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Some Psychological Reactions to Working With the Poor

Arthur W. McMahon, MD; Miles F. Shore, MD
Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1968;18(5):562-568. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1968.01740050050009.
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PROFESSIONAL workers in several fields are being called upon to apply their skills to problems at all levels of society. This process, set in motion by the War on Poverty and the new emphasis on the Community, has affected medicine, psychiatry, social work, planning, architecture, education, and the law. While these professions have long had an implied responsibility to every social class and ethnic group, the actual effort to reach all of society is a relatively recent development.

As a result, middle-class professionals find themselves working with both clients and colleagues of quite different class and ethnic background. The push to extend services into the community has taken away the protection of the institutional office and put professionals to work in environments very different from their own.

Similarly placed in an unfamiliar setting, the anthropologist's aim is to observe and record his observations. He tries to maintain


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