Letter to the Editor
Recovery: Nothing New
Psychiatric News
Volume 38 Number 20 page 30-32

Those of us who trained 50 years ago in large state hospitals were well aware that many schizophrenia patients recovered to a great extent ("Skepticism Greets Report of Schizophrenia Recovery," August 1). We depended on these patients to run our severely underfunded hospitals.

At Norristown, Pa., where I started my training, schizophrenia patients worked the farm that fed the hospital and ran the bakery, kitchen, and commissary. They assisted nurses on the wards and cleaned the floors. The man at the information desk was a recovered schizophrenia patient, and those of us who lived on the grounds entrusted our children to kindly old ladies with schizophrenia as babysitters. These people only remained in the hospital because the communities they came from had "closed ranks," and they had no place to go.

In a later chapter of my life, I practiced from 1963 as a community psychiatrist in a small city where I still occasionally encounter patients whom I treated as many as 40 years ago. While some continue to hallucinate, especially at times of stress, many are at worst slightly eccentric and take very little medication.

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