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Wolman, B.B. (1967). The Enigma of Schizophrenia. Am. Imago, 24(1-2):153-155.

(1967). American Imago, 24(1-2):153-155

The Enigma of Schizophrenia

Review by:
Benjamin B. Wolman, Ph.D.

For thirty years I have been puzzled about schizophrenia, this mysterious disorder that accounts for fifty per cent of all inmates in mental hospitals and takes the toll of one person in a hundred. What makes one schizophrenic? Why are schizophrenics so difficult to live with? Why are so few cured? Why is it that about one third of them improve without specific treatment? Do we know more about this “plague of the Twentieth Century “(Huxley) than Bleuler did half a century ago?

Four recent books on schizophrenia reflect, to a great extent, the present day stress on psychological and socio-psychological factors in distinction to an earlier biochemical and neurological emphasis.

Students of mental disorders know the classic work of Faris and Dunham, Mental Disorders in Urban Areas, published in 1939. This study and those by Opler, Leighton, Lind, Srole, Hollingshead, Redlich, and others focus on the relationship between mental health and socio-cultural factors. It is an undeniable fact that some societies produce more mental disorders than others and more specific types of mental disorders than other types.

The early study by Faris and Dunham stressed social frustration, low class status, conflict of culture and social isolation as the main factors which breed schizophrenia. The status of minority groups, dilapidated living quarters, inferior economic conditions were listed by these and other authors as among the primary causes of schizophrenia.

This opinion was, however, not unamimous. The question has been raised as to what caused what.

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