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Vol. 66, No. 1, 2012
Issue release date: July 2012
Neuropsychobiology 2012;66:70–75

Psychosocial Interventions in People with Severe Mental Illness: A Bleulerian Perspective

Becker T. · Kösters M.
Department of Psychiatry II, Ulm University, Günzburg, Germany

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Background: Eugen Bleuler, in his book Dementia praecox oder Gruppe der Schizophrenien, discussed issues of social psychiatry, and he considered complex interventions pivotal in the care for people with schizophrenia. Bleuler emphasised the potential of therapeutic communities in providing care, the drawbacks of extended hospitalisation and the therapeutic potential of planned ‘early discharge’ and job integration. Methods: Some of the current evidence on therapeutic communities, planned early hospital discharge, alternatives to inpatient care and job integration in people with severe mental illness are reviewed. Results: (i) Current evidence suggests that therapeutic communities (and new forms of milieu therapy, e.g. Soteria) are an effective ingredient of care; (ii) the evidence on planned early discharge suggests that there is scope for early discharge if continuity of care is ensured, and (iii) the evidence on supported employment suggests that there is scope for early job placement/supported employment among people with schizophrenia with little risk to clinical stability. Conclusion: Eugen Bleuler was a far-sighted social psychiatrist who concentrated on treatment issues and complex interventions that are considered cornerstones of care for people with severe mental illness one hundred years later.

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