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Making It CrazyAn Ethnography of Psychiatric Clients in an American Community$
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Sue Estroff

Print publication date: 1985

Print ISBN-13: 9780520054516

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520054516.001.0001

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Subsistence Strategies—Employment, Unemployment, and Professional Disability

Subsistence Strategies—Employment, Unemployment, and Professional Disability

Chapter:
(p.118) 6 Subsistence Strategies—Employment, Unemployment, and Professional Disability
Source:
Making It Crazy
Author(s):

Sue E. Estroff

Publisher:
University of California Press
DOI:10.1525/california/9780520054516.003.0006

This chapter investigates the subsistence strategies of clients. It also addresses the employment experiences of long-term psychiatric patients living in the community. Reciprocal exploitation and exchange within the client group is then reviewed, including such extracurricular subsistence activities as panhandling and the selling of drugs and sexual favors. It is noted that from 71 to 78 percent of the group were fairly constantly unemployed. Sheltered workshop employment decreased sharply after discharge. It has become clear that very few clients worked or enjoyed having a job. Many said that they valued work, but they did not make the necessary moves to obtain it. They showed overwhelming reluctance, fear, anxiety, distaste, lack of skill and experience, and inertia regarding work. Income maintenance may perpetuate the crazy life not only by making it attractive as a source of income but also by rewarding the continuation of inadequacy demonstrated by not working.

Keywords:   subsistence strategies, psychiatric patients, employment, drugs, sexual favors, unemployment, professional disability

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