Behavior Modification, Circles So Definite

From a random spam(?) email:

"Nobody reads novels, except women, said Soames.
There are no circles so definite as that.
He bent on her his bright, shrewd glance. The circle you move in isnot exactly the plaintiffs, perhaps? Well, I suppose one neednt be shocked by what onewouldnt do oneself.
So he shook his head at her, and waved towards the back.
Its not easy in Society to tell whos a friend and who isnt. I shouldnt say that was CURRENT morality at all.
Stuffy, my lord; its an expression a good deal used in modernSociety.
Marjorie Ferrar grasped the Box till the blood tingled in herpalms.
I suggest that only a very small portion of the world is inyour circles. Thatfellow Riggs was always bumping something! Yet it seems, Miss Ferrar, that you object to others saying nastythings about you in return. Had talkedit over with a good many people."

And a sentence from Jesus Land by Julia Scheeres which has stuck in my mind for some reason:

"Together, we have survived racism and religion."

That line pretty much sums up Jesus Land, a memoir you should definitely read (though it's not the most cheerful book).

There's a nicely done review of Jesus Land over at Bookslut.

I've now read two memoirs this year by women who have gone through expensive "behavior modification programs." Mia Fontaine's Come Back reflected upon the programs at Morava and Spring Creek Lodge positively (making the important disclaimer that her experience was very specific to a time and place), while Julia's book made her BMP (Escuela Caribe in the D.R.) look like a concentration camp run by insane, bloodthirsty fundamentalist Christians.

Both of the memoirs are exceptionally powerful in their own ways, and in addition to dealing with the subject of BMPs, they also both center on a relationship with one particular family member who helped them recover from abuse suffered at the hands of another family member.

Somehow, even though I never attended such a program, I've strongly identified with the narrators of both memoirs. Maybe there is something metaphorical about hardcore behavior modification programs that resonates with me in some way, possibly something to do with this part of the epilogue of Jesus Land:

The staff considered me an outstanding alumna--I'd gone on to get an M.A. in Journalism and had worked for the Los Angeles Times--and introduced me around.

"What's the most important lesson you learned at Escuela Caribe?" one of them asked with a proud smile.

"To not trust people," I answered without hesitation.

They changed the subject before I could tell them the other important lessons The Program had taught me, but perhaps they'll read them here:

--To believe in people over dogmas.
--To not turn the other cheek, but to master and subvert the rules of the game.
--To strive to find small joys even in the bleakest of circumstances.
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