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June 1958

Psychotherapy in a Home for the Aged

AMA Arch NeurPsych. 1958;79(6):671-674. doi:10.1001/archneurpsyc.1958.02340060069009

Introduction  The psychiatrist who undertakes the treatment of emotional disorders in a home for the aged is early impressed with the need to explore his own attitudes, prejudices, and misconceptions about old people.As a member of a culture which extols youth, competitiveness, attractiveness, and success, he must face up to the degree with which he is tainted with social attitudes of distaste for the old. In particular need of perusal is the degree of uncritical acceptance by the therapist of widely believed generalizations and stereotypes about the personalities of the aged. Among these are notions that the old are rigid, conservative, inattentive, garrulous, difficult to educate, and subject to anaclitic or narcissistic object relations. In spite of convincing evidence to the contrary,10 the notion is still widespread that disorganized and confused states in senescent patients are caused by irreversible senile and arteriosclerotic changes in the brain.In psychodynamic

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