Synanon - the first ever rehab that morphed into a cult

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TeeJay
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Synanon - the first ever rehab that morphed into a cult

Post by TeeJay »

I've been reading a bit more than usual lately. The story of Synanon is absolutely fascinating for me. I'm quite interested in cults and how they come about. The Synanon story is unique in that its origins are benign enough. It started as a rehab for drug addicts based in Santa Monica, founded by a charismatic AA member named Charles Dederich who wanted to create a program for narcotic addicts before the advent of NA.

Over the years Synanon got ever more creepy. Residents were forced to shave their heads, to worship Charles Dederich, all male residents were coerced into getting vasectomies, and the hierarchy organised beatings on anyone who transgressed against their way of life. After many of the graduates relapsed, Charles Dietrich declared that nobody would ever graduate Synanon again, and it became a cradle-to-grave way of life. Then things got even weirder.

You can read about it here.

https://www.gizmodo.com.au/2014/04/syna ... arre-cult/

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rule62
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Re: Synanon - the first ever rehab that morphed into a cult

Post by rule62 »

Wow, does that bring back memories! I grew up spending many days at the beach in Santa Monica and I remember their first building there and all the stories that went with it. When I was 16, to avoid going to Juvenile Hall for a year, my probation officer recommended a group for young drug addicts called RIF. Recovery, Independence, and Freedom. They pretty much saved my ass from jail because I did get clean for about 2 years.

We talked with a lot of members from Synanon and they couldn't even have a moustache, ride a motorcycle, have long hair, etc. Just like you're talking about TJ. To us, it was for those at the very bottom of the addict pile who just couldn't get the program of 12 steps. That place scared us all thinking our parents might send us there if we didn't stay clean.

You just brought back some bad memories of that place. Too bad for those who got caught up in it. Terrible, terrible, recovery methods. It was a cult and we all knew it.
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Re: Synanon - the first ever rehab that morphed into a cult

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The dang video was blocked something about it being in a different country. I am going to resurch this a little further and see what I can find out. Pretty interesting stuff.
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NXIVM, The Vow, and Seduced

Post by suboxdoc »

Some amazing stories out there about the NXIVM cult. Another charismatic leader -- looks like a nerdy 8th grader, but created a harem of women who even branded each other to show their devotion to him.

The Vow is on a premium channel - HBO I think. It shows NXIVM mostly through the eyes of a man who (eventually) found his way out. 'Seduced' is on Starz, which is also a premium channel. But if you have Amazon Prime, you can watch Starz and Seduced for free by choosing the free one-week trial of Starz, bought through Prime. Just remember to cancel before the week ends, or you'll pay $8.99 per month. Watching Seduced is definitely worth $9, but I don't know if you want to pay $9 for each month going forward. How many times can you watch Bloodshot? (I love that movie but even I can't watch it more than 3 times!).

Seduced is much more personal. It follows, in graphic detail, the indoctrination of India Oxenberg, who was a 'slave' to actress Allison Mack. Most fascinating is how so many women fell under the spell of Keith Raniere, often by following promises of personal growth and empowerment. The women were forced onto starvation diets, branded, and made to answer texts 24 hours per day on command -- all to better themselves.

Interesting that the Synanon cult involved people newly recovering from drug addiction -- people who have lost their sense of identity, and who are vulnerable to a charismatic leader offering them great things. Likewise the victims of NXIVM were fragile individuals in their own way. They thought, of course, that they were part of a higher order... but in reality they were obsessed with appearance and social status and considered themselves to be more special than the rest of us. Surely there must be a way for us smart people to find meaning in life, right?! How did they become so misguided to believe that meaning would be found in Keith Raniere?
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Re: Synanon - the first ever rehab that morphed into a cult

Post by TeeJay »

You're suboxforum's charismatic leader doc.
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