This book is a chronicle of the attitudes, hopes, and policies that led to the creation of institutions for the "mentally retarded." Wolfensberger explores common perceptions of this segregated population, such as pitiable, sick, menacing, innocent, angelic, and only rarely, as developing persons. Too often these attitudes implied a social response that gave rise to massive and inhuman institutions, always isolated from nearby communitites.
In an original photo essay, compiled by Maddy Bragar Engolz from historical archives of official photographs, we see the timeless institutional scenes that still echo before our eyes in television and newspaper reports. The text bears relevance not only for its critique of institutions, but also for its explanations of the ideologies and assumptions that underlie them. In this sense, The Origin and Nature of Our Institutional Models is much more than an interesting history; it is an essential manual for all who would promote deinstitutionalization and the principle of normalization in human services, in local communities, neighborhoods, and work-places.