• Christian Andreas Bornefelt Blankschøn
4. term, History, Master (Master Programme)
The history of the mentally handicapped are for most people regarded as a dark chapter in Danish history. This connected to how many European countries, including Denmark, confined mentally handicapped into large institutions during the 19th and 20th century, while stripping them of their liberal rights and freedom. In the beginning of the 20th century however, the institutions for the mentally handicapped became cramped, while the number of mentally handicapped still grew. Concerned with the growth of the mentally handicapped, the state and the expert doctors of the time turned to sterilization and enacted the world’s first sterilization law of the mentally ill I 1929. Eventually the law was revised and allowed for doctors to force a sterilization, as long as the individual in question was regarded mentally abnormal. This research paper is, unlike research before it, interested in the perception the doctors had of the mentally abnormal and how the abnormal intelligence, behavior and morals of the mentally abnormal weighted into the decision of sterilization.
Through the vigorous task of examining the sterilization reports in the period 1935 to 1945, while applying Michel Foucault’s theories of “Moments of Reversal”. According to Foucault, these “Moments of Reversal” forms whenever the individual meets the strange and contrasts to the norm, and as a result, they attract more attention from the writer. Using the mentioned method the paper finds that the doctors perception of intelligence, behavior and morals have varying degrees of influence in the sterilization process. Through the mentally handicapped intelligence and behavior, we can see they are perceived as a child, who has no conscious perception of their amoral behavior. Morals, or rather the mentally especially have a large influence on the doctor’s perception and choice to sterilize the mentally handicapped people of the time. The perception is that the amoral behavior of the mentally abnormal lack thereof, causes scandal and danger to the established perception of society’s norms and through sterilization the abnormal intelligence and lack of norms won’t transfer through reproduction. Moreover, through calm demeanor and work discipline the mentally abnormal can be normalized and let out of the mental institution, without the threat of acting morally dangerous or with the notion of spreading their lack of morals through reproduction.
Publication date14 Dec 2020
Number of pages60
ID: 392872406