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December 1950

A Psychiatrist Looks at Tuberculosis

AMA Arch NeurPsych. 1950;64(6):907. doi:10.1001/archneurpsyc.1950.02310300154023

This article is only available in the PDF format. Download the PDF to view the article, as well as its associated figures and tables.


In this very readable monograph, Dr. Wittkower summarizes the findings of detailed psychiatric interviews with 785 patients in various stages of pulmonary tuberculosis. The first section of the book deals with the behavior of these patients, in terms of reactions to the initial symptoms of the disease, to the diagnosis of tuberculosis and to the course of the illness. The second section outlines the various factors which determine such behavior—factors arising from the illness, from the patient and from the environment. The third, and final, section is a discussion of the relevance of emotional factors in the etiology and course of pulmonary tuberculosis. All three sections are characterized by a praiseworthy objectivity and freedom from theoretic bias.

Wittkower's study effectively disposes of many widespread misconceptions about the personality of the tuberculous patient. Many of the contradictory characteristics ascribed to these patients in the literature become understandable in the light of