Synanon goes to College and auto shop

Squares were still entertained at the Saturday Night Party. This weekly event had become so popular with the public, as many as 200 attending, that reservations were required do to the limited space. A charge of $10 a month was made to regulars. Well dressed hostesses greeted guests, offered coffee and introduced them around. At 9 p.m. the guests were taken to the symposium portion of the party to hear a talk about Synanon and current affairs. Synanon birthdays, from date of entry, were celebrated, Chuck spoke, members ran their stories and games were played interacting all. Sometimes the film documentary “House on the Beach” was shown. When everyone seemed at their happiest the hat was passed. At the night’s end The Sounds of Synanon, which had now released its own album on Pacific Jazz, fired-up and everyone jumped up to do the hoop-a-la (“the Dance of the Dope Fiend”) a Synanon creation by Betty Dederich similar to line dancing, a block of 12 to 15 dancers abreast and as many deep. All participants move three steps forward and then three steps to the rear, turn in same directions at the same time, but each do their own individual dance. “The hoop-a-l-la represents our philosophy,” Charles Dederich said. “We are each individuals doing our own thing, but we’re doing it together traveling the same route .” Guests were taught and joined in, usually to the tune of Baby Love by the Supremes.

In 1966 in San Francisco some avid square sponsors wanted to participate regularly in games but they did not mix well with the addicts who felt envy of the squares’ material success yet at the same time felt superior in their knowledge of life. They had gone to the school of hard knocks and had learned lessons the Squares had no idea of. Squares were attracted to Synanon by feelings of loneliness, alienation, frustration, lack of purpose or significant relationships, but this was not comparable to addicts’ histories. Over time, playing the game, the addicts took on a thumbs down attitude towards psychiatry and state institutions which had failed them. Squares were reminders of these “authorities” that had treated them like “animals,” locking them in cells or hospitals. What they had accomplished they had done themselves. Reid Kimball said Synanites had the “right to call ourselves professionals.’“ They would watch public figures on television, feel superior and arrogantly state what they would do to each if they could get them in a game. More importantly, this was the addict’s club and they did not want to share it. They were a society of those who had once known the gutter and had broken all the rules, a way of life squares wanted a glimpse of but didn’t have the guts for. They were the only ones who knew how to cure addiction. The squares, in turn, felt superior in all regards to the dope fiends.


As he had once not allowed the alcoholics to keep out the addicts, so did Dederich move to keep the squares. He announced on Easter Sunday, 1966, a separate Square Game Club would be established in San Francisco, led by attorney and former alcoholic Dan Garrett. Meetings were held at a location away from the addicts to prevent friction. At first they were at the Clay Street House, two games a week, five days a week. In a month it was moved to a club headquarters on Walnut Street where it soon attracted 350 members and split into two game clubs, plus teen and pre-teen square games. John Maher became the head of the second club. Before Synanon he was known as a street-wise user, a tough guy who could survive by the con or his fists. He had emulated gangsters and could do tough talk since he was a kid in New York. In Synanon he brought laughter doing a good Jimmy Cagney. He loved his new job and there was no way he could ever imagine that over a decade later he would be splitting and then trying to protect Jack Hurst’s life.

Soon all Synanon Houses had square game clubs and graduates to be in good standing would attend. One or two residents sometimes took part. Each square was indicted and attacked over his lifestyle and behavior. This had a great effect on Synanon’s continuing growth. The square players, sometimes called non-resident members, used their business savvy to Synanon’s benefit as advisers, contributors and fund raisers. In turn the squares had a place where they could talk about what they had been doing for the last 20 or 30 years and hear secrets of others. Synanon offered an antidote for loneliness, a second sight into the underworld and a place to exercise emotional muscles while learning how to “live the truth” in an atmosphere of “total morality.”

By 1966 the Santa Monica Game Club reached 180. It met at the Armory on Sunday Afternoons where square gamers listened to a lecture and then marched 1 1/8 mile along the beach and back before breaking up into game groups. The San Diego square club reached a membership of 200 and 42 each enrolled in Reno and New York. In San Francisco square real estate developer Stanley P. Berney moved in to run the game club as Dan Garrett moved up to the Board of Directors as Director of the San Francisco Synanon house.


Seeds of bitterness against the establishment were also laid in the fights for financial aid. As early as 1960, when money was so desperately needed, Synanon sought support from government and private institutions. It did not get off to a good start.

Governor Brown sent a young lawyer to review and report on California’s treatment of narcotic addicts. With a psychologist to assist he went to Synanon and became infatuated with a girl, Tammy. He wound up in a game with powerhouse players Jack Hurst, Jesse Pratt, George the Turk, Charlie Hammer and Reid Kimball, and Chuck. Therein he was asked if he was going to tell the Governor how great Synanon is. When he said it would be in his report several months down the road, Reid Kimball responded lives could be lost in such a delay. Then Kimball added, “You could write it a lot faster if your hands weren’t too busy with Tammy’s tits.” The lawyer’s assistant, psychologist Dr. Gold, jumped up and said, “This is not therapy…it’s naked brutality…the most destructive approach to human behavior I have ever seen.” The lawyer’s ultimate report did not mention Synanon.

( In 1963 Kimball ran into Dr. Gold, at a UCLA conference, mentioned that Hurst, Pratt and the others were all still clean and asked if Dr. Gold still thought the game was the destructive therapy he ever saw. He replied, “Yes.”)

Instead of sending money Synanon’s way, Governor Brown began to approve financing California State Department halfway houses modeled in part after Synanon. To Synanon this was fulfillment of Walker Winslow’s 1961 warning that governments would try to steal the Synanon concept and create “Copycat” programs. Similarly in 1965 when Synanon declined New York Department of Health’s offer of $360,000 because the Department wanted a separate quarters in Synanon with its own case workers, the city raided Synanon administration staff, offering salaries, and started Daytop on Staten Island, assisted by Dr. Daniel Casiel who wrote the first Synanon book, So Fair a House.


In Las Vegas in 1966, Synanon did receive $3000 from the Economic Opportunity Board of Clark County, Nevada for an experimental counseling program wherein members from Tomales were to lead “Operation Back to School.” Once a week for 13 weeks Synanon was to hold a meeting with 25 teen-age delinquents. But after making the thousand mile track and finding youngsters had been excused from the first meeting to attend a rock and roll event Synanon canceled the contract.

A huge grant from the Rockefeller Foundation, which had originally financed Alcoholics Anonymous, and another from the National Institute of Mental health, a branch of Department of Health, Education and Welfare, were turned down by Synanon the same year for similar funds because they wanted urine testing. Dederich said Synanon operates on trust and was a family, not an institution. He would not have his people “making wee-wee in a bottle,” he proclaimed. “We let our urine go down the drain…along with all that money. That’s what we think of piss, here…Synanon will never go into the business of manufacturing piss. Not for anyone. Synanon is in the business of manufacturing human beings. And that’s the business it’s going to stay in.” So the money went to support the new methadone programs.

Other institutions sniffed around, but they wanted statistics. Dederich would not part with them. He said dope fiends would identify with the percentage that were not making it, even if it was small, and would not come. “People at Synanon do not want to be statistics”, Dederich said. Also he contended they would not be accurate because, “If members do not live up to the group specifications they are told to get lost. It is much easier to get thrown out of Synanon then to get in and that’s the way it has to be.

“I don’t believe in statistics. I know we have something here at Synanon that works. Sooner or later, the rest of the world will know that to, and preferably without statistics, which tend to freeze concepts in people’s minds. Synanon is good now, it will be getting even better.”

Some wanted drug testing or control for their money. Chuck would give them neither. Synanon, he said, must go its own way. Its destiny had to be its own unaffected by those institutions that only have a history of failure in the area of drug addiction.

Dederich was angered over the non-support without strings or statistics but he used it to build dedication. Those whose refused to help were part of the wolves at the door that one day would be tamed. He told his followers for now they could do without government funds. Having to get the money themselves would make them stronger. Help them become Synanon’s own largest cash donor. “We do not want or need interference from professionals,” he said and reminded them that the California Department of Corrections had tried to stop their growth, arguing against Synanon to judges.

More than their money, “We just want these public servants,” Chuck said, “to stop interfering with our business… when they attack what we do, of course, we become defensive and in some cases we have to institute a counter offense…

“…These people should break down our doors and make us take their money. We have the Synanon savvy. They don’t. They never will. All they’ve got is money. You’ll see… the day is coming when they will shower us with it. Money will come pouring out of the walls. It will, in such quantities that we will have trouble scooping it up.”


“When Chuck was living in San Francisco and commuting to Santa Monica he read the book This I Believe, a compilation of patriotic, philosophic and religious statements from important pioneers of the time. The book reflected the importance of ritual and symbols in human affairs. Dederich then applied the concept to Synanon installing the annual Night of the Great Cop out celebration on July 15, 1966 modeled after a Jewish sadder. It would be held each year thereafter on the second Friday in July. At the table bent spoons, a symbol of how they contorted the utility to make a stand up saucepan for horse, were handed out to be straightened out en mass on cue. Dark glasses, once worn to conceal dope effects, were smashed, acknowledging the breaking out of the darkness and into the light of truth. Stale bread and peanut butter was eaten, like matzos at a sadder, to remind of the difficult earlier days of Synanon. A Japanese flip- flop was on the left foot and a shoe on right, a reminder that early members had one foot in the club and the other out. An old-timer who was there that night stood and told the story. Portions of this and other events were preserved on film by the Audio-visual Department and labeled “Synanon Archive Productions.”

Squares also celebrated the holiday at a designated Square’s home. As Squares were responsible for tyrannies, persecutions and wars each was to bring something to symbolize what each was giving up such as jewelry or credit cards. It was a commitment to ending the old and to rebirth.

Synanon had gone along with the beatnik slang and bongos of the 50’s, but now in the 60’s it tried to keep current with the hippies by using psychedelic colors and earrings. As music in America was changed by Beatles’ tour in 1964, a rock band was formed in addition to the Sounds of Synanon and a special dance room for the youngsters was established. “Laugh-In” was now television’s most popular show and the Foundation vehicles soon had bumper stickers proudly declaring Synanon is “Happening.”


College campuses were the center of the 60’s social revolution. Thus, In 1965, with the help of Yablonsky, Synanon commenced a new program, “Synanon on Campus.” Synanon promoted offering a new way of interacting and described itself to appeal to the “love” generation. It now preached the cause of social illness, which drug addiction was but one symptom of man’s alienation from man. This, said Yablonsky, fits the needs of the “modern student” by providing “camaraderie.” Instead of protests and “sit-ins” students would play games. Over three hundred students joined campus game clubs. The University of Southern California, where I was now in my sophomore year, took part. Other participants were the University of California at Berkeley, UCLA, University of Nevada, Cal State at Long Beach, San Diego State, Sonoma State, College of Marin and Southwestern College. Lincoln Russell, a medical student, spent his summer internship at Tomales Bay financed by Stanford University.

On August 1, 1966 Synanon, almost two weeks before I would turn 21, conducted a week long seminar on its approach to crime an delinquent control at Valley State College, led by the Sociology Department Chairman, Lewis Yablonsky and his class lecturer, Charles Dederich, who gave 10 lectures. The enrollment fee was $125. A featured participant was the then controversial Rev. William H. Dubay, suspended by the Catholic Church for communist views, he became a Synanon counselor for room and board plus $5 a week.

Synanon also entered academic classes, Yablonsky saying it aided by “injecting human emotions” into the normal “cold-blooded” information handed to students from the “Archives of Man.” Instead of just teaching “about” life, Yablonsky stated, Synanon teaches “how” to live it. Synanon held an Educational Conference at Tomales Bay with over 100 students attending. A campus clubhouse was established in Reseda.

As America escalated its role in Vietnam in 1965 by sending in the first American ground troops, Dederich incorporated the cold war fears into his message:

“I frankly am not too concerned about the condition of the world,” he declared to all. “We can, if we wish, weigh the pros and cons about whether the bomb is going to drop; it may happen tomorrow or next year or 10 years from now. I’m not horrified at the idea… I can’t get too excited about that. I can get excited about the idea that we have, somehow, to make ourselves more fully aware, to make the all too short life experiences a more pleasurable one. To begin to do this we must know one thing. We must know we have far more ahead of us then we have behind us. Whether it lasts a week or goes on to the normal three score and 10 doesn’t make any difference… I get very excited when I see more and more people coming to this awareness through the shortcut of the Synanon game.

“I can see Synanon becoming the largest university in the country–bigger than the University of California.”


In 1966 Synanon tried to buy a $95,000 two-story 14 room Mediterranean Villa-style home at 412 Paseo Miramar Drive owned by movie director Frank Borzage in upper-class community Pacific Palisades located along the ocean between Santa Monica and Malibu. It was to be used to house Synanon executives and out-of-town visitors. But the community, one that I would choose as my permanent home a decade later, made protests that led to a withdrawal from escrow.

And that year Nevada ended its Synanon prison program despite the fact that earlier in March Walter Cronkite had broadcast on CBS a profile of Synanon’s pioneering trends in prisons. The Washoe County District Attorney had become a critic of the program and the Reno police chief said after four years he had been unable to decide if the program was good or bad. Synanon blamed the closing on California correctional authorities which would not let Nevada parolees into California to live in Synanon. The Foundation withdrew from Reno except for maintaining a game club and recreation center for dues-paying squares at a converted Baptist Church at 1035 North Sierra.

Elsewhere Synanon continued to grow.

In 1966 Bob Gordon, Tim David and Gary Guitierre went on a 10 day hustling trip to Detroit to gain support from automotive and industrial firms. The Synanon Public Information Office arranged a press conference in Detroit and the trio appeared on eight local radio shows, six television shows and were written up in four newspapers. They met with Gov. Romney at his office. The story: “Synanon: they play for keeps” appeared in the National Catholic Reporter April 20, 1966 issue. All the big auto companies, General Motors, Ford, Chrysler, American Motors, etc., were receptive. The documentary “The House on The Beach” was privately screened to 150 community leaders, including the Secretary of the United Auto Workers. As a result, Detroit, which had 2000 arrests in 1965 for drug addiction, formed the Detroit Citizens Committee to raise funds for Synanon. A Detroit Synanon house was then formed in a leased 40-room mansion at 8344. E. Jefferson Avenue. Apartments for staff were leased at 552 Marquette Drive and 1963 Orleans. The Midwest Base functioned mainly as a receiving center for addicts who would then be sent west. In twelve years this operation would lead to an elderly black woman, operating a record store in the Detroit ghetto, asking me to help rescue her grandchildren.

1966 overall was a year of victories for Synanon. Foremost had been the settlement with Santa Monica and the Board of Medical Examiner’s disappearance.

Next was a victory in its feud with The Department of Correction over control of its parolees vs. Synanon’s rules. The Department had said it was trying to work out ground rules with Synanon for its parolees and also complained Synanon has never obtained approval by the Board of Medical Examiners as required by the Petris bill. The fight was heated. In February of 1965 Dederich and Garrett held a press conference and charged the department with harassment and refusing to recognize Synanon’s effectiveness. Governor Brown offered to mediate between the two, but Dederich simply responded, “We cannot subject our program to state control.” Dederich instead looked for someone amongst his ranks who, like himself, was willing to risk jail for Synanon.


Before the year’s end he found George Gilbert (Gil) Faucette, a bespectacled 53 year old who began using opium in 1931 before moving on to heroin. He had been in and out of prisons since 1954 and still had 8 years to go on a 2-20 sentence. And his parole had already been violated four times. He met Rita at Synanon and they became the first couple to have a wedding ceremony there. Fearing he might not make it without Synanon, he volunteered to be a test case. He told his parole officer he was moving into Synanon and did so on December 7, 1965, the 24th anniversary of Pearl Harbor Day. As expected the parole board sent him a “pack your bags and return” letter.

Dederich pounced at the opportunity and publicly compared the California Department of Corrections action against Faucette to Nazis trying to execute their power and “gobble” everyone up. Reid Kimball argued Faucette had been under the Department’s control for 12 years without result. The parole officer said Synanon was outside the official assigned territory and the Department was designed to regulate parolees whereas Synanon assisted volunteers. Synanon countered it was succeeding and naline testing violated its efforts to build trust.

The ACLU, representing Faucette, filed a writ of habeas corpus (wrongful holding of a man) and a petition for restraining order (stop removal from Synanon) in Superior court against the Department of Corrections. A hearing was held in front of Judge Benjamin Landis. Synanon was represented by John Ciampa and Norman Herring, an almost blind attorney from Phoenix, a former alcoholic who used to specialize in malpractice.

On January 26, 1966 Judge Landis ruled for Faucette, holding the Department’s position “does not appear to be of equal importance so far as the future welfare of Mr. Faucette. Society would not be benefited if he relapsed into drug addiction even if it occurs within the supervisor’s territory.” The Department, Judge Landis said, had not given reasonable or adequate consideration of Synanon’s usefulness and the court was “frankly unable to understand the lack of interest in such a proven technique for the rehabilitation of addicts.” His decision was upheld by the court of appeals on August 8, 1967.

Dederich declared the Landis decision would bring thousands of new applicants to Synanon. “We have proved that a man has the right to help himself,” he said. Faucette was the Synanon man of the hour. Six years later he would become a “Benedict Arnold.”

In July of 1966 the Los Angeles Police Department refused to give the Synanon service station at Beloit Ave. and Santa Monica Blvd., next to the south on-ramp of the San Diego Freeway, a permit to do repair work because its applicants, Reid Kimball and Donald Park had criminal records. The police accused Kimball of fraud because he did not list his entire criminal record on the application. Kimball, who was now Synanon’s Executive Vice President and had remarried, responded he could not remember them all as they dated back to 1935. Synanon appealed to the Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners and in September was awarded the permit on testimony that the Synanon members involved had clean records from four to seven years.

Thus Synanon continued its relationship with Texaco, which had begun in 1964;the two proudly offering, “Service you can trust. You can trust the man who wears the star.” Synanon members completed Texaco school courses in the areas of lubrication, electrical testing, tune-up and minor automotive repair and opened two more service stations. One in San Diego at the corner of 13th and Harbor, another in San Francisco on the corner of Lombard and Fillmore. As Synanon now had its own garage, Synanon Automotive, an open yard and repair sheds located at 1442-48 Street, for its vehicle maintenance, Synanon service stations were available to service the public. Their dedication was suitable to the “One stop service” of the days, a time before self-serve, when oil was checked, tires filled and the windows washed while a driver sat comfortably in his car. Synanon, as expected, went even further in service. Crew members picked up customers’ cars in the morning, filled the tank, tuned the car, replaced mufflers, fixed lighting, made repairs, washed and waxed and delivered the vehicle back.

And the Synanon school became accredited.


Synanon got a split decision in 1966 from a 15-man County Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Commission 18 month study of Synanon for the Los Angeles County Supervisors. But in terms of numbers, Synanon was the clear victor. The Majority report in favor of Synanon was signed by Commission Chairman George A. Rabinoff and 10 others. A minority report was authored by Dr. Eugene L. Ireland and signed by George C. Andersen, the Commission Vice Chairman and two others.

The Majority stated Synanon had overcome problems and undergone many changes in growing into a large, well-organized national therapeutic program for former addicts and other maladjusted individuals. Synanon had gone through a turbulent history of suspicion, the victim of “social conflicts in the public mind,” to acceptance by some segments of society. The report noted praise from government officials across the nation including Senator Thomas Dodd, Nevada Governor Grant Sawyer, California Gov. Pat Brown and former State Attorney General Robert Kenny. It approved Synanon’s encouragement that each new member feels he or she is a part of a new family, with brothers and sisters, and the temporary prohibition against contact with real family so all primary needs are met within the building. Synanon, they said, was clearly a boom to law enforcement and had “crystallized” into an effective program with such promise it “justifies offering Synanon watchful encouragement.” In Synanon, they said, 11 nationalities and all races live and work together. The majority was impressed by Synanon Industries effort to self-support and plans for a national arts center in San Francisco. The majority recommended favorable court policies towards criminals asking to go to Synanon on probation and judges who give such approval should be “commended.” They suggested the Supervisors themselves visit the program.

The Minority report, however, was concerned over Synanon being more than a rehab, but a “movement.” It questioned if those in need should be turned over to an organization with such intent. It commented on the use and control of sex and Synanon’s spreading to university campuses with a focus on insights and self-realization. Synanon was currently trying to set up programs at a children’s hospital and a youth center in Nevada. It appeared to the Minority to have a goal of reaching every segment of society. It’s statistics were inconclusive particularly as members were encouraged to remain. Synanon, the report said, appeared to be shaping into a type of “cult.” They were concerned over a boast of Dederich to take 3000 addicts from New York to a Tomales Bay ” city” being built for 5,000 people which would have its own post office, hospital and fire department. California’s permission is needed for out-of-state parolees to come.

The minority cited a list of communities, police, medical practitioners and local governments that opposed Synanon. They pointed out Nevada eventually ended its prison program and only 25% of the participants had been addicts. A report to the New Jersey state legislature drugs commission had been highly critical of Synanon and its vague statistics. One local law-enforcement agency was quoted saying Synanon was good with propaganda but ignores providing comprehensive statistics which might mar its image. Walter F. Dunbar, Deputy Direct or of the Department of Corrections, was quoted saying the Department needed to know Synanon has “appropriate goals, its financial structure is above board and that their facilities meet zoning, health and sanitation requirements.” Such was necessary, Dunbar said, to protect the people inside and the surrounding community requires 24-hour supervision by a “qualified staff.”

Despite the accolades, said the Minority, Synanon had fewer blacks then would be expected and a greater percentage of females in proportion to the general addict population. It charged the statistics with being generalized and inconclusive and stated Synanon is resistant to critical inspection: “Partisans are welcomed; critics are attacked.” Attached were two letters to Synanon from the commission, the first 18 months old, requesting specific information from Synanon but each had been ignored.

The Minority found no difference in the cost or results in comparison with the California Rehabilitation Center for narcotics addicts. And unlike Synanon, it stated, CRC handles only hard-core addicts. Many in Synanon were drug abusers, not addicts, some only with mild pill habits. Others were friends and family. It further criticized “pressure techniques” used to secure financial donations from prospects. Most bothersome to the Minority was a Board of Medical Examiners letter sent to Synanon in February of 1965 stating its application under section 11391 of Health and Safety Code, as required by the Petris Bill, was not granted for lack of submission of evidence of meeting the Board regulations contained in Chapter 13.2 of the California Administrative code, particularly 1399.29.

Synanon, the Minority concluded, should not get financial support from tax money. Any aid, the Minority said, should be conditional and/or experimental.


Rabinoff and Dr. Richard Nahrendorf, a UCLA professor of psychology, on August 16, 1966, my 21st birthday, told the Supervisors Synanon has proven narcotic addiction is not a lost cause. Dr. Eugene L. Ireland, who wrote the Minority report, they said, relied on hearsay, did not speak to Synanon members or go to Synanon. Angrily, they said the Minority wrote the report without consulting other committee members. Nahrendorf, went further and accused Dr. Ireland, who was not present, of bias, identifying with people who object to Synanon and said Dr. Ireland should have disqualified himself from the commission. Dr. Ireland as a member of the Medical Board had wanted many restrictions on Synanon practices for its permit under the Petris Bill. Synanon attorney John Ciampa called the Minority report a “smear.” Rev. Paul Woudenberg, Ph.D., appeared for the Minority and responded that Dr. Ireland’s enthusiasm for his point of view was as great as the enthusiasm of Nahrendorf for his.

The Board took both reports under submission and referred them to the sheriff, probation department, district attorney, county counsel and the chief administrative officer and the health officer for study.

The Minority report appeared in the right wing September 30, 1966 publication of The Freedom Press. The entire issue was dedicated to Synanon with its front page headline stating, “Synanon, The Cult That >Brainwashes’ The Anti-Social Ones.” The edition also included DeTar’s report fearing Synanon could be taken over and used by communists.


By December of 1966 the number of people calling Synanon the most successful narcotic rehab in history was growing. And some claimed it was also the most successful commune in United States history. On November 20, 1966 the Los Angeles Times did a five column story on the game. The population reached 641, up from 570 at the end of 1965. It was constantly enlarging. In 1965 it was paying out $150,000 a year in rent and mortgages. That jumped to $360,000 in 1966 re mortgages for the Armory and 22 other properties, including newly purchased ones in New York and on Chicago Blvd. In Detroit a 16-acre estate was donated in the Catskills in New York. Located in Tannersville it had a 24-room main house and a six-room apartment over a garage. The population of Synanon, even out west, was dominated by New Yorkers, many who were Italian. They jokingly claimed California dopers were not real addicts. If they couldn’t score they just went surfing.


Synanon purchased 22 more adjoining acres in Tomales Bay, the DeGottardi Home Ranch and rented 800 more plus three cottages at Millerton Point in Marin County. Synanon purchased a ten unit apartment house at 539-41 Sunset Ave., Venice, California and filled it with 50 residents. A few blocks down at 360 Sunset Ave was Synanon Supply, a double warehouse. Synanon Enterprises filled a two-story office at 907 Pico Blvd. The fiscal year ending August 31, 1966 showed total assets of $1,088, 420.79. Synanon Industries had a net profit of $232,000. ADGAP, with its main office in San Diego, a two story office building at 3102 Reynard Way, became the largest advertising gift business west of Chicago. The five service stations earned $62,500 net profit with gasoline sells were over $300,000. The first shipment of Synanon Art Rugs arrived from India which were all sold to finer homes in two months. Government money even finally arrived. A plan was made to participate in California’s Aid to Dependent Children’s program and an agreement for $100,000 a year was made with the California Department of Rehabilitation. A connection with Puerto Rico was made with the government paying Synanon to import Puerto Rican drug addicts, once again making Santa Monica’s worst fears– a light attracting unwanted moths–a reality.

Regular contributors now included the Del Mar Turf Club, multi-millionaire Del Webb, a number of Las Vegas casinos and hotels, the Teamsters Union, the Naval Officers Wives’ Club of San Diego, the Readers Digest Association, Inc., the Rotary Club of West Los Angeles and McMillan. Hustling of goods provided for most of their needs, including clothing.

Synanon members tried to be fashionable, some of the women wanting the mini-skirts introduced into fashion in 1965, but they had to wear what they had and much of it was second hand. ADGAP was taking off while other members were engaged in cabinet work, Indian rug sales, pottery, gardening and producing their own magazine, first called Synanon Magazine and then the Synanon Scene. Phone lines multiplied, switchboards were added and operators answered, “Good morning, Synanon, how may I help you.” It had acquired several warehouses and factories and had more than 100 cars and trucks. One former dope fiend was now managing 26 pieces of real estate. Its increasing population required constant expansion and a decision was made not to rent any more properties but only buy. Following Dederich’s early career, Synanon began manufacturing machine parts.


Synanon held a stockholders meeting, led by Square Mike Kaiser and Bill Crawford, which became an annual event. Everyone, said Dederich, was a stockholder without paper in the Synanon corporation. A family member does not need a printed page to prove they belong. The Random House dictionary added: “Syn-a-non (sin`a non`): n., a private organization assisting those who wish to be cured of narcotics addiction.” Tom Patton, Synanon’s designated scholar in Tomales Bay, said one day the definition would extend to helping all people everywhere.


A Square woman turned over her $13,000 a year salary to Synanon for the privilege of living in. Others Squares followed and became Lifestylers, working outside and paying Synanon to live inside for the lifestyle. They went to work then returned, played games and hung out in a world they could be confident had no drugs, alcohol or violence. Individual donations for the year amounted to over $100,000 and Synanon extracted a similar total from families moving in. The Sponsors of Synanon contributed $15,000 and raised another $18,000 by benefits and auctions. The Mellon Foundation (Gulf Oil) and other institutions gave a combined $90,000. Dorothy Salant of the CBS family had moved in with three children and was helping in the school in Tomales. She would eventually donate a million dollars and marry Dan Garrett. It’s automobile fleet size doubled with donations from major auto companies. Expenses for 1966 totaled $583,547, $175,00 going for rents and mortgages and 10% of it burned up in cigarette smoke with nearly an equal amount spent on WAM.

Synanon supporter Leonard Nimoy, who volunteered to teach acting at he House, rocketed to stardom in 1966 with the TV debut of Star Trek while Synanon obtained more fame from Dr. Abraham Maslow, an American psychologist, author of Toward a Psychology of Being and leader of humanistic psychology and the human potential movement that would dominate the 70’s. Maslow, who had developed his own theory of moral behavior motivation called self-actualization–the fulfillment of one’s greatest human potential, visited Synanon in the early 60’s. Later he sent the Foundation some manuscripts that were copied and placed in Wizard rooms. Maslow’s ideas of self-actualization were not far from Emerson’s self-reliance. He advocated a spiritual and creative life akin more to Eastern religions rather than Catholic guilt. Maslow was an advocate of creating an emotional peak experience, ascending to a high degree of consciousness and perception into one’s being (“A single glimpse of heaven”). Dederich often quoted and emulated Maslow, particularly his advocating of manipulating peak experiences to transform behavior. Dederich created an illustration Line of Dichotomies to similarly separate the intellectual transcendence from routine behavior functions. Synanon was definitely in tune with the ideas of human potential and Dederich wanted Synanon to spearhead the movement.

Maslow seemed to agree – in 1967 he published “Synanon and Eupsychia” in the Journal of Humanistic Psychology and instructed his students and colleagues that they should “Go West” and study Synanon, declaring, “Synanon is now in the process of torpedoing the entire world of psychiatry and within ten years will completely replace psychiatry.” When Maslow lectured at a San Francisco Cathedral in 1965 the entire Seawall population dressed up to attend. They loved him but all believed as a philosopher Dederich was at the very least his equal.