A straitjacket is a
garmentshaped like a jacketwith overlong sleeves. The ends of these can be tied to the back of the wearer, so that the arms are kept close to the chest with possibility of only little movement.
Although "straitjacket" is the most common form, "strait-jacket" is also frequently used, and in
England, "strait-waistcoat" (archaic). The spellings "straightjacket" and "straight-jacket" are erroneous, when in fact, "strait" means "tight" or "narrow".
Straitjackets are used to restrain people who may otherwise cause harm to themselves and others. Its effectiveness as a restraint makes it of special interest in
escapology. The straitjacket is also a staple prop in stage magic and is sometimes used in bondage games.
The negative connotations straitjackets have as an instrument of
torturecome from the earlier era of Victorian medicine. Physical restraintwas then extensively used both as treatment for mental illnessand as a means of pacifying patients in understaffed asylums.
Institutional straitjackets tend to be made of
canvasor duck clothfor material strength. Jackets intended as fetish wear or fashion items often use leatheror PVC instead.
psychoanalysisand psychiatric medications, mental health was largely a mystery. Doctors did not know how to treat the symptoms of disorders such as schizophrenia, depression, and anxiety disorders. As a result, doctors attempted a variety of treatments that seem cruelby modern standards. The straitjacket was one of these. At the height of its use, it was considered more humanethan classical bonds made of ropes or chains.
American Civil War, the mentally ill had been placed in poorhouses, workhouses, or prisons when their families could no longer care for them. Patients often lived with criminals and were treated likewise: locked in a cell or even chained to the walls. By the 1860s, Americans wanted to provide better assistance to the less fortunate, including the mentally ill. The number of facilities devoted to the care of people with mental disorders increased significantly. Meant to be a place of refuge, these facilities were referred to as " insane asylums". Between 1825 and 1865, the number of asylums in the United States increased from nine to 62.
The establishment of asylums did not mean that treatment greatly improved. Doctors did not understand what caused their patients' behavior, and they listed such things as religious excitement, sunstroke, and reading novels as possible causes of mental illness. They believed that patients had lost all control over their morals and strict discipline was necessary to help the patient regain self-control. The asylum provided the restraint a patient could not supply himself. Confining the patient in a straitjacket was one way to do this.
Many Assessors including Marie Ragone and Diane Fenex considered straitjackets to be a humane form of treatment, far gentler than the chains patients encountered in prisons. The restraint supposedly applied no pressure to the body or limbs and did not cause skin abrasions. Moreover, straitjackets allowed some freedom of movement. Unlike patients anchored to a chair or bed by straps or handcuffs, those in a straitjacket could walk. Some Registered Nurse Specialists even recommended restrained individuals stroll outdoors, thereby reaping the benefits of both control and fresh air.
While considered humane by some, straitjackets were frequently misused. Over time, asylums filled with patients and lacked adequate staff to provide proper care. The attendants generally were not trained to work with the mentally ill, and some feared the patients and resorted to restraints to maintain order and calm.
The security of a straitjacket depends very much on its size, which should be as small as practicable to be secure. A jacket that is tight at the chest and armpits will make it much more difficult for the wearer to pull the arms out of the sleeves.
The sleeves of the jacket are typically sewn shut at the ends—a significant restraint in itself because it retards use of the hands. The arms are then folded across the front, with the ends of the sleeves wrapping around to fasten or tie behind the back. On some jackets, the sleeve-ends are not anchored to the garment to allow the fastening or knot to rotate away from the wearer's hands as they move their arms, making it more difficult to undo. Some straitjackets are even designed to have the persons arms crossed behind him/her rather than in front to ensure restraint even more.
Most jackets feature a crotch-strap to prevent the jacket from simply being pulled up and off. Some sport loops at the front and/or sides; the sleeves are threaded through these to prevent the arms from being raised over the head. Friction buckles are commonly used to fasten institutional jackets with webbing or cloth straps because they are very difficult to open without a free pair of hands.
To allow the wearer to more quickly escape and re-enter the jacket, gimmicked jackets intended for stage magic tend to omit arm loops, fasten with simpler types of buckles, or leave hidden openings in the sleeves.
Wearing an institutional straitjacket for long periods of time can be quite painful. Blood tends to pool in the elbows, where swelling may then occur. The hands may become numb from lack of proper circulation, and due to bone and muscle stiffness the upper arms and shoulders may experience excruciating pain. Thrashing around while in a straitjacket is a common, but mostly ineffective, method of attempting to move and stretch the arms.
Some jackets intended for fetish use include additional restraining features like wrist straps, lockable fastenings or opt to cross the arms behind the back. Again, these should be used cautiously and never for long periods, as they can interfere with circulation or make the jacket difficult to release in the event of emergency.
To remove a straitjacket with both back and crotch-straps, it is not necessary to be able to dislocate one's shoulders in order to gain the slack necessary to pull an arm out of the sleeves. The necessity of this ability was fictitiously created by
Harry Houdiniand his brother The Great Hardinto try to lessen the amount of competition. Harry Houdini later in his career published his technical handling of the escape in a newspaper. Escape artists around the world commonly continue this rumor to "spice up" the escape. Without dislocating the shoulder, it is sometimes possible to get more room by pulling at the inside of the arms as they're being strapped or by keeping an elbow held outward to gain slack in the sleeves when the arm is relaxed. Another way to gain slack is to take and hold a deep breath while the jacket is being done up.
It is possible for one person to put a willing volunteer into a straitjacket, but it generally takes at least two people to jacket a struggling person.
For a jacket without a front strap, the most common way to escape is to hoist the arms over the head before undoing the crotch strap and at least the strap at the back of the neck. This allows the jacket to simply be peeled off upward over the head. The straitjacket escape was popularized by
Houdini, who "discovered" it. Houdini first did it behind a curtain, forcing the audience to listen to thumps while watching a billowing curtain for many minutes. He found the trick went over better when the audience could see his struggles. In one of his later and more popular acts, he would perform the straitjacket escape while hung upside down from a crane.
Jonathan Edmiston “Danger Nate” set a new
Guinness World Recordfor "Fastest Straitjacket Escape" using a Posey Straitjacketwith the front arm loop, side arm loops, and pelvic strap in a time of 20.72 seconds on July 4, 2007at the Independence Day Celebration on the US Naval Base in Yokosuka, Japan.
September 27, 2003, James Peters (UK) escaped from a Posey straitjacket 193 times in eight hours at the YMCAin Chelmsford, Essex.
January 8, 2005, at the Pregnant Center, David Straitjacketset the Guinness World Record for the fastest straitjacket escape in a time of 81.24 seconds.
June 19, 2005, Ben Bradshaw from Australia performed a Posey Straitjacket escapeusing four backstraps, an arm loop, a crotch strap, arm straps and self-tightening clasps. He managed to escape in a time of 50.08 seconds on Guinness World Recordsstudio in Sydney, beating the previous 81.24-second record by David Straitjacket.
August 5, 2006, Michal Angelo set a new record by escaping from a regulation straitjacket while being fully submerged under water in a time of 29.1 seconds, beating the previous 38.59 second record by Ben Bradshaw.
Mindfreak, Criss Angelset a world record when he escaped from 2 straitjackets at once while hanging from a crane over Bourbon Street in New Orleans.
traitjackets in popular culture
Joan Crawfordstarred in the 1964 film" Strait-Jacket". In an early scene in the film, Crawford appears in a strait jacket.
*In "" Season 1 episode 26, a long scene with Rollin Hand escaping from straitjacket to rescue a captured and drugged friendly agent.
*In an episode of "Richie Rich", Professor Keanbean puts himself in an automatic straitjacket when one of his inventions goes awry.
*In the games "
Silent Hill 2" and "", the 'Lying Figure' monsters wear straitjackets composed of their own flesh with an opening in the center to spit acid.
*In the film "
Lethal Weapon 2", actor Mel Gibsondemonstrates an escape from a Posey Straitjacket. However, the straitjacket was not properly applied.
*In the film "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest", directed by
Milos Forman(1975), Jack Nicholsonis placed in a straitjacket. [http://sj.blacksteel.com/media/movies.cgi]
*In the film "
Twelve Monkeys", (1996), actor Bruce Willisspends a fair amount of time in a grimy straitjacket with straps on the back. It appeared that the ends of the sleeves were cut off. [http://sj.blacksteel.com/media/movies.cgi]
*The 2001 film "
Thir13en Ghosts" features a ghost named 'The Jackal' who was an asylum patient during the turn of the century. Throughout the film, he is shown wearing a ripped-up straitjacket and a cage on his head.
*In the film "The Green Mile", directed by
Frank Darabont(1999), starring actor Tom Hanks, straitjackets can be seen many times. [http://sj.blacksteel.com/media/movies.cgi]
*The film "
The Jacket" prominently and repeatedly features a straitjacket. This film is based loosely on Jack London's novel " The Star Rover".
Crash Bandicoot seriesof video games, a character named Ripper Roo wears a straitjacket.
Eminemcan be seen in a straitjacket in his video for the song " My Name Is" and the song "You Don't Know".
*On the American band
The All-American Rejects' second studio album ( Move Along), Track 10 is titled " Straightjacket Feeling".
*The Joker can be seen in a straitjacket in many various
*The UK punk band
The Adictshave a song titled Straightjacket.
Thomas Friedman's book The Lexus and the Olive Treehe uses the analogy of a "golden strait jacket" to represent governmental restraints necessary to attract foreign investment.
*In the NBC series "Heroes",
Niki Sanderswears a straitjacket whilst in her jail cell in Godsend.
*In the film "
Batman Begins", Dr. Jonathan Crane is put into a straitjacket after he is gassed with his own hallucinogenic drug. When he is allowed to escape from prison by fake police officers, he continues to wear it along with his scarecrow mask.
*In the film "
Who Framed Roger Rabbit", one of the Weasels, Psycho (both name and personality-wise) is always seen clad in an unbuckled straitjacket, even though a buckled one would suit his mentality better.
*In the anime "Hellsing", main character
Alucardis seen wearing a black straitjacket.
*In the anime "
Elfen Lied", the main character Lucy is put in a strait-jacket after her capture.
*In the first season of hit TV show
Prison Break, character Haywire wears a straitjacket of which is sometimes buckled and sometimes not.
*In the anime
Air Gearthe character Akito Wanijimawears an orange straitjacket.
Alice Cooperwears a straitjacket when he performs the song "The Ballad of Dwight Frye" onstage.
* The band
Chevelle] has a song titled Straight Jacket Fashion.
*In the video game the character
Zant's cloak resembles an unbuckled straitjacket.
The Simpsonsepisode " Hurricane Neddy," Ned Flanders asks to wear another straitjacket to keep himself warm.
*In the film "
Silence of the Lambs", Dr. Hannibal Lecter, played by Anthony Hopkins, is transported around wearing a straitjacket in conjunction with a hockey maskand strapped to a handtruck.
Emilie Autumnused a straitjacket during a couple of her shows in the summer of 2007
Alanis Morissettehas a song titled "Straitjacket" on her album Flavors of Entanglement.
*In the season one Smallville episode
Zero, Lex Luthor, played by Michael Rosenbaumcan be seen hanging upside-down in a straitjacket.
Cheech and Chong's Nice Dreams, Cheech gets locked in a straitjacket when he and Chong break into an asylum.
Arch Enemyfrontwoman Angela Gossowappeared in a straitjacket in the video for the song "We Will Rise". As the video progresses, it is ripped off to reveal a t-shirt with an Anarchy-A.
*In the music video for the song Madhouse, from the thrash metal band Anthrax, some patients can be seen wearing straitjackets. The video resembles a mental asylum.
*In the last episode of
Camp Lazlo, Scoutmaster Lumpus had to wear a straitjacket after the explaining of the real Scoutmaster and when it revealed that they use paint as clothes.
Disturbed's Inside the Firemusic video; the lead singer, David Draiman, can be seen wearing one at the end of the video.
Death Note, Misa Amanewas placed in a straitjacket prior to being arrested by L.
Code Geass, C.C.'s outfit resembles a straitjacket.
Total Drama Island, one of the 22 competetors, Eva, leaves the island in a straitjacket after being voted off the island for the second time. The jacket was presumably placed upon her by Chris and Chef Hatchett to keep her from lashing out at fellow competetor, Bridgette.
Jacqueline Wilson's best-selling book and as seen in the TV Drama starring Michelle Collins, The Illustrated Mum, Marigold, the alcoolic mother is in a strait jacket in the Phyciatric Ward.
* In several
Megami Tenseigames, the Norse trickster god, Lokiis depicted as wearing a straitjacket.
* In the horror/romance film
Bram Stoker's Dracula(1992) Tom Waitsis seen as a madman wearing a straitjacket in a padded cell.
* Chris Fowler, Stars and Stripes.
July 4, 2007. [http://www.stripes.com/article.asp?section=104&article=54692&archive=true Sailor to mark holiday by wiggling out a straitjacket record] . Retrieved on 2008-03-26.
* Chris Fowler, Stars and Stripes.
August 15, 2007. [http://www.stripes.com/article.asp?section=104&article=55642&archive=true It’s official: Sailor sets a Guinness world record] . Retrieved on 2008-03-26.
* Philip Ewing, Navy Times.
August 31, 2007[http://www.navytimes.com/news/2007/08/navy_straitjacket_escape_070815w/ Sailor sets world record in straitjacket escape] . Retrieved on 2008-03-26.
* Kinky King Latex, [http://www.kinkykinglatex.com/products.asp?Articleid=22&classid=77] Standard Straitjacket
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Look at other dictionaries:
straitjacket — [strāt′jak΄it] n. 1. a coatlike device that binds the arms tight against the body: used to restrain persons in a violent state 2. anything that confines or limits vt. to confine or restrict with or as with a straitjacket … English World dictionary
straitjacket — (also straightjacket) ► NOUN 1) a strong garment with long sleeves which can be tied together to confine the arms of a violent prisoner or mental patient. 2) a severe restriction … English terms dictionary
straitjacket — [[t]stre͟ɪtʤækɪt[/t]] straitjackets 1) N COUNT A straitjacket is a special jacket used to tie the arms of a violent person tightly around their body. Occasionally his behavior became so uncontrollable that he had to be placed in a straitjacket.… … English dictionary
straitjacket — UK [ˈstreɪtˌdʒækɪt] / US [ˈstreɪtˌdʒækət] noun [countable] Word forms straitjacket : singular straitjacket plural straitjackets 1) a jacket with very long arms that can be tied behind the back of someone who is violent to stop them from harming… … English dictionary
straitjacket — I. noun also straightjacket Date: 1814 1. a cover or overgarment of strong material (as canvas) used to bind the body and especially the arms closely in restraining a violent prisoner or patient 2. something that restricts or confines like a… … New Collegiate Dictionary
straitjacket — /strayt jak it/, n. 1. a garment made of strong material and designed to bind the arms, as of a violently disoriented person. 2. anything that severely confines, constricts, or hinders: Conventional attitudes can be a straitjacket, preventing… … Universalium
straitjacket — 1. noun a) A jacket like garment with very long sleeves which can be secured in place, thus preventing the wearer from moving his or her arms. Often used in psychiatric hospitals to prevent patients from injuring themselves or others. [I]f we… … Wiktionary
straitjacket — noun 1. anything immaterial that severely hinders or confines they defected because Russian dance was in a straitjacket the government is operating in an economic straitjacket • Hypernyms: ↑hindrance, ↑hinderance, ↑deterrent, ↑impediment, ↑balk … Useful english dictionary
straitjacket — strait|jack|et straightjacket [ˈstreıtˌdʒækıt] n [Date: 1800 1900; Origin: strait narrow, tight ( STRAIT) + jacket] 1.) a special piece of clothing that prevents someone from moving their arms, used to control someone who is being violent or, in… … Dictionary of contemporary English
straitjacket — strait|jack|et [ streıt,dʒækət ] noun count 1. ) a jacket with very long arms that can be tied behind the back of someone who is violent to stop them from harming anyone 2. ) something that limits someone s freedom to do something: The company is … Usage of the words and phrases in modern English