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Gheel Revisited

Charles D. Aring, MD
JAMA. 1974;230(6):849. doi:10.1001/jama.1974.03240060019021.
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... —even I Regained my freedom with a sigh. —The Prisoner of Chillon

LORD Byron, keen observer of the social scene, whose humor generally was kept in good repair, averred that it would have made little difference early in the nineteenth century if those in institutions for the insane were out, and those out, in. His point is well taken. The most recent move to release long-term mental patients from state hospitals was heralded in 1958, when Dr. Harry Solomon, then President of the American Psychiatric Association, said:

I do not see how any reasonably objective view of our mental hospitals today can fail to conclude that they are bankrupt beyond remedy. I believe, therefore, that our large mental hospitals should be liquidated as rapidly as can be done in an orderly and progressive fashion.

The mental hospitals in some of the larger states have implemented programs for the phasing


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