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Title: Neurotic symptoms in the elderly
Author: McDonald, Carrick
Awarding Body: University of Glasgow
Current Institution: University of Glasgow
Date of Award: 1965
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A survey of the major textbooks of psychiatry showed that scant attention was paid to the psychoneuroses occurring in old age. The literature contains adequate prevalence assessments, and shows that these conditions have a high occurrence rate in the over sixty age group. It seemed worth while to embark on an exploratory study in this area, firstly because of the outstanding lack of factual information available, and secondly, because this age group may prove to be the crucial one, on which the theory of the childhood psychogenesis of the neuroses, could stand or fall. By definition, any study on a geriatric problem must separate the effects of the ageing process from those of the variable under examination. This was done in the first phase of this study, allowing the second phase to concentrate on the clinical aspects of the problem. The information gathered was grouped in ways which allowed it to be treated statistically, and efforts were made to keep any subjective judgments "blind". It was shown that neither age nor the brain damage commonly associated with age, affected the extent of the neurotic tendencies shown by the subjects. Clinical differences were found between old people with mild affective symptoms and those with other neurotic symptoms. Affective symptoms seemed to be the main criterion deciding if these patients should be admitted to hospital but the neurotics in general showed little in the way of social correlates, either cause or effect. A validation study of two measures of "neuroticism" was performed simultaneously, and the findings suggested subtelties of clinical interpretation of scores on these tests. The work advances factual knowledge both in the clinical and psychometric problem of the psychoneuroses of the elderly. It gives theoretical reasons for treating the mild affective illnesses as an autonomous group. It presents the first factual account of the natural history of neurosis in old age. Most important, by separating brain damage effects from neurotic symptom production in the elderly, it prepared the way for a fresh, optimistic approach to the treatment of these symptoms.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (M.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available