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Journal Articles American Journal of Public Health Year : 2024

Slavery and Its Afterlives in U.S. Psychiatry


Antecedents of racist treatments of Black patients by the psychiatric profession in the United States affect the way they view treatment today. Specifically, in this essay, we explore the enduring consequences of racial science on various treatment practices.We examined a range of primary sources on the history of racial theories about the mind, medical and psychiatric publications, and hospitals. We contextualize this analysis by examining the secondary literature in the history and sociology of psychiatry. Through analyzing racial thinking from the antebellum through the Jim Crow periods, we show how US medicine and psychiatry have roots in antebellum racial science and how carceral logics underpinned the past and present politics of Black mental health.Changing this trajectory requires practitioners to interrogate the historical foundations of racist psychiatric concepts. This essay urges them to reject biological racial realism, which bears reminiscences to 19th-century racial science, and embrace the variable of race as a social construct to study social inequalities in health as a first step toward moving away from the legacies of past injustices in medicine.
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hal-04527436 , version 1 (30-03-2024)


  • HAL Id : hal-04527436 , version 1


Élodie Edwards-Grossi, Christopher D. E. Willoughby. Slavery and Its Afterlives in U.S. Psychiatry. American Journal of Public Health, 2024, 114 (S3). ⟨hal-04527436⟩
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