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1. Metzel tells us that: “Scholars have long argued that medical and governmental institutions code threats to authority as mental illness during moments of political turmoil.” (14) The mental health of both our 45th and 46th (current) US President has been called into question by their opponents. The intense media coverage on both sides exacerbates the situation and this undermines the confidence of the American people. I find our current lack of decorum in politics very unsettling. Mental illness is serious business and should not be politicized. How do you feel?

2. Metzel explains that the use of the term schizophrenia and Negro kept increasing in company over time. (111) He uses examples of media coverage to show how cultural usage has a powerful impact. In our everyday interactions with others we are told it is important to be mindful of what we say and write. Do you think our 2021 news media has learned anything about the negative impact of repeated cultural usage from past mistakes or is the media even WORSE in this age of instantaneous worldwide access to information that may contain all sorts of cultural biases?

Submitted by Bonnie Akkerman I pledge…

1. For my project, I focused on John Nash and his experiences with schizophrenia. Obviously he was treated better in some institutions than African Americans were because of his high social status in academia and because he was a white man. However, he was hospitalized for schizophrenia around the same time Metzl focuses on in his book, and I'd like to discuss more of the racial juxtaposition with schizophrenia patients. What outside of the wording of the DSM and inherent racism prompted this treatment?

2. In the midst of the Civil Rights Movement, mental illness was weaponized against African Americans to essentially lock up people that were stepping outside the perceived social norms. This is the same theme we have been examining over the source of the semester, just used specifically against African Americans instead of simply women of people “different” from others in society. Why do you think this same theme continuously appears, being manipulated against a specific group throughout history?

Submitted by Lyndsey Clark. I pledge…

1. In the preface of the text it is mentioned that during the 1920’s to the 1950’s schizophrenia was viewed as something harmless within whites which due to the racial bias at the time is expected. But the almost romantic view of schizophrenia as something that the artistic and poetic individuals have is something very confusing to me. Why is something like mental illness especially schizophrenia being romanticized in this way?

2. In chapter 2 when discussing Ionia and its mental institution alongside other building on the grounds that house, more violent patients senile was listed as a separate building. Did this mean that this facility was used as a “retirement home” or elderly care facility in that context?

-Parker Siebenschuh I pledge….

1. Trained alienists were told to ask mental status questions like the ones asked to Alice to newly arriving immigrants in order to determine their mental health. What does this say about the role of mental health to America?

2. Metzl states that Ionia was a mirage that made people believe that the institution was a calm place. Why do you think this was the case even though it was not true? What does it say about the communities involvement with mental health?

-Submitted by Jack Kurz. I pledge…

1. If many convicts developed mental health issues after incarceration, why did that not raise suspicion?

2. It is interesting that some relatives complained about the treatment their family members and loved ones received especially since before many of them were happy to get them out of their hair. What do you think changed their minds about the treatments at institutions?

3. Why do you think there was such back and forth with the meaning, diagnosis, and symptoms of schizophrenia? Do you think the current meaning will be the same a hundred years from now?

Submitted by Audrey Schroeder. I pledge…

Question 1. How many people tried pleading insanity in courts during the 1940s? also how many were successful in their efforts?

Question 2. On page 80, Metzl discusses how prison officials at a Michigan prison reclassified inmates as psychotic and transferred them to mental hospitals like Iona after a riot. Were these reclassifications actual cases of Mental health issues? Or was it a way to simply reduce the population of the prison?

submitted by Griffin Nameroff

1. Metzl points out that in the first half of the 20th century in America, schizophrenia was seen as a disease of housewives and “of white male genius” (34). In the film A Beautiful Mind (2001), which is about the brilliant mathematician John Nash who suffered from schizophrenia, there is somewhat of a romanticization of his illness due to the creativity it affords him. How much do you think schizophrenia is seen in a similar positive light today?

2. Taking into account the social conceptions of schizophrenia, Metzl cites a Martin Luther King speech in which King states that everyone has schizophrenia in that everyone deals with an inner struggle that pits the desire of the individual against social conformity (121). King urges his listeners to ignore society and follow “your heart.” Although King’s speech is geared towards the civil rights movement, his words have broader implications for society. Can you think of a time when you were criticized by your peers or others for doing what you thought was right?

Submitted by Chris O'Neill

1. In Jonathan Metzl’s book he uses a range of primary sources such as oral histories. Metzl utilizes the oral histories of two former employees of Ionia Hospital for the Criminal Insane in chapters 5 and 9. Are the accounts given by the employees in reference to Alice Wison and Octavious Greene respectively? If so, how did Jonathan Metzl confirm this?

2. Again, in regards to Jonathan Metzl's primary sources, How did Metzl know that Alice Wilson’s car and Octavious Greene’s car passed each other on the drive away from and toward Ionia Hospital?

Submitted by Jayden Jordan

1. In chapter four, there are several debates discussed around the idea that there was biological evidence that supported the need to keep African Americans in bondage and that it was good for their mental health. Why was this perception a thing? We've learned that there were mentally ill slaves in the past, so why was there an assumption that emancipation caused African Americans to go crazy?

2. The shift in perception of schizophrenia between docile, white women to angry, African Americans is interesting since they both are rebelling against social norms- the patriarchy and racist oppression. Is that the case for other types of mental disorders? To medicalize their symptoms in an effort to control select groups of people?

Submitted by Allison Love (I pledge…)

1. “Hello, I'll take things that Things I Sadly Expect out of U.S. History for 800, Alex.” Why do you think the medical community chose schizophrenia as the disease they would willfully misdiagnose black men? Do you think they found it particularly emasculating or disqualifying?

2. Do you think Metzel uses enough sourcing as a historian to convince readers of his claims of purposeful misdiagnosis among the African-American community? Is his choice to focus exclusively on case studies (i.e., Ionia State Hospital and a few patients) “enough?”

Submitted by Theron Gertz I pledge…

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