Sunday, 15 November 2009

On the Diagnosis of Color Aroused Disorder

I think that what makes my analysis of skin-color-associated issues different is my willingness to be sufficiently dispassionate to analyze ideation, emotion and behavior according to an established criteria: does the complex of ideation, emotion and behavior, with respect to self and others, severely impair the subject in one or more important areas of life.

This analysis focuses attention on how ideation, emotion and behavior impair the functioning of the person who experiences these symptoms rather than on the effect that these symptoms have on others. As such, this approach is likely to anger or disturb people who believe that the harm they have suffered should be the focus of analytical attention.

However, cognitive behavioral therapy always focuses on how beliefs, emotions and behaviors affect the patient, and how these can be modified to enable the patient to be more functional, successful and happy. In the process, the patient needs to become aware of how his/her behavior effects others, but the ultimate purpose of this conscientization is not to make life happier for the victims of the person with Extreme Color-Aroused Disorder, but rather, as with the alcoholic, to help the persons with the disorder to the disorder to make their lives more functional and constructive.

The idea that minorities' suffering in the United States ought not be the exclusive focus of the study of "racism" is admittedly revolutionary, but the problem of color-aroused ideation, emotion and behavior exists first and foremost in the minds of those persons who are aroused by the perception of skin color to have ideation, emotion and engage in behavior that that impairs their functioning, and such people, as we have seen, may be of any skin color. Blacks have sufficient influence over our own lives and those of our family and social network that we, too, can suffer Extreme Color-Aroused Disorder that, by definition, rises to the level where it severely effects our functioning in one or more areas of life, in interaction with other Blacks, with whites and within ourselves.

Analytically, the elements of Extreme Color Aroused Disorder are simple:
  1. Ideation in an individual that is aroused by the perception or knowledge of one's own skin color and that or one or more others;
  2. Emotion that is aroused by the perception of our own and/or others' skin color;
  3. Behavior that is aroused by the ideation and emotion that we experience in reaction to our perception to the skin color of ourselves and others;
  4. Severe impairment of the individual in one or more areas of life, arising out of the perception, ideation and emotion that arises in reaction to the skin color of others.

Therapy for Extreme Color-Aroused Disorder (ECAD) necessarily begins with screening and diagnosis of the disorder in individual patients. Therefore, the patient is necessarily the focus of the treatment.

For half a century, we have laboriously debated whether any particular act or person was "racist." The difficulty is that we have not had a definition of "racism" that achieved sufficient agreement among Blacks or between Blacks and other groups. And yet, as a result of the Human Genome Project's analysis of the entire human genome, we have learned that the best definition for racism is "the belief that members of the human species are divided into subspecies who can be identified by their skin color. It is possible to believe the above and not have a color-aroused disorder, if the belief in the existence of "races" does not lead to additional color-aroused ideation, emotion and behavior that are dysfunctional.

It is also possible to know that, as a matter of science "race" does not exist and therefore to not be a "racist," while nonetheless experiencing mild, moderate and/or extreme ideation, emotion and behavior aroused by the skin-color cue which symptoms that, taken together, impair the individual and enable a psychiatrist to make a diagnosis of mild, moderate or extreme color-aroused disorder, depending upon the severity of the symptoms and the severity of the consequent impairment.

The value of this approach is that it enables professionals to make objective diagnosis based on observable symptoms, as well as signs, and points directly to the areas in which the patient needs to work in order to achieve a more functional life. This approach allows laymen to become more aware and to more intelligently evaluate their own and others' color-aroused ideation, emotion and behavior, if only so that they can seek help for themselves and their loved ones as the need becomes apparent.

The opinion or conclusion that someone has "racism" or "is a 'racist'" almost never leads to meaningful psychiatric treatment, even in those cases where it leads to very public interventions. As such, at least in terms of its usefulness for cognitive behavioral screening, diagnosis and treatment, the concept of "racism" is, at best, useless and, at worst, confuses people and discourages them from seeking treatment for an illness which is otherwise more easily diagnosed and treated based on the patient's ideation, emotion and behavior, and an increasing awareness of and reluctance to accept the consequent impairments.

To confirm the above, one need only ask psychiatrists how many of their patients report that their "racism" has caused them to seek psychiatric help. Do any of my readers know anyone who has ever sought psychiatric help because of their fear that they were "a racist"?

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