Darkness Visible

This is what I’m able to piece together so far…

I’m not sure how to best go about explaining my attachment therapy sessions to other people, but imagine, if you will, that you’re a child of about twelve. You don’t have much body weight, especially when compared to any one of the several adults who will be holding you down, much less their combined mass. The man in charge of all this is especially heavy–he’s very tall and fat.

First, you are made to lie on the floor, where you are wrapped in a sheet. After that, you’re wrapped in a heavy blanket (or in Candace Newmaker’s case, placed under cushions). You comply because you are told that you will be given up for adoption (again) or imprisoned, possibly both, if you do not do what you are told. There is a video camcorder on top of a tripod, pointing at you.

Once you are tightly bound and unable to move your limbs (they check to make sure), they tell you to struggle to get free. So you struggle, because you must do what you are told, but then they do everything in their power to stop you. They push down on you, piling on top of you. They press hard on your abdomen with the flat of their hand or their fingers or their fists or elbows. They put their hands over your nose and mouth, denying you air. They are big, grown men and you don’t know them but still they touch you all over. You are mocked and shouted at and made to say ludicrous things over and over. It seems that they want you to sound as crazy as possible, so sometimes you speak in tongues, which they seem satisfied to see and hear.

You sweat a lot because it’s extremely hot inside the blankets. Even without the blankets, you would be sweating from all the physical movements they are making you do–there’s the heat of the struggle and the heat of their strange, big bodies constantly touching you. You can’t understand why they are recording all of this.

You are denied water. You don’t get a bathroom break. There is often urine and vomit. You cough and spit and throw up frequently from the nausea of exertion and the nausea of aversion to the whole entire thing. Sometimes they smear the spit and vomit in your face.

This can last anywhere from half an hour to half a day. You cry and beg, but they never give you any indication of when it’s going to be over. You learn not to trust their promises. Sometimes they make as if they’re going to stop, then just when you think you’re free they begin all over again.

Sometimes your adoptive mother (the one who sent you here) is there in the room with you. Sometimes she isn’t. Whether she is or isn’t, you cry out for her, begging her to make them stop, but even when she is there, she does nothing to intervene. Instead, she helps them do whatever it is they want to do to you. She holds you down with them. She does what she is told.

Over time, part of you goes someplace else. It’s like one of your eyes is always shut, looking inward at things no one else can know or touch, while the other is unblinking and tracking everything that goes on outside and around you. You’d like to shut them both, the make-believe worlds inside your head are the only freedom you have left–but you need to see exactly what it is these people are after and you need to act accordingly, though not so willingly that they take your behavior as manipulation. They distrust you so much already. Behave too badly, they will punish you severely. Behave too well, they will accuse of you an agenda and punish you no less severely. You’re going to have to be very careful and vigilant from now on.

Personal comfort is not an issue, it doesn’t even enter your mind anymore. These people can kill you, they’ve come very close to doing so and they’ve made it abundantly clear that you have no power. They say that because you were an orphan, you are not like other kids and you are going to grow up to kill people.

The few true things about you that were closer to the surface dive that much deeper down in you, while the surface becomes something you plan entirely and construct with a detached coldness you don’t recognize, but which must be familiar because it comes so easily. They say that you are making progress.

Your adoptive mother comes to see you more frequently and you hug and kiss her and laugh with her and do everything she tells you to do with a smile on your face. You feel a vague sort of contempt for her that isn’t strong enough to be called hatred.

Your adoptive father never comes to see you, not that you care. He left for good when you were six, and it was good riddance as far as you’re concerned! He made your adoptive mother’s life a living hell, and you had loved her and hated him for hurting her. You can’t remember the details, just her screaming in pain a lot. Sometimes the police came to your house. Many times she would wake you up in the middle of the night and you would have to leave the house to go stay at motels, or with people you didn’t know.

Months go by. You do what you have to do and continue to submit yourself to the torture and humiliation.

The already scattered makings of you (because at your age, you are far from adulthood) burrow down deeper and further apart into darkness. Idly, you wonder if you can find them later. Mostly, you don’t care. The important thing is that you’ve fooled them all.

It’s funny, because now you’ve become closer to the monster they claimed you would become if they did not “heal” you themselves. The price of your freedom.

You don’t want to be a monster, but it’s no use regretting, you did what you had to do, and you will continue to do so to ensure that you never go back to that place again. You know they’ll be watching you for a while.

You recognize that something might have been broken, but also that something has kickstarted to life, and you allow yourself the insane luxury of hope.


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Comments 29

  1. Traci wrote:

    It’s so indescribably horrible to think that you and so many children have gone through this kind of humiliation and torture. You are so strong, dear. You’re doing a wonderful thing to make people more aware of this. I hope you can find fellow survivors.


    Posted 28 Feb 2008 at 08:01
  2. Sarah wrote:

    That is hideous. I had heard of the practice in passing, but I knew nothing about it, and lacked the interest to learn more.

    I’m deeply sorry this happened to you, and more deeply sorry that the practice even exists.

    Posted 28 Feb 2008 at 14:06
  3. Sui wrote:

    I read the whole site, felt so sick thinking that people who do that actually believes they are doing good things to this children. It is unbelievable… I just… didn’t seem to control myself from crying and getting so angry when I read about the techniques and all that stupid inhuman practices.

    I admire you so much. I wouldn’t have been strong enough to talk about this. I really hope you can make contact with some other survivors and I give you ALL my love and a lot more for you to spread the truth, change things and help to stop this.

    Keep your hopes high, you’re amazing! *loves so much*

    Posted 28 Feb 2008 at 16:39
  4. Emily wrote:

    You are truly a strong person to make it through something like this. Something that clearly so few children made it out of alive. Thank you for telling your story, I hope you are able to get in contact with other survivors and spread the news of this atrocity.

    Posted 28 Feb 2008 at 23:03
  5. Moonay wrote:

    My god. How you kept this inside you for so long is absolutely amazing. My stomach is churning at your account.
    You are an unbelievably strong person, and I admire you. This horrible practice should be stopped, banned and whoever related to creating and spreading it around should be imprisoned.

    Posted 28 Feb 2008 at 23:34
  6. Jez wrote:

    I’ve heard of this sort of thing in fictional crime dramas, but never realized it was so widespread in real life. Thanks for having the courage to write about this, and I hope it does some good.

    Posted 29 Feb 2008 at 02:49
  7. Pras wrote:

    What can the people reading your blog do to help? I know you listed other resources on your page; I just want to know the best way of going about it.

    Posted 01 Mar 2008 at 13:01
  8. Melissa wrote:

    I agree with Pras — what can we do to help? I work with children and this is just making my stomach churn. I want to do something. Please let me know what.

    Posted 02 Mar 2008 at 01:44
  9. Cozz wrote:

    I have no words for the disgust I feel for humanity right now. I also believe that you are an incredibly strong person to post something like this and I commend you, because I’ve learned a lot from reading this page. I knew nothing about this, I hadn’t even heard of the term before. Now I want to shout it all over the city. It needs to known and dealt with.

    I hope you succeed in your search, and find what you’re looking for. I wish you all the best of luck and life, and happiness. Thank you so very much for sharing–it really opened my eyes.

    Posted 02 Mar 2008 at 05:07
  10. Amy wrote:

    My deepest, deepest sympathies.

    I have such profound admiration for you for surviving, and for being brave enough to share your experiences in order to create this awareness. I would be a fool if I said I could fully empathise; I had an abusive childhood at the hands of my parents and eventually managed to escape – thinking that you had that on top of this horrific perversion of “therapy” makes my blood boil. But you should know that you are an inspiration to people like me.

    Posted 02 Mar 2008 at 16:50
  11. BeatleBangs1964 wrote:

    I am a survivor of holding therapy and I would not wish it even on Charles Manson or the @*$&! who killed John Lennon.

    My heart goes out to everybody who suffered from this form of quackery. I have written many book reviews on Amazon about this atrocious form of treatment. I went on Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.de and Amazon.ca to spread the word about just how abusive and far from helpful this treatment is.

    If you have autism, believe me this will not make you neurotypical. You will most likely “give the desired response” and pray that this horrible treatment will end and that you never endure it again.

    Posted 13 Mar 2008 at 23:02
  12. Jen wrote:

    This is sick, evil, and I am so sorry that you had to go through it. I hope you can find other survivors who are willing to speak out the way you’ve done.

    Posted 17 Mar 2008 at 03:39
  13. Bruce wrote:

    Over time, part of you goes someplace else. It’s like one of your eyes is always shut, looking inward at things no one else can know or touch, while the other is unblinking and tracking everything that goes on outside and around you. You’d like to shut them both, the make-believe worlds inside your head are the only freedom you have left–but you need to see exactly what it is these people are after and you need to act accordingly, though not so willingly that they take your behavior as manipulation. They distrust you so much already. Behave too badly, they will punish you severely. Behave too well, they will accuse of you an agenda and punish you no less severely. You’re going to have to be very careful and vigilant from now on.

    I wish this didn’t sound so familiar. I experienced this as a child thanks to similarly abusive (though, thankfully, not this organized or directed) behavior from my mother, and your description of that defensive dissociation definitely resonates with my own experience, and I’ve often been convinced that the passive and compliant behavioral habits I developed in abusive environments are one of many scars the abuse has left me with. I don’t doubt for a second that this “therapy” is equally damaging to what I went through, if not far more so. And I’m with the previous poster that I wouldn’t even subject Charles Manson to it .. and that bar is very high indeed.

    Posted 18 Mar 2008 at 20:22
  14. Ghills wrote:

    This is…absolutely disgusting. What will it take to get people to wake up and realize that pain does not and never will equal gain? That abuse is abuse, regardless of lies and certificates?

    I sincerely hope and pray for you and other victims of abuse. Bless you for having the strength to work against your torturers.

    Posted 26 Sep 2008 at 04:44
  15. Michael wrote:

    Go on the adoption UK website and witness that some adopters are encouraged to do this.

    One example there is cutting the childs hair off, making her eat the same bowl of cornflakes for 5 days, even though it is sour and soggy.

    These are the types of people who are adopting so called abused children.

    There is huge money in this pseudo therapy, but the adults do not care, as long as they have power over the child.

    Posted 30 Oct 2008 at 00:11
  16. Jane wrote:

    ((hugs)) doesnt seem adequate , and after having people force physical contact on you perhaps not wanted.
    But they are gentle cyber loving hugs, for the child that was so badly tortured mentally and physically by so called Adult Human Beings who dare to use the word Therapy for something that is pure abuse.
    Ive written a comment on another part of your site as well but just wanted to comment here
    Im so sorry for you and for all the children put through this torturous evil hell. And I applaud you for speaking out.
    Do you have a relationship with your Amother now ? what about your Birth mother ?
    You should show your Amother this site and show her how evil people think it really is, what she put you through

    @Michael do you have the link for that site ?

    Posted 03 Nov 2008 at 00:57
  17. Wayward Radish wrote:

    Thanks for commenting Jane–don’t worry, I’m not made of glass. I appreciate your support.
    To answer your questions, I don’t keep in touch with my adoptive parents, and as for my birth mother I have no knowledge about my biological family, I was found in a bus station. Part of me still identifies with Paddington Bear (though he was found in a train station, of course).

    Posted 03 Nov 2008 at 02:51
  18. Rinda wrote:

    well, you wouldn’t want what my kids have as bio parents anyway…

    How bummed do you get about yelling what is going on on the top of every mountain you can find, and no one cares and may say so what?

    Posted 04 Nov 2008 at 01:31
  19. Lance wrote:

    Mankind never ceases to disgust me…… especially in this fucked up country. Does anyone but me think that we (white americans) in general have something wrong with our heads? Check italy for example, you dont see most of their kids with multiple disorders/pregnant at 15 despite they are just as (or possibly more) sexually active as american teens.

    It cant be our government. Brazilians have a bad government and most i met were very functional and intelligent people.

    There has to be something wrong with our species. We behave like barbaric primates compared to most other developed countries. just look at what were doing. we see everything, including children as some disposal item that can be bought and sold. That type of barbaric behavior/state of mind is something typical in the medieval ages, not in 2008 in a civilised country.

    I am ashamed of my own nationality/race. how can so many educated people with a college degree be so sick in their goddamned heads to torture their children this way?

    So, survivor (whoever you are) im sorry to hear you had to endure all that as a kid. I hope you lightened up and got on with your life by now. always remember that no case will ever get old, sometime in the future, the motherfuckers will pay. its not uncommon for victims to sue their abusers 50 years later. the sick fucks will pay, its only a matter of time And hopefully we’ll evolve by then.

    Posted 27 Dec 2008 at 09:13
  20. Renee wrote:

    Wow..I know i asked you to share a little with me and then thought wait a minute let me go back to that page and read what all he has to say. I was so overwhelmed with mixed crazy feelings when I found your site that I just wanted to get ahold of you asap. So anyway Im here at your page reading and in such shock that your experience with blanket therapy sounds just like mine, and I noticed that you were 12 also at the time, like me. Its like reading my own experience. Thank you so much for being strong and brave enough to share. I have bottled this up for so long and Im thankful to have found support and others that have experienced the same hell that I have. I guess I always thought that it just happened to me, now it seems so much more real and because of you and your site I think I can start to heal..much thanks

    Posted 31 Dec 2008 at 07:23
  21. Linda Rosa, RN wrote:

    Wayward has conveyed vividly an experience that is far too horrific for most people to begin to comprehend.

    It took Americans until the mid-1950s to grasp the reality of the Holocaust. But after four decades and numerous deaths, the reality of Attachment Therapy/Parenting (AT/P) has yet to register on our collective consciousness. Adopted and foster children caught up in this brutal therapy cult have little hope of rescue.

    No child is safe from this torture. This “therapy” has nothing to do with any problems, imagined or real, a child might have. However, the bogus list of “Attachment Disorder” signs (e.g. manipulative, violent, sexually aggressive, lying, stealing, lack of conscience) does a fair job describing the sadistic thugs who inflict AT/P.

    How we treat our most vulnerable citizens — such as foster and adopted children — defines our national character. Alas, little can be said for a country that assists AT/P practitioners who make fortunes torturing children decade after decade.

    Posted 02 Jan 2009 at 02:02
  22. Spring wrote:

    I have two girls, adopted who were both diagnosed with RAD. Parents become desperate, are not bad people trying to hurt their children, just fearing they are raising children to be Ted Bundy’s or Jeffrey Dahmer’s. Dr. Becker-Weidman, in Buffalo, has the parents fill out a questionaire on which he makes a diagnosis. Therefore, the parents themselves are indirectly responsible for the diagnosis.

    Dr. BW is obviously in this field for the money. And on the handout he presents parents on their first visit he states that Ted Bundy had untreated RAD while Helen Keller had treated RAD. Can you imagine the fear an adoptive parent feels. That should the child turn out to be a Ted Bundy, they are responsible for not spending thousands of dollars on Dr. BW’s therapy.

    When a therapist claims to offer a cure, parents, desperate to save their child from a life of crime, pay thousands of dollars to have the child abused. They do this, not because they are bad people but because they are desperate people and the AT’s see their desperation and also see dollar signs.

    Parents are allowed to watch this holding on a video camera in the therapist’s office. I was one of those parents, vomiting as I heard my child crying for me, yet too brainwashed, too unstable from my own PTSD to know how to make it stop.

    I try every day to make it up to my child for the torture inflicted upon her at a cost to me of over twenty thousand dollars. Finally, I had enough, took my child from therapy and every future therapist who has written to Dr. BW for records, is told that the mother refused to cooperate.

    This once caused me shame, but today I’m proud of the fact that I said, “Enough’s enough”. I pray every night that my child continues to forgive me and give her unconditional love and acceptance. By the way, she does not have RAD, but PTSD and Bipolar disorder. She had to stay in a residential facility for a year to recover and is now doing beautifully. She is beautiful inside and out and I thank God for her every day.

    Posted 23 Jan 2009 at 21:42
  23. Jewel wrote:

    Reading the articles and watching the videos on this site made me sick and furious and very sad. It is not right that this form of ‘therapy’ is legal. It’s up to us to advocate for lawmakers to address this issue. THIS NEEDS TO STOP.

    Posted 25 Jan 2009 at 04:25
  24. Adeola wrote:

    I had never heard of anything like this before. It’s horrific, i can only try to raise awareness… and also let you know that on the day of judgement they will all be accountable for their actions.
    Praise be to God you’re still alive, and you’re still surviving.

    Posted 25 Jan 2009 at 18:59
  25. Wayward Radish wrote:


    Glad to hear that you’re trying to make up for your mistakes to your children. Don’t be so quick to judge others yourself and assume that they will immediately repudiate your perspective; you are certainly not the only parent on my site who has been suckered by the attachment therapists. So long as you try to help stop this torture (like the other former “RAD” parents I freely ally myself with), I welcome you here with open arms.

    So welcome! Expect to hear from me via e-mail soon.

    Posted 26 Jan 2009 at 12:04
  26. Jill wrote:

    Survivors (parents as well as children) should be commended for their strength. This “therapy” is a revolting and unethical practice. One thing I am confused about though–by the use of quote marks around the term RAD (“RAD”) is the poster or website suggesting that reactive-attachment-disorder is not a real disorder or is not a valid diagnosis? I don’t know about Ted Bundy but I would, of course, have to disagree with Dr. BW’s statement that Helen Keller had RAD–but in general does this website not believe that disorder exists at all?

    Posted 13 Aug 2009 at 22:29
  27. Wayward Radish wrote:

    @Jill: Read the following post to answer your questions:


    In short, RAD gets conflated with “Attachment Disorder,” which is bogus, catch-all pseudoscience.

    Posted 13 Aug 2009 at 22:52
  28. BMW Princes wrote:

    I’m sorry.

    Posted 13 Feb 2010 at 08:26
  29. Von wrote:

    Hold on to the hope, you survived to tell us all that we might tell others and one day it will be stopped.Good wishes.

    Posted 17 Feb 2010 at 18:56

Trackbacks & Pingbacks 1

  1. From A Search For Survivors - “Dyadic Developmental Therapist” Arthur Becker-Weidman Hijacks “StopChildTorture.org” website and Smears Abuse Survivors on 16 Sep 2009 at 06:42

    [...] also calls me a liar and claims that not only are my experiences of lethal child abuse not real, but I myself do not exist, and am the collective creation of the members of Advocates for [...]

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