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October 1968

The Concept of Social Disability

Author Affiliations

San Francisco
From the Department of Psychiatry, University of California School of Medicine, and the Section of Social Psychiatry, The Langley Porter Neuropsychiatric Institute, San Francisco.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1968;19(4):394-403. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1968.01740100010002

IN THE past, disability was self-evident to most citizens because standards of behavior were rigidly and clearly defined. No one had any doubt, for example, that the blind, the deaf, the mentally retarded, the amputee, the alcoholic, or the spendthrift was, behaviorally speaking, incapacitated. But in the middle of the 20th century, as normative standards have become diffuse and the range of tolerable behavior has been extended, disability is no longer apparent and obvious to everyone. Today the place of work is likely to be separate from the residence, and social activities may take place in locations other than the neighborhood, with the result that human behavior has become fragmented and nobody seems to know any other person in his totality. With this dispersion of human activities the older generation, the teachers, the clergy, the family members, and the foreman on the job have

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