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January 12, 1957


Author Affiliations


Director, Judge Baker Guidance Center, and Psychiatrist-in-Chief, Children's Medical Center.

JAMA. 1957;163(2):105-108. doi:10.1001/jama.1957.02970370019006

• Child psychiatry is, in its truest and best essence, family psychiatry. Emotional sickness in a child denotes a disturbed relation to the most important people in his life, usually his mother, father, and siblings. With a detailed knowledge of the family constellation in all of its references, the general practitioner will be able to evaluate the possible emotional components in the clinical conditions presented by individual children in the families under his care. This knowledge, together with the medical and social data on the individual child, enables him to give the needed comprehensive medical care. This involves sitting down with the parents, together or singly, and obtaining the necessary data when he is first designated by the family as their family physician. Trust in the physician on the part of the child is essential and depends on his over-all attitudes, prestige, personality, and approach. These must not be thought of as the armamentaria of the incompetent or unscrupulous practitioner; they are of primary importance and must be established deliberately. The fact that time is required must be recognized by both the physician and the parents and must be reflected in the physician's fees, which should be graded on a time rather than on a visit basis. Some referrals to psychiatrists or clinics can be avoided in this way, and the family physician can promote the orderly personality development of children from their earliest years onward.