Reviews from all over of Dead, Insane, or In Jail: A Cedu Memoir. To add your review here, please email


“Very interesting. Wonderful illustrations” ~ By Amazon Customer on October 16, 2015

Alive and Well

In 1971 I walked away from The Seed; a Synanon based therapeutic community in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. I was a legal adult by then, so I was able to save myself. But, in doing so, I left behind my younger siblings in the maw of this soul-stealing, family breaking cabal.

As an escapee and apparent survivor of the conspiratorial problem parent industry, I was amazed to find that it continues to this day. Zack is an example of a person who not only survived it but is determined to strike back continuously.

It is apparent that Zack has not turned his back the victims of on one of the most egregious misuses of authority to occur in these last 50 years, since Synanon discovered that keeping the patient sick was  a money making operation.  Bless his heart for ignoring his own pain to bring his experiences to light.

This is an important read for any parent who has kids who act like kids.

Jack McNulty
Alive and Well

Freakishly similar to my experience in the Cedu system


I just finished reading your book. It is freakishly similar to my experience in the Cedu system. It literally took me back to the days of getting screamed at during raps and having my back to everyone when I was constantly on a “full time”. The exhausting Propheets that seemed more fucked up than anything I have experienced in my 33 years of life to date. I can still remember the fear I used to have walking into a rap session. The constant wondering is I had offended someone or done something so petty that is was time to get ass handed to me.

I attended Cedu in Running Springs CA 10 years after your experience at RMA. I arrived in 1998 and graduated 18 months later. It had the feel of a cult like setting…”Don’t drink the Kool-aid” type of place. The wording they used was hard to comprehend at first. Bans, cop-out, big brothers, big sisters was hard to understand. I’m not sure if they had the term “bust buns” which referred to our slave like setting every Saturday morning. You cleaned the dorms so vigorously that your body literally hurt the next 2 days. You would get blasted if there was even water drops in the sink.

After graduating it was hard to fit in with the normal individuals of society because it had seemed I got brainwashed beyond repair. Around 6 months after graduating I was shipped off to Ascent for their 6 week program which was pure hell. Never have I been treated like I was pure scum than that. After completing the program I thought I was going home…nope I got to take a 10 minute walk to Northwest Academy where I would spend the next 8 months until I somehow manipulated my parents on an on campus visit to get me out of this place. When ever there were visitors the entire atmosphere would change but I think my parents looked through the act and understood the hell I was in.

I’m 33 now living in Eden NY with my wife Sandy. To this day I continue to think about why I would have been sent to such a place. Everyday I was in the Cedu system I always thought everyone’s issues were far worse than mine….there was some pretty fucked up shit that people disclosed during the raps and the Propheets…yikes.

I just wanted to write to you telling you how wonderful your book was. I can not believe the similarities even being 10 years apart. I’m just glad these cults are now closed and will not harm another individual again.





“I HIGHLY recommend this book to ANYONE who’s been through a behaviour modification program, knows someone who has, or has NO IDEA what this book is about. Especially the ones who have NO IDEA what this book is about.

“It took me three weeks to read this, I had to keep walking away from it and remember that it wasn’t my real life anymore. I was sent there shortly after the author, 11/90 – 3/93. For the price of $4500 a month plus “incidentals”.

“This IS a book review, but I’d like to share some experiences from my first day that came flooding back to me as I read Zack’s book.

“So. First day was incredibly surreal to put it mildly. Girls walking around holding hands, making awkward small talk at lunch when necessary, and after lunch I was stood up and introduced to the school by a counselor named Caroline (who I found out later was sent to CEDU, RMA’s sister school in Running Springs, Ca for being a prostitute before becoming staff at RMA immediately after graduating CEDU). She told all the boys to stay away from me, and I found out years later that she told one in particular if he even spoke to me he’d be on house down bans (Bans – unable to look at or communicate with person or people on bans with).

“Then they read off rap groups (Raps – “group therapy sessions, @ 15 kids and 2 counselors). My first rap is why I never “split” (ran away – they further insulated us by using their own language, very culty). We walked into a room with a circle of black chairs, the most uncomfortable black chairs you’ve ever had the displeasure of sitting in. I sit down and promptly cross my legs, trying to get somewhat comfortable. But then people started to tell me rap rules. One being sitting with your legs or arms crossed meant you were being “closed off”. I’d always sat that way (in fact I am right now as I write this) but NOPE. The rap started quickly with a boy 2 chairs to my right. He started to cry and scream and punch the floor … from what I could gather, he’d “split” in the last few months and had been sodomized by the trucker who picked him up and he had to testify against him in court the next day. I ALMOST ran, but I was frozen solid. WTF?! Where the HELL was I??? None of this was normal. NOTHING ABOUT THAT PLACE WAS NORMAL.

“I have my own story, as we all do, but this is about Zack’s story. It’s very similar to all of ours.

“Zack talks about raps and his first Propheet (24 hour therapy session) The Truth in this book. The detail is overwhelming, his memory is spotless and it’s as if he peeled open his chest and laid his heart on the paper. He talks about being sent to “survival” after running away, which I never personally experienced, but know plenty who have.

“You will not believe that something like this could have happened. But it was all real. The schools were, and remain, private and unregulated.

“We all learned eventually (me through[…]) that RMA and CEDU were directly tied to a cult called Synanon (1950’s – 1980’s).


“I was LIVID. CEDU/RMA has spawned thousands of mushroom schools worldwide. Kids are going through what we went through and worse. Physical, emotional and mental abuse. Mind Control. Being there at such a formative age, we were SO malleable that they were able to break us down. WE had to build ourselves back up. A lot of kids are no longer with us, due to suicide, OD, etc. May they rest in peace.

“For anyone interested … a guy named Liam Scheff did a documentary on CEDU a few years back … This particular clip documents Caroline, but there’s more to it ..[…]” ~ By Christina Owenson October 19, 2015

Like a David Lynch film, but true, in HD detail

“I think everyone would love this book. For people who like true horrors, or TV dramas, or David Lynch films, or teens that have problems or “problems” (all of them?).
The bizarre drama is of a quality unseen in non-fiction – and not just because that’s how he felt it was when it was happening. And with the dialogue so lifelike – a quality unseen in fiction – the book is this perfect merging of the pros of fact and “fiction” style books. I realized why when I read his Artist’s Statement (these inclusions are some of the bits I find interesting that ghost writers throw out, they show the real personalities of the writer, their quirks, their damage and growths from their trauma). It says he apparently gathered extra material from past peers to fully flesh-out the real people in the book with real juicy details that reflect his own and reflect the overall experience of any kid sent to this asylum. Awesome! Insanity in HD!

“I see this book as being able to reach even the average teen (or adult) to cope with social issues through self-awareness and introspection, on top of entertaining them with shock-value (and maybe scaring them straight). Our brains don’t really have that potential of introspection so early in life. Parents may try to force it on us, but no teen listens to them, meaning teens can only look to equally angry peers for help, which for my youth only strengthened my EXTERNAL hatred for my parents, rather than see my INTERNAL problems. This book is one of those rare instances where a TEEN actually has introspection, and thus, I think, could influence other teens to look internally rather than externally. And for especially troubled teens (like my young self), they rarely have a friend or safe place to turn to, so I see this book as a therapeutic sanity-check – finding a REAL peer for once, a “wow, there IS someone like me,” or “wow, my problems are manageable compared to this.”

“The raps really hit home for me because, growing up, all my family did was SCREAM at each other and spit hate as communication, and our “logic” of what we said was fueled from the same place as these CEDU staff: ludicrous egotistical indulgence. Having been suicidal since I was 10 years old, I can vouch for how this book could have helped my youth see where the line is between sane and damaging relationships with family and peers, helping me see warning signs, rather than getting habituated to unhealthy relationships until there’s no escape. And as a youth, I hated any clinical help my parents forced on me, whereas this book wouldn’t have felt like that at all, it would have felt like I was reading about a relatable friend.” ~ By r.a.n.on October 20, 2015

This gave me a clearer picture of what my son …

“This gave me a clearer picture of what my son experienced. Certainly the parent workshops didn’t come close. I am still appalled by the fraud this program committed, as well as my gullibility. This is a must read for all CEDU parents.” ~ ByNancyon October 20, 2015

I was there with the author. This is a …

“I was there with the author. This is a very real, honest and genuine account. I sincerely look forward to the rest of the volumes. This story must be told otherwise history will repeat itself. Cheers to my fellow brother, the author.” ~ ByKoizumi13on October 28, 2015

The Truth…

“Every year, on the anniversary of 9/11, I watch as the twin towers come down and I think that’s not real, that didn’t really happen. Because the truth… the reality is so unbelievable. That’s how I felt about this book. I lived it, I was there – but I have very few detailed memories of the experience. As I was reading I was horrified at the things I couldn’t remember with my mind, but felt with my gut. Zach is a wonderful storyteller, even if the story he has to tell isn’t always wonderful. It’s a story that’s gone untold for far too long.” ~ By K Gormanon November 2, 2015


“Heartbreaking. Honestly, I wish this story weren’t true. It’s almost too much to take in. That places like RMA exist at all is bad enough but learning how they aren’t regulated and seem to have no interest in actually helping (via mental health treatment) their young charges should be illegal. Warning, this memoir isn’t for the fainthearted or those easily offended. There’s rough stuff in here, but it is riveting. I look forward to Zack’s next installment of his troublesome memoir.” ~ By Carolyn O’Nealon November 4, 2015

This book reads like fiction and often I wished it were

“This book reads like fiction and often I wished it were: This is the kind of story you hope to not bet true. With the courage of other whistle blowers Mr. Bonnie sheds a grotesque light on how the lack of oversight in the teen reform industry was and is license for unstable adults with misinformation, heady dogma, and misplaced zeal to have access to children and teens trying and, maybe, failing to find their way in the world.

Mr. Bonnie details not only the haphazard ‘therapy’ that takes place at the centers but also exposes the seeming sense of legitimacy these places earn by the wordsmiths that assure parents that their children will be given love and care.

Mr. Bonnie brings you by his side has he faces the shock of being abandoned in the Twilight Zone and finding no escape. Mistrust and insanity rule in this world offered by the book. It seems Room 101 was a real place, and it was tucked away in the hills of Idaho.” ~ By Neil S. Westmanon November 5, 2015