« God-the problem? Conservatism, the answer? | Gene Expression Front Page | American Exceptionalism »
November 11, 2003


Interesting (and alarming) article here by Leo McKinstry in a recent issue of The Spectator (UK).

Inter alia the article claims that the American Psychiatric Association is discussing classifying 'racism' as a mental disorder. Anyone know about this?

Posted by David B at 03:47 AM

In the United States there is now a serious debate over whether those accused of being racists are actually suffering from delusions which require treatment by the state, including the use of anti-psychotic medication. Dr Alvin Poussaint of the American Psychiatric Association has said, ‘If we want to do any kind of prevention, psychiatrists have to know and believe themselves that this is a serious mental disorder.’ Another psychologist, Dr William von Hippel, even claims to have located the part of the frontal lobes in the brain that makes people racist. Von Hippel has argued that, especially among older people, changes to the brain’s structure result in loss of ‘cognitive ability’ to be tolerant.

Ah, Al Pouissant. An idealogue disguised as an MD. This is exactly the kind of thing he would come up with.

The APA discusses a lot of things that never see the light of day. "Serious debate" or not, I doubt this one will make it to future versions of the DSM-IV. Pure speculation, here, not inside knowledge -- it's conceivable they may end up defining some sort of obsessional/delusional disorder in which the racist beliefs become so persistent and intrusive that they interfere with the person's normal functioning. That's one formula used in the past for addressing problematic variants in human desires/beliefs.

But my bet would be they'll leave this alone. It would undermine a lot of hate crime legislation, not the result proponents are probably looking for.

Posted by: Claudia at November 11, 2003 05:38 AM

These are the same folks that used to classify homosexuality as a mental illness, if I'm not mistaken. I find this pretty creepy. One more way to mark someone you disagree with in such a way as to avoid the trouble of listening to what they have to say.

Posted by: bbartlog at November 11, 2003 06:31 AM

This idea was addressed by the president of APA, Daniel Borentein at

Posted by: Gordon Moore at November 11, 2003 07:44 AM

There you go! There are some smart people at the APA.

Posted by: Claudia at November 11, 2003 01:50 PM

Dr Alvin Poussaint ? From Cosby Show? ROFLMAO!!!

Posted by: Sen at November 11, 2003 02:06 PM

Making racism a mental disorder was advocated back when the DSMR (sp?) was originally being compiled in the crunchy 1960s or 70s and it was rejected then because it was to amorphous a disorder. If it didn't happen then, I don't see it happening now.

Posted by: Unstoppable at November 11, 2003 04:32 PM