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February 26, 1968

The Drifters

JAMA. 1968;203(9):811-812. doi:10.1001/jama.1968.03140090195030

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Many attempts are being made to break a repetitive cycle—disorganized parents bring up maladjusted children who grow up to be parents of another maladjusted generation.

Unfortunately the most disorganized families, in the greatest need, are hardest to reach. They are too confused, disturbed, and suspicious to make adequate use of the available institutions—clinics, casework agencies, schools, nurseries. They misunderstand what is said to them, miss appointments, antagonize the staff. Usually, they are "multiproblem families" with physical, mental, social, and economic difficulties. One impressive attempt to help such families, made in Boston from 1955 to 1965, is the subject of this book.

Directed by child psychiatrists, a team composed of social workers, a nurse, a psychologist, an anthropologist, a sociologist, and a nurseryschool teacher worked intensively with 13 multiproblem families which included 45 preschool children. They sought out these families and spent years working patiently to develop friendship and trust. They