By James W. Trent
James W. Trent makes use of public files, inner most letters, investigative experiences, and infrequent images to discover our altering perceptions of psychological retardation during the last one hundred fifty years. He contends that the industrial vulnerability of mentally retarded humans (and their families), greater than the claims made for his or her highbrow or social barriers, has made up our minds their institutional therapy.
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Extra resources for Inventing the Feeble Mind: A History of Mental Retardation in the United States
2 In chapter 1, I study a shift in the 1840s from mental retardation as a family and local problem to a social and state problem. " Some felt compelled to do so by social and economic circumstances. Others, however, did so because they had begun to construct new images of the institution and its place in giving meaning to the "problem" of mental retardation. In doing so, the superintendents also ensured their own survival and growing legitimacy. Even before the Civil War, care and control had assumed a curious linkage.
Although short-lived, this period was one of frenetic activity in the field of mental retardation. I look most closely at the Committee on Provision for the Feeble-Minded. " Although they would be discredited in scientific communities, the images of this "menace" would linger for five more decades in professional circles and in popular consciousness. " Opposition to the menace rhetoric came from sources both inside and outside the field. After 1920 the profession began to emphasize the adjustment and adaptation of mentally retarded people to segregated services, whether in the community or the institution.
Ward of the Lincoln State School, 1970 2. Bedroom of the Illinois Asylum for Feeble-Minded Children, ca. 1880 3. Home of Hervey B. Wilbur and the first school for idiots in North America, ca. 1850 4. Grubb, an inmate at the Pennsylvania Training School for Feeble-Minded Children, ca. 1857 5. Imbecile boys, 1857 6. Boys' classroom, 1886 7. The laundry, 1887 8. Custodial cases: "low grades," ca. 1890 9. Custodial case: "mongoloid idiot," ca. 1890 10. Military drills, ca. 1890 11. Custodial building, ca.