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July 8, 1974


Author Affiliations


JAMA. 1974;229(2):140. doi:10.1001/jama.1974.03230400016014

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To the Editor.—  Dr. R. R. Greenson's letter (228:828, 1974) expresses very sensibly a psychoanalyst's explanation of the current craze for exorcism. He points out that today there is a widespread desire to believe oneself the innocent victim of malevolent outside forces in order to reduce one's burden of responsibility and guilt for shortcomings.This tendency is being unwittingly encouraged by language used to describe current public health measures: Medical services are not being properly "delivered"; they must set up organizations to "maintain" people's health; "poverty" prevents patients from understanding and following medical advice; and better "schooling" is needed to reduce abuse of drugs, cigarettes, alcohol, and delinquency.What has happened to the individual's essential responsibility for his own health? How far is it wise to go in making highways, cars, and everything else foolproof?