Background: Soteria House (Greek-Salvation) was a NIMH research program, loosely based on R.D. Laing’s Kingsley Hall, that started in 1971. The goal of the research was to measure the effectiveness of treating young adults who had been diagnosed as acutely schizophrenic and in need of hospitalization in a community residential setting, without the use of psychoactive drugs. Measured outcomes over eight years showed it to be a more effective and humane treatment model than the control group which had been hospitalized and heavily medicated.
In 1971 and 1972 Gene Larkin was directly involved in Soteria House first, as a volunteer and then, as staff. He left Soteria House to go to San Francisco to help establish Diabasis, a similar, Jungian-based treatment program, with renowned Jungian Psychiatrist, John Weir Perry. In 1974 he was brought back by Alma Menn, the Director of the Soteria Project and Loren Moher, Director of the Center for the Research of Schizophrenia at NIMH, to establish and become the Program Director of Emanon, the NIMH-funded replication study of Soteria. In 1976, he was brought into The Phoenix Programs in Contra Costa County, to help them convert their existing residential programs into this more humane and effective treatment model and act as advisor to several new, culturally specific, programs.
Soteria House has now become the generic name for this treatment modality. There are several independent, state funded Soteria Houses in the United States. There are also Soteria Houses in Italy, The U.K., Sweden, and Israel.
Numerous national and international organizations have been established to support and promote the Soteria Model. Among these are ISEPP, ISPS, and The Soteria House, Peer Support Summit.
Mr. Larkin is an active member of these non-profit organizations. He recently spoke to the Combined State Legislative Committee for Mental Health Funding in Las Cruces, New Mexico regarding establishing a Soteria House in Las Cruces. An edited chapter from Seeking Soteria is included in the recently published Humane Alternatives to the Psychiatric Model, (The Ethics International Press Critical Psychology and Psychiatry) Eric Maisel and Chuck Ruby, editors.
Seeking Soteria is the telling of his personal experience at the original Soteria House, what events led him to Soteria House and its profound and lasting impact on him.
Seeking Soteria: Being in Process
Seeking Soteria: Being in Process is memoir of Mr. Larkin's experience working at the original Soteria House in San Jose, California, in 1971 and1972. Soteria House, modeled after R.D. Laing's Kingsley Hall, in London, was a residential community for the treatment of young adults, diagnosed as schizophrenic in acute psychosis and deemed in need of hospitalization. The six residents, plus staff, lived in a middle class neighborhood in San Jose. Little or no medication was used as the residents were allowed to process through their psychoses in a supportive, familial, non-hospital environment. This was a NIMH funded research project. Eight years of data gathering and follow up showed that the residents of Soteria scored significantly higher on speed of recovery, fewer rehospitalizations, lower use of medication and quicker reintegration into society than the control group which was hospitalized and medicated. Soteria House has now become the generic term for this kind of alternative treatment to the conventional psychiatric medical-model mental illness perspective. There are now government funded Soteria Houses in the U.S., Great Britain, Europe and Israel.