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October 1976

Regression in the Service of Residency Education

Author Affiliations

From the Inpatient Psychiatric Service, Department of Psychiatry, Massachusetts General Hospital, and Harvard Medical School, Boston. Dr Savodnik is now with the Department of Psychiatry, University of Pittsburgh, Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinics, Pittsburgh.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1976;33(10):1266-1270. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1976.01770100128014

• Regression as a potentially adaptive psychological response is used as a conceptual model to understand a variety of behaviors seen in beginning psychiatric residents on an inpatient service. The behaviors, discussed and illustrated with brief examples, are (1) competition and identification, (2) sexuality, (3) aggression, (4) depression and despair, (5) dependency, and (6) fusion with patients. Factors on an inpatient service that foster regressive behavior in new residents are discussed, and some of the potential resolutions of the behaviors are proposed. Regression is seen as an adaptive experience for most residents; with appropriate supervisory intervention, it can foster cognitive development.