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The Daytop crisis and its impact on the global Therapeutic Community movement

Phoebus Zafiridis (Department of Psychology, Self Help Promotion Programme, AUTh, Thessaloniki, Greece)

Therapeutic Communities: The International Journal of Therapeutic Communities

ISSN: 0964-1866

Article publication date: 29 April 2020

Issue publication date: 19 June 2020




The Therapeutic Communities (TCs) movement tends to become from a revolutionary answer to the problem of addiction to another mainstream therapeutic proposal. The author considers that the crisis in 1968 in the seminal TC of Daytop was a pivotal event of this transition. This study aims to evaluate the impact of this historical crisis on the course of the TCs movement, assuming that, to enter into a constructive dialogue that can lead to the overcoming of today’s deadlocks of the movement, an awareness of the history is needed.


The present paper is a perspective/opinion paper and starts with a brief review of the origins of the first TCs for addicts. Emphasis is placed on their inevitable, according to the author, confrontation with the political and scientific status quo of that time. Then, it focuses on the period of the crisis in Daytop TC. The author interprets the events under a whole new scope, based on conversations he personally had with pioneers of that time, on his longstanding experience on the field, and the available literature.


The author attempts a historical and sociological analysis of the course of TCs and the Daytop TC. He concludes with a dispute of the prevailing idea that the Daytop crisis was a product of the confrontation between personal ambitions. He maintains that the collision that took place in Daytop TC was a confrontation between two antipodal perspectives over the notion of therapy. In any case, the subsequent estrangement of the movement from the groundbreaking attributes of the first TCs did not prove to be in the best interests of addicts; it was rather dictated by the need of the leaders of TCs to rescue their professional career.


The present paper attempts to offer a different view from the conventional reading of TCs’ history and their present situation for today’s predicaments of this proposal to be understood and possibly overcome.



Zafiridis, P. (2020), "The Daytop crisis and its impact on the global Therapeutic Community movement", Therapeutic Communities: The International Journal of Therapeutic Communities, Vol. 41 No. 1, pp. 25-35.



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