The Protest Psychosis: How Schizophrenia Became a Black by Jonathan Metzl

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By Jonathan Metzl

A robust account of ways cultural anxieties approximately race formed American notions of psychological sickness

The civil rights period is basically remembered as a time of sit-ins, boycotts, and riots. yet a truly various civil rights background developed on the Ionia nation health center for the Criminally Insane in Ionia, Michigan. In The Protest Psychosis, psychiatrist and cultural critic Jonathan Metzl tells the surprising tale of ways schizophrenia grew to become the diagnostic time period overwhelmingly utilized to African American protesters at Ionia—for political purposes in addition to scientific ones. Expertly sifting via an enormous array of cultural records, Metzl exhibits how institutions among schizophrenia and blackness emerged through the tumultuous many years of the Nineteen Sixties and 1970s—and he presents a cautionary story of the way anxieties approximately race proceed to affect doctor-patient interactions in our likely postracial America.

From the exchange Paperback edition.

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Extra resources for The Protest Psychosis: How Schizophrenia Became a Black Disease

Example text

Speaking of slavery, Evarts wrote, This bondage in reality was a wonderful aid to the colored man. The necessity of mental initiative was never his, and his racial characteristic of imitation carried him far on the road. But after he became a free man, the conditions under which he must continue his progress became infinitely harder. He must now think for himself, and exercise forethought if he and his family are to live at all; two things which has [sic] so far not been demanded and for which there was no racial preparation.

Jonathan M. Metzl  It was, after all, a stance Cabrioto had seen in nearly every one of the growing number of “Negro” patients brought to the Ionia State Hospital for the Criminally Insane in the 1960s. One man heard the voice of Jesus telling him to come home. Another was certain that loved ones were trying to poison him. ” Like Peterson, most of the men came from “deteriorated neighborhoods” of Detroit. Most nonetheless held gainful employment. Like Peterson, each was convicted of a crime against person or property, ranging from larceny to murder to various forms of civil unrest.

But then came the trip, and the outburst, and the arrest. And then came the treatment. Alice Wilson, née Alice Perkins, was born in March 1910 into a family of farmers in Nashville, Michigan, a town named after George Nash, chief engineer of the Michigan Central Railroad. She would have settled in Nashville were her life not altered by tragedy. When Alice was three, her mother, Nora Perkins, contracted smallpox during her second pregnancy and died while giving birth to a stillborn son. Alice was too young to remember the details, but in her early years she heard neighbors recount how her mother suffered and fought against fever, pain, and exhaustion in an attempt to save her own life and that of her child.

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