Brains and Beauty

by Elena B

Dr. Carina Ray and soon-to-be Dr. Jordan Mylet are two accomplished historians committed to writing about Synanon in ways that challenge the sensationalism that characterizes most of the information found on the Portal of the Internet.

They are holding up a lamp against the misinformation that has obscured the positive, healing Synanon work done over a period of 33 years that could be crucial in dealing with the crisis of today’s rampant addiction.

Ray is an author, mother, professor of African and African American Studies at Brandeis University, where she also serves as Director of Faculty Mentoring. In addition to the recent Washington Post article on Synanon, co-authored with Mylet, she has also written about Synanon’s history of racial integration for the Huffington Post and Point Reyes Light. She has also written about other subjects for The New York Times, Time, and The Los Angeles Times.

She is also:

Series Editor, New African Histories, Ohio University Press

Series Editor, African Identities: Past and Present, Cambridge University Press

Series Editor, Ohio Short Histories of Africa, Ohio University Press

Author, Crossing the Color Line: Race, Sex, and the Contested Politics of Colonialism in Ghana

She was born and raised in Synanon, the daughter of Carmen Rosado and Dean Ray.

Alyssa Alberts, Carina Ray, Dachauna Brown, and
Lynette Lipischak
Synanon School circa 1976

Mylet is a Phi Beta Kappa doctoral candidate at the University of California, San Diego. Her mother, Jennifer Hill (now Klein), came to Synanon as a youngster with her sister Juliette and Barbara Binns, their mother and Mylet’s grandmother. Mylet grew up in San Diego hearing about life in Synanon from her mother, grandparents, and their many friends who live in the area.  She attended New York University and returned to San Diego for her graduate work and doctoral degree. She is also the editorial assistant for the Journal Women and Social Movements in the United States 1600-2000.

Her fascinating dissertation examines the emergence of addiction-recovery communes in post-World War II United States. She explores the political activism of self-identified ex-addicts in national struggles over the possibilities and boundaries of radical participatory democracy in the 1960s.

In a blog entry, Mylet explored Synanon in a broader context of American Culture. Mylet is very close to David Binns, her grandfather, who has shared his personal experience with addiction and healing in Synanon. Mylet has interviewed living Synanites and extensively researched the archives at UCLA. Betty Dederich’s early life is featured in her dissertation.

In Spain with grandparents Barbra and David Binns

Both Ray and Mylet believe that now, more than ever, Synanon’s early model of “community as therapy” is one that should be at the forefront of national conversations about how to treat addiction.

Informed by their access to lived experience, these two scholars have unique perspectives on Synanon’s history as it intersected with and was shaped by broader shifts in American history. This puts them in a unique position to articulate and possibly salvage what worked during Synanon’s golden age to save and transform lives.

5 responses to “Brains and Beauty”

  1. Gary L. Williams Avatar

    The story lives on. What a great chapter in the far reaching touch of Synanon’s magic. Yes magic. That is what it took to help so many to find a way. I love the photos and the evolution that Jordan and Carina are emblematic of. I appreciate your work and words Elena.

  2. Big congrats Carina and Jordan! Sending a hug to Taj, too.

  3. (I took the picture of Carmen and Carina on the beach.) I’m glad that the positive aspects of our community are being explored and exposed to the light of day.

    1. Thanks, Cynthia for taking and identifying the picture. Do you remember the year or any details about that day?

    2. Cynthia, if you see any other photos on the website that you too, let me know so I can credit you. Also any stories you would like to share on this site, please feel free to share. We can also put up links to your store and blog if you wish. Warm regards, Cory

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