Naked Men: The ManKind Project and Michael Scinto

The organization was supposed to make him a better man. Instead, his parents say, it made him a dead one.

This moment, however, paled in comparison to how uncomfortable Mary's husband felt the following day.

"They were all in the sweat lodge on Sunday," she says, "which he actually enjoyed. It was the first moment he had to relax in days after going through such a high-drama weekend where they pound you to reveal your deep, dark stuff. So, everyone was sitting Indian-style in a big circle in the lodge when the man leading the group said, 'If you wish, you may reach over and grab your brother's dick. If your brother doesn't want your hand there, he can remove it.' Well, my husband told me he just froze. And from that point on, he just wanted out."

When asked about the incident that Mary says happened to her husband in the sweat lodge, spokesman Les Sinclair says, "That would never ever happen on a weekend. I can swear on my mother's grave that that would never happen. That's a vindictive comment and whoever told it to you has an agenda. We are very respectful of men and there's none of that sort of juvenile stuff. It would not be tolerated."

Mary says even though her husband didn't want anything further to do with the group, it wasn't that easy to get away. The following week, she says they received "umpteen phone calls asking if he'd signed up for the Integration Group meetings. He kept telling them 'No.' It's been a few years now since my husband attended the weekend, but we still get several e-mails a week, every week, asking for money, either for donations or to attend another training. It never ends."

It truly did not end for Mary, because her son's 12-step sponsor was in the process of pressuring him to attend an initiation weekend, just like the one that had so disturbed his father.

Three years ago, Mary's then-17-year-old son got involved with drugs. And like so many people, he went to rehab and entered a 12-step program.

"My son has always had severe emotional problems," Mary says, "and they just kept hammering him at AA to go do the weekend. They told him, 'You won't need meds, you won't need psychologists, you won't need anything else.'"

Less than a year ago, Mary's son attended the weekend and is honoring the confidentiality agreement down to the letter, refusing to discuss it with even his mother or father. He has completed the first eight weeks of Integration Group meetings and plans to remain an active member.

As far as Mary is concerned, her son's experience represents all that she sees is wrong with the organization: a poor vetting system and unlicensed men staffing the weekend retreat.

"Let me tell you," she says. "When you talk about unstable, you're talking about my poor son. If they had truly interviewed him and looked at the list of meds he takes, which he did include on the medical questionnaire they make you fill out, which is one of the ways they say they screen, they shouldn't have allowed him to participate. They should have looked at his medical history and said, 'This kid has a lot of problems and there is no way we can know how he is going to react to the stuff we do.' They say they screen the men, but I don't think they screen them at all. I think if they have the money, they let them come."

What's more, she says, is that they are practicing unlicensed therapy.

"They are getting deep into people's personal issues," she says. "I mean, my son is in his early 20s, takes all sorts of medications and now that he's finished with the Integration Groups, he could staff a weekend and work it. He's supposed to help someone and is supposed to know when to stop and start and how far to push a man? It's ridiculous and it's really scary."

Since her son became involved with The ManKind Project, Mary has not seen any real change in him. At least no positive change. Her son is more secretive now and spends much of his time with older men — many members are over 40 — which makes Mary uncomfortable.

"Believe me," says Mary," I'd kiss these guys if they could perform a miracle with my son. When he decided to go do the weekend, I was scared to death. But I was relieved when he came home, because the fact that he didn't come back and commit suicide means they didn't do him any serious harm."

It was about 5 o'clock on a Monday night when Ralph Scinto received a phone call from his son Michael's employer saying Michael had not shown up for work that day. Immediately, Ralph began to panic.

He knew his son had gone to The ManKind Project retreat two weeks earlier and returned terrified. Michael had told him about the threats, and that he'd fired his Alcoholics Anonymous sponsor, Kim Sawyer. Michael also told his father he'd consulted an attorney to get a restraining order against Sawyer, who he said had been hounding him with phone calls ever since the retreat.

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1 comments
t.ariel.terry
t.ariel.terry

There are many other programs like this, including in the realm of evangelical christianity: 

twentyfourseven worldwide

24-7 leadership academy

teen mania honour academy

They fulfill most all the conditions for cult-status, and while they promise to be a launching pad to a great life, there are many silent sufferers(myself included) who spiral off in to greater depression and woundedness...secrecy as to the process, complete misrepresentation, or lack of representation of what is involved in the process, a fanatical devotion to leadership, mind and body control..usage of trauma to invoke change etc...very dangerous so please be warned

 
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