The connection and science behind race, racism, and mental illness
In 2012, an interdisciplinary team of scientists at the University of Oxford reported that – based on their clinical experiment – the beta-blocker drug, Propranolol, could reduce implicit racial bias among its users. Shortly after the experiment, an article in Time Magazine cited the study, posing the question: Is racism becoming a mental illness? In Are Racists Crazy? Sander Gilman and James Thomas trace the idea of race and racism as psychopathological categories., from mid-19th century Europe, to contemporary America, up to the aforementioned clinical experiment at the University of Oxford, and ask a slightly different question than that posed by Time: How did racism become a mental illness? Using historical, archival, and content analysis, the authors provide a rich account of how the 19th century ‘Sciences of Man’ – including anthropology, medicine, and biology – used race as a means of defining psychopathology and how assertions about race and madness became embedded within disciplines that deal with mental health and illness.