Inventing the Feeble Mind: A History of Mental Retardation by James W. Trent

By James W. Trent

James W. Trent makes use of public records, inner most letters, investigative reviews, and infrequent images to discover our altering perceptions of psychological retardation over the last a hundred and 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 obstacles, has made up our minds their institutional treatment.

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Patterson and in Connecticut in 1858 under Henry Knight. After them, Kentucky opened schools under J. Q. A. Stewart in 1860 and Illinois under Charles T. Wilbur in 1865. New York in 1868 opened a second school on Randall's Island in the city of New York (C. Brown 1892; "Brown, George" 1929; Kerlin 1892b; "Parrish, Joseph" 1904; Pennsylvania Training School for Idiotic and Feeble-Minded Children 1854; Potter et al. 1853). , "A Chapter on Idiots" 1854; "Idiots" 1851; "Influence of Music on Idiots" 1857).

R. J. Patterson, the medical superintendent of the Ohio Asylum, stated: "Idiocy, though not a disease, may be regarded as that condition, in which, from the effects of physical disease in foetal or infantile life, or from defective organization of the nervous system, the intellectual and moral powers have never been developed, except in a slight degree. Idiocy, then, has a physical rather than a mental origin" (Ohio Asylum 1861, 1213). For these early reformers the pathological emphasis was associated with a widely held view of degenerative and polymorphous heredity.

The idiot is isolated from the rest of creation because he is deficient in means of perception and comprehension, action and reaction, feelings and willings" (H. Knight ca. 1860). In speeches to draw attention to his newly opened school, which despite concerted efforts failed to receive funding from the Connecticut legislature, Knight by 1861 added a new dimension to his definition. Idiots were passionate, filthy, self-abusive, animal-like, gluttonous, given to irrational behavior, intemperate, and possessed of all varieties of physical abnormalities.

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