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April 5, 1995

Under Observation: Life Inside a Psychiatric Hospital

Author Affiliations

Southwestern Medical Center Dallas, Tex New York University Medical Center New York, NY

JAMA. 1995;273(13):1067-1068. doi:10.1001/jama.1995.03520370109050

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Dozens of images exist that portray psychiatric hospitals. Films such as Bedlam, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Raintree County, and The Snake Pit are all idiosyncratic examples. Even more books have been written about psychiatric hospitals; thankfully, most were never adapted for the screen. Expectedly, they represent the viewpoints of patients as well as staff, are mostly anecdotal, and are less commonly the result of trained or scientific observation. Some portray the sad misfortune and disappointment of patients and families; others are more sanguine. To write about a hospital or any institution suffers from the handicap that personal persuasion carries its own frame of reference, biases, and interpretations. A plumber, carpenter, or painter might have considerable differences in how they view a construction project, but if they are keen and open-minded craftsmen, there should be a general overlap and blending of views.

This book about a hospital never before

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