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August 1967

Socially Disruptive Behavior of Ex-Mental Patients

Author Affiliations

Palo Alto, Calif; Washington, DC
From the Veterans Administration Department of Medicine and Surgery, Psychiatric Evaluation Project (Dr. Gurel), and the Veterans Administration Hospital, Palo Alto. Dr. Giovannoni is now at the University of California, Berkeley.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1967;17(2):146-153. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1967.01730260018003

WHILE it has been noted that most psychiatrists do not consider the average mental patient to be dangerous,1,2 it has been demonstrated that laymen3,4 and even patients themselves5 fear the "mental patient" as a dangerous person. Although the extent to which persons previously identified as mentally ill engage in socially hazardous behavior is a question of continuing importance to both mental health professionals and to society in general, it is a question which has been the object of only sporadic and limited systematic investigation. Contemporary stress on brief hospitalization and community-centered treatment serves to further emphasize the need for clarifying the association between socially disruptive behavior and the status of ex-mental patients.

The present study reports the incidence of socially disruptive acts committed by patients in the Veterans Administration (VA) Psychiatric Evaluation Project (PEP) studies relating selected