Subsistence Strategies—Employment, Unemployment, and Professional Disability

Sue E. Estroff

in Making It Crazy

Published by University of California Press

Published in print June 1985 | ISBN: 9780520054516
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520907751 | DOI:
Subsistence Strategies—Employment, Unemployment, and Professional Disability

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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

Chapter.  21435 words. 

Subjects: Medical Anthropology

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