December 28, 2010

Prison therapy: It's all in the name

Look at the above picture. What do you see? You should see a monkey in a cage. (More precisely, a capuchin monkey rescued from a laboratory.)

Now look at the second picture. If you again see a cage (or two), your eyes are playing tricks on you. These are not cages. They are "therapeutic modules." It's the California prison system's response to a judicial mandate to provide treatment to mentally ill prisoners.

Using the correct term is important, according to a psychiatric expert quoted by Jack Dolan in today's Los Angeles Times: "If you call them cages, people inside might feel like animals and respond accordingly."

Pictured here is music therapist Daniel Tennenbaum, wearing a flak vest as he strums a sing-along rendition of Otis Redding's "Sitting on the Dock of the Bay":

... I had nothin to live for
And look like nothing's gonna come my way ...
Look like nothing's gonna change
Everything still remains the same ...
I'm just sitting on the dock of the bay
Wasting time

One wonders whether the "therapeutic module" euphemism is truly for the benefit of the prisoners, or more for the psychologists providing window dressing, who want to think that therapeutic healing is possible under such cruel and inhumane conditions.

And if mere renaming can alter reality, then Mina over at Psydoctor8 has a better idea. We could refer to the prisons as "Hawaii." Then, the prisoners might feel like hula dancers instead of caged animals.


Cavall de Quer said...

Gosh, do those poor peple have ear plugs? Cruel and unusual punishment otherwise, I'd say.

What is it with humans and cages?

Bill Bell said...

Good grief, what would happen if we were to call them 'slammers'?