By Jonathan Metzl
A strong account of ways cultural anxieties approximately race formed American notions of psychological sickness
The civil rights period is essentially remembered as a time of sit-ins, boycotts, and riots. yet a really varied civil rights historical past developed on the Ionia nation medical institution for the Criminally Insane in Ionia, Michigan. In The Protest Psychosis, psychiatrist and cultural critic Jonathan Metzl tells the surprising tale of the way schizophrenia grew to become the diagnostic time period overwhelmingly utilized to African American protesters at Ionia—for political purposes in addition to scientific ones. Expertly sifting via an unlimited array of cultural records, Metzl indicates how institutions among schizophrenia and blackness emerged in the course of the tumultuous many years of the Sixties and 1970s—and he offers a cautionary story of ways anxieties approximately race proceed to affect doctor-patient interactions in our possible postracial America.
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Additional resources for The protest psychosis : how schizophrenia became a Black disease
She became a straight-A student and an accomplished pianist. ” Her hospi 19 20 The Protest Psychosis tal chart later asserted that Alice showed “no knowledge about sex” and remained in every way virginal throughout her teen years. Alice took a teaching job after high school, believing that she would live life as a spinster. But her plans changed when, at twenty-three, she met George Wilson, a square-jawed reporter for the local newspaper. A marriage, two sons, and a daughter followed, and Alice spent the next seven years happily keeping home while George worked as a reporter and then as an editor.
Parens patriae gave way to police patriae. Increasingly biological and chemical definitions of mental illness made it ever more difficult for doctors and patients to recognize how clinical issues mirrored structural ones. The state classified fewer and fewer women as criminally insane—and then shut the women’s ward completely. Civil unrest filled the airwaves and the streets. Detroit burned. Ionia transformed. Only at the end of this diagnostic, cultural, and, ultimately, institutional shift were unruly black men from Detroit viewed as suffering from a disease called schizophrenia.
Today, however, these patients, and indeed the hospital itself, live silently inside cardboard boxes entombed deep within concrete storage rooms at the State Archive of Michigan in Lansing. That is because, in the 1970s, the hospital underwent a shattering transformation. In January 1965, the patient population of Ionia Hospital was a robust 1,568, including 1,454 men and 114 women. A. Birzgalis complained about “dangerous overcrowding” that persisted in spite of the new men’s building. But only seven years later, workers razed the first of the hospital’s grand stone buildings, and “security updated” most of the others.
The protest psychosis : how schizophrenia became a Black disease by Jonathan Metzl