September 1967

Synanon: The Tunnel Back.

Author Affiliations



By Lewis Yablonsky, PhD. Price, $1.95. Pp 408 plus i-x. Penguin Books Inc, 3300 Clipper Mill Road, Baltimore 21211, 1967.

Arch Intern Med. 1967;120(3):382-383. doi:10.1001/archinte.1967.00300030124034

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The conventional treatment of drug addiction by psychiatrists has never been conspicuously successful. In our increasingly "do-it-yourself" culture it was inevitable that drug addicts, impatient of the vagaries of "square" medicine, should claim the right to try to cure themselves in their own way and in their own choice of setting. Synanon is a lay organization founded on these principles.

This book, an interesting, well-written if unashamedly partisan piece of sociological reportage, tells the story of Synanon and its creator, Chuck Dederich, a cured alcoholic and a dynamic, practical extrovert with a strong sense of mission. Synanon minimizes all the permissive overtones of the current management of addiction, subjects its selfstyled "dope fiends" to brutal cathartic assaults on the emotions in an autocratic family situation, is uncompromisingly antiaddict and anticriminal in its approach, ridicules back-sliding, and insists on complete candor with pitiless self-examination from its members. Despite irrational communal antagonism

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