Institutionalisation is a long word.

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Copyright © 2008, Michael M Wayman

It's a big word, so here goes! The basis of our society is institutionalisation.

Yes, I said that it would be big, didn't I? What it means is that every group of persons is shoved into a box. Noisy children into schools, nasty criminals into prisons, violent men into armies, boring intellectuals into universities and so on.

Without these institutions there would be trouble – all those noisy children, nasty criminals, violent men and boring intellectuals would be chaos.

The way it works is like this – several people see a new group of troublesome persons, a new institution is created (often with a new special name), and the persons are pushed into it.

Do they object? No! They normally like it.

How many different institutions are there? Oh! Too many to count. There are the traditional ones, which typically have special buildings across the countryside, like schools, railway stations and telephone kiosks. And then there are the virtual institutions like the stamp collectors, the television watchers and virtual reality and so on.

Who runs each institution? Every institution has its own organisation. It just grows and cannot be killed – some institutions have no persons any more, but they survive because each has an organisation. You cannot kill an organisation, indeed, an organisation can survive without an institution.

Can a person belong to more than one institution at a time? Probably.

Do persons move from one institution to another? Oh, yes! Normally several times in a lifetime. However this is very troubling to the persons – they can get very upset. A person can get institutionalised and be unable to move.

Do the persons know that they are in an institution? No! Of course not!

“So how come that you are saying this?” you say.

Easy! I'm not in an institution. I did not say that everyone is in a institution.

There is a small number of persons that are not in any institution. We don't know how many. Why should we count? We don't want to know.

We do know about the institutions. We do think they cause brain damage. However we are not able to improve things, or not yet. It is unfortunate, but we must leave most of the persons on this planet in these institutions where their brains rot.

One golden rule – we are invisible. This sounds funny and indeed it is. The persons in the institutions can see us of course – we have no magic – we are not magic – we are persons too. However they cannot normally see that we are not in one of their institutions, probably because of brain damage.

Sometimes, very rarely, they see us for what we really are. This is extremely dangerous. This can cause the poor persons to have fits, crazy ideas, faint, fall about or even die. We try to avoid this – we know that we are dangerous – we try to avoid bumping into them.

“Who are we?” you ask.

We have many names: the hidden ones, the half per cent, the invisible ones, spirits, fairies, hobgoblins, jinn, ghosts, archangel, Bielefeld, devils, spriggans and so it goes on.

I prefer “free agents” but I don't need a name.

“Then who am I?” you ask.

You are one of us.

Have you read Well! Clone me! and Scharnhorst?