Tuesday, January 29, 2008

In 1980, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) created oppositional defiant disorder, defining it as "a pattern of negativistic, hostile and defiant behavior." The official symptoms of ODD include "often actively defies or refuses to comply with adult requests or rules" and "often argues with adults." While ODD-diagnosed young people are obnoxious with adults they don't respect, these kids can be a delight with adults they do respect; yet many of them are medicated with psychotropic drugs.
Throughout American history, both direct and indirect resistance to authority has been diseased. In an 1851 article in the New Orleans Medical and Surgical Journal, Louisiana physician Samuel Cartwright reported his discovery of "drapetomania," the disease that caused slaves to flee captivity. Cartwright also reported his discovery of "dysaesthesia aethiopis," the disease that caused slaves to pay insufficient attention to the master's needs. Early versions of ODD and ADHD?


  1. unbelievable. it's like the rebranding and reissue of sins.

    I think also the "paranoid" belief that corporate and political management is competent is now a diagnosable and medicated mental disorder.

    isn't hysteria and much neurosis born as a kind of "dysaesthesia" too, bourgeois women's insufficient sensitivity to the needs of their husbands. ressentiment...delinquency...unruliness...sloth...nymphomania...lechery....

  2. Anonymous2:40 AM

    Did you read some of the obituaries when Bobby Fischer died? Of course he did a lot of bizarre stuff, but I couldn't help noticing that the main reason people thought he was mentally ill was that he held certain (extreme) political convictions.

  3. Chuckie K11:18 AM

    Last week PBS ran a very painful documentary about 'lobotomy.' the film inlcuded a few comments by a man who in the heyday of lobotomy had his brain wilfully damaged for exactly this kind of 'bad' behavior. So there's even a history of this medicalization lurking here.

  4. I also remember people saying disagreement with those in power was "having an authority problem."