Metzl, a psychiatrist and Univ. of Michigan professor, uses the largely unknown story of Michigan's Ionia Mental Hospital to track the evolving definition of schizophrenia from the 1920s to the '70s, from an illness of "pastoral, feminine neurosis into one of urban, male psychosis" correlated with aggression. Metzl puts the imperfect science of diagnosis in historical context with admirable lucidity, moving into the present to examine how a tangle of medical errors and systemic racism that labels "threats to authority as mental illness" influences the diagnosis of black men with schizophrenia. He offers a laudably complex look at a complex and still poorly understood condition, expanding his discussion to include the impact of deinstitutionalization and the revision of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-II) in the 1960s. The result is a sophisticated analysis of the mechanisms of racism in the mental health system and, by extension, the criminal justice system.
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In the 1960s, the psychiatric diagnosis of schizophrenia morphed from a malady suffered by sensitive white intellectuals to one of disaffected, angry black men. Psychiatric professor Metzl explores changes in the profession from the 1920s to today but focuses particularly on the 1960s, which saw violent protests against racial discrimination. Metzl details the social, political, and cultural influences behind debates within the profession about what constituted mental illness. Drawing on case studies from Michigan’s now-defunct Asylum for Insane Criminals in Ionia, 130 miles from racially volatile Detroit, Metzl illustrates how schizophrenia became a racialized disease. He analyzes black cultural allusions to double consciousness, from W. E. B. DuBois to modern-day rappers who have adapted notions of schizophrenia in response to American racism or as a social diagnosis of white America itself. Metzl also examines shortcomings in American society and the psychiatric profession in particular, which resisted the notion that violent responses to racism might have been rational. An enlightening look at how those in power define aberrant behavior and evade self-analysis. --Vanessa Bush --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.See all Editorial Reviews
It's hard to recommend this book. From the beginning Metzl makes no bones about his controversial thesis. Read morePublished 22 months ago by MaxMillin
I made a video on black violence that specifically addresses some of the ideas in this book.
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I am a junior in college and read The Protest Psychosis for a class called Medicine, Healing, and Experimentation. Read morePublished on April 23, 2013 by Raymond A.
Although Metzl claims to critique how psychology as a field has unfairly diagnosed disproportionate numbers of Blacks with schizophrenia, he does not achieve his goal. Read morePublished on April 16, 2013 by Emma Puls
While this book brings up the important topic of institutions in America's history especially in the black community I found it fell short. Read morePublished on April 11, 2013 by alkrause