December 1966

Who Does It to Whom?

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1966;15(6):561. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1966.01730180001001

THE LEAD article of this issue is polemical and surely provocative. The "Code of Chronicity" has been observed in one form or another by most hospital psychiatrists and has plagued many a Psychiatric administrator whose actions are frequently handicapped by the sentiment and professional conscience of his staff and by his own reaction formation against seeming sadism.

How different is the view of this dilemma by the sociologist Erwin Goffman, one of our prominent critics. In a recent book1 he discusses mental illness as inappropriate behavior. "We partly fill our asylums with those who act unsuitably—to protect our gatherings and occasions." Again, the "Symptomatology of the mentally ill' may sometimes have more to do with the structure of the public order than with the nature of the disordered minds."

This is not a facetious question, but in the patient-psychiatrist transactions (sometimes conflict) where is the center of power?


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