Social Psychiatry: Definitions and Scope

  • John J. Schwab
  • Mary E. Schwab
Part of the Topics in General Psychiatry book series (TGPS)


As pointed out in the preceding chapter, interest in social psychiatry rises during periods of rapid social change and when certain societal health problems are manifest, such as those presented by our current “culture of violence.”2 The past 25 years have been characterized by dramatic evidence of accelerated social and culture change—the rural-urban shift, widespread geographic mobility, the black-white confrontation, and changing roles and statuses for women. During this time mental illness has emerged as one of the major public health problems. Various definitions of social psychiatry have been proposed and have sparked debate about its legitimate areas of activity and inquiry. And its status as a field of psychiatry has been challenged. Is social psychiatry an evanescent topical concern, or an umbrella-like label under which a wide array of therapists from different disciplines gather? Or is it an evolving branch of psychiatry that has potential for supplying vitally needed information about the interplay between social forces and individuals’ mental processes and the developing of appropriate therapies?


Mental Health Mental Illness Social Control Identity Crisis Social Psychiatry 
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.


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1978

Authors and Affiliations

  • John J. Schwab
    • 1
  • Mary E. Schwab
    • 2
  1. 1.University of LouisvilleLouisvilleUSA
  2. 2.Massachusetts Mental Health CenterBostonUSA

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