The collation and analysis of literature, archival material and eyewitness accounts focuses on the following themes.

• Day-to-day life
• Social relations
• Treatment, therapy and training
• Coercion, punishment and abuse
• Resistance and options
• Rights and privacy
• Deviation and normalisation

The themes are illustrated on three levels:

• An individual level, which includes the perspectives and experiences of those who were placed in care
• An institutional level, which consists of the professional groups' perspectives and includes doctors, therapists, psychologists, social workers and carers who had daily contact with vulnerable groups
• A state level, which deals with the perspectives of the policy makers and staff of directorates, commissions, etc.

Day-to-day life

This theme is about everyday life and daily routines.

The theme deals, for example, with:

• buildings and interiors
• staff groups and their functions
• food and how meals were served
• the clothing worn by the staff and those in care
• washing and hygiene
• schooling
• duties and work
• holidays and celebrations of special days.

Social relations
This theme is about social relationships between residents, staff, family and the local community. This includes the individual's opportunities to establish strong bonds and experience emotions such as care, a sense of security, recognition, friendship and love.

The theme deals, for example, with:

• relationships and social rules for staff and those in care
• contact with family
• contact with the local community
• opportunities for sex, having a boy/girlfriend, marriage or starting a family.

Treatment, therapy and training
This theme is all about the different types of medical, psychological and pedagogical initiatives imposed on people in care and how these interventions were experienced.

The theme deals, for example, with:

• regular examinations and how they were conducted
• the use of psychoactive drugs, surgery and procedures, e.g. sterilisation
• nursing and care
• the use of psychological counselling
• pedagogic and teaching initiatives
• changes in professional approaches over time or in connection with staff changes.

Coercion, punishment and abuse
This theme is all about discipline and the employees' abuse of power with regard to people in care. The theme can also be about rules, punishment and abuse among the people in care themselves.

The theme deals, for example, with:

• the values and principles behind the education
• control and rules
• the use of coercion and punishment
• the presence of mental, physical or sexual abuse.

Resistance and options
This theme is about resistance to conditions and authority but also about various options for action and strategies to achieve desired outcomes.

The theme deals, for example, with:

• how rules could be circumvented
• resistance to authority
• escapes
• ways of seeking attention or ensuring the provision of care
• ways of affecting decisions.

Rights and privacy
This theme addresses issues relating to the individual's rights, including opportunities for privacy.

The theme deals, for example, with:

• use of surveillance
• forced collective life
• private property and how it was stored
• censorship of letters
• locks on rooms and toilets and opportunities to be alone
• the right to autonomy and independence.

This theme is about changing views of deviation and normality and the developments in the period towards standardised conditions for those in care.

The theme deals, for example, with:

• causes and explanations for being taken into care
• ideologies of normalisation and integration
• self-understanding among people in care
• experiences of relocation and integration.