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March 17, 1962

Cause of Mental Disorders: A Review of Epidemiological Knowledge

JAMA. 1962;179(11):917-918. doi:10.1001/jama.1962.03050110085033

This article is only available in the PDF format. Download the PDF to view the article, as well as its associated figures and tables.


Medicine has virtually conquered the infectious diseases, is well on the way to a conquest of the degenerative diseases, and is beginning to focus attention on mental disorders. This latter group stands at approximately the same place in our knowledge as the infectious diseases did in the days of Abraham Lincoln. Long years of painstaking study have to precede any attempt at an epidemiological answer to the causes of diseases which afflict men's minds.

The Milbank Memorial Fund is to be congratulated on their symposium in 1959 by outstanding workers in the field of mental epidemiology. The 8 papers which were presented at this symposium, together with their bibliographies and discussion sections, are a milestone in this special quest. While at times they are highly technical, statistical, and stiff reading, by and large their presentation is excellent.

The organization of the symposium is such that it proceeds from a discussion