The authors studied 28 patients hospitalized for functional psychiatric
disorder in an attempt to explore systematically the course of psychiatric
disorder. Data collected over the 2-year period following discharge
suggested the existence of eight longitudinal principles for understanding
the course of psychiatric disorder. These principles reflect identifiable
phases and some of the factors involved in a patient's remaining in one
phase or moving on to a new phase. The clinical and research implications
of these principles are described.