Chuck Dederich

Clip from House on The Beach

Over the past couple of years David Lale was interviewing folks who had lived in Synanon. One of his requests for many of us was to have us imitate Chuck. I wish the movie had been made just to see clips of everyone’s imitations.

Ted Dibble said in an interview he knew that CED was heading off the rails when he pulled Ted aside after a game and angrily demanded that Ted never imitate him again. Previously Chuck had gotten a kick out of Ted’s antics. Losing your sense of humor is a sure sign that trouble is looming. Note to those of you who are thinking of becoming megalomaniacs.

I call what Chuck did with his voice: Prestivoxitation. As in prestidigitation: “The hand is quicker than the eye” My coined word means the sound is quicker than the brain. Often what he had to say went past reason into another place, where you felt that what he was saying was the absolute truth.

If I were to describe someone who represents the antithesis of Chuck, how about that wise old junkie William S. Burroughs in his essay “Sects and Death” writes about the importance of the voice leader.

“If you want to start a cult, the first step is to get your voice into the non-dominant brain hemisphere of your soon-to-be devoted followers. The voice of Dederich, founder of Synanon, was said to drift from the air conditioning system.”

“If you want to start a cult, the first step is to get your voice into the non-dominant brain hemisphere of your soon-to-be devoted followers. The voice of Dederich, founder of Synanon, was said to drift from the air conditioning system.”

WILLIAM S. BURROUGHS

I don’t know when Chuck’s genius rolled over into where it ended up. Cult leader, crazy as a loon, a buyer of his own bullshit. I know there was a time his voice set people on a path of recovery. He saved many lives but I do believe many more could have been saved if he had quit when he was ahead.

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