Glenn Reynolds has a fascinating post referencing an article in the Washington Post about mental health professionals questioning “whether pathological bias ought to be an official psychiatric diagnosis.” This diagnosis would include bias against gay people. As Glenn puts it, “when homosexuality was unpopular, it was a mental disorder. Now that it’s popular, not liking it is a mental disorder.”
After reading a number of the cases of such “pathological bias” in the Post article, I’m not sure I agree that they could create a new “official diagnosis,” but should instead recognize that these individuals are merely projecting their own demons onto other groups.
As a gay conservative, I have experienced pathological hatred from two distinct groups, anti-gay zealots and left-wing “moonbats.” And from my experience, extreme bias of those zealots against gays is pretty much the same thing as extreme bias of those moonbats against conservatives, the same obsession, but with different manifestations. I’ve seen people whipped up into a frenzy because I come out as gay and getting their panties all in a bundle because I express conservative political viewpoints. In both cases, it’s just people projecting their own anxieties onto someone whose difference they have demonized.
And I’ve seen a few cases of conservatives whipped into a lather at the mere mention of those dread liberals. If pathological hatred of one social group is a mental disorder, then shouldn’t we also consider pathological hatred of one’s political adversaries as a similar disorder? That type of hatred seems to be on the rise in recent years.
Now, obviously, there are people in the world afflicted with intense, fixed delusions to the point of their lives being seriously compromised. But isn’t it the “intense, fixed” part that constitutes the pathology, not the delusion itself? Do we really want to single out a particular type of belief as an illness?
Exactly. I might take those who advocate a new diagnosis more seriously if they included hatred of conservatives as another example of pathological bias. But, even then, it’s the individual’s intense hatred that’s the real “disorder” — regardless of its object.
-Dan (AKA GayPatriotWest): GayPatriotWest@aol.com
UPDATE: Picking up on Glenn’s post (and this one), the ever adorable Robbie at Malcontent writes “that ‘extreme bias’ is an increasingly politicized construct,” noting that extremists of both sides “rely less on thoughtful consideration and logic, than a visceral, deeply imbedded hatred and suspicion of those who are different.” Exactly. Now, as Glenn would say, just read the whole thing!
I think it’s VERY dangerous to classify homophobia as a mental disorder. It’ll only lead to criminals getting off due to their “unfortunate condition”. We already have too many hate crimes being excused by so-called “gay panic”.
UP-UP-UP-UPDATE: In reading Joseph Campbell’s Thou Art That for class this morning, I discovered a passage which contributes to this discussion:
An ego talking to a thou is different from an ego talking to an it. Whenever we emphasize otherness or out-groups, we are making persons into “it.” The Gentile, the Jew, the enemy–they all become the same.