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December 2, 2012
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Is Racism a Mental Disorder?

:icondragonflae:
Dragonflae Featured By Owner Dec 2, 2012
So I was watching a certain episode of Law and Order earlier(I'm admittedly addicted to the show, particularly Special Victims Unit)about a white man who killed a black man out of hate.

The white man's only defense for the crime was oddly the insanity plea. A psychologist took the stand during trial and tried to convince the jury that the defendant was suffering from paranoid racial delusions--In other words, the white man thought all other races were out to get him and his fellows, and that any act against other races was justified and even noble.

Now, my initial reaction to this defense was my bullshit radar going off.

Then, I realized that not too long ago in real life, a gay man was beat to death on the steps of a church, and everyone responsible for his death got away Scott-free with the similar defense of 'homosexual panic'.

So the question is, are racism, homophobia and other extreme prejudice and hatred really effects of a mental disorder?

It wouldn't seem so, seeing as they can all occur on vast levels--Take hate groups such as the Ku Klux Klan and Westboro Baptist Church , for example--but the great majority of members of these groups have been heavily indoctrinated with their ideals.

Could severe indoctrination, then, count as mental abuse that could lead to a disorder? Should it be illegal? Are some people born more predisposed to illogical hatred than others?

And, finally, could baseless hatred be prevented?
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:iconspudfuzz:
Spudfuzz Featured By Owner Dec 12, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
It's entirely situational. A person who had been heavily indoctrinated since childhood to believe such a thing? Yes. An adult using it as a means to defend/ justify his actions? No. Consequently, if it is to be a legitimate defense for some perpetrators then all such institutions who preach and teach said beliefs must be immediately removed and banned from society.
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:iconultraraccoon:
UltraRaccoon Featured By Owner Dec 6, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I agree indoctrination plays a part, But you must be set apart. Show grace to those you think are the enemy or the only enemy you will have will be yourself. You should see the AJE network show little kids not even 5 scream how they will destroy their fellow human just because they are different. It sickens me to think what parent is forcing their child to believe in this hatred. But I too must forgive and not let the evil taint me...its very difficult.
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:icontotally-dead:
Totally-dead Featured By Owner Dec 6, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
To caricaturize this simply I would put it like this: The person may be suffering from a mental disorder, and the gravity of the act could have been caused by this mental disorder, but the actual particularity of racism, homophobia, etc... should not classifiable in the mental disorder. IE They were potentially suffering some form of psychotic paranoia, yes, but the fact that it was aimed at homosexuals is a particularity of the individuals and not a characteristic of the conceptual pathology.

Basically, it manifested itself that way because of the preferences or beliefs of the individual, not because of the disease. If he had hated cows then he would be up there for the less serious crime of killing livestock.
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:iconangelxxuan:
angelxxuan Featured By Owner Dec 5, 2012  Professional Writer
they do research for these shows and base them off of legit cases/things in real life and just change things around a bit, like name and/or location and then put it into the show. racism, to me, is a form of laziness. people can change they choose not to. that is what another psychologist/psychiatrist might argue as well, that's what a few have told me in the past. and if you're born into all this racism and don't know any better, or try, well, you're trapped in this mind set, so thus, it becomes mental related. it's like anything mentally related, you see something repeated enough you won't realize it's right/wrong you just simply see no other path, know any better or whatever other method which could cause a change in the brain wave thinking ability.
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:icondoctorv23:
DoctorV23 Featured By Owner Dec 5, 2012
Yeah, like Law and order too :) This reminded me of the recent shooting in Florida: [link]. As a legal defence, Dunn wants to use stand your ground, i.e. self defence, but there's no evidence so far that he was actually threatened and in fact evidence to the contrary. The murder really looks racially motivated at this point. So yes, I would tend to think that Dunn is mentally disturbed like in that episode of Law and order, but I also wouldn't want him to be able to make an insanity plea to lighten his sentence if found guilty. Insanity (legally) means that someone has lost all contact with reality and is not responsible for their actions. Someone suffering from paranoid delusions to the point of harming others should be held accountable for their actions.
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:iconteri-taichou:
Teri-Taichou Featured By Owner Dec 4, 2012
Replying to the title of your post - I don't think it is a mental disorder. We lead our lives and are influenced by our families, friends and the events we live through. If you are raised to believe that a particular race, sexual preference or the like is evil then you start with that as your basis for interactions with anyone from that group. How you react to people when you finally meet them could probably be correlated with how long you were indoctrinated to be intolerant of them and how long it has been since you've interacted positively with anyone from that group.

Ultimately though we are all responsible for our actions towards others and their actions will reflect our own as well as how they were raised and who they eg or dealt with growing up. That is why I feel a 'mental disorder' defense is inexcusable. It tries to deny the fact that, in the end no matter how someone was raised, the responsibility for their action is their own.

My views stated here are my answers to your questions in order they were asked :

1. No I do not feel they are the effects of a mental disorder. Are they highly influenced personal responses to irrational indoctrination? I think that would be closer to the truth. Just because these people were trained to think and act a certain way does not mean that they are forced to act that way.

2. Again I have to say no. Every where we go and everything we do in life influences us. The indoctrination of those groups is no different than the indoctrination of say the Catholic Church. People tend to group with those whose views they agree with and try to raise their children in similar views. If that is the case then one might argue that we are all severely indoctrinated from birth by family, religion, government, peers and what have you. Whose indoctrination is right then and whose indoctrination is illegal? What defines too severe? Where does my responsibility start and where does the responsibility of those who 'indoctrinated' me end? A person makes their own choices and should be held accountable for them. I do not think highly of any of the groups you've mentioned but they are no more at fault for the actions of their members than say the members of a school or the military are responsible for the actions of their own members.

3. No for the reasons noted in response to your second question.

4. No. Even if you can find me the gene which specifically controls hatred and intolerance and could show a observable difference in behavior it is still the choice of the person whether to act on that hatred or to let it go and learn.

5. Sadly I do not believe it can be. The fears and intolerances of one generation pass on to the next. It is solely on the shoulders of subsequent generations whether they inflame that hatred or learn tolerance.
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:icon0rg:
0rg Featured By Owner Dec 3, 2012
well, seeing as how EVERYTHING has to be some sort of mental disorder these days, yeah, it probably is
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:iconferricplushy:
FerricPlushy Featured By Owner Dec 3, 2012  Hobbyist Artist
Acute paranoia can manifest itself as racism, just hearing voices or having uncontrollable thoughts about other races hurting you, but the most important distinction is that this delusional paranoia and not actual racism. Racism itself is a social dysfunction for the most part, but there are real survival adaptations to being racist. If you live in or near a major city you most certainly know there are specific neighborhoods you stay the fuck out of. I used to live in cleveland, you don't go east of 150th E St. unless you want to be the victim of a felony, and it's not the area itself, it's the people that live there. Bearing that in mind, there are areas of Dublin, Rio De Janeiro, Los Angeles, etc that you don't go into because of the distinct group of people that live there. Also, this type of racial discrimination is preventive, not remedial, it's not because you hate those people, it's because they're dangerous.
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:iconbadgercheese1994:
Badgercheese1994 Featured By Owner Dec 3, 2012  Student General Artist
No.. Racism is not a mental disorder, although people with mental disorders can be racist. I'm tired of everyone labelling everything as a mental disorder, as if it made it ok to be an asshole because " It's just who you are,"
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:iconzingam:
Zingam Featured By Owner Dec 3, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Talking about racism all the time is a mental disorder.
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:icondangerous124:
DANgerous124 Featured By Owner Dec 3, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
You forgot to put the Black Panther Party and radical Muslims in your list of hate groups. Racism is all around us. Another term for it would be profiling and everybody does it. It all comes down to how you were raised and if you let that upbringing take control of your morals. Racism will only affect you if you let it. People call other people racist just because they can. "I was fired from my job. My boss must be racist." No. If he was racist, he wouldn't have hired you in the first place. He probably fired you because you weren't doing your job. Racism is a two-sided issue but people only bring up one side. Also, the term homophobic is full of crap. A "phobia" is a fear of something. People aren't afraid of homosexuals. They just don't agree with their lifestyle and there's nothing wrong with that. Everyone is entitled to their opinion whether you agree with it or not. That's just life for ya. Adversity is everywhere. It's how you choose to deal with that adversity that makes you who you are.
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:icontristancody:
TristanCody Featured By Owner Dec 3, 2012  Student Writer
It is not. Racism is a mind-set, not something you just have. It can be changed.
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:iconreptilliansp2011:
ReptillianSP2011 Featured By Owner Dec 3, 2012  Student General Artist
Law and Order? Have they renamed that show to Law and Order: Liberal Victims Units yet?
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:icondragonflae:
Dragonflae Featured By Owner Dec 3, 2012
No.
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:iconstripedpower:
StripedPower Featured By Owner Dec 3, 2012   Digital Artist
Baseless hatred can be prevented and/or fixed.

Anyways, I don't think racism is something you're born in... although it could be possible. As for it being a mental disorder, I guess it really depends on how strong it is.
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:iconatlantech:
Atlantech Featured By Owner Dec 3, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
No it's not a mental disorder. However, a person with mental illness can exhibit a lot of hate or rage. This man in question sounds more like a paranoid schizophrenic if he believes other races are out to get him. Add episodes of mania to that and you've got a violent schizophrenic.
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:iconbrunomonsterberg:
BrunoMonsterberg Featured By Owner Dec 3, 2012  Student General Artist
Racism and homophobia are not mental disorders. The claim can be used, but it's a very bad claim. Racism and homophobia come from years of subtle conditioning and programming in your family, friend group and community. It can stick to you mentally and it's very hard to break from. But it's not impossible and it's not a mental disorder or sickness. It's who you are and what you do, are you're own actions based on your own judgments and choices.
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:iconreptilliansp2011:
ReptillianSP2011 Featured By Owner Dec 3, 2012  Student General Artist
I have to point out that it does not always comes from that. It can always comes from really bad experience associated with a group, but that's another story.
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:iconbrunomonsterberg:
BrunoMonsterberg Featured By Owner Dec 3, 2012  Student General Artist
Yes, that is another one. I'm sorry, I forgot that one.
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:icontdroid:
tdroid Featured By Owner Dec 3, 2012
No, I don't think it is a mental disorder, it shows simplemindedness and a collectivist mentality when thinking about other "races" etc. Funny thing is that I am sure that most racists would argue that even if people of their race does something terrible it doesn't mean all of that race are like that, while they judge other races with another standard.

The thing about the insanity claims in court is that it is one of the "best" ways to get out of the murder charge if there is no doubt that you were the one who commited it. I would think that it is a fairly common claim in such situations.

I think that racism on a large scale(most everyone have some prejudice against others, but most people don't act on it and know it is irrational) is partially to blame on indoctrination through 1st and/or 2nd degree of socialozation(family and friends). When you are in a group that believes something like "whites are the superior race" or "fags will bring down marriage" and the group reinforce that notion within themselves while discouraging dissent from that narrative, you get prejudice in a notable degree.

Racism, homophobia and other extreme prejudices aren't mental disorders, it is just really stupid.
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:icondanielgee:
DanielGee Featured By Owner Dec 3, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
No it's not a mental disorder, racism is something involving society's way of viewing another person. When someone is born, they don't have these prejudices. Thus, I believe that it has to do with upbringing and the kind of people you hang out with that change your mental state and opinions.
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:iconcommandereve:
CommanderEVE Featured By Owner Dec 3, 2012  Student General Artist
I know it sounds odd. But I think it is the fact that people/ humans are just violent overall.
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:iconhewhoflewandfell:
Hewhoflewandfell Featured By Owner Dec 3, 2012
....Being an asshole is not a mental disorder. However, mob mentality is a truly frightening force whichever way one looks at it. A person under the saw of a volatile mob might as well be a puppet for their ideals. Dose one punish the puppet or the hand that controls it?

My answer....both. Both should be punished for an action that both forces have caused when possible. Pleading outside influence should not be working shield in court. Taken into consideration, it should simply be good for watering first degree murder down to second at the most.
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:iconlbthecc:
LBtheCC Featured By Owner Dec 3, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
If it's a mental disorder, it's a common one.
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:icongalacticgoat:
GalacticGoat Featured By Owner Dec 3, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Actually about 1/4 people are afflicted with some type of mental health problem so racism would honestly not be that much more common then say depression. Still doesn't make it an illness but just pointing out mental illness is actually disturbingly common in comparison to what people think :stare:
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:iconlbthecc:
LBtheCC Featured By Owner Dec 3, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Nice to use my comment as a platform for that. I already knew that, but that's not the point, is it?

Though if you'd like to discuss misdiagnosis of depression and other mental disorders in detail as a debate, we can certainly do so. If you'd like more info, here's an article about the DSM IV [link] . I do believe the DSM V is out now, and it might be worth a look to see if what has changed. But, I believe many of the criticisms of the previous incarnations of the DSM can apply.

Though somehow, I think that was more than you wanted from your comment. :)
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:iconslimt:
SlimT Featured By Owner Dec 2, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
not to different then the witch burnings either really...maybe mass paranoia is some odd kind of mental illness
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:iconblack-allison:
Black-Allison Featured By Owner Dec 2, 2012
No. People are built with the mentality of protecting and sticking to your own kin. HOWEVER being a dick because of certain prejudices and going as far as killing someone is illegal and punishable by law. I don't care if you killed him because he was gay or because he fucked your daughter, that shit ain't right.
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:iconvelvetfish:
VelvetFish Featured By Owner Dec 2, 2012  Student Filmographer
joke's on the defendant pleading insanity; there is no set release date in asylums, and they aren't the kinds of people who release murderers, even if they do get 'cured'.

if imprisoned, he'll be looking at 20 years minimum. If put in an asylum, he'll probably be stuck there until he dies.
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:icongalacticgoat:
GalacticGoat Featured By Owner Dec 3, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
I've been avoiding the forums but I was thinking the same thing. Even if we conclude racism and homophobia are mental illness its of no benefit to those afflicted because there's still going to be locked up for it. That's kinda the problem with the "insanity" plea as shown in the media. Its shown as a "get out of jail" free card when an insanity plea just means you're essentially put into a different type of prison and unlike normal prison there's no telling if you'll ever be out of it or not. Though in this case the lack of truth in television is kinda to our benefit. When those really fucking stupid hateful pieces of shit try to get out of being locked up by pretending they have a legitimate illness that prevents from not killing or harming gay/black/etc people they end up worse then they would have been if they had gone for normal jail and therefore the minority in question they hate is much more safe. So everyone wins except them.
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:iconvelvetfish:
VelvetFish Featured By Owner Dec 6, 2012  Student Filmographer
yup. :aww:
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:iconragerancher:
Ragerancher Featured By Owner Dec 2, 2012
Taken to the extremes like this, yes.

Racism, homophobia and generally dislike of things outside what the person considers the "norm" are quite natural reactions with a basis in evolution. This does not justify holding such views however.
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:iconfuyuko7:
Fuyuko7 Featured By Owner Dec 2, 2012  Student Traditional Artist
no
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:iconnephenee:
Nephenee Featured By Owner Dec 2, 2012
If its not in the DSM, its not a mental disorder
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:iconcarusmm:
carusmm Featured By Owner Dec 2, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
What does Middle America call Obama? Nigger.
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:iconbadgercheese1994:
Badgercheese1994 Featured By Owner Dec 4, 2012  Student General Artist
Do you really believe that Hard working Midwesterners ( which mainly vote Democrat anyway, example: Iowa) are racist? What do you think this is? The 1930s? I never heard anyone call Obama a 'nigger,' unless they were just a plain racist, and most average middle Americans are NOT racist. Actually, the biggest racism I have noticed is in large over populated coastal cities.
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:iconcarusmm:
carusmm Featured By Owner Dec 4, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
Ever heard of the Tea Party, Badgercheese1994?
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:iconbadgercheese1994:
Badgercheese1994 Featured By Owner Dec 4, 2012  Student General Artist
And that represents middle America?
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:iconshadowyeclipse:
ShadowyEclipse Featured By Owner Dec 2, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
Racism is taught, not passed down.

You can't teach a disorder.
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:icondragonflae:
Dragonflae Featured By Owner Dec 3, 2012
But you can cause mental damage to the point of causing a disorder.
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:iconshadowyeclipse:
ShadowyEclipse Featured By Owner Dec 3, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
Well, I've never heard of beating a kid over the head to make him racist.

Disorders aren't taught, opinions are. In a way, a child exposed to a heavily racist environment wouldn't be related to disorders, it would be related more to psychological brainwashing.
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:iconno-doves-fly-here:
no-doves-fly-here Featured By Owner Dec 2, 2012
"You can't teach a disorder."

This is false. All kinds of psychological disorders can be taught or otherwise afflicted through conditioning.
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:iconshadowyeclipse:
ShadowyEclipse Featured By Owner Dec 3, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
So that makes misogyny a disorder, because with that reasoning, any sort of opinion can be a disorder. It's just the society that we live in regards them as wrong, so we call them a disorder, yet doing kind things is considered normal.
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:iconthisolddeviantart:
thisolddeviantart Featured By Owner Dec 5, 2012
Your entire train of thought is completely illogical.
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:iconshadowyeclipse:
ShadowyEclipse Featured By Owner Dec 5, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
Misogyny is the belief that women are inferior to men.

It's a belief. Not a disorder. If people call being misogynistic a disorder, than your food preference can be called a disorder also.

Just because we don't agree with it doesn't make other people crazy.
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:iconthisolddeviantart:
thisolddeviantart Featured By Owner Dec 11, 2012
And you just ignored what I said, well done.
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:iconshadowyeclipse:
ShadowyEclipse Featured By Owner Dec 11, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
And so did you.

I was explaining the train of thought, the fact that you are too dim to be able to understand it says quite a bit.
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:iconthisolddeviantart:
thisolddeviantart Featured By Owner Dec 13, 2012
Your train of thought made the opposite of sense.

Let's try and avoid talking in increasingly clipped tones whilst attempting to deride eachother then, shall we? It's pretty blatant that if that starts happening we'll each just end up offending the other and after that we'll both feel like we're superior for no real reason. To borrow your speech pattern, the fact that you assume I'm dim because I couldn't parse what you were saying through any logical parameters frankly says more about your approach to other people than it does my intelligence. How about you try to work on that?
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:iconbadgercheese1994:
Badgercheese1994 Featured By Owner Dec 4, 2012  Student General Artist
With the way people are labelling everything, soon enough, not liking tomatoes will be considered a disorder, or hating the sound of nails on a chalk board will be a disorder.
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:iconcommandereve:
CommanderEVE Featured By Owner Dec 3, 2012  Student General Artist
Like what The Joker does. :lol:
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