In 1966 an international, multi-disciplinary project, designed to examine the Geel system and community, was begun with Dr. Leo Srole, a Columbia University sociologist, as Project Director. The research team, composed of almost 100 people, was recruited from Belgium’s University of Leuven, Rijkskolonie staff, Columbia University and resident laymen from Geel. The ten year Project was ambitious with forty component study units, in six main clusters, designed to investigate: 1) Geel’s history, 2) patient composition and changes in Geel, 3) foster family structure and process, 4) foster family policies and practices of the Rijkskolonie as an institution, 5) Geel’s role as the “embracing extramural surround” of the families and their boarders, and 6) ambivalent images of Geel among non-Geel residents and mental health professionals. For further details see:
Goldstein, J. (August 1998). “The Geel Project”: Historical perspectives on community mental health care. Paper presented at 106th American Psychological Association Annual Convention, San Francisco, CA.
During the life of the Geel Research Project, Project Director Leo Srole, who was still on faculty at Columbia University, made at least one visit a year to Geel and came to know and be known by all manner of project participants and Geel residents. During this time boarder / patient Jean Michel Denys, a talented artist, painted this portrait of Dr. Srole.