Critique of Kentucky U, Claire Clark’s Springtime for Dederich (Recovery Revolution) Part 1

Critique of Kentucky U, Claire Clark’s Springtime for Dederich (Recovery Revolution) Part 1


Look soon for Part 2.

Claire Clark

Paul Morantz after surviving Charles Dederich third attempt to murder.


By Paul Morantz
(c)March 2018

“I discovered I had a small cult around me…(said as early as 1957)

“I can run a State or country. I have that magic. I am one of those guys.”

“We never knew how to cure a dope fiend. Only to keep them for life.”

“Whatever happened at Synanon it was because I approved it. Nothing that involved such magnitude (violence) could occur without my approval.”

“I want to crack some bones…. I really do want a jar with an ear in it on my desk. We ineptly threw people downstairs and beat them in the basement. We have trained the Imperial Marines and we won’t be inept at this at all. The Mafia has proved this works. Mess with us and you can get killed dead,… Physically dead.”

(for actual words of last paragraph see

—————– Charles Dederich

Remember the movie/play “The Producers”– the partners sell way over 100% of a play and plan to keep all the money. To get away with this con the play must flop so bad opening night that they can file bankruptcy. To guarantee the plan the producers pick a musical – – “Springtime For Hitler” written by a former Nazi still in love with the Fuhrer.

It was very funny to most, but probably not so funny to Holocaust survivors. I certainly didn’t find it very funny when Claire Clark wrote in applauding book 6 months ago about a-want-to-be mass murderer– Charles Dederich—who put dissenters into a Slug Camp and led a “gang that couldn’t shoot straight” on a mayhem frenzy including 3 attempted murders in which they ineptly failed. But that ineptness would pale against the ineptness of Claire Clark’s book, a “ Recovery Revolution,” which says nothing of what I just told you.

The 1st murder attempt was to have 4 men beat to death a rancher, Ron Edison, on the ground with the back of rifles and shotgun butts while his wife and children were held at gun point at their mountain ranch in Badger, California. But the attackers bailed early knowing Sheriffs had been called. The next was hammering the head of a man, Phil Ritter, who was trying to get his daughter out of Synanon and warn authorities re forced vasectomies. They used mallets and struck as he returned home in Berkeley. Only a passer-bys screaming stopped it and saved Ritter’s life. In the next attempted murder –the one Charles Dederich was convicted of conspiracy to commit murder–I was the victim. A Rattlesnake sans rattles (cut off) was placed in my mailbox. I was later told they actually had 3 rattlesnakes but only one fit in my mailbox.

And to fill in time, Dederich approved over 80 attacks on approximately 200 or more victims, most of them teenagers, most of them hospitalized by mobs kicking and hitting with brass knuckles, pipes, clubs, tire irons and weapons. This is Claire Clark’s God.

Dederich later admitted to me under oath at deposition he was responsible for all of it. Clark also admitted to me she knew all this but chose not to tell her readers. Is she a sociopath lover? You know, one of those that fall in love after the psycho is caught? Probably not. A Moron? Don’t think so. Is she a professor who “lies by omission,” as an AA official who wrote a damming report on Synanon’s ill effects on rehabs today, the same year she published her opposite conclusion?? She certainly chose to omit what she knew and justifies it saying she has right to be selective. I disagee journalist educators duty is not to select but provide whole truth if we are to learn history, In the end, she maybe just proof the Peter Principle is alive and well.

Prof. Lawrence J. Peter was at U.S.C. at the same time I was (I knew him) in the 1960s when he developed his theory every job is run incompetently because competent people continue to rise until they reach the position of which they are incompetent. And because they are now operating incompetently, they will not rise further and remain in position where they function incompetently..In other words, everyone settles at the job each is not competent for. Sounds like the White House.

Ironically while I was lecturing on Synanon to the Harvard Medical School, Columbia University was publishing her dissertation as a book which had the approval of the University of Kentucky Behavioral Department.

The study of behavior you would think would include education on ills of brainwashing and how sociopathic cult leaders turn good people into terrorists. Synanon was in the end shut down by Federal Court decisions for becoming a terrorist organization.

Worse was how many educators wrote favorable book reviews on Clark, suggesting the Peter Principle is alive and well in our education system. All of these “professors” failed to check the facts. The facts are so all over the Internet and clear from the very documents and people she cites; any student asked to do a paper on Synanon would not be so inept. In fact I was just contacted by 2 USC students writing a report for class on Synanon and two Chapman Professors are making a documentary on Synanon as possibly is A&E. So there is still some hope in the educational system.

But why at a time accurate documentaries and a 6 to 8 part movie series are being developed to tell true story of Synanon would Clark attempt to fictionalize and mislead people as to a history of a terrorist organization that treated its members like lab rats?

It also was in face of my decision to educate educators to this important story of human nature that aped a George Orwell book. After writing my memoirs, “Escape: My Lifelong For Against Cults,” I decided that the story Synanon was so important a story that future historians and scholars needed a book with credible and complete research as to what happened so they could understand its implications to society. I had in my possession through years of litigation every newspaper article written on Synanon, every magazine article written on Synanon, all the depositions taken in legal actions, Dederich’s preliminary hearing transcript for attempting to commit murder and kidnapping, and most importantly the bulk of Synanon records wherein it is admitted it had failed to cure drug addiction, sought to experiment with people instead and eventually wanted to imitate the Mafia methods of beat and/or kill “enemies.”

I could have tried to write a 300 page bestseller but instead wrote a 700 page history of Synanon taken from its own words and police records so that the entire of Synanon’s history would be in a single document for historians and left no other research to do. “From Miracle to Madness” was my gift. Ms. Clark, University of Kentucky, Columbia University were amongst my target readers. In essence, it was a gift to them. People would learn from the book and then pass on the knowledge to the students to better ensure these types of transformations into malignant cults would be less likely to happen in the future.

Clark’s book was a shock. The education system that I have repeatedly said was the answer to totalitarianism, not the courts, now betrayed society. And many other “leather elbows” as Dederich used to call the educated with degrees, joined in praise of Ms. Clark’s book, all equally guilty of not doing the minimal research at a finger’s touch– just Google Synanon.

But what hurt even more, is that Ms. Clark’s not only misquotes the people she writes about, she, as an AA official has said, “lies by omission,” and in her fanatical support of a want-to-be mass murderer she blames Synanon demise as being caused by necessity to “prepare for battle against the organization’s enemies.” Since that preparation including murdering me I consider it not only defamatory but raises questions concerning author’s empathy and morality, if any.

Further, Synanon had no enemies, just critics. Even Dederich admitted this at deposition.
He testified he knew that to create a boogeyman was a great way to bond Synanon followers, i.e. saying there were people outside waiting to destroy them.

The critics said he needed to have a license to practice medicine. California passed a law removing that requirement for housing but not treating addicts, with Medical Board supplying rules which Synanon then refused to obey. Officials said Synanon was operating out of zone and in fact it was and would do this intentionally to whip up donations and sympathy.

And while many with good cause were very fanatical in their belief that Synanon offered away to fight criminality and drug addiction, there was a very strong faction just as fanatical warning that Synanon was formed as a cult, brainwashed and caused addiction to the house more dangerous than one to drugs.

Ultimately, the majority won out, but in end the minority proved right. Synanon mobs hospitalized hundreds of people, mostly children, in over 80 attacks. And Mrs. Clark is wrong when she says change began in the 70s; the roots for everything that occurred were in the 60s. It was a cult waiting to turn malignant from inception. Clark just did not understand what she was reading, or she didn’t care. What is clear she only wrote of praises, not criticisms, warnings or prediction from ex-members.

By example a Santa Monica “blue ribbon” citizen’s committee report declared that Synanon was “not an asset to the community.” Sixty-five residents, the report stated, had known criminal records and although none had been arrested while in Synanon the report stated twenty-three ex-members had been. Narcotic arrests in the area were up 98%. Assistant Police Chief Charles Horn stated Synanon had created a “police problem.”

In one of the book she cites about Synanon, by Yablonsky (1065), who married a Synanon woman and admitted he took an attack on Synanon as a criticism of his wife, the word “enemies” appear throughout in mimicry of Dederich. More importantly, he cites a conversation where he, Dederich, and another psychiatrist discussed that Synanon is using brainwashing techniques (destroy ego, punishments, rewards, fear, charismatic leadership aimed at destroying identity and prevents them from ever leaving. Members are made to fear the future without Synanon.

Clark knows that in Synanon the mantra began very early in the 60s that no one should ever leave as Synanon as cure was not possible. In other words, in the 60s of what she writes, Synanon was not a rehab but an absorption machine. Later, I will tell you how there was a division in those rehabs following Synanon and those therapeutic communities that rejected Synanon abuses; the later were the correct line to most therapeutic communities today, and those that followed Synanon’s harsh treatments did worse damage than Synanon to its members.

Ironically, by 1977 I was studying the life of Charles Manson, Charles Dederich and Jim Jones in order to establish a profile of sociopathic cult leaders while at the same time the FBI behavior unit was developing how to establish a profile on a sociopathic killer And in the early 80s, a friend met an FBI profiler on an airplane and when she brought up my name he said, “oh, we all know about Paul.”

But you won’t know about me from Ms. Clark’s book, nor of any other Synanon’s victim of murder attempts or mayhem. Kentucky’s Behaviour Department is where you would hope the truth is told, not cover=ups.

Ms. Clark’s book:

Ms. Clark’s opening paragraph of her book discusses that the majority of people with substance abuse problems can resolve them without formal treatment by their mid-30s. (They sort of tire out). Ones who a need assistance usually have psychological problems or are young.

This opening paragraph may be the only truthful paragraph, in my opinion, in the book and ironically she did not realize it was also the very key to the story of Synanon. There was a “Miracle on the Beach,” but it had little to do with Charles Dederich, who only within a year of its inception had fired the entire Board of Directors and replaced them with “dummies I could control.”

What happened at the start was approximately the 1st dozen of arrivals were from age 35 to 60. Charlie Hamer, who she quotes to prove success, was 60. There were also many more that just Hamer: Jack Hurst, Reid Kimball, Bill Crawford, etc. These people wanted to quit drugs and they found that having a common house to live in and with help from each other, ability to be fed and given jobs, and having a roof over their heads, enabled their desire to quit. However they were all still eventually subject to the brainwashing one can never leave and that critics were “enemies.” They would be turned into fanatics.


Ms. Clark calls herself a medicine historian who draws from a collection of evidence but has to make choices in her endeavors of which are accurate. She calls it her avocation. I wouldn’t use her to pick stocks.

In my opinion she is a plain history revisionist—she made her decision before she started and looked not for truth, but for support for her thesis, ignored what she found that suggested otherwise and left out entirety of what people said. Online is a description of the contents of my collection of Synanon records from the beginning.(Google Morantz Synanon archives). It includes every news article, magazine article and most of Synanon internal documents and tape recordings along with boxes of sworn in court testimony. If you read the description it tells a story that Synanon’s popularity rose mainly from its own public relations Department and Dederich’s skill, as well as publicity concerning his resisting zoning laws wherever he tried to set up a facility. He always chose areas not allowed intentionally, which re-created publicity, and then he would move to an area that was properly zoned while calling everyone bigots. Dederich bragged in documents Synanon can get away with anything and said, “we do it with words.”

She never interviewed me, nor Dave Mitchell who won the Pulitzer Prize for his coverage of Synanon crimes nor read either of my books, particularly the Bible on Synanon “From Miracle to Madness” available on Amazon. I read everything she did, and I reported everything good done or written; she did not write everything admitting her “selectivity” which in reality is what she did was choose everything favorable written about Synanon and left out all that criticized it. Dederich was tried, convicted and jailed in 1961 for no license and out of zone. Synanon members testified they were ordered to take appointed women as mates and if they did not they were accused of still being in love with their mothers, This is what Dederich had believe turned him into an alcoholic in his youth.

She writes that the University of Kentucky is going is begin a therapeutic communities collection and will professionally preserve and digitalize records. So I contacted Kentucky and offered them my entire Synanon collection of documents, which included their memorandums and tape recordings bragging about beatings, torture of children, that they can cure any one, how it was a racket to make money and that they were going to train people to murder. Originally they said yes. But I pointed out the documents will also prove Ms. Clark’s book was completely wrong, I never heard from them again.

I also offered to debate Ms. Clarke at University of Kentucky and she refused saying she knew I was not wrong. The 1st question I would have asked her is why if you were trying to do an accurate history would Clark refuse to look only at the documents set up at UCLA by the Dederich family and not want to see the rest of them that Synanon tried to destroy and why she did not interview the people who fought Synanon and find out why they fought them? The answer appears is the only process and method Ms. Clark used was a search for evidence to support her love for therapeutic communities. As we will see, she did this in her book not just as to Synanon but other therapeutic communities that also used torture and did more harm to members than Synanon did. But to Clark they are all little darlings.

Clark’s Introduction:

She cites Guy Endore’s book, “Synanon” which is a series of interviews with Synanon people. Clark only cites favorable ones. Here is a true summary of what Mr. Endore wrote re Synanon in 60’s comparing it to a religion with Dederich in total control. Many of originals members warned Endore Dederich was acting as a malevolent God and not a benevolent one.

Endore called Synanon a test tube. He predicted one day Synanon would be compared to the achievements of Copernicus establishing the Earth was not the center of the universe, Freud’s revelations on the sex life of infants and Ben Franklin’s suggestion that lightning was not God’s wrath.

Dederich, he penned, was a “modern-day Socrates,” who had an aura of someone “divinely appointed, calling to mind the great Saints, prophets and religious leaders of former times.” Endore described Dederich as a father figure to his addicts, “his pets whom he both chastises and caresses, and a shepherd of his flock who will not let a lamb go astray…The Moses come down from Mount Synanon with the tablets of holy Emerson in his fat arms.”

Endore quoted members saying Synanon was “better than a fix of heroin” and also cited criticism, like Dr. Marshall Cherkas saying he was put off with the delusions of grandeur—each member assuming the role of expertise in psychiatry and the belief that only Synanon “can do it.”

Synanon members, Endore said, were proclaiming Dederich a God, or the nearest thing to Christ. Reid Kimball told Endore that Chuck had prophetic powers and doesn’t stop until his vision comes true. He hated to think of Chuck having sex, doing things like an ordinary man.

Jack Hurst referred to Chuck as the Second Coming. Zev Putterman, a television producer and former addict, said, “Chuck is my God and Synanon is my religion.” Another said, “Christ gave up his worldly goods and said follow me…Chuck is the only guy I ever bumped into who ever did that.”

The “Judases,” as Endore called them in his book, said underneath Dederich’s charisma lay concealed a private desire for the moment he would turn his followers into “dupes.” And Endore, himself, observed Dederich going ballistic on a woman who he claimed was concealing her prior history as an addict, prostitute and thief and Synanon’s rehabilitation leading her to a new successful life. Chuck berated her, comparing her to all the traitors in history until she dropped to her knees, wept and promised to proclaim to everyone how Synanon had saved her.

Endore noted the dangers of religious movements as they often “plunge into the horror of horrors: religious fanaticism—The Inquisition, the witch-burning, the Nazi concentration camps and gas ovens.” History, he noted has “left corpses of 10,000 religious martyrs and fanatics displaying their sad wounds” and “skeletons of a million military and political bullies waiving their differently colored flags before us.” Added, now were schools of scientific thought with their embattled theories. “Savagery and civilization,” he wrote, exact “deadly oaths of blind allegiance.” But Synanon, Endore mistakenly wrote, was safe from such an end. It was different because it “cures and works.”

Jessie Pratt, Synanon’s first black member, was also the first of what Endore called the “heretics” he interviewed. Several had told Endore different stories why Pratt had left Synanon, such as alleged women problems and epilepsy. When Endore located Pratt, he was married and working at a bookstore.

Jesse told Endore his departure from Synanon in the summer of 1960 had been an escape. He had been there for two years but didn’t think Chuck should lead. Dederich, he said, enjoyed shocking people and having power over their lives. He could save someone from the chains of addiction and then have the power to throw the person out and back to prior existence, possibly to die of an overdose. Pratt said Dederich was now “The Great Father-figure.”

Pratt explained Dederich didn’t want anyone to leave unless they went against his ideas. Then he could become “the angry God who expelled you from paradise… plunged you back into hell.” Pratt said he departed, despite Chuck saying he wasn’t ready, because he “didn’t want to be a fanatic…I just haven’t got that dogmatic makeup.” Instead, Pratt claimed, he was still following the original Synanon philosophy of accepting himself as he is, for better or worse.

An actor told Endore he withdrew his early support and said it was because Chuck had become a God surrounded by admiring disciples. It was too painful to watch and he left. He wanted to remember Synanon as it was when wild animals crawled out of the gutter and were welcomed.

One “heretic” talked only on condition he not be identified. He pounded the table with his fist telling Endore Synanon had gone from serving mankind to serving one man. Endore, he said, had been “hopelessly hoodwinked by the master hoodwinker himself.” All of the original Board of Directors were gone, he pointed out. “Aren’t you reminded of Stalin?”

In the early days, he said, everyone was burning up with discoveries—“This great advance into the unknown, this loophole for humanity to escape from all its ancient chains…betrayed by the very person who was most responsible for our discovery. But that’s what happens when the spirit of aggrandizement seizes a person: His first victim must be himself. That you understand, don’t you. That Chuck had to destroy himself first…”

“Chuck started with two Emerson ideas, only the truth could set us free and what was good for us must be good for all. We stripped ourselves of our most intimate secrets using verbal weapons that loved ones had never before used against each other. We didn’t need drugs….we all we were high with ideas.”

But, he said, and then Dederich became a victim of his own power. To be pitied. “That man is a born intriguer. I don’t know how he does it, but he never stops figuring things out. He never stops plotting and scheming. And at that sort of thing he’s a genius. But he is a sick genius.”
The heretic left when he overheard Dederich standing before the Armory saying to himself, “I now have a bigger house—beside a bigger body of water—than my stepfather has.”

“That’s when I realized,” said the heretic, “how Chuck’s tie to his mother and his hatred for his stepfather were incidents of his life that were still boiling around in his inside, and that it was this jealousy, this envy, more than the problems of the poor addicts, that constituted the basic motivating factors in his creation of Synanon. It was this still unresolved Oedipal Complex directed against the stranger who had come into his home and taken the little boy’ s mother away, a way to his own bed, that was still raging in Chuck’s gut. I was horrified. I understood all sorts of traits in Chuck that had hitherto puzzled me.

“And I saw that this desire of his to outperform his stepfather spelled danger for our club. I saw that Chuck was already moving to use our once honest and vital club of dedicated truth seekers as a mean of self -glorification. To raise himself above the man he hated. And that the situation had in fact gone too far for the club to be saved…Those poor addicts already looking up at him as the Great White Father….and he had turned the place into a political machine of which he was the sole boss.”

The enemies, said the heretic, were never as painted by Dederich. There were far more helping the club even with knowledge it was breaking the law. Many police and parole officers supported Synanon. “Chuck’s nature required him to have enemies,” he said. “Pea-brained civil servants…the more the better.” He wanted to take on the whole world, so that he—and he alone—might stand out as the one-man capable of handling the addicts ‘situation’. See how this great man is being crucified! See how this saintly man is being martyred! Chuck is the hero! Chuck the persecuted one! Chuck the heaven-sent Messiah! And all the time, he, Chuck, constantly afraid that everyone was trying to steal Synanon from him.”

Chuck, said the heretic, was the real enemy of Synanon. He wondered what the LSD had really done. The poor addicts were frightened children, he said, and Chuck did not level with them about all the people who provided them with goods and services nor with the public about all the sex and the need for time to change behavior. When Chuck became “‘Mr. Synanon,’ I had to go. The great goal of Synanon had changed from dedication to an ideal to dedication of a man.”

Endore responded that the Synanon umbilical cord is tough to cut and disgruntled ex-members are on the lookout for any information justifying their splitting. “Heretics,” Endore said, “are not necessarily looking for the truth. They just want to cry out, ‘You see! What did I tell you?’”
Yet, at one point he digressed and wrote:

“And in the end at the back of my mind there was always a reverberating voice—I can’t remember whose, but I can remember distinctly what this person said to me, ‘You’ll see,’ the voice goes, ‘one of these fine days your Chuck will turn out to have stashed away loads of real estate, several millions of dollars in cash, and there will be one hell of an income tax scandal… You’ll see, because it happens to all the founders of new religions. And it will happen to Synanon, too. Bound to happen if his followers keep making a god out of him.’“

Endore’s fearful prediction was correct. Synanon as a rehab had turned into a major cult by 1960 with leaving frowned upon. Dederich needed bodies to work without pay and to argue for donations. Yet Clark left this all out when quoting Endore’s book. While old timers continued to help newcomers, it was only if Dederich did not throw them out on whim or for back talk.

Endore’s book was published in 1967 but by then Synanon 1 was dead. It was not the organization Endore or Clark described. In fact, it wasn’t the organization Yablonsky described when his book “The Tunnel Back” was published in 1965.

Yablonsky, who Clark also incompletely and selectively cites, who Dederich once destroyed with a “haircut” — a dressing down of the person in front of his peers– did a very good job in the book of describing the Synanon treatment, partly because he was clueless as to the horror he was reporting. Per Yablonsky (and confirmed by multiple sources) the following is the system Clark lavishes:

The conversion process began even before admission. The newcomer was given an appointment time and it was up to him to get there. No one would come get him. If he was late he was told to come back another day on time. If his arrival was prompt he was made to wait for considerable time on the bench, a symbol of pending rebirth. The initial interview was harsh, often hostile, mixed with a folk hero history of Dederich. Ex-dope fiends sometimes lined up behind the interviewers, staring at the prospect. Many times the newcomer had to beg his way in, promising to obey all rules and admit that without Synanon’s help he will die.

He was told failure to obey would result in being sent back to the streets regardless of the dire consequences. Several newcomers wanted to establish they were “bad,” a reputation worthy of status on the streets. Hurst and Kimball were experts at jumping on anyone who came in with such a street “tough guy” image that got them status in prisons. When someone talked of the pleasure of beating a guy with his fists, the point was quickly got across that this was not appropriate behavior and did not impress in Synanon.

Usually $1,000 was asked from a newcomer as it was reasoned that if he had such money and did not hand it over he would spend it on narcotics anyway. Sometimes money was sought from relatives, it being explained that they would end up spending more money eventually on bail and/or lawyers if Synanon didn’t take the addict in. Moreover, Synanon explained, without admission the addict will die. Synanon would take what money it could and if the newcomer split, the money was not returned. If the newcomer was in dire need and/or persistent he/she would be admitted even if the addict came up with no funds. Space was tight and Dederich noticed that as new people entered sometimes it squeezed someone out.

The newcomer, sometimes called Momma’s boy, was given a short haircut and facial hair was removed as a symbol of the death of the prior self-image and to identify with his/her new family. All personal items were taken, watches, electric shavers, anything that Synanon could pawn. In place the admitted was given khaki pants, a wool shirt and flip-flops obtained at the Synanon General Store. Any status he had was left at the door. A surgeon, said Dederich, would get “dishpan hands” and the craftiest thief will “specialize in removing toilet bowl stains.” But they will find, said Dederich, a life intensified to the nth degree with only two escape routes: Out the door to certain death or on to health through Synanon.

The newcomer was to be an infant, stripped of his past, unaware of reality and totally dependent on Synanon for guidance and growth. He was told if he didn’t shut-up when told to he could be thrown out. A 90-day ban against contacting his old family and friends was in effect. Isolation was considered necessary to re-education.

Past associations with family, teachers and friends had not done anybody any good, Dederich proclaimed. And with good cause he observed such contacts might reinforce past behavior patterns. But, he added, he was more concerned it might also interfere with the “necessary attachment to Synanon.” A newcomer was assigned a buddy to watch and guard against such contacts. Contact would not be allowed until the person got his head screwed on right. After three months one could sign out to leave the property but usually only in the company of someone else.

Cold-turkey kicking was not as bad as portrayed in the movies; a Synanon hi-fi played while the dope fiend lay on a couch on the second floor living room, receiving massages and eggnog. Sheets covered the couches and close by were wastebaskets with plastic liners. As newcomers sweated they could watch the ocean through large picture windows and people inside eating at the dining room extension, a view of a life now possible. People stopped by to chat, letting the newcomer know he had friends, at the same time being a reminder of where they came from. Once having “kicked” the addict was not applauded. The belief was that shooting dope was so stupid there should be no reward for stopping. That would only come when the newcomer proved himself as a person.

The secret to growing up was to Act as If. Dederich explained to newcomers that all the people they see “making movies, raising money, and entertaining Newsweek, and so on…” were once like them. And they, too, could become something different if they trusted and did what they were told. Dederich said, as all cults do, trust was another way of knowing. They were getting, Dederich said, “perhaps the only therapy that works more often than not on narcotic addicts….”

What Synanon did was remove the individual from his environment, separate him from family, and drill him with the fact he had been a failure all his life. In contrast, in the care of a licensed therapists trained in addiction, a temporary separation from family and environment may be needed in drug rehabilitation, but a permanent separation is not. And while group therapy might be of assistance, the Synanon game had no rules and no limits of verbal abuse; one could shout, ridicule, lie or say anything to cause an effect. Only rule at this time was the rule against violence but eventually that would evaporate. When a person was put in a game he either surrounded to the indictments against him are somehow turned the indictment on another victim. It was brutal.

Outside the game there were humiliating assignments to wear signs that demeaned htem or orders to act like a dog.

It was clear that Yablonsky had bought Dederich’s “boogeyman” theory as page after page Yablonsky called all those who criticized Synanon “enemies.” Santa Monica was concerned, and it turned out to be true, that Synanon would be a beacon drawing drug addicts across the nation who when they dropped out would steal and sell dope in Santa Monica. They wanted it elsewhere. Just as many professionals were for Synanon, as Clark reveals, she does not reveal many called it an absorption machine and criticized its brutality. Many professionals were against addicts withdrawing without doctors present, and while that may be preferred, I must concede that the old timers did a great job. But while Clark admits people by their mid-30s can stop using drugs without assistance, she remains silent and never discloses that such people in Synanon were told they could not make it if they left. They were to remain to build Dederich’s empire.

The addicts, Yablonski wrote, were attracted to the idea of a “super being,” as Dederich described it–“the all-knowing, the all-understanding.” The members, Yablonski wrote, waited for Dederich’s every word and tried to pattern themselves after him. Dederich made all decisions, Yablonsky wrote, based on his “inner urges and personal conclusions” and declared, “This is my house and if people cannot do what I want they should leave.”

What Yablonsky could not see was the last man who attracted a concept of a “super being” marched his followers across Europe and Russia. In just a decade, Synanon’s own Army would be marching across the United States.

Yablonsky, never thinking how he himself might have been affected, quoted one of his students saying people in Synanon seemed ‘brainwashed’ into accepting all of Dederich’s ideas completely and eerily described a conversation between he, Dederich and Yablonsky’s close friend, Dr. George Bach, a pioneer in attack therapy. After listening to a tape of a Dederich giving a haircut, Bach compared the technique to “brainwashing.”

Yablonsky wrote unfortunately the word had been given a negative image. Dederich said it was “great stuff.” He had been criticized by experts for it. Brainwashing, Dederich was quoted, was exactly what he was trying to accomplish. He wanted to “wash out” all that was bad. “You’re goddamn right we wash people’s brains,” Dederich told them. “If you got a dirty brain you wash it clean…”
“We use brainwashing and attack therapy here to peel away those parts of the self that haven’t been too effective; in fact that have put the person in the mess he’s in. We make him aware of new ideas and ways of behaving.”

Yablonsky, not knowing he was prophesying Synanon’s future doom, also quoted Dederich on how the games “bonded people.”

“In times of great stress,” Dederich told Yablonsky, “people will go back to the primary group. For example, if we wish to put a commando team together in time of war, we get a small group together, put them in a primary-group situation, and they seem to function with great effectiveness.”

A different view on the same facts reported by Yablonsky was given by a University of California, Berkeley, sociologist and author—Dr. Edgar Friedenberg. Writing in The Nation, Freidenberg reviewed The Tunnel Back and described it not as objective reporting but “a masterpiece of advocacy.”
Freidenberg, admitting he knew nothing of Synanon except from what he read in the book, concluded Yablonsky had “failed to grasp the enormity of what he related.” Much of what Yablonsky so proudly wrote, he said, was shocking, hardly humane, and “the candidness of the book suggested such little value on personal dignity by the author.” My thoughts were the same when I read Claire Clark’s book.
Friedenberg noted that Synanon measured its success in “clean days” but suppressing a symptom he said is not a therapeutic victory. He queried the other effects of such a hostile system on the personalities, particularly the price of “making them worship fully dependent on the people to whom they had submitted.”

Friedenberg compared Synanon’s procedure of public hazing, isolation, institutionalized focusing of hostilities against any remnant of the old self and use of manipulations with that of the Maoist struggle sessions described in Robert Jay Lifton’s Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism. At the time what Mao was capable of doing with such power was before the public, as the Chinese leader in 1966 encouraged chaos and near civil war as Red Guard student groups went on violent rampages throughout China, destroying symbols of “old ideas.”

“What Synanon tries to do,” Friedenberg wrote, “is rather more thorough than brainwashing.” The old self, he wrote, is completely thrown out with the “bath water.” Friedenberg worried of Synanon’s claims of outside harassment, the fear it instills in leaving and the “brainwashing” that removes the old self, leaving a “specter bound to the house,” all tempting Synanon, he wrote, into a position of familiar “frightening fanaticism.”

The ultimate self-image of Synanon members, he wrote, is “only what the group is willing to concede to the member.” And the very rhetoric of Yablonsky, Freidenberg warned, “reinforces my fears that there is indeed a Synanon state of mind that is more important by far, than the club itself.”

Even the first book on Synanon “So Fair a House” by Dan Casriel wrote negatives about the system that Clark would not tell her readers when she writes of his book. His book traced Synanon’s origins and that of narcotics in the United States. Addicts, he wrote, tend to be psychotic with an underlining diagnosis of schizophrenia. Dope fiends, he wrote, are infantile and respond to physical or emotional pain, or threat of it, by withdrawal. Primary addicts live to shoot dope, and secondary addicts shoot dope to live. The latter group is made up of professionals, like lawyers, doctors and musicians, who have a severe neurosis and perfectionist goals they can never fulfill. They may eventually become primary.

Casriel had psychological tests taken on two-year plus Synanon members, about 10 percent of its population, to determine if there was any underlining change. Ironically, he sent them to the Hacker Clinic for evaluation.

Dr. Frederick Hacker had left Germany as a youth due to the Nazi takeover and was to become an expert in terrorism and flown the world over to aid hostage negotiations. He would write a book, Crusaders, Criminals, Crazies wherein he compared brainwashing to “rape of the mind,” “an act” he said, “more injurious than physical rape.”

During the 1969 Manson Tate-LaBianca murder investigation, Hacker rejected the idea of a drug-related vendetta and provided the Los Angeles coroner Thomas Noguchi with a detailed portrait of the killer fitting Charles Manson to a tee. In 1974 he advised that media heiress Patty Hearst, following her abduction by the Symbionese Liberation Army, might convert before it actually happened. In 1978, he would become my expert on Synanon’s terrorism.

The Hacker Clinic test results were not what Casriel expected and, in retrospect, perhaps should have served as a public warning but did not. While behavior in Synanon members had changed, internally little had. Most still had an underlying personality disorder with components of neurotic, paranoid or disturbed character type. Their intelligence ranged from average to very superior Despite their many clean days, they still had a close identification with their former drug culture.

Casriel wrote, “One might assume from the test results that although the members of Synanon have apparently changed their attitudes and behavior, they have not forgotten their pasts.”

Those findings raised an interesting question no one really considered at the time: If formerly violent people were embracing doctrines of non-violence not by internal change but by group coercion, what might happen if the group doctrine reverted to violence? Of course this is why Casriel provided professionals at Daytop, and what proper drug rehabs do today.

Casriel believed Synanon approach was far above anything that medicine, psychiatry, the law, or society could offer. He recommended Synanon be studied and reproduced using Synanon members to “seed new institutions.” Casriel also thought Synanons could be created for alcoholics, criminals and homosexuals (not yet aware homosexuality was not an illness); In California forced attempts at such conversion are illegal today).

Where Casriel was wisest was in his recommendations as to how Synanon could be improved. If Synanon had accepted his ideas its destiny might have been altered. Casriel felt, perhaps as a result of the psychological testing, a licensed therapist should be involved in Synanon starting at the top with diagnosis and treatment of the board members. Further, he believed the hostile environment in synanons (the game) should be modified for older members to add more warmth, love and understanding.

Members, he said, should be given more of a chance to bring something out spontaneously rather than be probed constantly and mocked before they have a chance to fully express themselves. He stated older members should obtain proper psychotherapy treatment to be arranged with institutes nearby. When Casriel lived in Synanon, members had sought him out for such. As it was, he commented, only Chuck was fulfilling that role and he was not a professional. Casriel took these ideas with him and helped open Daytop in New York with another former Synanon square, Dave Deitch. That marked the true beginning of the future of all drug rehabs as they exist today. Clark cites Deitch as supporter of Synanon. Deitch was not when he left. He wrote about why it went wrong and was a witness for me. But Clark does not tell this to her readers.

Dederich, of course, read Casreil’s suggestions but implemented none of them. If he had, Synanon, in deed may have become the wonder of Clark’s fantasies. The fact is following the refusal, Casriel started Daytop with David Deitch which had a graduate program that provides for follow-up treatment, lowers the attack therapy, provides professionals and is the one that becomes the actual model for future proper drug rehabs.

Synanon only went on to prove what would go wrong if contact with the world is permanently removed, negativity not allowed, information is controlled, false information is given and brainwashing is 24 hours. CED imbued Synanon with his paranoia and bitterness and eventually withdrew it from the world, cutting off contact with outsiders, including family and friends, and forming a cradle-to-grave, self-contained community. “Containment” was the new order– Synanon was adamant that no one was to see their family or friends, and in fact they were not to leave the property except for business and then only with permission and in the company of others.

All forms of entertainment were provided within. They were “cut off” from the outside world. This occurred mid-60s. But where is this in Ms. Clark’s book? This is the methodology she writes was the great “recovery revolution.”

Another renowned Author, Peter Collier, who Clark’s leaves out of her book, also worried as he wrote an article, The House of Synanon, in the October 1967 edition of Ramparts Magazine. Unlike other investigators/writers, he had observed but not subjected himself to the process. He noted some critics claim Synanon was “fascist,” uses “brainwashing,” and that everyone there seems to talk and think alike. He quoted one person saying “Synanon was the greatest addiction of all,” but no one, he wrote, saw the irony of it.

He saw in Synanon a “totalitism” and “absolutism” that leads “to what one reluctantly thinks of as Stalinism.” He was disheartened by the disappearance of the three-stage system that led to graduation. He stated while Synanon’s “clever press campaign sold to the establishment,” making it easy to hustle donations, the future of Synanon was no longer addicts fighting narcotics, but a social movement which Synanon calls of “immense significance.” He quoted Hurst as saying, “Synanon is already part of the responsible community, so why should we send people back to society?” Hurst, one day, would be living in hiding from Synanon violence and giving evidence to the Atty. Gen.

Collier believed the squares would become Synanon’s future. He wrote these people seemed to have a need for a community-directed environment, a “passport out of their ambiguous circumstances—the condition of modern American life.” He recognized an element of truism in the concept modern man faces an “absurd situation he can neither control nor adequately deal with.”

To Collier, the squares would come not so much for the reward of being part of a “social movement of immense significance,” nor per manipulation of middle-class guilt in a Synanon game, although these would be factors, but mainly from a desire to escape. He wrote:

“Those who seek out involvement in Synanon are participants in the mass exodus from freedom characteristic of our time; they are looking for at least the skeleton of order and restrictive structure, something whose bones they can flesh out with their own hard effort.

“All revolutionary movements suggest that their reformation of what is defective will be quite thorough, but by the indirect technique of providing alternate cultural models. And in each of them there is an element of nobility. But they are sometimes also corruptible; they can build the greatest illusions of all. And often, these movements manage to evaporate, leaving magnificent catacombs for social archaeologists, but having managed to affect the here and now hardly at all.”

In May of 1967, a former musician and addict, now a writer, Paul Lofty, wrote in True Magazine that Dr. Elliot Markoff’s favorable report to APA in 1964 might not have been as favorable as intended. Lofty, who had entered Synanon in 1959 and was rehabilitated, noted Markoff wrote 14% of Synanon residents were graduated in 1959. But in just one year this dropped to 5%. In 1961 it was 6% and in 1962 it was 1%. In 1963 it was 0%. And when he wanted to leave to start a writing career Lofty was condemned by the Synanon hierarchy for not donating his life to Synanon. He further described everyone being told they would go back to dope if they left even though Dr. Casriel only found less than 10% had. Lofty got so sick of being put down as ungrateful for wanting to become a writer instead of a Synanon career man he hit his supervisor in the jaw and was then tossed out. Forced to be free, he found success in life. What he wrote in True was that he believed more in the success of Synanon then Dederich did. He wanted Synanon to exist, but wanted to say to it, “Let my people go.”

And Lofty, it turned out, was correct about Dederich’s view.

In l967, 73 percent of the new 900 character disorders split within one year. The lure of the streets was too strong and more often won before a conversion could take hold. But these were statistics Dederich kept under the table. Instead, he always talked publicly only in terms of clean days, adding up the total amount present on each day and multiplying it by the cost it was saving society per day for every alleged addict currently living in Synanon.

Dederich by now internally only would deem Synanon a failure as those who left were returning to drugs, many dying of overdoses. However, I believe that Synanon through the influences of the old-timers was more successful than The Old Man believed. The fact is many users after rehab relapse temporarily before permanently abstaining. 2nd, it might not have been so understood then that the most dangerous time for a drug user is when he/she leaves rehab. When they shoot, they take the old amount they were shooting, not realizing that during their rehab they lost their tolerance. Dederich just posted notices of their deaths on a bulletin board to scare others to stay forever and obey. His position was that once a person left he was dead to the community anyway and was not to be contacted or allowed to return.

But Dederich needed a free work force and addicts in order to reap donations. By the end of the decade Synanon would be wealthy beyond imagination. For now, Dederich made it official in 1967 declaring it Synanon 2 which had as its purpose to build the new society not curing drug addicts. Its focus was to recruit wealthy non-addicts called squares who were bored and looking for a purpose. He kept this secret from the companies that would donate money, and with those donations he began to build a city in Marin County. There he lived, he said like the head of the Cartwright family in Bonanza– “No one messes with them.” Later he would role model the Godfather and boasted the horse’s head was genius.. None of this does Clark choose to mention.

The first vehicle developed for procuring the new commitment from squares in 1967 became known as the X-factor Trip, then the Tao Trip and finally the Synanon Trip.

The name was more than appropriate as it was another of Dederich’s experiments with environmental manipulations so as to recreate the heightened awareness and inner discoveries he experienced while taking LSD. The Trip was admittedly a combination of group psychotherapy, mass hypnosis and mysticism with a dash of old-fashioned spiritual revival.

Through practice and modification of the Trip, Dederich designed an efficient program of individual emotional breakdowns followed by a mass group euphoria all designed to Mao-like re-educate into the Synanon II philosophy and lifestyle. It was first offered to the select as an honor, but the entire population was eventually targeted. Dederich called it an “insight producing” experience. Dederich, now 230 pounds and compared by some to a lumbering, toothless walrus, told new Trippers:

“At the end of this rainbow, there will be a pot of gold. Through dissipation, or long hours of activity without very much sleep, we hope to bring about in you a conscious state of inebriation… we want to get you loaded without acid.”

“You will learn more about yourself, your fellow man, the world, the nature of reality in one weekend than you would in four years,” Dederich said. “Let your ego go…let things happen to you. It’s a feeling of closeness to each other we are after, the death of the ego…A reference point for the rest of your life. You may change your value system, notions about life and viewpoints about people. It will produce a new breed of human beings with greatly expanded potentials. If you do your best, you can’t fail.”

A Synanon manual called it group psychotherapy and analysis (which was illegal for lack of licensing).
It began with a series of pre-Trip encounter games to encourage a surrender of any resistance to the unknown experience they would be receiving. At 7 p.m. on Friday the chosen Trippers, around 50 in numbers of all ages, were met in the Del Mar lobby by people dressed in long white robes and yellow silk scarves. A Shepherd led them through candle-lit and incense-burning corridors to a locker room filled with rows of Army cots with name cards. Each person stripped and put on white robes. Watches were taken as time was no longer important. Women removed all makeup and jewelry, a symbolic stripping of past selves.

At 8 p.m. the Trip Conductor, in a scarlet floor-length robe with purple trim and scarf, led orientation. With him were several Trip Aids in red robes and Trip Guides in red sackcloth robes and purple scarves, some in sandals, some barefoot. A tape of Dederich talking about the Trip was played. It was explained each was about to have a beautiful life-changing experience. But to achieve, it each had to trust. To think or analyze was to fail.

From midnight to 4 a.m. the Trippers could walk on the beach, snack or take short naps, but most were too excited for the latter. Trippers were then divided into game-size groups and taken to games that lasted until noon.

The Guides, all experienced game players, turned each group from enthusiasm to depression and defeat, wallowing in its collective shame. Sitting in comfortable green armchairs, they made the dope fiends tell their tales of drugs, rape, crime and beatings. The squares were pushed to confess their prior loneliness and despair. The games turned on one then another. Disoriented by lack of sleep, each was moved to the point of intense disillusionment. Aids did their homework, and provided ammunition to the Conductors on each Tripper. Everyone was to cop-out.

After eight hours of gaming, the Shepherds took the Trippers on a short break to saunas, steam rooms, back rubs and a meal. Napping was discouraged so fatigue would wear down defenses. Colored lights, incense and sad Bob Dylan songs were designed to invoke feelings of hurt, anger, joy and guilt. At 4 p.m. they gathered again to listen to tapes on Emerson’s essays on self-reliance, power and heroism. Added was a tape of Sidney Poitier reading Plato against a jazz background and the final hour of Socrates.

The result was implantation of a common bond and sense of ideals, all identified with Synanon. Each Tripper was to write a paper on some feeling or admission. A Big Shot then made a speech. In the first Trips, it was Dederich himself. He wore a purple robe, appearing as a large, round and powerful figure, his partially frozen face adding to his omnipresence (partial facial paralysis from past illness). The Trippers were not really chosen as an honor, he advised. Instead, each was really selected because each was a resister, thinking he or she knew better than he the direction Synanon should go; part of the dummies that hold Synanon back. “Maybe,” Dederich said, “one day we will just put dingbats like you against the wall and wash them off and bring them back into the human race.”

After four hours there was another sleep break but at midnight a Guide led the Trippers to a second game in another candle-lit, incense-filled room with solemn music playing. This was The Witching Hour. The Conductor spoke of the human need for spiritual belief and produced a Ouija Board to be operated by Witches, two women in black and white robes. The board would spell out Emerson messages on self-reliance, but self-reliance was interpreted as the ability to make choices and the best way to end loneliness and suffering was through trusting in Synanon. “Mysticism” was now the key note. “Priestesses” delivered spirit messages, and fantasy and reality blurred, some hallucinating.

Trippers were to pick other Trippers to be part of each other’s personal family—a mother, a father, a sister, to admit each needed Synanon. If not, said the board, the “fifth circle” in Dante’s hell, where tormented souls are terrorized and torn, awaited.

Often the board addressed a particular problem of a Tripper and inevitably answered the person should not be afraid to love those around him. When the first Tripper, physically and emotionally exhausted, “broke” and wept it caromed to the others. Crying, Trippers embraced, feeling euphoria and transcending love. At 4 a.m., the Conductor asked those who had broken to commit to the honesty and principles of Synanon. During the next break, those who had not broken felt depressed, unworthy, a failure.

At 8 a.m. following breakfast another four-hour game began. The unbroken were singled out and Thoreau was quoted: “The vast majority of all men live lives of quiet desperation.” The Conductor made it clear this was the resisters’ last chance, their last hope. The game took on each unbroken dirty rotten story with great brutality. Aids returned with smut obtained from the unbroken spouses to use.

The broken joined the attack. Some Trippers began to hallucinate, Dederich having achieved his replicated LSD-like altered state of consciousness. Fighting to stay awake, defenses wiped away, the unbroken broke and asked for forgiveness. Some rolled up on the floor in fetal positions. Some laughed; others howled and sobbed. Some cried for their mothers. When they asked for friends they were hugged in mass. All thought the experience was beautiful.

After the last rest period, the Trippers met for Wrap-up, sat on the floor, listened to “Ave Maria” while the Conductor explained how the experience could change their lives. Any remaining unbrokens were put in the middle of a circle where the leaders, with all their game skills, attacked each one by one using jackets—negative history compiled by Aids—during the last break. When each final holdout broke, wept, he or she was comforted by the previously broken.

At 8 a.m. Monday a gospel choir led by Betty Dederich burst into a spiritual song. Hand in hand the Trippers went down the corridor toward the sounds of band music. Now in a ballroom the Trippers were surrounded by hundreds of cheering, clapping Synanites. The Trippers, many of whom had been awake for 65 or more hours, were hugged and cheered. A Hoop-a-la began. Everyone bonded. All realized all had pain, and all could go past it. One just had to surrender to Synanon. Sandals were flung in the air. Who needed dope when they had Love?

A month later they attended a Trip Reunion where they were directed to write down how the experience had improved their lives and their Synanon commitment. They were told the Trip was only a start and to use it as a reference and motivation throughout their Synanon experience. Trippers would become future Guides, the best becoming Conductors.

With time, the Trip processes were enhanced. A special training course for Guides was established. They learned to ensure sleep loss, transformation and to categorize information on each Tripper on 3-by-5 cards prior to the Trip. They were taught how to punish and give orders just for the purpose of asserting authority. Guides were taught to be charismatic and to show displeasure as if dealing with children. They learned to use blindfolds to establish “trust.”

Personal information was passed to Witches operating the Ouija boards. They were to work on the easiest person to break first so others would see him or her go and know what was expected. Dederich called this a domino effect. Trips grew to include passengers of 60 or more divided into 5 subgroups with staffs between 30 and 50 residents, including five to 10 guides and 10 to 20 shepherds.

Synanites in unison claimed the Trip as one of their most precious experiences and gave thanks for the privilege. Reid Kimball predicted one day members of the United Nations and Congress would go through the Trip. He wasn’t far off. By the 1970s the program’s processes were seemingly reproduced in popular self-help trainings by groups such as Erhard Seminars Training and its spin-offs. Teachers, lawyers, doctors, police, politicians, all got hooked, many forming an allegiance previously not matched in their lives to the group and trainers that trained them.

The Trip was so successful that in only its second year the lifestylers business earned Synanon $500,000.

Despite the Trip conversion success, the old-timers, now the Retired Dope Fiends, aka The Walking Dead, remained a problem. As the alcoholics had not wanted change, neither did the dope addicts. Curing dope fiends was what they wanted. Some overrode their doubts remembering that Dederich somehow made his dreams come true. But in their hearts they did not want to change direction nor did they enjoy losing their jobs to squares with more skills. They liked their status, less roommates and more goodies: TV, stereo, shoes and clothes. They reacted with apathy when Dederich would proclaim, “Anything less than changing the world was Mickey Mouse.”

To Dederich their resistance manifested itself in carelessness in San Francisco. He left followers the details to an apartment house purchase needed as the population was exceeding the Seawall’s capacity. But when the deal fell through, Dederich brought the offenders to him for a special game where he attacked for letting down the man and organization that had saved them from the gutter. Each, he warned, could be replaced by a qualified square. The game was taped, edited and released to the Foundation under the title The Wrath of God:

“For 10 years, I have worked for you, and you have dragged your feet; I created Synanon; I took you out of the gutter and gave you a new life; you have stabbed me in the back for the last time; you will either work with me or I’ll get rid of you one by one; I’ll get rid of the …you all if I have to and start all over again, but with squares who won’t drag their feet and subvert my efforts; Synanon is changing; there is a place for you if you want it; if you don’t, get out.”

Now, in 1968, living in Tomales Bay, where he cut the population from 75 to 35 faithful, and studying his creation through the Synanon Research and Development Center, Dederich determined that private contracts, agreements between Retired Dope Fiends to keep secrets, were a root of resistance that had to be routed. He wrote a letter to Reid Kimball that he was dedicating himself to eliminating Contract Games from Synanon and forcing Retired Dope Fiends to reveal their friends’ dirty secrets. Copies of the letter were posted on bulletin boards.

Spouses were gamed to expose each other, the young to report on elders, like Hitler Youth did. Everyone was a spy/guardian of the other.

Games were extended to Massive Doses and eventually the Stew was developed where a target would simmer, sometimes under attack for as long as 24-hours. Teenagers, led by the Young Lions, a youth group under Teri Hurst, joined the Stews. This in turn in 1968 evolved into a Perpetual Stew, a continual game at the Powerhouse in Tomales Bay where participants could rotate in and out at four hour intervals. Participation sometimes lasted 84 hours with short sleep breaks and walks.

Four large chairs were in place for Dederich, Betty, the Director and a Bone, a young teenager keeping a log on the interaction. A gallery was set up for spectators. While games often dealt with personal issues, Stews were expected to deal more with community issues and obtain consensus. Government was by the game. More than attacking each other, people told their personal stories, some speaking for long periods without interruption.

Dederich’s war against RDFs was waged through the young. He had Synanon’s youth, believing Tomales Bay was Shangri-La, write letters to apply to the Academy, Dederich’s new educational school designed for 50 students, each pledging obedience if accepted. Using dorms in the Outer Limits, the Stewdents lived military-style with bunk beds, foot lockers and inspections. Heads were shaved within a quarter-inch.
The Cliffhouse in Marin was set up as a school for the Stewdents to study Dederich and Synanon. Added to Emerson, Thoreau and Skinner was Dederich’s newest fascination, the works of R. Buckminster Fuller, particularly polarized learning. Notebooks with Emerson essays were issued. Most Stewdents were dope fiends, but live-in-counsel Dan Garrett’s kids joined, his daughter dropping out of Radcliff to do so. So did Dederich’s daughter Jady.

When it was time, the Retired Dope Fiends were summoned to Tomales Bay and placed in Stews. Dederich, knowing their jackets, began the attack. The RDF who once drove a Synanon vehicle to steal dope from a donor doctor was made an example. So were those who had participated in the Orgy in the Library. Dederich had worked his “ass off for them” and look what they did in return. They were Synanon Dinosaurs. He was relentless and without mercy. He made each confess his/her dirty story. RDFs were a cancer that had to be excised.

“Evolve or die,” Chuck shouted.

When Dederich left, disgusted, the trained Stewdents took over. Nicknamed the Flies for William Golding’s Lord of the Flies, they buzzed all over the RDFs. They forced confessions, interrogated, and when finding inconsistencies made them confess again from the beginning. The attack heightened the longer the RDFs were awake. Only when details confessed were acceptable to the Flies were given could the attack turn on another. Any statement of pride or past accomplishment was stripped and denounced. Each was unworthy to remain.

Three days later, Dederich returned to the Stew to face the exhausted, defeated and alienated RDFs. Only now, rather than attack, Dederich offered acceptance and forgiveness. All he asked in return was their loyalty and trust; that they “make the leap from Synanon I to Synanon II.” He had not failed them; he would not fail them. The RDFs became exhilarated, filled with gratitude and a new dedication.

The Santa Monica House followed lead and pressured acceptance with what was called “The Bloodbath Stew.”

Angered, some left, but Dederich didn’t mind. It was good for Synanon—a purge, what he would later call a squeeze– that cleansed the Foundation. He was confidant others would come to take their place, and they would be more loyal and make Synanon stronger.

The Clump apartments nearby had to be kept spotless; they housed most of the Santa Monica residents. A few lived at Del Mar, some in apartments across from it. A school, a special interest of Betty Dederich, operated out of a complex on Kansas Street. It had 40 students. Clump apartments were filled with bunk beds. As many as eight slept in the living room; three slept in a bedroom. It was the way it had been in Chuck’s old Venice apartment.

The Dorm head had his own room. He handled discipline: bald heads, demotions, basement sleeping, scrubbing pots or targeting transgressors in games. Big Shots had their own store for goodies. An Infirmary was located in Clump.

Resistance at the Clump was extinguished by dealing with it before it could occur. At 2 a.m. Glut Raids, a new type of General Meeting, sporadically took place without warning or instigation. Apartment doors flung open and Big Shots screamed as residents were taken out by the pool while their closet and drawer contents were emptied onto the floor. They searched for signs of waste or sliding back to old values. Contraband included clothing, books and albums. Once outside, residents were ordered against the wall under threats of losing their hair.

Confessions were demanded. Who was shooting dope and who was resisting? The residents on cue started finger-pointing. Someone saw someone else get two bars of soap at the general store. Someone else wasn’t tidy. Another was too busy with possessions to do his job correctly. Glut—jewelry, perfume, designer clothes and other material possessions–was gathered up, loaded onto trucks and taken away to the Warehouse.

Buses and jitneys transported the residents to the Del Mar Club where they were put in games for more confessing. Selected male offenders had heads shaved while female culprits wore stocking caps and then paraded. When enough examples were made, the residents were returned to the Clump as the sun arose. It was a ritual conducted at all Synanon facilities.

Big Shots had big caves, personal cars, motorcycles, color TVs and dog robbers (slaves). This was the “compensation principal” and if they acted out of line it could all be taken away. CED would reinforce that message by occasionally selecting a Big Shot for a bust.

Even Big Shots did not escape the purge. Dederich held a Bloodbath Stew for Big Shots wherein the trained Flies demanded honesty to Synanon and breaking of all contracts between them. A big time donor square was told to put his kids in the Synanon School or get out within 24 hours. All were told that any accidents damaging Synanon property would result in punishment.

Containment escalated. Eventually no one left the property except on business. It was called compression. Anyone who did leave was gamed for wasting energies and assets. Competing entertainments were formed. Instead of going to the opera, Synanon Opera Society was formed. One way to go off-property and not break containment was to take Synanon with you. People left in groups. Each was a reminder to the other of who he or she was—a Synanite. Even away the game could still be played. A facility manager was fired for breaking containment and having dinner off-property.

In Synanon I negativity was acting like a dope fiend. In Synanon II the term was broadened to include any criticism of Synanon. The latter could break trust, interfere with solidarity or cause someone to split. The organization shifted from ideals of serving individuals to individuals serving the organization. In doing so it had caught up with the Founder.

Shaved heads also took on a new meaning. In addition to being a punishment it could also be a demonstration, a sign of commitment. The system’s manipulation of guilt created competition in proving commitment and surrendering of material goods. To prove dedication an older resident in the spring of 1968 in San Francisco had his head shaved in a General Meeting. Shamed, other older residents followed suit. Soon every male in San Francisco had a shaved head, a new status symbol.

Clothing became uniformed. Dederich had taken to Marin’s country life and found overalls comfortable. And as had been the Synanon history, what was good for Dederich was good for Synanon. He held a General Meeting at the Academy and announced that since Synanon was doing “the world’s work” working overalls was the proper attire. It symbolized getting “gung-ho.” Dan Garrett hoped aboard quickly changing his jumpsuit for overalls. The Flies copied without hesitation, and on the day Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated the whole Foundation followed.

Dederich brought in some Flies for head shaving in their honor. Within 24 hours, every male in Tomales Bay, except Dederich and Garrett, had bald heads. Quickly the phenomena spread to Santa Monica, then Detroit and New York.

Mock funerals were now held for those who split or thrown out.

Dederich knew looking alike helped them to think alike. It separated them from the outside world. Dederich observed, “You are either moving toward the center of Synanon or away from it. Nobody can stand still.”

Special 72-hour Stews were set up for those who had money, skills or talent that Synanon could use. They were attacked for their character, lack of morals, lack of commitment; for taking without giving and for not moving in, surrendering their assets in order to take advantage of all Synanon could teach and provide. Dederich asked the non-resident males prove their loyalty by shaving their heads.
They should trust him as he was an expert on making people happy. He had been studying for years how to do that. As he did with the RDFs, Dederich then left the Stew and had the Flies attack resisters. By the time Dederich returned at the end, the non-residents were ready to show gratitude and give greater support.

Charles Edwin Dederich, who had claimed to have built the best ever drug rehab, the most advanced group encounter program, on his way to fulfilling Skinner’s Utopian dreams, had now in furtherance of his social revolution, built the most effective thought reform machine (brainwashing) yet conceived by man. In a tape recorded speech entitled CED on Power Dederich acknowledged “if a person is wide open to suggestion (and sleep deprivation will do that) you could brainwash him….Brainwashing is a search…to find… (way)… they’ll say anything you want them to.”

All this happened in the 60s, the time period Clark writes about but she doesn’t give you the real story.

This is the end of part 1. Please look for coming additional parts which will take you into the strange world of Synanon left out by Clark, including mass weddings, forced abortions and vasectomies, beating children, taking away children from their parents, suing the media, ordering marital partners to change partners and finally the training of a hit force to go out and pysically attack and finally to murder the enemy. Everything Clark chose not to tell.

If you can’t wait go on Amazon and purchase “From Miracle to Madness.” If you read Clark’s book you will realize one of us was not only wrong but concealed. And it was not me.