Asylums, by Erving Goffman | Books and Media | 28DaysLater.co.uk

Asylums, by Erving Goffman


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# Paperback: 336 pages
# Publisher: Open University 1961
# Language English (oringinal print in Canada)
# ISBN: 0 14 02.1007 5

Asylums: Essays on the Condition of the Social Situation of Mental Patients and Other Inmates is a collection of four essays written by sociologist Erving Goffman in 1961. Based on his participant observation field work (he was employed as a physical therapist's assistant under a grant from the National Institute of Mental Health at a mental institution in Washington, D.C.), the book details Goffman's theory of the "total institution" (principally in the example he gives, as the title of the book indicates, mental institutions) and the process by which it takes efforts to maintain predictable and regular behavior on the part of both "guard" and "captor," suggesting that many of the features of such institutions serve the ritual function of ensuring that both classes of people know their function and social role, in other words of "institutionalising" them. . The book concludes that adjusting the inmates to their role has at least as much importance as "curing" them. In the essay "Notes on the Tinkering Trades," Goffman concluded that the "medicalization" of mental illness and the various treatment modalities are offshoots of the 19th century and the Industrial Revolution and that the so-called "medical model" for treating patients was a variation on the way trades- and craftsmen of the late 1800s repaired clocks and other mechanical objects: in the confines of a shop or store, contents and routine of which remained a mystery to the customer.

The wife works in the mental heath trust of the NHS, and came across this today. Will give it a go, should be interesting.




Apart from citing several examples where that wasn't the case, he goes on to describe how debilitating the process by which you are deprived of your identity, of your clothing, of all your possession, including your hair, so that you are left with nothing. In such a state of physical and mental deprivation, Levi claims, and is echoed by Goffman, all the individual can think about and act upon is the act of survival at whatever cost. The inmates who refuse to make
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