Psychological Survival - Cohen and Taylor

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Psychological Survival II

1) Aim of the study

Obtain a phenomenological picture of long term imprisonment i.e. the analysis of the every day life of long term prisoners.

The smooth patterning of every day life is the result of social interactions and learning about routines and the different domains of life. But some situations are outside the routines (death, sense of self or world view threatened). Disturbed orderliness brings meaning of life into question and often individuals rely on a different domain.

Long term prisoners cannot do this. Theirs is a life in cold storage.

Psychologically hard to deal with life outside. Some people go in when 20 and don’t leave before they’re 40, so a lot has gone on in everyday life and they’ve missed it.

2) Cohen and Taylor not really interested in the crime committed and the moral issues behind it. They are just interested in how prison affects this group of people. Society has been taken away from these people. Some of the people are well known, but they put aside what these people have been convicted on, they just want to know about their psychological survival.

3) Life inside

Metaphor of a submarine:
Impregnability, empty, claustrophobic, lifeless, bland no natural light, TV cameras.

Things we take for granted in normal life, sociability and privacy, are not there. Not many friends you can have or choose to have.

Relationships between guards and prisoners, maybe from a similar social backgrounds, have a lot to talk about. In the E-wing case there was a very pronounced geographical divide, north and south. Prisoners have a public profile outside, quite famous and it sets them aside from the guards. A sense of celebrity in some of the prisoners. This creates a division between guards and prisoners. New power dynamic.

Not only hard to create and maintain relationships inside hard to do so with the external world. The prisoners were more worried about getting letters rather than...
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