Blog des AK Psychiatriekritik der NFJ Berlin

Kategorie: Rassismus

When Homosexuality Came Out (of the DSM)

41 years ago this month, homosexuality ceased to be a mental illness. Amid growing opposition from gay activists, and dissent within its own ranks, the American Psychiatric Association was begrudgingly forced to expunge homosexuality from the DSM-II. Paradigmatic of the social nature of psychiatric diagnosis, the purging of homosexuality from the psychiatric nomenclature highlights the instability of the psychiatric sign: once signifying disease and perversion, homosexuality came to be recognized by the establishment as a normal variant of human sexuality. The ‘coming out’ of homosexuality from the DSM-II allows us to reflect on the following: (1) change in the concept of mental disorder is slow; (2) diagnosis-making is a social act; (3) the construct of illness and disorder, ‘mental’ or otherwise is a social one; (4) the construct of illness has social consequences; and (5) shifts in the concept and nature of disorder reflect wider social, political and economic forces more than scientific advancement.


Michael Brown and the ‘Peer’ Movement

If we do not see what happens to some of us in the psychiatric system as connected to what happens to others because they are black or because they are transgender or because they love someone else of the same expressed gender (or because they live in poverty, etc. etc.), then I’m not sure any of us really, fully understands what it is we are trying to accomplish at all. If race only feels like a relevant issue to us when it is boiled down to simple recognition that people of color tend to be more frequently subjected to outpatient forced commitment laws or more commonly diagnosed as ‘schizophrenic,’ we are missing several hundred pieces of a very large puzzle.


Pharma-funded Research

On August 20, 2014, Psychiatry Advisor published an article on its website.  The article was written by Leslie Citrome, MD, a professor of psychiatry at New York Medical College in Valhalla, NY, and a member of the Board of Directors of the American Society of Clinical Psychopharmacology.  The article is called Is Bias Against Pharma-Funded Research Fair?  This is an interesting title, because bias, by its very definition, is unfair.  So the very wording of the question begs the question – which strikes me as unfair.  But let’s put that aside. 

Dr. Citrome begins by introducing the term “pharmaism” (anti-pharma prejudice).  He tells us that:

“Pharmaism includes the implicit belief that people associated with pharmaceutical companies are more likely to be intellectually and morally dishonest than others.”


Contest to Reduce Implicit Racial Bias Shows Empathy and Perspective-Taking Don’t Work

NCAA college basketball isn’t the only hot competition involving a team from the University of Virginia.  UVa Psychology Professor Brian Nosek is one of three founders of Project Implicit, a collaborative nonprofit dedicated to the study of implicit social cognition — how unconscious thoughts and feelings can influence attitudes and behavior.

Prof Nosek is also heavily involved in the Open Science and Replication movements. Along with graduate student Calvin Lai, he led a multinational group of 22 other researchers in a competition to see who could devise the best intervention to reduce racial bias scores on a widely administered implicit test, the race IAT (Lai et al, 2014).

The Implicit Association Test (IAT) is a mainstay of social psychology research that assesses implicit (unconscious) attitudes towards outgroups (based on race, sexual orientation, body size, age, etc.), stereotypes (e.g., men are in science, women are in arts/humanities), opposing ideologies (e.g, Democrat vs. Republican), and a staggering array of other binary preferences (Classical-Hip hop IAT, Astrology-Science, Britney Spears-50 cent, Boxers-Briefs, Harry Potter-Lord of the Rings and on and on).

Or does it… ? There have been some vocal critics of the IAT over the years who have questioned what the test actually measures. I’ll return to this point later, but for now let’s look at the impressive aspects of the new paper.


“Decolonizing Global Mental Health: The Psychiatrization of the Majority World” (Book Review)

We are all familiar with the plague of pathologisation that has gripped the world over the last quarter of a century. Just about every nook and cranny of human experience has been redefined, commodified and re-branded, usually in the interests of the pharmaceutical industry. Teenagers and young adults are no longer shy, but suffering from avoidant personality disorder and thus in need of drugs, therapy, or both. The mood changes that have affected women during the course of the menstrual cycle for countless millennia have been transformed into premenstrual dysphoric disorder. We are no longer allowed to grieve for more than a few weeks without being diagnosed with major depressive disorder. The rise in diagnosis of ADHD in children and mild neurocognitive disorder has taken this trend to the limits of the human life cycle. Indeed, it is rapidly becoming clear that, for most of us in high income (HI) countries, not having a psychiatric diagnosis is a sign of abnormality. At the same time we should not be surprised to discover that this creeping ‘psychiatrisation’ is highly contagious, and is afflicting low and middle income countries (LAMIC). One of the main agents responsible for this is the Movement for Global Mental Health (MGMH).