American Psycho: Psychiatric Diagnosis as a Form of Oppression

Awesome post from our fellow blogger Creatingreciprocity a few weeks back: Thanks Trish! Look at the site and remember that the former Soviet Union was castigated for putting dissidents into mental hospitals:


In his book, The Protest Psychosis, psychiatrist Jonathan Metzl examines the incidence and diagnosis of schizophrenia in the United States.

Up until the 1950s most patients diagnosed with schizophrenia were women who were unwilling, or unable, to look after homes and families or were seen as an embarrassment to their husbands.

However, since the 1950s, schizophrenia is disproportionately diagnosed in young, African-American men.

Or as Metzl says, it has changed from being, …a disease of white docility to one of “Negro” hostility…(1)

Metzl makes a case for a link between clinical changes in the understanding of schizophrenia during the 1960s and 70s and the rising civil rights movement in America.

During this time, schizophrenia changed from being,  …a disease that was nurtured to one that was feared. (2)  One where, …in its worst moments, (the medical establishment) treated aspirations for liberation and civil rights as symptoms of mental illness. (3)

The lenses we use to view the world can profoundly influence our understanding of even material facts.

We see what we believe.

We see things as we are – not as they are. (Thanks to Spirit Lights the Way for that one)


About creativeconflictwisdom

I spent 32 years in a Fortune Five company working on conflict: organizational, labor relations and senior management. I have consulted in a dozen different business sectors and the US Military. I work with a local environmental non profit. I have written a book on the neuroscience of conflict, and its implications for conflict handling called Creative Conflict Wisdom (forthcoming).
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