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Hinsie, L.E. (1940). Mental Disease in Urban Areas: By R. E. L. Faris and H. W. Dunham. (University of Chicago Press, 1939. Pp. xx + 270. Price, $2.50.). Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 21:368.

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(1940). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 21:368

Mental Disease in Urban Areas: By R. E. L. Faris and H. W. Dunham. (University of Chicago Press, 1939. Pp. xx + 270. Price, $2.50.)

Review by:
L. E. Hinsie

It has been repeatedly shown that mental disease shows a higher incidence of hospitalization in urban areas than in rural. Evidence from Sweden would indicate that this hospitalization is a function of urban environment since mental disease is distributed with fair uniformity throughout the general population. In any event it is of decided practical importance to know more precisely those forces in urban life which do bring about greater hospitalization.

On the basis of area studies in the city of Chicago the frequency of hospitalized mental disease in each area as it is related to the estimated population of that area has been charted by Professors Faris and Dunham. They report that schizophrenia, alcoholic psychoses and general paresis are most prevalent in the transient, disintegrated, or slum areas of the city. Manic-depressive insanity is fairly uniformly distributed over the city. The mental diseases of old age show a different pattern, being more prevalent in poor or marginal areas.

There are two major objections to this monograph. First, it is impossible to state with any degree of accuracy the real population of any urban area unless a recent and accurate count by census has been made. This is particularly true of transient and disintegrating areas. Second, even after careful study it is frequently impossible to decide which tables and figures are to be related to the particular conclusions. This is distressing, since the evidence of the figures is not always in obvious agreement with the stated conclusions.

A very cautious interpretation of the findings has been advanced by the authors (Professor Burgess in his Foreword is much less cautious). They point out the similarity between the introverted disintegrating personality and the self-centred disintegrated portions of the city from which he comes. They make some use of psycho-analytic ideas without showing any very deep appreciation of the meaning of them.

The authors should be congratulated on their pioneer study in this neglected field. Their findings are of sufficient importance to justify the continuation of their work. The questions which this monograph has raised go directly towards some of the central problems of American civilization.

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