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Grotjahn, M. (1956). Culture and Mental Disorders. A Comparative Study of the Hutterites and Other Populations: By Joseph W. Eaton, Ph.D. in collaboration with Robert J. Weil, M.D. Foreword by Karl Menninger, M.D. Glencoe, Illinois: The Free Press, 1955. 254 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 25:109-110.

(1956). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 25:109-110

Culture and Mental Disorders. A Comparative Study of the Hutterites and Other Populations: By Joseph W. Eaton, Ph.D. in collaboration with Robert J. Weil, M.D. Foreword by Karl Menninger, M.D. Glencoe, Illinois: The Free Press, 1955. 254 pp.

Review by:
Martin Grotjahn

The Hutterites are a Christian sect of perhaps nine hundred believers, scattered all over North America, who maintain a rather unusual ideology. Drs. Eaton and Weil have studied the sect in an effort to determine the effect of cultural and social variables upon mental disorders. The Hutterites share over four centuries of common history, tradition, and faith, and are bound together by a close kinship. They live in modern America but sufficiently apart from it to constitute a miniature autonomous social system. They coöperated in the scientific venture probably in the hope that it will help to achieve recognition of their faith. Their community life subjects the members to little social stress and is free of many of the tensions and contradictions of contemporary American life. The authors studied Hutterite individuals, both the mentally healthy and the mentally ill, and searched the entire population for persons with histories of mental disorder. Mentally ill persons who live in the community are included in the survey. The findings do not confirm the hypothesis that a simple and relatively uncomplicated way of life provides immunity from mental disorder. Psychoses and other forms of mental disorder occur among the Hutterites at a rate higher than in some other populations; but their true relative morbidity is probably much lower than the average American morbidity. Nearly all patients, even the most disturbed schizophrenics, conform to the strong taboo against overt physical aggression and violence. Extremely regressive symptoms are uncommon. Equally rare or completely absent are extreme crimes, marital separation, and other forms of social disorganization. The Hutterites do not tend toward antisocial behavior. All patients except one schizophrenic could be looked after in the home, usually be members of their families. Hutterite colonies are therapeutic communities. The study showed clearly that severe disorders of personality and obsessive-compulsive neuroses are virtually nonexistent. Almost complete prevention of these disorders is perhaps possible in an appropriate social and cultural setting.

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