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SOCIAL ADAPTATION AMONG THE MILDLY RETARDED RESIDENTS OF A HALFWAY HOUSE

NCJ Number
49349
Author(s)
J S POE
Date Published
1976
Annotation
OBSERVATIONS OF THE PROCESS OF SOCIAL ADAPTATION AMONG MILDLY RETARDED ADULT RESIDENTS OF A HALFWAY HOUSE IN A MIDWESTERN CITY ARE RECORDED, AND A FICTIVE KINSHIP MODEL DESCRIBING THAT PROCESS IS PRESENTED.
Abstract
THE RESEARCH FOCUSED ON SOCIAL BEHAVIOR AND PERSONALITY DYNAMICS IN A CHURCH-RUN HALFWAY HOUSE FOR MILDLY RETARDED ADULTS. THE FACILITY IS A CLOSED SOCIAL SYSTEM IN WHICH ADMINISTRATORS HAVE DEVISED A ROLE STRUCTURE CONSISTING OF A HIGHLY AUTHORITARIAN, RIGIDLY CONTROLLING PARENT FIGURE (HOUSEPARENT) AND AN EXTREMELY DEPENDENT AND OBEDIENT CHILD FIGURE (RESIDENT). BECAUSE OF THE ABSENCE OF STRUCTURAL ROUTES OUT OF THE HOME INTO LESS RESTRICTIVE COMMUNITY SITUATIONS AND BECAUSE THE RESIDENTS LACK THE EXPECTATION OF INDEPENDENCE, THEY USUALLY DEVELOPED STRONG FEELINGS OF HOPELESSNESS, SELF-WORTHLESSNESS, AND INADEQUACY. THE FACILITY, RATHER THAN PROVIDING A STEP TOWARD INDEPENDENCE, IS AN ENDPOINT OF MOVEMENT THROUGH THE SOCIAL SERVICE SYSTEM. MOST OF THE RESIDENTS GREW UP IN A FICTIVE KINSHIP SYSTEM, WHICH FUNCTIONED AS AN ALTERNATIVE TO A DISINTEGRATED OR REJECTING NUCLEAR FAMILY. THE KINSHIP SYSTEM IS CHARACTERIZED BY A STRONG PARENT-CHILD ROLE STRUCTURE, AN ALMOST TOTAL LACK OF EMPHASIS ON PEER RELATIONSHIPS, AND AN IDEOLOGY OF RETARDATION THAT LACKS ANY EXPECTATION OF SELF-RELIANCE. THE EXPECTATION IS FOR THE PARENT-CHILD ROLE RELATIONSHIP TO CONTINUE INTO ADULTHOOD. PEOPLE WHO GROW UP IN SUCH A SYSTEM ARE NOT EQUIPPED SOCIALLY AND MOTIVATIONALLY TO BREAK THE PARENT-CHILD BOND WHEN THEY REACH ADULTHOOD. AN ENVIRONMENT THAT IS COMPOSED OF AN AUTHORITARIAN PARENT-CHILD ROLE STRUCTURE IS PATHOLOGICAL FOR THE DEVELOPMENT OF INDEPENDENT AND RESPONSIBLE BEHAVIOR IN MILDLY RETARDED ADULTS. A BIBLIOGRAPHY IS INCLUDED. (AUTHOR ABSTRACT MODIFIED--LKM)