How Prejudice, Racism, and Antisemitism Became Markers of Insanity

In 2012, an interdisciplinary team of scientists at the University of Oxford reported that clinical tests showed that the beta-blocker drug Propranolol could reduce implicit racial bias among its users. Do experiments like these mean that racism is a mental illness? In Are Racists Crazy? Sander L. Gilman and James M. Thomas trace the genealogies of race and racism as psycho pathological categories, exploring the significance that the psychological sciences play in the biological understanding of race and racism.

Beginning in the mid-nineteenth-century Europe, with widespread antisemitic beliefs, the book moves across the Atlantic to contemporary America, up to the aforementioned clinical experiment at the University of Oxford, all in an attempt to understand how racism became a mental illness. The authors provide a rich account of how the nineteenth century “Sciences of Main” — including anthropology, medicine, and biology — used race as a means of defining psychopathology. Further, they explore how and why these assertions about race and madness became embedded within disciplines chat that deal with mental health and illness.

Offering an illuminating and riveting history of the voluminous and ever changing discourses on racism, antisemitism and psychopathology, and the relationships between them, Are Racists Crazy? shows the dangerous implications of the specious line of thought in our past, preset, future.