chapter  5
The System of Social Roles
Pages 34

Each individual who enters the Unit must work out some way o f be­ having that will satisfy two distinct sets o f social role prescriptions. The first is a set peculiar to the Unit (according to which the blueprint for the role system is implied in the treatment ideology). The second is a set deriving from the customs, ethical codes, and statutes o f the larger society (according to which the blueprint for the role system is implied in professional canons and in the provisions o f the National Health Act). In this chapter we shall indicate some o f the cardinal features o f each of these sets o f role directives, and describe some o f the characteristics o f the Unit’s role system as it takes form under the influence o f these diverse forces. We shall then indicate some patterns o f role performance that have actually emerged as characteristic o f particular roles as their incumbents have sought ways o f reconciling dilemmas implied in combining the two sets o f role prescriptions. Since the treatment in­ struments o f social psychiatry are to be found in the actual rather than the ideal patterns o f role performance, it is important to understand the factors that forge the actual social structure and to trace the therapeutic implications from this point rather than from the ideal structure.