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October 1971

The Concept of CommunityThe Short-Circuit of the Mental Health Movement

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1971;25(4):291-297. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1971.01750160003002

The community mental health movement has glorified the concept of community without adequately understanding it. The creation of the "catchment area" has been confused with a gemeinschaft community when, in fact, these are rare. This approach also predisposes towards sociological preoccupation and the neglect of individual disorders. Most gemeinschaft communities today are epiphenomenal and depend on conditions of oppression and militant leadership. Representative voice from such a community about mental health matters is not likely. It is more likely that the representative voice of the community will be possible only in areas directly related to their common oppression. Debate over community control is illusory and unproductive. The important need is for organizational sensitivity and that may be unrelated to community control.