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The Journey of Sylvia Frumkin: A Case Study for Policymakers
Ann E. Moran; Ruth I. Freedman; Steven S. Sharfstein
Psychiatric Services 1984; doi:
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Division of Health Policy Research and Education; Harvard University, 79 Kennedy Street, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138

American Psychiatric Association APA, 1400 K Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20005

1984 by the American Psychiatric Association

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Unfortunately Miss Frumkin's story is not unique. There are an estimated 1.7 to 2.4 million chronically mentally ill persons in the United States. Like Miss Frumkin, many have drifted in and out of hospitals as the symptoms of chronic mental illness fluctuate unpredictably. They have failed to find a caretaker or treatment setting that will assume primary responsibility for their care. They have fallen between the cracks of different agencies when seeking help in the community.They are taking various kinds of antipsychotic drugs to help control the symptoms of chronic mental illness and are developing adverse effects. They are leading lonely marginal lives in but not of the community. They are becoming overwhelmed by the cost of the illness. They are experiencing frustration and despair in attempting to deal with an illness "stronger than I am," in Miss Frumkin's words.Policymakers can learn a great deal from the personal experiences of Miss Frumkin and her family. Her story clearly illustrates the profound impact of chronic mental illness on patients, families, and communities, as well as the catastrophic costs involved in providing care.

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