Date Awarded


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Fred L. Adair


This study investigated the effects of psychiatric hospitalization on the self-concepts of 44 adolescents. Labeling theory suggests that the stigma of being labeled as a patient in a mental hospital will hurt an adolescent's self-concept. The sample for this study consisted of 44 adolescent acute care patients in a private psychiatric hospital in Norfolk, Virginia. their length of stay averaged 20.1 days and ranged from 8 to 38 days in the hospital. Each was diagnosed by an accredited psychiatrist or a licensed psychologist as having symptoms of depression or dysthymic disorder. Each subject was administered a semantic differential instrument (Burke and Tully, 1977) and the Coopersmith Self-Esteem Inventory (Coopersmith, 1967) at admission and again at discharge. The semantic differential instrument had subjects rate two stereotypic social labels, "A Popular Teenager in School" and "A Hospitalized Teenager in Psychiatric Treatment," and two self-assessment labels, "Me in the World" and "Me in the Psychiatric Institute." The Coopersmith instrument was used as a well-established indicator of overall self-esteem. One-tailed t-tests for paired samples confirmed significant gains in self-esteem through the course of hospitalization as measured by the Coopersmith as well as by the two semantic differential self-assessments. These findings were contrary to the predictions of labeling theory. Two-tailed t-tests for paired samples were used to determine whether identification with the two stereotypic labels changed from time of admission to time of discharge. These findings indicated that direction of change was not consistent and some of the changes were not statistically significant. The most interesting change in identification with stereotypic labels concerned "Me in the Psychiatric Institute" and "A Popular Teenager in School." at admission, subjects generally rated themselves less favorably than "A Popular Teenager in School," but at discharge subjects generally rated themselves significantly more favorably than the popular teenage stereotype. Again, this change in identification was not consistent with the predictions of labeling theory. This study concluded with recommendations for longer-term adolescent inpatient studies, follow-up studies of teenage outpatient progress, and mandatory one year aftercare counseling for hospitalized adolescents.



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