A broad area of psychiatric investigation and practice covering the relation between mental health and the social environment.The social viewpoint in psychiatry has only recently come into its own, and the field is still in process of development. Perhaps it can be viewed as a reflection of the more general emphasis on social forces which has led to the development of such sciences as sociology, anthropology and social psychology. In psychiatry itself, the social viewpoint has come to the fore as a result of (a) the recognition of social and cultural factors in the etiology of mental illness by Homey, Fromm, Sullivan and others;(b) the growth of the public health approach to mental disorder; and (c) the development of the field of community psychiatry, which puts this approach in practice.Strong impetus was given to the field of social psychiatry when the Committee on Research in Psychology and the Social Sciences of the Social Science Research Council delineated its major areas in 1950. The following enumeration of topics and problems is based on the book, Explorations in Social Psychiatry (1957), written by three members of that committee, A. H. Leighton, J. A. Clausen, and R. N. Wilson.Major Concepts: Normality (Is normality relative to the culture?); symptomatology (Do symptom patterns differ in different cultures?); personality and development (Are they culture- bound?); social pathology (Can an entire society or social movement be pathological?).Social Environment and Mental Health: The relation of mental illness to family relationships, role patterns, dominant values, marital attitudes, and environmental stresses in different cultures—for example, the relation between achievement needs and peptic ulcers, the effect of mothering and maternal deprivation on mental health; social patterns in drug use, alcoholism, sexual behavior, etc.; sociocultural factors in the etiology of different disorders.Cultural and Cross-Cultural Diversity: Can a middle class therapist understand a slum-bred adolescent, and will the adolescent understand and accept the treatment? Are there different patterns of mental illness on different sociocultural levels of the same society? Should diagnostic and mental tests be adapted to different social levels and cultural groups? Do sexual attitudes and patterns differ on different levels?4. Reactions to Mental Illness: Prevailing attitudes toward mental illness in different segments of society; effect of social attitudes on such issues as employment after mental illness, legal codes relating to mental disorders, support for research projects on mental illness, and standards for public mental hospitals; impact of mental illness on society in terms of such factors as economic loss and effects on the family.5. Social Treatment and Prevention: Group psychotherapy, psychodrama, the therapeutic community; community clinics and mental health centers; industrial psychiatry; mental health education programs. See COMMUNITY PSYCHIATRY, SOCIOTHERAPY, MILIEU THERAPY, MENTAL HEALTH AND SOCIAL LEVEL, ATTITUDES TOWARD MENTAL ILLNESS, GROUP PSYCHOTHERAPY, COMMUNITY MENTAL HEALTH CENTERS, MENTAL HEALTH CLINICS, SOCIAL BREAKDOWN SYNDROME, PSYCHODRAMA, OCCUPATIONAL PSYCHIATRY, ECOLOGICAL STUDIES, NORMALITY, MATERNAL DEPRIVATION, ETIOLOGY, SEX DRIVE.

Cite this page: Nugent, Pam M.S., "SOCIAL PSYCHIATRY," in, November 28, 2018, (accessed January 20, 2019).