The Protest Psychosis: How Schizophrenia Became a Black Disease

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Contextual understandings of psychiatric disorder, he argues passionately, are essential for people experiencing psychiatric distress to receive the best possible care.

In addition, Metzl poses an important question for everyone engaged in psychiatric research. As he explains, the pressures of medicalization continuously push the boundaries of health and illness outwards to capture more and more of the population. Diagnostic frames are continually in flux. We permit the increasing encroachment of biomedicine on human variation, Metzl suggests, at our own peril. Certainly, in my own work, I have found that the incredible stress of everyday experience of people of all colors living in America seems to make healing from distress even more difficult to achieve.

Table of Contents for: The protest psychosis : how schizophreni

This is a piece of the story Metzl does not take up, and one that any instructor using this text should take up as a follow-on discussion of the book. As Luhrmann suggests, it is less painful to say psychiatric diagnosis is racist because then we have a seemingly fixable problem.

But if we are really going to change the increased rates of schizophrenia for Afro-Caribbeans in England or the Netherlands or the increased rates of schizophrenia among African-Americans even in the U. We will have to acknowledge the culture of social defeat that surrounds people with severe psychiatric disabilities and cope with the impoverished and violent settings in which so many people, regardless of their geographical positioning in a wealthy country, often have to try and survive each day, and the impacts such experiences have immediately and intergenerationally on minds and bodies.

We will have to understand the physiology of despair and resilience and the ways this physiology is individually shaped both genetically and epigenetically.

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This is a much harder story to tell, a much larger story. And it is going to take all of us — clinicians, historians, social scientists, biomedical scientists, neuro-people, ethicists, people who experience psychiatric disabilities, and you and your mother — to figure out how we can try and change the situation for the generations to come.

The Protest Psychosis - How Schizophrenia Became a Black Disease

Metzl provides a deeply moving look into social injustice, and he helps us get the conversation started. Thank you, Jonathan, for your wonderful book. AMA citation: Myers N. Accessed September 23, Myers, Neely.

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Accessed 23 Sep. Leave a Reply Cancel reply Your email address will not be published. Jonathan Metzl is a psychiatrist with a respect for schizophrenia as a real and serious illness, but in this brilliant page-turner he also breathes life into the social history of schizophrenia and amasses compelling evidence of how it became a catchall diagnosis fed by racial bias and actively engineered by an ugly social agenda.

And Metzl's sensitive analysis of this tragedy supplies much more than damning evidence: he also offers positive solutions that can contribute to a future devoid of the racial skewering that blights the lives of misdiagnosed black Americans. Jonathan Metzl shows how white fears of black militancy, radical shifts in diagnoses, the pharmaceutical industry's promotion of new antipsychotic drugs, and the rise of a carceral state converged to invent the schizophrenic Negro.

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The Protest Psychosis is a compelling cultural history that exposes postwar psychiatry's racist character and its enduring legacy. Kelley, author Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original "In this riveting book, Jonathan Metzl anatomizes the ways in which social forces, cultural anxieties, and political protests shaped schizophrenia as a black disease.

The story that emerges is fascinating and heartbreaking from the first word to the last. The result is an absorbing account of how schizophrenia became a highly racialized label.

The Protest Psychosis: How Schizophrenia Became a Black Disease |

This innovative historical portrait of the interaction of race and medicine should provoke deep reflection on how racial meanings become attached to docility, rage, and aggression, and become reified in psychiatric nomenclature and practice. Digging through the rich and fascinating archives of the Ionia State Hospital in Michigan, Metzl excavates, in the tradition of our best archeologists and sleuths, how it is exactly that schizophrenia was transformed from an illness of docile white women to a disorder of black male belligerence.

This book is a must-read for everyone interested in contemporary society. Jonathan Metzl shows how schizophrenia was transformed from a largely white, middle-class, nonmenacing disorder to one that is widely perceived as dangerous and threatening, precisely at the time of the U. Metzl demonstrates convincingly that fears associated with urban violence and the rise of black power in the s became an essential part of the very definition of schizophrenia.

A very impressive work of scholarship.