EDUCATION FOR A FREE NATION
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December 15, 2005
Bias as Mental Illness
In light of the expansion of personally invasive surveys of the values,
attitudes, and beliefs of school children and the current push for
infancy, last week's Washington Post article on bias as a
mental illness sends a chilling reminder of where this may be headed.
Excerpts from "Psychiatry Ponders Whether Extreme Bias Can Be an
Read the whole article here.)
By Shankar Vedantam, Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, December 10, 2005; A01
Apparently, some in the mental health field intend to treat the
beliefs and values of criminals with drugs.
- "...some [mental health practitioners] are asking whether
pathological bias ought to be an official psychiatric diagnosis."
- "Perpetrators of hate crimes could become candidates for
treatment and physicians would become arbiters of how to distinguish
'ordinary prejudice' from pathological bias."
- "Darrel A. Regier, director of research at the psychiatric
association, said he supports research into whether pathological bias is
- "Doctors who treat inmates at the California State Prison
outside Sacramento concur: They have diagnosed some forms of racist
hatred among inmates and administered antipsychotic drugs. 'We
treat racism and homophobia as delusional disorders,' said Shama
Chaiken, who later became a divisional chief psychologist for the
California Department of Corrections, at a meeting of the American
Psychiatric Association. 'Treatment with antipsychotics does work to
reduce these prejudices.' [Emphasis added.]
- "Chicago psychiatrist Bell said he has not made up his mind on
whether bias can be pathological. But in proposing a research agenda for
the next edition of psychiatry's DSM of mental disorders, Bell and
researchers from the Mayo Clinic, McGill University, the University of
California at Los Angeles and other academic institutions wrote:
'Clinical experience informs us that racism may be a manifestation of a
delusional process, a consequence of anxiety, or a feature of an
individual's personality dynamics.'
"Bias" is also, however, being treated as a crime. A column
this week by Melanie Phillips in the British The Daily Mail
"Owellian Britain") describes an encounter with the police
over a "homophobic incident":
Is the U.S. far behind? Similar hate crimes and anti--bias
legislation exist in the United States, as well, and the pressure is on
to expand them. (See
Diversity in the Classroom.") Along with legalizing same sex
marriage, these laws have the potential of creating a whole new outbreak
of "homophobic" or "intolerant" behavior by those who
continue to speak out -- in classrooms or elsewhere. Will they be
diagnosed with a mental disorder? (See
Bias.") Will drugs be the prescription? It's worth asking those
questions, in light of this shocking Washington Post article.
- When the new Civil Partnership Act came into force last week, family
values campaigner Lynette Burrows took part in a discussion on BBC Radio
Five Live about its implications.
- During the programme, Ms Burrows said she did not believe that
homosexuals should be allowed to adopt. Placing boys with two homosexuals
for adoption, she said, was as obvious a risk as placing a girl with two
heterosexual men who offered themselves as parents.
- To her astonishment, the following day she was contacted by the
police who said a homophobic incident had been reported against her.
She had committed no crime but, said the police, it was policy to
investigate homophobic, racist and domestic incidents because these were
priority crimes. Such action was all about reassuring thecommunity.
- Far from being thus reassured, it is difficult adequately to express
ones shock and abhorrence not at Ms Burrows, but at the actions and
attitudes of the police. What kind of a society has this become where, if
someone expresses an opinion which falls foul of the politically approved
doctrines of the day, the police start feeling their collar?
- Freedom of speech is supposed to be the bedrock value of a liberal
society. It should only be constrained in extreme circumstances where a
crime may be committed, such as incitement to violence or encouraging
- In the case of Ms Burrows, no crime had been committed. It was simply
that her views fell foul of the doctrine that to criticise the behaviour
of self-designated victim groups is to be pronounced guilty of prejudice.
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