Term ‘Padded Cell’


A woman in a padded cell, 1889

A padded cell is a cell in a psychiatric hospital with cushions lining the walls. The padding is an attempt to prevent a patient from hurting themselves by hitting their head (or other bodily parts) on the hard surface of the walls. In most cases, an individual’s placement in a padded cell is involuntary.

Other names used are “rubber room”, seclusion room, time out room, calming room, or personal safety room.[1]

Perhaps I’m being too sensitive here (my sister-in-law has been in a psychiatric unit for years) but I do wonder at the use of ‘Padded Cell’ these days. Have naim really thought this through on a forum they endorse?


It’s been called Padded Cell for a very long time now. I’ve never considered it to be offensive.

The term is widely in use across forums elsewhere, and is taken to mean topics other than the main subject(s) of the forum in question.

I guess Naim simply followed this convention.

I empathise with your comment Graham. Having had a close relative in a psychriatic situation for many years, I know how difficult that can be. However, I don’t feel that the term is, or is intended to be, derogatory or insulting in any way.

We could simply call it ‘Padded Brain’, in contrast to sharp brain, to accommodate some of the silly topics and posts floating around here.

The padding should help tame resonances and reflections in the room, improving clarity of conversations. And some of them need that!

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It goes back to the early days of the forum. We continue to use it for the sake of consistency and continuity. There’s a description on the front page of what the room is for, so it’s purpose is made very clear.

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The British Museum has now put forward that we have all interpreted the Scream wrong. Not as a man screaming but as a man covering his ears to shut out the screaming world around him.

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Just because I’m paranoid, that doesn’t mean they’re not all out to get me.

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We had this one for a long time in our living. We like having posters which lead to discussions. Sometimes they give people the feeling that we have a certain opinion - which is not necesarilly true. Things may well be uncomfortable - it keeps my mind healthy and respectful to others.

I know it’s been in use a long time here but we stopped thinking about those needing protection from their severe mental illness as criminals some time ago. ‘Cell’ has indeed been replaced by ‘Room’ (with various prefixes) in most countries for some time now.


There’s nothing offensive about ‘Cell’.
Modern cars have safety cells. I’ve just bought some rechargeable AA Cells.

Graeme, there’s an element of humour at play with the title.

Of course, the forum room in question it is not an actual Padded Cell, which, for the benefit of anyone who is unsure, is defined by the Cambridge online dictionary as “a room in a mental hospital that has very soft walls to stop a seriously mentally ill person from hurting himself or herself”.

I’m not sure about the association with criminality. Perhaps it’s the use of the word “cell”. AFAIK use of the word Padded Cell does not necessarily indicate a room in any penitentiary facility, although I do concede that when someone is put in a padded cell it is rarely voluntary.

Would you prefer that it is changed to something like, the personal safety room, the seclusion room, or maybe the calming room? I’m not sure these work quite so well, and perhaps are a bit misleading too.

Padded Room is fine I think Richard. No loss of continuity there and an acknowledgement that society has moved on in its understanding of mental illness.

I seem to be in the minority on this however.

We’d have a ‘Music Room’ for music & a ‘Padded Room’ for our other obsessions.


I’m not sure. I don’t think “Padded Room” works as well. Still, it’s up to Naim…

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By losing it’s sense of humour?

We could have a referendum on it. Of course it would only be advisory, like the Brexit referendum was.

A meaningful vote perhaps?


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