• Rajah E. Smart, Ed.D.

Arkham Asylum: Is the place you work a mental institution/prison masked as work?

Arkham Asylum: Is the place you work a mental institution/prison masked as work?

Arkham Asylum is a psychiatric hospital/prison located in the fictional Gotham City. Many of the worst criminals receive treatment there that include the joker, the Riddler, Poison Ivy, the Penguin, Two-face, Mr. Freeze, Solomon Grundy, Clayface, Scarecrow, and more. I’ve seen many of these folks while on the job. The purpose of mental institutions is to treat those with serious disorders as defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual. The asylum could be considered mental health and prison combined. Have you ever worked a job where you felt your job masquerades as legitimate employment but is designed similar to a mental institution or prison? Here are some characteristics that make some profession similar to a mental institution.


First, do you work in an organization that uses cubicles to house workers? The inside of a cubicle is similar to a single cell or solitary confinement. At times of the day, lunch is served and there are also breaks (yard or recreation time). Some are required to stay in their cubicles, whereas others can roam freely. All of the employees are on a treatment plan, whether it's known or not. Like using mirrors to see what’s going on in the halls, people peer over the cubicles to determine what’s happening. Theere is also a plan to who is placed in what cubicle.


Second, the treatment is inequitable based on treatment plans developed by the supervisor, warden or director. The sad part of the institution is when those in charge are so dumb that you want to be transferred to another institution. However, those with privileges don’t care about the imbecile leaders because they can be outside their cubicles for a more extended period and that includes those who tell on others. They receive position upgrades and upgrades to other blocks based on their relationship with the director or warden.

Third, your production of crafts, license plates, how you take your medication do not count. Meaning, the best on the job are treated the worst because they have no favor with the warden or director or speak the truth that none of the others in the population want to hear. There are gangs and cliques who can hate others for silly reasons.


Fourth, the behavior is monitored as if all residents are children, and some of the guards (supervisors) take advantage and abuse residents. It’s their word against the guards. The residents grow crazier because they are conditioned to the environment and all the rules in place until they are released and begin to struggle with how to reintegrate into the world.

In Arkham, there is no “opinion” of the resident/prisoners that matters. There is no free voice as someone will be offended. The residents are made to believe opinions matter, however, it is an illusion. The First Amendment becomes a moot point. And, if you are different, you are treated like wet combat boots. But, you do the time because of the hope of getting out to hopefully live a peaceful life. If you’re really good, you may get extra jello, fruit cups or visits (clap, clap, clap).


This is written in jest but think about any job you may have had that follows the same format. Some of you may have the perfect job now, new to Arkham Asylum or just got out. While many of us are thankful to have gainful employment, there are times when you want to quit that b!&*% and run for the streets. Let’s hope at the end, you can either “get busy living or get busy dying” (I love Shawshank Redemption).


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