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November 22, 1947

Their Mothers' Sons: The Psychiatrist Examines an American Problem

JAMA. 1947;135(12):808. doi:10.1001/jama.1947.02890120062032

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During the past conflict 1,825,000 men were rejected for military service because of psychiatric disorders. Another 600,000 were discharged for similar reasons. Dr. Strecker, who served as special consultant to the Secretary of War and to the Surgeon General of the Army and Navy, fixes the blame for the immaturity of these men on their mothers, who, to quote him, "failed in the elementary mother function of weaning her offsprings emotionally as well as physically." He classifies the "moms" (a term borrowed from Phillip Wylie's essay on motherhood in his provocative "Generation of Vipers") into six categories. The "self-sacrificing," the "ailing," the "pollyanna," the "protective," the "pretty addlepate" and the "pseudointellectual" mom. With numerous anecdotes and illustrations from case histories, the foregoing types are discussed adequately, in a concise, clear style which was meant seemingly to shock the reader into some form of activity.

Dr. Strecker, whose position is that

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