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The Book Forum |

The Vital Balance: The Life Process in Mental Health and Illness

Melvin Sabshin, MD
JAMA. 1964;188(5):475. doi:10.1001/jama.1964.03060310075031.
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Karl Menninger is one of this generation's best-known physicians as well as the most famous member of his medical specialty. Indeed, for millions the name "Menninger" has come to symbolize the psychiatric profession in its most vital, enlightened sense. While geographical boundaries have not limited his fame, Karl Menninger is an American psychiatrist. His career not only typifies American psychiatry's evolution over half a century but also represents American humanism, courage, intelligence, and faith. The Vital Balance represents Menninger's appraisal of what psychiatry is becoming as well as constituting a review of where it has been. It is a deeply personal book since the author has been so much a part of the "becoming" process.

Like Menninger's conception of the richness, heterogeneity, and yet uniqueness of individual life, the book is both encyclopedic and sharply focused. The title reflects the central theme. It refers to lifetime organismic tendencies in health


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