Eine Form des menschliches Kopfes, dargestellt wie ein Netzwerk, bestehend aus Punkten und deren Verbindungen.

Simulation and Reduction of Coercive Measures in Psychiatry (SRCP)

Research group leader: PD Dr. Stephan Debus

Deutsche Version​​​​​​​


The professional use of coercion in psychiatry (such as compulsory medication, compulsory restraint, isolation) is one of the measures that deprive everyone (patients, relatives and professional teams), albeit differently, but to a great extent.

Patients and all clinical professional groups, but sometimes also external employees of the police, courts, fire brigade or rescue service are involved in coercive measures on psychiatric acute wards. The social relevance of the topic (around 200,000 - 300,000 forced restraints per year in Germany alone in adult psychiatry) is undisputed in the scientific literature.

The extensive studies on research into dangerous situations in acute psychiatric wards suggest that violence and coercion only occur more frequently in certain situations, at certain times and in certain places, e.g. in front of duty rooms or closed ward doors, often on Monday mornings when the therapy programs begin, or at lunchtime when the teams are less available for private discussions. In such situations, patients and teams seem to challenge each other and push them to their limits. A coercive measure is ultimately a testimony that communication has failed - “a psychiatric accident”: The attempt to resolve the conflicts in dangerous situations without coercion fails.

The SRCP project explores the development and course of violence and coercion in psychiatric dangerous situations. The central question is: what happens between the actors in psychiatric dangerous situations in which coercion and violence either escalate or de-escalate? Which jeopardizing situations are comparable or distinguishable by which communication features. What is the difference between jeopardizing situations in which de-escalation is possible and those which escalate? Which rules control the interactions?

Aims of the research group

On the basis of a language and situation theory approach, the superordinated aims of our research group are:

  • Reconstruction of psychiatric jeopardizing situations;
  • Identification of linguistic patterns in the course of interactions with by means of locutionary and illocutionary aspects of speech acts;
  • Identification of regulative and constitutive rules that control the interaction patterns;
  • Identification of the communicative conditions for success (conditions for success, seriousness and truth) of utterance files in psychiatric dangerous situations;
  • Systematization of the process dynamics of jeopardizing situations by means of decision trees;
  • Classification and typology of jeopardizing situations;
  • Development of scientifically supported alternative scenarios for the use of psychiatric coercion.

Scientific collaborations


  • Klinikum Region Hannover, Psychiatrie Langenhagen
  • Klinikum Region Hannover, Forensische Psychiatrie, Wunstorf
  • Sozialpsychiatrische Kontaktstelle Hannover
  • Psychodramaforum, Berlin
  • Technische Universität Berlin, Arbeitsstelle für Semiotik
  • Helmut-Schmidt-Universität, Hamburg, Fächergruppe Mathematik, Statistik
  • Fachhochschule Hannover, Fakultät V, Abt. Soziale Arbeit
  • Fernuniversität Hagen, Fakultät für Kultur- und Sozialwissenschaften


  • Alpen-Adria-Universität Klagenfurt, Fakultät für Kulturwissenschaften, Österreich


The SRCP project cooperates with the Institute for Cultural Semiotics. The institute provides a seminar hall that functions as a “social lab” and is specially equipped for video recordings. The “social lab” is networked with a video production studio. The videos are made available via an inter-university internet platform for analysis by students from colleges and universities as part of the preparation of doctorates, master's and bachelor's theses:

Participative Internet Portal Psychiatry (PIPP): https://www.pipp.pro.

Research group members

Research group leader

PD Dr. Stephan Debus

University lecturer, SRCP project manager

Phone: +49 5103 7067743

Fax: +49 5103 7045892


Publications [PMID]: 981660230743302307433053074330630743307

Other positions:

  • Member of the task force “Research”, German. German society of Social Psychiatry (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Soziale Psychiatrie [DGSP])
  • Speaker of the task force: "Network: Psychiatry Without Violence" (DGSP)
  • Member of the advisory board of the German Society for Semiotics (DGS)
  • Head of the Institute for Cultural Semiotics, Wennigsen
  • Long-time editor of the magazine for semiotics (Magazine for Semiotic)