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Final Project Part B Milestone One
Taylor Heger
Southern New Hampshire University
ATH-101 Introduction to Anthropology
Mickie Murin
Module 3-3 Final Project Part B Milestone One: Choose a Crisis Situation
 Describe the crisis situation you chose, including a short summary of the video on that
For my crisis situation, I have chosen “The Right to Fail.” What prompted me to choose
this particular crisis is that I have heard this verbiage, but in a different context. Working
in the recovery field and with fellow addicts, I was once told that we have to allow them
to fail. Meaning that we can only help a person as much as they want the help. We have
to let them gain their own experience and fall on their own behinds until they are ready.
For the purpose of this Milestone, the right to fail refers to people with severe mental
illnesses and who decides where they live. The YouTube video takes place on the
outskirts of New York City where poor, mentally disabled individuals are placed in what
are called adult homes. This form of housing is notorious for horrible care of its tenants,
placing them in bed bug infested buildings and without proper attention to their needs.
The controversial question behind the dilemma is about “giving people with severe
mental illness the right to live independently and succeed on their own terms. But also,
the right to fail” (Frontline PBS, 2020, 2:49). The video goes into further detail on the
history of placing people in mental institutions, and the outcry that ensued because of the
barbarity that occurred in these facilities. Deinstitutionalization was then used as a means
of getting state mental health hospitals closed and to get these individuals out into the
community. After watching this video, I am quite upset at how these individuals are
treated, or lack thereof. While I understand the importance of wanting to integrate these
individuals into the community, not only do I find it to be negligent, but also cruel to
throw people with severe mental illnesses out into the world with little follow up or lack
of coordination. In the case of Bernard Walker, he was placed with a roommate, only
lasting sixteen days, as Walker ended up naked, face down, and dead at the bottom of the
stairs in the building where he resided. It was said that he was not consistently taking his
medication as well as other warning signs that ultimately resulted in his death. This is
what can happen when giving a severely mentally ill person the right to fail.
 Explain why you think an anthropological perspective would be beneficial to
examining your chosen crisis situation.
An anthropological perspective would be beneficial to examining the right to fail by
reason of, a holistic style to mental health permits anthropologists the ability to put the
individual at the center of their treatment plan. By acknowledging the needs of the mental
health patient, a holistic approach can be applied to look at the person as a whole and not
just their disease or symptoms. Regarding cultural relativism and mental health, it
“supports the belief that mental health should be understood through the context of
normative behavior within a specific culture” (“Cultural Relativism,” n.d., para. 5).
Further, cultural relativism is “the moral and intellectual principle that one should
withhold judgement about seemingly strange or exotic beliefs and practices” (Welsch et
al., 2019, p. 10). By using the perspective of cultural relativism, cultural anthropologists
can tackle the crisis at hand without bias. Lastly, are cross-cultural studies. As an
outsider, anthropologists are more likely to notice flaws that an insider may not be aware
of, meaning that they can analyze why people the do the things that they do. This could
be extremely beneficial regarding the right to fail crisis.
Administrator. (2016, October 6)[email protected]Cultural Relativism - IResearchNet. Psychology.
Frontline PBS. (2020, August 25). Housing and the ‘Right to Fail’ For People With Severe
Mental Illness (Full Documentary) [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?
Welsch, R. L., Vivanco, L. A., & Fuentes, A. (2019). Anthropology, 2nd Edition. Oxford
University Press. https://bookshelf.vitalsource.com/books/978019057381
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