Loren Mosher dissident psychiatrist obits
Tue, 20 Jul 2004
The untimely death of Dr. Loren Mosher leaves a great vacuum in the mental health reform movement–as few psychiatrists have had the moral courage to stand up with their patients against the abuses wrought by the “unholy alliance” of psychiatry, Big Pharma, and government.
BELOW are obituaries that appeared in The New York Times and The Washington Post recounting a very small measure of Dr. Mosher’s work and accomplishments.
As AHRP board member, Dr. David Cohen described Loren’s approach: “Loren believed that you couldn’t just give drugs to someone who is in deep distress and ignore them,” said Dr. David Cohen, a professor of social work at the School of Social Work at Florida International University and a former colleague of Dr. Mosher. “He said that there was therapeutic value in just being with someone and bearing the discomfort of it. Just giving the patients drugs would only distance yourself from them.”
Loren, who served as an active AHRP board member and also on the board of MindFreedom, a patients’ rights group whose members identify themselves as psychiatric “survivors,” will be greatly missed.
At the bottom are links to remembrance pages and additional information.
Contact: Vera Hassner Sharav
Contrarian Psychiatrist Loren Mosher, 70
By Adam Bernstein
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, July 20, 2004; Page B06
Loren R. Mosher, 70, who died of liver cancer July 10 at a clinic in Berlin, was a contrarian psychiatrist and schizophrenia expert who was dismissed from the National Institute of Mental Health for his controversial theories on treatment.
While chief of NIMH’s Center for the Study of Schizophrenia from 1968 to 1980, Dr. Mosher decried excess drugging of the mentally ill; large treatment facilities like St. Elizabeths Hospital that he would have preferred to raze; and the sway pharmaceutical companies had over professional groups.
He advocated a largely drug-free treatment regimen for schizophrenics, which still runs counter to a p revailing opinion for using antipsychotic drugs for schizophrenics in the United States.
His position was based on a view that schizophrenics are tormented souls who needed emotionally nourishing environments in which to recover. He said drugs were almost always unnecessary, except in the event of a violent or suicidal episode.
He eventually established small, drug-free treatment facilities that were more akin to homes than hospitals. His young care providers in one center, Soteria House in San Jose, lived and performed household chores with the handful of patients.
“The idea was that schizophrenia can often be overcome with the help of meaningful relationships, rather than with drugs, and that such treatment would eventually lead to unquestionably healthier lives,” Dr. Mosher once wrote.
As late as 2002, he claimed that 85 percent to 90 percent of his clients returned to the community without conventional hospital treatment.
In 1998, Dr. Mosher resigned from the American Psychiatric Association, which he called a “drug company patsy.”
“The major reason for this action is my belief that I am actually resigning from the American Psychopharmacological Association,” he wrote in his resignation letter. “Luckily, the organization’s true identity requires no change in the acronym. At this point in history, in my view, psychiatry has been almost completely bought out by the drug companies.”
Loren Richard Mosher was born in Monterey, Calif., and lived with various relatives after his mother’s death from breast cancer when he was 9. He worked in oil fields in the American West as a young man to earn money for medical school, or so he told his employers. What was then a lie, he said, soon became truth as his co-workers came to the allegedly aspiring doctor with complaints about colds and sexual diseases.
After graduating from Stanford University and Harvard University medical school, he arrived at NIMH in 1964. His early schizophrenia research involved identical twins, one with schizophrenia and the other without the psychotic disorder. His research emphasized the “psychosocial” factors that he felt led one toward exhibiting symptoms but left the other one apparently normal.
Creating Soteria House in the early 1970s, he said, caused lasting trouble with the psychiatric community. After showing studies of patient recovery that matched traditional treatment with medication, the project lost its funding amid a strong peer backlash. So did a second residential treatment center in San Jose.
“By 1980, I was removed from my [NIMH] post altogether,” he wrote. “All of this occurred because of my strong stand against the overuse of medication and disregard for drug-free, psychological interventions to treat psychological disorders.”
He then taught psychiatry at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda and became head of the public mental health system in Montgomery County. He started a crisis house in Rockville, McAuliffe House, based on Soteria principles.
He was a prolific contributor to scientific journals and co-wrote several books, including “Community Mental Health: A Practical Guide” (1994). During the Ritalin phenomenon of the 1990s, he was often featured as a dissenting view in scores of articles. “If you tell a lie long enough, it becomes the truth,” he said of the medication.
Dr. Mosher moved to San Diego from Washington in 1996. At his death, he was a clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of California at San Diego medical school and was in Berlin for experimental cancer treatment.
His marriage to Irene Carleton Mosher ended in divorce.
Survivors include his wife of 16 years, Judy Schreiber of San Diego; three children from the first marriage, Hal Mosher of Fairfax, Calif., and Tim Mosher and Heather “Missy” Galanida, both of Los Angeles; two brothers; and a granddaughter.
_NEW YORK TIMES_
L.R. Mosher, Innovator at Mental Health Institute, Dies at 70
July 18, 2004
By ANAHAD O’CONNOR
Dr. Loren R. Mosher, a former National Institute of Mental Health official who developed a drug-free approach to treating schizophrenia and argued that psychiatrists should rely less heavily on antipsychotic medications, died on July 10 at a clinic in Berlin. He was 70.
The cause was liver disease, his wife, Judith Schreiber, said.
In the 1960’s and 70’s, as psychiatrists were beginning to prescribe powerful new antipsychotic drugs to treat schizophrenia, Dr. Mosher advocated using little-known alternative therapies instead. From 1968 to 1980, while chief of the Center for Studies of Schizophrenia at the mental health institute, he began a long-term study that compared drug-free treatments with conventional hospitalization.
Through decades of research, he found that patients who were randomly assigned to live in a psychotherapeutic, residential setting with few medications did just as well as patients given drugs. In some cases, when the person had never taken any medication, he found the outcome was even better.
“Loren believed that you couldn’t just give drugs to someone who is in deep distress and ignore them,” said Dr. David Cohen, a professor of social work at the School of Social Work at Florida International University and a former colleague of Dr. Mosher. “He said that there was therapeutic value in just being with someone and bearing the discomfort of it. Just giving the patients drugs would only distance yourself from them.”
The centerpiece of Dr. Mosher’s research project was a 12-room house in San Jose, where one psychiatrist and a live-in staff cared for a group of about half a dozen young schizophrenics. The center, called Soteria, or “deliverance” in Greek, had a no-drugs rule unless patients became violent or suicidal. Staff members shared cooking and normal household chores with the patients and were encouraged to view them as their peers.
The goal, Dr. Mosher later wrote, “was to provide a simple, home-like, safe, warm, supportive, unhurried, tolerant and nonintrusive environment.”
Dr. Mosher was convinced that supportive, social relationships could help his patients rebound from psychosis. He viewed the illness as a coping mechanism, a response to years of various traumatic events that caused the person to retreat from reality.
“Basically what they’re saying is: ‘Hey, folks, I’m out of here. I’m constructing this world as it pleases me, and I don’t need to pay attention to that world out there. I’m going to live in this one because that one out there hurts,’ ” he said in a 2003 interview with the San Diego Weekly Reader.
By 1974, Dr. Mosher had opened a second residential treatment center in San Jose called Emanon. Both centers lasted until the early 90’s, when financing dried up. But they inspired more than a dozen similar residential centers in Switzerland, Germany, Norway, Italy and other parts of Europe.
In his later years, Dr. Mosher wrote and spoke widely about his cynicism toward the pharmaceutical industry’s influence on physicians. He resigned from the American Psychiatric Association in 1998, citing an “unholy alliance” between psychiatrists and drug makers.
Born in 1933 in Monterrey, Calif., Loren Richard Mosher earned his undergraduate degree from Stanford and his medical degree from Harvard. In the 1960’s, he did early research at the mental health institute, studying sets of identical twins in which one had schizophrenia and the other did not. He focused on their family lives and upbringing, seeking to identify psychosocial factors that might have brought on mental illness.
Dr. Mosher was a clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of California at San Diego medical school. Throughout his career, he wrote more than 100 scientific articles and reviews. In 1989, he published a book, “Community Mental Health: Principles and Practice,” which has since been translated into five languages.
His first marriage to Irene Mosher, ended in divorce in the early 70’s.
In addition to his wife of 16 years, Judith, who lives in San Diego, he is survived by two sons, Hal, of Fairfax, Calif., and Tim, of Los Angeles; a daughter, Missy Galanida of Los Angeles; two brothers, Roger, of San Francisco, and Harold, of Casper, Wyo.; and one granddaughter.
Alliance for Human Research Protection:
PsychRights has “remembrance page” on web you may add to:
Laing Society also has a remembrance page you may add to, with an obit:
The San Diego Weekly Reader on Loren Mosher is here:
Loren’s preface to Peter Lehmann’s new book “Coming off Psychiatric Drugs” is here:
Info about Soteria:
Psychology Today article:
Letter of resignation from American Psychiatric Association
Original message from MindFreedom: