Re: The Wright Institute for Lifelong Learning?
Date: June 12, 2010 05:46AM
I’m really happy to see a surge of people starting to speak out against the Wright Institute. The presence on Yelp is wonderful to see as well, and it’d be great if we could somehow get links to this website up to the top of Google searches for “Wright Institute”. People have allowed themselves to be hoodwinked by the Wrights, and the authorities can’t help, because people have the right to make their own decisions – that’s why the only way we can combat them is with a flood of information.
So here’s my story. I’ll be scant on specific details, so as not to out myself. It’s funny to admit, but even after years of not working there, I still have a slight fear of interacting with anyone associated with the institute. I’m sure Bob gets off on that.
The Wright Institute was my first “real” job out of college. The job market was rough, and I was near the end of my savings. Getting a job at the Wright Institute seemed like a dream come true – a place focused on personal growth that organized retreats seemed like a comfortable place to find my footing outside of academia. Sadly, I was wrong.
It started innocently enough. The tasks I was handed started out as simple, as I would expect for an entry-level position, but within a couple weeks I was working 16-hour days. I rarely had time to eat, despite their insistence that I take two 15-minute breathing breaks and an hour lunch each day.
I couldn’t find time for a normal life because I’d be betraying the family. The team at the institute sells each other on this idea that they’re a family, with Bob and Judith as their loving mom and dad. I’ve seen wedding pictures on people’s desks with Bob benevolently delivering a speech to the bride and groom, as if his words of wisdom really amount to anything.
See, Bob sees himself as some kind of ubermensch (despite his lisp), and gets off on being the smartest guy in the room, and goddamn if he wouldn’t be a millionaire if he wasn’t more interested in helping all these worthless people. And Judith, the earth mother, is his perfect match – she’s the caring and nurturing one who convinces you that dad is right after he’s torn you to pieces. They’re both complicit, along with the rest of the staff, in tearing down everyone’s sense of self-worth, all in the name of building you up again.
Early on, I realized I would have to work most weekends. One of the first weekends I was there we had to reorganize the file system. I came upon a legal document regarding a man who had tried to sue the Wright’s because of things that had been done to him at the Men’s Basic. According to the Wright’s, this man was welcome to leave the retreat center, but he continued to stay on the property and scream at the retreaters and staff. They settled out of court. At the time, this seemed odd. But this was before I went on the Men’s Basic.
At one point, I was strapped down to the ground while a snake and gerbil were dragged across my naked skin, and I was shamed into swimming naked in a pond in the middle of nowhere. Both of these happened while blindfolded. I was later encouraged to scream at the other retreaters until I was hoarse, and made to hyperventilate until I cried. Bob tore into me and told me I was a f*ckin piece of sh*t who always played the victim. And I believed him. It took a year or so after to realize that I WAS a victim. I was traumatized, as are most men that go through this experience. By the end of the weekend, everyone has a form of Stockholm syndrome wearing the veil of male camaraderie.
I lost 15 lbs in the 3 months I worked there. It felt like a year. I was rewarded with compliments after being made to feel like scum. I was told that my family didn’t really love me, and they wouldn’t really love me until I stood up to them and told them I didn’t need them. They broke my connection to my friends because of the long hours I was expected to work. I was an island, with no one to turn to except the Institute. This is how they get a majority of their students – a gradual breakdown of identity with anything outside of the Wrights.
Oh, and I should say, I witnessed meetings where the entire team proclaimed in ecstasy their number one new project: Project Money! Those of you out there that think they have altruistic intentions – stop fooling yourself. They sell themselves and the staff on this idea of “helping people”. But no one is helped here, maybe not even Bob and Judith. It’s all one sick, delusional mindf*ck that seeks to suck everyone dry of money and line the coffers of the Institute.
If it weren’t for the strength of my family, I wouldn’t have found myself again, and gotten myself out. Keep fighting against these people, everyone. Trust me. It’s for the best.