The Racism of Psychiatry

We generally think of racism as prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior.

In Nazi Germany, this idea took on a slightly different slant, as the racial hygiene law of 1934 targeted individuals not necessarily of a different race, but against anyone considered abnormal; against any individual who might pass on what was considered abnormal to their descendents.

“Schizophrenia” is a strategic label as “Jew” was in Nazi Germany. If you want to exclude people from the social order, you must justify this to others, but especially to yourself. So you invent a justificatory rhetoric. That’s what the really nasty psychiatric words are all about: they are justificatory rhetoric, labelling a package “garbage”, it means “take it away! Get it out of my sight!” etc. That’s what the word “Jew” meant in Nazi Germany; it did not mean a person with a certain kind of religious belief. It meant “vermin!”, “gas him!” I am afraid that “schizophrenic” and “sociopathic personality” and many other psychiatric diagnostic terms mean exactly the same thing; they mean “human garbage,” “take him away!”, “get him out of my sight.” [Dr. Thomas Szasz, from “Interview with Thomas Szasz” in The New Physician, 1969]

Since 1939 enforced sterilization and systematic mass murder in psychiatric institutions was planned and organized in Berlin by psychiatrists, and was the blueprint for the subsequent murders in the gas chambers of extermination camps in occupied Poland starting in 1941. Psychiatrists used the Nazi regime to implement their plans for the elimination of those whom they declared to be untreatable. The killings survived the end of the Nazi regime and continued until 1949. Today these killings survive by psychiatric coercion and violence using involuntary commitment, enforced drugging with psychotropic drugs, lobotomy (brain mutilation), electric shock (electroconvulsive therapy or ECT), transcranial magnetic stimulation, and vagus nerve stimulation.

Among the almost unknown crimes of the 20th century by psychiatry is the mass murder by starvation of patients in psychiatric institutions. At least 25,000 German prisoners of psychiatry were starved to death in psychiatric institutions. [Hungersterben in der Psychiatrie 1914-1949, Heinz Faulstich]

Psychiatry, originally a medical practice treating dysfunction, abandoned that practice and abandoned therapeutic approaches, instead focusing on safeguarding society from abnormality by removing the abnormalities. The racism of psychiatry is now a racism against the abnormal, against the individual as the bearer of some deficiency that could be passed on to their descendents. Psychiatry is no longer interested in searching for cures; they are only interested in removing what they cannot cure.

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