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People in predicament: A study in psychiatric and psychosocial epidemiology

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A study of the entire population of an American island community at risk for a five-year period in respect to the experience of a variety of human predicaments of psychiatric or psychosocial nature is reported. The data showed that females were more often aware of the presence of psychological distress than were males and sought psychiatric help more often. Males, on the other hand, were more likely to show their distress by coming to the attention of educational, legal and social agencies. Adolescents and young adults were found to have high rates of such “acting out” and low rates of psychiatric consultation. Though in distress almost as often as any age group, they sought psychiatric help less often. Social class position in particular was highly associated with the mode of experience of predicaments. Disorders in awareness as shown by psychiatric consultation tended to be a higher class phenomenon and “acting out” a characteristic of those in the lower social class positions. The data show that though males are in predicament as frequently as females they are more likely to come to the attention of non-psychiatric agencies than females. Since females are apparently more aware of distress, they are likely to respond positively more often to the instrument used in many total prevalence studies. The study suggests that “total prevalence” surveys include items which will elicit the presence of parapsychiatric or psychosocial events and that psychiatric services be revised in such a manner as to be more inviting to those who express their psychological difficulties by “acting out”.

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Mazer, M. People in predicament: A study in psychiatric and psychosocial epidemiology. Soc Psychiatry 9, 85–90 (1974). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00589173

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  • Young Adult
  • Psychological Distress
  • Entire Population
  • Prevalence Study
  • Psychiatric Service