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The rise and fall of Synanon : a California utopia

Author: Rod A Janzen; Center for American Places.
Publisher: Baltimore : Johns Hopkins University Press, 2001.
Edition/Format:   Book : EnglishView all editions and formats
Database:WorldCat
Summary:
"Chuck Dederich - a former Alcoholics Anonymous member who coined the phrase "Today is the first day of the rest of your life" - established Synanon as an innovative drug rehabilitation center near the Santa Monica beach in 1958. Synanon evolved quickly into an experimental commune and "religion" that attracted thousands of non-addict members and was strongly committed to social justice and progressive education.
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Genre/Form: History
Additional Physical Format: Online version:
Janzen, Rod A.
Rise and fall of Synanon.
Baltimore : Johns Hopkins University Press, 2001
(OCoLC)654349358
Material Type: Internet resource
Document Type: Book, Internet Resource
All Authors / Contributors: Rod A Janzen; Center for American Places.
ISBN: 0801865832 9780801865831
OCLC Number: 44669258
Notes: "Published in cooperation with the Center for American Places, Santa Fe, New Mexico, and Harrisonburg, Virginia."
Description: ix, 300 p. : ill. ; 24 cm.
Contents: Synanon and the image of a rattlesnake in a mailbox --
In the beginning: a cure for drug addicts --
The coming of the squares --
Integration and the game --
The Synanon school --
Dopefiends and squares --
Communal art, re-creation, and a new religious identity --
Violence and shaved heads --
The end of childbirth and changing partners --
Legal issues and materialism --
A period of darkened light --
The final years --
Reasons for the decline --
Synanon people on the outside.
Responsibility: Rod Janzen.
More information:

Abstract:

"Chuck Dederich - a former Alcoholics Anonymous member who coined the phrase "Today is the first day of the rest of your life" - established Synanon as an innovative drug rehabilitation center near the Santa Monica beach in 1958. Synanon evolved quickly into an experimental commune and "religion" that attracted thousands of non-addict members and was strongly committed to social justice and progressive education. More than 25,000 people were members of Synanon at various times, including jazz musicians Charlie Haden and Stan Kenton; supporters of the group included Senator Thomas Dodd, comedian Steve Allen, and psychologist Abraham Maslow.

In its later years, however, the group was tied to highly publicized violent actions - including putting a rattlesnake in the mailbox of a Los Angeles-area attorney - making the group's name synonymous with paranoid cults.".

"Based on extensive primary sources and interviews with former members, The Rise and Fall of Synanon explores how the institution evolved in the context of American social, political, and economic trends. Historian Rod Janzen argues that the group's downfall resulted from members giving too much power to Synanon's charismatic founder and a small group of top-level associates. Media attention focused on the group's cultish activities, neglecting the community's significant successes in drug rehabilitation and social integration.

Janzen's in-depth analysis of Synanon serves as a fascinating case study of how alternative societies can change over time and how the general public's reactions to such societies can shift from tolerance to stances of fear and active opposition."--BOOK JACKET.

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