Minority Discrimination Linked to Psychosis


A study published in this month’s issue of the Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology found that perceived discrimination related to minority status may precede the emergence of psychosis. These findings support social defeat theory, which explains that chronic feelings of outsider status or subordination may lead to a sensitization of the dopamine system and the experience of psychotic symptoms.

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Key quotes:

“Furthermore, a recent paper demonstrates that in addition to ethnic minority position being associated with increased risk for psychosis, sexual minorities are also at risk for psychosis suggesting that exposure to minority stress in general may represent an important mechanism for the later development of psychosis.”

“These findings may help clarify the direction of this relationship in that perceived discrimination may have preceded the attenuated psychotic symptoms for some individuals but certainly did precede psychosis in our sample (rather than being a consequence of having a psychotic disorder). Finally, as per our first paper, perceived discrimination was related to ethnicity, and in all participants, perceived discrimination was significantly associated with being from an ethnic minority.”

“CHR participants report experiencing more trauma, bullying, and perceived discrimination compared to healthy controls. Additionally, the more lifetime perceived discrimination endorsed, the greater the chance of conversion to psychosis. While it is difficult to determine the actual experience of discrimination, an attempt to at least identify perceived discrimination may help eliminate feelings of having an outsider status, and ultimately contribute to a reduction or prevention of psychosis.”



Stowkowy, J., Liu, L., Cadenhead, K. S., Cannon, T. D., Cornblatt, B. A., McGlashan, T. H., … & Woods, S. W. (2016). Early traumatic experiences, perceived discrimination and conversion to psychosis in those at clinical high risk for psychosis. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, 1-7.


    • Fascinating, isn’t it? No matter what evidence is presented that trauma is a primary causal factor in essentially every “mental disorder” they have identified, they seem to be religiously committed to bringing it back to brain chemicals. It seems very intuitive to think that racism drives people mad, and very counterintuitive to think that only people with “bad brains” are susceptible to be driven mad by systematic racism. And yet…

      Do they think they’re being more “scientific” by talking about brains? Or are they just so completely immersed in their worldview that they are incapable of stepping outside their comfortable paradigm of thought?

      —- Steve

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  1. Since “psychosis” is not a medically provable entity. And, according to my medical records, a query about a dream is “psychosis,” which means doctors believe dreams are “psychosis.” I’m quite certain it’s possible almost anyone defamed as “psychotic,” by doctors, could be dealing with psychiatric / medical discrimination, too.

    I would image psychiatrists wanting to profiteer off of covering up child abuse, rather than deal with all the legal ramifications of actually helping a child abuse victim, is why 77% of all hospitalized child abuse victims receive a “psychosis” diagnosis, whereas only 10% of hospitalized non-child abuse patients receive such a diagnosis, too.

    But I will say the “psychosis” treatments do result in a “sensitization of the dopamine system,” and can create “psychosis” / “voices,” via anticholinergic toxidrome, when one is inappropriately put on these drugs, due to fraudulent claims of “psychosis.” I’m wondering if the medical community at large will ever confess that the antipsychotics, antidepressants, and benzos are known to make a person “psychotic,” via the central symptoms of anticholinergic intoxication syndrome? Or if the psychiatric industry will ever get out of the business of seemingly turning child abuse victims into “schizophrenics” with the neuroleptic drugs, given that 2/3’s of all so called “schizophrenics” today, are child abuse survivors. I’m quite certain psychiatric profiteering off of covering up child abuse is a form of discrimination against children who have been abused.

    Although, it’s much more palatable for the psychiatric profession to pretend this isn’t what’s actually going on, and make up theories about child abuse causing “psychosis,” and discrimination causing “psychosis.” While, of course, pointing the finger of discrimination at everyone, but, the psychiatrists who are claiming symptoms of child abuse and dream queries are “psychosis.” And insidiously dismissing and trying to hide the reality that the psychiatric drugs, do in fact, create “psychosis.”

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  2. This is bs on so many familiar levels, and mixing in the liberal political agenda doesn’t help any. When do we reach the point collectively when we simply refuse to waste our energy addressing “studies” based on mythical concepts such as “psychosis”?

    So now oppression can’t be recognized as oppression, only in terms of its (undemonstrated) effect on neurotransmitters…

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  3. Well, it certainly does create a lot of understandable rage to be treated like a second-class, marginal citizen. Standing up to this–what I call social systemic abuse–creates even more problems for the marginalized individual, including being labeled something. So it really is a very bad vicious cycle, what I’d consider to chronic social trauma, which, unfortunately, is the familiar to many people.

    I’d say the mental health system feeds on this population and exploits it terribly, with very little, if any, regard for them as actual feeling and thinking people. I’ve never seen such blatant disregard as what I encountered and witnessed repeatedly going through the system.

    So yes, discrimination can lead to a label of ‘psychosis,’ but it’s not accurate. That is the mental health system’s interpretation of repressed understandable rage, due to discrimination, marginalization, and blatant stigma, for which they set the example.

    If you don’t label it, it’s simply a natural and reasonable response to what the mental health system does to people, and how it causes people who are already feeling vulnerable and disadvantaged to feel about themselves. So where is the ‘psychosis’ here?

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    • Because it is not allowable to feel or especially express rage against systematic social abuse. You’re supposed to grin and bear it, and any signs of getting “uppity” are punished with further discrimination and violence. I think this is one reason many more women are labeled with “mental disorders” than men – they are not supposed to acknowledge any kind of oppression they are experiencing, and are expected to be happy with second-class citizen status. Being depressed, anxious, hopeless, or most horribly, ANGRY about it is simply too frightening to those in charge to be allowed. So instead, your anger or depression or anxiety is redefined as the problem, and our authoritarian system will “make it go away” for you, but only if you do exactly as we tell you. And if our approach doesn’t “make it go away,” well, it’s not OUR fault, it’s the DISEASE!

      Quite the effective tool of oppression!

      —- Steve

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      • That’s what happened to me as I was exiting the system. And it didn’t even take anger to off-put them, it was my reasoning that frightened them. I was angry, but I can still be direct and reasonable, even diplomatic.

        But diplomacy is not an effective tool against oppressors, even when they say they are open to dialogue. They take advantage of attempts to be fair and reasonable by lying through their teeth in order to appease their dissenters, which of course is the epitome of being patronized–not to mention how it constantly makes one a chump to not see through that. I think they call it “CBT,” which is a form of programming the mind to fit the status quo, imo. When a person’s vulnerability is exploited like this, it’s all unequivocally oppressive, and this is system-wide.

        I feel that many of the professionals don’t know how to assess a person with neutrality, it’s all stigmatizing projections. They never, ever see the person in front of them, only whether or not they ‘fit the mold’ of mainstream, which is their litmus test for mental health. Again, Krishnamurti’s quote comes to mind, about being well-adjusted to a sick society NOT being a measure of health.

        Indeed, like you say, it is much easier to blame social ills on its victims, because they are so visibly “in the margins” of society, have little or no resources, and are therefore easy fodder. But it is not fair game, not in the slightest. They just happen to be carrying the ills of society, for whatever reason, but they are most definitely not the cause of them. That comes from the elite, that is the source of social ills, and they blame everyone else.

        It’s class-based because what good is a ‘poor person’ to someone, they don’t have money, other than to use them as pawns in taking money from others–government, funders, etc.–to “save the poor unfortunates.” What total rubbish, no one is saving anyone, the money is collected for whatever personal gain. That’s why I call it vampiristic, purely. I think it’s obvious.

        So while poor people don’t have any money and therefore have no value in a class-based society and therefore garner no respect (or the pretense of it, at the very least), they do have value to the system in their exploitation value.

        What makes me really angry at this point, is how readily poor people are taken advantage of in order to line the coffers of the privileged class–including academics and health care–in the name of ‘saving others.’ That’s a historic phenomenon, and it is still happening today.

        Awakening to how we have been and still are exploited can be quite challenging, but in the end, it is entirely freeing, and it brings much sought after clarity that will help bring change away from these maddening and extremely toxic social dynamics.

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        • Well said. It is a strange irony that being aware of what is going on, while extremely painful at times, appears also to be the only pathway to transcend them. But by definition, anyone having that awareness and acting on it is going to be on the margins, as the status quo is defined by oppression from top to bottom. So you can be “inside” and live with the security of the herd, but never really know you’re being herded, or be “outside,” and make the herders very, very nervous. I, for one, prefer the second choice. And really don’t have any choice to go back at this point, as once we have “seen behind the curtain,” it’s not really possible to believe in the Wizard of Oz any longer.

          —- Steve

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          • “It is a strange irony that being aware of what is going on, while extremely painful at times, appears also to be the only pathway to transcend them.”

            Beautiful, Steve, indeed, awakening=expanding awareness=transcendence. I agree, it’s the only way. No one is going to transcend another from their issues and double-binds, we can only do that ourselves.

            Takes courage to wake up, recognize and own our blind spots, and walk a new path, but that is the only thing that will bring change with relative ease. Personal empowerment comes through humility, of owning our shadow fully.

            It’s more painful to not wake up and keep living the same nightmare over and over again.

            Growing pains are an inevitable part of life, and when we accept that with grace, we find relief..Suffering happens when we refuse to awaken to the truth, because it is always knocking on our door one way or another, louder and louder when we don’t acknowledge it. We are responsible for our own lives, and for our own justice, I’m afraid. Society sure isn’t going to hand it over on a silver platter, that’s for sure.

            I’d always prefer to know the truth, regardless of how hard that truth is, because only from that truth can we ever be free from oppression. “The truth shall set you free” rings more than merely platitudinous to me, I find it to be accurate.

            Personally, I think we’re all wizards, we simply have to discover our true nature to become aware of this and use it for the greater good, which inherently nourishes us, individually.

            What I think is an illusion is that there is one and only one wizard. That, I would call ‘a false prophet.’

            Each of us embody our own power, and as we recognize this, we transform the world, because we see how utterly powerless society is, in reality, over our own loving, desiring hearts and creative spirits.

            Dark (oppressive) energy cannot hold a candle to the light, because the light conquers the dark, every time, and we are awakening now, following the light to the end of the tunnel. That should REALLY make the powers that be quite nervous!

            Whomever is hiding behind a curtain would feel fear, whereas some of us have absolutely nothing to hide and are purely transparent, for real, 100% on the up & up. That is freedom and peace of mind–my personal choices for living.

            Thanks, Steve, a lot of clarity and new info coming to light as usual when I dialogue with you, much appreciated!

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          • I like to say, “The Hand of Providence will at times reach down and gently guide you in the direction your path leads… and if you resist… the Foot of Providence will come around and kick you hard in the behind over and over again until you relent!”

            Best to let the Hand guide us. It’s a lot less painful than the Foot!

            Always love your deep insights!
            — Steve

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          • CBT’s effectiveness is very much dependent on the practitioner. I always considered it a tool rather than a therapy modality. I think the problem happens when CBT is disconnected from compassion and listening and being guided by the needs of your client. CBT can be very useful in the right context for the right person, but can be harmful if applied to all people in an emotionally disconnected way. It is most dangerous in the hands of a person who has not done his/her own internal work, because it provides a great way for the clinician to avoid his/her own personal discomfort by “making” the client change his/her thinking, and rejecting/punishing the client who won’t/can’t do as they are told.

            Thanks for the link!

            —- Steve

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