Taxonomical terms like depression, schizophrenia, neurosis, and psychosis, among many others, are today wielded with ease by doctors and are readily accepted by patients. While they are thought to be scientifically objective qualifications, a crucial examination of the social context of their use demonstrates something altogether different.
[...] Then, by simply charging someone with heresy, the person became a discredited individual; the stigma attached to such persons was insurmountable, they lost their status as human beings and were relegated to a realm of social darkness. Now, in the mental health profession one who seriously questions the infallibility of scientific and empirical investigation becomes a discredited member of the profession; he is often shunned and regarded as an unserious, unscientific thinker. It must be added that, while it flourished, the Inquisition did not offend the sensibilities of most people although men did all they could to stay out of the clutches of the Church. It is only retrospectively that we perceive the nature of such a movement. [...]
[...] While the technical vocabulary surrounding the marginalization of the mad has certainly evolved, the social role they play is perhaps merely an extension of a dominant morale that tends to have little tolerance for difference. After exploring the historical path of what I refer to as the "ethics of domination," we shall attempt to suggest how contemporary psychology has affected the very way we have come to see ourselves vis-à-vis the other. I shall then attempt to show how today's notions of alterité are deeply rooted in and affected by the scientific paradigm of psychology. [...]
[...] Until the 1970's, homosexuality was to be found alongside depression, hysteria and schizophrenia in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manuel of Mental Disorders, the psychiatrist's bible, as a mental disease. Once again, such a claim was far from rooted in empirical evidence; rather it reflected a dominant morality laden with concepts of sin. To say that modern day psychological sciences have purged themselves of the relics left behind by the Church would be a gross overstatement. It would seem that modern-day notions of sexuality, in particular, are still struggling to liberate themselves from the religious taboo. [...]
[...] Such dictums were destined to serve for centuries as a justification for the execution of the mentally ill, and other challengers of the Faith. In the rhetoric of psychiatry, the basic aim of the Inquisition was to bring about a behavior modification in he who was different. By instilling fear and collective fervor through public witch burnings, the Inquisitioners sought to correct, through force, what they saw as unfit behavior and belief, what was not in line with their, or the Institution's, beliefs. [...]
[...] and even if these rules were not always stringently applied, still they were always there as the expression of an attitude of the society which excluded the leper." This attitude is one of social exclusion, and has often served as a reinforcing element of the Church's propagation of the faith. Going back to Christianity's creation myth is Adam and Eve, two individuals who were cast out of paradise for transgressing a Divine order. Implicit in the notion of transgression is that there is one correct or morally right way of doing things. [...]
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