The Seed was founded by Arthur Robert Barker in 1970 as a drug rehabilitation center. During its time in operation, The Seed had locations throughout Florida. Prior to his time at Seed, Barker was a stand-up comedian and recovering alcoholic with no prior qualifications or credentials. He modeled The Seed directly after Synanon – often engaging in harsh long group attack therapy similar to “The Game.” Children were forced to sit in metal chairs for 12 hours a day for seven days a week engaging in these “rap” sessions. During these sessions, children were berated and bullied into giving false confessions – often exaggerating or outright lying about their experience with crime, drugs, etc. It was estimated that only approximately 30% of residents actually struggled with addiction.
The Seed eventually earned negative press after a 1974 US Senate report that evaluated its techniques compared it to North Korean brainwashing techniques used on prisoners of war. More criticisms came from the high suicide rate of attendees and abuse allegations. In 2001, Barker retired and dissolved the corporation.
One of the most notable spinoffs of The Seed was Straight, Inc which was seen as the “gentler” version of The Seed.