This chapter describes a critical period in the lives of seventeen married women and their families. Sometime during the 1950's each of these women was admitted as a patient to a California state mental hospital and therein diagnosed as schizophrenic. The contemporary marital family might be expected, then, to have importance in the development of the wife's schizophrenic crisis in two related ways. First, participation in the marital family would press strategic demands, activating earlier developmental conflicts and uncovering earlier developmental defects. Second, the adaptation of the wife to these demands and conflicts would be shaped by the concrete organization of marital family life fashioned from the interlocking anxieties, conflicts, and conditions of intimacy in the family group. The decision to follow what would inevitably be a small number of patients and their families over an extended time and to reconstruct for each case the vicissitudes of a crisis was most compatible with a broad, exploratory method of investigation.