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July 1963

Group Dynamics: Inpatient Adolescents Engage in an Outbreak of Vandalism

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1963;9(1):32-45. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1963.01720130034004

Introduction  A structured program for adolescents has been in operation at the Institute for Psychiatric and Psychosomatic Research and Training of the Michael Reese Hospital and Medical Center for the past five years. During this period we have observed sporadic epidemics of destructive group behavior. In 1956 and 1958 it took the form of physical violence against hospital personnel and destruction of hospital property; in 1959, there was self-multilation (the latter studied in detail by Offer and Barglow).9 The operation of this program has been described in detail by Falstein, Feinstein, and Cohen.3 This year an epidemic occurred consisting of over 20 incidents of vandalism within a period of three weeks, ranging from intentional mutilation of hospital property to overt smearing of feces. This paper presents an analysis of the incidents from the point of view of the individual patient, the adolescent