Tag Archives: crime

The “New Asylums” Are Prisons

Here is a truly astonishing 2006 documentary from PBS’s “Frontline” that you can watch in its entirety online: The New Asylums. It shows how one of Ohio’s prisons struggles to cope with the large proportion of its inmates who are mentally ill. The most disturbing statistic in the documentary is that, in the US, 500,000 mentally ill people are now in prisons, TEN TIMES as many as are in mental hospitals. Continue reading The “New Asylums” Are Prisons

Kitty Genovese and the history of helping

Kitty Genovese, from the New York Times archivesThe latest issue of American Psychologist, 62(6), includes an article questioning the fundamental assumption of an exemplary case in the history of social psychology.

This article argues that an iconic event in the history of helping research–the story of the 38 witnesses who remained inactive during the murder of Kitty Genovese–is not supported by the available evidence. Using archive material, the authors show that there is no evidence for the presence of 38 witnesses, or that witnesses observed the murder, or that witnesses remained inactive. Drawing a distinction between the robust bystander research tradition and the story of the 38 witnesses, the authors explore the consequences of the story for the discipline of psychology. They argue that the story itself plays a key role in psychology textbooks. They also suggest that the story marks a new way of conceptualizing the dangers of immersion in social groups. Finally, they suggest that the story itself has become a modern parable, the telling of which has served to limit the scope of inquiry into emergency helping.

Related resources are provided below. Continue reading Kitty Genovese and the history of helping