The Washington Post reports that some psychiatrists are urging the creation of a new diagnosis that would cover people who display "extreme forms of racism, homophobia and other prejudice":
"They are delusional," said Alvin F. Poussaint, a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, who has long advocated such a diagnosis. "They imagine people are going to do all kinds of bad things and hurt them, and feel they have to do something to protect themselves.
What about black people who entertain paranoid conspiracy theories about white people? The Post doesn't address this question, so we have to turn to an NBC report, in which our old friend Alvin Poussaint shows up singing a somewhat different tune:
Dyan French, also known as "Mama D," is a New Orleans Citizen and Community Leader. She testified before the House Select Committee on Hurricane Katrina on Tuesday. "I was on my front porch. I have witnesses that they bombed the walls of the levee, boom, boom!" Mama D said, holding her head. "Mister, I'll never forget it."
"Certainly appears to me to be an act of genocide and of ethnic cleansing," Leah Hodges, another New Orleans citizen, told the committee. . . .
Harvard's Alvin Pouissant [sic] says such conspiracy theories are fueled by years of government neglect and discrimination against blacks: slavery, segregation and the Tuskegee experiments, during which poor blacks were used to test the effects of syphilis. "If you're angry and you've been discriminated against," Pouissant says, "then your mind is open to many ideas about persecution, abandonment, feelings of rejection.
Now, maybe there's some subtlety here that doesn't come across in the two quotes, but it certainly sounds as though Poussaint is saying behavior that is normal in blacks is a sign of mental illness in whites..
I should perhaps note here that psychologists have been trying at least since 1950 to pathologize racism but the evidence for its pervasiveness is such that, as even the Washington Post noted, most psychologists and psychiatrists these days regard some form of negative feeling towards minorities as normal and natural.
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