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Thursday, January 23, 2014

Chinese Re-Education Camps... for addicts?

I'm back in town now after a conference, and am trying to get caught up on all of my communications.  If you are waiting for a response from me and have not gotten it, please be patient.  If I don't respond, then please remind me.  The box is rather full.

This article caught my eye, since I have been working my way through a book about Chinese re-education camps and their effects on Western inmates caught in China's revolution.

I think the headline is rather overblown: 'secret' means nobody knows.  The fact that a crew filmed this means that the Chinese government definitely knows about this.  No secrets here.

The question becomes whether forcing a person into a treatment regime that is largely about forced abstinence will work.  The answer is 'no.'  Unless someone decides to stop and seeks help on his own, enforced abstinence will only lead to a temporary end to the addicted behavior.  Once released, the obsession will continue.

That's the 'disease' of addiction: the benefits of sobriety mean little to the addict compared with the self-destructive 'high' of the obsession.  The addict has to 'choose' between the two, and getting someone to choose on his own is often very difficult.  Just ask the Chinese.

They invested huge amounts of valuable resources into re-education programs.  They have propagandized, imprisoned, counseled, tortured, medicated, educated... and they still have lots of problems with people not cooperating with government policies, from One-Child to Tibet.  The human will is not only hard to tame, it is extremely resilient.

Reprogramming and forced re-education has never worked.  That's why totalitarian regimes (by definition those that require complete political obedience) try it and end up opting for mass murder.  Getting people to change their minds, even when they are the supposed beneficiaries, is very hard.  The question we must always ask ourselves is this, "Am I willing to kill or imprison another person over my political beliefs?"  The same could be asked about our religious beliefs as well, especially right now.

The studies from China confirmed that the only lasting effects of re-education were some phobias.  Those who resisted, even when broken to the point where they 'believed' in the message, quickly reverted to their previous beliefs after pressure was abated.

You see this in the treatment industry, where so many addicts go in and out of treatment after 'successfully' completing the program.  That's because the program is about getting people to fit into it, and not the other way around.  We like 'widget treatment,' and we also don't like saying that someone cannot be forced into sobriety.

It is our own discomfort with the world that we have created with all of its 'hypnotic' features, from media technology to 'Living Better Through Chemistry'®, that drives our passion to 'fix' people that we feel at least partly responsible for breaking.  I do think that we, as a people, need to reexamine how we use and live with technology.

But, I also don't think camps are the cure.

1 comment:

  1. If you think "The human will... is hard to tame", look at what Obama has done to the ignorant masses.