How Long Has It Been Since You Smell A Flower Analysis

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The essay “How Long Has It Been Since You Smelled a Flower?” by Richard Shelton describes his experiences with prisoners. He begins by stating he’s worked at the “nexus where language intersects with the lives of prison inmates” for forty years (1). Shelton then begins to delve into the mistreatment of prisoners by the state, primarily by deprivation. Prisons were originally designed to isolate inmates and deprive them of the marvels of nature; this can still be seen in today’s prisons. Humans have an inherent connection to nature and when bereaved of this connection, it can harshly impair any sense a person has left. Because of the necessary interactions between humans and nature, Shelton describes the separation as “… perhaps the greatest crime against humanity our penal system can inflict” (1). He then transitions into an idea called “psychic death” (2) in which a person becomes so sensory deprived they virtually lose their cognizance and alacrity, a condition similar to Alzheimer’s. The ones that fall to this concept are typically those who don’t have an outlet for creativity to express themselves. Shelton has found that even though a person may have been convicted of a crime, it doesn’t mean that person is necessarily a morally bad person. He concludes by describing how writing has helped these convicts, possibly saving them from “psychic death,” and how it has continued to help …show more content…
One of the claims the author makes is that “there is a relationship between humans and a natural environment… which, if sufficiently violated, will not only be punishing but permanently damaging to the human” (1). “Psychic death” is the result of the aforementioned in which a person becomes so mentally debilitated that he/she can no longer psychologically function the same way they could before. Shelton declares that a way to escape this is through creative

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