A cross-disciplinary study was undertaken to learn what the social sciences had to offer psychiatry in understanding mental illness. The authors hypothesized that human settlements deficient in satisfying basic physical, psychological, and social needs will evidence higher rates of psychiatric disorders than localities where such needs are met more adequately. A case study is presented showing how community development interventions that provided for greater self-esteem and other need satisfaction resulted in a lower rate of mental illness. Methods for measuring mental illness useful for further research are suggested. This piece originally appeared in Sociological Perspectives on Community Health (1974).

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