In the late nineteenth century, after the American social and economic shift commonly referred to as the “Industrial Revolution” had changed the very fabric of American society, increased attention was paid to the psychological disorders that apparently had steamed up out of the new smokestacks and skyscrapers in urban populations (Bauer, 131). These disorders were presumed to have been born out of the exhaustion and “wear and tear” of industrial society (Bauer, 131-132). An obvious effect of these new disorders was a slew of physicians and psychiatrists advocating one sort of cure or another, although the “rest cure” popularized by the physician S. Weir Mitchell was the most embraced (Bauer, 131; Saur, 151-152). However, while the “rest cure” for men involved physical exercise and leisure activities, the cure for women was a suffocating slice of seclusion, bed rest, and no intellectual activity (Bauer, 131).
Charlotte Perkins Gilman, a renowned feminist and author, was one of the women affected with “…a severe and continuous nervous breakdown tending to melancholia..,” which was commonly termed as “neurasthenia” (Gilman, 348-349). However, rather than cure her, Mitchell’s “rest cure” nearly drove her insane. As a result of her maddening experience away from writing and almost all intellectual thought, she wrote her short story, “The Yellow Wallpaper” not “…to drive people crazy,” but instead to “…save people from being driven crazy” (Gilman, 349). Although her purpose in writing the story is clear, one can not help but wonder if she was motivated solely by her protest to nineteenth century medical practice or by her protest to the legal and socia…
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… Boston/New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 1998. 130-132.
Gilman, Charlotte Perkins. “The Yellow Wallpaper.” The Yellow Wallpaper. Ed. Dale M. Bauer. Boston/New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 1998. 41-58.
Gilman, Charlotte Perkins. “Why I Wrote The Yellow Wallpaper?” The Yellow Wallpaper. Ed. Dale M. Bauer. Boston/New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 1998. 348-349.
Mitchell, S. Weir. “From Wear and Tear, or Hints for the Overworked.” The Yellow Wallpaper. Ed. Dale M. Bauer. Boston/New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 1998. 134-141.
Saur, Prudence B. “From Maternity; A Book for Every Wife and Mother.” The Yellow Wallpaper. Ed. Dale M. Bauer. Boston/New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 1998. 151- 155.
Williams, William C. “Old Doc Rivers.” The Doctor Stories. Ed. Robert Coles. New York: New Directions Publishing Corporation, 1984. 13-41.
Marijuana in the Past and Present
Marijuana in the Past and Present
Marijuana is a mixture of leaves, stems, and flowering tops of the Indian hemp plant Cannabis, it may be smoked or eaten for its hallucinogenic and pleasure-giving effects. Marijuana has not been proven to be physically addicting but, psychological dependence can develop.
Many users describe two phases of marijuana intoxication. During the first level the user will experience lightheadedness; next the user will experience peacefulness in the mind. Mood changes are often accompanied by altered perceptions of time. A person will think that hours have gone by, but in reality only minutes have passed. The thinking process usually becomes disrupted by incongruous ideas, images, and memories. Many users report an increase in appetite, heightened sensory awareness, and various hallucinogenic pleasures. The negative side effects include confusion, panic, anxiety attacks, fear, a sense of helplessness, and loss of self-control.
In the United States there were a number of successful efforts, especially in the 1970s, to reduce criminal penalties for possession and use of marijuana, but many of the resulting laws have since been modified or repealed. The smoking of marijuana is so casually taken for granted in much of our culture that many people assume that a marijuana offense these days will rarely lead to a prison term. The fact is that there are more people in prison today for violating marijuana laws than at any other time in the nation’s history. Data provided by the Bureau of Prisons and the United States Sentencing Commission suggest that one of every six inmates in the federal prison system has been locked up for a marijuana offense. The number currently being held in state prisons and local jails is more difficult to estimate; an estimated guess would be an additional 20,000 to 30,000. A dozen or more marijuana offenders may now be serving life sentences in federal penitentiaries without hope of parole. The number of prisoners condemned to die in prison may reach into the hundreds if you include middle-aged inmates with sentences greater than twenty years. Other inmates are serving life terms in state prisons across the country for growing, selling, or even possessing marijuana.
The vigorous enforcement of marijuana laws has resulted in four million arrests since the early 1980s. Due to mandatory-minimum sentences, many of those convicted are receiving stiff prison terms; even as violent criminals are released for lack of space.