Cognitive Psychotherapy Toward a New Millennium

pp 247-254

The Soteria Project: Twenty Five Years of Swimming Upriver

  • Loren R. MosherAffiliated withDirector, Soteria Associates San DiegoClinical Professor of Psychiatry School of Medicine University of California at San Diego
  • , John R. BolaAffiliated withAssistant Professor School of Social Work University of Southern California

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Four years after it opened in 1971 the Soteria Project first published outcome data indicating that lst and 2nd episode persons labeled as having schizophrenia could be successfully treated in a special milieu without the use of the neuroleptic drugs(Mosher et al 1975). In the intervening 25 years the project has continued to publish papers (40 in all) confirming and extending the initial results (see especially Mosher and Menn,1978; Matthews, et al 1979; and Mosher, et al 1995). These findings continue to challenge many firmly held beliefs about how best to intervene with persons labeled as having “schizophrenia”. This methodologically rigorous study is providing, once again, an opportunity to question today’s neuroleptic dominated treatment with new analyses of two year outcomes, which will be briefly presented here (Bola and Mosher, 1999, 2000). Needless to say this study’s results have been not welcomed with open arms in the American mental health community. The study’s results challenge the basic tenets of the mental health community with regard to “schizophrenia”: the need for hospitalization, the necessity of mental health professionals as the primary caregivers and, most importantly, the universal use of the anti-psychotic drugs. So, it is not at all surprising that the study has been treated as if it were never conducted. In fact, the neglect of this study and its findings in the literature and in the treatment of psychotic persons is itself striking. Hence the title: 25 years of swimming upriver against the prevailing biological Zeitgeist, into the current of the ways in which dominant paradigms prevent contrary opinions from being heard or given credence (Kuhn, 1970).