Chairman Little: This session has a title of "Preventive Psychiatry." I am not sure that it is an entirely correct or happy one. Psychiatry is still a bad word to a good many people, including some physicians, yet it has a real connection with the kind of thing in which we are all interested. What we will discuss is psychiatry in the sense that we are concerned in understanding and helping people, in this case, children. Yet it is not psychiatry in the sense that we are concerned with long term treatment of severe disturbances of adjustment. It is an application of psychiatric knowledge and skill by pediatricians within the framework of pediatric practice. The emphasis is on preventing disturbances in adjustment or on correcting early and relatively shallow-rooted ones.
For a long time many pediatricians have been giving a great deal more than good medical care to sick and well children. On their rounds and in their offices they have consciously and unconsciously helped many children through helping their parents. They help parents by supporting, encouraging and advising them in the difficult job of being parents, and in so doing, they indirectly but concretely help many children. It isn't easy to do this, at least I don't find it so. In the first place, we aren't trained for it. If we develop any skill at it, it comes from experience, which can be painful and slow, and from something that we call intuition. As a matter of fact, our medical training, at least that part of it concerned with our handling of the patient with a medical problem, is often a serious drawback.
- Copyright © 1952 by the American Academy of Pediatrics