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Psychiatric recovery: a family affair.

Psychiatric recovery: A family affair

Several recent studies suggest that when hospitalized schizophrenics are released to "emotionally expressive" families that are highly critical and overinvolved in the patients' lives, psychiatric symptoms are likely to worsen and rehospitalization often becomes necessary. But emotional expression has its advantages, say David Spiegel of Stanford University and colleague; a family that openly discusses feelings and problems without marked conflict, rather than one that avoids emotional topics altogether, has the most positive effect on former psychiatric patients.

The researchers contacted 108 psychiatric patients, most of whom had schizophrenia, depression or manic-depression, and one of their family members (parent, spouse or roommate) at three months and at one year after discharge from a hospital. Higher ratings of "family expressiveness" on a true-false scale (for instance, "We tell each other about our personal problems") strongly predicted fewer days of rehospitalization, while self and family ratings of adjustment since discharge did not. Advising patients to avoid their families or not talk about emotional topics probably will not cut down on returns to the hospital, conclude the researchers in the January AMERICAN JOURNAL OF PSYCHIATRY; families should be counseled in ways to express feelings without undue conflict and criticism.
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Publication:Science News
Date:Feb 8, 1986
Words:200
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