Further Explorations in Social Psychiatry

Further Explorations in Social Psychiatry

Further Explorations in Social Psychiatry

Further Explorations in Social Psychiatry

Excerpt

ALEXANDER H. LEIGHTON

Some General Assumptions

IT IS particularly important right now that any work dealing with mental health, mental illness, and societal process state its main assumptions. This is because we live in a period when there are many diverse and often incompatible assumptions held by thinking people. Passionate adherences to contradictory viewpoints about the nature of man are characteristic of our time.

The first assumptions we shall present pertain to the difference in circumstance of this book and its predecessor, Explorations in Social Psychiatry . At the time of the first volume an imperative question in the minds of the authors, editors, and most of the readers was how to make life better for more people. The selection of frontiers of knowledge for exploration was guided by this goal.

At present, the guiding question is survival. This is because we realize more clearly that mental health and illness are interwoven with problems of poverty, minority status, counterculture trends, and political ideologies, and all of these with the control of population, with ecology, and with biological devastation.

Another difference is the fact that the concept of mental illness and the notion of what constitutes a mental patient have lost rather than gained in clarity. The phenomena have not changed, but perceptions and ideas about cause have, and numbers of definitions have drifted away like smoke. Among many professionals, of course, the core notions and traditional perceptions still exist, but the . . .

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