The Stanton Peele Addiction Website , 12 March, 2000.
Visitors to this website respond to Stanton's publications about G. Douglas Talbott.
Threats and Indoctrination at Talbott Recovery Campus
Reactions to the ASAM/Talbott Trial
You have done a great service by publicizing the Masters vs Talbott trial outcomes. Unfortunately many who were coerced into treatment will never come forward because of the expense of litigation and fear of reprisal against their medical licenses. I cannot tell you how much I appreciated your books. They kept me from despair after my "treatment" several years ago.
I appreciate your publicizing concerns about Doug Talbott. I'm the medical director of what was until recently a Charter Behavioral Heallth Systems psychiatric hospital; as you know, Talbott's program has been one of Charter's flagships (charter is about to be liquidated in Chap. 11, you're aware...). I was just at a Charter medical directors' conference in Atlanta where Talbott was a keynote speaker and, boy, was he scary! A combination of smooth and genteel, antiquated and rabid, and too good to be true. Now I have some of the background.
I am sure you have heard about the yelling at patients, the pages of rules to follow, the punishments, the isolation from the real world family and friends, refusal to let one call a lawyer (unless TRC (Talbott Recovery Campus) listens in), the involvement of family as spies, the encouragement of other patients to spy and report on each other for such "addictive behaviors" as being on the phone too long, etc ... This pattern of treatment of an individual jumped out at me when I saw a quote from Schein (1961) who listed 10 items that would make one more susceptible to brainwashing, all of which were utilized by TRC.
TRC sold T shirts! The point of the T shirt was that everyone there was told that he would be there for a 4 day evaluation. The truth was that 96% of those sent to TRC would stay for OVER four months some stayed two years unless their insurance ran out. So the staff had these T shirts made up that said "I am just here for a four day evaluation." The other side has a caricature of the chief task master and Simon Legree there! We were supposed to wear the shirts to show how powerless and humble we were. The point of the T shirt is that we were all poweless over the staff because of the fear of losing our licenses which meant losing our business, homes, kids, etc.
More from one of the doctors who testified against Talbott about threats, isolation, lack of real assessment, AA indoctrination, and so on:
I am not sure how many docs testified because I was only there one day, but I met three on the day I was there. Witnesses were not allowed to sit in on the testimony of others. Witnesses were protected from the court reporters by being introduced as "the doctor from New York" or the "psychiatrist from Virginia." One of the doctors I met brought his wife. She had been told by Talbott that she better do something to make her husband stay there, or the next time she saw him he would be dead. As I recall he left TRC anyway and both of them testified.
The other doc I met was critical because Talbott maintained that he never threatened anyone's professional license. But he had written in this guy's inpatient chart that he would take his license! The guy left TRC after a very harassing session by counselors. None of the other patients dared to interfere to stop the abuse because of possible punishments such as extensions of stay, loss of privileges, or increased laboratory or clinical studies which cost money.
Other testimony was about the lack of medical supervision. Charts were signed off by TRC doctors the patients never met. One of the best witnesses Masters had was said to be Talbott himself whose testimony the jury readily saw through. Master's insurance ran out, if I recall correctly, and Talbott's business office was discussing getting a loan from Masters' retirement account. Masters was a good plaintiff because he was sent there, not for drinking but by the agent of the state's medical group, PRN (Physicians' Recovery Network), because Masters wrote too many narcotic prescriptions, not because of drinking. When TRC could not find a problem with his prescribing narcotics for his patients nor with taking them himself, they got him to admit to drinking each evening and said he could not leave until he completed treatment.
Instead of an evaluation, all new patients joined right in with mandatory AA meetings and, in rooms with too few chairs, the new patients got to sit on the floor while Talbott explained the "power of the group." An important point at the trial was that the indoctrination into AA and loudly confessing to being an alcoholic began on admission, before the four day evaluation was completed! In other words, it was a forgone conclusion that you were going to stay or lose your license because you started right out with treatment.
You mentioned TMRC vs TRC. That stood for Talbott Marsh Recovery Campus before Marsh dropped out. No wonder legal action has been so slow, in addition to the threats against licenses.... Marsh is a local JUDGE.
There is much more... no visitors allowed unless you sign up for the family program ... which costs $. No weekends away from TRC unless the group approves and then only 2 or 3 weekends in four months. No reading of recovery material that was not AA /12-step, no reading of medical journals etc. No making of close friends or you would be separated. Failure to participate in AA meant expulsion ... which meant loss of license.
And so on for many pages.