The natural history of emotional disorders is a subject about which little is known. This is most clearly true of the neuroses and character disorders. Older studies, notable among them Bleuler's classical work, have been able to describe the course of schizophrenia, but even here these have been the most severe cases, those needing long-term (essentially life-time) hospitalization.
The authors of this monograph have attempted to study the natural history of the neurotic disorders, ie, "the development, clinical features, social effects, course and outcome of an illness." The task is a difficult one, as it would seem to presuppose a prospective study of a large population, some of whom are identified as suffering from neuroses, but all of whom remain untreated. In this study the method adopted was more practical, if somewhat less complete.
The patients studied were all of those discharged in a three-year period from the general psychiatric