On Being Sane in Insane Places

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"One tacit characteristic of psychiatric diagnosis is that it locates the sources of aberration within the individual and only rarely within the complex of stimuli that surrounds him. Consequently, behaviors that are stimulated by the environment are commonly misattributed to the patient's disorder," (On Being Sane in Insane Places p.272).

The possibility that well-educated doctors could be wrong about a patient's sanity is disturbing, mainly because their educated opinion can affect the outcome of an individual's life. I chose this quote because it is based on a topic that most people avoid, or about which are otherwise ignorant. I, along with the author, believe that psychiatric professionals rarely analyze the environment from which a patient has derived as a factor in the individual's behavior. I agree that these professionals are too quick to associate the behaviors of mental patients with an identified diagnosis, when in fact these behaviors are often triggered by the environment in which they exist.

Although this is not a concise illustration of a sociological concept, it can result in an unjustified discredited identity. For example, if everyone in society believed that the eight sane individuals that were committed into the institutions were actually insane and the doctors simply confirmed their beliefs, then the individuals, although sane, would unjustly suffer from the disadvantages of a discredited identity.

In conclusion, the only way to fix these flaws within the mental institution is to educate it's professionals to look beyond the mind of the individual and into the environment of the individual. Only then can a psychiatric professional be absolutely sure that a patient fits an identified mental diagnosis.
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