Asylums: Essays on the Social Situation of Mental Patients and Other Inmates (英語) ペーパーバック – 1961/10/18
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Asylums is an analysis of life in "total institutions" -- closed worlds such as prisons, army training camps, naval vessels, boarding schools, monastaries, nursing homes and mental hospitals -- where the inmates are regimented, surrounded by other inmates, and unable to leave the premises. It describes what these institutions make of the inmate, and what he or she can make of life inside them. Special attention is focused on mental hospitals, drawing on the author's year of field work at St. Elizabeth's in Washington, D.C., one of America's most well-known institutions. It is the thesis of this book that the most important factor in forming a mental-hospital patient is the institution, not the illness, and that the patient's reactions and adjustments are those of inmates in other types of institutions as well.
The first essay is a general portrait of life in a total instituion. The other three consider special aspects of this existence: the initial effects of institutionlization on the inmate's previous social relationships; the ways of adapting once in the institution; and the role of the staff in presenting to the inmate the facts of his or her situation.
Asylums is an analysis of life in "total institutions"--closed worlds like prisons, army camps, boarding schools, nursing homes and mental hospitals. It focuses on the relationship between the inmate and the institution, how the setting affects the person and how the person can deal with life on the inside.
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Goffman uses a mixture of field observation and references to literature to describe and critisize the theory and practice of the "Total Institution". As the reviewers note below, a "total institution" is an elastic concept. Goffman focuses on "strong" examples of T.I.'s: the mental hospital, prison, a 19th century man of war, monastery. Through these "strong" examples he fairly describes the concept and applies it well.
Less clear is the implications of Goffman's concept to those institutions which are either "weak" total institutions or non-total institutions with total institution tendencies. After reading this book, I saw aspects of "total" institutions in almost every institution I cared to think about: schools, churches, courts, etc.
I think it is fair to say that "All institutions dream of being total institutions." Therefore, this book has application beyond the world of "strong" total institutions. I recommend it highly.
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