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The Wright Institute for Lifelong Learning?
Posted by: MercurialMere ()
Date: April 08, 2006 01:08AM

One of my friends recently removed herself from a rather destructive job experience. The company was based on the principles of the Wright Institute for Lifelong Learning, founded by Bob and Judith Wright. Like most LGATs, there was an awful lot of ambiguous language about possibility and growth. In my friend's particular case (and, yes, this was actually a friend of mine, and not some thinly veiled self-reference!), the company supported the practice of verbally eviscerating someone, breaking them down until they could build them back up into whatever they wanted/needed. They felt that employees could only grow in an environment of unadulterated honesty, even if it meant calling someone an incompetent moron to his face.

Has anyone here heard of the Wright Institute? I have been trying to find good material about this group, which we both believe to be a cult, but could only find a short thread on the Factnet forums. When she told me about the whole experience, it resembled Landmark (an organization with whom I had a close encounter, but, thankfully, smelled it for the rat it was and found this board) so closely that I felt compelled to get some more information for her.

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The Wright Institute for Lifelong Learning?
Posted by: SeventhVeil ()
Date: June 27, 2007 12:36PM

Re: Wright Institute.

I found the same Factnet thread you probably saw, a few other things, and then mainstream media "fluff" coverage of Judith Wright and her "soft additictions" materials.

I am almost positive I know the company you are speaking of (maybe their are multiple... not sure).

If you still ever check this I'd love to trade some insights... really concerned about someone very close to me, sorta new to this world and really dont know where to turn!

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The Wright Institute for Lifelong Learning?
Posted by: timetogo ()
Date: July 03, 2007 12:03PM

There isn't a lot out there in the Institute, being as small as it is. There are some very disturbing things out there though. I saw something on Craigs List posted about them. Its more then weird. As someone who used to be semi-involved, I'm happy to be out. They are distructive and hurtful. Whats worse is that they have so many people hooked all ready. The basic premisis is that everyone is broken, and after 7-10 years, tens of thousands of dollars, you will be almost fixed. Then its just bi-weekly sessions with Bob or Judith to help (at $500 an hour). Its crazy.

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The Wright Institute for Lifelong Learning?
Posted by: SeventhVeil ()
Date: July 04, 2007 06:56AM

Thanks for the tip - I searched Chicago Craigslist and didnt find anything - but I know they cycle through postings relatively quickly. Curious on any insight of what was said.

Someone should write a book on this!

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The Wright Institute for Lifelong Learning?
Posted by: timetogo ()
Date: July 06, 2007 12:49AM

Hey. As someone who was at one time involved I know alot about the Institute and the Wrights. Anything you want to know just ask. It is a scary place. Anyone who denies that it is a cult is crazy. For those who do become involved, it is very expensive and very difficult to get out of and recover from.

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The Wright Institute for Lifelong Learning?
Posted by: Skipper ()
Date: July 06, 2007 04:44AM

I have also seen the thread on Factnet but was unable to see the one on Craigslist.

On the recommendation of (now former) friends, I went on one of the weekend training programs offered by the Wright Institute (run by Bob and Judith Wright) called Men’s Basic. As I am into personal development and growth, these people assured me that the experience would transform my life.

What follows is a letter that I sent to my former friends:

December 2005

Dear (Names)

This letter is a necessary part of my healing. I need to have closure to my miserable experience on the Men’s Basic weekend. Having spent six months in therapy and many hours reflecting on my experience, I have concluded that it was truly a life changing experience – not for the better. I am writing this to you because I want to clear up my feelings about the experience and find peace in my own mind. I also want you to know and understand my feelings about the weekend and the Wright Institute.

I have spoken with my pastor, my physician, my attorney, three Licensed Clinical Social Workers, my psychologist and a friend from church who is a psychologist and specializes in the treatment of sexual abusers and predators. None of these people, all licensed professionals, can conceive of any reason to do what was done to me under the guise of personal growth. They have all expressed shock and disgust at what I told them of my experience. I have told them the truth and have held nothing back. There is no justification for what was done to me or any of the other men on the weekend.

(Name), I am saddened by your desire to “honor what the men do” with respect to the men’s weekend. I don’t know how you can recommend this to someone when you don’t know what goes on. You told me it would be “intense”. Hardly the description I would use. I feel like I was sucker punched.

I need to take you through what happened to me and I need you to listen. I was put into the most horrifying and humiliating situation I have ever experienced by people I trusted. People who were recommended to me by you. What I thought would be a positive growth experience was nothing but perverted insult to my person. I went to The Men’s Basic with the intention of gaining new personal insights to lead a more inspired and fulfilling life. Instead, I was blind folded, told to take off my all of my clothes, lie on a mat in the woods and trust that this is some how good for me. I trusted and what ensued was the most terrifying and humiliating experience of my adult life.

I was staked tightly to the ground, naked, blindfolded, spread eagle in the woods. I fought back, managed to free my left hand and get a hold of (Name)’s shirt collar. I held on and twisted it as tightly as I could. I was asked by him to “remember why I was there and that this experience was important to my personal growth by learning to face fear” or something to that effect. I believe I was coerced to follow through. Another name for this is “intentional infliction of emotional distress” according to my attorney. This is a technique often used by abusers.

I was asked if I would like to continue, and told that it was my choice. Thinking that this is as bad as it could possibly get, I elected to continue. This was definitely the wrong choice – what followed was a nothing short of molestation. Something heavy and furry (?) was dragged over my legs, abdomen, genitals and chest in a slithering motion. I was so terrified that I could not find my voice but I twisted and pulled at my restraints until the sensation stopped. No one spoke to me or asked if I wanted to proceed. Next I felt the sensation of claws scratching my legs, chest and abdomen. This was painful and terrifying. At this point I had no sense of trust left and actually feared for my physical safety – I had no idea what else these people had in mind for me. I continued to thrash about until they stopped. I was released from my restraints and told to get dressed again. I was told that I always had the ability to say no. However, I was so terrified and out of my mind at the time that I lost my ability to say no. I have been told that this is similar to what a rape victim goes through.

(Name), I need to know from you exactly what it was that I felt on my body. You told me before that the scratching was from a “bug”. What kind of bug was it? What about the other thing. What was that?

I don’t understand how anyone can conceive of a defense for this. I don’t care about the context of this experience as it relates to the rest of the weekend. This was a perverted, sick act of physical and mental abuse. These men need to be held accountable. Decent people don’t do this to other people. Grown men should know better.

Dazed and confused, I dressed and continued on to the next “experience”. This one involved wearing a harness, climbing a tree and riding down on a zip line. I didn’t feel like I was there, but observing what was going on. I was somehow disconnected from myself. This feeling of disconnectedness was due to shock and trauma according to my therapist. As I stood on the platform at the top of a tall tree, I could hear the screams of other men who were no doubt experiencing what I had gone through earlier.

Moving on to the next experience, I was told to sit in a chair and take off all of my clothes again! I said “No”. Someone said that I could say “no” up to three times and I would not be asked to complete the experience. I said NO, NO, NO!!! and was excused. As I got out of the chair (still blindfolded) my head was spinning. I was handed a rope and told follow it until I came to the end. While doing this and trying to make some sense out of what was happening to me, I tripped, fell backward and landed on something hard that left a softball size bruise on my left hip. I became so enraged at this point that I tore of my blindfold. The first thing I realized was that there was no one near me. I was stunned. There was no one near me to make sure that I was safe! I was told that I would be safe at all times, but there was no one close by. That destroyed any sense of trust I had left.

I began walking and trembling with a rage that I had never known. I heard a voice behind me say “STOP!”, but I kept walking until I reached the end of the rope. There I turned to face (Name) who had asked me to stop earlier. He did not ask if I was hurt, or if he could help me. All he said was stop!! I don’t understand how the Wright Institute can portray itself as a loving and caring organization when I was treated like this. I felt no love or care for my well being. (Name) then proceeded to tell me that he had developed these experiences to elicit a fear response.

I felt like a lab rat!! Oh, how I wish I had taken him down right then and there and kicked his a**!! It would have given me a sense of closure to this whole mess. I have heard stories of people who found incredible strength in an adverse situation, (like the woman who is able to lift a car off her injured child). I felt that same strength surging through me at that moment. I know, with out a doubt, I could have beaten him to a bloody pulp right there and felt no remorse. My sense of integrity and my agreement to honor the rules of no physical violence as laid out by the Wright Institute stopped me. I also have enough sense to know that this would have been a stupid thing to do considering I was sorely out numbered by Men’s Guild members. I can say without reservation that an encounter with (Name), Bob or (Name) today would bring me back to that state again and depending on the situation, I might not show the same restraint. This is not how I normally deal with people I don’t trust. This is what is so disturbing to me eight months later. That I feel like I could physically destroy these people is a very uncomfortable feeling for me. I have discussed this with my therapist at length and I work daily to keep these feelings in check. There is no machismo here, just hate. I expected to come away from the weekend full of energy and inspiration. What I came away with is pure hate. Not exactly the outcome I had in mind.

Two other members of The Men’s Guild showed up and circled around me. One of them asked me what my problem was and said we should talk it through. I don’t remember what was said, only that I was very confused and as angry as I can ever remember. We stared at each other for a while before I broke down and began sobbing uncontrollably. I don’t recall exactly what transpired during those moments, but I do remember being held up and told that I had done wonderfully and that I had taken my first big step toward healing. Healing? I didn’t, and still don’t feel healed in any way.

At this point, my survival instincts kicked in. I went through the motions, saying what I thought they wanted to hear, flying under the radar and waiting for the weekend to be over so I could get the hell out of there.

I am disgusted that (Name) reminded us not to say anything specific about the experiences because they could be misconstrued by outsiders. This is the same as the pedophile or abuser who tells a child “now this is our special secret, so don’t tell anyone.”

To me, Bob Wright is a pathetic, disturbed, insecure little man. He is a con artist and manipulator who attempts to control and dominate the lives of others. His “I f**k the world” tirade directed at (Name) (another man on the weekend) was just about the most ridiculous and offensive thing I have ever heard. Bob’s sales pitch at the end of the weekend was absolutely over the top! When he stormed to the front of the room and ranted “You need me to continue to grow, you can’t do this on your own!”, the only word that came to mind was “cult.” He didn’t look like a caring, loving or rational man. I was shocked as I watched him carry on with his eyes bulging out, his red face and body language that seemed to say, “I dare you not to sign up!” This was not a man who was simply enthusiastic or passionate…this was a man who looked angry and deranged. It seems to me that Bob is attempting to create a following of people who depend on him for their emotional well being by using intimidation and coercion. At this point, I was able to see through Bob’s veneer and know that he is a fraud. The members of the Men’s Guild seemed to fear and revere him at the same time. I find this very disturbing. If this is an example of the New Model of Manhood, I’ll take the old model any day. Having experienced Men’s Basic and the personal aftermath, I believe that there is something fundamentally wrong with the practices of The Wright Institute.

So, where does our relationship go from here? I truly don’t know. I know that there is nothing you can do or say to that will convince me that what I went through was a good thing. I thought I could put all of it behind me. I thought I could accept that my trust was violated. I thought I could accept that some good might come from this. I thought I could accept the humiliation I felt. I thought I could accept the horror and tears I saw in Jeri’s eyes when I told her what was done to me. I thought I could accept the guilt that the woman I love beyond measure, the woman I share my life, heart and soul with feels about encouraging me to go on this weekend. Eight months later, I can’t put it all behind me. Do you understand how this has affected me?

When I pray, I am not able to pray for Bob Wright nor can I forgive him for what was done to me. I do pray that he and the others will be held accountable by a higher authority and will see the damage they have done to me and others. I pray daily that both of you will live your lives with joy, fulfillment, and courage, but mostly I pray that your lives can be free of influence of Bob, Judith and The Wright Institute.

I know that what I have said is difficult for you to hear. However, it needed to be said.
***
Well, that was over a year and a half ago. My wife and I have had several very unproductive conversations with them after I sent the letter, but all we got from them was their justification for what was done. They were especially upset that I had contacted the authorities about what had happened. According to the authorities, others have done so as well. To make a long story short, there was simply not enough evidence to gain a conviction beyond a reasonable doubt.

So there you have it. If nothing else, I hope anyone reading this will think twice about getting involved with the Wright Institute.

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The Wright Institute for Lifelong Learning?
Posted by: Skipper ()
Date: July 06, 2007 05:36AM

Would you mind sharing your experience with the Wright Institute?

I wonder if you know the people I know who are serious members of the this organization.

Thanks

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The Wright Institute for Lifelong Learning?
Posted by: SeventhVeil ()
Date: July 07, 2007 01:40AM

I checked out the Illinois Department of Professional Regulation - as per the Craigslist postings (see the Jobs section - Chicago... boy they sure seem to have high turnover OR are recruiting through job applicants) re: license status of higher-ups.

One of the principles is listed as no discipline and voluntarily gave up Professional Counselor license in 1st quarter 2001. Couldnt find other prominent individual but didnt have time to look under all possible licenses.

Couldnt find a national clearinghouse for therapist complaints (looking for the old 1990's stuff that would have led to giving up license to go into "coaching").

Also - if you look at the Illinois Board of Higher Education (or something like that) - WI seeking to become accredited to open a masters and PHd program. Speculation, but that likely opens up access to getting loan money from student loan lending institutions backed by gov't guarantees. Just a guess.

Wonder if a FOIA request to jurisdictions overseeing professional complaints and/or jurisdictions overseeing the physical locations of the WI would turn up anything interesting (the Wisconsin retreat - guessing walworth county?) and the local chicago office complex.

Anyway, as interesting as that all may be, and as intriguing as it is, I'm not out to save the world by any means - I've read enough - I wish it werent the case but convinced that this place isnt for everybody and isnt for anybody in high doses and I know what I need to do in my own life.

Still, the anecdotes are fascinating and this page, and others like it, truely helpful. Thank you all!

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The Wright Institute for Lifelong Learning?
Posted by: timetogo ()
Date: July 07, 2007 06:29AM

I became involved in WI before reading any of these sites. Its safe to say that it really changed me. For one, I put a lot of my friendships in jeopardy and lost someone close to me because of the "work" I was doing. I was involved in Year of More, and found it to be just a promotion of Judith. I also have participated on numerous week-ends, and am now owkring on repairing the damage that was done on those week-ends. I was at one point told that I was unable to be honest with myself or see the truth because I don't have massive amounts of anger towards my parents or huge resentments about my childhood. While involved, the WI staff used my health and weight as tools to break me down. My parents and friends became worried and were very upset when they read about WI on this and other sites. I am happy to say I have severed my ties and living a happy normal life. It took time though. It was not until recently that I read the info here and could respond. It was prompted by the posts I saw on Craig's List about them. I'm sure we do know many of the same people.

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The Wright Institute for Lifelong Learning?
Posted by: SeventhVeil ()
Date: July 07, 2007 09:16PM

TimetoGo, Skipper, (any others of course as well):

What is the "end game" for WI? Do you "graduate" into a (unpaid) leadership role? Is there an end game or is there always another course to take, etc. etc.?

Additionally - timetogo you made a change in your life and chose not to be further involved, ditto for Skipper (though it sounds like timetogo's involvement lasted longer in terms of time)... question... from your observations how many eventually do become disilluisioned and leave the fold? Very few? 50 %? ???

Curious thanks for your perspectives!

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