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April 26, 1995

Bread and Spirit: Therapy With the New Poor: Diversity of Race, Culture, and Values

Author Affiliations

Community Mental Health Council University of Illinois College of Medicine Chicago

JAMA. 1995;273(16):1304. doi:10.1001/jama.1995.03520400074052

In this pragmatic but philosophical little book, the poor are characterized as a miner's canary, warning America of a toxic social environment. The common problems the poor have with self, relationships, and family are placed in the context of poverty, which, aside from the absence of a strong sense of self, cohesive family, and social networks, has an independent destructive effect.

The author suggests that the solution is to build hope by nurturing the spirit, ie, fostering personal self-respect, community cooperation, family loyalty, and religious beliefs, while also helping to meet the real needs the poor face daily. He elucidates the possibility of being poor and having emotional, familial, and social health by providing a case history of a vulnerable, poor, minority family that is supported by their ethnic identity, church, and community.

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