If one has ever spoken with people who lived in the former USSR, a common theme that many will raise is how seemingly beginning around the late 1960s and continuing up to the fall of the USSR, there was an overlap between criticism of the government in any way at all, even perceived criticisms or disagreements, and the immediate labeling of such a person as ‘mentally ill’ and forcing said person to go for psychiatric or psychological treatments. This is not isolated, and many people of diverse backgrounds who lived in the USSR will speak about this either from their own experiences or those of family, friends, or people they knew as having to go through this.
What these people are speaking about has been noted by scholars of history, for it was during the late 1960s’- 1967 as many claim -that the then head of the KGB, the now deceased Yuri Andropov, and his “mastermind” Filipp Bobkov formulated a strategy to use psychological assessments and psychiatric ‘treatments’ as a way to silence dissidents or simply people not liked for whatever particular reason by the government. The abuse was widespread, and by 1978, when the population of the USSR (which, as a reminder, was Russia plus Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan) was a 260 million people (and likewise the USA was at 222 million), 4.5 million people were registered as “psychiatric patients”, or one in fifty-eight.
Since times do change but the nature of man does not, and using the history of psychology and psychiatry in the USSR as a guide for the future, it is of interest that the American Psychological Association is now declaring that ‘racism’ is a form of ‘mental illness’ which can be ended through the use of psychological practices and techniques. Such is reported from their own website.
Police brutality may be what sparked a wave of protests across the United States and beyond, but the “racism pandemic”—a term used by APA President Sandra Shullman, PhD, for the ongoing harm caused by racism—runs far deeper. Today’s inequities, psychologists say, are deeply rooted in our past, and the status quo is no longer acceptable. “Every institution in America is born from the blood of white supremacist ideology and capitalism—and that’s the disease,” says Theopia Jackson, PhD, president of the Association of Black Psychologists (ABPsi).
Across the country, there’s talk about what it would take to achieve true systemic change. Psychological research, treatment and leadership can and should be a key part of the solution. But that requires taking a hard look at how the field has overlooked—and even perpetuated—racial injustice in the past, psychologists say.
APA is addressing the issue on three levels: by broadly communicating psychological science on bias and racism, including through media interviews, blogs and podcasts; by developing actionable recommendations through an APA Presidential Task Force related to racial disparities in policing and police-citizen encounters, particularly related to the Black community; and by working to dismantle institutional racism over the long term, including within APA and the field of psychology.
That work will rely on extensive input from APA members, a process that started with a series of virtual town halls launched in June. Members’ priorities include establishing a racially diverse psychology workforce and more efficiently and effectively translating research insights into action.
Psychologists have a role as activists in their own local communities as well. They can make their voices heard by contacting their lawmakers, volunteering for a cause or candidate, speaking up on social media and more.
“APA has a long history of taking a stand on these issues, but we also know that we have our own issues as an association and as a field,” says APA CEO Arthur C. Evans Jr., PhD. “We have to look at our role as a discipline in perpetuating some of the things that are being protested. That has to be a part of our commitment.”
Among those working to end racial injustice, a source of both hope and frustration is the strong body of research that psychologists have built on racial bias, discrimination and intergroup relations.
“We have the science already, but nobody knows about it,” says BraVada Garrett-Akinsanya, PhD, a clinical psychologist based in Minneapolis. “And we’re not using it to change the culture around us.”
Participants in APA’s first virtual town hall to address the racism pandemic also emphasized the importance of using psychological science to define terms such as “racial justice” and to break down the many complex factors at play when a racist act is committed.
Last year, APA’s Council of Representatives approved an initiative titled “Hate Hurts: A Public Education Campaign to Address and Eradicate Racism, Discrimination and Hate,” introduced by Garrett-Akinsanya; J. Bruce Overmier, PhD, of the University of Minnesota; Dina Birman, PhD, of the University of Miami; and former APA President James Bray, PhD. The campaign’s work group is cataloging and distributing literature and tools on racial bias to psychologists in a variety of roles, including instructors, clinicians and school and organizational psychologists.
“Psychologists in the field need ammunition to fight racism,” Garrett-Akinsanya says. “And psychology has those answers.” (source)
Now racism is not a good thing. Ted, Walid, and I have thoroughly discussed this at Shoebat.com, and Ted even wrote a long primer about this issue from a Biblical perspective, which helps to explain not only from the Christian view why such is not good, but how Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition provide the answer to the current claims of racialism not matter who is trying to use it or for what reason they are being used. This is something that has never been in question.
However, what we have been seeing today is the weaponization of claims of ‘racism’ as a political weapon by both the left and the right. This is not a new phenomenon in the US, but is a rather old one, and I am not speaking about the trope of “the ongoing legacy of slavery”, but rather how the simple divide between peoples based on appearance has been used by many for personal gain and to the loss of the many. I am also not speaking here of the claims, many based on good evidence and citing past operations, that some of the animosity is being encouraged by the Russians as a part of their own strategy of tension against the US (it is not just the US who does this in other nations).
This seeming attempt at a change from the APA is of serious concern because it represents a cultural change to the fabric of the USA on problems, what people believe about them, and what are considered to be ‘acceptable’ ways to handle them from a clinical-practical viewpoint.
The APA, while it is a ‘scientific’ body, is not necessarily “science-based”, because science is ultimately about politics. This was the reason for why in the past- and now one is seeing a resurgence under Putin -pseudoscience such as Lysenkoism was promoted, not because it was true, but because it was meant to emphasize a philosophical view with the ‘religious’ covering of science, for in a world without a belief in God, the ‘scientists’ are the new priests and ‘science’ a small deity worshiped in the state pantheon of power. Thus the idea of ‘mental illness’ is not necessarily about actual mental or spiritual problems, but about defining acceptability using the context of science as a justification for particular actions taken or avoided.
In 1973, the APA removed sodomite behavior as a form of mental illness from the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual), which is essentially the “dictionary of illnesses” used by the APA for diagnosing people. From the Christian view- and the view of most societies throughout human history and culture -sodomite behavior is considered a form of sickness because of the obvious nature of the act. Masturbating into another man’s intestines and then eating the remnants of fecal leftovers from his intestines off of his member is not something that a healthy, sound, or ‘normal’ person would do because it is very unnatural, unhealthy, counter-productive to the purpose of the act, and destructive to those who participate in the act. Thus the APA did not remove this because the act of sodomy somehow is ‘better’ now than before, but it was a political statement just as the Soviet assertion that the theories of Trofim Lysenko were true about what is considered to be acceptable behavior.
This is what makes the idea of saying that ‘racism’ is a form of ‘mental illness’ that can be cured by ‘psychology’ such a dangerous thing. Racism is not good, bu racism is real and has always been with people because sometimes people don’t like each other based on superficial qualities, and while this is unfortunate, such is the nature of man. This is not a ‘mental illness’, but a spiritual defect cause by sin and its effects, and the way to work through racism is to follow the teachings of Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition to their logical conclusions.
To say that racism is a form of mental illness is not about stopping racism. This can be seen recently with the current “Black Lives Matter” protests, where open racism is practiced by many of the “left wing” protesters about the “right wing” when in the context of the protests, it is the people on the “right” who are openly the least racist and most embracing. However, it has been made very clear that the open racism of the left-wing protesters is considered to be ‘acceptable’ while even innocuous things said by the ‘right’ clearly having no malicious intentions (at least on the surface) are presented as ‘racist’.
Given this context, it becomes clear why the APA- a group that seems to show itself inclined to the same sorts of extreme political views as many of the protesters -is talking so much about ‘racism’ and ‘psychology’ as a cure, for it is not about actually helping people, but rather making a proposition that is but a modified version of what Andropov and Bobkov did over a half-century ago, which is to weaponize science and treatment of mental disorders as a way to socially isolate and destroy the reputations, careers, and lives of anybody who disagrees with what is considered to be socially acceptable behavior by those in power at the time.
It does not matter what political ‘side’ one is on, because left or right, medicine is used for healing, not forcing one’s ideas about particular behavior, upon another person against his will. This is something straight out of the USSR that Americans bemoaned for decades and were warned about, and yet now seems to be traveling from the Old World to the New World.
The current political trajectory and social system of values, however, is what is of concern, as it will be used to justify ideas such as this, which all lead eventually to the repression of man in an attempt to imprison him within his own mind and then lock him out from his own communities in the name of ‘getting help’ and ‘psychology’.
Last century, it was the USSR who did many things of great concern., and while that was the past, human history has a trend to repeat.
One should beware, as many have been saying since the 1950s, that in the name of fighting evil, one does not become that which one is attempting to fight. However, have we passed the point of no return already?