Asylums By Erving Goffman Essay

2284 words - 9 pages

Alteration of Inner Self- based on Asylums by Erving Goffman. The essay contains the author's research, my opinion and Thomas Scheff's writings related to this theme.The nature of the humankind is extremely vulnerable to external factors and it develops different ways to protect its integrity. The image of 'self' is considered to be, to a certain extent, a result of the interactions with other people. Having its roots in the kind of behavior others adopt when relating to an individual, self-concepts can be easily challenged or even changed.Erving Goffman presents the effects which take place when a person is excluded from the society and the consequences over his or her ego in 'Asylums'. The four essays which compound his book represent an analysis of the way mental patients and other inmates manage to adapt themselves to the life in 'total institutions'. The author describes their social situation, which suffers dramatic changes when meeting different conditions of living, focusing on the relationship between the patient and the institution.The second part of the essay entitled 'The Moral Career of Mental Patient' is a presentation of 'the inmate phase' which points out the effects of the setting over the person's character and her reactions to the social statute given. This chapter reflects the image of the whole process of the hospitalization, starting with the moment when the inmate comes into contact with the staff of the institution. Traditionally the term career has been reserved for those who enjoy the opportunities offered by a respectable profession, but Goffman uses it with another sense. Moral career consists in the series of progressive changes that occur in a person's self-concept as a result of moving through several positions, roles, and life-styles. Interactions with others in different socially structured situations shape a person's internal self-view.Goffman analyzes the series of events that usually occur when a person is committed to a hospital for treatment of a mental illness, emphasizing how an individual's identity can be influenced or changed by a group of people, especially if they have a great power of controlling or manipulating that person. At the beginning, the inmate refuses to accept his situation and the fact that the society pushed him back. Therefore, he avoids establishing any relationship with the ones around him or with the ones who come to visit him because he wants to keep, at least in his mind, the social contacts as they were in the past. Moreover, I think that the phase of denial finds its justification in the degradation of the inmate's ego because he/she is stripped of all his/her possessions. In consequence, the patient is incapable of controlling his/her appearance and his/her identity and does not want to be seen in such conditions. What is more, my opinion is that he/she might feel betrayed by his/her closest relative as he/she considers that someone who really cares about him/her wouldn't place...

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