It is only right that some criminal offenders be found not guilty of their crimes for reasons of insanity. Some of the most violent and atrocious crimes are committed by people who are not entirely in control of their minds and actions, and it better suits the perpetrator and society that such people are treated for their illnesses rather than punished in the criminal justice system. That we acknowledge insanity as a cause of crime says at least that we have some understanding that a person’s mental state is a factor in their behaviour. It is not a crime to think racist thoughts, and in some countries it is not a crime to say and publish racist opinions, but it is worth considering the root causes of such thoughts, words, and their subsequent actions. It is well known that our evolutionary hard-wiring has conditioned us to be suspicious of outsiders, but to hate an entire group of people for no other reason than their racial or ethnic status crosses the line of reasonable human behaviour. Some racists may harbour such beliefs due to an uncritical acceptance of the beliefs of parents and so forth, others because of a traumatic experience, but there are others whose opinions appear to stem from a deeply disordered psychology.

We have all had the experience of encountering another person who is all too willing to share their racist or bigoted opinions of others, and most of us, reasonably enough, dismiss such people out of hand immediately, but what if these people are sick? Having read over some social media pages devoted to racist worldviews I have come to the conclusion that there are a good number of self-identifying racists who are just ‘not right’ in the head. Their spite doesn’t appear to be as directed as that of the ideological racists, but is shot out from them in every direction, and at every target that intellectually confuses them. It isn’t a hatred of black people for example; it is a fear of almost everything they don’t understand – Blacks, Asians, Jews, Catholics, Socialists, Liberals… the list goes on. In everything they post there is an energy most other people, had it be utilised for something useful, would be impressed by. This racism is purely psychotic, and it has to be quite disabling to the person who devotes so much of their time and energy to it. We have to question then if this sort of manic racism is a mental disorder, and whether there is something that can be done about it to help the sufferer.

Jason Michael
Blog Author

One thought on “Can Racism be Classified as a Mental Illness?

  1. There is a sad paradox here, because if these people are suffering from an illness then they probably won’t come into contact with the services they need until after they have committed a violent crime.

    Liked by 1 person

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