1. Gonaver tells us that Galt’s asylum relied on coerced labor and it medicalized racial and gender bias (193). Galt seems like a deeply flawed man who was torn between recognizing African American humanity and continuing to believe in the institution of slavery as a necessity to achieve a successful institution. What are your thoughts on Galt?
2. Summers introduction (pages 6-7) explains how the post-emancipation African American was categorized as “rapidly devolving” back to his ancestral past as a result of the “pressures of living in a modern civilization as free people.” This hypothesis led to black mentally ill patients being characterized as more “dangerous and vicious” than white mental patients. This generalization affected how mentally ill African Americans were housed and treated until well into the 20th century. What negative stereotypical characterizations resulted from this idea of the “violent” African American mental patient?
Submitted by Bonnie Akkerman I pledge…….
1. Summers' Chapter 3 claims that post-Civil War America shifted away from the idea that Black citizens were incapable of mental illness due to their unintelligence (eww) and towards the notion that they were more susceptible because of slavery's abolition. Figures in this chapter go on to explain that rising mental health issues occurred mainly because 'freed blacks' had failed to culturally comport to civilized standards once off the plantation. Do we have anything similar to the idea that black culture is largely responsible for any and all issues facing black Americans floating around today? (Maybe from a one, Mr. Benjamin Shapiro?)
2. Is the paradigm shift away from immutable racial differences and toward cultural differences being responsible for mental health issues a step in the right direction? Or is it maybe more of the same, in that detached officials are placing blame entirely on black Americans for issues that could be better explained by poor healthcare, schooling, and segregationalist racism?
Submitted by Theron Gertz I pledge…
1. St. Elizabeth's Hospital is the first federally operated psychiatric hospital in the United States, as well as the first of its kind we've encountered in readings. As a psychiatric hospital funded by Congress at the heart of the nation's capital, how does it compare to the others we have discussed? Does it seem like a better example from those we have previously studied or does it live up to Dickens' statement of being yet another institution in the “City of Magnificent Intentions”?
2. At what point does pseudoscience and the history of mental health cross paths in regards to the treatment of African Americans? This is something I've wanted to discuss because this was a big thing during the late 1800s and Gonaver and Summers are the first historians we have read works from that include African Americans in the historical narrative.
Submitted by Lyndsey Clark. I pledge…
1. Do you think, if Galt hadn't committed suicide, that the asylum would have kept a integrated staff, even when the Union occupied the area?
2. Do you think Galt's omission from obituaries from the AMSAII has more to do with the war or their less than favorable feelings about him?
Submitted by Audrey Schroeder. I pledge…
1.What kind of complications came along with allowing other members of the community to recommend institutionalization for an individual that is not apart of their family? How does this complicate the family-physician relationship we saw in asylums like Kirkbride’s?
2.American superintendents only had to adhere to state laws which varied while Britain had a single Lunacy Commission. Do you think a system like the Lunacy Commission would have mitigated some of the discrepancies amongst physicians that negatively affected the patients?
Submitted by Jack Kurz. I pledge…
Question 1. Did the civil war cause opinions of “insane” African American patients to worsen or were these opinions already settled?
Question 2: With the rise in the belief that black people were less susceptible to “insanity” how would this change how psychologists treated or diagnosed insanity in African American patients?
Submitted by Griffin Nameroff
1,) Saint Elizabeth was regarded as the “National Asylum” and was the epicenter of research and education on mental health. Do to this fact I must ask was their patients that were transferred to this hospital from other institutions across the United States, or was it purely based on the population of Washington D.C
2.) I really don’t understand the 19th century argument that minorities were immune to mental illness due to “Non-stressful agrian” lives, when insanity was prominent in white that were farmers before and after the civil war? That along side the concept of “Cultural-Stasis” just honestly confuses me, like what does that mean?
- Submitted by Parker Siebenschuh
1.) In Summer's reading, there is a discussion of the “black psyche”, and how it is described as “alien” and “fundamentally abnormal”. What do you think made the black psyche “abnormal” and “alien”? Do you think the racist atmosphere of the asylum had an impact on or any form of correlation with it?
2.) Also in Summer's reading, there is the notion in which freedom was the main cause of insanity in African Americans. Is there any evidence which can debunk this?
Submitted by Erica Banks. I pledge….
1) Since environment was believed to influence one’s mental health, why does it appear so difficult for the physicians to assume that the increase in African American asylum patients was due to the fact that their living environments were worse than that of white patients? While they do seem to make that connection, it is very loose and does not mention the fact that African American living environments were worse often due to society and not their own ambitions or choice. (Summers)
2) Were African American patients stigmatized along with white and other mentally patients or were they stigmatized within their category? (Summers)
Submitted by Mallory Karnei. I pledge…
1. Throughout the Gonaver reading, it is clear that the mental health is intersectional, but in the middle of that is race. Dr. Francis Stribing stated that the "Colored Insane [are] a class now rapidly increasing," while arguing for a new and separate facility for black patients in Virginia (177). Summers also noted that by racializing the disease, you racialize the sufferer. Why is this still sometimes the narrative that is being believed by doctors (in the mental health field or otherwise)? 2. Going along with the last question, there was an argument brought forward that the mental health of black men and women was suffering because of the affects of freedom on them after slavery. Why do you think this was thought?
I pledge… Carson Berrier