Respectfully Resocializing

Going Down the Rabbit Hole


Emerging from Post Doctoral

Clinical Sociology Research






Currently a live document with multiple updates every day.



Last updated 11th March 2017.




About ways that work in transforming people and society:

o  Respectfully re-socialising

o  Stopping conflict in all of its forms

o  Evolving enabling[1] atmospheres and environments

o  Evolving Vibrant Communities

o  Increasing effectiveness in Therapeutic Communities

o  Setting up community processes for:

o  Stopping family violence

o  Stopping bullying

o  Stopping addictive behaviours

o  Stopping racism

o  Re-constituting[2] society following man-made and natural disasters

o  Enlivening schools in areas of situated poverty

o  Revitalizing Grandparenting, Parenting and Childhood

o  Re-locating, settling, and habilitating displaced people

o  Re-socialising the Radicalized

o  Evolving thriving multicultural communities

o  Evolving humane caring alternatives to Criminal and Psychiatric Incarceration

o  Reviving closed Therapeutic Communities

o  Evolving our Unique Potentials in making better Realities






perhaps it’s a source of precious gems

not a manual

and whether gems

depends on you

as the potency of these gems

is a function of you

not the gems

and a function of how

you weave

the gems

and imaging a special place

filled with these gems

healing transforming power

only tapped by folk

relating with them in special ways

and using these same ways

in relating with each other

within contexts

framed in special ways

something to do with subtle loving energy


for evolving

potent realities




Going Down The Rabbit Hole. 6

Assuming A Social Basis Of Mental Illness. 7

Margaret Mead The Anthropologist Visiting Fraser House. 15

Reframing Staff Roles. 15

The Sky Is Blue. 19

Role Taking. 31

Constituting Fraser House as an Institution.. 32

The Potency Of Social Relating. 36

Interrupting. 40

The Resocializing Program – Using Governance Therapy                                   41

Signification.. 43

The Potential Potency of Small Moments. 45

Transforming Being. 48

Identifying with Transforming Action                                                                    50

Objectivation.. 53

Internalising. 54

Legitimating Fraser House. 56

Legitimising Fraser House by Establishing the Psychiatric Research Study                      Group                                                                                                                         60

Legitimation Supporting Fraser House and all Involved                                       61

Legitimating under Threat of Reality Breakdown                                              62

Realising Outcomes. 64

The View from the Rabbit Hole. 65

How to Replicate. 66

References. 68

Appendix A.. 70

Research Questionnaires And Inventories - Neville Yeomans Collected Papers. 70

Appendix B.. 72

Discussion Themes. 72

Appendix C.. 73

A List Of Advisory Bodies and Positions Held by Dr Neville Yeomans. 73







Together we make things happen

and together we’re transformed in the process




Pervasively, throughout the world social systems of systems have evolved with a massive array of control processes for the control of everyone with no one in control. A major means of control is socializing. Within that a major means of control is the slowing down of imagination so that a fundamental mural[3] about reality can be set in concrete and therefore never noticed and rarely or never questioned. It’s about time - this E-Book looks back (to the 1960s) to look forward to present action towards respectfully re-socializing in the process of evolving new realities where people can thrive in evolving new thriving Again - it’s about time.[4]

In the early 1960s there was an example of Resocializing that Worked. In this E-Book ‘Resocializing’ refers to actions that profoundly respect the individual and the collective.[5] This 1960s example may be a model for our Age. This social action example was an experimental facility called Fraser House, an uncharacteristic psychiatry Unit exploring non-drug community processes.

This Unit took in seriously at-risk Residents transferred from the wards at the back of mental hospitals where these hospitals would put patients that they could not help.

Fraser House also took in people from jails whom the authorities would not give a day of parole. Processes that worked were replicated or adapted in later contexts within the Unit. After operating for some months this Unit was returning these Residents to living well in Society within twelve weeks. In the early drafts of this E-Book it commenced as a dense account unravelling how the tightly woven Fraser House Way worked in re-socialising these people. This E-Book has emerged as something very different. It is now more a dense account of how the Residents socialized Fraser House and found themselves in the process. Before coming to Fraser House, the Residents tended to experience life as without meaning (meaningless), and without norms (normlessness). They were typically isolates that did not belong. They were misfits. Yeomans set out to evolve a dense process for establishing shared meaning, and shared norms, and supportive friendships and a strong sense of belonging to something of great value.

It is also about how the Residents found out things about how society at large shuts down, controls and limits[6] people and how they began taking back agency in acting together for a better world.

The founding director of Fraser House was Dr Neville Yeoman (1928-2000). The Unit was exploring the evolving of non-drug community-based re-socialising approaches within psychiatry (and without psychiatry) in Sydney, Australia during 1959 to 1968.

A concerted attempt has been made to make this E-Book understandable. One of the challenges is that Dr Neville Yeomans’ Way was very eclectic, multifaceted and guided by the moment in context.

Neville’s way can never be adequately expressed in words. It can never be externalised.[7]

His Way pervasively involves engaging the flux between internal and external realities, phenomena, and experience within and between people – inter-subjectivity.

Yeomans’ Way is encapsulated in one of more than 1,000 poems he composed.[8]

The way


searching for the way


This is one reason why this E-Book is not a step-by-step manual where the potency is externalised and pinned down with words. Any attempt to do that looses the Way

Some aspects mentioned may appear paradoxical - though these aspects are typically at different logical levels, where the term ‘logic’ is used in an original meaning namely, the pattern whereby all things are connected.

Where typically a book may have many sentences to state a good idea, many of the sentences in this E-Book have a number of good ideas stacked in one sentence, or sentence fragment. Sometimes just two words within a sentence embody a very potent idea. This is consistent with Dr Neville Yeomans’ Way and the Ways being explored in this E-Book

Some sentences may need a few readings and some reflection, as like Alice, we are going down the rabbit hole - perhaps to find a Wonderland.



Yeomans evolved Fraser House assuming a social basis of mental illness. This has links to the important role social cohesion plays in preventing mind-body-spirit sickness in Australian Aboriginal culture.[9] Regardless of conventional diagnosis, in Fraser House it was assumed that dysfunctional Residents would have a dysfunctional inter-personal family friendship network. This networked dysfunctionality was the focus of change. Consistent with this, the Fraser House process was sociologically oriented.

The Way was based upon a social model of mental dis-ease and a social model of change to ease and wellbeing.[10] Yeomans said that he and all involved in Fraser House worked with the notion that the Residents’ life difficulties were in the main, from ‘cracks’ in society, not them. Yeomans took this social basis of mental dis-ease not out of an ignorance of diagnosis. Yeomans was a government advisor on psychiatric diagnosis as a member of the Committee of Classification of Psychiatric Patterns of the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia.

Yeomans was familiar with twin sociological notions that people are social products and at the same time people together constitute[11] their social reality.[12]

Yeomans said[13] that he took as a starting framework that people’s internal and external experience,[14] along with their interpersonal linking with family, friends, and wider society are all inter-connected and inter-dependent.

Given this, Yeomans held to the view that pathological aspects of society and community, and dysfunctional social networks give rise to criminality and mental dis-ease in the individual. As well, his view was that ‘mad’ and ‘bad’ behaviours emerge from dysfunctionality in family and friendship networks.

This was compounded by people feeling like they did not belong - being dis-placed from place and dislocated. Problematic behaviours may be experienced as feeling bad or feeling mad, or feeling mad and bad. 

While Yeomans recognized massively inter-connected causal process were at work, he also recognized and emphasized this macro to micro direction of complex interwoven causal forces and processes within the psychosocial dimension.

Working with the above framework, Yeomans set out to use a Keyline[15] principle, ‘do the opposite’ to interrupt and reverse dysfunctional psychosocial and psychobiological processes (biopsychosocial). That is, he would design social and community forces and processes that would inevitably lead from the micro to the macro towards Fraser House Residents reconstituting their lives towards living well together. Yeomans told me a number of times that the aim and outcome of Fraser House therapeutic forces and processes was ‘balancing emotional expression’ towards being a ‘balanced[16] friendly person’ who could easily live firstly, within the Fraser House community, and then in their new, expanded, and functional network in the wider community.

Andy Brooker in an email wrote of:

Institutions promoting decontextualized forms of personal responsibility - ‘often implying (through the veil of diagnosis) that the person themselves, or their family are the cause of their problems; while consistently failing to highlight the real cause of social harm and its role in creating the interlinking forms of oppression, at the root of their suffering.’ 

In this view, dysfunctional behaviours may be seen as ‘defence patterns’, and as ‘the best that people could do` in endeavouring to cope with and accommodate societal pressures.

Fraser House took people who were profound dropouts – people who were shutdown and largely disconnected from society mentally and physically. These were people who had had society disconnect them from their friends, relatives, acquaintances, and society at large by locking them up in prison cells and the back-wards in mental hospitals. They had had ‘society’ ‘knocked’ out of them by the system. What had happened in their worlds had also happened inside of them - people were dissociated[17] and dis-connected.

These residents had profound shutdown in response to not fitting within the dominant system. Some had the added overlay of addiction.[18] Fraser House was originally called the Alcoholics and Neurotics Unit.

The aim in Fraser House was to have these people engaging collectively in doing their own transforming of their own making in dis-alienating and re-socialising themselves so that they were not only able to cope, they were also able to live well with others and be resilient in the face of dominant system pressures.

What Yeomans did do was to constantly stack possibilities for contexts to emerge where Residents engaged in their own transforming.

After leaving Fraser House ex-Residents were able to live well in Society. In many cases they became social catalysts creating social innovation (rather than fighting the existing system or returning to being ‘dropouts’).

When Yeomans was approached by me relating to doctoral research into Fraser House he referred me to past staff, Residents, and Outpatients of the Unit, as well as to Alfred Clark, the head of the Fraser House External Research team at Fraser House.

He and Yeomans wrote the book, Fraser House – Theory, Practice, and Evaluation of a Therapeutic Community.[19] Alf Clark[20] went on to obtain his PhD[21] based upon his Fraser House Research.

When Clark left Fraser House he worked at the Tavistock Institute in the UK; then he became Professor and Head of the La Trobe University’s very radical and critical Sociology Department in Victoria, Australia for fourteen years. He was head when I completed my Social Science degree in his department – majoring in Sociology of Knowledge.[22]

Clark writes in his 1993 book, ‘Understanding Social Conflict’[23]  that Fraser House and its outreach[24] is still the best model for resolving social conflict around the world that he has found.

None of these interviewees referred by Yeomans were able to shed any light whatsoever on what actually made Fraser House work. They could outline the timetable of activities - that kept being altered by Residents in committee. They could confirm that Fraser House processes did work extremely well and had good results in healing people in an original sense of that term meaning to make whole; to integrate. People did transform. This transforming was a matter of degree - at times bit by bit, at other times big changes. Interviewees confirmed that the Residents and Outpatients engaged in mutual-help[25] and self-help through being fully involved in re-forming their way of life together.

The interviewees could describe the many things that happened. However, every one of them said that how all this ‘worked’ and what made the processes work in being transformational was ‘beyond them’.

Yeomans was enriching practical wisdom[26] in the common person.

In a resonant way Postle[27] has introduced the term ‘the psyCommons’.

The psyCommons is a name for the universe of rapport – of relationship between people – through which we navigate daily life. It describes the beliefs, the preconceptions, and especially the learning from experience that we all bring to bear on our own particular corner of the human condition. To name these commonsense capacities ‘the psyCommons’ is to honour the multitudinous occasions of insight, affect, and defect that we bring to daily life: in parenting and growing up, caring for the disabled and demented, persisting with the love that brings flourishing and success, supporting neighbours visited by calamity, joining friends and family in celebrations of life thresholds. As my colleague Andy Rogers described it, the psyCommons is a rich resource of ‘ordinary wisdom’ and also, more controversially, ‘shared power’. The air we breathe, the radio spectrum, the oceans and the land we occupy – all these are commons, or ‘common pool resources’; they belong to us and we belong to them. The psyCommons is one of these commons. And, in parallel with the history of the enclosures of common land in the UK and elsewhere, the psyCommons too has enclosures. In that insidious way that politics can be invisibly present in daily life, the psy-professions – psychiatry, psychology, psychoanalysis, psycho-therapy and counselling – have enclosed the psyCommons.

As pointed out by Bob Dick:[28]

The harming consequences of the dynamics of the larger system would have been also affecting the Fraser House Psychiatrists and Psychologists (including Yeomans). Their behaviour was also a consequence of system dynamics.

To quote the Biography on Yeomans work life:

In the early days of Fraser House, permissiveness within the staff-Resident relation was embodied in the slogan, ‘We are all patients here together’.

The self-help and mutual-help focus was supported by the slogan:

We are all co-therapists.[29]

However, recall that boundaries were maintained between staff and Resident in that any staff needing psychosocial support would either receive this within an all-staff support group, or if the situation warranted it, the staff member would enter Fraser House as a voluntary patient[30]

The following three paragraphs are repeated text (without the footnotes – though you may want to refer back to these) from earlier in this segment. In writing and rewriting this E-Book I read through these three paragraphs many times. Then it suddenly dawned on me that these three paragraphs are the very heart and soul of Neville Yeomans’ way. In many respects they sum up the whole E-Book. Perhaps you, like me may get more significance out of the repeat reading with interspersed comments. Note that it reports Yeoman saying the following is his starting frame work.


Yeomans said that he took as a starting framework that:

a)    people’s:

a.    internal, and

b.    external experience,

b)    along with their interpersonal linking with family, friends,

c)    and wider society

d)    are all inter-connected and inter-dependent.

Time and again we will be referring to the following)

a)  the inter-play between

a.    internal, and

b.    external

b)    the experience of all involved (again the mingling of the internal and external aspects of experiencing)

c)  Residents interpersonally:

a.   inter-linking, and

b.   inter-relating

d)  with family and friends (and learning about and experiencing belongingness and locatedness; and expanding and enriching their sense of identity)

e)  Re-connecting all involved

f)    in new ways to society (new ways that are functional and tapping the unique potentials)

Note this influencing is going from micro – to macro; linking the individual to the group and the group to society. Each of the above points are being done simultaneously; they are also:

a.   Inter-connected, and

b.   Inter-dependent.

Given this, Yeomans held to the view that:

a)    pathological aspects of:

a.    society, and

b.    community, and

c.    dysfunctional social networks

give rise to criminality and mental dis-ease in the individual.

Note the framing (dis-ease). Yeomans does not use dominant system metaphors - ‘hygiene’, ‘health’ or ‘illness’ in referring to phenomena of mind (mental)

As well, his view was

a)    that ‘mad’ and ‘bad’ behaviours emerge from dysfunctionality in family and friendship networks.

This was compounded by:

b)    people feeling like they did not belong - being dis-placed from place and dis-located.

Problematic behaviours may be experienced as:

c)    feeling bad or

d)    feeling mad, or

e)    feeling mad and bad. 

While Yeomans recognized:

a)    massively inter-connected causal process were at work,

(going from the macro to the micro – society to individual)

he also:

a)    recognized. and

b)    emphasized:

this macro to micro direction of complex interwoven causal forces and processes within the psychosocial dimension.

Yeomans is referring to socialising, and particularly in context, problematic aspects of, and consequences of societal socialising.

Working with the above framework,

That is, the starting with the framework that:

a)      people’s internal and external experience,

b)      along with their interpersonal linking with family, friends,

c)      and wider society

are all inter-connected and inter-dependent.

Yeomans set out to:

a.      use a Keyline principle (do the opposite)

b.      to interrupt, and

c.      reverse

d.      dysfunctional

                                                                                                             i.   psychosocial, and

                                                                                                            ii.    psychobiological processes (biopsychosocial).


That is, Yeomans is interrupting society’s sustained socialising and reversing it by re-socialising all involved in a micro-life-world of their own making – where their way of life together is wholesome and promotes ease (rather than dis-ease) and wellness in all of its forms.


That is, he would design

e.         social, and

f.          communal

                                                                                                             i.   forces, and

                                                                                                            ii.   processes

g.         that would inevitably lead from the micro to the macro

towards Fraser House Residents reconstituting their lives towards living well together.

Yeomans told me a number of times:

b)    that the aim and outcome of Fraser House therapeutic forces and processes was ‘balancing emotional expression’

c)    towards being a ‘balanced friendly person’

d)    who could easily live firstly, within the Fraser House community, and

e)    then in their new, expanded, and functional network

f)     in the wider community.

There are a lot of ideas stacked in these three paragraphs repeated paragraphs. They came direct from my recording of Neville Yeomans telling me stories about his days in Fraser House.

I had written them down in the 1990s and added them to this E-Book without the denseness and import sinking in. They were not ‘throw away’ lines.

Margaret Mead the Anthropologist Visiting Fraser House


Margaret Mead the anthropologist visited Fraser House in the early 1960s. Mead was the co-founder of the World Federation of Mental health and the third president of that organisation during the years 1956-57. In August 1999, Yeomans was recorded as saying that during that Fraser House visit, Mead stated that Fraser House was the only therapeutic community she had visited that was totally a therapeutic community in every sense. Fraser House anthropologist-psychologist Margaret Cockett confirmed what Dr Yeomans had said about Mead’s comments. By this term ‘total’ I sense Mead was referring to the pervasively complex inter-connected, inter-related denseness of the interweaving of every aspect of the Unit’s ways towards Resocializing and returning Residents to living well in community. All of my Fraser House informants also spoke of this dense holistic inter-related ‘total’ nature of Fraser House.

Maxwell Jones the pioneer of therapeutic communities in the UK said of Fraser House:

......given such a carefully worked-out structure, evolution is an inevitable consequence.[31]

Perhaps Maxwell Jones (like Margaret Mead) could sense Resocializing (outlined in this current E-Book) as being implicit in Clark and Yeomans’ book if one had capacity to read between the lines and sense all of the rich implications of Fraser House Ways, especially the inevitability of evolving.

Reframing Staff Roles


The Fraser House roles for professional staff did not involve using their academic training – rather, the evolving and use of a very different set of competences. For context, Yeomans profoundly respected the psyCommons in everything he did. While the psy-professions generally had totally enclosed the psyCommons of these potential residents of Fraser House (coming as they were from psychiatric hospitals and prisons), Yeomans enclosed residents within Fraser House and regularly brought residents’ family friend network into the Fraser House enclosure.


Then via governance therapy and the Resocializing Program (see later), Yeomans had all of the professional staff stepping out of their psy-profession roles (read experts ‘doing things for people’) to become supporting the enriching of the psyCommons – as ‘healers’, (the term meaning ‘to make whole again’ – and enablers[32] (a term meaning to support others to be able) – hence, supporting Residents and Outpatients to do everything for themselves – mutual-help).

Yeomans wove together and adapted understandings from working with his father in evolving Keyline, a process within sustainable agriculture. Neville Yeomans, his brother Alan and their father P.A. Yeomans discovered ways to make nature thrive.[33]

Neville extended this work in exploring how to have human nature thrive. Neville used bio-mimicry in setting up embedded contexts – the context within the context – to multiple levels – and imbrications.[34] Within Fraser House, Yeomans was continually setting up meta-contexts[35] and co-locating[36] people and things; as well as combining[37] people, things, and contexts[38] – the context for the emergence of significant contexts.

Another thing Yeomans was doing is perhaps summed up by the term ‘stacking’. He would literally pile things on top of each other in a stack. He would stack each day full of transforming possibilities[39] – something recognised by Margaret Mead with her use of the term ‘total’.

Another significant adaptation was engaging with indigenous understandings of the geo-emotional and the links between land topography and social topography.[40]

Yeomans said[41], that any psychiatrist entering Fraser House would experience ‘their maximal career dis-empowerment’ as nothing in their academic training or their professional experience or career to date would have prepared them for their new role of sustaining healing contexts; where all involved - including all staff -  were Resocializing themselves by finding themselves (their selves). As Maxwell Jones observed, within Fraser House, evolution was an inevitable consequence – and this applied to the staff as well.

What’s more, they would be working in an environment where Residents and Outpatients who had already being involved in Fraser House living everyday and every night for many weeks were far more experienced in Fraser House transforming ways than these psy-professionals.

Residents in writing one of the Fraser House Staff Handbooks[42] wrote:

So you have decided to join Fraser House. Good career move!

The Residents recognised firsthand the potency of this potential new area within the psy-professions of having the role of being enablers of self-help and mutual-help within the psyCommons using uncharacteristic community as the transforming medium (therapeutic community).

When I commenced this research into Fraser House I assumed that some traditional change process was being used. I would ask questions like, what type of therapy did you use? Gestalt? Cognitive? Behavioural? The typical reply was ‘It was not like that.’

I cannot pinpoint the time when I realized that in Fraser House ‘community’ of a peculiar and uncharacteristic kind was the therapy and that ‘therapeutic community’ was the change process, not a just a name.

I sense it came from conversations with a friend and colleague of mine, Dr Andrew Cramb.

All of the Resident community governance (refer later) and other ‘work’ by Residents were change process. Everything was change process. Mead recognised that with her use of the word 'Total'. ‘Community being the change process’ was mentioned in the archives. However, I had just not sensed it. Once I had this understanding about socio-therapy and community-therapy and that Neville viewed Fraser House as a complex self-organising living system, it became clear that all that Neville had said about his father’s interest in living systems was central and not peripheral.

One of Yeomans’ mantras was:

Nothing happens unless the locals[43] want it to happen.

There is a dense subtlety to this mantra:

o   The Residents (the locals) had the say as to what, when, where, and how. This had the processes always changing, largely by input from Residents and Outpatients. Residents and Outpatients would play a part in writing up the latest Staff Handbook, which was a catch-up depicting what had already being put into place.

o   The collective was evolving their own Way of life together, and it was the collective that was Resocializing. Yeomans was never engaged in Resocializing the Collective. It was never service delivery [44]

o   Residents and Outpatients were the one’s involved in helping themselves in self-help and mutual-help

o   They are the ones doing the doing

o   They are collectively engaged, again, if they want to

o   The foregoing sets up the context for outsiders – staff - (working with some or more, or all of the locals) in supporting locals to be able, or more able

o   It presupposes that any in the enabler role gain and sustain rapport

o   For Yeomans, all of the enabler language is in the passive voice. Everything is soft – never imposing or directing – never ‘telling them what to do’ – rather, suggesting possibilities – suggesting experiences


In this, Yeomans did set up:


o   and select the staff

o   the purpose built infrastructure

o   the Big Group and Small Group Framework

o   the Governance committee process

o   that Residents and their family friend network attended

o   tight constraints within Big and Small Groups


This replicates in a peculiar way that life happens within constraints. Residents had come from psychiatric hospitals and prisons that were filled with pervasive constraints.


In Fraser House, Yeomans set up a mini life world[45] with extremely tight socially ecological enabling constraints[46] that set up extremely attractive rich contexts for them to engage the mantra:

Nothing happens unless the locals want it to happen.

Here we together evolve our reality, and as we do this we may find ourselves finding our self, and enriching our self.[47]

Yeomans described his role as relational mediator.[48] between those involved and life’s possibilities.[49]

Yeomans was involved in highly effective sustained promotional activity. This is discussed later under, ‘Legitimating Fraser House’. Yeomans typically had a waiting list of people wanting to attend and or be residents at Fraser House. Often, ex-Residents would be negotiating re-entry for a further stay. And this context where people wanted to be involved also applied to Yeomans’ outreach work where he was setting up micro therapeutic community houses in Mackay, Townsville, and Cairns. He had no difficulty obtaining residents.

In Fraser House the ‘locals’ were the Residents and Outpatients. Yeomans applied the same mantra  (Nothing happens unless the locals want it to happen) during Fraser House Outreach up the East Coast of Australia, across the Top End, and in his SE Asia Oceania work. The mantra embodies self-help and mutual-help.


Upon leaving Fraser House they were leaving the peculiar Fraser House Constraints; no longer the daily round of activities. However, they now had internalized Fraser House within them as re-socialized selves. They had an extensive repertoire of life competences; they had a new relating with what things mean (meaning making) – and increasing wellbeing in their life with others.[50] They could recognise themes[51] and be aware of changing contexts,[52] and new frames[53], reframes[54] and new definitions of the situation[55] relating to their relating to the reality of everyday life.

This world is rather crazy, not me!

Another key component not yet mentioned was that Fraser House Residents in large part went home on the weekends throughout their stay. This was a weekly reality check on how they were transforming. If any had strife – call on your network of friends and acquaintances over the weekend, or bring it up in a group on Monday.

 The Sky is Blue


Those interviewed for the PhD said that they could not make any sense what-so-ever of what actually made Fraser House ‘work’ in having people transform. While the people interviewed were still working (or participating as Residents or Outpatients) in Fraser House in the 1960s, they had accepted Fraser House worked just like they accepted as a fact that the sky is blue.

Yeomans himself stated that finding out how Fraser House worked was my research challenge; Yeomans knew how it worked though he was not going to do my PhD for him (or for me).

Neville never described Fraser House to me or attempted to explain it in any way. We discussed the limits of explaining and describing many times. In summary:

‘Explain’ means to make (an idea or situation) clear to someone by describing it in more detail or revealing relevant facts (facts are slippery and depend on human interest). The Romans realised that explaining involved an abstracting process – the leaving out of the richness of the original. The word explain is derived from ex- a word-forming element; in English meaning usually ‘out of, from’ - from the Latin ex ‘out of, from within; from which time, since; according to; in regard to’. Explain is also derived from plain - ‘flat, smooth’: from the Latin planus ‘flat, even, level’.  In combination ex-planus literally meaning ‘out of the plain’ (out of the two-dimensional); that is, reducing the multi-dimensional to two dimensions. Yeomans was very wary of explanations (and the inadequacy of ‘describing’).

In place of explaining and describing Neville told stories and told me to ask my interviewees to tell their stories. He told me to visit Fraser House building and personally sense the place. He also teed up many contexts of similar form and therein created contexts for me to experience things of great potency.

The PhD has been completed[56] and revised and extended as a biography[57] on Dr Neville Yeomans’ life work. This Resocializing E-Book has been written as a stand-alone piece, although reading the Yeomans biography and other references may enrich understanding. An associated text, ‘Coming to One’s Senses – By the Way’[58] provides scope to complement understanding.

This current E-Book also draws upon:

o     Berger and Luckmann’s, ‘Social Construction of Reality - A Treatise in the Sociology of Knowledge’ (1976),[59] and

o   Pelz’s, ‘The Scope of Understanding in Sociology - Towards a More Radical Reorientation in the Social and Humanistic Sciences’, and

o   Clinical Sociology[60]  to explore some of the essence of Fraser House Re-socializing Ways.

Setting out in words how Fraser House worked is a near impossible task. You had to be there. You had to experience it. In fundamental ways words are inadequate. Words are used sequentially. Sentences are also sequential. Fraser House was fundamentally a profoundly dense, interlinked, integrated, holistic process. So much was happening below awareness. So much was happening simultaneously. There was constant flux and Flow. There was continually stacked framing, reframing, functional boundary ambiguity and co-locating of multiple realities.[61] Sometimes the participants were all together. Sometimes they split up and were in anywhere from two to eighteen rooms, or scattered throughout the facility. All were engaged in this splitting up and re-joining – what Yeomans’ termed cleavered unity.[62]

What was happening in different places also had multiple implications for others involved. So much was laden with multiple implications.

Masses of significant and potent things were constantly happening day and night, day in and day out, with multiple things happening at the same time every moment – in a word ‘dense’ and in another ‘total’. In Fraser House, often what was potent was the most simplest of things.[63]

The challenge in this E-Book is to have the reader reading the sequential material and progressively receiving information that has the quality of being ‘stacked’, while shifting beyond ‘stack’ to receiving the feel and sense of this non-linear dynamic – to sensing the whole-of-it[64] and beginning to get it – whatever it is. Not your average academic or non-academic read.

All involved in the uniqueness of Fraser House as a social system had embodied experience leading to embodied knowing (typically without the knowing making much sense) and also to actual transforming (and hardly noticing the difference – so they did not sabotage their change work) and to moving back to living more easily in wider society.

Yeomans[65] suggested that a starting point for PhD research on Fraser House was reading all of his father’s writings about agriculture.[66]

Yeomans then said that he had extended the work that he had done alongside his father towards having nature thriving by adapting ways from nature[67] to fostering human nature to thrive. At the time this suggestion made little sense to me. My own preconceptions about what Neville and his father were doing was massively limiting both my inquiry and my perception and it was many months later that I did follow Neville’s very sensible suggestion. Without a sense of the profound linking between nature and human nature and how Yeomans was using bio-mimicry to evolve his processes one would never plumb the depth of his Way.

Recall that those interviewed for the PhD said that Fraser House was incomprehensible – to repeat, they had accepted Fraser House worked just like they accepted as a self-evident fact that the sky is blue; Fraser House was just there, like the AMP Society[68] - as part of the ‘nature of things’. The term ‘reify’ applies. ‘Reification’ is the treating of human phenomena as if they are natural or ‘god-given’ and not human-made and socially constituted. Fraser House phenomena were legitimated by their very existence as ‘something in the world’. In this context, both the AMP Society[69] and Fraser House were reified. This process tends to hide the fact that because these institutions are made by humans they can also be re-made by humans; they are not fixed in stone. While this incomprehension was going on among my interviewees back in the 1960s (and still continuing when I interviewed them in 1998 and 1999), everyone involved with the Unit during the Fraser House years was continually immersed in the very processes that constituted Fraser House, namely collectively re-constituting their shared social reality, while simultaneously, all were individually and collectively being re-constituted by this same social reality.

While looking at reification at the institutional level, the same process can happen to both roles and identity of self and others. Reification concretises such that the person becomes the role and nothing more. The distance between the person and the role shrinks. This same reifying process had contributed to Fraser House Residents’ way of being prior to, and during their incarceration in mental hospital or prison – they were those types of people. At that time this typing of these people was accepted as fact by ‘Authorities’:

A person diagnosed as thing – she’s a neurotic (she IS a neurotic).

She is here to be contained (in multiple senses) and looked after – not transformed beyond assigned typing; to be ‘warehoused’ indefinitely and not to be returned to society.

Similarly, these ‘mad’ and ‘bad’ had totally identified with this socially assigned typing (typification). In self referential description, some were mad types; some were bad types; and some were both mad and bad types. In Fraser House they began changing the type of people that they were, and sensed they were.

Herbert Mead wrote:

A self can arise only where there is a social process within which the self has had its initiation. It arises within that process.

Many of the Residents when they arrived at Fraser House were ‘no-bodies from no-where’. Fraser House evolved a very special social process where the Residents’ selves could have initiation and arise.

Fraser House was collapsing old dysfunctional reifications at both role and identity level. Self was being enriched so that Residents began realising their capacity to take on new types of roles and maintain distance between their various roles and their core self. They became types in the process of transforming type; being involved in Self realising.

Here is more of Herbert Mead’s comments on the self:

A self can arise only where there is a social process within which the self has had its initiation. It arises within that process. For that process, the communication and participation to which I have referred is essential. That is the way in which selves have arisen. There the self arises. And there he turns back upon himself, directs himself as he does others. He takes over those experiences which belong to his own organism. He identifies with himself. What constitutes the particular structure of his experience is that what we call his ‘thought’. It is the conversation which goes on within the self. This is what constitutes mind (my italics).[70]

Outside of notions of type assigned by others, Residents and Outpatients began refining and fine-tuning their selves in becoming a fine[71] self[72]  All involved were learning how to be self-made people and collectively-made people of high worth through high quality mutual-help and self-help while tapping into and evolving their unique potentials (refer, ‘Realising Human Potentials’).[73]

At the same time they were taking on the understanding that:

Here in this Unit, this is what does happen for all involved, and that this changework is our primary role, and that we only have twelve weeks to do all of this, with all the support we will need, so we can get on with it now.

Fraser House existed as both an objective and subjective reality. People could objectively see and hear it in action. They could also experience it internally as a subjective experience.[74]

What made Fraser House work will be explored in terms of externalization, objectivation, and internalization.

Fraser House way was exploring processes for the ongoing modification of subjective reality.

Residents and Outpatients were continually having experiences within powerful contexts that were altering their internal psycho-emotional and physical states of being in everyday life.

Little known and apparently not discussed was the fact that they were also transforming the way they moved their bodies – the way they sat, the way they stood, and the way they walked.[75]

While starting as an idea in Yeomans head, Fraser House became an objective reality; an entity existing in the externally real world. It became, by various processes, there present to visit and see on Cox Road in North Ryde on Sydney’s North Shore as an objectively present complex.

People who participated at Fraser House were constantly engaged in continual exchange between inner and outer experience.[76] They were internalising their experience of the Unit. These processes of externalization, objectivation and internalization were not sequential; rather they were all occurring simultaneously as Fraser House evolved. Everyone involved was also simultaneously externalizing their internal experience of being in Fraser House while internalising their experience as an objective reality. Internalising was evidenced by objectively observing Objective behaviours and deep immersion in intersubjective relating, while flitting between inner and outer focus is an inherent aspect of the human condition. To use a metaphor, living in Fraser House was like living in a fishbowl surrounded on all sides by participant observers who showed sustained interest in you.

All involved were ongoingly mutually identifying with each other in a two-fold sense – firstly, as ‘people involved with Fraser House’; secondly, in this they were also identifying their own identity in the process of their transforming. In identifying with Fraser House they were reforming (re-forming) their own identity. They not only shared this experience, they participated in the experience of each other’s being.

Together they were continually re-constituting these phenomena – the objective reality of Fraser House. They became significant in each other’s lives. They became significant others.

Many significant others became guides and mentors into this strange new reality.

These mentors were one significant representation of the Fraser House plausibility structure in the various roles they played; this process was one way whereby this new reality was mediated to the new arrival.

The Fraser House process was clearly not insight-based. Knowing theory was not required. The processes and the experiences and the meanings and understandings derived from deep immersion in the lived-life experience of Fraser House were all pre-theoretical.

To repeat, when interviewed in the 1990s, no staff, Resident or Outpatient had any idea whatsoever about what made Fraser House Work. This was also admitted by Professor Alf Clark who was the head of the Fraser House External Research team. Clark co-authored with Yeomans the book on Fraser House.[77] That book detailed the Theory, Practice, and Process of Fraser House. However that book gave no indication whatsoever as to what would have made such Theory, Practice, or Process work. Professor Clark went on to be head the Sociology Department in La Trobe University in Melbourne, Australia for fourteen years.

Perhaps Clark was looking at Fraser House through the framing filters of psychiatry and psychology such that he never sensed the potency of the sociological framing or the (here we evolve our own way of life together; our own culture) anthropological framing within Fraser House. Or perhaps he too was always being swept up in the dynamic experience of Fraser House.

Some dynamic was going on that limited his understanding. One big one - people tend to not notice socialisation in everyday life and yet it is pervasively present.

Recall that Residents at Fraser House had had socialisation ‘knocked’ out of them. Fraser House Way was Resocializing them.

This Way extended to the whole-of-it;[78] the bio, the psycho, and the emotional aspects. The Way was supporting them all to evolve their own way of living well with themselves and each other – their way of life. They were evolving their own culture, in ways supporting enculture.[79]

Yeomans, in pioneering therapeutic community in Australia was engaging all involved in evolving a very uncharacteristic community with processes that led to the emergence of densely interconnecting, inter-relating, inter-depending, inter-woven aspects conducive to transforming. Fraser Houses, as therapeutic community, had community (of this unique kind) as the therapy (wellness change process).

What was happening was experienced and internalised as subjective bio-psycho-social embodied experience.[80]

One resource that came out of the PhD is the Method Section[81] especially aspects relating to connoisseurship and contemplation in qualitative method that informed this current E-Book. Another is the paper, ‘The Art of Seeing - Interpreting from Multiple Perspectives’.[82] Another resource for making sense of this E-Book is the Natural Living Processes Lexicon – Obtaining Results with Others.[83] Another more general resource is Realising Human Potential.[84]

It is suspected that Dr Yeomans did know at the level outlined in this E-Book, though passed on nothing to the others involved; and didn’t pass on such knowledge to me. No knowledge of theory was needed or required to make the Fraser House Social System work. Yeomans’ experience was that Fraser House worked because of what was experienced by everyone involved, staff included.

Thinking, especially thinking about experience interrupts experiencing experience. Thinking disconnects people from feeling.[85]

The Fraser House processes had everyone immersed in being aware and emotionally responding to the moment-to-moment unfolding action, not distracted by being inside of themselves up in their front brain mulling over theory, or using theory to sabotage their own and others’ change work, or theorising other people to everyone’s utter distraction -  thinking driving one to distraction.[86]

Things happened extremely fast in Fraser House, and all involved stayed present in the moment. It was reported that the rich energy even had catatonics coming back to respond to what was happening.[87]

In Fraser House, exploring re-socialising through social relating was an aspect of the approach. Like that last sentence, the passive voice form was typically used by Yeomans when he was speaking. He said that the passive voice softened things as it was less imposing.

Typically, people arrived at Fraser House with a dysfunctional family-friend network of five or less. Prospective Residents were required to sign on ten times as an Outpatient and attend Big Group[88] with members of their typically dysfunctional family and friend network also signed on as Outpatients - and all stay for Small Groups.[89] After these attendances prospective residents may be accepted to become a Resident as long as their family friend network members committed to continue regularly attending as Outpatients throughout the Resident’s stay at the Unit.

Because of lots of integrated processes Residents left after being in Fraser House for twelve weeks typically with between 50 and 70 people in a now functional family-friend network. These network members also had a common experience of Fraser House Big and Small Groups.

After Residents had been in Fraser House for a time, the people who were now in Residents’ expanding family friend networks were people they were now in close regular contact with, with varying degrees of emotional closeness and emotional dependency in the process of transforming to emotional independency. After leaving Fraser House, Residents could and would attend Fraser House Big and Small Groups on a regular basis as Outpatient friends of those still in Fraser House. Additionally, Fraser House Residents could be accepted for up to three further stays at Fraser House. These processes extended and maintained their connecting with Fraser House.

A core aspect of the Fraser House Re-socialising process was to immerse everyone in sustained participating in social communicating and relating in many and varied contexts.

People identified each other and in so doing identified themselves – as in, enriched their own identity and sensing of their own self identity.

For all involved, Fraser House was there as a ‘self evident compelling reality’. It was an enclave (closed society) bracketing off the outer world. While before, overpowering life-at-large was the paramount reality, upon entering Fraser House, the extraordinary richness of the Unit’s processes becomes the new paramount reality. Like the rise and fall of the curtain marks the beginning and end of the play reality, after Fraser House had been going for a few months any new arrival would quickly sense that this Fraser House reality was a very different one to anything they had every experienced before, especially after learning they had being assessed by a very competent assessment team who were now to be their fellow Residents.[90] And then finding out these very  assessors had arrived at Fraser House not long ago with a diagnosis that could be translated as ‘mad’ and/or ‘bad’ [91] Then going into the intensity of the first Big Group. All these unusual things were markers[92] for this new and extraordinary reality.

Fraser House was structured by Yeomans as an INMA - an Inter-people Normative[93] Model Area. In this context, ‘Area’ has the connotation of place and space – firstly, a ‘Locality’ – meaning connecting to place, and secondly, a ‘Cultural Locality’ meaning a place where people become connected together connected to place – in this case, Fraser House.[94] The term ‘enabling environment’ also applies to Fraser House; where a physical and emotional (geo-emotional) environment is evolved and sustained where every single aspect supports all involved to be more able in tapping into and using their unique potentials.

Exploring values and norms was a core focus. Yeomans carried out extensive values research comparing values held by Fraser House Residents and Outpatients with over 2,000 respondents in Melbourne and Sydney, the largest research study of its type in Australia at the time.[95]

Yeomans did not publically use this INMA term in the sixties, though he had the idea of an INMA and used the idea of ‘model areas’ in his work in normalising culture.[96]

This may be the place to introduce Neville Yeomans bio-mimicry of the work he did with his father in evolving sustainable agriculture. On their farms the Yeomans supported nature’s naturally occurring self-organizing processes;[97] in particular through tapping the freely available potential energy in complex systems.

Yeomans used to engage the free energy rather than struggling to fix the stuck energy.[98]

As an example, Yeomans’ outreach work that he commenced in 1971 in the Atherton Tablelands in Far North Queensland continues to this day as a self-organizing social system after his death in 2000.[99]

All involved in Fraser House would meet, engage and relate with each other in an enabling environment[100] bracketed off from mainstream.

They would explore as differing types – initially, types deemed to be deviant by authorities within the mainstream system, and radically affected by the pressures of the mainstream life.

Residents would arrive at Fraser House typically with one of two particular types of sympathetic-parasympathetic tuning:[101]


A.    Under-aroused, under-active, over-controlled, and  over-anxious


B.    Over-aroused, over-active, under-controlled, under-anxious, talkative, and noisy

Within these two particular types there was a whole typology of sub-types of actors. Types of behaviour quickly became a function of context.

Dr Yeomans was a member of the Committee of Classification of Psychiatric Patterns of the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia. In such a role he well understood psychiatric diagnostic typing though did not use diagnosis within Fraser House.[102] Notes in Resident Progress Records would not distance Residents by using impersonal categorising/descriptors (she IS a psychotic).

In Fraser House, Resident file notes contained comprehensive life histories, gathered by the Admitting/Assessing Group and the Progress Group and as an integral aspect of Psycho-Social Research within the Unit. File-notes were extremely relational - personal, inter-personal, biographical and containing notes relating to changes in the living experience of social relating as a type-of-person-transforming-type. Example: ‘Name of first primary school teacher’ - useful for age regressing to re-access psycho-emotional resource states.

Yeomans took in new Residents on an intake balanced in many respects:

o   Ensuring that there was a balanced spread of people with the differing mainstream diagnostic categories[103]

o   Gender balance

o   Half under-aroused and half over-aroused

o   Half under-controlled and half over-controlled

o   Half under-anxious and half over-anxious

Within Fraser House everyone apprehended each other within a typificatory continuum as a type-in-the-process-of-changing-type.

Two of Type A[104] were placed in same sex dorm with two of Type B so there was a natural pressure to move towards a more normal centre; the more aroused becoming less aroused and vice versa, with similar shifts in the other aspects.

Photo 1 One of the Fraser House Dorms


Typically, new arrivals found Fraser House to be a massive improvement compared to where they had been.

They had the choice of returning to where they had been, or going along with the norms of this new place.

The report from those involved was that Residents participated and engaged in all of the processes.

Every aspect of day-to-day life in the Unit was somehow ‘massive’ and ‘compelling’.

Residents at first apprehended others and increasingly comprehended others as different, though specific types within a dynamic reciprocated typificatory schema. Simultaneously, types would be socially re-constituted in typical (typified) ways in the Fraser House typificatory schema.

The layout of Fraser House (refer diagram below) meant that Residents were constantly meeting fellow Residents and relating. There was one long corridor and enclosed pathway running through the Unit. Chilmaid, a Fraser House psychiatric nurse during the 1960s was one of my interviewees for the PhD. He stated that during the day when no one was in the upstairs dorms, on a walk from one end of the Unit to the other when people were outside of activities and generally milling around before or after dining you would meet or see everyone in the Unit.

Typically, Residents were continually being present in social relating. If people were deep inside, others would attract their attention. This continual passing of each other and engaging in activities set up continuous verbal and non-verbal reciprocity within expressive acts.[105] A lot of this ‘expressive language involved what may be called ‘speech acts’,[106] where the speech is more than an utterance; the speech is an act with transformative consequences.

An example of a speech act from another context are the words of the marriage celebrant, I now pronounce you husband and wife together’.

Relating Well was ‘continually been held up’ as ‘this is what we do here. We all stay attending to social relating.’

Residents in face-to-face contact were simultaneously available to each other. The ‘other’ was in many ways ‘more real to me than I am.’

To reiterate, this enhanced typical apprehending of each other was in a two-fold sense.

Within the concentrated reality of everyday Fraser House life there was a continuum of typifications where, in moving through Fraser House everyone would apprehended; then after a time they would begin comprehending each other as a type-in-the-process-of-changing-type.


Diagram 1 Map of Section of Gladesville

Macquarie Hospital Showing Fraser House as a Set of Six Buildings ringed by roads on the near right with a Long Pathway from One End to the Other




By being involved in activities in the Unit, the Residents and Outpatients participated in the objective reality of the Fraser House social life world, or to use Benita Luckmann’s term, a ‘small life world’[107]. Residents gained experience, confidence, and competence in taking on the various roles within Fraser House. By internalising these roles, they (the roles) become subjectively real to participants. Residents had the objective experience of participating. They could take on the idea:

I am the person doing these roles at Fraser House, and others are confirming I am doing them well.

After a time, doing these various roles became natural, automatic, habitual, hardly noticed, and rarely or never questioned.

All of this helped constitute the objective reality of life in Fraser House, and with this, the reciprocal typifying comes to have the quality of objectivity.

While initially, objectivity may be tenuous, the density of the interconnected tasks, roles, and social actions ‘thickened’ and ‘firmed up’ objectivity.

Now we’re going to have Big Group......

    soon becomes:

This is what we do around here.

This life together starts to be defined (determined with precision) by a widening sphere of taken-for-granted socially ecological normative habitualized routines; this in turn sets up the possibilities for division of labour and the adopting of tasks and roles requiring and demanding Residents and Outpatients use a higher level of attending to what is going on in their respective roles. One attendee of Yeomans groups stated in writing about Yeomans processes:

They were good for different people in different ways. It intensifies communication, that’s what it does. It focuses you. You get down to the specifics of social and cultural communication rather than just, ‘how’s the weather’?[108]

Residents and Outpatients who have become competent in a specific task and associated roles were given the role of mentoring new people to take on these tasks and roles on the principle:

Here all tasks and roles are passed to those who cannot do them so they can learn to do them well with support.

These roles and role-specific tasks help constitute particular types of relevant being[109] and action within the continuing role-specific social action situations. Roles are types of action by types of actors in such contexts. Further, Fraser House roles represented themselves. For instance, helping represents the role of ‘helper’.

These reciprocal typifications were being constantly re-negotiated as people were transforming in the face-to-face ever-changing located situations where they were negotiating meaning[110] (Big Group, Small Group, Governance Committees, etc).

Having transitory processes that were being constantly modified by Resident and Outpatient driven community action was an essential element of the reality of everyday life in Fraser House. Fraser House as institution itself typifies individual actors and their actions. All involved begin ‘taking on’ the Fraser House Way. The institution posits (puts forward as fact) that actions of type X will be carried out by Residents of type Y. ‘Once you have been here for a while you will be on the governance committees and doing social research etc.’

The helping Resident is not acting on his own, but as helper. Residents were identifying with these roles, and internalizing this identifying in enriching and expanding their own self identity.

Additionally, the helper role is one part of a dense woven tapestry of roles making up the conduct of Fraser House Residents – for instance roles such as: assessor, audience, crowd, mediator, negotiator (especially supporting self and others in negotiating meaning) role model, facilitator, innovator, researcher, carer, catalyst, paraphraser, and exemplar.

In Fraser House there was the continual exploring, trying on, negotiating, navigating, and experiencing of roles and role-specific behaviours. In any of these roles the Resident acts as a significant representative of Fraser House.

Later Yeomans extended his use of roles in Resocializing to setting up what he termed hypothetical realplay.[111] Participants become involved in taking on roles (and role specific behaviours) in potent hypothetical contexts that are very real in their consequences for transforming with others.

Fraser House Residents, Outpatients, and all staff were together continually re-constituting the communal and social reality of their life together in community. That process was folding back to be individually, socially, and communally reconstituting firstly, everyone’s being (being-in-the-world) with their own outer and inner states of conscious and non-conscious experience of their phenomenal experience of their being in the world with others, and secondly, reconstituting their being-in-the world with others in the Fraser House extended transitional community, and in this, together constituting their Fraser House social life world.

Constituting Fraser House as an Institution


The increasing set of Fraser House roles evolved from the same processes that constituted Fraser House as an institution - through the internalising of socially ecological habitualized routines that had been objectified as routines that could be observed objectively on a daily basis. As the functional in context was always highlighted, the continual pressure was towards quality acts – embraced by the Greek term phronesis meaning wise practical acts. These routines also embraced and constituted tasks and roles that represented and re-presented the Fraser House institutional order. All conduct by all involved in Fraser House was being constituted[112] by these social processes.

The roles of Fraser House had a similar constituting power as every other aspect of Fraser House. This is a reflection of the total nature of the interweaving of processes within this Unit that Margaret Mead described as total.

While in one sense Fraser House was a set of buildings on the grounds of Macquarie Psychiatric Hospital, the human face of this institution manifested itself[113] and was represented and re-presented in interacting performed roles. This was one way Fraser House manifested itself in human exchange and experience.

Fraser House as institution soon had its immediate past as history and the Unit’s transforming processes were being informed by this history that lived on as repeated stories passed on within Fraser House gatherings and networked exchange outside of Fraser House. These stories were relived and shared in storytelling when ex-residents and outpatients got together both inside and outside of Fraser House. These glimpses of shared experience were framed in story form and were living on as biography and recallable memory among those involved. Yeomans in his young life lived with his family among remote area aboriginal people[114] living traditional lives and he experienced firsthand the potency of repetition of narrative for social cohesion and community wellbeing. Narrative therapy was an integral aspect of Fraser House Way and was a core aspect of Fraser house Research.

While all involved co-constituted Fraser House as Institution, the institutional framework[115] set limits and constraints on people that were of their own making. These limits and constraints set up a framing of contexts (Big Group, Small Group, Governance Committees and the like) for establishing new patterns in habitualized conduct leading to transforming in many ways.

Fraser House as Institution was operating at the level of valued inclination, so people began doing what they were inclined to do. At the same time, every single aspect of Fraser House was up for constant review.

Anything and everything could be and was changed in the spirit of inquiry relating to how to live extremely well together. In Fraser House anything approaching notions of ‘social control’ was under collective control. There were massive influences towards transforming. Rather than ‘control’, Fraser House processes enriched influencers. In Fraser House Yeomans applied the latest understandings of complex multivariable systems of motion.[116] For example, looking at Fraser House through the concept ‘motion’, there may be one or two points in the ‘phase portrait’[117] that 'attracts' the system energy, as in the rest point of a simple swinging pendulum. From these studies of motion, more complex multivariable systems may have their movements restricted to what are called 'strange attractors', having three or more variables. Fraser House as a multivariable system in motion, continued to have something approaching 'strange attractors' as an essential aspect adding/ influencing form(s).

A person or group, or aspect would be metaphorically a 'strange attractor' For example, nodal people[118] may influence the complex shape of self-organizing systems by a few strategic interventions.

Fraser House processes continually accessed free energy[119] in the system and linked free energy to ‘strange attractors’. An example is the two residents talking and then one of them linking with the female acquaintance mentioned in this E-Book.

Gouldner (1970, pp. 222) writes of the potency of one nodal person:

The embodied and socialized individual is both the most empirically obvious human system, and the most complex and highly integrated of all human systems; as a system, he is far more integrated than any known ‘social system’. In his embodiment, the biological, psychological, social, and cultural all conjoin.


And a single creative individual, open to the needs of other and the opportunities of his time, can be a nucleus of spreading hope and accomplishment.



Fraser House processes continually supported people learning about evolving their own personal agency through their embodied experience of their biologically flexible responding to:


o   their own moving, sensing, feeling, and

o   verbalising in relational social engaging with others

o   in evolving together the Fraser House culture - as in ‘living well together’

o   with all of this of their own making.


This took place within a culture of continual improvement in tapping people’s unique potentials.[120]


Professor Paul Wilson,[121] psychologist-criminologist writes of this learning how to ‘live well with others’ in describing his experience of living in Dr Neville Yeomans’ therapeutic community in Mackay, Queensland.

Wilson was having psycho-emotional difficulties in his life at the time and used his stay in this therapeutic community house to sort out his life.

Wilson writes:

Neville Yeomans created a community free of doctrinaire principles. The Mackay setting successfully created a sense of belonging. Most people who have experienced deep personal distress have lacked, in my opinion, any sense of residing in a group or clan. They, like I, have lived their lives constructing walls around themselves, to protect themselves from other people. In the process, they have lacked the knowledge and experience of living in a community.

There was nothing magical in the process of achieving this sense of belongingness.

Our day-to-day activities were almost mundane. I would wake up in the morning and help whoever was up to get breakfast ready. Then as people came in to the kitchen, we would talk about all sorts of things people talk about over breakfasts.

Marion would ask one of us to collect some groceries, or to cut the lawn, or help with the laundry.

Most importantly, there were always people around you who you felt cared for you as a human being. This interconnectedness of person with person was the thread that bound the community together and gave us a sense of ‘family’ - a unit that many of us had ignored or not had before.

Wilson is here highlighting the potency of everyday conversation in maintaining our subjective reality while living in a world that, in large part, we silently take for granted.

Given that Fraser House Residents had been locked out of everyday life in criminal and psychiatric incarceration (some for many years), an essential feature of Fraser House processes was reconnecting Residents with the micro aspects of life (making a bed, paying for a bus ride, keeping things tidy around one’s bed and the like) with these things adding to Residents’ recipe type knowledge within the Fraser House common social stock of knowledge, with this increasing their confidence, readiness and pragmatic competence in carrying out routine performances in everyday life. This was preparing these people to return to living confidently, competently, easily, and well in society.

Over the first weeks and months of Fraser House the Residents and Outpatients were key contributors alongside staff in evolving differing types of habitualized activities by types of actors. And the reciprocal typification of habitualized routines instituted Fraser House into a unique institutional form that was itself constituted by all within the collectivity engaged in mutual help. This soon becomes the now familiar background of shared habitualized activity that sequentially opens up differing foregrounds for anticipating and experiencing social exchange and innovating, with all of this sitting inside laced with emotion as recent memory. There was some subsequent deliberating and reflecting. Often everything was a puzzling confusion that left them alone with their changing self that was not noticing it’s changing, and hence not sabotaging its change work.

The nature of the routines ensured that all of the typified habitualized activities in Fraser House were available and shared in common, even with people who had been isolates. For example, in a file note in Yeomans’ Archives[122] called ‘colindivism’ he describes the interactive nature of collective and individual behaviour in Fraser House. In talking of colindivism, Yeomans spoke about Fraser House as a place where some people acted as individuals. These people did their own thing, though linked in with the various micro-networks in the Unit. This linking of individuals acting as individuals Yeomans called an 'indivity'. Linking of micro-networks was called a 'collectivity'. A linking of an indivity and a collectivity in cooperative activity Yeomans called a 'colindivity’ - a social form where individuals following their individual action and interests work well with groups of people who are following their collective passion and way, and each aspect of this web of micro-networks and individuals was doing their own thing in a loose self-organising kind of way. Again these processes soon were accepted as ‘this is the way we do it here’.


The Potency of Social Relating


Within this Fraser House structural framing of social process in action there was the continual focus on people increasing the quality of their social relating with themselves and others thus constituting a social structural overlay of Fraser House that was, following Berger and Luckmann,[123] ongoingly constituted by the ‘sum total of the typifications among those involved and of the recurrent patterns of interaction established by means of them.

Everyday reality in Fraser House was filled with objectifications that were framed[124] as, and then in a sense proclaimed or symbolised as collective human intention to transform to wellness; every aspect of the Fraser House daily round were such objectification, e.g. Big Group and Small Group, and all of the other activities.

Each Resident, Outpatient, and staff member was constantly interacting with each other as transforming type engaging in differing roles in repeated situations that are typical in this place Fraser House – for example, Residents being involved and socially interactive in situations during:

o   Big Group[125]

o   Small Groups[126]

o   Governance Committees[127]  

o   At the break between Groups - where refreshments were available from the Fraser House kiosk[128] that was Resident-owned, run, and controlled – an aspect of work as therapy[129]

o   During Psycho-Social Research[130]   

o   Sustained engaging on the Suicide Watch ‘Specialling’ Duty[131]

o   Six experienced Fraser House Residents in the Domiciliary Care Group (using the Resident-owned red Combi Van purchased by Fraser House Residents from the surplus gained from running their kiosk) visiting Ex-residents to provide Care and Support (before the Domiciliary Care Group members had become ex-residents themselves) and then sharing outcomes with the other members of the Domiciliary Care Group following return to Fraser House[132]         

o   Telephone responding on the  24 Hour Fraser House Resident-based On-call Community Crisis and Suicide Prevention phone line; and going on crisis calls with 4-5 other Residents using the Resident-owned Combi Van [133]

o   Initial and Ongoing Assessment of Fellow Residents by Experienced Residents[134]

Note that each of the above involves opportunities to acquire a range of competences including:

o   concentrating

o   staying present while sustaining an external focus

o   attending

o   relating

o   assessing others regarding the presence of dysfunctional  patterns

o   pattern interrupt of dysfunctional behaviours

o   spotting role specific functional in context behaviours

o   supporting others to be more able

Between Big Group and Small Groups was a 30 minute break. The Staff would be together for a review of Big Group.[135] This started with a report by the two official observers, and comment by all staff members present, including the Big Group Leader. Points assessed were:

o    Mood, and changes in Mood[136]

o    Use of Theme[137]

o    Value and Interaction

o    The Big Group Leader’s Role[138]

o    Transformational Processes used, including metaprocesses (that is, processes being used to guide use of process[139]

From these reviews came much of the insight and knowledge needed. The aim was to always look at the community in the ‘BIG’ – as a whole; and this was certainly no easy matter.

Residents and Outpatients were allocated to Small Groups by sociological category. This resulted in continual ‘churning’ of the mix, with everyone meeting and engaging closely with everyone over time.[140] Both the sociological category and the composition of small groups varied daily. All the Small Groups at any one time were based on the same category.

The social categories were:

(i)         age

(ii)        married/single status

(iii)       locality (a major contributor to expanding Friendship Networks)

(iv)      kinship

(v)       social order (manual, clerical, or semi-professional/professional) and

(vi)      age and sex.

Friday’s Small Groups were made up according to both age and sex for both staff and Residents. This was the one exception to the non-segregation policy. Often inter-generational issues, including sexual abuse issues, were the focus of these Friday groups. Yeomans set up eight family Units within Fraser House at times with three generations for transforming inter-generational issues. These people acted as functional examples for others as they changed.[141]

Big and Small Groups occurred twice a day on Mondays to Fridays. As there were six categories, anyone always visiting on the same day of any of the first four days of the week would experience being split up using differing categories[142] – another aspect increasing the churn towards relating with differing people.

While in these Small Groups, the different people that they were mixing with and engaging closely with all had the prior experience of closely attending to each other in the continually changing Big Group contexts.

Yeomans set up eight family Units with eight cots for young children within Fraser House transforming inter-generational issues that acted as functional exemplars to others as they changed.[143] There was evidence that other residents with histories of family violence, addictions and mental strife stemming from intergenerational onset could spot the dysfunctional behaviours in these families in the family units, and find parallels between these dysfunctional families (in the process of change) and their own transforming patterns. Yeomans also set up Child-Parent Play Groups as an integral aspect of these Family Units.[144] Dr Terry O’Neill who mentored me in Student Counselling at La Trobe University pioneered these Child Parent Play Groups at Fraser House. Warwick Bruen, one of my PhD interviewees continued these Play Groups after Terry came down to Melbourne.

Fraser House had its own structuring that was generating order within the daily round of life in the unit that varied from time to time by the Residents and Outpatients mutually helping of each other as one example of the externalizing of the internal subjective experience[145] of all involved as the Fraser House objective reality.

An example of the routine Monday to Friday rollout:

o   Rise, shower, dress, making one’s bed and attend to the ward neatness

o   Breakfast (including social exchange before, during, and after)

o   Big Group (1 hour) – intense interaction as participant, focal person, audience and/or crowd

o   Refreshment Break (30 min) (Snacks and Drinks from Resident-run kiosk -  co-mingling with Outpatients[146]

o   Small Groups (1 hour) intense interaction as focal person, participant, audience

o   Lunch and free time

o   Governance Committee Work

o   Resident Involvement in Research[147]

o   Other groups and activities including work as therapy[148]

o   Recreation – one end of Fraser House was the recreation centre, the other was the dining room[149]

o   Evening Meal

o   Big Group (1 hour)

o   Refreshment Break (from Resident-run cafe) – co-mingling with Outpatients

o   Small Groups (1 hour)

o   Recreation

o   Learning how to do the gentle social banter while getting ready for bed, before and after lights out.[150]

All of the above became habitualized and shared.

It’s what we all do in this place. All of this is how this place works, and what we do, and when we do it.

Below is some aspects of life within a Therapeutic Community[151] evolved by Yeomans that he modelled on Fraser House:

o   A community free of doctrinaire principles

o   A setting successfully creating a sense of belonging

o   Participants having a strong sense of residing in a group or clan

o   Having the knowledge and experience of living in a community

o   Sensing belongingness

o   Outside of the groups, committees, and research many aspects of day-to-day life were almost mundane

o   Waking up in the morning and then as people came in to the dining room talking about all sorts of things people talk about over breakfasts

o   Always people around you who you felt cared for you as a human being

o   Having interconnectedness of person with person as the thread binding the community together and giving a sense of ‘family’ - a unit that many involved had ignored or not had before

The transformative experiences were available to everyone involved, even the cleaners. Each of my interviewees stated that the cleaners were a most insightful group as they were actually the closest staff to the Residents. The cleaners[152] were seeing everything that was going on and hearing all of the small talk. Each of my interviewees stated that the most experienced people in this new area of using community (albeit of a very special kind) as the therapy were the Residents towards the end of their three months stay. This was because Residents lived totally immersed in the Fraser House process all day every day. The cleaners came next in experience of community therapy as they worked close to the Residents everyday (more so than the professional staff) and they also attended the Big and Small Groups.

The professional staff were all new to this form of therapy including Yeomans himself. They were pioneering this treatment form in Australia.

Nothing in the professional staff training had prepared them for community therapy.



Constant and sustained interrupt of dysfunction was a core process at Fraser House – ‘there’s no madness or badness here’. For examples from life of using sudden and unexpected interrupt[153] for transforming behaviour, refer Coming to One’s Senses – By the Way.[154]

In the 1960s all Mental Hospital patients were expected to exhibit madness. All prisoners were expected to be bad. In stark contrast, within Fraser House, everyone - staff, Residents and visiting Outpatients alike lived with the continually repeated injunction – ‘No madness or badness in Fraser House’. There was sustained interrupting[155]  of any and every micro and macro incidence of madness and badness.[156]

Feldenkrais writes on the potency of interrupting and dis-integrating habits in changing emotional and kinaesthetic states (in simple terms ‘how we feel’) temporarily or potentially, permanently:

A fundamental change (read as ‘interrupt’) in the motor basis within any single integration pattern will break up the cohesion[157] of the whole and thereby leave thought and feeling without anchorage in the patterns of their established routines.

If we can succeed in some one in bringing about a change in the motor cortex, and through this a change in the coordination of or in the patterns themselves, the basis of awareness in each elementary integration[158] will disintegrate (1972, p.39).[159]

What they were exploring in Fraser House were ways that worked in breaking up dysfunctional habitual patterns. Feldenkrais pointed out that potentially, the easiest entry point for total system transforming of part and whole is through transforming moving. A subtle aspect of Yeomans way was closely observing how a person stood and moved and sat.[160].

He was very interested in the sociology of the body[161] and the link between motion and emotion. [162]




Yeomans pioneered Resident committees in the mental health context within Australia. Yeomans set up a process whereby Residents and their family-friendship networks, as Outpatients, were massively involved in meetings and committee work. Residents and Outpatients effectively became responsible for the total administration of Fraser House. Appendix 13 in the Biography on Yeomans life lists the Roles and membership within the various committees.[163]

Members of Residents’ family friendship networks were required to sign on as Fraser House Outpatients and to attend Big and Small Groups. As well, they would be expected to offer themselves for election to serve on committees and to begin to recognise when they were ready for this role. Others would accept or reject them to stand for election, and vote for them during elections, depending on how they were progressing in Big and Small Groups and in the other Fraser House activities. If they needed to devote more time to personal transforming they would not be selected for committee work in the current round. They would be encouraged to keep on with their change-work and encouraged to aim for election to committee work in the near distant future and to begin imagining themselves in these roles (future pacing themself as mental rehearsal for a new way of being and being in the world).

Fraser House Residents and Outpatients progressively took on responsibility for their own democratic self-government. This is fully consistent with Yeomans’ exploring of epochal transition[164] – how to create global change to better ways of living in wider society. Yeomans referred to Resident-based rule-making as creating ‘a community system of law’.[165] Law evolved out of evolving Fraser House lore. The Fraser House vehicle for evolving democratic self-governance initially was a committee that decided the ground-rules for ward life called appropriately the Ward Committee. Eventually ten committees were established that mirrored the roles of every section of Fraser House’s administration.[166] Residents and Outpatients were elected to go on these committees by the staff, Residents, and Outpatients. On every Fraser House committee, each committee member had one vote. Residents and Outpatients outnumbered staff on all committees. This meant that Residents and Outpatients could always out-vote staff by collaborating and cooperating.

This often happened. Yeomans set the committee ground rules such that he always had a power of veto. Dissenting people who felt strongly enough about a decision could take it before Yeomans and the decision would be held over till he attended the particular committee where people would present their views.

Yeomans said[167] that he rarely overturned a decision made by Residents and Outpatients where staff dissented, as by Yeomans’ reckoning after due consideration, the Residents generally held the better stance. In Yeomans’ paper, ‘Sociotherapeutic Attitudes to Institutions’ and consistent with creating ‘cultural locality’ he wrote:

Patient committees formalize the social structure of the Residents’ sub-community change’.[168] 

Yeomans being ‘dictator’ satisfied the Health Department’s requirements for top-down control. However, Yeomans said[169] that he was a ‘benevolent dictator’ and the Residents and Outpatients effectively ran the place – and by all accounts, they ran it effectively. This was confirmed by my interviewees.

The structures and process of the committees were being continually fine-tuned. Chapters Eight and Nine of Clark and Yeomans’ book[170] contain a detailed description of the Resident/Outpatient committees at one point in time. Diagrams Two and Three below adapt the top-down traditional organization chart in Clark and Yeomans’ book.[171] Yeomans had suggested Diagram Two back in December 1993 and reaffirmed it in Sept 1998; it shows ‘Resident - Outpatient controlled’ committees, and the staff devolving their traditional roles to become healers.


Yeomans[172] said that his book with Clark had not made the comprehensive devolving of normal duties by staff clear enough to readers.


The respective roles that were devolved to the committees were (in alphabetical order):


o   administrator

o   charge nurse

o   nurse

o   psychiatrist

o   occupational therapist, and

o   social worker


These are depicted by the darker boxes.


The various committees that took on aspects of the foregoing roles are shown in the lighter boxes.


All of the governance committees shown in Diagrams Two and Three below were isomorphic with mainstream administrative cleaving of Fraser House’s Administration team that mirrored the rest of Macquarie Psychiatric Hospital (even following the Federal Government’s Parliamentary Review Committee - the Fraser House Pilot Committee, and using the term ‘Parliamentary Committee’).


The Diagrams also indicate the staff standing down from their professional (do things to and for others as expert) roles and the taking on of the Enabler Role - as in supporting the psyCommons among others engaging in mutual-help.


Diagram 2 Resident Committees and the Staff Devolving their Traditional Roles to Become Healers


Description: fh org 2

Diagram 3 Recast of Diagram Two


Every aspect of this committee structure and process was co-evolved by the Residents and their family and friends signed in as Outpatients. They helped constitute it, and then they were being re-constituted through their involvement.


‘Signification’ means, the representation or conveying of meaning. A special case of objectification in Fraser House was signification. Many aspects of Fraser House life were marked in many ways as significant by the use of signs with an explicit imbedded intention to operate as a carrier of subjective meanings.

The expression ‘going down the rabbit hole’ hints at entry into the unknown. The red pill and its opposite, the blue pill, are popular culture symbols representing the choice between embracing the sometimes painful truth of reality (red pill) and the blissful ignorance of illusion (blue pill).

You take the blue pill, the story ends. You wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill, you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.

In the Matrix[173] film the term red pill referred to a human that is aware of the true nature of the Matrix. In Fraser House they were re-defining the nature of the red pill – here you’ll experience living well in the Matrix and support re-humanizing the Matrix.

The Matrix is the Social System of systems of control with no one in control introduced at the start of this E-Book.

Back to the minutia of the Unit - a special case of signs was the display throughout Fraser House of actual signs up on walls showing slogans such as:

o   Bring it up in the Group[174]

o   The Wisdom is in the Group

o   In Fraser House we get on with our changework

o   We are all Co-therapists

o   No mad or bad behaviour to take place in Fraser House

o   No one is sick all through  

o   You can only stay three months so get on with your changework

o   Here everyone has an equal voice

Staff had their own slogans; examples:

o   Know what to leave undone in an emergency

o   Frequent rounds are a necessity

o   Combine the weak with the strong

These signs as physical objects were placed up on walls with objective messages of subjective intention. The messages on these signs were capable of:

o   being ‘detached’ from time and place, and

o   mediated through the mediating presence of bodyminds

o   internalised as internal mantras that could be recalled by self and others

o   influencing inclination and pre-disposition

o   being used in evolving guiding principles

o   being recalled objectively and available later, and

o   being used extensively in social relating – e.g. as in the two residents talking about Jane mentioned in this E-Book

On one occasion a sign was put up especially for one catatonic woman who a cleaner discovered was a talented artist. He saw her drawing a beautiful horse during a lucid moment. The sign in front of where she sat during the day had ‘Mural Space’ written on it in large letters. Beside her chair were pots of water-based paint and a jar of large brushes, a jar of water and a rag to wipe washed brushes. Soon this catatonic was busy creating murals throughout the unit![175]


Both the slogans ‘the survival of the fitting’ and ‘get on with your own change work’ guided participants involved in acknowledging reciprocal typification[176] in interlocking habitualized action of differing types.[177] This links to Marx’s[178] proposition ‘Man’s consciousness is determined by his social Being’. Notice how individual transforming is linked into the communal transforming with this simultaneously supporting all individuals.

The Potential Potency of Small Moments

Residents and Outpatients were constantly reminded by staff, as well as other Residents and Outpatients of the slogan ‘In Fraser House we get on with our changework’. These and other simple slogans were used and publically displayed to reinforce this principle as a guide to action. 

In Clark and Yeomans’ book Fraser House, ‘The Theory, Practice, and Evaluation of a Therapeutic Community’[179] there is a significant trivial conversation between two Residents. In the weeks before this conversation these two had their sense of ‘attending closely to their ongoing engaging’ ramped up by their experience of the intense Fraser House milieu.

What is said may on first hearing seem fairly simple. One Resident tells the other words to the affect:

If you’re having strife, bring it up in the group; were all co-therapists.[180]

Have you talked to Jane about it?

No I have not.

Why don’t you? She’s been leaning on you for so long now, why not turn the tables for a change and let her help you?

I haven’t thought of it, but it sounds logical enough.[181]

The first speaker is drawing upon his Fraser House knowledge of how the relevances were distributed throughout Fraser House both within the Unit’s stock of knowledge and within the specific stock of knowledge in particular Residents and Outpatients – which ones had relevant psychosocial and emotional resources that may be a resource within the current context – in this case, Jane was probably a very good resource. This is resonant with Postle’s writing of the psyCommons.

Let’s explore this for a moment. Many of the relevance structures in Fraser House were generally shared particularly in the one hour Big Group followed by 30 minutes of social mixing (and letting go some of the emotional charge generated by Big Group) between Residents and Outpatients (where a lot of the extending of friendship networks occurred). The thirty minute refreshment break was followed by one hour Small Group. This pattern was repeated twice a day Monday to Friday.


This particular pattern of activity supported the objective issue with respect to embracing the integrating of the separate relevances in Fraser House. The Parliamentary Committee formed the same integrating function within the ten committees within Governance Therapy.

With the facilitating patterns and processes evolved by Yeomans, other Big Group Facilitators began drawing the attention of everyone in Big Group to the role specific functional[182] bits of everybody who became the focus of Big Group attention from moment to moment. This contributed to a filtering for excellence in social relating by having the audience focused on the functional and not attending to dysfunctional and being readily able to distinguish between the two. [183] Another competence was recognising their own dysfunctional behaviours in the behaviour of other.

Goodness, that’s the very thing I’ve been doing all the time!

In recognising themselves in other’s behaviours, then adding the role specific functional behaviours to their own repertoire.

This minimised the sharing of dysfunction into the common stock of knowledge which became the repository of ‘what works’.

Establishing many activities and specific associated roles[184] that were shared by some of the Residents entailed that there was a social distribution of knowledge that could be separated into general relevance knowledge and role-specific relevance knowledge.

Other Residents ended up having a shared understanding as to who were the ‘go to’ people in the Resident Outpatient collective in terms of specific kinds of understanding, competence, fit, or support, e.g. Jane.

This is why the Resident could easily find the idea of asking Jane. Jane was both a potential resource, and already part of the other Resident’s Network.

The common stock of knowledge in Fraser House had a social base and was a resource in social change. The wisdom[185] within this evolving common stock of knowledge is resonant with Postle’s concept, ‘psyCommons’.

The two Residents engaged in discussion knew that this fellow’s friend Jane was a possible resource.

In saying the few words -

If you’re having strife, bring it up in the group; were all co-therapists.[186]

Have you talked to Jane about it?

No I have not.

Why don’t you? She’s been leaning on you for so long now, why not turn the tables for a change and let her help you?

Ideas and suggestions tumble as it were out of the Resident in spontaneous flow. He does not have to think. Ideas just flow as this Resident hears himself as he speaks. His own subjective meanings are being made continuously and objectively available to himself and hence even more meaningful.[187]

The Resident’s own language has an inherent quality of reciprocity that distinguishes it from any other sign system. As these two Residents spoke with each other there was a continuous synchronised reciprocal access to both of their subjectivities in intersubjective[188] exchange made objectively available and subjectively heard making everything more real including themselves – their respective selves.

Notice that the speaker is:

o   hearing himself engaging in the roles of helper and enabler

o   identifying with these roles

o   recognising and acknowledging the other as a helper in need of help within a community identified as co-therapist helpers.

The speaker is also entering into another significant Fraser House role – that of the facilitator mediator[189] between this Resident and Jane. In this process he is increasing his identifying with his emerging self identity that embraces himself as a helper of himself and others.

This rich theme of ‘helping’ is conducive to his own integrating and becoming more readily available as a response to anyone asking ‘who are you?’ Married together in this brief exchange between these Residents were two differing modes of language – firstly, statements of being (having strife; you have difficulty) and secondly, statements of action (helping your friend; ask her for support).

The above has been a glimpse of the potential potency of small moments in Fraser House, where the re-constituting of these two Residents by themselves with each other, while setting up connecting to Jane and the wider collective was profoundly social in nature. Each of the three show evidence of internalizing Fraser House Way.

Jane did become involved in the helping role aiding her potential transforming, with the three of them raising this in Big Group, and in the process hearing themselves speaking about their helping and becoming role models and examples for others.

At the end of this Resident’s diary it is clear by what he writes that he has transformed. Equally, the way he writes makes clear that he does not know he has transformed. He writes that he is ready to leave and that he has been assessed by his peers in the Assessment Team as being ready to leave Fraser House and return to the wider world. Nowhere in his diary does he give any indication that he has any insight[190] whatsoever about the process whereby change to wellbeing and functional living is occurring in his life, or that such change is even occurring.

Change is largely occurring below awareness similar to primary socialization. He has taken on new functional habitual responses. At the same time he was not engaging in any intellectual sabotage of his change-work – behaviours like faultfinding, judging, blaming, and condemning. Clark and Yeomans had not commented on the above features of the young man’s diary.[191] This is an example of self-help through mutual-help. While these exchanges seem trivial, Neville and the other interviewees said that time and again the Fraser House experience was that trivial exchange could be potent.[192]


Warwick Bruen, a psychologist who facilitated Fraser House Big Group many times stated in 1998 that attending Big Group was challenging in the extreme, though at the same time extremely rewarding.[193] In this dysfunctional tangle there continually emerged themes[194] that held everyone’s interest – that everyone resonated with – that is, themes ‘conducive to coherence’.[195] Yeomans spoke of Fraser House processes generating strong affective (emotional) states wherein all involved may experience ‘emotionally corrective experience’ of their own making. This may happen when experiencing something first-hand that challenges a previously held distorting and/or false belief.

Big Group explored themes that emerged from Day Sheets that were posted on the wall prior to each Big Group. Staff, Residents and Outpatients would make entries upon these Day Sheets that were read out at the commencement of each Big Group. Themes for Big Group were selected from those on the Day Sheet by the Big Group attendees-as-community based upon significance.[196] These themes had the property of being conducive to, or supporting coherence in the Group because they spanned multiple spheres of reality relevant to those present in Big Group. These themes may lift people above where they currently are and engage forms of linguistic modes and relating whereby transcendence may naturally follow.[197]  This language may be termed symbolic language where what is spoken is laden with significance.[198] Yeomans noted that the commencing of a theme influenced the social topography in the room – sensing metaphorically ‘who took the high ground’, who tended to be ‘front and centre’, and who ‘hid in the cracks and crevices’.

He also noticed that a change of theme resulted in instant change in social topography. All were mentored in noticing these shifts.[199]

Once under way in Big Group, Yeomans as facilitator (and model for others preparing to lead Big Group) would select out of the flow of conversation the bits that were ‘role specific functional in context’.[200]

Everyone present was therefore hearing the sum total of the ‘good bits’ being drawn to their attention (amongst a lot of dysfunctional behaviour), and these ‘good bits’ would be continually reflected back to the group and internalised and added to the common social stock of knowledge in Fraser House.[201] The 'best bits’ would be added to 'social stock of wisdom' within the Fraser House social life world.

Typically, little attention is paid to differing realities.  Let’s consider a few. We have the rise and fall of the curtain marking the beginning and end of the play reality. We have the traditional formats at the beginning and end of movies. We’re familiar with the dream reality. In the newspaper cartoon, the cartoon frame marks the enclosure of the cartoon reality. We do not find the cartoon character snoopy wandering around on the stock exchange report. In all of these realities, the paramount reality is everyday life. Within Fraser House, the high frequency of conversation enhanced its reality-generating function. Everyone was continually being involved in adding to, enriching, and drawing upon the Unit’s common social stock of knowledge. The collective participating in this process facilitated the locating and co-locating[202] of individuals in the Fraser House society (for example, Jane) and the relating with them in fitting ways contributing to the survival of the fitting. Residents and Outpatients were evolving their common social stock of knowledge comprising an extensive range of relevances relating to living well through relating well with understanding of the relevance structures of others.

As the Fraser House activities evolved there were more and more structured activities that Residents and Out-patients could be involved in. For example, there was initially the Ward Committee then others were added till there were ten committees in the Governance Process. Everyone in these different Committees was also automatically a member of the Parliamentary Committee. All committees reported to the Parliamentary Committee. Then a few experienced Residents and Outpatients were elected onto the Pilot Committee that was like the Privy Council in the Westminster system.[203]

The Parliamentary Committee would refer things to the Pilot Committee.

Yeomans spoke of three levels of governance at Fraser House – local, regional, and global. Each Resident with their family-friendship network was engaged in their own local self-governance. The Committee for Locality Based Transport – the Outpatients, Relatives and Friends Committee was engaged in ‘regional’ self-governance. The Parliamentary-Pilot committees, in association with the other sub-committees of the Parliamentary Committee were engaged in ‘global’ self-governance of the Fraser House ‘global commons’.

This is a micro-model of the ‘Local Regional Global Self-Governance’ model that Neville detailed in his ‘On Global Reform’ paper.[204]

Thursday morning Big Group was ‘administrative only’. This set up the context with the theme ‘discovering how to change, organize and administer’ their individual and collective reality and evolving competence in the associated administrative tasks and roles; and then identifying with all of this.

Administrative matters were discussed and Resident and Outpatient Committee elections were held under the auspices of the Parliamentary Committee. During this Thursday morning Big Group, reports were received by the Parliamentary Committee from all of the other committees. This meant that everyone at Fraser House for Thursday Morning Big Group not part of the Parliamentary Group (Residents, Outpatients, Staff, and Visitors) became Audience for the Parliamentary Group. This necessitated Committee Members acquiring report writing and report delivery competences and the capacity to respond to matters raised by the Parliamentary Committee. Residents and Outpatients were involved in this reporting process. Outpatients came to the Unit to participate in the committee structure. The presence of this large Audience for the Parliamentary Group added ‘performance pressure’ on Group Members as well as other audience effects. It also meant that everyone knew what was happening in the various Committees.

Perhaps it may be timely to reiterate that the people involved in all of this meticulous discussion, and reporting, and decision making, along with administering this large facility with over 20,000 Outpatient visits a year had been previous assigned to the category of the mad or the bad.    

During a 1998 interview/conversation with Neville, he stated that any attempt to bring up an administrative matter in a therapy group was deemed to be ‘flight’ and was interrupted with compassionate ruthlessness.

Any attempt to bring up a therapy matter during an administrative group was deemed to be ‘obstruction’ and deferred.




Yeomans was familiar with Elton Mayo’s[205] Hawthorne experiments during 1927-32 into the effect of changing working conditions on productivity amongst. Mayo found that productivity increased each time progressive improvements were made to working conditions. Then Mayo did a strategic thing – he progressively took away the changes in working conditions and productivity increased even more. He then took away some of the benefits that the workers had had originally and still productivity increased. Mayo concluded that the change component was not so much the various ‘treatments’ of the research - rather that it was that the researchers were acknowledging the workers’ dignity and worth, and showing an interest in them. Change was linked to the emotional experience of being research subjects. Similarly to Mayo’s work, Fraser House Residents and staff were the focus of continual research by Fraser House researchers and the outside research team headed up by Alfred Clark.

Residents were being continually asked to reflect on themselves, other Residents, other staff, Big Groups, Small Groups and on every aspect of Fraser House as well as aspects of wider society.

Yeomans extended this research to having the Residents themselves learning about all aspects of research process – including:

o   Selection and Formulation of  Research Issues

o   Research Design

o   Exploratory and Descriptive Studies

o   Designing Questionnaires

o   Data Collecting

o   Questionnaires and Interviewing

o   Quantitative and Qualitative Methods

o   Analysing and Interpreting

o   Writing Research Reports

o   Applying Research Findings

o   Relating the Findings to other Knowledge

Fraser House Resident and Outpatient involvement in Researching themselves, Fraser House and the wider world embraced the full gamut of the Research endeavour including:

o   Residents and Outpatients introducing other Residents and Outpatients to the social research process

o   providing their peers experiences for evolving competences to do all of the aspects of quantitative and qualitative social research (learning by doing)

o   evolving themes to explore

o   evolving the research design

o   evolving questionnaires and other research resources

o   pretesting resources

o   validating  resources

o   establishing reliability within these resources

o   evolving competence in interviewing including depth interviewing

o   carrying out interviews or other data gathering research

o   doing data analysis

o   drawing conclusions

o   writing up the research

o   preparing papers for possible publishing[206]

o   merging the findings with other findings from Fraser House research

o   involving innovative ways to use the findings within Fraser House processes

Yeomans was using all of this research as therapy (beyond the Hawthorne Effect – not only showing and interest in those being research {the residents and Outpatients}, also actually involving them in the research as co-researchers). Through all of this research, Residents learned about the difference between quantitative and qualitative research[207] as well as about the notions ‘validity’, ‘reliability testing’, triangulation, and ‘trustworthiness’, and how these are very useful notions as part of living in a modern community, especially one with extensive pathology.

In engaging Residents and Outpatients in this Research, Yeomans was enriching the psyCommons. He was not training Residents and Outpatients to enter the psy-professions. One Resident (ex-prisoner) did go on to be a personal assistant to a criminologist.

Residents were supported in sensing what may be valuable aspects to research within Fraser House contexts and society at large. For example, Yeomans[208] carried out extensive values research based on the concepts of Florence Kluckhohn.[209] A list of the questions that were asked in this Values Research are available.[210]

Fraser House values research was followed up by questionnaires being completed by over 2,000 people in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane - the three largest cities in Australia. Neville[211] had placed a Survey called, ‘The Survey of the Youth of Victoria’ in his Collected Papers Archive. This survey (using Neville’s values questions as one part of the survey) was conducted by the Good Neighbour Council and the Commonwealth Department of Immigration Survey Section, Canberra during 1967. There were 1,035 informants and 1,017 used in final analysis.[212]

Residents also became involved in both qualitative and quantitative research data gathering as well as in analysing the data and discussing the results and implications of the research.

During 1963-1966, research by nurses in Fraser House was supervised by Yeomans. Neville gave preliminary training to nurses in research methods [213] and also trained the social worker in research methods. At one time Neville arranged a Fraser House Research workshop with twenty five associated projects.[214]

As an example, Fraser House Residents were involved in rating Resident participation and improvement.[215] In answering, Residents were not only being encouraged to notice healing micro-experiences (experience of little bits of behaviour that may contribute to healing), they were receiving the strong positive emotional experience of forming and expressing opinions during social relating and experiencing that their opinions were valued, and that what they thought and felt about things mattered and was valued as being of value.

Having come from conflicted family environments where contradictory communication[216] was the norm, doing reality testing and checking the practical usefulness, validity and relevance of their observations was valuable. Residents and Outpatients would start discussing a very diverse range of topics and in the processes evolve their capacities in forming, expressing, and evaluating opinion and making insightful and useful observations about human interaction.

There were also multiple simultaneous Social Action projects to be involved in supported by academically qualified social researchers among the staff.[217] The

The Internal Research group also had liaison meetings with Alf Clark and other members of the Outside Research team.

Residents could also be involved in the Domiciliary Care Work and the Crisis Callout work. Research extended to these two activities as well.

A massive amount of biographical data was accumulated on every Resident.[218]

An indication of the way Residents and Outpatients were being extended in their attitudes, outlook, and identity were research topics such as:

Landscape Planning Attitudes Questionnaire

Attitudes towards Overseas Trade

Given all of these opportunities to engage in research and other activities, anyone using role specific activity to hide from doing their own change work would very quickly have this pointed out and they would be supported by their peers to cut back their workload on research, committee work, and other activity.

From the Biography:[219]

Residents were encouraged to have balance between committee work and self-healing. There was also an element of self-healing in being immersed in the socialising and sorting out how to live and work well with others within the committee work. Isolates were learning to re-socialize and form relationships with other Residents and Outpatients. The Committee work required acquiring and using a wide range of personal and interpersonal communicating skills.

Participants were encouraged to recognize and respect their own needs and those of others. This is a reason why the committee work was called the ‘Resocializing Program’.

Any person ‘hiding’ from their own change-work by being too busy in committee work soon had other Residents pointing this out to them.

If Residents put themselves forward for elections too earlier in their stay, Residents and staff alike would be suspicious of them being on a power trip or avoiding personal change work and would challenge them about this, or raise the issue in Big or Small Groups.

The same thing would apply to a person seeking to serve on many committees.


Objectivising[220] occurred during Fraser House happenings that were experienced as externalised objective phenomena [221] happening in the here and now – the outcomes of human exchange and activity. Fraser House as institution was objectivated by human activity.

This shift has Fraser House becoming real in a massive way. Once Fraser House started to accept Residents and Outpatients who were not there at the founding of the Unit, and did not have that experience as a part of their biography, these next and later generation Residents were inducted into the history, and folklore of the Unit. They received the Fraser House ‘way’ as an existing objectivity that was introduced as ‘this is how this place works’.

Every aspect had the pre-existing character of objectivity. New Residents met older Residents who were apprehended as already having a biography saturated in potent Fraser House experiences located within the objective history of the Unit.

I witnessed the upstairs dorm incident[222]

Then there was the cobalt blue scrotum incident – the result was huge! [223]

The next generation received the body of Fraser House knowledge, structure, processes, and practices transmitted as objective truth (e.g., here we have Big Group twice a day Monday to Friday) in the course of their socialisation and internalising this as a significant aspect of their new subjective reality.

For later generations, the Fraser House way was massively already there upon arrival – legitimated by its very existence as a fact – a massive facticity - a given; unalterable, and self-evident. It is objectively there, whether the newcomer likes it or not.[224]

Fraser Houses’ objectivity was in no way diminished by the newcomer’s bewilderment about what they were finding out about the Unit’s purposes and ways. Confusion and bewilderment increases the objectivity of Fraser House as an object in their Social Life world.

Fraser House? That’s the innovative psychiatric unit on the grounds of that psychiatric hospital in Cox Road in North Ryde on the North Shore.

There is little newcomers could do about Fraser House. For these newcomers, life at large was typically seen as unfathomable. However, Fraser House ways, while initially daunting, quickly established regularity and habitual ways of fitting that soon made its own sense as they were sensing it.


The human expressivity of others in Fraser House in the continuing everyday here-and-now was confronting all involved as objectively observed aspects constituting human activity; where every aspect of the milieu heightened everyone’s awareness of attending to and noticing the process and metaprocess (a process relating to processes) of what was going on. Any time anything significant happened, and often minutia was significant, a crowd would speedily gather bringing both the wisdom in the group to resolve what was happening, and to internalise the learning from subjects’ relating objectively in the real.[225] This heightened objectification of human expressivity. The expressivity of Self and Others was a constantly attended massive facticity. In this there also was the ever present hyper-aware internalizing of the external objective reality. The internalising through the senses was ongoingly re-constituting both the experienced phenomena of being, along with being itself.

Following Heidegger, people were attending to mood, understanding, and the ongoing discourse – both idle chatter and words of great pith and moment.[226]

In this concentrated totalising milieu, their relational languaging was constantly accumulating - adding to the repository of vast quantities of socially shared universes of meaning, ways and experience relating to relating well with themselves and each other. This was all woven together and integrated; and in this process, fine-tuning their most important instrument, which was their own perceptive self which they were preserving in time and passing on their remembering and re-membering[227] to themselves and to following generations passing through Fraser House and then moving on into networked networks in wider society. 

In all of this richness, everyone in the Fraser House collective were simultaneously and collectively constituting an on-going Fraser House objective reality that they were simultaneous and separately internalising in constantly re-constituting both their respective inner realities and who they were.[228] These objectivations function as essentially sustained indices of the subjective processes of those bringing them into being so they remain individually and collectively available in memory for future reflection, apprehension, comprehension, and contemplation, as well as functionally habitualizing - all beyond the face-to-face context where they were first directly apprehended.

Participants could use shorthand like, ‘The day Neville left for the UK’,[229] or ‘The stabbing the wall in the Upstairs Dorm incident’,[230] and an immensely rich amount of information about transforming was immediately available. These shorthand references to Neville leaving for the UK, or the Upstairs Dorm, are instances of how language was transcending the here and now and bridging different zones within the paramount Fraser House Reality while also integrating them all into a meaningful whole. Hence later, when Residents were outside of Fraser House engaging in their family friend network, through language and recall, the entire world of Fraser House could be actualised at any moment with all of their massive reconstituting experiences of Fraser House accessed, understood, and reinforced in a flash.

The simultaneous interacting processes involved all in Fraser House in constituting (to form something or some person new - to transform) their collective realities, and being reconstituted in the process:

o   The Fraser House social-life-world was socially constituted

o   Fraser House interacting was internalised during socialising

o   Internalised  socialising was externally experienced as an objective reality

o   All involved in Fraser House were social constituted

o   The Fraser House social-life-world was socially constituted[231]

Experiencing Fraser House was realising in the twofold sense of this word:

o   Realising as in apprehending and knowing about the objectivated reality, and

o   Realising as in ‘making real’ in ongoingly together co-constituting this reality

The above daily unfolding of collective realities occurred not as some externalised, detached, abstract, theoretical process. Rather it occurred as an inherent aspect of communal vibrant lived-life experience where everybody’s’ outward expression was formed and informed by inner experience.



A number of the top people in NSW Mental Health wanted Fraser House closed. They strongly preferred drug-based psychiatry and in no way accepted the bio-psycho-social approach (Engel, 1977). In this hostile environment Yeomans set up a number of layers of legitimation of Fraser House.

 A rudimentary first level legitimation was the simple affirmation by existing Residents and Outpatients to newcomers that ’this is how things are done here in Fraser House. We have Big Group and Small Group etc.’

A second level of legitimation was the use of slogans, wise sayings, mini stories of past superb moments in Fraser House history and the like.

A third level was the induction into the differentiated knowledge relating to different roles within Fraser House.

These first three levels of legitimation were legitimising Fraser House in the eyes of all Fraser House participants, with this supporting the effectiveness of the community based processes.

A fourth level of legitimation, and well ahead of its time, was the use within Fraser House of evidence based practice. Fraser House Way was not however based upon 'evidence' derived from past research in unrelated contexts.  That tends to have focus upon input (compliance with prior research), rather than output. In Fraser House evidence was based upon output. It was objectively verifiable empirical differences on many variables between how residents were when they arrived and when they left. For example, Residents would arrive with a dysfunctional family friend network of five or less people, and typically left within 12 weeks with a functional network of between 50 and 70 people - with many of these in the 'regularly in contact' category.

Residents also left the Unit with a wide range of general competences and a range of very specific competences derived from their active participation in the many differing aspects of Fraser House life. For example, competences in engaging in action research, domiciliary care, suicide prevention, resident assessment, scheduling car pooling and the like – with these assessments made by highly competent appraisers.

A fifth level of legitimation framed Fraser House as a very effective symbolic interconnecting inter-relating totality - as ‘a unique psychiatric pioneering endeavour’ that Yeomans constantly brought before a very interested public in Sydney using all forms of public media and through public presentations and talks. This fifth level served to integrate all of the earlier legitimation into a unified whole and in so doing integrated subjective and objective aspects.

To paraphrase Berger and Luckmann,[232] legitimation justifies institutional order by giving normative dignity (from Latin dignus – meaning worth) to its practical imperatives. Recall that the habitualized routines of the Fraser House daily round were one of the first-order ways that constituted meaning that was objectively available to participants during their social relating. To support first order ways, Yeomans set up Fraser House legitimating processes providing a second-order objectivation of meaning. This legitimation constituted new meanings that served to further integrate the meanings already attaching to the various aspect of daily life in the Unit like Big Group and Small Groups.

Legitimising Fraser House at the level of a universal overarching total symbolic whole sets up a place for everything and everything in its place as my tidy mother used to say – having the reality of life in Fraser House as the paramount reality for those involved. Here in Fraser House there was a universe of discourse that legitimated all of the everyday Fraser House roles, routines, and procedures as wholes within the universal whole of Fraser House. In terms of its intensity and density it was for all participants larger than their life outside the Unit. Life in Fraser House was all the more significant and potent because of its massive contrast to the outside reality. The Fraser House social scene was definitive; the most real - where participants felt the most alive. Here they could fully return to reality – the reality of their everyday life within the Unit. Remember these people had been profoundly disconnected from everyday life.  Margaret Mead commented on this. She said that Fraser House was the most total place she had been in. Mead was referring to the current themes been discussed in this E-Book.

While Mead could readily and clearly sense the ‘totality’ of Fraser House, it was highly likely that the senior health department officials with psychiatry backgrounds would have no comprehension of what Mead was referring to; they had attended on the day to get confirmation of their perceptions that the Unit should be closed.[233]

On comprehending and reaching one’s limits in comprehending, Martin Heidegger wrote:

To the common comprehension, the incomprehension is never an occasion to stop and look at its own powers of comprehension, still less to notice their limitations.

To common comprehension, what is incomprehensible remains merely offensive – proof enough to such comprehension which is convinced it was born comprehending everything, that it is now being imposed upon with a sham. The one thing of which sound common sense is least capable is acknowledgement and respect.[234]

Senior Health Department Officials could not comprehend what Margaret Mead was talking about. It was outside and beyond their comprehension and they never realised that.

Within all of this legitimating relating to Fraser House was the legitimating of everyone’s transforming identity by placing their sense of self in all of its aspects soundly within the Fraser House reality. This enriched sense of identity (remembering their previous alienation and lack of a sense of identity, who they are now, and anticipating who they are becoming) was passed on to being imbedded within the common stock of knowing within their enlarged family friend network. From being a dropout from mainstream society and profoundly disconnected subjectively, all involved including staff externalised themselves in the Fraser House small life world[235] of their own making, and then internalised their expanded self.


Examples of the totalising fifth level of legitimation:

o   Yeomans invited visitors to attend Big Group as Fraser House had gained a reputation for being the best place in Australia to experience the very best in using group processes for transforming action and organisations[236]

o   Yeomans had the strong support of the head of Mental Health in NSW and Yeomans used this support to legitimise and protect Fraser House.

o   Linked to this was having world renowned anthropologist Margaret Mead attend Fraser House and speak very highly of the Unit to senior heads of Mental Health who also attended, many of whom were very critical of Yeomans and the Unit – they favoured drug-based psychiatry and no way accepted the bio-psycho-social approach.[237]

Yeomans’ extensive outreach from Fraser House also provided legitimation as well as serving multiple other functions including protecting Fraser House’s very existence:

o   Yeomans presented as an extremely charismatic[238] character that kept Fraser House continually in the public media[239] of the day, including popular picture-based magazines that would run human interest stories that would be widely read, including being avidly read by Fraser House Residents and Outpatients.

o   Yeomans was also active in twenty seven external roles with mental health, allied health and other resonant organisations where he was known as the Founding Director and Psychiatrist at Fraser House. [240]

o   Fraser House offered primary Resident care by skilled psychiatric nurses to many surrounding organizations.

o   A Fraser House social worker was based in the Hunters Hill Council Chamber’s Administrative Office providing a service to the public half a day a week.

o   Yeomans was continually giving talks to church groups and other organizations about Fraser House and its processes.

o   Yeomans set up what was called the Sydney Therapeutic Club on the veranda of Ward One at Sydney Hospital.

o   Yeomans worked closely with eight social workers at Sydney Hospital. Some of the social workers were trained in group therapy and the Consultative Mental Health Programme was established. Six of the social workers attended Fraser House groups.

o   Sociotherapy groups were held regularly at Sydney Hospital for three years.

o   Fraser House Residents and ex-Residents attended these Sydney Hospital Groups. Yeomans announced the start of these Sydney Hospital sociotherapy group meetings during a Fraser House Big Group that was very tense, as a catalyst for change in that Big Group’s mood.

o   Yeomans commenced the Psychiatric Business Study Group[241]

o   Yeomans also gave many talks and interviews about Fraser House that were broadcast on TV and radio. This was confirmed by Yeomans as well as Fraser House staffers psychiatric nurse Phil Chilmaid, and psychologist Warwick Bruen.

o   Yeomans was the Guest of Honour at the All Nations Club on 30 August 1963.

o   A draft of a speech on social problems to the Ionian Club Sydney entitled, ‘Introduction on the Origins of the Ionians’ is included in Yeomans’ archived papers. This is consistent with Yeomans wider interest in re-connecting people back to their own culture, as in their way of life together.

o   A shift to a ‘community mental health’ focus and a further widening of focus to embrace ‘community health’ via ‘strengthening the organizational preparedness of the outside community’ was hinted at in the forward to the second edition of  the Fraser Handbook, ‘Introducing a Therapeutic Community for New Members’:

The major changes in the programs of the Fraser House Therapeutic Community in the past 20 months have been the development of an intense Community Psychiatry Programme, first in Lane Cove municipality in September 1965, and more recently in the Ryde Municipality. The major Therapeutic function of Fraser House will now be as the centre for an intense Regionalized Community Psychiatric Programme. This programme is aimed at reducing the rates of mental and social illness in this part of Sydney as a pilot programme and involves a vast increase in the outward orientation and responsibility of the Unit. Groups of nurses were allocated localities in the suburbs surrounding Fraser House and supported Residents and Outpatients from their areas.

The Fraser House handbook for new staff has a segment on the Nurses Role: Nurses are assigned in teams to regional areas at the moment; Lane Cove, Ryde, the rest of North Shore, and other areas. Each regional team is expected to be responsible for knowing its area, its problems and helping agencies etc. Moreover, nurses in each team are expected to come to know all in-patients and out-patients of that area; to be specially involved in the appropriate regional small groups, both in the community and in the Unit; to record progress notes on their regional patients; to be part of both medical officer and follow-up committee planning for the patients of their region.

o   In September 1965 the Lane Cove Community Psychiatry Programme began.

o   In June 1966 a similar programme began in Ryde.

o   As an example of linking Fraser House to the wider community and vice versa, during 1965, assistance was given on an individual or workshop basis by members of the Fraser House Research Group to thirteen organizations[242]

o   Seventeen people from the Parramatta Psychiatric Centre met monthly under Yeomans’ chairmanship on eight occasions.

o   Members of the Salvation Army undertook training in group leadership at Fraser House. Brief and extended training courses also included clergymen from all Christian denominations. Also involved were family welfare agency counsellors, parole officers, and nurses and administrators from private hospitals.

o   Advised the Salvation Army on the development of hostels.

o   Yeomans was the Honorary Consulting Psychiatrist at Langton Clinic for Alcoholics. He also guided that hospital on therapy, policy and research.

o   On one occasion a TV crew from the ABC came and filmed a section of Big Group.




In part for further legitimation of Fraser House, Yeomans set up a Psychiatric Research Study Group on the grounds of the North Ryde Hospital adjacent the Unit. At one time there were 180 members on the Psychiatric Research Study Group mailing list. Every one of these people was well versed in Fraser House way and became advocates for the Unit. Yeomans wrote:

The Study Group represents every field of the social and behavioural sciences and is the most significant psycho-social research institute in this State. The Psychiatric Research Study Group maintains a central file of research projects underway throughout NSW and acts in an advisory and critical capacity to anyone planning a research project. Meetings were held monthly at first at Fraser House and then elsewhere.

The Psychiatric Research Study Group was a forum for the discussion and exploration of innovative healing ideas. Yeomans and the study group networked for, and attracted very talented people. Students of psychiatry, medicine, psychology, sociology, social work, criminology and education attended from the University of NSW and University of Sydney and other places. The Psychiatric Research Study Group became a vibrant therapeutic community in its own right with a profoundly close inter-connected relation with Fraser House. Prison officers and parole officers with whom Yeomans had been working within the prison and corrective system also attended the Study Group. A 1963-65 Research Report states:

Tony Vinson and his team of Social Work 11 students from the University of NSW, with the Fraser House research Team for a time acting in an advisory capacity regarding research design and field work methods, carried out a study to assess the effectiveness of the Lane Cove Community Aid Service and the Fraser House Community Psychiatric Programme. Tony Vinson also attended the study group. He is now Honorary Professor, University of Sydney and Emeritus Professor at the School of Social Sciences and International Studies at the University of New South Wales.

Yeomans spoke of Tony Vinson doing sociology studies in the early Sixties, obtaining his PhD in 1972 and becoming the Foundation Professor of Behavioural Science in Medicine at the University of Newcastle in 1976, and Chairman of the NSW Corrective Services Commission in 1979. [243]Tony continues to provide his research findings to the Federal Government and Welfare Agencies on situated poverty.

The Psychiatric Research Study Group provided a space where ideas were enthusiastically received and discussed.[244] Some participants had been finding it hard to get an audience for their novel ideas within the climate of the universities of the day. The Study Group was another cultural locality where the people involved became connected together by deep social engaging about common interests. Simultaneously they were becoming connected to place – being just over from Fraser House in the same hospital grounds. Anything raised in the Study Group that seemed to fit the milieu in Fraser House was immediately tested by Yeomans in Fraser House. In trying something to see if it worked, Yeomans spoke of ‘the survival of the fitting’.

The 180 Psychiatric Research Study Group members did speak of Fraser House within their own social works spreading the word about Fraser House into the consciousness of people throughout Sydney and wider afield. For example, the Psychiatric Research Study Group assisted 13 organisations, including the Federal Department of External Affairs, two NSW government departments, five Universities and four national organisations.[245] As another example, in 2004 a woman down in Hobart Tasmania - the island off the SE of the Australian mainland - stated that her social work friends in the 1960s received regular updates from Fraser House people about ways that worked and these were immediately tried and adapted in their own work in Hobart both inside and outside government departments.



One of the intentions of these media releases, interviews talks and the like was to have the public know so much about what was happening at Fraser House, that it would raise a hue and cry if there were any moves whatsoever to close the Unit.

A question can arise as to how Yeomans was able to do all of this extensive legitimating work outside of the Unit.

Yeomans incorporated into Fraser House what he had learnt from working with his father on the family farms about self-organising systems in nature.[246] Yeomans set up Fraser House largely as a self-organising system. Once the patterns were established a number of staff (and on some occasions, competent Residents) became competent in running Big Group. This freed up Yeomans to do all of his outside work. After a time Fraser House had many of the features of self-organizing systems in nature.

All of this legitimation of Fraser House as a widely discussed ‘innovative alternative psychiatric centre’ was constituting a framing whereby all of the other meanings attached to the many aspects of Fraser House would be integrated as wholes that were aspects of larger wholes making up the whole of Fraser House. Nothing was a part that was apart; everything was a whole that was melding in with larger wholes. All of this multiple layers of legitimating served to make all of the first order institutionalised objectivations more objectively available and subjectively plausible. Big Groups, Small Groups, Domiciliary Care Group and the like all made more sense as seminal aspects of Fraser House as ‘a most widely discussed Psychiatric Unit’. People including all manner of professionals from Academia, Government, Church groups, business, and the like were continually seeking permission to attend the Big Group. It became widely known as a place where one could gain advanced skills in working with groups. On one occasion a group came from the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs.[247]

All of this legitimation supported Residents as they experienced time at Fraser House in the various phases of what was continually framed[248] as their transformational journey. They passed from being a new arrival to being a seasoned co-participant; and all the time enabling self and others in using subjectively plausible community therapy ways that they were all witnessing being used effectively by others. They jointly brought these to life in objective reality creating behaviour change that is verifiably and objectively real by mutual consensus.[249] This involved the subjectively meaningful becoming integrated with the subjective plausibility of Fraser House way – the institutional order.

This becomes more potent when there were people commencing at Fraser House who were not there at the beginning and who did not have their own memory of those first days of Fraser House when Residents were becoming habitualized to maintain the self-evident nature of the Unit. For these residents that were not in the early days, there was no link between their biography and the history of the Unit.

The various forms of legitimation helped communicate what Fraser House was as a pre-existing objective reality. Legitimation supported the induction of new residents as to what happens and that they very likely will see miracles happening.



The reality of everyday life in Fraser House was maintained by being immersed in daily routines. Fraser House became a social base – an extremely effective plausibility structure. Every aspect of Fraser House discussed to date played its part in the plausibility structures and processes sustaining the routine maintenance of the continuity of the reality of Fraser House. This routine maintenance of reality by plausibility structures and processes tends to go unnoticed. If our notion of reality fails we tend to freak out instantly, if only for a moment. An example is picking up a heavy cardboard box with a lid on it that we think is very heavy when in fact it’s empty. This gives us a sudden shock for a split second. Another is the first brush of seaweed on our leg in murky seawater, especially after just seeing the movie, ‘Jaws’.

The normal Fraser House reality came under massive threat necessitating critical reality maintenance when Yeomans was leaving to go overseas for nine months and the department had not found a replacement psychiatrist.

There was the very real possibility of the breakdown of reality – perhaps leading to an ‘everyone pack; their closing Fraser House’, moment! This threat required crisis maintenance action as the Units very existence as an institution was under threat.

At the very commencement of one morning Big Group (not on a Thursday Administration Meeting), Yeomans ramped up the emotion in all attendees through initial confusion as to whether Yeomans himself had had a nervous breakdown. Yeomans then created repeated shifts in group focus:

o   Firstly, Yeomans appearing to go berserk, and

o   Then suddenly interrupting this berserk state to raise, then amplify danger, threat, and consequent fear of loss[250],

o   and then interrupting these responses through generating anger at the Department when he suddenly announced that the department had not found a replacement psychiatrist

o   then interrupting everyone’s anger to focus on their role as reality maintainers

o   then suddenly interrupting with the very real challenging amidst all of these social forces,  to be at their very, very best as a Resident was suicidal and needing everyone’s support; and ‘this place has to be superb when the new psychiatrist arrives

o   and then stating – ‘You’re all on your own as I am leaving! ‘

o   Then Yeomans swiftly left the room.

No one suicided - the place was superb and the replacement psychiatrist changed nothing - an example of the social re-constituting of realities; in this case also generating rapid enhancement in competency, capacity, resilience,[251] and resolve.[252] Also this is an instance of bifurcation[253] - a system state change often through perturbing[254] leading to the potential and emergence of sudden whole system trans-cending transition to higher and more unpredictable com-plexity and improved performance.

Strategic as ever, Yeomans kept seven different staff reports of this incident in his archives.[255] One staff member’s report of the above incident ended with:

This story has no end because we still continue to function as a unit. 

Another staff member wrote a file note saying:

I have no vivid recollections of the first week of Dr. Yeomans absence except that the nursing staff occasionally seemed surprised that the ward was still running and that we were able to get through staff meetings without Dr. Yeomans.


On the theme Fraser House and miracles, in 1998 Yeomans was asked if there were any miracles at Fraser House. Yeomans replied with a flourish:

Of course it was miraculous. We were the best in the planet, and we all believed this, so we would acknowledge our failings, as we were streets ahead of everyone else. I was accused of being an impossible optimist.[256] I sense I was more of a fatalistic optimist. I was context driven - if I go to ‘creative context’ then ‘everything is creative’ - it worked like that. As for the miraculous - well that was a calm night – peaceful. Remember we were filled with the very bad and the very mad - the under controlled and the over controlled.[257]

Yeomans went on to say:

Given Resident and Outpatient emersion in the Fraser House Governance Therapy Processes and all of the Unit’s other relational group-work, imagine psychiatric Residents returning to everyday life with finely honed practical skills in administering a complex organization having for example, over 12,000 groups a year[258] and 20,000 Outpatient visits a year. This is what happened.

When Residents were back in their community and learning to interact with people at say, the counter in their local Child Endowment office, the Ex-Residents typically had some understanding about how bureaucracies work (and in many ways work poorly) through personal experience of working through the challenges at Fraser House, especially the Committee Work.[259]

Residents were leaving Fraser House as:

o   Able to look after themselves

o   Able to mingle regularly with their expanded family friend network

o   Able to plan and host social events.

o   Caring natural nurturers

o   The exquisite sudden crisp interrupter of any mad or bad behaviour

o   Insightful wise person engaging in practical action[260] for a better world

o   Folk linking with others exploring better ways of living together

Many Residents and Outpatients left Fraser House with highly evolved competences that are detailed in the Biography.[261]



You may recall that this E-Book commenced with exploring a dense account unravelling how the tightly woven Fraser House Way worked in re-socialising the Residents. Notice the assumption in the above sentence:

Fraser House re-socialised Residents.

This presupposes that this was a one-way causation – X caused Y. That is, it assumes that as Yeomans set up Fraser House, the assumption becomes:

Yeomans Re-socialised the Residents.

This E-Book has taken us far from this assumption. Yeomans set up a context where Residents socialized Fraser House and found themselves in the process.

This was a multi-causal process with Yeomans establishing the context for possibilities. To borrow from studies in Chaotic Systems, Neville Yeomans was setting up ‘phase plains’ and possibilities for the emergence of ‘strange attractors’ influencing ‘multivariable systems’.[262]

In Fraser House, it was never ‘Community as Doctor’. The medical model was never used. Rather, community of a very special kind was the integrator-transformer in having all involved realising their personal and collective authentic power[263] to act in support of their own interests and to secure them.


While there was pressure placed on Fraser House Residents and Outpatients to transform, rather than the typical mainstream quest for ‘recovery from dominant system attributed mental disorders/illnesses’ (some may say ‘pathologising the collective struggle of disadvantaged groups against dominant interests’), Fraser House Resident and Outpatient members were supported to embrace, focus and exercise their collective strength to be able to engage their own agency in actions towards their own living well with others in the face of recognised problematic aspects of wider society.


A specific focus was realising their individual, group, and collective potential to change social realities as evidenced in the Governance Committees. 


There was a potent blending and melding of the re-normalising and identity re-constituting potency of individuals and the collective engaging in the mundane practical considerations of community life - cooking, cleaning, gardening & art making etc. This was continually blended with potent personal and bio-psycho-social transformative action.





Many glimpses have been provided of Yeomans Ways. Two themes:

How as a collective, small group or even an individual to set out to replicate the actions implied in this E-Book.

How to begin in setting up possibilities for replicating, adapting and extending Yeomans Way in the context of all of the issues outlined at the start of this E-Book.

This E-Book has been providing many ways and processes contributing to transforming -  and key components are stacking, layering, and weaving. Another is the processes supporting the evolving, extending, and sustaining of local networking.[264]

Some readers may find that the ‘all of this’ is, to say the least, a bit much. The social forces of control imposed relentlessly by dominant and dominating Social Systems of Systems that was the starting point of this E-Book are more than ‘a bit much’; they are massive and all pervasive.

Neville Yeomans was well aware of, and took a leaf out of 16th century author François Rabelais’ book, The Life of Gargantua and of Pantagruel.[265]

Rabelais makes specific use of massive and hilarious excess[266] to make very telling observations about 16th Century society. Similarly, Dr Neville Yeomans continually and massively stacked to excess as an essential aspect of his Way. Another key aspect of Neville was his relentless persistence and impeccable social ecology.

During the nine years (1959-1967) Fraser House was running under Yeomans the Unit had Big and Small Groups occurred twice a day Monday to Friday (with typically 170 – 180 in attendance) with countless other Groups for special purposes, on top of all of the Governance Meetings of the ten committees reporting to the Parliamentary Committee with referrals to the Pilot Committee.

During 1959-1968 Fraser House averaged 20,000 Outpatient visits a year and 2,500 visitors a year.

Resonant with Rabelais’ use of excess, over the nine years Dr Neville Yeomans was director and psychiatrist at Fraser House the Unit had in excess of:

o   865,000 group attendances

o   22,500 Big Groups

o   81,000 small groups, and

o   4,500 Governance Groups

Fraser House was a massive endeavour.

Given all of this activity in the context of the controlling forces referred to both at the commencement of, and during this E-Book, it is noted that there appears to be no trace that Fraser House ever existed in the NSW Health Department Records.

Powerful interests wanted Yeomans and Fraser House and everything associated with it to disappear from view.

The set of buildings called Fraser House were repurposed as the Lachlan Centre and later repurposed again; they no longer represent or re-present Fraser House.

Fraser House as an institution between 1959 and 1968 existed primarily as past and present Residents, staff and Outpatients were conscious of it. Now it lives on in memory of those involved, with traces in Dr Yeomans Archives in the Mitchell Library in Sydney with copies elsewhere. It also lives on in Clark and Yeomans’ book, Clark’s PhD, Yeomans’ Archives,[267] my PhD[268] and my Biography of Yeomans’ life work.[269]

The Collection of Stories, Coming to Ones Senses - By the Way,[270] the Biography, and the Laceweb Homepage Archive contain extensive resources towards adapting the themes of this E-Book to the wider issues outlined at the commencement of this E-Book. They also detail how Yeomans extended Fraser House Ways into the wider society.


This E-Book has drawn deeply upon action in the 1960s – and as alluded to in the opening poem – contains gems buried deep though available for those searching.

The Ways are also very much alive today and being used today by folk very quietly in the hills throughout many parts of the World. Glimpses may be found in the Laceweb Archive.[271] Search and you’ll find.

This E-Book may provide a frame for you adapting Yeomans work for the current age. Much of the unknown about the Rabbit Hole that was Fraser House is now known, knowable, and understandable. Interested?




Aristotle, 1980. Aristotle – The Nichomachean Ethics. The World’s Classics. Oxford University Press : 1980.

Berger, P. L. and T. Luckmann (1967). The Social Construction of Reality : A Treatise in the Sociology of Knowledge. Garden City, N.Y., Doubleday.

Carlson, J. and N. Yeomans (1975). Whither Goeth the Law - Humanity or Barbarity -. The Way Out - Radical Alternatives in Australia - Internet site - M. C. Smith, D. Melbourne, Lansdowne Press

Cawte, J. (1974). Medicine is the Law - Studies in Psychiatric Anthropology of Australian Tribal Societies. Adelaide, Rigby.

Cawte, J. (2001). Healers of Arnhem Land. Marleston, SA, J.B. Books

Clark, A. W. (1969). Theory and Evaluation of a Therapeutic Community - Fraser House. University of NSW PhD Dissertation. Sydney

Clark, A. W. and N. Yeomans (1969). Fraser House - Theory, Practice and Evaluation of a Therapeutic Community. New York, Springer Pub Co

Engel, G. (1977). The Need for a New Medical Model: A Challenge for Biomedicine. Science. 196: 129-136.

Feldenkrais, M., 1972. Awareness Through Movement - Health Exercises for Personal Growth. New York, New York : Penguin Books.

Goffman, E. (1974). Frame Analysis : An Essay on the Organization of Experience. Cambridge, Mass, Harvard University Press

Gouldner, A.W. 1970. The Coming Crisis of Western Sociology. London, HEB Paperback 0

Hanlon, W. D. (1987). Taproots: Underlying Principles of Milton Erickson's Therapy and Hypnosis. London, W.W. Norton & Co.

Heidegger, M. (1968). What Is Called Thinking? New York, Harper & Row

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Kluckhohn, F. (1953). Dominant and Variant Value Orientations. Personality in Nature, Society, and Culture. C. Kluckhohn and H. Murray. NY, Alfred A. Khopf.

Laing, R. D. and A. Esterson (1964). Sanity Madness and the Family. Harmondsworth, Middlesex, Penguin Books Ltd.

Lindsay, J. S. B. (1992). Ward 10B : The Deadly Witch-hunt. Main Beach, Qld, Wileman.

Luckmann, B., 1978. The Small Life Worlds of Modern Man. Ed. T. Luckmann. Phenomenology and Sociology. Harmondsworth, UK : Penguin Modern Sociology Readings.

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Rabelais, F., 2014. The Life of Gargantua and of Pantagruel. Internet Site Accessed Feb 2017.

 Spencer, L., 2005. Cultural Keyline - The Life Work of Dr Neville Yeomans. PhD Dissertation, Internet Source sighted Nov 2016:   

Spencer, L., 2013a. Whither Goeth the World of Human Futures A Biography on the Life Work of Dr Neville Yeomans. Internet Site Accessed Nov 2016.

Spencer L. 2013b. Coming to One's Senses - By the Way. Books One & Two.  TCF Publishing : Melbourne.

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Yeomans, K. (2005). Ken Yeomans Website (accessed 1 Oct 2005).

Yeomans, K. B. and P. A. Yeomans (1993). Water for Every Farm : Yeomans Keyline Plan. Southport, Qld., Keyline Designs.

Yeomans, N., 1965a. Collected Papers on Fraser House and Related Healing Gatherings and Festivals. Mitchell Library Archives, State Library of New South Wales.

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Yeomans, N., 1974. On Global Reform and International Normative Model Areas (Inma). Internet Source accessed Dec 2016


Yeomans, N., 2010. Poems by Neville. T Yeomans. Indooroopilly, Qld. : Autograph Press.

Yeomans, P. A., 1954. The Keyline Plan. Sydney, Yeomans.

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Yeomans, P. A. and Murray Valley Development League, 1974. Preliminary Design Proposal for the City of Monarto. P. A. Yeomans Collected Materials - Mitchell Library, NSW. Sydney.






A list of many of the surveys and questionnaires that Residents and Outpatients were asked to complete in order to have available very detailed life histories – and at the same time re-experiencing a comprehensive review of their own life to date. From Volume 11 of Neville Yeomans Collected Papers in the Mitchell Library – NSW State Library, NSW.


Personal Adjustment Record

Social Health Record

General Adjustment Record

Child Adjustment Record

Family Adjustment Record

Group Reporting Record

Follow-up Record

Social Problem Record

Social Value Record

Child Parent Group Reporting

Attitudes to Mental Illness

Elderly People’s Attitudes Questionnaire

Emergency Services Survey

Research Study Group Student Opinion Record

Course Assessment Record

Counsellor Opinion Record

Social Organization Study

Total Care Adjustment Record

Group Reporting Record

Crime Attitudes

International Studies on Drug Dependence

Alcohol Attitudes Questionnaire

Personnel Study – Social Problems Record

Group Description Record

Follow-up Questionnaire

International Study on Family Planning

Attitudes Questionnaire

International Study on Handicapped Children

Fraser House Opinion Survey – Psychiatric Research Study Group

Opinion Leaders Inventory – Fraser House Questionnaire

Opinion Leader Record

Migrant Attitudes Questionnaire

Resident and Family Questionnaire

Opinion Leader Form

Landscape Planning Attitudes Questionnaire

Attitudes towards Overseas Trade



Discussion Themes


Explore with others how Ways that have been woven together in this E-Book may be adapted in the context of the following themes:

o  Respectfully re-socialising

o  Stopping conflict in all of its forms

o  Evolving enabling[272] atmospheres and environments

o  Evolving Vibrant Communities

o  Increasing effectiveness in Therapeutic Communities

o  Setting up community processes for:

o  Stopping family violence

o  Stopping bullying

o  Stopping addictive behaviours

o  Stopping racism

o  Re-constituting[273] society following man-made and natural disasters

o  Enlivening schools in areas of situated poverty

o  Revitalizing Grandparenting, Parenting and Childhood

o  Re-locating, settling, and habilitating displaced people

o  Re-socialising the Radicalized

o  Evolving thriving multicultural communities

o  Evolving humane caring alternatives to Criminal and Psychiatric Incarceration

o  Reviving closed Therapeutic Communities

o  Evolving our Unique Potentials in making better Realities



A List of Advisory Bodies and Positions Held by Dr Neville Yeomans


o   A founding director of the NSW Foundation for the Research and Treatment of Alcoholism and Drug Dependency.

o   A founding director of the national body of the above organization.

o   The Government Coordinator on the Board of Directors of the Foundation for Research and Treatment of Alcoholism and Drug Dependence.

o   A member of the Council for an International Conference on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence.

o   An advisor on an Australian National University Research Program on the Study of Alcoholism.