June 26, 1967

Asthma: Attitude and Milieu

Author Affiliations

New York


by Aaron Lask, Foreword by Michael Balint, 236 pp, $7, Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott Co., 1966.

JAMA. 1967;200(13):1188. doi:10.1001/jama.1967.03120260084030

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It is refreshing to read a book dedicated to the Hippocratic view that "it is more important to know what kind of a person has a disease than to know what sort of disease a person has." This is a study of the interpersonal relationships and attitudes of 100 patients with asthma, by eight English general practitioners with psychiatric orientation but no special training in the field.

The severity of asthma was judged by the number of emergency calls, or the frequency of office visits. Eight of the 100 patients died; information concerning their terminal illnesses is scanty or lacking. Instead of the familiar classification of pollen asthma, infective asthma, and intrinsic asthma, the patients are categorized, largely on the basis of their cooperation, as "demanding babies," "going-his-own-way," "handsoff," etc.

The author indicates a considerable incidence of emotional stress and instability in the patients and their families. Conclusions as to