Oral Histories

Interview of Nancy Clarke

Associated with Synanon drug rehabilitation program.
Synanon Foundation Oral Histories
Community History
Science, Medicine, and Technology
Biographical Note:
Associated with Synanon drug rehabilitation program.
Montgomery, Cecilia Dederich
Clarke, Nancy
Persons Present:
Clarke and Montgomery.
Supporting Documents:
Records relating to the interview are located in the office of the UCLA Library's Center for Oral History Research.
2.75 hrs.
Series Statement:
This series of interviews looks back on Synanon, the first self-help residential community for drug rehabilitation in the United States, which was founded in Venice, California in 1959 and continued through the early 1990s. In the interviews the former residents speak from their own experience in describing many aspects of the organization and community as it evolved beyond its original purpose. They discuss Synanon’s beginnings, early development, growth, and eventual decline, as well as the organization’s use of a cathartic brand of verbal group encounter known as The Game.The original interviews in the series were conducted in the spring of 1962 by Oral History Program staff member Elizabeth Dixon at Synanon House in Santa Monica and at one of the residences in Venice. Since it was impracticable to record each and every member of the organization, the project at least attempted to interview as broad a sampling of individuals as possible— male and female, old and young. Originally the intention was to conduct follow-up interviews at periodic intervals of the people whose stories had been recorded, but that never happened.Nearly half a century after the original interviews were done, Jady Dederich Montgomery, the daughter of Synanon's founder, Charles Dederich, conducted additional interviews with former members of Synanon. She donated those interviews to the Center for Oral History Research in 2012, and they were then added to this collection.
Pregnancy and arrival at Synanon—The Game—Parenting abilities—Managing Cliff House—Joining The Game club and running a San Diego nursery—Being fired from Synanon—The Stew—Professionals and famous individuals visiting—Attitude toward homosexuality in Synanon—Life after Synanon.
Enjoyment of communal living—Experience as a lesbian in Synanon—Forming personal tax and accounting business—Relationships with daughter, Jack Hurst, and Al Bauman—Early life and lessons learned—Current relationship with daughter—Relapse and recovery after Synanon.