Toward a General Diagnosis for Racism, Sexism, and Homophobia
Article by: Mary H. Guindon PhD, Alan G. Green PhD, Fred J. Hanna PhD
Published in the American Journal of Orthopsychiatry - April 2003
Racism, sexism, and homophobia do not fit into any current diagnostic category. The authors propose that those who engage in such behaviors display a form of psychopathology deserving of its own category. The common denominator seems to be intolerance. The authors explore the possibility of an intolerant personality disorder, outline likely symptoms, and suggest some possible treatment considerations.
A few excerpts on the subject on ProCon.org:
Mary H. Guindon, PhD, Chair of the Department of Counseling and Human Services at Johns Hopkins University, et al., wrote in a Apr. 2003 article, "Intolerance and Psychopathology: Toward a General Diagnosis for Racism, Sexism and Homophobia," published by the American Journal of Orthopsychiatry that: (pictured below, Diane Gramley, President of the Venango County-based HATE GROUP American Family Association of Pennsylvania)
"[W]e explore the characteristics of persons who perpetrate pain and injustice on others through racism, sexism, or homophobia. We propose that those who engage in such harmful behaviors are in fact displaying a type of psychopathology that deserves its own particular category... In other words, behind racism, sexism, and homophobia, there seems to be a common core of intolerance that supports and contributes to these attitudes or mindsets in their various manifestations. The traits associated with this form of intolerance, when taken as a whole, seem to be descriptive of a personality disorder.
This is a disorder that deserves full acknowledgment as a psychological problem unto itself. It is not enough to merely note the harm or lament the damage. Researchers and therapists need to develop treatment approaches that have the capacity to alleviate it." -- Apr. 2003 - Mary H. Guindon, PhD
Shama B. Chaiken, PhD, Divisional Chief Psychologist for the California Department of Corrections, was quoted as having made the following statements in the Dec. 10, 2005 Washington Post article titled "Psychiatry Ponders Whether Extreme Bias Can Be an Illness:"
"We treat racism and homophobia as delusional disorders... Treatment with antipsychotics does work to reduce these prejudices." -- Dec. 10, 2005 - Shama B. Chaiken, PhD
Elaine C. Spaulding, PhD, faculty member of Walden University, wrote the following information in her article "Unconsciousness - Raising: Hidden Dimensions of Heterosexism in Theory and Practice with Lesbians" published in the 1999 book Lesbians and Lesbian Families, and edited by Joan Laird:
"Homophobia is a psychological event not analogous to sexism and racism, which are organized sociocultural phenomena. Homophobia can also be viewed as a psychological condition arising as the anticipated result of an unconscious social process, namely, the prolonged, successful, and systematic effort to exclude homosexuals from access to scarce or valued economic and social resources, including that of self-esteem." -- 1999 - Elaine C. Spaulding, PhD
Martin J. Kantor, MD, author specializing in psychology and gay men's issues, wrote the following information in his 1998 book Homophobia: Description, Development, and Dynamics of Gay Bashing:
"[T]here are aspects of homophobia that are symptomatic, which closely resemble aspects of emotional disorders, so that homophobia is in many ways as much like a mental illness as some homophobics say homosexuality is like one. For example, many homophobes reason like patients with paranoia... Too, homophobes feel that gays and lesbians are out to seduce them like paranoids feel that enemies are singling them out and persecuting them. And like these paranoids, homophobes stay perfectly calm and unflustered until their 'favorite subject' comes up - persecution in the case of paranoids, homosexuality in the case of homophobes, at which time all concerned become equally overwrought, hysterical, panicky, and defensive...
Many homophobes experience the same feelings of weltuntergang (delusion of world decay) that severe depressives and schizophrenics experience, with all concerned suffering from the false belief... that the world... is 'going to hell in a hand basket,' and all because of what gays and lesbians do in bed, or because gays and lesbians want to get married legally." -- 1998 - Martin J. Kantor, MD