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September 12, 1986

Mental Disability in America Since World War II

Author Affiliations

Akron General Medical Center Northeastern Ohio Universities College of Medicine

JAMA. 1986;256(10):1364. doi:10.1001/jama.1986.03380100138039

This book is a strong, well-written, and scientifically documented statement against the crusade for deinstitutionalization of patients with mental disability. Its publication is well timed in the face of the growing numbers of homeless people living in the streets of our cities and towns, of which the mentally disabled make up between 30% to 50%.

The book is composed of eight chapters that cover not only the issue of mental disability since World War II, as the title suggests, but also include a historical review of mental illness, alcoholism, and other drug abuse in America since colonial times. In these chapters, the authors discuss mental disability and substance abuse as problems of socialization. This is followed by a cogent review of the nationalization of mental disability and substance abuse. What this means, according to the authors, is the conceptualization of mental illness and substance abuse as problems of national concern