See Inside June/July 2007

Seeing the Person in the Patient

Theodore Millon promoted the view that a patient is not just a collection of symptoms but a unique individual who needs tailored care

On a Sunday morning in 1963 Theodore Millon woke up in a Pennsylvania hospital. He was in bed at a psychiatric ward shared by 30 patients. One of them thought he was Jesus Christ, another believed he was the pope, and a third claimed he was a corporate CEO who had been hospitalized by mistake. Millon began to fret. "I am wearing a hospital gown like all the other patients," he thought. "Am I really a professor of psychology? Or did I just imagine that?"

Apprehensive, he went to the nurses station and called the head of the hospital. His anxiety finally eased when the director confirmed that he was, in fact, a clinical psychology professor at Lehigh University and chair of the board of trustees at Allentown State Hospital who was voluntarily spending the weekend in the psychiatric ward. "That experience shocked me, and I never spent another night there," Millon remembers, although he would still occasionally walk incognito among the patients.

This is only a preview. Get the rest of this article now!

Select an option below:

Customer Sign In

*You must have purchased this issue or have a qualifying subscription to access this content

It has been identified that the institution you are trying to access this article from has institutional site license access to Scientific American on
Click here to access this article in its entirety through site license access.

Share this Article:


You must sign in or register as a member to submit a comment.
Scientific American Holiday Sale

Scientific American Mind Digital

Get 6 bi-monthly digital issues
+ 1yr of archive access for just $9.99

Hurry this offer ends soon! >


Email this Article


Next Article