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September 1959

Rigidity, Chronicity, Schizophrenia

Author Affiliations

Washington, D. C.
Clinical Instructor in Psychiatry, George Washington University School of Medicine.

AMA Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1959;1(3):235-242. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1959.03590030019001

Conventionally, schizophrenia is regarded as a chronic or recurring illness which is inherently progressive, deteriorating, and rigidly resistant to ordinary human intervention. By “ordinary human intervention” I mean those maneuvers involved in human give-and-take by which people understand and influence one another by using language, thinking, imagination, logic, and so on, as distinguished from “nonhuman” or magical attempts at solution, such as lo-bot-omy, electric shock treatment, burning of incense, and so on. The medical student’s first practical learning experience, in which he glimpses the euphemistically named “continuous-treatment” ward of a mental hospital, is usually sufficient to indoctrinate him to the viewpoint of inexorableness. When evidence of an optimistic nature cannot be overlooked, it is still interpreted in the framework of rigidity; that is, favorable changes have occurred because the diagnosis of schizophrenia was incorrect, or else these changes have taken place in spite of an

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