Friday, December 09, 2005

Pathological Bias: Not Just for Talk Radio

Something tells me this article will be the set up for many a quip in the coming days. Let me be the first:
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.
Actually. No, no I won't. Its too easy. This story is actually slightly disturbing:
"I think it's absurd," said Sally Satel, a psychiatrist and the author of "PC, M.D.: How Political Correctness Is Corrupting Medicine." Satel said the diagnosis would allow hate-crime perpetrators to evade responsibility by claiming they suffered from a mental illness. "You could use it as a defense."
I tend to agree, though if people have real, debilitating paranoia that manifests as extreme prejudice, what then? (For once, RIA has a stronger reaction to something than I do.)

Here are some thoughts from a practicing psychiatrist:
Consider the racist who insults his Asian or Black co-worker. Charges of racism fill the air. Charges are brought. Lawyers are engaged. Levels of victimhood are assessed. The racist is threatened with job loss but responds with the Americans with Disabilities Act that makes it illegal to fire him because he has a Psychiatric illness. The aggrieved victim of the racist sues the company for allowing an atmosphere of intimidation. The company is then forced to pay millions to both the racist (for putting him in a situation which encourages his outbursts and makes him uncomfortable) and the victim is paid millions because he was forced by his company to tolerate such abuse. Teams of lawyers become wealthy destroying companies across America. The worst thing is that this is not even a far fetched fantasy. Once bias is entered as an illness, almost anyone can be charged with it and/or use the illness as a defense. At what point does bias become pathological? It seems to me that for Psychiatrists to offer the legal/grievance professions such ammunition is foolhardy and idiotic.
(While I find most charactures of the plaintiff's bar tedious, there's at least a kernel of truth here.)


Fletch said...

Personally, I always thought that pathological bias was a sign of debilitating ignorance. For this, the blame can only lie with our failing public school systems and, oh yeah, our society using fear of the "other" to try to control our lives.

If someone does have a "mental illness" that impacts how other citizens live their lives, doesn't our society have a right to exile the dysfunctional individual for the benefit of society as a whole? Frankly, I bet that being locked up in a state-run mental facility is often worse than prison.

reader_iam said...

Thanks for the link, Pooh! XXOO

PoohMom said...

That's just sick!

But seriously, kid, I think more disturbing was the report of the high school junior in some Midwestern state who was suspended for speaking Spanish in the hall of his school. What did he say? Reportedly, "No problemo!" His principal was described as a "strict disciplinarian." Why can't we Americans rejoice when a person can speak more than one language, rather than punish the ability? Could it be we have an inferiority complex??!!?

Pooh said...

I saw that too. Try here or or here for differing perspectives on that story. (Careful, mom, you might get sucked in by this whole blogging thing, and then life is over...)