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September 1961

Precipitating Stress as a Focus in Psychotherapy

Author Affiliations

From the Langley Porter Neuropsychiatric Institute and the Department of Psychiatry, University of California School of Medicine.
Mill Valley, Calif. (Dr. Prestwood).
Dr. Mary A. Sarvis served as clinical consultant tothe project.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1961;5(3):219-226. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1961.01710150001001

What factors stimulate the request for psychiatric treatment and how do these factors relate to the personality of the individual patient concerned? This paper directs its attention to questions regarding the stressful components of the motivation for seeking help. In this preliminary report of a 3-year investigation a concept of precipitating stress will be presented as well as a categorization of some of the precipitating stresses which have been defined in clinical studies.

References to various events or stresses which have led patients to request psychiatric help are often a part of the professional consideration in the initial psychiatric interview or intake study. The question of "Why does this patient come now?" is frequently asked, but the conclusions which would seem to constitute many therapists' answers are often ill-defined and undynamic. The frequency of this "intake question" in the thoughts of therapists attests to