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Synanon, originated in the 1950s, was a drug-treatment program that grew into a destructive cult. Its two-year recovery plan involved a confrontational style of therapy, and a patient's recovery was considered successful if he/she was absorbed into the Synanon community rather than returned to society and family. In the decades Synanon was active, thousands of people entered treatment but only 65 ever succeeded in building lives outside the group.
In the 1960s and '70s, the group implemented a number of money-making schemes and grew increasingly more estranged from society, even developing its own armed forces. Facing negative media coverage and denial of tax-exempt status, Synanon was forced to disband in 1980.
Its confrontational, encounter-group-based model is still followed in some programs, particularly outside the United States.