Gunnar Dybwad on Poorhouses

In those days, we didn't clearly conceptualize mental retardation, or mental deficiency, or feeble mindedness. We dealt with inadequate people, who we put into poorhouses. Now poorhouses were not just for people who were poverty stricken, but rather people who were inadequate. And were outcasts. And inconvenient. And uncomfortable.

People would land up in those institutions because they were sick, you see. You have to remember this; we still have in our day people who've been in institutions – for retardation – who never were retarded, but were in the way of somebody. So we need to understand that, last century there was no clear concept of a retarded personality.