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Driven by FearEpidemics and Isolation in San Francisco's House of Pestilence$
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Guenter B. Risse

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780252039843

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252039843.001.0001

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Sojourns of the Damned

(p.97) Chapter 5 Banished
Driven by Fear

Guenter B. Risse

University of Illinois Press

This chapter demonstrates how scenes of severe human hardship illustrate and authenticate the San Francisco pesthouse experience. While legislation, politics, aversive emotions, and medical theories determined the location of an isolation facility, ostracized patients' lives shaped the institution's character and dismal reputation. The trauma of total isolation compounded the stigma of disfigurement from disease. Life as a pariah detained in a discredited and feared prison-like institution offered occasional and welcome fodder for the print media, always a catalyst for revealing and often molding emotional landscapes. Although a religious context remained hidden, all segregations seemed per se penitential, a just destiny for people who had become dangerous to others.

Keywords:   ostracized patients, isolation, stigma, segregation, San Francisco pesthouse, human hardship

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