Does Synanon Still Exist After Appearing In The Program?

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Netflix’s The Program explores the troubled teen industry from the perspective of someone who went through it. Filmmaker Katherine Kubler spent 15 months at The Academy at Ivy Ridge, and uses the new docuseries to connect with fellow former students and share experiences from the since-shuttered school.

Throughout the three-part series, which dropped on March 5, participants open up about alleged abuse at the institution, such as regular “seminars,” which Kubler describes as “pseudopsychological, emotionally abusive, and humiliating.”

Several participants recall being forced to repeat a chant and accompanying hand motion for 8 uninterrupted hours at one seminar, for example. Kubler also describes hearing music that was used to promote a “trance-like state,” while teens were made to hit the floor and scream personal, upsetting details about their life. “That’s what they would use to break you.”

As Kubler notes in The Program, these practices weren’t unique to The Academy at Ivy Ridge or other World Wide Association of Specialty Programs and Schools (WWASPS) like it. Rather, she cites a cult that began in 1958, called Synanon, as a forebearer to the troubled teen industry.

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