ManKind Project (MKP), previously known as the IRDX Corp (1991), Inner Resource Development Corporation (1992), and the New Warrior Network, Inc (1998) is a nonprofit organization for men which conducts retreats, the best-known of which is the New Warrior Training Adventure (NWTA). The organization states that it promotes: "accountability and integrity; connection to feelings; leadership; fatherhood; and the blessing of elders."
The MKP organization is composed of 38 interdependent centers in nine countries, each with its own elected leadership. Each center conducts training courses dealing with life issues for men, purported by its leaders to be part of the mythopoetic men's movement. The organization reports that over 40,000 men have have participated in the group's primary training, the New Warrior Training Adventure, and that over 200 men in 9 countries are certified to lead the trainings.
In 2007, MKP was named in a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the parents of Michael Scinto, a man who committed suicide after participating in the New Warrior Training Adventure. The two parties reached a settlement, the details of which are listed below (Section 5.1).
In 1984, Rich Tosi, a former Marine Corps
officer; Bill Kauth, a social worker, therapist, and author; and Ron Hering, Ph.D. (Curriculum Studies) a university professor; formed a group called The New Warrior Training, which would later become the Mankind Project.
New Warrior Training Adventure
Designed to compress a large amount of material into less than forty-eight hours, the New Warrior Training Adventure (NWTA) describes itself as a "radical departure" from the modern male psyche
, internally navigating through a "hero
". The leadership states that those who undertake this journey pass through three phases characteristic to virtually all historic forms of male initiation
: descent, ordeal and return.
The average cost of the weekend course is $650. The course usually takes place in a wooded area, over a 48-hour period, with a one-to-one ratio of staff to participants. The weekend is intended as a "male initiation ritual". The participants' are required to give up their mobile phones and radios for the duration of the retreat (they are returned at the end).
Participants promise not to disclose any of the specifics pertaining to the training weekend to non-participants: all participants at an NWTA are required to sign a non-disclosure agreement. The group leadership believes that keeping the details confidential helps to create an experience "uncluttered by expectation", and to protect the privacy of participants. Some trainings have reportedly included as many as 200 men. Trainings usually involve a maximum of 32 or 40 initiates, and some 40 to 50 staff.
Integration Groups (I-Groups)
MKP co-founder Bill Kauth's 1992 book A Circle of Men: The Original Manual for Men's Support Groups
details how groups of men can assemble to help one another emotionally
. Men who have completed the NWTA are encouraged to consider joining such a group. An optional "Integration Group" training is offered shortly after each NWTA for $100-$150, with scholarships available. The "I-Group" is for participants to engage in ongoing personal work and to apply the principles
learned on the NWTA to their lives. I-Groups are available to all men who complete the NWTA, and sometimes to men who want to explore the Mankind Project. Many I-Groups meet one evening per week. A typical I-Group meeting includes conversation and sharing in a series of "rounds" that allow each man to be heard.
MKP is affiliated with several similar trainings. Some of these trainings were developed or are staffed by members of MKP, although MKP remains a separate organization and legal entity. They are:
Wrongful death lawsuit regarding Michael Scinto
A 2007 wrongful death
lawsuit filed by Kathy and Ralph Scinto charged that MKP was responsible for the death of their son, Michael Scinto.
The MKP organization agreed to settle the case on June 4, 2008. MKP paid the Scinto family $75,000, and agreed to make changes to the way that the Houston branch operates. These changes include:
- The applicant questionnaire will be reviewed by a licensed mental health professional, and the organization will implement the recommendations for the questionnaire that are accepted by its board, within six months.
- A licensed mental health professional who understands the MKP program will review each applicant's questionnaire, to determine if the applicant should be allowed to participate.
- Most participants at the retreat who wish to leave to do so immediately upon request. The exception to this is that if the weekend leader, in collaboration with a "qualified professional," were to decide that leaving would place the participant or the group at risk, the participant would have to stay, but the participant would not be required to engage in any of the activities.
- MKP Houston officials will disclose on their website that all application questionnaires will be reviewed by a mental health professional, that the weekend may involve nudity and elements of Native American traditions, and that participants who wish to leave will be allowed to do so, unless the above provisions apply.
These changes are only for the Houston branch, and not for any of the other chapters of The ManKind Project.
Two Yahoo! Groups
have been formed by men who participated in the MKP's activities and found them to have a negative impact upon them. One, titled Ex-MKP
was founded in 2004 by and for those who "had problems" with the group. Ex-MKP's information page refers to Mankind Project as "cult" which uses "mind control
", and compares the group's methods to those used in prisoner of war
camps. The group has over 350 members. The other group, titled MankindProjectAbused
was founded in 2007 for former MKP participants in the United Kingdom
. The group's information page describes MKP's activities in detail, referring to various "shaming and mind manipulating techniques". Both groups are active as of September, 2008.
- A small band of warriors called the Mankind Project battles the isolation that comes with being a man, The Commercial Appeal, September 23, 2007
- Group aims to help men discover the warrior within, The Santa Fe New Mexican, May 7, 2007
- Band of brothers, Metro Times, November 29, 2006
- Making a better man, The Suburban, June 7, 2006
- New 'warriors' bare their souls, Durango Herald, August 21, 2005
- ManKind Project uses mysterious rituals to help heal wounded men, Montreal Mirror, October 23, 2003
- The Mankind Project: Reclaiming the ‘sacred masculine’; The Healers, City Pulse, October 15, 2003
- Oh, Man, What Kind of Project Is This?: Exposing the indecent exposure of the ManKind Project, Midwest Christian Outreach Journal, Winter, 2006
- In the Company of Men ManKind’s ‘New Warriors’ Embrace Nature, Each Other, ‘Sacred Masculinity’, The Forward: The Jewish Daily, January 30, 2004
- New Warriors, Sentient Times, August/September, 2003
- A 'new masculinity': Moving away from archetypes to a 'more inclusive societal framework'; Indiana University Home Pages, 1999
Free with registration
- The 'sacred masculine'; ManKind Project brings return of traditional rites, The Washington Times, March 27, 2003
- Mythopoetic Perspectives of Men's Healing Work: An Anthology for Therapists and Others, The Journal of Men's Studies, September 22, 2001
- Making a Difference: The Social Ecology of Social Transformation, American Journal of Community Psychology, February 1, 2000
- Training guides men along path to manhood, ''Albequerque Journal, July 25, 1999
- The New Warriors: About 500 men in St. Louis have completed the ManKind Project training, and many say they are better husbands, fathers, leaders, mentors and professionals because of it, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, June 26, 2005
- How men's movement participants view each other, The Journal of Men's Studies, January 1, 2004
- Masculinity, social support, and sense of community: the men's group experience in Western Australia, The Journal of Men's Studies, January 1, 2003
- Masculinity turns out to be sensitive subject, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, May 14, 2002
- Pondering the nuances of the new warrior, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, April 12, 2002