- Dysaethesia Aethiopica
psychiatry[citebook |title=The Sociology of Mental Illness |author=Bernard J. Gallagher |year=1987 |publisher=Prentice-Hall |pages=p. 285 |id=ISBN 0138211175 |url=http://books.google.com/books?id=FNsVAAAAIAAJ&q=dysaethesia+aethiopica+psychiatric&dq=dysaethesia+aethiopica+psychiatric&pgis=1] , dysaethesia aethiopica was a mental illnessdescribed by American physician Samuel A. Cartwrightin 1851, which proposed a theory for the cause of laziness among slaves. Today, dysaethesia aethiopica is considered an example of pseudoscience, [cite book |author=Mark Michael Smith |title=Mastered by the Clock: Time, Slavery, and Freedom in the American South |year=1997 |accessdate=2007-10-07 |publisher=University of North Carolina Press |location=Chapel Hill, N.C. |isbn=0807846937 |url=http://books.google.com/books?id=cIaSAKm7QowC&pg=PA155&dq=Dysaethesia+Aethiopica&sig=c-SXJeV4Nvh-Wki9owc58y9C8GA |pages=p. 155 ] and part of the edifice of scientific racism. [cite web |url=http://www.ferris.edu/jimcrow/question/nov05.htm |title=Question of the Month: Drapetomania |accessdate=2007-10-04 |author=Pilgrim, David |year=2005 |month=November |publisher=Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia |quote= ]
Found exclusively among Blacks, dysaethesia aethiopica — "called by overseers 'rascality'" — was characterized by partial insensitivity of the skin and "so great a of the intellectual faculties, as to be like a person half asleep."cite journal |author=Cartwright, Samuel A. |year=1851 |title=Report on the Diseases and Peculiarities of the Negro Race |journal=
DeBow's Review|volume=XI |url=http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/aia/part4/4h3106t.html |accessdate=2007-10-04 ] Other symptoms included " lesions of the body discoverable to the medical observer, which are always present and sufficient to account for the symptoms." [citebook|title=Slavery & the Law |author= Paul Finkelman|year=1997|publisher=Rowman & Littlefield| pages=305|id=ISBN 0742521192|url= http://books.google.com/books?id=1YI0DvuukxkC&pg=PA305&sig=U1-5etwEyyiR5t4-HcLsM2gGWIE] [citebook|title=Slavery and Emancipation |author= Rick Halpern, Enrico Dal Lago|year=2002|publisher=Blackwell Publishing| pages=273|id=ISBN 0631217355 |url=http://books.google.com/books?id=svaQthjrcf0C&pg=RA1-PA273&sig=BuyUaEXNumrkqdvdpvtSh0P4CyU] Cartwright noted that the existence of dysaethesia aethiopica was "clearly established by the most direct and positive testimony," but other doctors had failed to notice it because their "attention [had] not been sufficiently directed to the maladies of the negro race."
According to Cartwright, dysaethesia aethiopica was "much more prevalent among free negroes living in clusters by themselves, than among slaves on our plantations, and attacks only such slaves as live like free negroes in regard to diet, drinks, exercise, etc." — indeed, according to Cartwright, "nearly all [free negroes] are more or less afflicted with it, that have not got some white person to direct and to take care of them." [cite book |author=Arthur L. Caplan, James J. McCartney, and Dominic A. Sisti |title=Health, Disease, and Illness: Concepts in Medicine |year=2004 |accessdate=2007-10-04 |publisher=Georgetown University Press |location=Washington, D.C. |isbn=1589010140 |pages=p. 35 ]
Cartwright felt that dysaethesia aethiopica was "easily curable, if treated on sound physiological principles."Caplan "et al", p. 37.] Insensitivity of the skin was one symptom of the disease, so the skin should be stimulated:
Vanessa Jackson has noted that lesions were a symptom of dysaethesia aethiopica and "the ever-resourceful Dr. Cartwright determined that whipping could ... cure this disorder. Of course, one wonders if the whipping were not the cause of the 'lesions' that confirmed the diagnosis." [cite web |url=http://www.mindfreedom.org/kb/mental-health-abuse/Racism/InOurOwnVoice |title=In Our Own Voice: African-American Stories of Oppression, Survival and Recovery in the Mental Health Systems |accessdate=2007-10-07 |author=Vanessa Jackson|work=
MindFreedom International|year=2002 |format=PDF |pages=p. 5 ]
According to Cartwright, after the prescribed "course of treatment" the slave will "look grateful and thankful to the white man whose compulsory power ... has restored his sensation and dispelled the mist that clouded his intellect."
* Samuel A. Cartwright, "Report on the Diseases and Physical Peculiarities of the Negro Race", "The New Orleans Medical and Surgical Journal" 1851:691-715 (May).
** Reprinted in
DeBow's ReviewXI (1851). Available at [http://www.google.com/books?id=ofMcAAAAIAAJ Google Books] and excerpted at [http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/aia/part4/4h3106t.html PBS.org] .
** Reprinted in Arthur Caplan, H. Tristram Engelhardt, Jr., and James McCartney, eds, "Concepts of Health and Disease in Medicine: Interdisciplinary Perspectives" (Boston: Addison-Wesley, 1980).
** Reprinted in Arthur L. Caplan, James J. McCartney, Dominic A. Sisti, eds, "Health, Disease, and Illness: Concepts in Medicine" (Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press, 2004) ISBN 1589010140.
* [http://academic.udayton.edu/health/01status/mental01.htm An Early History - African American Mental Health]
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.