Falling Phoenix

A survivor of a cult-based “Therapeutic Community” coming to terms with her past and telling the whole story.

Here’s the story…Phoenix House/Synanon/Navy

Strange Roots Synanon, also known as The Church of Synanon was a cult started by Charles “Chuck” Dederich in 1958 when he developed the belief that Alcoholics Anonymous wasn’t able to adequately treat those addicted to drugs. Chuck had attended Alcoholics Anonymous daily for a period of time, but as he became more popular inContinue reading “Here’s the story…Phoenix House/Synanon/Navy”


The Game

You can read about my first experience with an encounter group and a description of what Synanon and Phoenix House’s “The Game” is like from inside the circle in a previous blog post, but I’m going to share some receipts today, too. These are pages from the Phoenix House Handbook as it stood in 1992.Continue reading “The Game”

How a Queen Gets Duped

I remember reading it for the first time and I had to read it repeatedly to be sure that I was understanding what I saw accurately: In 2010, Beyoncé donated her entire salary (approximately $4mil) from Cadillac Records to Phoenix House to open a Cosmetology Center in Brooklyn, and pledged to continue to donate $100,000Continue reading “How a Queen Gets Duped”


When we think of human trafficking, we often think only of the type people are dramatically kidnapped for the purposes of forcing into sex work. If we’re honest. Our unwillingness to see or call out ALL types of trafficking as simply such is why it continues. Trafficking and body/benefits/patient brokering is incredibly rampant in theContinue reading “Trafficked”

Corruption Runs Deep

It becomes obvious that there are some shady inner workings that have enabled Phoenix House to stay in business when you take into account that they’ve been charged repeatedly with a misappropriation of funds with the earliest reporting I can find being 1970. That’s five years before I was even born. The most recent isContinue reading “Corruption Runs Deep”

Blind Faith

One of the “Basic Concepts” at Phoenix House was “Blind Faith”. This really meant that we weren’t to question the authority of completely unqualified, unlicensed counselors. We weren’t to question the daily traumas, abuses, manipulations and neglect. Here is a page from the Phoenix House handbook. “Blind Faith”: Putting your feelings aside and trusting fromContinue reading “Blind Faith”

I recently spoke with someone who was a resident of an adolescent Phoenix House facility within the past five-ish years. They gave permission for me to publish the recollections they recounted to me under the condition of anonymity and omission of certain identifying details. Here’s their recollection of their time at Phoenix House: I wasContinue reading


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