Continued from my first post
During the 1970’s, Synanon’s structure and policies (which were bizarre for the time to begin with) began to take a strange and ugly turn.
Diedrich began limiting the time member’s could spend with their children. In 1970, Diedrich quit smoking and subsequently outlawed any smoking on
Synanon property. I want to note that by this time, Synanon had found favor with the California parole and probation departments, who was stipulating
many of their habitual offenders to the program. I cannot over-emphasize the fact that the California judicial system was stipulating individuals
to a life long program that is now nearly universally recognized as a cult.
Juvenile delinquents stipulated to the program began to be corporally punished and humiliated for transgressions. In 1977, Diedrich began encouraging
male members to get vasectomies and many female members were shamed into abortion. When Diedrich’s wife Betty died later in that year, he dictated
that all existing marriages should be absolved and that members should find new spouses. Over 600 synanites sought and received divorces. All the
while, the organization was growing in funds and assets. In 1978, Synanon purchased over $200,000 worth of fire-arms. The fervor of it’s members
became increasingly violent, especially to members who had split-tee’d (or left Synanon).
This violent fervor reached a fever pitch when a rattlesnake was left in the mailbox of Los Angeles attorney Paul Morantz, who had once represented a
girl that was held against her will at Synanon. Morantz survived the ordeal and made it his life’s work to investigate and discredit Synanon and
organizations of the like. Diedrich and three other members of Synanon were arrested and plead no contest. Diedrich had a special stipulation: that
he must step down as the leader of Synanon.
The 1980’s: The End is Near
Synanon continued throughout the 1980’s, headed by many of Diedrich’s proteges. The organization dwindled to a steady decline before finally
loosing it’s tax exempt status in 1991, officially ending the organization. However, it should be noted that a Synanon branch in Germany is still
operating to this day.
Now that I have covered the most important moments in Synanon’s past, I want to return to my original point. The organization I work at is licensed
by state health services, however it is not hard to draw parallels between my program and Synanon. I will delve into these similarities more deeply
in another post, but just to give you some perspective: 1) Every Wednesday night, my clients are playing a game (or it’s more civilized name, and
“encounter group.”) We still refer to them as games. 2) Our former residents are called split-tees, and we even have a split-tee room where
residents go when they want to leave the program. 3) We still have verbal haircuts.
So what are your thoughts on Synanon? Was it, in fact, a sinister cult, or an origination with ideals to utopian for any members to actually live up
to? What are the implications for the modern TC? I look forward to hearing them.
edit on 23-5-2016 by MarlboroRedCowgirl because: grammer