The Psychiatric Quarterly

, Volume 27, Issue 1–4, pp 102–114 | Cite as

The importance of cultural evaluation in psychiatric diagnosis and treatment

  • Stella Chess
  • Kenneth B. Clark
  • Alexander Thomas


Experience at a child guidance center with patients drawn from varying national and racial backgrounds shows the necessity for evaluating cultural factors for accurate diagnosis and optimum treatment. A number of case histories are reported in which there were significant cultural differences between the patient and the examiner or therapist, and where appreciable errors of diagnosis and evaluation of treatment occurred, or were under consideration, because the examiner or therapist was not sufficiently aware of these cultural differences and their manifestations.

A number of psychiatric reports are also cited from World War II which noted difficulties when standard psychiatric criteria from civilian life were applied without taking into account the radically different cultural setting in the war-time army. A similar development is reported in the field of psychological testing, where leading workers have become increasingly aware of the decisive importance played by cultural factors in determining test results. The theoretical implications of these findings regarding the significance of the cultural factors in psychiatric evaluation are discussed.


Foster Parent Psychopathic Personality Negro Girl White Teacher Negro Group 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Kluckhohn, Clyde, and Murray, Henry A.: Personality in Nature, Society and Culture. P. 39. Knopf. New York. 1949.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Hunt, Wm. A.: The relative incidence of psychoneuroses among Negroes. J. Consult. Psychol., 11:133–136, 1947.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Ripley, Herbert S., and Wolf, Stewart: Mental illness among Negro troops overseas. Am. J. Psychiat., 103:499–512, 1947.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Stevens, Rutherford B.: Racial aspects of emotional problems of Negro soldiers. Am. J. Psychiat., 103:393–398, 1947.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Verin, O.: Manifestations of racial conflicts in Negro clients of a child guidance clinic. Smith College Studies Social Work, 15:126–127, 1944.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Houwink, Eda: Color is an additional problem. Ment. Hyg., 32:4, 596–604, 1948.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Davis, Allison: The socialization of the American Negro child and adolescent. J. Negro Educa., 8:264–275, 1939.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Davis, A., and Havighurst, Robert J.: Social class and color differences in child rearing. Am. Sociol. Rev., 11:698–710, 1946.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Brenman, Margaret: Urban lower class Negro girls. Psychiatry, 6:307–324, 1943.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Davis, Allison: Report on Midcentury White House Conference on Children and Youth. Survey, 87:21, January 1951.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Plesset, Marvin R.: Psychoneurotic in combat. Am. J. Psychiat., 103:87, July 1946.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Raines, C. H.; Hohman, L. B.; and Kolb, L. C.: Methods of Recovery in Combat Fatigue and the Influence of Therapy. Proc. Asso. Res. in Nerv. and Ment. Dis., December 15–16, 1944. Williams & Wilkins edition. P. 176. 1946.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Wright, David G.: Anxiety in Aerial Combat. Proc. Asso. Res. in Nerv. and Ment. Dis. December 15–16, 1944. Williams & Wilkins edition. P. 116. 1946.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Spiegel, Herbert X.: Psychiatric observations in the Tunisian campaign. Am. J. Orthopsychiat., 19:3, 381, 1944.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Maskin, Meyer: Know not what they do. Psychiatry, 9:133, 1946.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Klineberg, Otto: Race differences: the present position of the problem. Int. Soc. Sci. Bull. II:4, 461, Winter 1950.Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Op. cit.,, p. 461.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Johnson Reprint Corporation 1952

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stella Chess
    • 1
  • Kenneth B. Clark
    • 1
  • Alexander Thomas
    • 1
  1. 1.Northside Center for Child Development and New York University College of MedicineNew York

Personalised recommendations