Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Human Development and Family Studies

Department name when degree awarded

Clothing and Textiles

Committee Chair(s)

Norma Compton


Norma Compton


Heber Sharp


Haruko Terasawa


Theta Johnson


Mental illness is one of the greatest public health problems and foremost challenges of our time. However, because of improved medical practices and modern research methods, more mental patients are now being released and returned to society than at any other recorded period.

The mentally ill person loses touch with reality. Things that once were of primary concern are no longer important. Many mental patients become accustomed to carelessness in dress and personal habits. This state of deterioration often remains as a mark of mental illness, and the resulting inappropriate dress frequently limits the activity of the individual. The patient may not even be received socially. In some cases mental patients who have been ready for release have hesitated to go back into society as they lacked the necessary self-confidence regarding their personal appearance, and felt that they would not fit into the society from which they originally came.

The way that an individual is dressed and groomed often has a dual influence. It not only influences the way he is treated by others, but can affect his feelings toward himself. The hospital staffs treating mental patients are becoming increasingly aware of the socio-psychological aspects of clothing. Therefore, volunteers have been recruited to help encourage patients to improve personal appearance through disseminating information about current fashions and methods of personal grooming The name that has been coined for this activity is "fashion therapy."

The purpose of this study is to make a survey of state and private mental hospitals throughout the United States to ascertain:

  1. The use of "fashion therapy" in hospitals
    1. Methods and procedures
    2. Emphasized areas
    3. Personnel active
  2. The evaluation of program
    1. Effectiveness
    2. Expected continuation
    3. Type of study (permanent or pilot)
    4. Limiting factors
  3. The need for trained specialists to work in hospitals as "fashion therapists."