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Michael Heng

Erin Rogers

English 2010

5 February, 2017

Rhetorical Analysis

The hotbox, the hole, punk city, lockdown, the SHOE (AFSC 2015). These are

all nicknames for solitary confinement, when a human being is put into a cell that is about 80

square feet and is kept there for about 22-23 hours a day without human interaction, the

exception being prison guards. The prisoner can get about an hour of exercise time, they get a

sink, toilet, bed, and a slot in the door for food delivery. It is rare that inmates in solitary

confinement get anything else besides these living necessities. The article, What Does Solitary

Confinement Do To Your Mind? written by Jason M. Breslow, heavily dissects what solitary

confinement is and what it does to the human mind. Breslow uses Ethos, Pathos, and Logos in

his article to inform the reader of solitary confinement and to have the reader contemplate about

their views on solitary confinement.

The author uses Ethos, the appeal of using credibility, authority, and ethics to get his

points across to the reader. Breslow cites sources of high credibility and authority to persuade the
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reader, bringing up these sources also touches on the ethics and judgment of solitary


In one notorious study from the 1950s, University of Wisconsin psychologist

Harry Harlow placed rhesus monkeys inside a custom designed solitary chamber After

a day or two, Harlow wrote, most subjects typically assume a hunched position in a

corner... Harlow also found that monkeys kept inside isolation wound up profoundly

disturbed, given to staring blankly and rocking in place for long periods, circling their

cages repetitively, and mutilating themselves.

Breslow then refers to another University of high credibility while making the reader consider

the ethics of the experiment,

in 1951 researchers at McGill University paid a group of male graduates to stay

in small chambers equipped with only a bed for an experiment on sensory deprivation.

They could leave to use the bathroom, but thats all. They wore goggles and earphones to

limit their sense of sight and hearing, and gloves to limit their sense of touch. The plan

was to observe students for six weeks, but not one lasted more than seven days. Nearly

every student lost the ability to think clearly about anything for any length of time,

while several others began to suffer hallucinations.

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Breslow cites universities to show credibility and give authority to his article and to have the

reader trust the information Breslow is giving. By using this credibility and authority, Breslow

uses Ethos to connect to his readers in a way that is mature and serious. The author also makes

the readers question solitary confinement, because of the experiments described in the article.

The experiments involving monkeys being isolated for long periods of time leading them to self

mutilation, the other experiment that involved long term sensory deprivation of male humans

who then started hallucinating. The experiments brings up the details and terrible consequences

these experiments yield, this makes the reader question the ethics of what solitary confinement

may do to a person. That is how Breslow uses the Ethos of the experiments to convey a serious

and factual message to the readers, the consequences of the experiments lets the readers think

about the ethics and morality of solitary confinement.

Pathos is a form of rhetoric used to make an appeal to emotion and draw out feelings

from the reader. Throughout the article there a few examples of pathos the author uses to

describe what solitary confinement does to your mind. In one study a third of solitary inmates

were actively psychotic and/or acutely suicidal; The author gives examples of what happens to

inmates when they are forced into solitary confinement. By describing the mental illnesses of

solitary inmates, Breslow makes the reader feel sympathetic for what the inmates are going

through. Breslow uses pathos to have the reader feel despair for the solitary inmates.
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Solitary can cause a specific psychiatric syndrome, characterized by hallucinations; panic

attacks; overt paranoia; diminished impulse control; hypersensitivity to external stimuli;

and difficulties with thinking, concentration and memory. Some inmates lose the ability

to maintain a state of alertness, while others develop crippling obsessions.

Breslow uses pathos via the results of solitary confinement on inmates to bring out the emotion

of the reader. The author lists the many mental illnesses real human inmates may face, this

emotionally connects to the reader, making the reader think critically about solitary confinement.

By using emotion, this helps Breslow describe the effects of solitary confinement on prisoners

and makes the reader ponder the morality of solitary confinement.

Logos are the statistics and numbers, logos is reasoning, explanations, and examples.

Logos is simply how an author uses logic to write a book, article, etc. Use of logos can be seen a

number of times in Breslow's article. By using statistics from studies, Breslow uses logos to

inform readers about the other outcomes to inmates after solitary confinement. In one study of

Californias prison system, researchers found that from 1999 to 2004, prisoners in solitary

confinement accounted for nearly half of all suicides. The use of statistics shows how Breslow

adopts logos in his article, these numbers may persuade the reader to change their values on

solitary confinement. Breslow further emphasizes this, A 1995 study of the federal prison

system found that 63 percent of suicides occurred among inmates locked in special housing

status, such as solitary or in psychiatric seclusion cells. Breslow effectively uses logos of
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statistics to inform the reader the deadly outcomes of solitary confinement. These statistics helps

the reader decide if they themselves support solitary confinement or not.

By effective and repeated use of ethos, pathos, and logos, Breslow educates his readers

about the morality and effectiveness of solitary confinement. He used the ethos of credibility and

authority of prestigious universities to inform readers of solitary confinement experiments.

Pathos is used have the readers connect to the article emotionally and to also give the article a

serious feeling to it; Breslow wants the reader to question their beliefs of solitary confinement.

He shows the reader that inmates of solitary confinement are humans just like us and develop

mental illnesses due to solitary confinement. Logos that is used, shows the terrible statistics and

numbers of suicides that are directly correlated to inmates who had previously or are still

currently in solitary confinement. Throughout his article, Breslow effectively uses ethos, pathos,

and logos to educate the reader about the truth about solitary confinement and the negative

effects it has on its prisoners.

Works Cited

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