July 1959

Maintenance of Stereotyped Roles in the Families of Schizophrenics

Author Affiliations

Bethesda, Md.
From the Family Studies Section, Adult Psychiatry Branch, Clinical Investigations, National Institute of Mental Health.

AMA Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1959;1(1):93-98. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1959.03590010109012

Schizophrenia has been considered, by those concerned with environmental factors, to have etiological roots in various aspects of environmental pathology, including symbiotic mother-child relationship, trauma, and empathically communicated anxiety. Although this approach has been fruitful, it has seemed to us to emphasize selectively one or another single factor; we have felt that it would be helpful to begin to develop a larger frame of reference which would make possible the inclusion of the environment as a whole in our formulations. The family, comprising almost all of the child’s environment, seems to be a natural object of study in an attempt to arrive at formulations based not on any one relationship or event but on dynamic elements which permeate all relationships and events in the child’s life.

Our approach, then, is based on the view of the family as an integrated unit, a social subsystem, the character

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