Racism as mental illness?

Discussion in 'Et Cetera, Et Cetera' started by 36DD, Nov 6, 2007.

  1. 36DD

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    What do you think?
    I was just watching a "Law & Order" episode in which a white man murdered a black man. The perpetrator admitted to his racism of which he was quite proud. His attorney argued that he was not "racist" but rather mentally ill and that surely anyone who wuld kill another based on skin color is sick therefore should be treated - not punished or shun the way society first ostracized people with other mental illnesses, leprosy, and even A.I.D.S. before it was understood. I personally do not subscribe to this racism as mental illness theory, but I find it interesting. I personally think racism is hatred and that hatred is not a disease but a choice.
    What do you think? Do you think racism will ever be seen or embraced as a viable mental illness/delusional disorder for which therapy and treatment can be beneficial?
    I know this subject has the potential for some heated arguments, so please be courteous of one another and keep in mind that I may write an article on this subject, possibly using some responses as anonymous sources (opinions, quotations).
     
  2. SpoiledPrincess

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    Murders happen for a number of reasons, crimes of passion, self defence, for financial gain, but so called motiveless murders could all be said to be the product of mental illness by a tricky lawyer.

    When you say racism is a choice I don't think it's quite so simple as that, when we say something is a choice we mean we've mulled it over, weighed the pros and cons and decided on that choice, often it's so ingrained from childhood that the people who are racist don't even realise they could make any other choice.

    I didn't answer your question - no I don't think racism will ever be embraced as a mental illness.
     
  3. 36DD

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    I agree with you about people being ingrained with prejudice, but after all one can decide as to what they are going to believe when they reach the age of having a consciousness. But what I did say is that racism is hatred (or at least a by-product of) and that hatred is a choice! I could choose to hate and believe all men to be violent rapists because of my personal experience but I choose to believe that most men are good.
     
  4. SpoiledPrincess

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    When it's been ingrained throughtout childhood and early adulthood it can't be easy to make a u-turn from what you've believed all your life, you could consciously choose to hate men, but I think choosing something is easier than un-choosing something - that sounds a little confused but I hope you understand what I mean.
     
  5. dong20

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    Two conflcting viewpoint from one source.

    "The American Psychiatric Association has never officially recognized extreme racism (as opposed to ordinary prejudice) as a mental health problem, although the issue was raised more than 30 years ago. After several racist killings in the civil rights era, a group of black psychiatrists sought to have extreme bigotry classified as a mental disorder. The association's officials rejected the recommendation, arguing that because so many Americans are racist, even extreme racism in this country is normative—a cultural problem rather than an indication of psychopathology."

    Western Journal of medicine.

    "Most of us want a society that is free of racism. But it is folly to think that this freedom will come by calling racism an illness and mandating its “treatment” by physicians.

    A just society must have a social and legal framework to detect and prosecute racist crimes. Psychiatrists, though, are not the makers or enforcers of social policy: this is why we have politicians and police. The history of psychiatry is full of examples of people being labeled as ill for social or political reasons. To paraphrase Longfellow, those whom society and psychiatrists wish to destroy, they first label mentally ill."

    Western Journal of medicine.

    In short, I think it's a hard sell.

    But like any extreme, irrational behaviour I suspect there is an element of clinical pathology to it. After all, how much less crazy is it to kill someone for any reason other than self defence.
     
  6. Principessa

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  7. 36DD

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    Yes, I can see what you are saying...I suppose if I were to flip it around to how I was brought up in believing we are all one race - human. I wasn't taught to see color and so to this day it is so difficult for me to understand racism! I understand why it became, but I don't understand why it remains. I just don't get why someone can hold the indiscretions of some against all.
     
  8. SpoiledPrincess

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    I don't really understand it either, there are black people I dislike, there are white people I dislike, what the colour of their skin is is meaningless, I dislike them because they're shitty people, but to dislike someone for something so out of their control as the colour of their skin is ludicrous. I really think that some people just have to hate something and colour is just something they can identify at a glance and gives their hatred an easy target.
     
  9. tripod

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    Uhhh... racism is based in ignorance... it is NOT a mental illness but a broken way of looking at the outside world. It DOES however have something to do with intelligence though, the lower one's IQ is... the more they would be disposed to being a racist. Racism is also learned... Racist fathers (and mothers) teach their little beautiful children to become ugly little fucking racists... it's as plain as that!!!!
     
  10. Drifterwood

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    After many years of thought, I have come to the conclusion that racists are just plain dumb.
     
  11. b.c.

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    ...racism a form of mental illness??

    Well, guess the argument is just as good a typically p.c.-bullshit-cop-out as the next. While we're at it, why don't we just save ourselves the time and also label every other form of criminally aberrant behavior a form of mental illness.
     
  12. 36DD

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    I think they already at least try that!
     
  13. basque9

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    I am reminded of the way things became racist in US schools during the years of the Second World War. A handful of us, with German or Italian surnames , were treated as outcasts , despised , and shunned by all of the other so-called American kids...called nasty names and punched around a good bit! In sports we were never selected to be a team member and , in general terms, our lives were made hellish. I believe this was an unusual case of circumstantial racism , perhaps it had a parallel in the concentration of the Japanese in America into enforced ghetto camps.
    Anyway, soon after the War ended , the discrimination ceased! It had all seemed very strange that young men of German and Italian ancestry could serve in the military, and yet on the homefront, they were discriminated against! I don't believe the classmates suddenly developed racism all on their own and so uniformly! I can only conclude that at home they were being schooled that all Germans and Italians were bad people!
     
  14. D_Mansworthy Meatwrench III

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    I am not racist, I hate everyone equally. Except Mr. Wang........he doesn't talk much.........but IS a real dick you know........
     
  15. 36DD

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    I find it amazing as well that during the civil war black men served in the military and yet were treated as despicably as the very slaves for whose freedom it was fought.
     
  16. Guy-jin

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    I don't agree with this assertion.

    People can learn to stop being racist, much as people can learn to like mushrooms, if you want to extend the analogy. That's not to say it doesn't take effort; To the contrary, it would take an exceptional amount of effort and willpower to conquer as strong a force as ingrained racism.

    I say this because there are quite a few reformed racists in the world, people who were once part of groups dedicated to hating members of other races who at some point came to realize that it was wrong.

    It has been my personal experience that racism (and by extension, intolerance in general) is reversible in an individual if that individual truly wishes to stop being racist.
     
  17. 36DD

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    I just saw a movie like that...wish I could remember what it was called and who was in it but it was about a white guy who started his own gang of skinheads and murdered some black guys outside his home, went to prison where he, through the course of time, became friends with a young black man and learned through that relationship just how wrong racism and prejudice is. He turned his life around and renounced his prior beliefs, hoping to teach his younger brother.
     
  18. Guy-jin

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    American History X, right?

    Powerful film.
     
  19. SpoiledPrincess

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    I think people can only free themselves of racism if it's not excessive, racism can only be 'cured' a little at a time and if it's excessive and ingrained and reinforced from birth I think it's very hard to take that first step without their being some major event to precipitate a change.
     
  20. 36DD

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    Yes! That was it! Great film!
     
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