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April 1975

Natural History of Male Psychological HealthIII. Empirical Dimensions of Mental Health

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School (Boston), the Harvard University Health Services, and the Cambridge Hospital.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1975;32(4):420-426. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1975.01760220032003

In a nonpatient population, the concept of mental health was operationally defined both in terms of behavior and of abstract psychological functioning. Ninety-five college sophomores, selected for psychological health, were prospectively followed up for 30 years. They were assessed by independent raters on a scale reflecting objectively defined healthy adult adjustment; on a scale of clinically defined psychiatric illness; and on a scale of maturity of ego defenses.

These three scales were highly correlated. It seemed likely that relatively objective items like length of vacation, divorce, heavy use of mood-altering drugs, career dissatisfaction, and visits to medical physicians can—as a cluster—statistically identify the abstract concept of mental health.