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August 25, 1917


Author Affiliations

Superintendent, Pennsylvania Hospital for the Insane WEST PHILADELPHIA, PA.

JAMA. 1917;LXIX(8):606-610. doi:10.1001/jama.1917.02590350008003

Hygiene comprehends more than conservation of health and prevention of disease. A derivative of the Greek [unk] [unk] latinized in "hygeia," it signifies soundness. In ancient mythology Hygeia, chief daughter of Aesculapius, personified health. Thus, etymologically "hygiene" is as broad in meaning as the term "health" itself, and may, properly, be used as a synonym; hence mental hygiene becomes another form of expression for mental health.

Public agencies in matters of physical health are primarily concerned with prevention of disease and promotion of health, but, inevitably, they encounter insanitary conditions, causes and consequences of disease, its disabilities and its sufferers, whose correction, relief, restoration and care become imperative duties. Nevertheless they are not designated commissions for correction of insanitary conditions or boards for infectious diseases, but are universally known as boards of health, indicative of their beneficent purpose.

In like manner, public agencies, in matters of mental health, have the

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