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Becoming a Patient

Daniel J. Levinson, PhD; John Merrifield, MD; Kenneth Berg, PhD
Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1967;17(4):385-406. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1967.01730280001001.
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THIS IS a study of the initial encounter between a psychiatric outpatient clinic and the persons who come to it seeking help. In the idiom of clinic culture, the help-seeker is identified from the start as a patient. We prefer to identify him as an applicant. He is seen by one or more agents—staff members who are assigned responsibility for the evaluation and screening of applicants. He becomes a patient when he and the agent reach a joint decision to embark upon a course of treatment. Many applicants, the majority, do not receive treatment.1-4 We shall use the term applicancy to refer to the proceedings which begin with the first contact between applicant and clinic, and which end either with the onset of treatment or with termination of the relationship by one or both parties. We present here some theoretical notions about applicancy and some empirical findings regarding the careers


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