Following up from last week’s lecture, I thought it was pretty absurd that wanting to be free could constitute an individual having a mental disorder. The term "Droptephelia" did not actually exist on Google, but I did find the term “Drapetomania”, which is what I think Professor McKinney was referring too. The disorder was coined by an American doctor named Samuel Cartwright in 1851. When Cartwright first described the disorder he stated that it was, “unknown to our medical authorities [...] yet known by our planters and overseers” emphasizing the point that only Negros could be subject to this disease, since the planters and overseers (who are white) bear witness to this first hand (pbs.org). According to Cartwright, the disorder was a direct result from masters becoming too friendly or familiar with their slaves, thus treating them as equals. The disease caused the enslaved individual to run away from his or her service. However, as with any disease there was a cure, and if the medical procedures were followed correctly, the issues of having Negros neglect their duties could be prevented. Dr. Cartwright claimed that the only way to rid a Negro of this disease was to severely beat the individual. In his book, Disease and Peculiarities of the Negro Race, Cartwright contests, “If any one, or more of them at a time are inclined to raise their heads to a level with their master or overseer […] they should be punished until they fall into a submissive state which was intended for them to occupy […] they are to be kept in that state and treated like children to prevent and cure them from running away” (pbs.org). Cartwright supports his argument for why this disease must be dealt with immediately with biblical word. He argued that it is rule in the bible that slaves obey their masters, and be punished if they fail to follow the protocol (listverse.com). In his book, Dr. Cartwright also makes a reference to the white males stating that they had a moral obligation to themselves to make sure their slaves are always “submissive-knee benders” because it is the power that God bestowed upon them (pbs.org).
There was another mental disorder within the slave race known as Dysaethesia Aethiopica, which was also coined by Cartwright. This disorder was one of pure laziness, affected the mind and body, and was seen mostly in Negros that had "too much" freedom for their own good (pbs.org). He defined this disease as a, “partial insensibility of the skin[…]as to be like a person half asleep, that is with difficulty aroused and kept awake[…]accompanied with signs or lesions on the body discoverable to the medical observer” (pbs.org). Once again the cure for this was violent whippings and beatings. It is absurd how brainwashed people had become with the ideas of racism to believe that signs of laziness showed on the skin. It makes no sense and there was no scientific proof to back this claim up. Cartwright’s discovery of such diseases serves as an example of scientific racism, which is an example of pseudoscience. Pseudoscience is a form of scientific hypothesis or techniques that lack valid reason or support.
Professor McKinney also briefly mentioned in class the system of cataloging psychological disorders, known as the DSM. The model is simply a mode of classification that is used to diagnosis individuals with psychiatric disorders, and has been in development for centuries. Drapetomania was included in the DSM model back in the 19th Century and was categorized as a psychiatric disorder of impulsive behavior.
Heres a link to more information on Drapetomania