The Legacy of Synanon

AdGap Amity Foundation bald heads Barbara Finkelstein Betty Dederich Bruce Tobman Children Chuck Dederich Coming to Synanon Downfall Drug Addiction Eileen Gates Brilliant Elena Broslovsky Food Service How I got to Synanon Hugh Kenny Jake Smotherman Judi Erlich Laura Johnston Kohl Law Office Lew Yablonsky Margo Macartney Nevada State Prison Project Notions oakland Peoples Temple photographs Race Rehabilitation Reid Kimball Ron Cook Ronna shaved heads Sidney Finkelstein squares Synanon Synanon Sales Team Synanon Women Ted Dibble The End The Game the school The Seawall warren katz young people in Synanon

A Request From Rory Kennedy

Our aim is to give audiences a deeply researched, honest telling of the Synanon community’s history from its inception onward, and we’ve had the honor of interviewing many members over the past few months. We’re also hoping to paint the picture with the help of powerful archival photos and video. Personal archives help us craft…

Bench Stories

Sitting on the bench meant you were either waiting to be let in or waiting to leave. Sitting on the bench, you were Nowhere. As a psychological tool, it was pretty damn brilliant.

Remembering Chris Benton

I was glad to see that you had made it past your 73rd birthday. The way of the carpenter is hard on the body. With your other hardships on top of that, you did good to get so far.

Josh Millstein

I tell my story; I dine out on it. I can tell you how Synanon ticked for me: It saved my life and saved most of my friends with whom I am still tight. The return on investment is unknown, unknowable and unmeasurable.

CBS series – Cassidy Arkin

I am the daughter of Synanon members Ed Arkin and Sandy Arkin Rogers-Hare, born in 1974 and raised in the Hatchery and Synanon School. My mother and I left Synanon in 1980.   I have kept Synanon and the magic of what it was to me in my heart. I wrote a book about it…


I found out a couple of years ago that I had lived in a “cult.”  The cult is the new bugaboo, the new commie pinko threat, the precursor to the zombie apocalypse, a thing so dangerous that you must take steps to make sure that your children are not sucked into one

Synanon Industries

A business illiterate, I don’t know an invoice from a purchase order or the difference between “shipped” and “delivered”. But I DO know the culture of Synanon. And I feel an innate gift for politics. Instinctively, I seem to grasp when to speak up and when to shut up, when to kiss ass and when…

Naya Arbiter Celebration of Life

Her compassion extended beyond people. She was outspoken about the environment and climate change, and was a lifelong vegetarian who carried cat food in her purse in case she encountered a stray.

A Recipe for Clean Man Days

In addition to verbal wrestling, the game provided an outlet for frustration, pouting, self-pity and disappointment. From time to time it became a confessional.

It’s Been a Real Trip

Terry Hurst Blanton describes her role in the origin of the Synanon Trip From Terry’s Memoir It’s Been A Real Trip: A Woman’s Personal Journey(Edited by Elena Broslovsky with Terry Hurst Blanton’s permission) Terry Hurst Blanton was involved in the early development of the Synanon Trip.  She was one of the first Trip Conductors in…

How to Treat an Addict: 

Institutional Confinement, Mutual Aid, and Self Realization in Postwar Los Angeles  Jordan Mylet  University of California, San Diego Abstract: Responses to drug addiction in the twentieth-century United States are typically characterized in one of two ways: medical or criminal. Even more nuanced approaches tend to invoke these binary categories. This conceptualization obscures the fact that…

Brains and Beauty

Both Carina and Jordan 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.

Apologies to Jim from Zoe

We are sorry we showed porn to your niece Written by Zoe Bagger I wrote this on December 22, 2021, so I think the statute of limitations has passed on this. I would like to take this opportunity to apologize to Jim Law, who, if memory serves, is not likely to press charges anyway.  I…

Mother Blair

Let’s give a cheer to the motorcycle man A two wheelin’ wizard from a two fisted clan An Emersonian Enigma; no 9 to 5 slave e’s the King of the Free in the Home of the Brave.


By Elena Fechheimer-Broslovsky In the early 1970s, members of Synanon were extras in three Hollywood films.  The first, THX1138, was a dystopian futuristic story written by George Lucas and produced by Francis Ford Coppola. It was Lucas’s full-length directorial debut. We were hired because appearing with a bald head created an image problem for many…

Remembering Leda Dederich

“I often think of walking a labyrinth. We meander our way towards the center where things feel whole. Walking the path is a journey – the center seems close when it’s actually far, and the center seems far when it’s actually close. Step by step we go, finding our way towards home.” Leda Dederich


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