Book Review: ‘The Protest Psychosis’

Go Lean Commentary

Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness…

These words are from the US Declaration of Independence,  but how many actually believe these words apply to all Americans? This important part of this very important American document is not exclusively American; it is reflected repeatedly in values from the Enlightenment Era (1650 to 1700) that became fundamental to a lot of protest movements around the world. This is also true of the movement to protest the status quo in the Caribbean region today. This movement is underpinned by the book Go Lean … Caribbean in its efforts to elevate Caribbean society.

Many times protesters have been viewed as insane by contemporaries and especially their adversaries. This oppositional practice was far too common in the US during the slavery era, and just recently during the Civil Rights Movement in the latter half of the 20th Century. This was the point of the book The Protest Psychosis: How Schizophrenia Became a Black Disease” by Professor Jonathan Metzl. This review paragraph summarizes the book:

A powerful account of how cultural anxieties about race shaped American notions of mental illness The civil rights era is largely remembered as a time of sit-ins, boycotts, and riots. But a very different civil rights history evolved at the Ionia State Hospital for the Criminally Insane in Ionia, Michigan. In “The Protest Psychosis“, psychiatrist and cultural critic Jonathan Metzl tells the shocking story of how schizophrenia became the diagnostic term overwhelmingly applied to African American protesters at Ionia–for political reasons as well as clinical ones. Expertly sifting through a vast array of cultural documents, Metzl shows how associations between schizophrenia and blackness emerged during the tumultuous decades of the 1960s and 1970s – and he provides a cautionary tale of how anxieties about race continue to impact doctor-patient interactions in our seemingly postracial America.
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From this historic perspective, there are many lessons to consider for the Caribbean empowerment effort.

The Caribbean is not detached from the underlying narrative of The Protest Psychosis book; this region benefited greatly from the US Civil Rights Movement. Though there may not have been many sit-ins, protest marches (a la the “March on Washington”) in the Caribbean, there was a natural spin-off. All of the Caribbean have a majority Black population (except for one, the French Caribbean island of Saint Barthélemy), that were suppressed, repressed and oppressed until the Civil Rights Movement and De-colonization-Majority Rule Movements manifested. There is the need now for a new protest movement. The Caribbean status quo still reflects economic suppression, repression and oppression; the societal abandon rate is so abominable that 70 percent of college educated citizens leave, resulting in a debilitating brain drain.

  • Will the demands to change Caribbean society today require “psychotic” protests?
  • Will a conservative population or empowered governing elite emerge to halt change and demand that the status quo continue unabated?
  • Who will be the new champions of change this time?
  • Will their advocacy be so impassioned that their motives and actions will be labeled as deranged or insane?

Insanity and Schizophrenia are all serious subjects within the field of mental health, not to be taken lightly. Imagine then, the weight of authority thrust upon the diagnosis of a Clinical Psychiatrist when he or she labels some protester with these diagnoses. Imagine too, how such protests can be undermined just by tossing around these labels. This is a serious issue that requires some sober reflection.

Sober reflection is the appropriate descriptor of the following podcast, a 30-minute interview with the author of the referenced book.

The book review follows:

Book Review Podcast Presented by: Lynne Malcolm
Title: The Protest Psychosis: How Schizophrenia Became a Black Disease.
By: Professor Jonathan Metzl

Psychiatrist Jonathan Metzl treats people in the clinic whose lives are afflicted by severe psychosis. But he also documents an explosive ‘other’ history of schizophrenia, and what he sees as its transformation from a diagnosis of feminine docility or creative eccentricity, to one given to angry black men during the civil rights era. You’ll never see medicine and the mind in quite the same light again.

About the Presenter: Lynne Malcolm

- Photo 1Lynne Malcolm is passionate about people and their personal experience and when she least expected it – she discovered the power of radio to tell their stories. She is also Executive Producer of RN’s (Radio National) Science Unit.

Lynne has received a number of awards for her work in radio including Bronze & Gold Medals in the New York Radio Festivals International Awards, the Michael Daley Award for Journalism in Science, finalist status in the Eureka Awards. She has also won 2 Mental Health Services media achievement awards for All in the Mind, one in 2007 for her series on schizophrenia, and one in 2013 for 2 programs on youth mental health.

Lynne is delighted to be hosting All In the Mind because she finds the workings of the human mind and how that affects our lives endlessly fascinating.
All In The Mind – Radio National, Australia Broadcast Corporation Saturday 1 May 2010 1:00PM


This consideration of such sober topics aligns with the book Go Lean… Caribbean. The book addresses many serious aspects of Caribbean life.  While the Go Lean book is not a reference source for science, mental health or psychiatry, it does glean from “social science” concepts in communicating the plan to elevate Caribbean society. The book serves as a roadmap for the introduction and implementation of the technocratic Caribbean Union Trade Federation (CU). The complete prime directives are described as:

  • Optimize the economic engines of the Caribbean to elevate and grow the regional economy to $800 Billion.
  • Establish a security apparatus to protect the resultant economic engines.
  • Improve Caribbean governance to support these engines.

The Go Lean … Caribbean roadmap constitutes a change for the region, a plan to consolidate 30 member-states into a Trade Federation with the tools/techniques to bring immediate change to the region to benefit one and all member-states. The ethos to effectuate this change in the region will require courage, advocacy and passion. It is our sincere hope that these attributes will not be considered “crazy or insane”.

This vision may seem “insane” to some.

The Go Lean roadmap immediately calls for the establishment of a federal Health Department with some oversight over the region’s mental health administrations – due to funding, ratings and rankings. The focus on mental health will be as stern as all other health concerns (cancer, trauma, virus, immunizations). This direct correlation of mental health issues with the economy has been previously detailed in Go Lean blog/commentaries, as sampled here:

Guyana Wrestles With High Rate of Suicides
Recessions and Public Health in the Caribbean Region

In addition, Big Pharmaceutical companies had some vested interest in the mis-diagnosis of psychotic drugs; this familiar malpractice has been the subject of a previous blog. (See Haldol photo/advertising above).

The Go Lean roadmap calls for the immediate coordination of the region’s healthcare needs. This point is declared early in the Go Lean book, commencing with this opening pronouncement in the Declaration of Interdependence (Page 12), as follows:

ix.  Whereas the realities of healthcare … cannot be ignored and cannot be afforded without some advanced mitigation, the Federation must arrange for health plans to consolidate premiums of both healthy and sickly people across the wider base of the entire Caribbean population. The mitigation should extend further to disease management, wellness, mental health, obesity and smoking cessation programs.

The foregoing Book Review recited a dysfunction in the US during the Civil Rights Movement of blatantly labeling everyone desirous of social change as just being schizophrenic/insane. This was an abuse of the Psychiatric profession and the Hippocratic oath (for Doctors to do no harm).  Schizophrenia is a serious disorder. This was barely understood until recently in medical science history. See the VIDEO clip (below) from the movie: “A Beautiful Mind”.

We have the need for protest movements in the Caribbean now. But we also need to be technocratic in the management of our mental health needs – no blatant assignment of labels just to “shoo” away protesters or Advocates for change. The Go Lean book details the community ethos to forge change; plus the executions of the following strategies, tactics, implementations and advocacies to impact the region’s healthcare to ensure no abuse of the mental health process:

Assessment – Caribbean Single Market & Economy Page 15
Assessment – Dutch Caribbean – Integration & Secessions Page 16
Assessment – French Caribbean – Organization & Discord Page 17
Assessment – Puerto Rico – The Greece of the Caribbean Page 18
Community Ethos – Security Principles – Privacy versus Public Protection Page 23
Community Ethos – Security Principles – Anti-Bullying and Mitigation Page 23
Community Ethos – Security Principles – “Crap” Happens Page 23
Community Ethos – Governing Principles – Lean Operations Page 24
Community Ethos – Governing Principles – Cooperatives Page 24
Community Ethos – Governing Principles – Non-Government Organizations Page 25
Community Ethos – Ways to Impact the Future Page 26
Community Ethos – Ways to Foster Genius Page 27
Community Ethos – Ways to Promote Happiness Page 36
Community Ethos – Impact the Greater Good Page 37
Strategy – Vision – Confederate 30 Member-States Page 45
Strategy – Mission – Reform   our Health Care Response Page 47
Strategy – Agents of Change – Aging Diaspora Page 57
Tactical – Fostering a Technocracy Page 64
Tactical – How to Grow the Economy to $800 Billion Page 67
Separation of Powers – Department of Health Page 86
Implementation – Ways to Deliver Page 109
Planning – Ways to Make the Caribbean Better Page 131
Planning – Ways to Improve Failed-State Indices Page 134
Planning – Lessons from Indian Reservations – Hopelessness & Mental Health Page 148
Advocacy – Ways to Grow the Economy Page 151
Advocacy – Ways to Improve Healthcare Page 156
Advocacy – Ways to Better Manage the Social Contract Page 170
Advocacy – Ways to Foster Cooperatives Page 176
Advocacy – Ways to Improve Emergency Management – Trauma Medicine Page 196
Advocacy – Ways to Impact the Prison Industrial Complex Page 211
Advocacy – Ways to Improve Elder-Care Page 225
Advocacy – Ways to Empower Women Page 226

Caribbean society is now imperiled; it is in crisis due to deficiencies in economics, security and governance. It should be considered insanity for people to just apathetically accept the status quo. Apathy should not be an option; the options should be “fight or flight”. But far too often, “flight” was selected.

Change has now come to our region; everyone should engage! There is the need for a permanent union to provide efficient stewardship for Caribbean economy, security and governing engines. The Go Lean…Caribbean posits that there are problems, agents of change, that are too big for just any one member-state to tackle alone, there must be a regional solution. This multi-state technocratic administration of the CU may be our best option.

The foregoing article/AUDIO podcast, the Book Review on The Protest Psychosis alludes that 1-out-of-every-100 persons are afflicted with Schizophrenia and related issues (depression and anxiety disorders). The commonly accepted fact is that brain chemistry changes in a lot of people (men and women) as they age, or women enduring child birth or menopause. So many people are affected – perhaps one in every family. Monitoring, managing and mitigating the issues of mental health impacts the Greater Good – the greatest good for the greatest number of people.

The people and institutions of the region are hereby urged to lean-in to this Go Lean roadmap. We can make the Caribbean a better homeland to live, work and play. 🙂

Download the free e-Book of Go Lean … Caribbean – now!


Video: Selected Scenes of Schizophrenia from the movie “A Beautiful Mind”-

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