Psychiatrists have always been taught to be critical of the system they are working in. They are taught to look at the data, question the conclusions, and even question their own professional training. Psychiatrists continue to be trained in the ways that they can “be more sensitive to the needs and concerns of minorities.” This training is very clear in the current DSM-5 (DSM-5) and the criteria for diagnosing mental illness.
This is often referred to as “critical thinking.” That is, the psychiatrist is supposed to think critically, come to conclusions based on what he or she knows, and then inform the public of the facts of the matter. Although critical thinking is the cornerstone of mental health care, it is also the foundation of the DSM-5. The DSM-5 is currently under revision, and the revision process has been in the works for a couple of years.
The problem is that the DSM-5 is now in its 4th revision (which we can expect to be finalized in the next few years) and it is riddled with racist and sexist terminology. In the past, the term “psychiatrist” used to refer to a person who had received the medical training to diagnose mental illness. But for the most part “mental health professional” referred to someone who has received training in the art of diagnosing mental illness.
The new revision process is very similar to our current revision process, but instead of using the word “discipline” we use the word “psychophilia.” What we are trying to achieve here is to give the DSM-5 a better standard of definition.
Psychiatrists have been called “the doctors of disease,” but that was a misnomer. Psychiatrists have been called the “doctors of civilization.” But now we need to make the distinction between what we are doing now and the work of the “doctors of civilization,” who are the “doctors of disease.
Psychiatrists are the doctors of civilization because the work has become so institutionalized. We are not only the doctors of disease, we are the doctors of civilization. We need to take the work of the doctors of civilization and make it an independent profession. If we do that we will finally have a chance to get the DSM-5 in line with the work of the doctors of civilization, the doctors of disease.
In the wake of recent events, especially the treatment of Eric Holder, the most high-profile case for the psychiatric profession in recent memory, the psychiatric profession is being accused of being the most racist profession in America.
It’s true that most mental health professionals have a long history of engaging in discrimination. But we need to be clear that the history of the psychiatric profession is one of extreme sexism, racism, and other forms of oppression. And we need to be clear that the history of the psychiatric profession is one of deliberate, systematic oppression of women of color.
But first, we need to understand that racism and sexism are not always the same thing. Some of this sexism is certainly a result of the historical racism and sexism we have always seen. But far too often, the same doctors are called to work on the same patients. For example, white female psychiatrists are often called to work with black male patients. And the reason for this is simple. It is simply a matter of the type of work that psychiatrists do, and the type of patients they see.
The problem with this is that some of the white psychiatric work is not quite the same as the white work that we’ve seen in the past. So we need to keep some of the racial and gender stereotypes that are being thrown at us.