With the foregoing considerations in mind I undertook to run a ward in a large (2,000 bed) mental hospital just north-west of London on lines that would be bound to differ from the conventional ones. My experience of conventional psychiatric wards had been that these were places in which alienation, estrangement, and subtle violence were rife. Patients in such wards met with a massive reinforcement of the invalidation process that had commenced prior to their admission. It was in the admission ward that the ritual of initiation into the 'career' of being a mental patient was usually completed. It could perhaps, however, become the final exit from this process.