This discussion series examines the treatment of populations outside the cultural norms of the late 19th and early 20th century America. The books cover the historical conditions and treatments of Native Americans, women deemed mentally ill and locked away, and those considered developmentally handicapped, mentally handicapped and/or genetically inferior.
Inventing the Feeble Mind by James W. Trent Jr.,
Pity, disgust, fear, cure, and prevention–all are words that Americans have used to make sense of what today we call intellectual disability. Inventing the Feeble Mind explores the history of this disability from its several identifications over the past 200 years: idiocy, imbecility, feeblemindedness, mental defect, mental deficiency, mental retardation, and most recently intellectual disability. Using institutional records, private correspondence, personal memories, and rare photographs, James Trent argues that the economic vulnerability of intellectually disabled people (and often their families), more than the claims made for their intellectual and social limitations, has shaped meaning, services, and policies in United States history.