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Racial Schizophrenia Essay

897 words - 4 pages

It is estimated that around 1 in 100 people will develop schizophrenia at some point in their lives, of which approximately 3 million live in the United States. Shockingly, 2.1% of African-Americans receive a diagnosis of schizophrenia, compared to 1.4% of whites. What accounts for this? Is it because African-Americans have a biological predisposition to schizophrenia? Is it because clinicians from majority groups either intentionally or unintentionally misdiagnose African-Americans due to their cultural differences? Or maybe it’s because of the fact that African-Americans have always been on average economically disadvantaged compared to whites. The reasons are most likely a combination ...view middle of the document...

According to Metzl, before the 1960s, Iona Doctors viewed Schizophrenia as a non-violent illness that afflicted mostly white middle-class housewives from rural Michigan. The most shocking evidence that Metzl discovered, was that these men were not just diagnosed schizophrenic based off their symptoms, but it was also because of their connections to the civil rights movement, especially after the Detroit riots of 1968. These men were looked at as “threats to society,” and everyone else around them.
The issue concerning “racial schizophrenia” started gaining attention because of a series of articles published by leading psychiatric and medical journals throughout the 1980s and 1990s. There were a number of studies about how schizophrenia is diagnosed within the clinical settings, finding that schizophrenia was more frequently diagnosed in African-Americans, and whites were more often diagnosed with mood disorders, such as depression, or bi-polar disorder. According to Dr. William B. Lawson, professor and chair of psychiatry at Howard University College of Medicine in Washington D.C., this misdiagnosis can be due to biological factors that could present different psychotic symptoms in African-Americans. He states this over-diagnosis could be explained due to the fact that blacks with bi-polar disorders and other disorders that are not schizophrenic are more likely to show psychotic symptoms, possibly due to genetic differences. He also states that ethnic minorities in this country are less likely than whites to seek mental health treatment. Treatment is usually delayed, and often times not received by a mental health professional. Blacks are also more likely to be homeless, incarcerated, and uninsured. With these factors, along with the high cost of treatment for schizophrenia, many blacks are unable to get the proper care they need. Dr. Lawson also points out...

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