Image via WikipediaMany of us are familiar with mental illness because these afflictions are so common they can strike our closest family members. Certainly, one of the most misunderstood mental illnesses is schizophrenia, which many mistakenly believe is "split personality" — it's not. Psychiatrist Jonathan Metzel, has written a provocative book that relates our recent discussions of race, discrimination, and perception to this particular mental illness.
In an interview embedded below, he argues that before the 1960s, schizophrenia was "a disease of docility", predominately affecting white women. But during the Civil Rights Movement, all that changed, especially in the media, movies and prescription drug ads.
But the key change was in the DSM-II, the handbook psychiatrists utilized to diagnose mental illnesses. Specifically, words like "hostility" and "aggression" were added to the definition of paranoid schizophrenia. And guess what? The actual diagnosis of schizophrenic African-American men climbed suddenly.
Since then, those words have been taken out of the latest edition of the DSM, but research has shown that schizophrenia had been over-diagnosed in African-American men ever since.
Think again about our class discussion on "invisible" factors and institutional racism. What conclusions can you draw now?