This paper is based on experiences over the past three years in North Devon (population 140, 000), a predominantly rural district that until 1986 based most of its psychiatric facilities in a large mental hospital in Exeter, nearly 40 miles away. When Exeter went ‘Italian’, services were devolved to local districts, and North Devon was given the responsibility for providing comprehensive psychiatric care based on a DGH unit, a Day Centre, two hostels and a small multidisciplinary team. No formal psychotherapy services were included in this plan. This is a familiar enough pattern, one that can be found throughout Europe and North America. I shall try to chart the movement from the heady days of decarceration to current uncertainties about community care, a state which might be called post-deinstitutionalism.
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