Mental Illness among the Chinese: Myth or Reality?1


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    The authors wish to thank Professor Thomas J. Scheff for his helpful comments on the paper, the California State Department of Mental Hygiene and the Asian American Studies Center at UCLA for their support.


This study examines trends in mental hospital commitments among the Chinese in California over the past one hundred years. There has been a two-fold increase for the general population compared to a seven-fold increase among the Chinese; while initially the Chinese had substantially lower rates of commitment, since the 1930s they have been roughly equal to the general population. Rates of increase within the Chinese population were not uniform; males, the aged, and the foreign born experienced substantially greater increases. Changes have also occurred in patterns of diagnosis and length of hospitalization over the century.