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The Origin And Nature Of Our Institutional Models
(f) Soundproofing to muffle the sounds residents are expected to emit; such sound proofing may even be installed in areas designed for retardates quite capable of learning-adaptive behavior.
(g) Television sets protected with wire screens, recessed into protective housing, and/or placed above reach.
2. A presumably subhuman retardate is usually perceived as being potentially assaultive, destructive, and lacking in self-direction and constructive purpose; this necessitates restricting his movements both to control him more easily and to protect either the human from the subhuman or one subhuman from another. This characteristically leads to a number of measures:
(a) Locked living units.
(b) Locked areas within living units. In the case of children or the physically handicapped, door knobs may be set high and above reach, or complicated release mechanisms may be installed. This permits staff to perceive the facility as "open" even though it is de facto locked;
(c) Doors made from heavy material; bedroom doors can be locked only from the outside, and often open outward rather than inward, as in most homes or offices.
(d) Barred windows. More sophisticated but equally effective are the reinforced window screens, or so-called security screening.
(e) Outdoor play areas enclosed by either high walls or high, strong fences or by both. Often, these areas are quite small (and therefore easier to control), and not sufficiently large, or equipped, for adequate exercise. Such small areas again permit the staff to engage in conscience-salving self-deception. I once inquired of a nurse whether the children in her locked living unit were ever dressed up and taken outdoors. She assured me that the children were dressed and taken for outdoor walks every day. The woman was not hypocritical; she was only rephrasing reality so that she could live with it. The reality was that these moderately to severely retarded ambulatory children did not leave the building confines for months, perhaps years, at a time. "Dressing" meant to put on more clothes than underpants and diapers; and "going for a walk outdoors" meant being turned loose in large groups with minimal supervision in a small outdoor enclave enclosed by high brick walls on two sides and high wire fences on the other two sides.
(f) A fence or wall surrounding entire buildings or even an entire facility complex.
(g) Segregation of sexes. Such segregation may assume absurd proportions when practiced with infants and children, or with the aged retarded.
A typical programmatic, rather than architectural, expression of the subhuman view surrounds the "feeding" of retardates. To this day, food and drink may be served in unbreakable tin reminiscent of prison riot films of the 1930's. Often no knives and forks are permitted. The latter measure also necessitates the serving of special foods, such as finger foods or soft homogenized pap that can be spooned.
3. Since the perceived subhuman is not believed to be capable of meaningful controlled choice behavior, he is permitted minimal control over his environment. This typically implies the following:
(a) Switches controlling the lights in resident areas such dayrooms, sleeping quarters, toilets, etc., are made inaccessible to residents by placement in staff control areas such as nursing stations, placement in locked cabinets, or keying (i.e., a key is required to turn a light on or off).
(b) Water temperature in lavatories, showers, etc., is controlled by thermostats. The water flow itself may be controlled by caretakers by means of removable and portable handles.
(c) Temperature, humidity, and air movement controls are locked or keyed.
(d) Radiators are locked, recessed, or screened.
(e) Residents are usually forbidden to carry matches or lighters.
4. Perception of the retardate as an animal implies an emphasis on efficient "keeping" of residents, rather than on interaction with caretaker personnel. Consequently, the environment is designed for efficient supervision.
(a) Caretakers work behind isolating (protective?) partitions which keep out residents and perhaps even their sounds but permit extensive or complete visual monitoring. A stated rationale here may be that isolation makes for greater efficiency in certain caretaker tasks such as visual supervision, record keeping, administration of medications.
(b) Residents sleep in large dormitories, with no or only low partitions between beds. Lights may burn even at night to facilitate supervision.
(c) Caretakers engage excessively in tasks minimizing chances for interaction. For example, supervisory staff may be isolated in a separate building. Living units may be widely dispersed and removed so that ready interaction between staff and residents is difficult to achieve; in one such widely dispersed residential complex I have known, low staff interaction with residents was partially due to the fact that walking was both time-consuming and often not feasible due to bad weather, and driving was inconvenient because of lack of parking space near the residential units. Even staff meetings and in-service training activities can become an unconscious legitimization of noninteraction with residents.