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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 151021 Find in a Library
Title: Moral Career of the Mental Patient (From Constructions of Deviance: Social Power, Context, and Interaction, P 185- 203, 1994, Patricia A and Peter Adler, eds. -- See NCJ- 151012)
Author(s): E Goffman
Date Published: 1994
Page Count: 19
Sponsoring Agency: Wadsworth Publishing Co
Belmont, CA 94002
Sale Source: Wadsworth Publishing Co
20 Davis Drive
Belmont, CA 94002
United States of America
Type: Survey
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: The term career is increasingly used in a broad sense to refer to a person's course through life, and this paper considers the career of mental patients prior to hospitalization and during the hospital period.
Abstract: Mental patient careers are examined from a sociological perspective that emphasizes sense of self. The author notes that a relatively small group of prepatients come into the mental hospital willingly. These individuals see themselves as mentally unbalanced, and entering the mental hospital can sometimes bring relief. Many other individuals enter the mental hospital unwillingly because they have been sent by their families, they come by force under police escort, or they come under misapprehension purposely induced by others. Moral aspects of the unwilling mental patient's career typically begin with feelings of abandonment, disloyalty, and bitterness. The career progresses through a circuit of agents and agencies that participate in the mental patient's passage from civilian to patient status. Mental patients establish relationships during the course of hospitalization but may experience a sense of betrayal by those they hold in confidence. The author suggests that mental patients start out with at least some rights and liberties but end up on the psychiatric ward stripped of almost everything. Mental patients often believe, at least for awhile, that the hospitalization experience involves unjustified deprivation, that they have been deserted by society and turned out of relationships by those closest to them. Nonetheless, many mental patients learn to orient themselves to the institutional environment and to formulate a new sense of self; they eventually are forced to accept the hospital view of themselves. 37 notes
Main Term(s): Criminology
Index Term(s): Mental disorders; Mental health; Mentally ill inmates; Psychiatric services; Self concept; Sociological analyses
Note: Reprinted from Psychiatry, V 22 (1959)
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