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December 1957

Closed Ranks: An Experiment in Mental Health Education

AMA Arch NeurPsych. 1957;78(6):665. doi:10.1001/archneurpsyc.1957.02330420125024

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Abstract

The authors, a sociologist and a psychiatrist, with support from the Commonwealth Fund, New York, set out to test attitudes toward mental health and illness of the population of a small town in Canada, attempt six months of mental health education, and then retest the population. The fascinating story of the investigators' and teachers' experiences with the townsfolk before and after the educational period should be read in detail. According to informally expressed opinion and objectively revealed test material, the educational experiment failed in its goal of changing the population's attitudes toward mental illness. The experiment raised anxiety and hostility without changing attitudes. The study was a success, however, in the amount of information culled and in the constructive experiences which helped the authors in subsequent educational ventures. One conclusion was missed by this reviewer: the incapacity of any persons to learn in a highly charged area without personal emotional

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