10 episodes

Once called “the miracle on the beach,” Synanon began in the 1960s as an experimental rehab facility in Santa Monica, California with a radical claim: It could cure heroin addiction. Before long it would make an even bolder claim - it could cure any of your problems, all you had to do was move in. What started in a house on the beach soon spread to compounds across the country. The man who made the miracle happen, Charles E. Dederich, aka “Chuck,” would be the one to destroy it all, along with the lives of many of his followers and millions of dollars in assets. The Sunshine Place tells the mind-blowing, true story of Synanon - one of America’s most cutting edge social experiments turned into one of its most dangerous and violent cults as it’s never been told before: by the people who lived it. Executive Produced by Robert Downey Jr., Susan Downey, and Emily Barclay Ford for Team Downey, together with Josh McLaughlin for Wink Pictures. 
The Sunshine Place is an Audacy original.

The Sunshine Place Audacy

    • Society & Culture
    • 4.6 • 1.6K Ratings

Once called “the miracle on the beach,” Synanon began in the 1960s as an experimental rehab facility in Santa Monica, California with a radical claim: It could cure heroin addiction. Before long it would make an even bolder claim - it could cure any of your problems, all you had to do was move in. What started in a house on the beach soon spread to compounds across the country. The man who made the miracle happen, Charles E. Dederich, aka “Chuck,” would be the one to destroy it all, along with the lives of many of his followers and millions of dollars in assets. The Sunshine Place tells the mind-blowing, true story of Synanon - one of America’s most cutting edge social experiments turned into one of its most dangerous and violent cults as it’s never been told before: by the people who lived it. Executive Produced by Robert Downey Jr., Susan Downey, and Emily Barclay Ford for Team Downey, together with Josh McLaughlin for Wink Pictures. 
The Sunshine Place is an Audacy original.

    E1: The Kidsnatchers

    E1: The Kidsnatchers

    Welcome to Synanon. If you're wondering what Synanon is, then you're asking the same question as Celena and Mike, whose lives change forever the moment they arrive. It's the 1970s, and Synanon is a community, a utopia, a cautionary tale, and a cult. But more than anything else, it's a person, the founder of Synanon, a man named Charles E. Dederich, who most people call, Chuck. 

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    • 47 min
    E2: The Miracle on the Beach

    E2: The Miracle on the Beach

    Chuck Dederich hits rock bottom as an alcoholic in the beachside slums of Los Angeles. It's 1958, and he's got nothing but an idea, but it's one that would save countless lives. He calls it Synanon. Others call it the Miracle on the Beach. Through sheer force of will, Chuck's idea becomes national news, and Synanon becomes a household word. 

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    • 45 min
    E3: The Trip

    E3: The Trip

    Legend, ritual, religion, LSD. Chuck experiments with all of it on his followers in Synanon.

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    • 49 min
    E4: The Punk Squad

    E4: The Punk Squad

    Chuck breaks one of his two rules for Synanon, no violence, beginning with his youngest followers.

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    • 48 min
    E5: The Breeders

    E5: The Breeders

    Chuck declares that there will be no more children born in Synanon, and he goes to great lengths to make sure of it.

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    • 49 min
    E6: Changing Partners

    E6: Changing Partners

    After Chuck's wife Betty passes away, he quickly finds a new partner, and he instructs his followers to find new ones too, whether they want to or not. 

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    • 55 min

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5
1.6K Ratings

1.6K Ratings

KarlaRuth ,

Deep dive into the human experience

This is a great podcast! Well researched with captivating storytelling, I appreciate all the effort that’s gone into this. We can learn a lot about the human experience from this podcast. Thank you for creating this show and for all your hard work.

CassTay185 ,

Good pod, interesting subject

I have never heard of synanon before, I am only 24 but still! Seems like something people should hear about, maybe? Love the host, she sounds so similar to Delia D’ambra who hosts other pods.

Joce3375 ,

Loved it

Really good. The interviews and perspectives were so powerful. Such an interesting podcast. I loved it.

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