June 1965

Social Psychiatric View of Psychological Misfunction and Role of Psychiatry in Social Change

Author Affiliations

From the Mental Health Section, Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, Yale University School of Medicine. Instructor in Public Health, Sociology, and Psychiatry (Dr. Thomas) and Assistant Professor of Public Health and Sociology (Dr. Bergen).
Reprint requests to 60 College St, New Haven, Conn 06504 (Dr. Thomas).

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1965;12(6):539-544. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1965.01720360011002

A NEW CHALLENGE to psychiatry is the question of the effect on the individual and his psychological functioning of the rapid, sharp, and often sweeping social changes that characterize our age.11,13,18 In this paper we first attempt to formalize a general social psychiatric view of individual functioning and then consider how this perspective applies to individuals caught up in the process of historical change. We next suggest its possible significance for the role of psychiatry.

A Social Psychiatric View of Individual Functioning  Basic to a social psychiatric perspective is the idea that individuals, while they are developing psychobiologically, function from birth within the framework of a nuclear family which itself functions within other larger group structures. The individual, then, develops and functions in a social context which is not limited exclusively to the family but which involves the structure of the broader society. The groups in which

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