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June 14, 1965

And 'tis a kind of Good Deed to Say Well: and yet Words are no Deeds

Author Affiliations

San Francisco

JAMA. 1965;192(11):1015. doi:10.1001/jama.1965.03080240085036

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To the Editor:—  No amount of semantic maneuvering, hard logic, or heartfelt persuasion will take away the meaning or power of a word. Lives are sacrificed, battles won, causes surge to fulfillment, nations and peoples express their aspirations by rallying to a word. Whether attached to "God," "Freedom," "Traitor," or "----," such concentrated emotional investment deserves the most serious consideration, since it may operate effectively to help or hinder attainment of goals.The intensity of current enthusiasm and effort associated with the community psychiatric facilities and programs is being sabotaged by a stultifying word, "Mental."This word is rivalled only by "Psycho" as a handicap to overcoming an obstacle to preventive psychiatry: the obstacle of obtaining acceptance of psychiatric help by persons who need it. While "Psycho" is avoided by sensible persons, the word is voiced freely by workers concerned with bringing psychiatric skills to those who need them.The reason

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