Mankind Project Houston has not implemented Scinto court settlement

Mankind Project came into public view via a Houston Press article on the suicide of Michael Scinto. Due to statements made after the New Warriors Training Adventure weekend by Mr. Scinto, his parents came to believe that the weekend conducted by MKP-Houston was responsible for the tragic death. The Scintos sued and settled with MKPH in June, 2008. The settlement called for MKPH to provide a new level of disclosure about the activities of the NWTA. MKPH agreed to several changes in disclosure on their website:

-MKP of Houston agreed to have its pre-New Warrior Training Adventure Adventure questionnaire reviewed by a licensed mental health professional for recommendations about how it can be improved. However, the MKPH board must approve changes before they can be implemented.
-Each application for the NWTA must be screened by a mental health professional who has personal knowledge of the weekend. The screener shall determine whether the applicant shall be accepted or not with the decision written on the application.
-The following changes will be made within 30 days of a required MKP of Houston Board review of the website:
1. Change the website to provide adequate information from which potential applicants can make an informed decision about whether to attend the NWTA.
2. The website shall disclose that a mental health professional will screen applications to determine suitability for participation.
3. The website will need to disclose that people who wish to leave the NWTA are free to do so.
4. Applicants will be told that the NWTA may involve optional nudity and certain elements of Native American traditions.
-MKPH agrees to develop a written protocol which will allow any participant to leave NWTA safely with MKPH assistance. Participants requesting to leave shall be allowed to do so immediately unless the action would result in further risk of harm. Once a request is made, the participant is not required to do any other activities unless the participant changes his mind.

These changes were to be made within 6 months of approval of the MKPH board. It is now January, 2009 and no changes have been made. In fact, the secrecy surrounding the weekend is still offered as a selling point on the group’s website:

Why aren’t the details of the Weekend divulged in advance?
There’s all the difference in the world between a concept and an experience. Our commitment is to give you a transformational experience along with information you can use.
Traditional initiations utilized fasting, isolation, sleep deprivation, mind altering substances and painful physical ordeals to break down the psyche’s natural resistance to change.
While we don’t use those extreme conditions, we do rely on the element of confidentiality to intensify and deepen the process. We ask you to trust us in this regard. All activities during the weekend are optional but you will get the most benefit if you participate fully. Remember, the training is mostly staffed by volunteers who have gone through the same experience and found it very worthwhile.

What is ironic about this description is that MKPH says NWTA does not use “fasting, isolation, sleep deprivation” techniques to “break down the psyche’s natural resistance to change.” However, as described by prior members, NWTA clearly involves at lease some level of food and sleep deprivation and isolation. Some people who view themselves as survivors of MKP would alter MKPH’s description of NWTA to say that the weekend simply breaks down the psyche.
I wrote the MKPH director for a comment or clarification of their position which I will post if I hear back. For more information regarding NWTA and MKP, see this page.

8 thoughts on “Mankind Project Houston has not implemented Scinto court settlement”

  1. The real issue with MKP for me is whether or not men will be harmed or healed. It is obviously both. The reason I can not support MKP is that there is not a lot of oversight of the harm done in fact there is denial of it. I suggest caution before attending. The fact that MKP hands over depth psychological techniques to anyman willing to pay for their GUTS and leadership training is very problematic. Why do they do this and still do it? Most igroups do not have liscenced therapist but even if MKP decides to stick with “trained fascilitators” their training should be much more stringent. Some should pass and others should fail. As it is now once you pay for the training you are encouraged to use it. This is idiotic!!! And why have they not learned from it? If their mission is to help men why do they not set a higher standard? It takes years to get a psy D or LCSW why does MKP believe men taking a 12 hours of training suddenly qualify to use depth psychology!!! It is in all respects outrageous.

  2. I attended the weekend many years ago. They mass market to individuals with mental and other psychological issues, especially those with drug or “coming out” issues. I was having a rough patch and a few MKP people ganged up on me. Local therapists in the Houston area who have attended the weekend sway their clients to the weekend, calling it a “panacea” for any issues. Given that MKP does not investigate or perform psychological checks beforehand or ensure that the staff are certified by an accredited psychological organization, I believe that the weekend is completely unethical by any set of professional standards.

  3. Twolf – just want to remind you that you paid for that community. You should get something for your money. You got lots of emotion and armchair wisdom, but the proof will be what happens next.

  4. The Mankind Project has been a blessing for me. This program can no more affect somebody’s desire to commit suicide, than listening to Led Zepplin or Ozzy Osbourne records spun backwards. I can also say that the other 19 men I went through initiation with were also significantly improved by going through this process. That is a pretty good percentage! to give an idea of how much this helped, this is a letter I wrote to my leaders:
    From the bottom of my heart, I wanted to thank you for being there for me this past weekend.
    What a powerful experience for me! This is the first time I had ever done anything like this. I came in to this full of self-hatred, not knowing who or what I was, and struggling with addiction.
    During the weekend I was scared, intimidated, excited, deeply moved, and uplifted.
    I came out of this having a better understanding of who and what I am. I am more accepting of myself. My struggle with my addiction is at bay, like it has not been for years. My relationships with my loved ones, customers, and even complete strangers have improved. I could go on…
    A great tool I learned is to look people in the eyes. That has always been a struggle for me. I spent so much of my life hiding what I was, and dwelling in shame and guilt. You guys had taught me the importance of this form of communication and expression. I am no longer afraid to look people in the eyes.
    I never knew that a community of men could be so caring and loving of one another. I have been involved in a 12-step program for almost 4 years, and in group therapy since last fall. These programs have helped me. But, my initiation weekend really pushed me over the edge. Very, very effective for me. I thought I was beyond real help. Now I know that I am not.
    I had a significant emotional and spiritual awakening during this process.
    Each one of you has touched me deeply! Thank you!

  5. I agree with David. GLBT persons still need to have our civil rights breakthrough, as the African Americans had in the 1960’s. Come on, it’s about time! Yes, GLBT persons can still have a relationship with God, and yes, God loves them, as he loves all people. What we are is not a choice, if it was, we would all choose to be straight. My therapist is “Christain”, and for some reason, he can’t see past my sexuality. I am so much more than my sexual preference! He is trained to help people, but instead he has hurt me, deeply! He should know better. We no longer live in biblical times.

  6. Larry – It was a little hard to follow your thinking but I think you are positive on MKP as it was and you think the emphasis on openness and disclosure is a mistake deriving from soft men. Is that about it?

  7. I found New Warrior in 1992 with the Philly community. I don’t know what MKP trainings your talking about and things must have changed since I went through. I am or was a senior staff member, leader and helped grow that community for over 10 years.
    It changed my life and did every thing promised. My judgment is that today more men than ever are a group week pussies.
    We need real men in this country and we are fast loosing them.
    All the processes are to help men challenge the judgments that they carry within.
    Cult? Try looking at The Multi-culture shoved down our throats. Being fair, new names for people who don’t agree with the small liberal groups that what the entire world changed for them.
    Men fight, for their love, country, and freedom.
    If men die…that’s on their head..stop trying to be the victim and own your own truth. Men go to this project to find that which they miss within.
    No bull shit babble, your given the tools to really make a change for your self…if you choose.
    Two Bears Aho my brother

  8. Mr. Throckmorton
    I find this website to be ill-informed due to the lack of in-depth data surrounding the case. Just like the news organization you associate with ( O’Reilly Factor and Fox News) they provide half-truths in an effort to sway and or slant public opinion.
    As I read your biography, I see you are a member of the Christian Association for Psychological Studies. I believe psychologist should not attempt to provide mental health services, all the while having a Christian agenda, with preconceived notions of what is morally correct or incorrect for any particular patient.
    Mental health professionally who sits in moral judgment because of religious bias will do harm to his or her patient. Your articles regarding reparative therapy is pure tripe. It you take the time to read the DSM IV you will notice that sexual orientation is no longer considered a psychopathology which needs Christian faith healers to fix or Christian therapist to judge as morally wrong.
    As a mental health professional you should know that the LGBT community has been oppressed since Augustus was emperor in Rome to this very day. Governmental and Religious Bias have done more harm to send messages to millions of gay and lesbian men and women that they are not equal in the eyes of society and the law.
    The bottom line is any therapist who walks in front of a gay or lesbian client with ” Any” type of personal bias and stands ready to judge needs to refer that client to another health professional, who has taken the time to look at there own homophobic fears, old messages and views of their prescribe religious views.
    PS I question anyones objectiveness who sells there views on the O’Reilly Factor

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