In 1970 a 160-bed unit previously oriented toward custodial care began to actively treat supposedly hopeless chronic schizophrenic men, with the goal of increasing their release rate from the hospital. The unit conceptualized schizophrenia as a social-breakdown syndrome, and the treatment approach focused on increased social interaction and group activities. Patients were viewed as responsible individuals rather than custodial cases, and staff served as role models and teachers rather than authority figures. The unit achieved a release rate of 21 per cent, almost three times that expected for chronic schizophrenics. The authors conclude that there are fewer hopeless cases than generally believed, particularly by adherents of the disease model.