Cedu Documentary – Cedu Raps and the Synanon Game
These images come from the Synanon Museum (enter and choose “pictures”). Synanon grew out of the needs of injection drug addicts, to create an environment so psychologically persuasive (or devastating), so as to move them away from chronic, violent, over-powering need and desire for heroin.
– Synanon Movie Poster. The 1965 Synanon movie starred real Synanon devotees, including the founder, Charles (Chuck) E. Dederich. Was “CEDU” really “Chuck E. Dederich University?”
Enter a room, and begin the “Game:: Target one “player,” and let your angst, anger, disappointment and confusion find an outlet. Gang up until the player is mortified, a psychological wound, with nowhere to go and nothing to do but burst into undirected screams and tears of rage and agitation.
From the (Phoenix New Times):
The Synanon game required participants to gather chairs in a circle. A theme was introduced–ranging from worldly philosophical questions to mundane housekeeping matters — and the attacks would begin.
The verbal assaults — physical violence was forbidden — didn’t necessarily have to be based on reality. One person could launch a tirade on another with no foundation. Others in the group generally supported the attacker with comments of their own.
The goal was to dump emotional hangups during the game so people would be happy outside the game. That was the upside. The downside was that it distorted reality and inflicted emotional injury.
– “Kids game” at Synanon
“You could accuse a person of anything and everyone else may join in on the attack,” says David Mitchell, a California weekly newspaper publisher who shared in a 1979 Pulitzer Prize for reporting on Synanon in the 1970s.
“There could be no basis for the attack whatsoever. But everyone would keep adding made-up anecdotes to beat the guy down until he cries, even if he hadn’t done anything,” Mitchell says. [Here]
The Synanon “Game” was exported, over and over again, to the progeny of the program…:
…And practiced at the Cedu Schools, Amity and Straight, Inc.
How did thousands of teenagers and adolescents become victims of this gestalt/attack-in-extremis last ditch drug therapy?
What were the results of applying this rubric to non-heroin-addicted teenagers from middle-class homes? Witness the retelling of the “raps” at the Cedu school, circa 1984 to 2005 (from a former Cedu student at Fornits.com):
“Indicting” a peer:
The students filed in the room’s door and chose a seat among the circle of chairs… [Mann, the staff member says] “Ok. Who wants to start.” Before the phrase exited his lips three hands shot up simultaneously, but just one voice got in before anyone else’s…”Yeah, that’s bullshit Kevin. I see you letting them break bans all the time. Every time I do laundry I see them breaking bans. Plus you guys ALL take longer than five minutes in the shower. My dorm is tight [clean] and I think all you guys are slackers. If someones late to house around the pit it’s usually from your room.”
Mann’s voice entered. “Is that true Kevin?” “No! I’m always callin them on their shit.” “C’mon man, you know you let them get away with shit.” Bryan said blandly. “Dude that’s bullshit!” Kevin barely had time to yell this out before Mann interjected. “NO YOU’RE BULLSHIT! Tell you what! All three of you are on dishes tonight* and Kevin you and I will talk after this is over! We’re movin’ on! Who else!?”
* Breaking bans: To talk to, look at, or in any way interact with a person who staff has told you does not exist to you (who is on a “ban” from you.
* On dishes: scrubbing pans, cleaning dirty dishes, running trash cans to a dumpster, cleaning bathrooms, dining areas, tables and floors for 1 to 3 hours, while running from place to place and moving at extremely high speed through work.
Doing “Work” in a Rap:
[Mann, the staff member says:] What’s it feel like to be you right now?” [Carol, a young girl at Cedu says:] “I FEEL LIKE SHIT!” “Yeah. That’s it right there. How bad does it feel?” Carol took her hands from her face and clasped her knees. “IT FUCKING SUCKS! I FUCKING HATE THIS SHIT! I WANT TO TALK TO MY FRIENDS! I’M SICK OF THIS FUCKING FULL-TIME! FUUUUCK!” “That’s right! What else is going on in there?” Carol hung her head between her legs sobbing and between each breath she screamed “FUCK! FUUUUCK!” “There’s a lot going on inside you right now isn’t there? How hard is it for you to know your actions got you here?” Tears began dripping off her cheeks onto the floor as she listened to Mann. “C’mon what’s your little kid want to say right now? What’s She telling you?” At this point Carol exploded. “FUUUCK YOOOUU! WHY ARE YOU ALWAYS FUCKING UP! YOU STUPID PIECE OF SHIT! FUUCK YOOUU! FUUUCK! FUUUCK!” As she continued screaming Mann softly encouraged her.
Behind the “work”:
Watching people scream in a frenzy. I think that fearful anticipation of waiting for the attention to be on you was many times the straw that broke the camels’ back. Rap after rap having that feeling that you won’t get out of it next time. That itself seemed to be enough to lose it and start doing “real work”.
Fake work too though, hell eventually you develop that instinct that lets you know your luck has run out and the only option is to force yourself to yell till your red in the face. Otherwise you’d only get butchered before you had to do it anyways. Even when faking it though it was pretty easy to “get in touch with my anger”.
There was alot that I was pissed about there so all you really had to do was think of all the bullshit you were going through and yell fuck you over and over. In a weird way it was kind of a paradox. Sometimes you were doing work cuz you had to do work and you hated having to do work, so you had genuine anger just because you were doing work at that moment. The very act of doing work made me mad that I had to do it so I did more work about how pissed I was at doing work. It’s like an audio feedback cycle.
[Writing credit to the blogger called “Awake” at Fornits.com]
Does the Synanon game have value for last-ditch, no-way-out, no-other-hope heroin addicts?
Yes, I think it might. Maybe so.
How about for your average teenager? Your average slightly depressed teenager? Your slightly abused, often neglected, poorly-parented teenager? Your teenage victims of sexual abuse? Your average teenager with first signs of an alcohol or drug-addictive personality?
These are accurate descriptions of the young people who were being sent to Cedu (and its clone schools – Rocky Mountain Academy, Amity, Boulder Creek, Benchmark, and more)
Does it have value here?
- Read the results of the experiment here at Fornits, and in the testimonies at Cafety.org.
- The 1965 Synanon Movie.
- Further reading and research.
The language and psychology of Synanon…and of the Cedu Schools:
“Twelve persons, say, enter a room in which a dozen chairs are arranged in a circle. One of several of these persons is an accomplished game player. Face to face they confront each other with the consequences, or probable consequences, of their behavior. Only rarely is behavior of feeling interpreted; no effort is made to draw forth “insights.” The purpose is to tell the truth about one another, to establish a consensual reality.”
“How many of those thirty vehicles are in perfect order? Never mind; you don’t know. I’ll tell you. None. Not one! Isn’t this your pattern? You look like a sissy at a racetrack….” And so on. Now other players will jump in with indictments of their own or will support the Synanist.
When finally the man can answer, his reply will be wholly inadequate. Then it will be ridiculed.”
“He will react…and the game will be turned on him next and his masculinity called into question. How he defends will reveal how he really feels about himself and his work.”
Four dominant mechanisms operate in the game which the Synanist recognizes and manipulates…. 1) projection, 2) identification, 3) displacement and 4) transference.
In almost every game on hears the defense, “You’re projecting on me!” and the inevitable rejoinder, “Projections can be valid.” … and for this reason it is impossible to say anything wrong in a game.