HomeLatest ThreadsGreatest ThreadsForums & GroupsMy SubscriptionsMy Posts
DU Home » Latest Threads » Forums & Groups » Topics » Health » Mental Health Information (Group) » Are racists and other hat...

Mon Jun 27, 2016, 08:53 AM

Are racists and other haters mentally disordered?

No seriously, this matters. It matters because this perception is broadly accepted colloquially whether it is true or not. The notion that mass-shooters and doers of violence can be assumed to be mentally ill is a common feature on DU.

The wide social acceptance of this belief facilitates moving the blame of hate crimes/hate violence, away from institutions and structures of the socio-economic environment that many researchers argue quietly and insidiously perpetuate hatefullness from generation to generation. It allows thinking to shift from nebulous invisible cultural forces to pointed, if unoffical and unprofessional, determinations of sickness of individuals which then stand as evidence against persons with mental illness as a class.

The following article "doesn't actually argue against this perception... and it's motivated by a new book:


WaPost: How racism came to be called a mental illness https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2016/06/07/how-racism-came-to-be-called-a-mental-illness-and-why-thats-a-problem/


The mental health frame gained momentum in the 1930s, when social scientists sought to explain the extreme prejudice and bigotry manifest in Nazism and fascism. Some social scientists argued that these sentiments stemmed from what the psychoanalyst Wilhelm Reich called — in a telling phrase — a “deathly sick society.”

Others focused less on society and more on the individual. In 1950, “The Authoritarian Personality” gained widespread attention among academic and lay audiences alike for claiming racism and authoritarianism — like that in Nazi Germany — were not only psychological but rooted in childhood experiences, particularly the presence of a strong and overbearing father.

The book was widely criticized but was nevertheless influential. For example, in a speech before the annual conference of the National Urban League in 1958, psychologist Alfred J. Marrow argued that the psychological causes and consequences of extreme hatred were evident simply by scanning the daily newspapers. Marrow said “the problem is primarily psychological in nature, [and] we must turn for guidance and help to the behavioral scientists.”

The mental health frame was applied not only to racists themselves but to their victims. By the middle of the 20th century, many scholars believed that the country’s long history of racism created an enduring psychopathological legacy.For example, in historian Stanley Elkins’s highly influential 1959 book, “Slavery: A problem in American institutional and intellectual life,” he argued that totalitarian environments like plantations and concentration camps inflicted child-like behaviors and retrogression on their victims. Without massive reformation, he further argued, these patterns would persist over generations. A similar argument can be found in Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s infamous claim that the black family represented a “tangle of pathology.”


note that this excerpt is limited by rules preventing copyright infringement, there is rather more in the article.

8 replies, 1868 views

Reply to this thread

Back to top Alert abuse

Always highlight: 10 newest replies | Replies posted after I mark a forum
Replies to this discussion thread
Arrow 8 replies Author Time Post
Reply Are racists and other haters mentally disordered? (Original post)
HereSince1628 Jun 2016 OP
randr Jun 2016 #1
HereSince1628 Jun 2016 #4
randr Jun 2016 #6
HereSince1628 Jun 2016 #7
mopinko Jun 2016 #2
HereSince1628 Jun 2016 #3
mopinko Jun 2016 #5
HereSince1628 Jun 2016 #8

Response to HereSince1628 (Original post)

Mon Jun 27, 2016, 09:11 AM

1. I think Racism and Hatred need to be recognized as mental disorders

that lead to heart disease.
We have signs indicating mental break down that allow families to seek treatment for many disorders; why not racism?

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink

Response to randr (Reply #1)

Mon Jun 27, 2016, 06:12 PM

4. I'd like you to expand on that so that I can understand your thinking

What manifest symptoms are compared to what definition of mental illness?

In your thinking are racism and hatred distinct disorders within the many mental illnesses that might have some similar symptoms?

What does heart disease have to do with racism and hate being mental illnesses?

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink

Response to HereSince1628 (Reply #4)

Mon Jun 27, 2016, 10:56 PM

6. First my reference to

Heart disease was a metaphor. People who hold hatred in their hearts and they suffer from a lack of empathy ad a result. Racism is an extension of hatred, it can be applied out of hatred to any chosen group.
Further, a person who is suicidal will receive treatment as long as certain criteria are displayed. I would suggest that we treat racism as a mental disorder and establish indicators and treatment.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink

Response to randr (Reply #6)

Tue Jun 28, 2016, 06:54 AM

7. Thanks.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink

Response to HereSince1628 (Original post)

Mon Jun 27, 2016, 10:40 AM

2. when mental health practitioners start "curing" racists

and authoritarian followers w the standard tools of the trade, i will accept that it is a mental illness.
till then i will consider it a personality disorder.

hard not to argue, tho, that there is something not right in their heads.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink

Response to mopinko (Reply #2)

Mon Jun 27, 2016, 05:59 PM

3. Not sure if you read the link, but they HAVE treated it with drugs, and they got results

and that, really, is part of how the notion that hating is mental illness has been supported. I'm not sure they treated hate or treated something else which prevented their metric of hate from being manifested.

It's unclear to me that hate, per se, is a mental disorder. As you know it's easy for people to say something is a mental disorder, but there is very little consensus on a definition. Some thing involving cognition, and or emotion, and or behavior that creates dysfunction for the afflicted person is usually part of American definitions. And I'm not convinced that all hate really creates dysfunction.

The iconic haters of the last century were Nazis and the high rank ing Nazis were arguably not dysfunctional but quite successful, rising to high levels of performance/power and wealth. What made them dysfunctional was losing the war, and imposition of criminal definitions from other countries. One could argue that southern racism has, likewise, had periods when it didn't create dysfunction for the racist.

The Nazi example is discussed in the link and as evidenced by the cover of the new book, how history of how hating anti-Semites come to be seen as mentally ill is apparently an important theme in the new book along with racism.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink

Response to HereSince1628 (Reply #3)

Mon Jun 27, 2016, 07:28 PM

5. over my limit to see for free.

and i do know that this sort of mindset is part of many mental illness, and a lot of physical ones, too. when dementia started to set in for my mom, she started being very critical in a racist way. she complained that her care givers talked in their own language and described an overweight african american nurse in a racial manner.
she was never like that in her lifetime till then.

i have seen that in others w dementia do the same.
and paranoia, of course, is a big part of many mental illnesses.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink

Response to mopinko (Reply #5)

Wed Jun 29, 2016, 08:17 AM

8. Confounding correlations are frequent between symptoms and diagnoses

Anxiety and paranoia may both motivate defensiveness that looks like aggression without consideration of context

I really haven't read much about dementia, but I wouldn't be surprised if loss of ability to understand whats going on in a person's proximate environment produces rising anxiety, distrust and is consequently manifest in defensiveness. That combined with increased impulsiveness that often attends fear could lead to inappropriate expressions.

I'm not sure an orientation to others that arises out of such pathology would, with accuracy, be called hatred, but I think the expressed behaviors may indeed look like those of a 'hater' if an observer is prepared to see that. That sort of misperception contributes to violence in prisons, where under-prepared guards deal with behaviors of mental illness in prisoners as 'rule violations'.

Confounding correlations of symptoms among multiple, different, diagnoses is why phrases are included in diagnostic manuals that caution that symptoms invoked as evidence favoring a diagnosis are "not explained by other causes".

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink

Reply to this thread