One of the “Basic Concepts” at Phoenix House was “Blind Faith”. This really meant that we weren’t to question the authority of completely unqualified, unlicensed counselors. We weren’t to question the daily traumas, abuses, manipulations and neglect. Here is a page from the Phoenix House handbook.
“Blind Faith”: Putting your feelings aside and trusting from your head what people tell you about yourself and what to do is completely for your benefit.”
I can hardly breathe when I think of how toxic that statement and mentality is. And it skates the line of being how recovery works best…with outside feedback…but we were expected to deny having any instincts, original thoughts or intuition on our own. The idea was that our peers and staff were the only people we ever needed to interact with, listen to, and who would be there for us always…if we had blind faith.
“Blind faith” is how every cult grooms and programs. If you look at other “self-help” coercive control or high control groups, that’s a common theme. Keith Raniere (NXIVM) used a similar tactic of convincing followers that if they had any doubts, negative thoughts or feelings about the program, the weakness is theirs, that they obviously have some shit to work out because they *must* be wrong. This is a classic method and it WORKS! It especially worked on adolescents who ended up at Phoenix House, many of whom had never had anyone in life that they could trust or have faith in. Being convinced that we finally did was a relief. And the beginning of a lifelong nightmare.