Maximum Security Amusement Parks (M-SAPs): A Modest Proposal for the Treatment of Adolescence

Lawrence G. Calhoun, Ph.D., W. Scott Terry, Ph.D., and Arnie Cann, Ph.D.
University of North Carolina at Charlotte

As we have argued elsewhere (Calhoun, Cann & Terry, 1988), and as everybody already knows, adolescence is a disease. While it apparently is not contagious, it can engender other disorders. For example, adolescence in a child can cause mental illness in a parent. However, in spite of the universal recognition that adolescence is a sickness that has existed for many years, there is still no useful treatment for this condition. While this may be a result of the failure of any major celebrity to adopt this disease and have a telethon for it, it is nevertheless a failure that must be addressed.

While psychopathy and adolescence are not the same disorder, the successful treatment of psychopathy may suggest potential interventions for adolescence. The most effective treatment for psychopathy is aging (Davison & Neale, 1986). Unfortunately, parents age much more quickly than do adolescents and (unless one is a parent of an adolescent) aging usually take a long time. We can’t wait any more.

Our proposal is the creation of “amusement parks” modeled on “Micky World,” but with certain features which those sorts of “amusement” parks do not have. In our terminology, we refer to these proposed treatment centers as Maximum Security Amusement Parks (M-SAPs). While our experience and that of the millions of other persons who are currently standing in line at “Micky World” (and other such locations) suggests that similar treatment centers already exist (see the state map of Florida for specific locations), we propose specialized treatment centers.

As we envision them, M-SAPs will be available throughout the United States, with a least one center within a 10-minute drive of the home of the parent of any adolescent. This is to make it easy to get there and for parents to be able to say Yes when the child asks, “Are we there yet?” A brief screening process for the diagnosis of adolescence will be used, and the following criteria will be employed:

a. Chronological age between 13 and 21?

If yes, automatically qualifies for diagnosis.

b. Mental age between 13 and 21?

If yes, automatically qualifies for diagnosis.

c. Uses the word “car” more than 1,000 times in a week’s span?

If yes, automatically qualifies for a bus ticket to M-SAP.

d. Knows the ending of all your “back when I was a child . . . “ stories and repeats them along with you?

If yes, automatically qualifies for an airline ticket to M-SAP.

e. Does the child suggest you don’t really know what rock ’n’ roll is?

f. If yes, automatically qualifies for admission to M-SAP plus the child receives a cassette player to take with him/her and one tape – “The Turtles’ Greatest Hits!”


Only adolescents will be admitted to such centers, due to the potential danger of cross-disease contagion. The M-SAPs will include a wide variety of rides, fake animals, people dressed up to look like fake animals, lines, plastic decorations, and more lines. These qualities of “amusement” parks are know to hasten aging in normal adults, and it is hoped that M-SAPs will have the same effect on adolescents. Adolescents who eventually do become tired and bored (in adolescence boredom sets in within 10 minutes of admission) will be allowed to leave the park in 10 years, when they become mentally 21, or when they reach the exit after waiting in yet another line – whichever of these comes first (10 years usually passes first).

The M-SAPs will of course need some special attractions not available in regular amusement parks. On each corner there will be a bathroom with a large mirror and blow dryers. All clothing will be disposable and biodegradable, since adolescents won’t wear anything that’s been worn once already. The bumper cars will all look like Trans Ams or IROCs. The roller coasters will have a pizza stand near the entrance and an ice-cream sundae stand at the exit (the roller coaster itself will be constructed of washable plastic).

While this may sound like another liberal proposal for prison furloughs in reverse, with a large price tag requiring an increase in taxes, these assumptions are false. The program will not require any public moneys. First, adolscents will of course be required to pay admission – to be calculated based on what it costs at “Micky World” for 3 days, including meals, hotel, rides, exit permits, and assumed to be in the neighborhood of half of a 4-year undergraduate education at any Ivy League university. Second, donations will pour in from parents, neighbors, high school teachers, peace officers, and normal persons. Third, and this is most crucial, adolescents will voluntarily enter and stay in the M-SAPs because part of the syndrome is to regard places like this as good places to be.

In sum, Maximum Security Amusement Parks for the treatment of adolescence are the alternative of choice for several reasons. They encourage aging and retain victims until enough aging has occurred to induce a cure, and are fiscally conservative and likely to show a profit. Plus, they are likely to lead to a great decrease in the level of mental illness in the general adult population because adolescence, the only know source of cross-disease contagion, will be quarantined in the Maximum Security Amusement Parks.



Calhoun, L.G., Cann, A., & Terry, W.S. (1988). Adolscence is too a disease! Unpublished manuscript.

Davison, G.C., & Neal, J.K. (1986). Abnormal psychology. New York: John Wiley & Sons.

© Copyright 1989 Wry-Bred Press, Inc./Glenn Ellenbogen. All rights reserved.

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