Tuesday, August 09, 2016

would classifying antisemitism as mental illness help to curb it?


algemeiner |  In 1973, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) removed homosexuality from its official Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM.) Aside from defusing the anger and shame of many gays and lesbians — which helped to improve their mental health — the APA shift facilitated great strides in the social, cultural, political, and legal arenas in subsequent decades. As unceremoniously absurd as the overnight change of status was, it remains a stunning model of social engineering, cultural amelioration, and of what grassroots political activism can achieve. As a Jew fighting antisemitism, I find this very instructive.

If the APA has the power to de-stigmatize human behavior by eliminating supposed disorders, might it have the power to stigmatize and shun other behavior by adding previously unlisted ones?
I would like to propose that if renewed research on antisemitism can more forcefully demonstrate its association with psychopathology, its institutional recognition through the APA manual may help to curb it.  

There is indeed a body of literature that makes a good case for antisemitism as a sign or symptom of serious mental illness. To be accurate, antisemitism itself would not be the disorder, but the content of some other structural disorder, such as delusional or narcissistic personality disorder. 

Furthermore, it has been broadly proposed by several prominent researchers that racist and antisemitic feelings, thoughts, and behaviors can be a principal co-occurring symptom of psychopathology.