The Protest Psychosis

Friday, February 12, 2010


Schizophrenia has appeared in each edition of the DSM, but its definition has undergone significant change. While once seen as a disease for docile white women, by the 60s and 70s schizophrenia was a diagnosis increasingly used for violent black men. Psychiatrist Jonathan Metzl argues in his new book that changing cultural views and media depictions of race and violence played a large role in the evolving image of the disease.

Comments [3]

Chris Gray from New Haven, CT

As an active “protester” for most of my life, no one ever dared to categorize me as schizophrenic but that is probably due to both the fact that I am seen as white and I never allowed myself to fall into the clutches of the psychiatric or psychological community once one of Prof. Milgram’s minions asked me to kill for them when I was 16. That was a lot closer than six degrees of separation for comfort, so I kept my distance after that.

Feb. 17 2010 09:43 AM
Chris Gray from New Haven, CT

For two years I once lived with a man diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. Other than when he went off his meds, which was connected to my plan to move after finding another roommate for him, he was a fine roommate. He did treat the plan as if it was a divorce that he could prevent with promises to change. He was an example of the “housewife” version of the disease.

The man who lives across the hall from me now is also a diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic but he presents far less mildly, often going off his meds and screaming in our mutual hall at all hours, among other anti-social behaviors. He would be described as a “whigger” by people I know, a white who relates almost exclusively with African-Americans and their culture though it is unusual to find that in someone over 60. He clearly falls into the other category.

Feb. 17 2010 09:42 AM
Douglas Ward

The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) was and the Peoples Republic of China (PRC) is still very active in labelling protest as mental illness. And for much the same reason as American psychiatristsof an earlier era: who but someone who is mentally ill could find so much injustice in our perfect [Maoist] [Socialist] [Democratic] society that they would openly protest it!?? It's a good thing [sarcasm here] that we have a psychiatric profession that is entirely objective and never bends to current politics.

Feb. 16 2010 01:35 AM

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