International Peer Respite/Soteria Summit Logo

Why We Need Different Approaches
Acrobat (PDF) Version

It is fairly universally accepted that America's mental health system is a failure.  At great public expense, our current mental health system's ubiquitous deployment of psychiatric drugs, including forcing them into unwilling patients, dramatically worsens outcomes and suffering. 

Since the introduction of the so-called miracle drug Thorazine in the mid-1950's the disability rate of people diagnosed with serious mental illness has increased more than seven-fold.[1]

We now see a recovery rate of only 5% for those people who are maintained on neuroleptics.[2]

This is far worse than anything seen before the advent of the neuroleptics in the mid-1950's.

It has been shown, however, that if we try to avoid the use of neuroleptics when people experience their first break from consensus reality a nearly 80% recovery rate can be achieved.  The below chart shows results from the "Open Dialogue" program in Northern Finland in which they avoid the use of neuroleptics if possible.

Similar results were achieved during the Soteria-House study in the 1970's conducted by Loren Mosher, MD, who was Chief of Schizophrenia Research at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) at the time.


What we find is the recovery rate of people who get off of neuroleptics after they have been on them for a while goes from 5% to 40%.

While this is 8 times better than staying on them (40% vs. 5%), it is half of what can be achieved by avoiding the use of neuroleptics in the first place as established by the Open Dialogue and Soteria House studies, both of which achieved close to an 80% recovery rate.[3]  This demonstrates the importance of avoiding the use of neuroleptics if at all possible.  In addition to their lives being so much better, allowing 16 times more people to recover not only saves a tremendous amount of treatment expense, it converts people who would otherwise be receiving life-long publicly paid services and transfer payments into productive, taxpaying citizens. [4] 

In addition to dramatically reducing the recovery rate, the ubiquitous use of psychiatric drugs reduce the lifespan of people diagnosed with serious mental illness in the public mental illness system by 20-25 years.[5]  We should and can do better.

[1] The charts are from talks given by award winning journalist, Robert Whitaker, author of Anatomy of an Epidemic and Mad in America, including his July 16, 2021, talk to the Soteria Network in the UK, "Soteria Past, Present, and Future: The Evidence For This Model of Care," available on YouTube at  This one hour talk is highly recommended.

[2] Marketed as "antipsychotics" even though they don't have anti-psychotic effects for most.

[3] While there might not be a 100% overlap between the 80% who recovered and the 80% who were not taking the neuroleptics long term, clearly minimizing the use of the neuroleptics produce dramatically better outcomes.

[4] The best book to understand the impact of psychiatric drugs in general, not just the neuroleptics, is Anatomy of an Epidemic: Magic Bullets, Psychiatric Drugs, and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America, by Robert Whitaker, from whose work the foregoing is largely drawn.

[5] See, various studies at and Morbidity and Mortality in People with Serious Mental Illness, by the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors, October 2006.