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April 1973

The Stigma of Mental Hospitalization: An Attempt to Evaluate Its Consequences

Author Affiliations

Nashville, Tenn
From the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tenn.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1973;28(4):494-500. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1973.01750340034005

According to societal reaction theory, if a person has been labeled as mentally ill, his ability to function in normal societal roles will be seriously impaired due to the reactions of others and he will be channeled into a deviant role. To test this explanation, the experiences of 429 persons who had been treated in a state mental hospital were investigated. A year after their hospitalization these patients showed a decided improvement in their relationships with their coinhabitants and modest improvements in their instrumental performance and community activities. Each patient generally had a positive evaluation of his hospital experience and perceived both his situation and his ability to deal with problems as improved. Furthermore, only a small minority of the patients appeared to see the stigma of hospitalization as having posed a serious problem.

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