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October 1969

Staff Attitudes Toward the Alcoholic Patient

Author Affiliations

Talmage, Calif.
From the Mendocino State Hospital, Talmage, Calif.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1969;21(4):449-454. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1969.01740220065007

ALTHOUGH countless writers have observed that the personal views of staff members toward the alcoholic is an important factor in treatment, the problem has seldom been explored systematically. It is well known that overindulgence in alcohol often elicits strong negative reactions from hospital staff. In December 1964, the Alcoholism Study Group at Mendocino State Hospital noted in their report that, "Within the hospital system, we have failed to identify the built-in attitudes and policies that defeat creative treatment approaches." Similarly, Moore and Ramseur1 observed that this uncontrolled hedonism evokes various responses, from envy to repugnance, which have decided effect on the alcoholic patient. In addition to expressed attitudes, unconscious reactions by staff members to acting-out forms of disturbance may actually encourage the deviant behavior or force its suppression. In either case, the result is antitherapeutic.

With the exception of Selzer's2 observational study of the relationship between negative attitudes

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