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December 1959

Marriage and Divorce

Author Affiliations

Syracuse, N. Y.
Professor and Chairman, Department of Psychiatry, State University of New York Upstate Medical Center; and Director, Syracuse Psychiatric Hospital.

AMA Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1959;1(6):657-661. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1959.03590060119014

Two issues pertaining to marriage and divorce will be discussed in this article. The first concerns the conceptualization which provides the framework for a psychiatric point of view. After presenting the conceptualization which is currently popular, I shall suggest an alternate scheme. The second issue involves the relationship of the problem of marriage and divorce to our therapeutic endeavors.

Current Psychiatric Thinking on Marriage and Divorce

The current scheme is summarized in Table 1. It presupposes that there are normal and neurotic persons. Accordingly, a good and a stable marriage exists when two normal persons marry. This state is used as a point of anchorage, even though it remains undefined.

The second type of situation involves a normal and a neurotic partner. This combination was “found” more frequently in the days before characterological problems were sharply identified. For example, Freud4 spoke of the woman who developed

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