In case you had any doubts, mental health disorders are socially constructed and reflect a job of the mental health profession to enforce the dominant cultural norms. The disorders and their check list criteria are voted on by psychiatrists, who by the way are largely being paid by drug companies. I recently re-listened to a Madness Radio interview available as a podcast as well as here of the psychiatrist Jonathan Metzl, author of The Protest Psychosis: How Schizophrenia became a Black Disease.
I wanted to remind myself of some of the things I previously heard about Schizophrenia before the 1960’s being associated with frail or nervous housewives who were distressed about their role or embarrassing their husbands. These days there is a common association of violence with the Schizophrenia diagnosis. How did that happen? Could it be systemic racism?
The interview highlights how in the 1960’s there was an increase in the professional literature of case studies of angry black male protesters suffering from new manifestations of Schizophrenia with symptoms such as hostility, aggression, and violence. Then in 1968, aggression and hostility were added to the schizophrenia diagnosis in the DSM manual of mental disorders.
Dr. Metzl discussed how black protesters were locked away in mental institutions. Black men would experience paranoia about the police and doctors, another symptom of schizophrenia. Black Lives Matter protesters in the past couple of weeks have brought to light the black and brown people’s justified fear of police, not paranoia.