• Toni

From Protest to Psychotic

Updated: Nov 19, 2021

Hey cousins! I know it’s been a while but I’m back with some information worth knowing! I was doing some research for this dope project I’m working on and I thought this was good enough to know. We’re talking about how the Civil Rights Movement increased the diagnosis of schizophrenia in Black people, specifically Black men. Yes, you read that correctly, the Civil Rights Movement is associated with the mental condition schizophrenia. How can these two separate entities morph together and remain interconnected present day?

First, what is schizophrenia? When hearing this word, people automatically think crazy & dangerous which is incorrect, to say the least. Simply put, schizophrenia is a mental condition where a person experiences psychotic symptoms like hallucinations, delusions, flat affect, and or disoriented thoughts and words.

Hallucinations- experiencing false sensations or perception. The two common forms of hallucinations are:

auditory hallucinations- hearing things that aren’t real (most popular hallucinations)

visual hallucinations- seeing things that aren’t there.

Delusions- thinking & intensely believing things that aren’t true.

Example 1: Thinking and believing the C.I.A has bugged your house and is coming after you.

Example 2: Thinking and believing you are God and you can save the world.

Flat affect- emotional disconnect.

Examples include:

- not showing any emotions or appropriate emotions

- blank stare majority of the time

Now with a little more knowledge about schizophrenia, let’s get into the history of it! In the 1920’s schizophrenia was a white mans condition where schizophrenia was what geniuses and ‘creative’ people had. They were thought of as this unique being. As a white mans condition, this was treated with rehabilitation task like painting and gardening. Schizophrenia then became a white woman’s disease around the 1930’s because they were ‘driven to insanity by housework & motherhood’. Treatment changed from rehabilitation task to mild medications. I’m sure by now, you can tell who’s controlling this narrative (white men).

Come the 1950’s schizophrenia went from a delicate white womens condition to a violent and dangerous Black persons condition.

What caused such drastic change?

Once Black people started protesting, the white people were confused. ‘Why are they protesting? What is there to be protesting about? They should love it here. They’re not in slavery anymore so why are they so upset?’ Because white people were so ‘confused’ (they just really wanted to control the Black community) about why the Black people couldn’t just be grateful, they had to make sense of this ‘madness’. What they, white men, started doing was painting the narrative of not only the angry Black community but the ‘crazy’ Black community in the media. This was the white man logic.. “because these Black people were hostile, aggressive, didn’t comply with authority (white men), they had a misinterpretation of reality and had to be delusional thinking that their current position wasn’t good enough.” They also concluded “black people had a ‘split mind’ torn between love for this country and trying to destroy it.” During the civil rights, a lot of Black people changed their name to Islamic names and the white man characterized that as being delusional also because of the belief of being someone else and plus ‘no sane person would change their name and identity.’

In the book that is used to diagnose people with mental conditions, which is called the DSM, the criteria for schizophrenia was changed to mimic the behavior of Black people, therefore creating an over diagnosis and false diagnosis of schizophrenia in the Black community. Not only that, once schizophrenia became a Black person condition,there was a huge increase in harsh and harmful anti-psychotic medication. If you were following along, the treatment from schizophrenia has changed dramatically depending on who it was needing treatment. Present day, Black people are given 1st generation anti-psychotics more than any other race which have extreme side effects.

The most mind blowing fact is the main reason schizophrenia was highly associated with Black people was to undermine the Civil Rights Movement altogether. ‘If we label them as crazy, no one will take them serious and things can remain the same without change’. This shows how far ‘they’ will go to control, manipulate, and oppress. It’s been time to start doing our own research, connecting the dots, and not just taking what’s given to us as facts.

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References Stephen., Smith. (2021). The troubled history of schizophrenia: how race shaped an illness

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