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THE SOCIAL MALADJUSTMENT UNIT: A COMMUNITY WIDE APPROACH TO THE PROBLEM OF DELINQUENT BEHAVIOR
NATHAN BLACKMAN; THOMAS T. FLYNN; THOMAS P. MELICAN; JOHN G. NAPOLI; JAMES M. A. WEISS
Am J Psychiatry 1957;114:536-539.
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The Malcolm Bliss Psychiatric Hospital and Clinic; the Department of Psychiatry and Neurology, Washington University School of Medicine; and the Department of Psychology, St. Louis University; St. Louis, Mo.

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Abstract

A Social Maladjustment Study Unit was organized at Malcolm Bliss Psychiatric Hospital in July, 1956, to serve as an interdisciplinary research, teaching and consultation center focusing on the study, understanding and eventual social readjustment of individuals involved in aggressive antisocial or delinquent acts. Emphasis has been placed on collaboration of many disciplines representative of the community's assets. Thus lawyers, parole officers, judges, teachers, ministers and other group leaders have participated in the evaluation of each medico-legal problem, ranging from homosexuality to forgery, incest, and murder. In each case, an attempt is made to understand the motivation of the individual delinquent, the group alienation processes he presents, the possible measures toward his rehabilitation which might be effected within the community, and the probable intrapsychic determinants and interpersonal and community origins of his maladjustment (in terms of structuring group participation within the community toward preventive action in future similar cases).The research theme of the Study Unit stresses exploration of delinquency as an expression of social isolatedness, and antisocial acting out as a compulsive need to break through this sense of aloneness and isolatedness from meaningful social interaction; as well as investigation of the role of community action as a function of alertness to the emotional and social needs of the individual offender rather than the mere exercise of punitive or repressive measures.

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