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Racial Schizophrenia

In: Philosophy and Psychology

Submitted By SpunkyMonkey
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It is estimated that around 1 in 100 people will develop schizophrenia at some point in their lives, of which approximately 3 million live in the United States. Shockingly, 2.1% of African-Americans receive a diagnosis of schizophrenia, compared to 1.4% of whites. What accounts for this? Is it because African-Americans have a biological predisposition to schizophrenia? Is it because clinicians from majority groups either intentionally or unintentionally misdiagnose African-Americans due to their cultural differences? Or maybe it’s because of the fact that African-Americans have always been on average economically disadvantaged compared to whites. The reasons are most likely a combination of these factors, and others may exist.
The idea of “racial schizophrenia” dates back to the 1960’s at the Ionia State Hospital for the criminally insane in Michigan, one of the nation’s most notorious insane asylums. During this time, the civil-rights movement was in full force. The author, Jonathan Metzl, researched the diagnosis of schizophrenia among many of the patients admitted to this hospital over the years. He also published a book about it called, The Protest Psychosis: How Schizophrenia Became a Black Disease. He discovered in his findings that many African-Americans during this time were admitted for armed-robbery, and property destruction, and considered insane, ultimately leading to a diagnosis of schizophrenia. These short court sentences were eventually turned into a lifelong incarceration. The Diagnostic Statistical Manual 2nd Edition (DSM-II), which was the version used at the time, listed symptoms of schizophrenia by using words such as “hostility” and “aggression” to justify this diagnosis of black men. Metzl discovered dramatic racial and gender shifts in schizophrenia diagnoses towards the growing population of African-American men from urban…...

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