Social Psychiatry

Review of Social Psychiatry by Maxwell Jones, M.D., M.R.C.P. (Ed.). D.P.M., et al. (Pp. 186. 18s.) London: Tavistock Publications, Ltd. 1952.

British Medical Journal, 7 March 1953, p. 550.

   Dr. Maxwell Jones and his six collaborators describe the development and realization of an idea-from its first beginnings in a unit for the treatment of effort syndrome during the war, and later in a unit for the rehabilitation of returned prisoners at the end of the war, to the present Industrial Neurosis Unit at Belmont Hospital. The purpose of this unit, as its name implies, is the treatment of neurotic patients who are partly or completely disabled. In fact, many of them have been unable to work for years, and some have few prospects of returning to work under any but sheltered conditions.

   The idea which inspired Dr. Jones, and through him his staff, was that of creating a society in which these social misfits might enter and actively participate. The central problem was morale; merely submissive co-operation on the part of the patient was not enough, and he had to be induced to enter into the spirit of the community life provided for him. This has been the rationale behind the various techniques which have been developed-for example, group discussions to which patients contribute both in providing their own problems and in advising on those of others, and "psychodrama," in which the same themes, in playlets written and acted by patients, receive a more dramatic and stimulating form.

   It seems needless to add that there are many other aspects to the work done at this centre at Belmont-investigation along normal psychiatric lines, the testing of intelligence and assessment of employability, a work programme with workshops and physical training, the social study of the patient's private world, and liaison with the rehabilitation officers of the Ministry of Labour. The final aim is to get the patient back into satisfactory working life, and a happier life personally. In view of the fact that the treatment of chronic neurosis is exceedingly difficult and discouraging, a figure of 44% of patients making sound adjustments after discharge must be regarded as very satisfactory.