Essay, Research Paper: Joe Odd Story


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This is the story of Joe Odd, written by a mentally ill patient in a secure
mental asylum. It is possible to pick out several psychological themes, these of
which I intend to assess. The story of Joe Odd is clearly a case of social In
and Out groups, where in society groups emerge where people have more influence
than others. Clear evidence from the text proves my statement: People who lived
in the boxes thought Joe was very strange because they all watched television.
At first they said, why don`t you live in a house like us? but Joe didn`t want
to. So they broke his windows and made up bad stories about him We can learn
from this extract above that there is an element of labeling, and the fact that
poor Joe Odd once labeled, is prone to increased labeling. Labeling is a very
powerful which tends to stick to that person it has been attached (unless he/she
adapts to the social norms which society labeled that person with.) Then another
social worker wrote a report about how Joe had lived in a hut with the door and
windows barred up. So the doctor hung another label round his neck saying
Persecution Complex and gave him some pills because they made him feel better,
Joe didn`t like the pills because they made him feel strange, and he wouldn`t
take them, so the doctor hunt an Unco-operative label round his neck. From this
extract we can assume that Joe Odd thought negative of himself due to the excess
labeling, and ended up believe himself as a stereotypical being. One night he
thought he heard a voice in his head saying, come with me. I know a beautiful
place, come with me I can`t. I`m very ill; can`t you see all these labels round
my neck? (Joe Odd) Joe Odd believed himself to be out of the social norm, and
mentally ill because of his labels, which tell him it is not right to live on a
hill and be himself. The labels tell him to watch television in a box house.
Psychological evidence can be given for all of the above extracts and
evaluations to back up my points. The experiment which was conducted by H.Tajfel
was based around the In and Out groups. He proved that ⌠easy to trigger
off outgroup discrimination could be. The experiment showed how a group of boys
would rather end up with less money, rather than allowing another group to have
more money than them. We can relate this to the text, as shown that people in a
town, would rather have Joe Odd locking and barring himself up at home, rather
than let him voice his opinion about how beautiful the sunset was and how it was
different from their monotonous TV. The idea of stereotyped expectations (Banuazizi
and Mohavedi, 1975), the idea of which people are given a situation, and because
of conditioning that they have had with that particular experience, which could
have been influenced by many different means (media or learnt through people)
the person will act and take on the deemed suitable role according to the
situation. This shows in the text with evidence that Joe Odd, finally believing
himself to being ill after having too many attached labels by the society for
him to handle. He later threw away these labels and returned to a land where he
became his old normal self again. Szasz (1972) claimed the medical model was
wrong and made criticisms, and said people cannot be mentality ill at all. He
suggested that the human brain had more of a decease than disease of the mind.
When related back to Joe Odd, we see might assume that the normal people
misdiagnosed Joe Odd, penalty of which lead to him being wrongly labeled. The
normal people however could not acknowledge their mistake, instead increasing
the number of labels on Joe Odd to try and equate for his character. Assessing
the idea of in and out groups, my evaluation is that Joe Odd fell victim to real
life prejudice. Joe Odd lived a normal life in his eyes, doing normal
activities, just living out his life in a peaceful manner. Only when he met
people, and more importantly, a society where the majority ran a different view
on life, with different activities, Joe Odd was not allowed to corrupt the
society with his strange disposition, therefore swift action was taken to remove
him. I firmly believe people should be able to voice their opinions and feelings
and also live in a way, which they feel fit, as long as that person abides by
the law of his/her country (There is always a line to be drawn). People should
not have to cower in fear at the thought of being different (and prosecuted),
keeping themselves locked up. This is brought on by an ignorant society. The
society itself, is made up of people, and in the story of Joe Odd, these people
all had the same views and did the same activities. If the society was going to
improve, those monotonous people in the society would have to understand why Joe
Odd is the way he is. Media and education have a great say in the way humans
think towards each other now, and are the key elements to erase prejudice and
make those people who don`t understand, understand. People should be shown new
doors, and new paths to take, to discover new places and new ideas. Not just
sitting in a box watching TV all day. To finish, the idea of labeling can be a
very cruel method of power. As stated above, people must be educated and shown
new doors to understand the odd person. An ignorant person would only know what
was good for themselves, therefore have several labels to stick on people who
might be different to them, the more understanding and education that society
(and person) gets, the less labels they will use to attach onto different
people, because they can understand why the odd person might be like that.
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