Family Foundation School / Allynwood Academy
CLOSED (August 2014)




Complex PTSD

Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder C-PTSD

We, here at the Family Foundation School Truth Campaign, are aware that many former students of the Family Foundation School have been diagnosed with C-PTSD (Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). This is a mental disorder that is the result of prolonged exposure to traumatic events. We have talked to a great many youth who attended FFS, some whom attended the school over 10 years ago and others who left recently, and found that a great many are suffering with the symptoms of C-PTSD.

The clinical definition of C-PTSD is a psychological injury that results from protracted exposure to prolonged social and/or interpersonal trauma with lack or loss of control, disempowerment, and in the context of either captivity or entrapment, i.e. the lack of a viable escape route for the victim.

Here are the symptoms of C-PTSD that many report after reentering the real world:


These are not dreams, but real nightmares. For kids who left the school within the past 1 to 3 years, the nightmares are very frequent, sometimes several times a week. People who left the school over 10 years ago, still report that nightmares occur on a regular basis. Kids awake from sleep in a cold sweat, with hearts pounding. Interestingly, many kids report the same types of reoccurring nightmares. Here are some we hear over and over again from alumni of FFS:

- A nightmare where the student is about to graduate and is told that all of their records are missing and they can’t leave the “school.”  Susan Runge is often mentioned as the protagonist in this dream. The students tell us that in this nightmare, they beg and plead with Susan (or other staff ) to please, please try to find the records.  The school administration eventually tells them that the records can’t be found and the students has to stay at the “school” even longer or perhaps forever.

- A similar nightmare is where an 18-year-old student goes to the administration and tells them he/she wants to leave. The student keeps repeating over and over again: “But I am 18, I can leave, you must let me leave.” The staff says that the rules have changed and the student cannot leave.  (Laws state that an adult, who is 18 years or older, can make a decision to leave the school at their will.  Many students report that the administration often coerces students to stay, claiming that if the student leaves the school, they will end up in jail or dead and without any communication with their families.)

-One boy told us that he has a reoccurring nightmare of trying to run away from the school really fast but his legs do not move. He realizes he is underwater trying to run. He turns around and realizes that FFS staff members are running after him very fast, screaming at him and he can’t get away because his legs can’t move.


These usually happen in social situations. The Family Foundation “School” uses a non-evidence based and very controversial type of “therapy”  called “attack therapy” where students are assembled in a group and screamed and yelled at, belittled, and have their spirits broken down. These sessions take place on a daily basis.   These screaming sessions include very derogatory language and negative comments. The attack “therapy” sessions are led by staff, but students are encouraged to participate in the profound verbal abuse. The act of having the student's spirit broken down is to forcibly coerce the student into submitting to the recovery program of Alcoholics Anonymous, regardless of whether the student has an addiction problem or not.

Some of the symptoms of panic/anxiety attacks are:  pounding heart, sweating, dry mouth, inability to talk, a feeling of light-headedness, wanting words to come out of your mouth but they can’t come out, shaking hands, trembling voice.  

Alumni of The Family Foundation School report:

-Feeling unable to participate in conversations with their peers without experiencing extreme anxiety. We often hear “I am afraid that what ever I say will be wrong and every one will start yelling at me, so I avoid social situations” , or words to that effect.

-Extreme anxiety about expressing an opinion or speaking before a group.

-Extreme anxiety when trying to relate to the opposite sex. One girl told us that just after she got out of FFS she went to the mall with some friends. She was sitting on a bench talking to some girls when a boy she knew sat down on the bench next to her. She broke out into a cold sweat, started trembling and felt like vomiting. It is important to note here that we find FFS’s non-evidence based “therapeutic” tactics concerning the normal and appropriate interaction between teenage boys and girls downright bizarre. Kids are not allowed to touch, flirt with or have eye contact with anyone of the opposite sex.  Not only is interaction with the opposite sex not allowed, but it is looked down upon and students are subjected to punishment if they violate these rules.

Former students often tell us that they have “extreme fear” resulting from the “program” at FFS. Kids are brainwashed into thinking that anything that they do that diverges from strict FFS dogma will result in terrible consequences: jail, death, a life of prostitution on the street, etc. We think that the “extreme fear” that kids have after leaving FFS is perhaps tied to the unexplained panic/anxiety attacks.


One former student who posted on this site described FFS as “la-la land”. We call it a cult. Kids are often brutally removed from their homes in the middle of the night by 'escort services' which often times handcuff and leg shackle the teen, physically abuse them, throw them in the back of a car and forcibly take them to the FFS campus.  

The student is denied all regular contact with friends, family, and parents. They have no access to the outside world – no Internet, newspapers, or magazines.  Mail is monitored so only FFS approved mail gets through to students. We have some reports of students over 18 being denied incoming mail, which is illegal. There are no phones or cell phones allowed, students sometimes get one 10-minute, heavily monitored conversation with parents once a week. Often times these calls are denied as a form of punishment. Some students have told us they did not speak to anyone from the outside world for months on end, including parents.  It is virtually impossible for these children to report abuse.  Some students are allowed very infrequent home visits which are very heavily supervised.

Repeatedly we hear about how unbelievably difficult it is for kids to re-enter the outside world after being secluded for so long. Here are what some kids have told us they have experienced:

-A feeling of deep shame about being “sent away.” One girl told us that she refuses to see any of her old friends because she is so embarrassed about being the only kid she knows who was “sent away”. Her sense of loneliness was profound and making her very depressed.

-Some kids who enter college directly after FFS report an extremely difficult time fitting into normal college life. As alumni of the FFS, Chris N. (his testimony appears elsewhere on this site), articulately wrote: “freshman year in college should have been the best year in my life, but it was the worst”. He told us that he basically spent the first year of college holed up in his room because he felt so out of place. Former FFS students report that all of the completely normal goings on in a college dorm felt so “wrong” to them, even kids who had no history of drug or alcohol abuse felt any level of college drinking was wrong and would cause them to end up in jail or dead. The normal college dating scene seemed wrong and perverted. Kids reported that they felt so out of place that they could not make attempts to make friends and felt very lonely.

To learn more about Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, visit the following sites:

Can anyone share additional stories? Remember your experiences, no matter how painful to recount, might help other kids who have been damaged by the cruel “therapeutic” tactics at FFS. Please post your thoughts and feelings. As you all know, we also welcome posting that include stories of any positive results of FFS’s “program”. We request that all postings remain dignified, honest, and thoughtful and do not include profane language or unwarranted personal attacks.