A Special Hell: Institutional Life in Alberta's Eugenic by Claudia Malacrida

By Claudia Malacrida

Utilizing infrequent interviews with former inmates and staff, institutional documentation, and governmental records, Claudia Malacrida illuminates the darkish historical past of the therapy of “mentally faulty” teenagers and adults in twentieth-century Alberta. concentrating on the Michener Centre in purple Deer, one of many final such amenities working in Canada, a different Hell is a sobering account of the relationship among institutionalization and eugenics.

Malacrida explains how separating the Michener Centre’s citizens from their groups served as a kind of passive eugenics that complemented the energetic eugenics software of the Alberta Eugenics Board. rather than receiving an schooling, inmates labored for very little pay – occasionally in houses and companies in pink Deer – lower than the guise of vocational rehabilitation. The luck of this version ended in large institutional progress, continual crowding, and negative residing stipulations that incorporated either regimen and striking abuse.

Combining the strong testimony of survivors with an in depth research of the institutional impulses at paintings on the Michener Centre, a distinct Hell is vital analyzing for these drawn to the traumatic prior and troubling way forward for the institutional remedy of individuals with disabilities.

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In his provincially mandated review of mental health services Dr William Blair noted that 100 to 130 MDNs were being trained each year by one trainer who had no training beyond her or his own MDN certificate; the MDN program was discontinued as the review found it to be little more than an enhanced orientation program (Blair, 1969). Psychology/Psychiatry and Normalization Nikolas Rose (1990) explains normalization as the ways that the concept of the “normal” child has been constructed over the past two centuries through an increasingly detailed and expanding definition of what is abnormal.

Further, the management and interpretation of these new bodies of information demanded new kinds of knowledgeable actors; knowledge workers in medicine, the social sciences, and the helping professions both contributed to and shored up their own professional legitimacy by collecting, interpreting, and applying data collected from large populations. Hence, the births of the clinic, the prison, the school, and the asylum were accompanied by the growth of medicine, criminology, social work, education, psychiatry, and psychology (Armstrong, 1983; Foucault, 1994, 1995; Smart, 1985).

Thus, IQ testing on Michener inmates served two purposes; first, it sorted inmates by scientific categories of intellectual ability, and second, but more importantly, it made it possible for any inmate with an IQ score of 70 or less to undergo sterilization without consent. As a result, over its history, mental deficiency was the diagnosis for 55% of the cases sent before the Board and accounted for the vast majority of cases in which sterilization occurred without consent (Grekul, 2002). Conclusion In the preceding sections, I have outlined some of the philosophical, intellectual, and professional influences that contributed to the idea of “feeble-mindedness” as a biologically determined category and the acceptability of institutionalization and sterilization as meaningful social responses to the problem of mentally deficiency.

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