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Social Psychiatry: An Overview
Am J Psychiatry 1973;130:841-849.
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Commanding Officer of the Navy Medical Neuropsychiatric Research Unit, San Diego, Calif. 92152, and Adjunct Professor of Psychiatry, University of California School of Medicine, Los Angeles

1973, The American Psychiatric Association

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Social psychiatry, which includes the study of the impingement of social phenomena upon the genesis, manifestations, and treatment of mental and physical illness, has in recent decades become an increasingly important part of psychiatry. The epidemiology and taxonomy of mental illness, social factors in the onset and course of disease, transcultural psychiatry, the hospital viewed in social terms, and community psychiatry are all fields that have shown great expansion. But the results of the experiences of community psychiatry and of social psychiatric studies have played a major role in the development of a crisis of identity within the profession of psychiatry; the appropriate education and professional activities for a psychiatrist are currently in dispute. The author discusses the impact of the rise of social psychiatry and the correspondingly great increase in knowledge of biological psychiatry on the possible future functions and education of the psychiatrist.

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