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August 1967

The Community Psychiatrist and Political Action

Author Affiliations

From the Laboratory of Community Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, Boston. Dr. Freed is now at the Community Mental Health Program of the Illinois Department of Mental Health Center Complex, and at PPI of Michael Reese Hospital, Chicago.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1967;17(2):129-134. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1967.01730260001001

ONE OF THE important questions facing the community psychiatrist is whether to participate in political action. This question follows naturally from his greater degree of involvement in the community and from his concern with social conditions which affect patienthood and the community in general. Primary prevention, if taken seriously, means that the psychiatrist will try to document those societal influences which have implications for individual mental health and mental illness. Having done this, he will undoubtedly transmit this information to public decision makers so that it may be acted upon. Questions about how to transmit it, what to transmit, by whom, to whom, with how much pressure, etc, are serious ones coming under more discussion now.

Somewhat short of these extremely difficult questions lie others more immediately concerned with political action vis-a-vis psychiatric programs per se. For example, to what extent should the psychiatrist

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