• 9/7/2011 8:27:10 PMScared Straight after 20 yearsFor the better part of the last 3.5 years we have been trying our best to speak truth into the life of our adopted son.  The short background on Michael is that he has been both abused and neglected early in his life.  People who suffer through the things that Michael has experienced develop a unique perspective on life.  This is a view that is commonly described as "twisted", "warped", "upside down", "backwards", or just plain "wrong".

    Truth and reality are concepts that seem to elude him.  One of the primary underlying causes of this is a gross lack of cause and effect thinking.  In simple logic terms it goes like this: If A - then B.  If I do (A), then (B) will happen.  The reverse is also frequenlty true although not necessarily:  If B - then A.  If (B) has occured, then (A) was the cause.  Or at least (A) is one of the possible causes.

    This kind of thinking is a little too much for someone who believes that they can do (A) and avoid the consequences (B).  Furthermore it is a problem if they believe that consequences (B) randomly occur and are unpredictable.  In practical terms, this means that Michael feels he can lie, cheat, and deceive and there will either be no consequences or he is smart enough to evade them.  Then when consequences do occur, he cannot trace them back to their origin.  He thinks the deliverer of the consequences is just being mean and unfair.

    I had enquired to several professional people about bringing Michael to the local prison so that he could get a tour of the facility and perhaps encounter some people who also stuggle with the consequences of their actions.  Apparently in our area, they don't have such an open program.  Recalling the documentary "Scared Straight" that my wife and I saw as children, we decided to borrow it from the library.  The most recent version of this feaure includes interviews of some of the people involved 20 years after the original filming in 1979.

    We had been telling Michael about the kinds of things that go on in prison but in typical RAD fashion, he didn't believe us and thought we were just trying to scare him into obeying.  I remembered that there was a great deal of foul language in the film but I didn't remember all the references to sexual abuse that happen in prison.  It was diffucult to watch.

    One thing that stuck out immediately was how the kids all seemed to think and act just like Michael.  They didn't have a care in the world and were convinced that nothing bad could happen to them and that there was nothing inherently wrong with stealing, lying, vandalizing and any other criminal behavior they were engaged in.  The all had a very disconnected view towards all the other people around them as if other people were simply opportunities to be taken advantage of.  They spoke just like Michael.

    As the film progressed, the prisoneers reflected in their own words and style - the same sentiments that we have been giving Michael.  Wake up!  Put cause and effect together!  Don't think that your so smart that you can avoid consequences!  Prison is a terrible place!  Do the right thing!  Treat others as you would like to be treated!  Get an education!

    During the movie, Michael frequently hung his head like he does when he is trying to initiate an out of body experience.  It was like he was trying very hard to disassociate from the horrible information that his eyes and ears were taking in.  At the end of the movie we asked Michael what he thought of all of this.  
    "That is worse than I thought it was going to be", he said.

    The Scared Straight prison program is over 30 years old and has over 50,000 kids go through.  It has an 80% success rate.  I don't know how many of those kids have Reactive Attachment Disorder but I hope their message sinks in for Michael.  Unfortunately Michael has demonstrated that combining words with logic and consequences has proved ineffective.  We will see.

    Scared Straight after 20 years on IMDB