't believe we did anything that was like harmful in terms of our our our teaching techniques. We weren't using any of the stuff that we'll be talking about today any of like the really brutal methods that have been used. But I don't think anything we did most of what we did was very useful either because we didn't really know what we were doing like we that's part of the problem with. I don't know the whole when when kind of the education system intersects with healthcare in any way is mostly don't really get good results. Yeah, exactly don't. Yeah. And as somebody who was in special Ed from like. 1st grade through 5th grade and you definitely got a lot more of. They really wanted to try, but there really wasn't much they could do in terms of like helping out and whatnot. They really cared. But you can definitely tell compared to like other classes that they're kind of short handed. Yeah, short handed and not, you know, there's a lot of specialized. Knowledge that is required both in terms of like how to educate kids who may, you know, interpret kind of verbal command or verbal stimuli or whatever in a different way, who may be, who may have kind of sensory like would be fundamentally like kind of see and hear differently than everybody else. Like that requires a lot of specialized knowledge to work with. Outside of that, there's also like medical stuff like again, I was going into this job with no training and when I I was dealing with like a grand Mal seizure every day. And it was, I didn't like, we didn't, we didn't like, get good information on what to do with that stuff. It was kind of like learn on the job, which is not not a good. You shouldn't be learning on the job if you're treating children having seizures. Seizures, yeah, no, that's something you really want. At least a few weeks, if not a lot more training off for sure. Yeah. Now, some of the students that I worked with had really serious issues with violence. And again, I've mentioned this before, for most of them, this was an occasional thing. It would be maybe once a year. And it wasn't, you know, it wasn't their fault. It was something kinda flipped in their head and they would they would get aggressive generally because they were frightened. But there were some kids, one particular kid that was my main job to deal with, for whom violence was a really daily issue and the problem was severe in this kids case. When you're talking about kids with problems like that, where they are either very self injurious and this, this kid I'm talking about injured himself more than he injured other people, that's a serious issue because he's not only a danger, he could, he could seriously injure other people. He could seriously injure or kill himself. That's a a real issue, and it's a real issue that our school, which was a normal high school, was not at all equipped to handle. And I feel very comfortable saying I had no business working with a kid whose needs were so specialized. So I understand the need for residential facilities that can take care of some of kids with issues this severe on an ongoing basis. Yeah. Cause and there's this cases like that where you wanna meet people who are specialized in that type of work and can be responsible and not have to be like, oh **** what they do. Yeah and and there are for some of these kids you need 24/7 care because again you can't necessarily predict their self injurious behavior or they need a tremendous amount of consistency in order to make progress. And you just can't do that in eight hours a day at a public school. So the problem. So again, I I'm starting this by saying I get that there is potentially a need for residential facilities. But as we've discussed on the show before, many residential schools with kids for behavioral issues are ******* nightmares. And I'm talking about the Alan school here. I'm talking about like, ohh, kind of, yeah, yeah, troubled kids schools and those places are nightmares and catering to kids who are, if not neurotypical, then at least not, you know, generally not dealing with autism or a particularly specialist. Diagnosis their kids with, like, a behavioral issue. They're kids who got into drugs or something right it at a place like the Elan school. When you take it to a further step of specialization where you're dealing with with children with autism or children with other very specific diagnosis, that's a whole nother ball game. And it gets a lot sketchier because there's a lot less specialization to deal with these places. So if you kind of can bill yourself as an expert in whatever these kids have, you can get away with a lot of really terrible treatments. And people looking at in from the outside will be like, well, I guess that's just what you do with those kids, you know? Yeah. That's not surprising. Yeah. And that's the subject of today, the Judge Rotenberg Center. So our story starts with a man named Matthew Israel. He was born at some point in the 1930s. I have not found an exact year. He was a contemporary of Michael Dukakis. They were friends. So around when Dukakis was born, as I'm going to guess when, a, when Matt Israel was born. He was born in Brookline, MA. His dad was a lawyer. He was the youngest of two brothers, and to the extent that Matthew has told interviewers about his family, he claims that his parents were loving and seldom spanked him. So that's good, and that's going to be relevant here in a little bit. But punishment was not a central focus of his parents parenting strategies. He went to Brookline High School and he was good friends again with Michael Dukakis, who would later be governor of Massachusetts and would also fail to become the president. Matthew and Michael ran cross country track together, and we're good friends. This will become relevant later. Now we know a lot less about Israel's early life than I would prefer, but we do know that in high school he was kicked out of an Honor Society. After he spoke out against the school's plan to allow athletes and people who pursued non academic extracurricular activities into the club, he told one interviewer that it was too much of an artificial reward system. So he didn't like that the gifted program was being extended to people who were good at, I don't know, like music and theater. He ohhh. Yeah, OK, one of those, yeah, one of those guys. Like, I just, if it's not math, it's like, yeah, it's not football. I mean, yeah, he's he's just, you know, he's got a little bit of an elitist, maybe like an academic. Least and specifics. So in 1950, Israel started at Harvard. He was fascinated with behavioral psychology, and he had the good fortune to be taught by one of the single most influential psychologists in the history of the discipline, a guy named BF Skinner. Skinner was probably the dominant psychologist of the mid 20th century, and he specialized in what's called behaviorism. Skinner believed that all human behavior could be boiled down to environmental operant conditioning and the reinforcing of selected responses with rewards or punishment. Skinner essentially rejected the idea of free will, which he acknowledged quote seems to question dignity or worth, as in, if people don't have free will. If we're just robots responding to stimuli, maybe we don't have any dignity or self worth. But as he pointed out, this also meant that under his analysis of behavior blamed for bad behavior and credit for good behavior were both shifted to the environment. So you're never responsible if you do bad or good things. It's the result of of the stimuli that has been fed into your brain. OK, which is, you know, not my view of reality. It's a pretty bleak yes. Very good 70. Yeah, I mean it's it's bleak in some ways because it kind of reduces, it flattens the the moral universe. Hmm. But it also means that, like potentially if you can figure out how to feed in the good stimuli to people's brains, you can stop, you know, genocide and whatnot. You could you could deal with all of that just by feeding people different, different input. His hope was that accepting this, like accepting this reality about how people worked, would lead to a new organization of society based around social controls that would be more purposeful than the random positive and negative reinforcements in society. In other words, like we're just the result of the stimuli that's been fed into us, but because it's being kind of fed in randomly and nobody's, nobody's making a concerted effort to make sure that, like specific good stimuli, you know, kind of are, are, are put into people's heads. That's why all this messed up. That's why society is so messed up and if you could just be consistent and whatnot, you could fix all these problems. That's that's Skinners kind of roughly skinners idea. I am again, I'm flattening a decades long career in and cycle. Yeah, this is the gist of it, Skinner wrote. Quote man struggle for freedom is not due to a will to be free, but to certain behavioral processes characteristic of the human Organism, the chief effect of which is the avoidance of or escape. From so-called aversive features of the environment, physical and biological technologies have been mainly concerned with natural aversive stimuli. The struggle for freedom is concerned with stimuli intentionally arranged by other people. The literature of freedom has identified the other people and has proposed ways of escaping from them or weakening or destroying their power. It has been successful in reducing the aversive stimuli used in intentional control. But it has made the mistake of defining freedom in terms of state of mind or feelings, and it has therefore not been able to effectively. Deal with techniques of control which do not breed, escape, or revolt, but nevertheless have aversive consequences. It has been forced to brand all control is wrong and to misrepresent many of the advantages to be gained from a social environment. It is unprepared for the next step, which is not to free men from control, but to analyze and change the kinds of control to which they are exposed. So you see what he's saying there? Yeah, I'm, I'm seeing what he's saying, but. There's a lot of ways you can definitely misinterpret that and construe it. Yeah, absolutely. And it's you can see both sides of this to where, like, right now in the US, the ideology of freedom, as it's often interpreted by particularly folks on the right, has led to the situation where, like, people are showing up armed outside of schools because they don't think kids should be made to wear masks during a pandemic. Yeah. And that is a problem. And he's kind of pointing out that like. But the kind of the, the, the, the, the angle he's looking at this from is that, like the ideology of freedom has has made it his, has kind of made it seem like a bad guy sort of thing to try and analyze the stimuli people are exposed to and alter them in order to change their behavior. And Skinner thinks that that's what we ought to be doing, right? So Skinner was interested in nothing less than the controlled future evolution of human beings with proper conditioning techniques, he believed. All conflict, responsible behavior, and the calamitous consequences of freedom could be erased. As Skitter wrote. Quote a scientific view of man offers exciting possibilities. We have not yet seen what man can make of man. And I mean. Can see them. He's definitely looking at it from a positive angle, yes, but it's just. There's a lot to work around with that, at least in my opinion. There is. And and I I think Skinner, a big chunk of what he's doing is kind of a response to everything that happened in the first part of the 20th century. The disasters under state communism, the the genocides of the Nazis, the horrors of of the world wars. And this idea that like, well, this is clearly terrible. We could, if we can make people better, if we can, like, if we can feed them better stimuli, we can stop all this at the same time he's kind of doing. He he's what he's saying. You can find not dissimilar things that the Nazis were saying, man, can we can make the human race better by kind of. Wasn't gonna bring up eugenics right away, but I was leaning towards that. And Skinner's not a eugenicist, but anytime you're saying we can improve the human race through like selective decisions and whatnot, that may limit people's freedom. You're not on a totally different wavelength. Then. You can also draw some comparisons to like the idea of the new Soviet man and these. These strains of thought, these I, and they're all coming from a similar place, which is that, like in the early half of the 20th century, you're seeing all of these horrible calamities. Hmm. The human caused calamities, these terrifying wars and famines and genocide, and you've got a lot of people being like, well, maybe we maybe we could do better than that. The problem is that it can lead you in some. And again, I really want to emphasize Skinners not a Nazi. He's not talking about, Oh yeah, genics. But you can see, you can see how people could take some of the things he's saying. And turn them in unsettling directions, too. The road can be to how can be paved with good intentions. Yes. Yeah. And I I that's that's not so much Skinner because he's certainly not the bad guy here. Well, yeah. But that's kind of where his ideology leads. Matt is real. So Matt fell in love with Skinner's theories at the library. One day he found a book his professor had written but not assigned to the Class A book called Walden 2. And I'm going to quote from a write up in Boston Magazine quote the controversial book is about a utopian society where behaviors. Be modified for the benefit of all inhabitants. It is based on Skinner's theory of operant conditioning. If an action is rewarded, it increases the likelihood that the person will perform the action again. This is, after all, how Skinner had taught pigeons to play table tennis by rewarding the behaviors that led to their game, Israel later said of the book. It was a real inspiration. I knew what I wanted to do with my life. It was a feeling similar to those claiming to have religious conversions. I wanted to start a real utopian behavioral community, and this is. He's not the only one who gets impacted this way by Walden too. There's actually a whole subculture that forms around trying to build utopian communities based around Skinners ideas of operant conditioning. Obviously, I'm also interested in utopian communities. I plan one day to start one that will build a paradise on Earth before it's torn asunder in a hail of fire and bullets from the FDA. And Matt had the same ambition. Oh yeah, I mean, who wouldn't? Who wouldn't want to build a paradise based around the. Fundamental moral precept that you shouldn't be told by the government what pills are and aren't healthy, or what pills do and don't contain lead. I think we have the freedom to ingest all sorts of brain pills and to claim that they care all sorts of diseases, and I I don't. I challenged the FDA to increase their munitions budget enough to stop me. So Matt had a similar ambition without desiring an armed conflict with the FDA. But being a young PhD candidate just getting started in the world, he didn't really have a way to achieve this dream. And sort of his his desire to start a utopian community and his lack of resources led to a period of depression for him. He later said it was a very difficult. I thought about committing suicide. If I couldn't bring a community into existence, what sense was life worth living? So he worked on his doctor and he helped BF Skinner teach pigeons. Play ping pong. In 1960 he received his doctorate and he used his formidable skill as a hype man to try and raise capital to start a firm teach selling teaching machines. His goal was to spend the profits from this business into a utopian social project. But the business didn't do well, and in 1966 Israel was not particularly close to achieving his dream. That year, though, he attended a Walden 2 conference where other weird BF Skinner nerds talked about how to start their own utopian societies. 83 people attended. And he met a couple of folks who were willing to get involved in such a project with him. Right. And it was a very minor scale at this point. So in 1967, he and a couple of these folks start a communal home in Arlington, VA, and it's a, as utopian communities go, very small. It's basically Matt Israel, a guy and his girlfriend, a teacher and her young daughter named Andrea. So not a big community. And this little girl, Andrea was, according to Matt Israel, a real problem. He later said, quote. He walked around the living room with a toy broom, hitting people. She also screamed and threw tantrums often enough that Israel claims I was forced to do behavior modification. So this is the first time that he tries to alter a human being through operant conditioning, right? Or at least his first recorded times. I don't know. That's a weird. I I guess you could see it's not any different than, like any other parent being like, oh, this kid's doing something they shouldn't be doing. I'm going to, I'm going to, like, punish them or or try otherwise to get them to stop doing the thing. Yeah, but it's not your kid. They start seeing Dicy. Yeah, it starts getting dicey. And I guess like. It's kind of unsettling to I, for whatever reason, it's less unsettling to be like, oh, you know, my kid is is throwing tantrums, so I'm going to, like, do this in order to try to get them to stop. That's less unsettling to me than saying, like, oh, this kid is engaged in bad behavior, and I'm going to condition them to do better behavior through, like, yeah, operation. It's like not you're grounded, but you're going to get modified. It's like, yeah, you're going to get modified. That's unsettling. A little bit. He says he got the mom's permission to work on her child. We've got only his word here. I have not heard any interviews with any of the people who are in this with him. But given what comes next, I will note that Matt Israel is really good at convincing parents to let him experiment on their kids so I don't have trouble believing that he oh, there's some water to it. Yeah. Yeah. I think he probably did get Andrea's mom's permission. The methods he used to alter her behavior were called Aversives put bluntly. Aversives are unpleasant stimuli done to a person or animal in order to change their behaviour. The classic example of an aversive would be a punishment, although aversives are not always administered as punishments cause. Like a punishment is somebody does, someone does something undesirable and you do something undesirable to them to make them associate the two, right? That's a punishment. Aversives can be punishments, but they can also occur before the behavior. There's a number of ways to apply them. We'll talk about that a bit later. OK? The first diversity he used was time out. When Andrea would scream, Matt would put her in a bedroom, close the door and hold it shut. He would keep track of how long she screamed at him through the door. He was in a chart. Over time, her tantrums diminished. But Israel also found the act of holding a door shut on a screaming child to be exhausting and demoralizing for obvious reasons. And one yeah, seems kind of bad. At one point his patients ran out and he slapped Andrea, saying there's no screaming and timeout. Now, this would mark the first time Matt used physical violence on a child to alter behaviour, and he doesn't say in interviews what impact this had on her. But according to a 1985 interview with Israel in the Boston Phoenix, here's what came next quote. He began to use a combination of rewards and punishments with Andrea. I was a tremendous source of reward for Andrea, he says. She was very cute, very smart, and very appreciative of attention. I found that a combination of. Jordair awards and occasional aversive made an environment that helped change her whole personality. Matt Israel's training had begun with Skinner, who believed you didn't need to use Aversives, but Israel could see the results. Punishment is a fact of culture, he says. When the police find you for parking in a no parking zone, that's punishment. Andrea had been a spoiled brat, but she became a pleasant, attractive, charming feature in the house. So that's a little unsettling too, right? I don't like attractive. I don't like that part. I don't like that, and I don't like describing a human being as a feature. Ohh yeah, yeah, that's that's a little unsettling too. It's like 2 bedrooms, 1 bath, one attractive feature. Yeah, one attractive small child. Yeah, there's. The way he talks about people is consistently unnerving and will only get more so. But you know what's not consistently unnerving? I don't know what products and services, Oh yes, the products and services to help keep this afloat. And and we guarantee here behind the ******** that less than 1/5 of our sponsors have ever referred to a small child as an attractive feature. And that's as good as you're gonna get in the podcast business. Look, honestly, that's impressive. Yeah, I we, we we work hard for those numbers. Mint Mobile offers premium wireless starting at just 15 bucks a month. And now for the plot twist. Nope, there isn't one. Mint Mobile just has premium wireless from 15 bucks a month. There's no trapping you into a two year contract. You're opening the bill to find all these nuts fees. There's no luring you in with free subscriptions or streaming services that you'll forget to cancel and then be charged full price for. None of that. For anyone who hates their phone Bill, Mint Mobile offers premium wireless for just $15.00 a month. 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For more than a decade, we hear at stuff they don't want you to know have been seeking answers to these questions. Sometimes there are answers that people would rather us not explore. Now we're sharing this research. With you for the first time ever in a book format, you can pre-order stuff they don't want you to know now. It's the new book from us, the creators of the podcast and video series. You can turn back now or read the stuff they don't want you to know. Available for pre-order now, it's stuff you should read or wherever you find your favorite books. Ah, we're back. So at around the same time Matt Israel started his Arlington Commune, he informed a national organization with a very dystopian name, the Association for Social Design. Its objective was to establish a network of associated experimental communities and cities throughout the world he was essentially taking. There's this subculture of Walden 2 fans who are all trying to build these little utopias based off of Skinner's. Ideas, and he's trying to unite them in kind of like a physical social network. Now there's a guy named Hilkey Kullman who's a a historian of this subculture. He's a historian of, like, specifically the people who like rallied around Walden too. And Coleman writes that Israel's goal was to take BF Skinner's utopian experiments a step further. Privately, Israel started to call his work Walden three. That said, his first utopian experiment did not end well. As happens with most of these experiments, the adults themselves couldn't get along. Eventually, the whole thing fell apart. I've never heard an interview with the other adults who lived with Matt, but I would very much like to. I suspect his behavior was a larger part of things than he let on. He tried another communal living situation after that, which also fell apart. And this quote from the Boston Phoenix gives some context as to why. The problem with the houses, says Israel, was that the residents weren't really buying into the behavior mod mode. There was very little control over the participants, Israel says. They could always move out. Coleman, who has studied this whole subculture extensively, also blames Israel for the collapse of his two utopian projects and the collapse of the Association for Social Design. From a right up and wired quote in living Walden 2, Coleman blames Israel suggesting he is the communes patriarch when it has inhabitants to live lives based on altering one another's behavior. The others in the communes and the association thought this was no life at all. So you get what he's saying here. Like this is this is an extension of what he's saying about this kid. He's treating these people not like. People but like machines, and he's angry that they have the ability to leave. They don't just passively take his input. They have the ability to say, like, well, I don't like this and I'm going and he's he's not a fan of that. No, it's not enough control for him. And you can see how a guy whose attitude who's who's who blames the failure of his utopian communes on free will might not be the guy you want having total control over a group of autistic children who are forced to live in his residential. Facility ohh absolutely yeah. You can see how this is heading in a bad direction right when his issue is it's the fact that these people could leave is the real problem. Ah, that's what we call foreshadowing. So it's my opinion that Matt Israel is sort of a predator, and I base that in large all the fact that once his two utopic experiments failed because the adults wouldn't do whatever he said, he decided to start a school. Specifically, he wanted to start a school for kids whose disabilities would render them less able to defend or advocate for themselves. This is not far from how he trained, framed it. And this is what he says in an interview about his decision to start a school, quote maybe a school for the emotionally disturbed. He says behaviorism. It's the kind of thing, particularly in these days, that has been allowed to be applied to the handicapped. So he's like, adults won't let me do this to them, but people let you do this to handicap kids. And and as a note here, we're going to read a number of quotes from articles and individuals who use terms for people with autism and other and other diagnosis that are not modern or appropriate terms. I am not changing the wording these people used because in part, it's very useful in understanding how they think about these kids. Yeah. You'd be a racing parts of it and yeah it would be kind of lessening the monsters or the exactly. Exactly. I get 100%. Yeah. Yeah. And I don't want to be doing that. So Israel claims that he got the idea to start a school when he visited a hospital in Providence. And this hospital had a residential program for immersion emotionally disturbed kids. And when they say emotionally disturbed, a lot of these kids are, I wouldn't even, I wouldn't call them like I'm I'm sure they're they have. They're emotional. But like they're. Their kids with who are maybe autistic, who have something going on and there's not any kind of good treatment program. And so people register that as like, oh, it's emotionally disturbed. And it's like, no, really, you don't know how to talk to this kid or communicate to this kid or or help them, like, integrate into society. And so they're unhappy. Like, that's what a lot of times we talk about, emotionally disturbed, that's what we're talking about is these kids who just nobody's people have not figured out a good way to integrate them into society. Or want to integrate them into the people? Don't want to integrate them. Yes. And they're unhappy for very justifiable reasons. Hmm. So the director of this residential facility, like Matt Israel, comes to visit and, like, look at how they're they're working with these kids. And the director of the facility asks him, quote, do you think behavior modification would work on autistic children? Israel told them, yeah, I think it will. And so he decides to. He starts a unit in that hospital to experiment on this with six kids using a mix of food. Rewards spankings, timeouts and spraying them in the face with a bottle of water to alter their behaviour. Right. So from the what are they? Cats? Yeah, yeah, yeah. What are they? Cats? He loves spraying kids in the face. That's actually a big part of for decades. His, his. And and again, when we talk about like, critiques of Skinner, Skinner, when he's talking about altering people's behavior, is not really a big fan of aversives. But Israel really focuses down on them and seems to think that like, like punishments and and in a lot of cases, physically violent punishments like spanking are the best way to to to, to end behaviors that are bad from these kids. So he starts this, he does this for nine months or so working with these kids and it goes well enough, at least by his gesture definition of it. Then in 1971 he starts the Behavior Research Institute in Providence, RI now autism again was not a recognized DSM diagnosis in 1971, right? But there were of course autistic people. There have been autistic people since the presumably the beginning of the human race. Absolutely. Absolutely. One of the things that's very frustrating is like the the anti VAX people will be like, look. Autisms gone up 1000% in the last 20 years. You know, this is evidence that there's some poison is like, no, you just called these kids emotionally disturbed and hit them in the 70s like they were still there. You just put them in psych wards. Yeah, you put them in psych wards. They you sometimes they got killed. Like it was never very like they were around, though. You just pretended they weren't. They weren't. Yeah. So they on day one, as he starts the Behavioral Research Institute, Israel has two patients. Starts from a very small standpoint. His his first two patients are a schizophrenic adult male and a teenager with autism. From the beginning, Israel's plan was to alter behaviors in his patients that were anti social by using aversive stimuli. And again, he was very focused on punishment. The Bri saw early success, and again, I don't know, like I don't have an objective way of evaluating whether or not it was successful, but it was successful in the financial sense and that he was able to convince people that his work was good and get more money and get more. Patients enrolled and generally it is the state enrolling these patients, you know, hmm. So they probably saw their six success. Yeah. Yeah. They considered it a success. And it's also, these are these are kids who have generally very severe behavior issues and are the state certainly like, well, obviously a regular high school isn't a good place for them. This guy says he can help even the most extreme kids. Let's pay him to take them off our hands. We don't have to worry about them anymore. And there's always with this. It's always framed this like, well, no one else could help these kids. But there's always a huge, there's always a huge angle of like, well, but you didn't really. Try to you wanted to get rid of these kids, and he offered you a hole to put them in. You know, that's always a a chunk of this. Ohh, absolutely, yeah. So the BR yeah. Was was financially successful early on, and in 1972, Israel opened a residential program for the school in a wing of a facility for schizophrenic patients. By 1975, he'd opened a second home in Seekonk. Two years later, in 1977, he founded a West Coast branch of TBRI in California. He opened several more. Residential homes on the East Coast after that, and by 1980 he had completely given up on his dreams of creating a utopia in favour of Building Schools for these kind of of of patients. Wired talks briefly in their article about his early methods quote they used aversive therapy at PRI, they used positive reinforcement to food and toys in a near continuous stream of compliments for behaving well. But it was the aversives that drew attention. Teachers pinched students, spanked them with spatulas, stuck ammonia pellets beneath their nostrils. And put them in white noise helmets. Israel saw aversive therapy and still sees it as the best response to self injurious and disruptive behavior. He almost never doped his pupils, a position he holds to this day. He believes drugs often only sate the patient. They do not solve her problems. Israel then, is now put his trust in punishment. So he went on there, didn't drug them, but he didn't give him a smack. He'll give him a smack, he'll, he'll, he'll spray them with ammonia. Like there's all sorts of Jesus. And it it it is like he's right in that a lot of, like the medication treatments that are given to these kids are horrible. Like they're absolutely dragging them into nonexistence in a lot of cases, which is ****** **. And he's recognizing that. And he's also, this is partly how he gets a lot of parents on his side. His parents see what it's like to have their kids drug like this, and they're horrified by it. And he's like, no, no, no, simple punishment. I can stop these behaviors. The problem is that a lot of what he's doing is torturing them into not doing these behaviors. And when you hear pinching, right, you may think that's kind of weird or even that's kind of ****** ** but you're probably imagining something a lot less violent than the reality, right? Like a pinch we don't consider to be serious violence. I wouldn't. No. But now I'm nervous. Yeah. Yeah, you should be so. The very first report on abuse within the Behavior Research Institute came out in 1973 as the result of a an investigation by the Massachusetts Human Rights Committee. They produced a report on conditions in Israel's school that pointed out that Matt advocated pinching kids and squirting water in their faces. Teachers were under strict pressure to end bizarre behavior in their students and under 2 weeks. They could lose their job if they did not eliminate a behavior by deadline. And so, as deadlines approached, teachers started quote pinching harder and harder to meet their goal. Workers at BR I told one Human Rights Committee member they felt that quote they were turning into monsters. A 1979 allegation of abuse in Israel's facility provides more graphic context. Quote on October 28th, 1978, according to court documents, Corwin said and Corbin's, the person making the complaint, says she saw Israel. Fingernail pinching the bottoms of 12 year old Christopher Hershey's feet Israel was administering a behavioural reversal lesson to get Hirsch to stop defecating on rugs and in the shower. Corbin said she heard the boy cry and scream in pain. The next morning, EBRI worker named Nancy Tibbo got sick to her stomach when she saw her. She's feet. There were open blisters and a reddish substance oozing from them, she testified. Employees continued to pinch the boy's feet. Corwin returned to work after two days off. She was horrified at what she found, the insteps of both Christopher's feet. A considerable amount of blisters and a considerable amount of open, bloody patches where the skin had been entirely removed, she said, ah, ******* cow. So this is not like a pinch you, your mom would give you or something when she got like ticked at you. Like, these are causing bleeding wounds, like trying to rip the skin off. Almost. Yeah. And a lot of it is because they're doing this over and over again, sometimes dozens of times because. Right, that's what you you wanna have consistently be reinforcing, I guess, that that whatever they did was bad. Yeah. Again. When he talks about this, Israel's always like we're trying to stop self injurious behavior. And I think people think about that like kind of some of the stuff I saw if that was, if that's literally how it was being used. It was like, look, we're just trying to stop them from potentially killing themselves. I guess I would say, well, I don't know. But he's also defining self injurious behaviors like pooping on the ground, which I don't, is not going to kill. No, it's it's not good. Like you should not poop on the ground. But yeah, it's not a danger to the child's life. And again, I'm not saying it would be justified to pinch bloody sores in them if they were slamming their head into something, but that's how he tries to frame it. Is that like, yeah, I know this is horrible, but we're trying to stop them from permanently injuring or killing themselves, and it's just such a serious situation. The reality is that they're doing this for any kind of behavior they consider unpleasant. And by trying to fix this problem, they're making dozens more. Yes, yes, a significant issues now the entire time BR I grew and expanded across the East Coast and over to the West Coast. There were constant investigations and allegations of misconduct from the beginning. What is happening in these schools is marked out as ****** ** and problematic. That 1973 report by the Human Rights Committee ended with deep concern over the impact of such aggressive behavior modification techniques could have on an individual quote. This is especially true when the individuals are severely handicapped. Children who may not comprehend the reasons for being subjected to such intense systematic procedures without specific criteria for determining deviant behaviors, an individual with behaviors of questionable. CBNC might be subjected to a therapy program of excessive intensity merely because his parents or teacher had a low tolerance for the particular behavior exhibited. So they're saying what I'm saying, which is that like, well, you say this is only for the most severe cases, but the severity of a bad behavior is determined by the person doing violence to the child, and sometimes just because they don't like a kid making noise. Again, I'm not saying that any of this would be justified if it was only being used on kids with severe behaviors, but it's being used on for anything that the that the the staff find unpleasant. The fight is an excuse. Yeah, exactly. The head of value evaluator on that report was a guy named Nazareth, and he later told an interviewer that the students he saw at Israel school had been turned into robots. Quote, he controls everything. He's an egomaniac. It's either his way or no way. I'm absolutely amazed he's still in business. Now, the article in which Nazareth Gaze Nazareth Gate. This quote was published in 1985, and Nazareth was amazed because between 1973, when the reports of abuse at his facility started in 1985, a ton of people in multiple states had tried to shut Matt Israel the hell down, and they all failed. From the Boston Phoenix quote in April 1976, Israel expanded his program by founding a parallel reward and punishment school home for six children in Van Nuys, CA. The National society. For autistic children in SAC, now known as the National Society for Children and Adults with autism, the country's leading advocacy group for those with autism, took a long, hard look at Israel's expansion. On December 27th, 1976, Israel was officially bounced from NSA C funding following allegations that he was practicing as a clinical psychologist, directing both day and residential programs in the state of California without obtaining a professional license. Israel denies the charge, denies the charge, charge that pain infliction and other physically coercive techniques are now. Employed when it is not necessary to do so. Israel was chided for his apparent lack of respect for rules and regulations. There is unsatisfactory evidence that you are reputable and responsible in relation to the operation of a licensed facility and or that you have the ability to comply with applicable regulations, the department wrote. First, you have shown a disregard for the law by operating your program without first obtaining a license from this department to do so. Also, you are apparently engaged unlawfully in the practice of psychology without securing a California license. So. His work in California get shut the hell down because he's abusing kids and he doesn't even have a license to be drafted in the first. That's wild. They was able to open that up in the 1st place. Umm, yeah, kind of seems like someone should have caught that before. Yeah, yeah. Israel was ordered to cease and desist operation or face legal action that would close down his school the day after the scheduled shutdown. According to published reports, the students parents proclaimed that they had taken over the facility and were running it as a Co-op. The school which had started as a branch of the BRN. Providence severed ties with the parent institute and formed its own corporation, BRF California. Matt Israel went from the guy in charge to just a consultant. The new school applied for a license, and the move was helped by California Governor Pat Brown, whose law firm represented BRF California. The institute got its group home license, and it received the only permit ever granted by California to use Aversives physical aversives. So he's told you can't be teaching here because you're abusing kids and you have no license, and so immediately. The school says, oh, now we're a parent Co-op and Matt has nothing to do with this school, but also we're going to use our connection to the Governor of California to get a license to use all of the techniques that he got in trouble for using. But hey, he's not around anymore. No, no, don't worry about it. Don't worry about Wheelers. He's still there. Yeah, they just are claiming that now he has nothing to do with it. So, and this is versions of this are going to happen again in the future. It would come to it would become something of a pattern for Israel. In 1978, the state or the City of New York balked at Matt Israel's request to increase per pupil tuition from $31,600 to $38,000. The state investigated and, according to the New York Times, found Bri was in violation of New York State law. They ordered Israel to stop using physical aversives on New York State students in his Providence facility instead. Israel threatened to kick them out. This prompted a group of New York City parents to sue the state and federal court and keep their kids at BRIC. Fun. Yeah, the parents won. We'll talk more about the parents throughout this episode, but it's important to note right here that from day one, he has enjoyed tremendous support from a lot of parents who have kids in his facilities. Others have sued him. Obviously it's not universal, but a lot of them will sing this guy's praises to the heavens. This is partly because BRD's number one rule is that they will turn no child down, no matter how severe or violent. Their behavior. So again, if there's a kid that you know you can't deal with as a parent, I can't. I'm not capable of handling my child's behavior. If you were a teacher and you know, like we are, school can't handle this kid's behavior. You know? Bri will take them, and that's. A big part of the support that he gets is because a lot of these parents and these these schools are just overwhelmed with dealing with these kids, and Bri is a lifeline. So they they're afraid that if this school shuts down, they're gonna have to take care of these kids again. Or to be fair, some of them are concerned. Well, if this school shuts down, the only place for my kid is a mental institution where they're gonna be doped up 24 hours a day, you know? Yes. So that's that's understandable in a sense. I guess. Like sometimes you just aren't capable of handling it. But. Yeah, it's yeah. Yeah, it's again. Israel is pretty clearly the bad guy here. And I think, oh, absolutely making questionable calls, but they're not, they're not villains. They're not doing this to be cruel. Not sure, some of them are ****** parents, but a lot of them are just like, I have no idea how to handle this kid and there's not resources for me, you know, it's it's the Wild West in a lot of this. In terms of like any kind of of treatment for particularly kids with much more severe behaviors. Ohh yeah, and I get the desperation. Even though I think it leads them in the wrong direction, it's not unreasonable that they're desperate. Hmm. But you know who's not desperate? The products and services that sponsored this podcast. That's right, they are. They are content in the knowledge that that that you'll love them. We'll spend the money. Definitely 100%. Mint Mobile offers premium wireless starting at just 15 bucks a month. And now for the plot twist. Nope, there isn't one. Mint Mobile just has premium wireless from 15 bucks a month. There's no trapping you into a two year contract. You're opening the bill to find all these nuts fees. 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You maybe even heard the rumors, your friends and loved ones. But are any of the stories about government conspiracies and cover ups actually true? The answer is surprisingly or unsurprisingly, yes. For more than a decade, we hear at stuff they don't want you to know have been seeking answers to these questions. Sometimes there are answers that people would rather us not explore. Now we're sharing this research. With you for the first time ever in a book format, you can pre-order stuff they don't want you to know now. It's the new book from us, the creators of the podcast and video series. You can turn back now or read the stuff they don't want you to know. Available for pre-order now, it's stuff you should read or wherever you find your favorite books. We're back. In January of 1979, the state of New York sent a follow up team to Bri for a three day unannounced evaluation visit, and the report was remarkable quote. The January team found Bri to be a professionally conceived, well documented, and rigidly implemented behavior modification program. Its effect on the students was the singular, most depressing experience that team members have had in numerous visitations to human service programs. So they're both are. This is a very professional, well documented, rigid. They're very consistent. None of this is like. Lap dash or haphazard and it's the most depressing thing we've ever seen. And but that's saying something, that's saying something. The report listed the behavioral modification programs that a number of students were under. One kids program was as follows. Biting self, 15 minutes helmet, no vision. White noise. Hand play spank but noises pinch but out of seat spank but biting others. Cool shower 5 pinches foot hands to head. Muscle squeeze. Shoulder clapping? Say no. Rocket water squirt. These are. Yeah. That's. That's a list. It is. And it's, again, as someone who did this and was, I think, bad at teaching special Ed, I can't imagine punishing most of these. But like, like, a lot of kids will do, like, you know, they call it hand play. You know, they they'll do like, they'll flap or something. They'll make motions with their hands specifically. Like, we never punish that. It's just the thing that like, well, OK, whatever. Who cares? Like, it's not hurting them or anybody else. Yeah, I know. In my experience. It was definitely one of those things where. They never I I did get the timeouts and obviously like some punishers, like being grounded and whatnot, but then there'll be things where I because I do fidget a lot and do the hand waving thing just to, like, focus. And yeah, it's weird how people who at least we're trying to work in special Ed were less reactive to it than people who weren't. Yeah, just seems like. Yeah, it's like. You got to have kind of a right mind. So dealing with that because it's not harmful. It's just no fun to focus. It may look weird, but yeah, it's not hurting them or anyone else. As opposed to, like, there are some behaviors on this that would need to be dealt with, like, if a kid is biting themselves, you know? Yeah, you wanna stop that somehow, right? But like, yeah, you gotta stop that. But I'm not convinced a white noise helmet is necessarily the right way to deal with it. That said, we had a couple of kids who who did bite themselves, and I never, we never figured out a good way to stop the behavior either. So, I don't know, like, they're there, but it it does seem like a lot of the things that they are dealing punishing with aversives are not bad for the kids. They're not really problems. Other than that the parents or the the staff don't like the behavior. You know, they're rocking, they're clapping, they're waving their hands. That's not bad for them. It's just that it annoys the staff. And so the staff punish it with punching or with pinching and with with spanking and stuff. And I I find that pretty disturbing, yeah. And I should note that the white noise helmet they're putting on these kids is described elsewhere is basically being a football helmet with an opaque screen that blocks vision while white noise fills the person's ears. Now, the squirting that they'll do the water bottles was generally water mixed with compressed air, but some students would also have ammonia sprayed near their nose every 15 minutes as an aversive, which is. Real pretty ****** **. Like, I'm not wild about the water, but that's ****** **. Yeah, ammonia is definitely worse. And while a lot of these aversives were administered as punishments in the traditional sense, that was not always the case. And to explain what I mean by that, I'm gonna quote again from the Boston Phoenix. One of the most bizarre measures they saw was an Israel technique dubbed behavioral reversal lessons. Israel believes that for his treatment to work, particular behavior must occur often enough for the people to get consecrated. That is rewarded or punished. When targeted, inappropriate behavior comes at a low frequency, Israel believes it makes it more difficult for the student to grasp the connection. Between the behavior and the consequence at Bri, Israel has solved his problem by having the staff encourage the beginning stages of bad behaviour. Kathy, one of the New York residents, was stealing food and drink to get her to stop. The BRB staff first urged her to steal so they could punish her. The New York team found these instructions taped to her classroom table. Kathy is to receive one stealing opportunity per hour. She should be prompted to steal the juice squirter, and a spank is to be administered if Kathy does actually steal the juice. Is to receive the helmet and white noise for 15 minutes. So what the **** is the point then? That's pretty bad, right? Yeah, I'm not like, that's real abusive? Yeah, like forcing kids to engage in bad behavior. Or pushing them at least to engage in bad behavior so you can punish them often enough to stop them behavior. This seems kind of unhinged. Yeah, in the state of New York, agreed. They called consecrating entrapment, which feels fair to me. Absolutely, yeah. The evaluation team summarized their feelings thusly, rather than being a program of neglect which harms children. And not assisting them in growth. The BRIC program utilizes a current professional ideology to deny children the opportunity to grow. To deny them any choices. To deny them normal experiences in leisure time pursuits, to deny them any opportunities for fun, to deny them the opportunity to demonstrate anything other than a few pre selected responses. So you're not letting these kids evolve naturally as human beings, you're even forcing them to do bad behavior so you can punishment if you see like occasional bad behavior. You're forcing it to become constant so you can punish it. You are. You're denying them the right to grow the way a person grows. Yeah. And so it could be like, hey, I don't like this kid. I can just make them do this or plant something on them, and then I can punish them, and then I can punish them. Yeah. You get the feeling that did happen. Yeah. Christ. You know, it's a again, unfortunately, you know, yeah. It's messed up. So the state restricted BR's use of physical punishments on New York students. That's the result of this investigation. But they and they made an agreement with Bri that physical aversives would only be used in situations where a child posed serious physical danger to himself or others and only after less violent aversives had already failed. While all this was going on, while this whole set of investigations and is going on, a Los Angeles based placement agency which like places kids and facilities voted to halt funding to Bri after a review of their operation found serious injury had been caused by the programs aversive therapies. Parents again fought to block the move saying their children. To be sent to state hospitals, where they'd be drugged, put in solitary confinement, and, worst of all, given electric shocks. Keep that in mind. The parents won again. California Governor Pat Brown was said to have been a major reason for this surprise. The whole brouhaha was sparked in large part by the Corwin allegations, which I quoted from above. That's the kid whose feet were pinched until he had bleeding blisters. In 1979, Matt Israel published a rebuttal to those allegations, wherein he claimed that he didn't see any broken skin on the child he'd pinched, just a tiny blood blister. They cleaned up after a few days quote. Meantime, Christopher Hirsch is alive, well, happy, healthy, behaving better than ever, and with not a single serious or semi serious injury from any treatment procedure administered by me or the staff of TBRI, California. Shortly after that rebuttal was published, Christopher's father took his son to a doctor to have him evaluated. The boy was so panicked that it took 3 adults to hold him down while they tried to examine his feet, one observer at the time recalled. There was no part of the skinny boys body that didn't have a bruise. Then they took off his shoes. It was horrible. Christopher's father claims the in steps of his son's feet were filled with holes the rough size and circumference of a cigarette burn. Bri had been granted special state permission to do pinching procedures, but the state argued that the specific kinds of pinching that had been done to this kid was not allowed. And they actually had like, legal definitions of the type of pinching you were allowed to do. Which is weird to me, but it is weird. And even within the kind of ****** ** standards of what you could do to a kid at the time, Bri is crossing lines. There were other victims in Massachusetts. In 1978, Michael Cutler was admitted to the ER after being abused at the Providence facility to stop him from running away. The staff had handcuffed him to a chair. He was hospitalized with blood poisoning in his arm. His mother claims when she saw him that quote, Michael looked like Auschwitz and was covered with black and blue bruises on his thighs and lacerations on his body. The only aversives she had approved for the school to give her son was a cold shower. In 1980, the school had its first death. Robert. Super Junior, a 25 year old autistic student at Bri who was taken to Rhode Island Hospital after he started vomiting. He died at the hospital of a hemorrhagic bowel infarct, and a medical examiner's investigation found no negligence on the part of TBRI, but noted that they had not followed proper emergency procedures in taking him to the hospital. Roberts parents defended the school quote it was difficult for myself or my wife to allow Bobby to be pinched or spanked, but there were no alternatives. Every other alternative was no alternative. In a state institution, he would have become a vegetable. On June 17th, 1981, another student died, Donnie Aswad. He was restrained in bed by a contraption that kept him flat on his stomach. He died somewhere between 9:00 and 10:00 AM while restrained. The coroner ruled his death was also was caused by mental retardation and cerebral malformation, which is pretty ****** **. Yeah, that's funny thing, the first one. It meant that first death may have had nothing to do with the school, right? The kid had bowel disorders. They were just irresponsible and not getting him to a hospital or somewhere proper. Yeah, yeah, but but that they may not have caused it. I think the coroner's wrong on this one because we know that restraining people in this way, this way, a lot of cops have killed people this way. Right. And the fact that he's like, Oh no, it was he's. He died of mental retardation, not being restrained on his belly for a long period of time? Yeah. Seems pretty messed up to me. The state of California decided there was enough doubt as a result of this case to put the school on a 2 year probation. So even though the coroner says this isn't their fault, California evaluators are like kind of seems like this is their fault. From Wired quote in 1982 the state's Department of Social Services filed a 63 page legal complaint alleging abuse at the school. The complaint claimed, among other things, that Bri withheld meals, showed staff how to hide students injuries from regulatory agencies, and strangely encouraged students to act out for a film crew. The footage to be used later to to demonstrate how the children had behaved before Bri. Later that year, the state reached a settlement with Bri in California. The school couldn't use anything more punishing than a water spray. The state also forbade Israel, who says he'd turned over control of the campus before aswan's deaths, from stepping foot on the Northridge property. So, again, he would. He'd already been kicked out of the school, but the California? I don't think they had evidence, hard evidence, that he'd been working there, but they suspected it enough to legally forbid him from entering the property. In 1985, Vincent Militech died at as, like, Vincent was a ABRI student. He'd been acting out at the residential home in Seekonk and was restrained in a chair. His hands and feet were put in plastic cuffs, his face was masked and helmeted with a white noise machine, and he suffocated to death. Ah, Jesus. Yeah, that's pretty bad. But of course, BR was found again not to have caused the death. And I you get the feeling that a lot of coroners are just saying, like, well, if if a kid who's got some sort of mental disability. Dies in any way. It's the result of that disability. Yeah. Like they well, it's it's it's depressingly seems like, uh, what happened eventually, type of deals, what they're going at. Yeah. And a District Court judge, though, did find that the school had been negligent in approving the therapy for him and they hadn't been. Basically, it isn't their fault that he he suffocated while they had put him in all this stuff, but it wasn't they. They should have monitored him more to make sure he didn't suffocate, which again, seems like it was their fault. But whatever, I'm not a ******* judge. Yeah, they do that. And I guess we should give the judge credit because the coroner was willing to let them off entirely, and the judge does call them negligent. So I don't know. I guess that's your best ******* case scenario and you're only gonna get a half one at this point. Yeah, yeah, exactly. Later that year, the Massachusetts Office of Children carried out an inspection of Bri that ended with an order to close the school. The school appealed, encounter sued, and a judge suggested that they compromise by ending the use of aversives matter. Israel. Matt Israel complained that if Aversives. Ended or Matt Israel complained because and and said basically that like, OK, we ended all of our aversive training and my students all regressed and started carrying out the behavior again. He took this as proof that his aversive therapy worked right as soon as we stopped it, they all regressed and got worse. New York State investigators, though, said this is actually evidence that aversives don't work. The kids were not being treated in any way. They were being controlled by the threat of punishment and quote when that threat is removed, they revert to their original behaviors. Yeah. So yeah, they're basically being able to be ******** with the mental torture they have been dealing with. Yeah. Yeah. And it's it's he's not treating them in any way. He's not, he's not ending the behavior. He's just. He's they're they're stopping the behavior temporarily because they're being tortured. Hmm. And it's a it's that's. That's the core of what's happening here, because to a lot of people it it does work in the short term. And that you've got a kid who keeps hitting himself, right? You you punish him with like some form of like, you're pinching him, or you're you're spanking him, or you're putting him in this helmet, you're spraying with ammonia. Whenever he hits himself. He'll stop hitting himself as long as you're applying those punishments, whenever he starts the behavior. But that's. That's not helping him. That that's it's really all that's helping is like the adults around him who are unsettled by the behavior, but you're not providing him with anything better. I think you can make an argument that if this kid is like, I don't know, trying to like kill himself or whatever, and you apply an aversive therapy that stops the behavior. Maybe that's the only option you have in that short term. But again, it's still not a long term solution. And most of these, the vast majority of these kids, it's not that severe. Again, if you've got a kid who's trying to put their head through a glass window. And you would apply an aversive in the moment to stop that behavior somehow. I guess you could make an argument for it. I'm not saying that's the right thing to do. No, but it's not. It's still not going to solve the problem. You would need to. They they they need long term therapeutic help. And that's not what is happening at BRBR is just saying as long as we keep torturing these kids, they won't engage in the behavior you brought them here for. But also they can never leave or stop being tortured, which is a nightmare. Yeah. And it it's it's interesting to me because he's, he's he's rejecting the use of like doping kids up in order to deal with this behavior and yeah. It feels like it's just like doping in a different way. It's really, yeah. It's like, yeah, sure, we're not dragging them, but we are basically taking pneumonia on spraying them in the face. So and it's like, you know, drugging them doesn't work because you're just covering up the problem with drugs. It's like, well, you're just covering up the problem with ******* torture. Yeah. I think a lot of kids would rather, if you have the, if your choices be doped up or be tortured. I'm gonna guess a lot of kids would choose dope if they. Yeah. Yeah. Doping probably the choice. Not that I not. Again. One of the issues you have in discussing this is that, like, for kids this severe, there's not a lot of good options at this point. That's not the case today, and the school is still around today. Today there are a lot better options, but in the ******* 70s and 80s, it is the Wild West for this. Yeah. And so you do have to have some understanding for parents who are like, well, what are my ******* options, you know? And yeah, they don't have a lot of them. Not to mitigate Israel's behavior here, but there's a lot of desperation. On behalf of of of the Parents and of the schools that are sending kids to BRIC? Yeah, maybe. And I they're also not in fully aware of everything that's happening at BRIC, too. Mm-hmm. Yep. So as the court battles raged on, Israel eventually hit upon the idea of bringing one of his most self abusive students before Judge Ernest Rotenberg for a hearing at the Bristol County Probate Court in 1986. Rodenberg found Israel's presentation so convincing that the judge ruled that the patient would have chosen to go to Bri if they'd been mentally capable of doing so. The Office for Children and BR I settled in 1987. The states paid the school half, $1,000,000, and Judge Rotenberg ruled that Bri would be allowed to continue. Using a verses as long as each student's treatment plan was approved by a probate court, Matt Israel was so happy with this verdict that a few years later, in 1994, he renamed his Behavior Research Institute in honour of the judge who had allowed his work to continue. From then on, BR I was known as the Judge Rotenberg Center. Yeah, here we go. Yeah. Oh boy. Yeah. Bad ****. How you feeling, Abe? Ah well. I didn't think. I mean, it's a lot, but I kind of figured there's going to be some ****. Yeah, yeah. I mean, yeah, yeah. That's one of the things. Unfortunately, especially with the whole Wild West thing, it's definitely gotten a lot better in terms of getting treatment. In terms of what? Not finding groups and finding people that can help you out. In terms of this. I'm just, oh, let's see where this is. Gonna go **** yeah, no, we're good. But you know what is going to go somewhere good? The products and services that sponsor this show. Well no it's not products and services time. What's good is your your plugs. Ohh yes, plugs. Yeah. You can with your. I'm just interrupting you in the. No, no, no, it's OK. I'm just trying to pull it up. Don't have too much. My biggest presence is on Twitter at Notch. The BNOTCHTHEB and I just punched post. A lot of political stuff, but just stupid stuff. It's a fun time coming. Yeah, well. That's the episode you can find us. I mean, where? Where you found us? Let's be honest. You found us. You know where we are. You're listening to this right now. Like, don't don't **** around with me. Like, you know where we are. You know where we are again. Yeah. Yeah. Figure out our other shows. Do it. You all hard? It's not gonna be hard. Alright, episode over. Hello, I'm Erica Kelly from the podcast Southern Fried True crime, and if you want to go from podcast fan to podcast host, do what I did and check out spreaker from iheart. I was working in accounting and hating it. Then after just 18 months of podcasting with Spreaker, I was able to quit my day job. Follow your podcasting dreams. Let's break your handle the hosting, creation, distribution, and monetization of your podcast. Go to That's SP. RE wanna say I don't know less? Listen to stuff you should know more. Join host Josh and Chuck on the podcast packed with fascinating discussions about science, history, pop culture, and more episodes. Dive into topics like was the lost city of Atlantis Real? And how does Pezza work? 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