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The historic medical maltreatment of african americans

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This is a timeline of historic accounts of the medical maltreatment of African Americans.

This is a timeline of historic accounts of the medical maltreatment of African Americans.

Published in: Education, News & Politics
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  • 1. Historic African American Medical Maltreatment Timeline
    1800’s - 1990’s
  • 2. An Affliction called “Negritude”
    Benjamin Rush, MD (1746­1813), signer of the Declaration of Independence, Dean of the Medical School at the University of Pennsylvania and the "Father of American Psychiatry, "described Negroes as suffering from an affliction called Negritude, which was thought to be a mild form of leprosy. The only cure for the disorder was to become white. It is unclear as to how many cases of Negritude were successfully treated. The irony of Dr. Rush's medical observations was that he was a leading mental health reformer and co-founder of the first anti-slavery society in America. Dr. Rush's portrait still adorns the official seal of the American Psychiatric Association. However, Dr. Rush's observation-"The Africans become insane, we are told, in some instances, soon after they enter upon the toils of perpetual slavery in the West Indies"-is not often cited in discussions of mental illness and African-Americans, how-ever valuable it might be in understanding the traumatic impact of enslavement and oppression on Africans and their descendants.
    Source: excerpted from: Vanessa Jackson, "In Our Own Voices: African American Stories of Oppression, Survival and Recovery in the Mental Health System", pp 1-36, p. 4-8 http://www.mindfreedom.org/mindfreedom/jackson.shtml
    Image Source:www.skinwhiteningz.com
    1746
  • 3. Drapetomia aka "Run-a-way Slave Disorder”
    In1851, Dr. Samuel Cartwright, a prominent Louisiana physician and one of the leading authorities in his time on the medical care of Negroes, identified two mental disorders peculiar to slaves. Drapetomia, or the disease causing Negroes to run away, was noted as a condition, "unknown to our medical authorities, although its diagnostic symptom, the absconding from service, is well known to our planters and overseers. " Dr. Cartwright observed, "The cause in most cases, that induces the Negro to run 4 away from service, is such a disease of the mind as in any other species of alienation, and much more curable, as a general rule. " Cartwright was so helpful as to identify preventive measures for dealing with potential cases of drapetomania. Slaves showing incipient drapetomania, reflected in sulky and dissatisfied behavior should be whipped-strictly as a therapeutic early intervention. Planter and overseers were encouraged to utilize whipping as the primary intervention once the disease had progressed to the stage of actually running away. Overall, Cartwright suggested that Negroes should be kept in a submissive state and treated like children, with "care, kindness, attention and humanity, to prevent and cure them from running away. “
    Source:excerpted from: Vanessa Jackson, "In Our Own Voices: African American Stories of Oppression, Survival and Recovery in the Mental Health System", pp 1-36, p. 4-8 http://www.mindfreedom.org/mindfreedom/jackson.shtm
    Image Source:Newsone.com
    1851
  • 4. The “Black Skin” Study
    "In 1855, John "Fed" Brown, an escaped slave, recalled that the doctor to whom he was indentured produced painful blisters on his body in order to observe "how deep my black skin went." This study had no therapeutic value. Rather, fascination with the outward appearance of African Americans, whose differences from whites were thought to be more than skin deep, was a significant impulse driving such medical trials."
    Source:excerpted from: Vanessa Jackson, "In Our Own Voices: African American Stories of Oppression, Survival and Recovery in the Mental Health System", pp 1-36, p. 4-8 http://www.mindfreedom.org/mindfreedom/jackson.shtm
    Image Source:fineartamerica.com (Painting entitled: "Black Pain")
    1855
  • 5. Experimental Treatments Conducted on Slave Women
    "Shielding whites from excruciating experimental procedures also proved a powerful motivation. J. Marion Sims, a leading 19th-century physician and former president of the American Medical Association, developed many of his gynecological treatments through experiments on slave women who were not granted the comfort of anesthesia. Sims's legacy is Janus-faced; he was pitiless with non-consenting research subjects, yet he was among the first doctors of the modern era to emphasize women's health. "
    Source:MEDICALAPARTHEID:The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans From Colonial Times to the Present By Harriet A. Washington/Washington Post
    Image Source: www.clipartof.com
    1900
  • 6. The African American Radiation Experiments
    "The infringement of black Americans' rights to their own bodies in the name of medical science continued throughout the 20th century. In 1945, Ebb Cade, an African American trucker being treated for injuries received in an accident in Tennessee, was surreptitiously placed without his consent into a radiation experiment sponsored by the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission. Black Floridians were deliberately exposed to swarms of mosquitoes carrying yellow fever and other diseases in experiments conducted by the Army and the CIA in the early 1950s."
    Source:MEDICALAPARTHEID:The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans From Colonial Times to the Present By Harriet A. Washington
    Image Source:www.pbs.org
    1945
  • 7. The Hygiene Experiments
    "Throughout the 1950s and '60s, black inmates at Philadelphia's Holmesburg Prison were used as research subjects by a University of Pennsylvania dermatologist testing pharmaceuticals and personal hygiene products; some of these subjects report pain and disfiguration even now."
    Source:MEDICALAPARTHEID:The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans From Colonial Times to the Present By Harriet A. Washington
    Image Source: www.news.injuryboard.com
    1950
  • 8. Neurosurgery for Hyperactivity
    "During the 1960s and '70s, black boys were subjected to sometimes paralyzing neurosurgery by a University of Mississippi researcher who believed brain pathology to be the root of the children's supposed hyperactive behavior."
    Source: MEDICAL APARTHEID: The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans From Colonial Times to the Present By Harriet A. Washington
    Image Source: www.classroomclipart.com
    1960
  • 9. African American "Violence Disorder"
    Drapetomania and Dysethesia Aethiopica could be relegated to obscurity along with the spinning chair and other ridiculous assumptions about mental illness and its treatment if African-Americans were not constantly assaulted by updated efforts to put social and economic issues into a medical framework that emphasizes our " pathology. " In the late1960s, Vernon Mark, William Sweet and Frank Ervin suggested that urban violence, which most African-Americans perceived as a reaction to oppression, poverty and state-sponsored economic and physical violence against us, was actually due to "brain dysfunction, " and recommended the use of psychosurgery to prevent outbreaks of violence.
    Source:excerpted from: Vanessa Jackson, "In Our Own Voices: African American Stories of Oppression, Survival and Recovery in the Mental Health System", pp 1-36, p. 4-8 http://www.mindfreedom.org/mindfreedom/jackson.shtm
    Image Source:abagond.wordpress.com…About this Imagee: "Cointelpro (1956-1971), short for “Counter Intelligence Program”, was a secret FBI operation where the American government destroyed the New Left and Black Power movements in the 1960s and early 1970s As the FBI put it, it sought to “expose, disrupt, misdirect, discredit, or otherwise neutralize” certain political movements thereby “protecting national security, preventing violence, and maintaining the existing social and political order.”
    1960
  • 10. Fenfluramine Studies
    "In the 1990s, African American youths in New York were injected with Fenfluramine -- half of the deadly, discontinued weight loss drug Fen-Phen -- by Columbia researchers investigating a hypothesis about the genetic origins of violence."
    Source: MEDICAL APARTHEID: The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans From Colonial Times to the Present By Harriet A. Washington
    Image Source: www.wpclipart.com
    1990

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