This testimony was written on the Fornits Home for Wayward Web Fora december 2012. All rights belong to the original author known as Popo
Hi I attended positive impact aka P.I.
I left a year or so before it closed and the best way i could describe the program is surreal. When i left it was almost like i had never been there, like time had just skipped over about a year.
Thankfully I was sent to another program "high frontier" before i turned 18 which i still resented of course but at least it wasn't abusive and they seemed to have good intentions. Positive impacts on the other hand was a HELLHOLE and anyone who tells you different is a TOOL. At times it seemed like that place was actually intended to cause psychological damage. Which kind of fits with their slogan "balance through imbalance" or something like that i don't recall exactly.
Someone mentioned Scientology earlier in the discussion and from what I've read about it the tactics used by both organizations they have a lot in common. there was a lot of emphasis on confessing and wallowing in your "shame" as they called it but this was delved into most deeply in the 4 different workshops which i never attended and oddly enough never even learned much about, despite my being there for nearly a year. No one ever wanted too discuss them and i never really pressed the issue. I did glean secondhand that food/sleep deprivation and confrontational tactics were used but i believe that you could quit if you wanted too. Although it would set you back at least 2 or three months in your schedule.
In an earlier post the user named Brandon mentioned living your truth. Finding your truth was a big thing but i wont go into it because I never did the workshop but your truth is basically a slogan like "I am lovable or I am powerful" there were 5 or six variations of "I am something good." By the way, I remember Brandon I lived with him in oceanography house when i first came to PI and I recall that he was just about the biggest dork i ever met. Not a bad kid, just a weak person. If i remember correctly he once went through the twelve steps for "Loser-ism"... I kid you not. People like Brandon seemed to do well in the program and honestly, I hope hes still doing well.
The whole point of the program was kind of like boot camp or a cult in that they tried their best to break you down psychologically mostly through "positive peer pressure" which is not a bad concept, but was completely perverted by the program. Anyways they try to break you down psychologically and then build you back up into a more acceptable person. This may have been a positive experience for some people as it seems to have been for Brandon. The problem is that some people don't break down so easily so they just keep leaning on you a little more and a little more until you bend or break.
My personal experience was that they leaned on me pretty damn hard until they started doing things that were supposedly against their principles. Such as making me sleep outside (More uncomfortable than dangerous), not letting you speak to anyone, I recall once i was put on rations of water and a few tortillas a meal for about a week(once again it was uncomfortable but i was in no danger of starving to death or even becoming severely nutrient deficient). By far the most common form of punitive pressure was being sent to the "solutions room" which residents universally referred to as the "box". This was either a closet or, in the house i resided in most often, a concrete square maybe 5' by 5' with 4 concrete walls no ceiling and a entrance that did not have a door. In their literature (which they insist you read) the solutions room is supposed to be room where you are placed if you are being violent, aggressive, or just want some time alone. In reality it amounted to indefinite solitary confinement at the staff or the therapists whim.
I was never once violent or anywise aggressive, i consistently complied with every request/order. I followed the rules as well as anyone else yet I still managed to spend at least a third, probably more like half, of my ten or so months sitting in the concrete box often for a week or more at a time (I think my personal record was about twenty days in a stretch). The reason for this being that i declined to participate in the step structure or discuss things of a personal nature. In my time there i basically did the same things that everyone else did i just kind of refused the "treatment" because i didn't appreciate the psychological manipulation.
Thankfully I arrived there with 14 months till my 18th birthday so I knew it was just a matter of waiting it out and since no-one graduates before a year anyways they really had no leverage over me. Actually they got frustrated and John Anderson personally discharged me 4 months early which as far as i know is the only time that had ever happened. My parents lined up another, more civilized, school (The High Frontier) for the remaining four months.
Altogether I think my Experience there was extremely unhealthy for me psychologically. I definitely left more damaged than when I came in. I don't think that the therapists had bad intentions and some of the local staff were great people; but there was no accountability, almost no contact with the outside world, and the whole program was based upon a loose amalgamation of pseudo-psychology and second rate philosophy. From what I've heard, this was not the worst program out there. Nevertheless they did things that were psychologically damaging, not to mention morally wrong.
The facility closed around 2005.