The Protest Psychosis

Given some of my research interests, I think I don’t know nearly enough about the history/sociology/anthropology of medicine, particularly psychiatry. Here’s a new book that I would like to read when I have the time: 

In The Protest Psychosis, psychiatrist and cultural critic Jonathan Metzl tells the shocking story of how schizophrenia became the diagnostic term overwhelmingly applied to African American men at the Ionia State Hospital, and how events at Ionia mirrored national conversations that increasingly linked blackness, madness, and civil rights. Expertly sifting through a vast array of cultural documents—from scientific literature, to music lyrics, to riveting, tragic hospital charts—Metzl shows how associations between schizophrenia and blackness emerged during the 1960s and 1970s in ways that directly reflected national political events. As he demonstrates, far from resulting from the racist intentions of individual doctors or the symptoms of specific patients, racialized schizophrenia grew from a much wider set of cultural shifts that defined the thoughts, actions, and even the politics of black men as being inherently insane.

The book is out from Beacon Press.

Leave a Reply