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One needn't have read Fox Butterfield or the numerous other recent reports of Chinese discontents and depression to marvel at the naivetÉ of this paean to the mentally-healthy Chinese. ""How do [they] do it? Why are their mental health establishments and their need for mental health facilities so relatively small? Because social organization solves most of the peoples' everyday problems. . .""; because ""everyone can belong and have a sense of purpose; everyone can feel that she or he is helping to build China."" What is unfortunate is that Lowinger, a psychiatrist who has visited China, and Livingston, a social psychologist who's been researching Chinese mental health, provide no perspective. It's true that the Chinese haven't the mental-health apparatus we have--because they regard mental health as a social, not an individual, problem; the treatment, therefore, is to reintegrate the individual into the group. To admit the existence of serious or widespread mental illness, conversely, would be to admit that all is not well with Chinese society. Even the present authors pick up a few such clues--a Chinese psychologist, for example, worries about today's prescribed only-child families. But for the most part the book consists of praise for the salubrious quality-of-life; a brief, enthusiastic recap of post-Revolutionary Chinese medicine; a less commonplace review of Chinese psychiatry, pre- and post-Revolution, as the Chinese see it; and a few pages on mental health in China today--which can only be trusted to repeat what the Chinese say. Appended are brief sketches of four Chinese psychiatrists (one of which breaks the mold slightly), and a number of articles by Chinese authors that are as blandly affirmative and opaque, by and large, as the text. The knowing reader will be able to make something of references to ""revolutionary optimism"" as a mainstay of treatment, or to the use of the ""mass line""--but Lowinger and Livingston are not helpful guides.

Pub Date: March 30th, 1983
Publisher: Prentice-Hall