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In the film The Shawshank Redemption, Ellis Boyd "Red" Redding (Morgan Freeman), tells the story of Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins)—a young, successful banker wrongly convicted of murdering his wife in 1947 and sentenced to two consecutive life terms at Shawshank Prison.

Halfway through the film, an old con, Brooks Hadlin, becomes enraged and threatens to take another inmate’s life—holding a makeshift knife at the inmate’s throat. A few tense moments later, Red and Andy persuade Brooks to lay down his knife. That’s when they discover that Hadlin had just received word that his parole was finally approved. The mere thought of freedom outside the prison walls was enough to send Brooks over the edge.

Later, discussing it in the prison yard, an inmate concludes that Brooks had "bugged out," gone mad. Red quickly disagrees:

Brooks ain’t no bug! He’s just…institutionalized. The man’s been in here 50 years—50 years! This is all he knows. In here, he’s an important man. He’s an educated man. Outside, he’s nothing, just a used up con with arthritis in both hands. Probably couldn’t get a library card if he tried. You know what I’m trying to say?

You believe whatever you want…but I’m telling you, these walls are funny. First, you hate them, then you get used to them. Enough time passes…you get so you depend on them.

That’s institutionalized.

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