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Self-Concept and the Institutionalization of Mental Patients: An Overview and Critique

J. Marshall Townsend
Journal of Health and Social Behavior
Vol. 17, No. 3 (Sep., 1976), pp. 263-271
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2136547
Page Count: 9
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Self-Concept and the Institutionalization of Mental Patients: An Overview and Critique
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Abstract

One approach to the study of institutionalization in mental hospitals posits that patients become institutionalized because the hospital inducts them into a "sick role," i.e., the hospital convinces them they are mentally ill. The empirical evidence reviewed does not support this proposition. Rather, institutionalization seems to consist of an acceptance of institutional life and an inability to cope on the outside. Patients do not generally think of themselves as mentally ill. Successful empirical studies of institutionalization have generally defined institutionalization in such behavioral terms. It is concluded that the "sick-role" approach has been a powerful tool in sensitizing researchers to the problem of institutionalization. This approach, however, has not been particularly useful in empirical research.

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