What About SOTERIA?

… we took in people who were young, newly diagnosed as having something called schizophrenia – whatever that is – and there we treated them in a special social environment staffed by non-professionals…

Loren Mosher

In the Youtube video below Dr. Loren Mosher talks about the Soteria project.  Soteria is a fascinating experiment that all ACT clinicians should know a bit about.

The findings of the Soteria experiment – that a significant number of persons with psychosis can recover without the use of meds – is worth remembering. It triggered a firestorm of controversy in the psychiatric community. Dr. Mosher, a psychiatrist was Chief of NIMH’s Center for Studies of Schizophrenia and first Editor-in-Chief of the Schizophrenia Bulletin in the 70s and 80s.  Eventually he resigned from the APA, or rather what he called “the American Psychopharmacological Association”. He staunchly maintained, until his death in 2004, that organizational psychiatry had ignored the results of Soteria, had become too reliant on using medications and was too close with the pharmaceutical industry.

What to do with Soteria?

I see it as a valid experiment that challenges us to think beyond pills – ‘there ain’t no skill in a pill’ – and remember that psychosocial rehabilitation is a powerful tool in itself. I refuse to choose – Always Meds or Never Meds!  I’m the guy who just a few weeks ago wrote a blog extolling the virtues of clozapine!

To learn more about Soteria and the debate it stirred check out this site. Soteria websiteThere are a number of articles by Mosher but also some reponses to his writings. Check out the thought provoking letter of response written by Dr. Goodwin “Safe and Effective Drugs Have Improved the Lives of Millions”

Mosher concludes his letter of resignation to the APA with:

“We seem to have forgotten a basic principle — the need to be patient/client/consumer satisfaction oriented. I always remember Manfred Bleuler’s wisdom: “Loren, you must never forget that you are your patient’s employee.””


Shalom Coodin

PS: Happy Holidays to all from Shalom, Roman and Kevin

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