Solitary: The History and Current Reality of Torture as a Means of Social Control Within Prisons

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Why is solitary confinement, known to cause a mental state akin to psychosis, widely used in contemporary prisons? Solitary's powerful psychological effects make it a unique tool for exerting social control. This history argues that CIA "brainwashing" research of the 1950s may have influenced the design of isolation units in American prisons today. More

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Review by: Elizabeth Berger on Feb. 15, 2013 :
Solitary: The History and Current Reality of Torture as a Means of Social Control Within Prisons" is an important contribution to the broad dialogue on the torture of prisoners and human rights. The author argues, from the position of a scholarly expert, that the goals of prisons have been confused and contradictory for hundreds of years, but have long included an element of social and/or sensory isolation. The book documents how the scientific community during the 1950's through the 1980's took a special interest in isolation as it relates to a variety of domains: to warfare, to brain and mental functioning, to political indoctrination, to social control, and to the "reform" of mental patients and prisoners. Written for a broad audience, the author explores a multitude of historical frameworks with a deft touch. The result is compelling, well-researched, and eventually devastating in its condemnation--a brilliant and beautiful book.
(reviewed the day of purchase)

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