Period 2- Desocialization and Solitary Confinement

Desocialization and Solitary Confinement


Desocialization is the process that occurs when people lose their norms, values, attitudes, and behaviors. This occurs when people are cut off from all of society typically happening in cults, prisons, and boot camps. After desocialization, a process of resocialization occurs. This is where people adopt new norms, behaviors, and attitudes. A variant of resocialization is anticipatory socialization which occurs when a voluntary change of norms, beliefs, values and behaviors happens. Anticipatory socialization occurs when people willingly change their lifestyle like going from being single to married or moving to a new country.

Discussion Questions

  1. What norms, beliefs, values, and attitudes can you not imagine letting go of?
  2. What would your desocialization look like?
  3. How do prisons, cults, and boot camps start the process of desocialization?
  4. How does the movie Nell demonstrate the process of desocialization and resocialization?


Solitary Confinement

Solitary confinement is where a prisoner is completely isolated from any human contact besides the prison staff. It is often used as a safety measure employed to protect the inmate and others surrounding them. It is also used as punishment and suicide watch.  Desocialization is the most prominent effect in solitary confinement. The practice of solitary confinement began in 1790 at Walnut Street jail in Philadelphia. Built by the Quakers, it was the first institution in the U.S developed to punish and rehabilitate criminals. Rehabilitation was the process of trying to change the criminals’ morals. However, it was a failure due to the fact that the criminals that survived came out as more experienced thieves and murderers. Inside the Quaker jail, they used the system of isolation and total silence to control, punish, and rehabilitate inmates. They had a wing known as the penitentiary house, where the prisoners spent all day in their cells. Felons would often serve their sentences in total isolation with the hope that they would seek forgiveness from God.

Wilson Quarterly Article

In an article we read about solitary confinement, there was a man who was interviewed after experiencing solitary confinement. This man talked aboout how he changed throughout his term served in solitary confinement. Isolation from society had severely depressed his mental state of mind.He mentioned that the only thing you can do is stare at the wall and after awhile faces and objects start to appear. One of the benefits that occured was his discovery of a new talent and passion for writing.

Benefits and Consequences of Solitary Confinement

Benefits Consequences
Appreciation of life Insanity
A chance to discover a new self Depression
Society is safer Lose your sense of self
A possibility for a life-changing experience Become socially awkward

As a result of all the consequences that can occur the United Kingdom has largely eliminated the practice of solitary confinement.

Discussion Questions

  1. Do you feel solitary confinement should be banned and why?
  2. What other forms of punishment could be put in place of solitary confinement?
  3. What is the relationship between the desocialization and resocialization of solitary confinement?
  4. How was the man in the Wilson Quarterly article affected by his term in solitary confinement?


One thought on “Period 2- Desocialization and Solitary Confinement

  1. Miss Hickey

    Try to actually put the video on the page in addition to the link. Try to keep the formatting consistent throughout the page (either indent the bolded headers or leave them all the way to the left).


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