Psychology and Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice

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Volume 52 Issue 3 (September 1979), Pages 205-299

Mental hospital experience, classroom instruction and change in conceptions and attitudes towards mental illness (pages 253-258)

Changes in conceptions and attitudes towards mental illness and the mentally ill were investigated in Israel. Questionnaires were presented to 69 student nurses, assessing stereotyped image, authoritarianism, social restrictiveness, benevolence, mental hygiene ideology and interpersonal aetiology before and after psychiatric affiliation in two kinds of mental hospitals, or before and after classroom instruction only. The findings lend cultural generality to previous observations and demonstrate that:

(a) classroom instruction is ineffective as an agent of change;

(b) practical experience involving personal confrontation with mental patients in a progressive psychiatric hospital, which contradicts the stereotyped image of mental patients and inculcates positive attitudes towards them, results in a change to a more professional scientific orientation and a more humane, accepting and liberal attitude;

(c) under hospital conditions which support the stereotyped conception and authoritarian restrictive attitudes, the confrontation will result in preservation, even consolidation and strengthening, of the stereotyped image and undesirable attitudes towards mental patients.

The findings were discussed and the implications for training programmes were drawn.

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