The Post explains, “Mental health practitioners say they regularly confront extreme forms of racism, homophobia and other prejudice in the course of therapy, and that some patients are disabled by these beliefs. As doctors increasingly weigh the effects of race and culture on mental illness, some are asking whether pathological bias ought to be an official psychiatric diagnosis.”
In short, several psychiatrists are now pushing for racists and people who suffer from “homophobia” to be labeled mentally ill.
Could such a label possibly be justified? Well, the Post tries to make the case by telling about a man who turned down a job because he feared a co-worker might be gay, and who would not go places where he thought he might run into a gay person. Now that was an extreme case. The man did indeed have a phobia that was interfering with his life, and probably needed help. The man’s psychiatrist told the paper, “He felt under attack, he felt threatened.” Normally, that would be called paranoia. We wouldn’t be developing some new mental illness.
Just think about where this could lead: In short order, we might begin to put people who strongly oppose homosexual behavior on the same level as people who suffer irrational fears of gays, and declare both people mentally ill. After all, the American Psychiatric Association says that homosexual behavior is normal. So to strongly oppose it would be irrational. It’s a very short step from there to saying that this person is suffering from “pathological bias.”
Already, the California Department of Corrections is experimenting with drugs to eliminate prejudices. “We treat racism and homophobia as delusional disorders,” reported Shama Chaiken, the department’s chief psychologist. A number of distinguished scientists agree that the “clinical experience informs us that racism may be a manifestation of the delusional process.” Sometimes that’s true, as with a woman mentioned in the Post who was deathly afraid of Jewish people. But it’s not true that racism or homophobia always signal mental disorder. And if we do not make that crucial distinction, we are asking for big trouble.
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