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This is the compelling story of an experiment begun in 1961 that eventually affected the lives of almost all of the residents of the island of Martha’s Vineyard. The author writes engagingly of the island and its year-round inhabitants, a community of some seven thousand persons of diverse ethnic and social backgrounds.
With sympathy and insight, Milton Mazer analyzes the stresses that are peculiar to the conditions of life on the island, and he describes the kinds of psychological disorders that are precipitated by those stresses. He reports, without technical jargon, the results of a five-year study of a great variety of psychosocial predicaments experienced by the people of the island. Finally he examines the catalytic effect the mental health center and its research findings have had on the development of other supportive agencies and how the community established a network of human services to meet its needs.
The work clearly demonstrates that striking advances can be made by a mental health program that is informed by an understanding of the community served. The book will stand as a model for future studies in this area.