Anyone heard of Soteria House?

It was an experimental house for schizophrenics that started up in the seventies. Its premise was that by putting schizophrenics in a house in the middle of a community with a couple counselors on the site 24/7 and using no medication, that they could get better results than putting schizophrenics on medication and sticking them in hospitals.

There were several of these houses around the world. The counselors had no psychiatric training or experience; they were picked because they were friendly, empathetic, likable, understanding, good listeners and good with people.

I lived in the San Jose house in 1980-81. It was a trip to say the least. Stick 6, unmedicated schizophrenics, together with almost no rules, no curfews, no responsibilities. I was there a year and a half and totally psychotic the entire time. But there were plenty of people who were worse off than me. I saw and heard a lot of weird stuff. No one was working, most people congregated in the kitchen all day and talked with the counselors. I tended to take walks downtown or around the neighborhood or hang out in the recycled book store or walk to the park.

The founders of the house say it was a success and that they achieved a bigger success rate with recovery than hospitals. Its critics claimed the opposite. Personally, I always maintained that it did no good for me and that I wished I had been put on medication sooner. Maybe it helped other people but I regret being there. I feel like a part of history though.

Most houses like it closed down in the early 1980’s, mainly because of lack of funding, but there are still a few scattered around the world. IDK, I was suffering too much to enjoy my stay there but I was young and have a few good memories of being there. But 95% of it was suffering.


Sounds like an interesting concept. Apart from the no meds it sounds kinda nice

I hate being stuck alone at home with no one

But I do have my dog now to keep me company


Yeah, it started off good. I was 19 and there were a few other people my age there. The first couple days were like summer camp or something. I made friends with this guy my age and this 22 year old woman and we used to have little parties in my room, smoking pot and drinking beer. The counselors looked the other way at first then shut it down.


My only memories of dealing with other Sz’s (Apart from here) is when I was in hospital back in 2013.

When you strike up a friendship with other people who’re for all purposes in the same boat, you bond really well

I wish I’d been sent to the local half-way house when I was younger, as I think I would have made some friends

Unfortunately provision here is lacking…

What you describe seems to be a good way to really try and recover some sociability at least, but maybe even more than that

The rest of my hospital stays I was alone and bored

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Yes, I found this to be true.

I didn’t appreciate it then; I took it for granted. I was brand new to schizophrenia and didn’t know that socializing could be a problem for us. So I hung out with the counselors often and sometimes with other residents. But I was also often off doing my own thing. I was mostly a loner in hospitals too. Not all the time, but the majority of the time.

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Yes, I’ve heard of them. I know of an organization that wants to get Government funding to create one in Belgium. Hasn’t happened yet. I think the psychiatric police is against it.


I think they were still experimenting with trying to find various treatments that would work way back then. People should know better now though.

I think a lot of the brutal early attempts at treating Sz in earlier times were done out of sheer desperation. At least that’s what I hope it was, not just mere sadism.


Yes, I heard of Soteria, from the point of view of a psychiatrist who was strongly in favour of it. From what I recall reading, though, medication was an option for those who desired it. I think they are best combined. Some people have psychotic symptoms that are so severe that they just can’t overcome them and learn to cope without the help of medication, but the dose should be as low as possible – some symptoms are necessary, or there will be nothing to learn to deal with and thus no progress.



I believe they kept some on hand for some people in case of emergency. Maybe certain people were on it.

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