In A Nutshell
In 1968 Dr. Elliott Barker, a Canadian psychiatrist, came up with an unusual idea to treat violent psychopaths. He locked a small group of male offenders in a room for 11 days, during which time they were kept completely nude and given large amounts of LSD. The only food available had to be sucked through straws in the wall. Follow-up research showed offenders were one-third more likely to commit violent crime after release than those that didn’t receive the “treatment.”
The Whole Bushel
Nude therapy began in the 1960s with Paul Bindrim, an American psychologist. In 1967, inspired by nudist camps, Bindrim set up a therapy group at a hotel in California. He charged $100 for people to spend the weekend in a group of participants, during which they would take part in a number of group therapy techniques while completely naked. The idea was that nudity would free people from social constraints and unlock a window into their mind or soul.
These sessions eventually fell out of favor. Morally conservative attitudes meant anything quite that unusual was always going to fall under scrutiny, and people that wished to get together in the buff had nudist camps and the like available. It was benign, however, compared to the version of nude treatment dreamed up in 1968 by Elliot Barker at the Oak Ridge Asylum in Ontario.
Barker got permission from the Canadian government to do trials with LSD. He set up small rooms with bright green walls and called them Total Encounter Capsules. Into those rooms he gathered groups of psychopathic offenders between the ages of 17 and 25. The young men were given LSD and left naked in the rooms for 11 days with no distractions. They were encouraged to scream, claw the walls, and talk about their deepest desires.
If the experience sounds like something that would make someone extra violently insane, that’s because it is exactly that kind of experience. Researchers in the 1990s looked at people who were treated at the facility and compared those that underwent Barker’s therapy with those who didn’t. They found that the re-offending rate had risen from around 60 percent to 80 percent among those that were in the therapy.
It seems that group therapy allows psychopaths to practice manipulating and using people. The attempt to get psychopaths to examine their inner self simply allowed them to figure out how to use their inner self in more destructive ways. It’s also possible, of course, that being locked in a room for over a week with a group of other psychopaths while on hallucinogenic drugs is simply not good for you in any way.