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The Burden of the Feebleminded 

The Burden of the Feebleminded
Chapter:
The Burden of the Feebleminded
Author(s):

James W. Trent

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780199396184.003.0003
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date: 01 June 2020

In 1876, the superintendents of the six institutions for idiots formed the Association of Medical Officers of American Institutions for Idiotic and Feeble-Minded Persons. The Association elected Edward Seguin as its first president. With the forming of this organization, institutional treatment of idiots, imbeciles, and the feebleminded began to take on growth, organizational complexity, and a new purpose for the residential facility. By 1900, the institution had become merely a holding facility to free society from “the burden of the feebleminded.” In institutions, feeble minds were no longer seen as simple idiots ready for education and a return to the community, but as social burdens who needed permanent segregation because of their propensity to crime, immorality, and juvenile delinquency—all embodied in the “moral imbecile”.

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