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June 1960

Friendships Among Psychiatric Patients

Author Affiliations

Bethesda, Md.
National Institute of Mental Health, National Institutes of Health, Public Health Service, U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare.

AMA Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1960;2(6):694-700. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1960.03590120102011

In the course of talking with people who have a minimum of psychiatric sophistication, one will occasionally hear a remark to the effect that psychiatrists are very seldom needed because people can usually help each other when they have problems. Some laymen are able to cite instances in which their efforts have produced psychotherapeutic results. Certainly people were successfully helping each other with emotional problems long before the development of dynamic psychiatry, as substantiated by the “moral” treatment in the early 19th century.1 In a state hospital population2 many severely regressed psychotic patients seemed to have a “buddy,” even though the relationship in many instances seemed to be confined to physical contact by sitting next to each other on the same bench each day.

Among psychotic and neurotic patients at the Institute for Psychosomatic and Psychiatric Research and Training of Michael Reese Hospital, it

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