General systems theory, when applied to human personality and behavior, considers the human system to be an active, open one in which personality develops through interaction with other systems; problems within one system can produce ripple effects in others. Community psychiatry sees the roots of most mental disorders as being in disturbances within the network of interacting systems. The author believes that community mental health centers, with their multifaceted approach to treatment and prevention, reflect the health profession's efforts to deal with the mental health problems of a community in a systems-oriented way. Although the CMHC movement has weaknesses, he feels they do not stem from the basic concepts behind the centers, but from the inadequate implementation of those concepts. He considers four major interfacing variables that are relevant in determining a center's capacity to survive and to function.