Sunday, December 11, 2005

APA ponders 'pathological bias' and extreme prejudice as official illness

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From the Washington Post: Psychiatry Ponders Whether Extreme Bias Can Be an Illness By Shankar Vedantam Washington Post Staff Writer Saturday, December 10, 2005; Page A01 The 48-year-old man turned down a job because he feared that a co-worker would be gay. He was upset that gay culture was becoming mainstream and blamed most of his personal, professional and emotional problems on the gay and lesbian movement. These fixations preoccupied him every day. Articles in magazines about gays made him agitated. He confessed that his fears had left him socially isolated and unemployed for years: A recovering alcoholic, the man even avoided 12-step meetings out of fear he might encounter a gay person. "He had a fixed delusion about the world," said Sondra E. Solomon, a psychologist at the University of Vermont who treated the man for two years. "He felt under attack, he felt threatened." Mental health practitioners say they regularly confront extreme forms of racism, homophobia and other prejudice in the course of therapy, and that some patients are disabled by these beliefs. As doctors increasingly weigh the effects of race and culture on mental illness, some are asking whether pathological bias ought to be an official psychiatric diagnosis. Advocates have circulated draft guidelines and have begun to conduct systematic studies. While the proposal is gaining traction, it is still in the early stages of being considered by the professionals who decide on new diagnoses. If it succeeds, it could have huge ramifications on clinical practice, employment disputes and the criminal justice system. Perpetrators of hate crimes could become candidates for treatment, and physicians would become arbiters of how to distinguish "ordinary prejudice" from pathological bias. To read the full article click here ====== I think it is absolutely ironic, and hilarious, that the prejudiced feelings which once made homosexuality a mental disorder are now in danger of becoming a mental disorder themselves. I don't really know where I stand on this... I haven't done any of the research or the studies so I can't really make a decision either way. I'll trust the judgment of the professionals and see what the impact is whenever a decision is made.