APA Omits Details in Recent Apology for Their History of Racist Policies and Actions


by Kevin Hall

Citizens Commission on Human
Rights, New England Director

In January of this year, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) published the editorial entitled, “APA’s Apology to Black, Indigenous and People of Color for Its Support of Structural Racism in Psychiatry.” While they did apologize for “abusive treatment, experimentation, [and] victimization in the name of ‘scientific evidence,’” their overall message was one of public relations and marketing wherein they are claiming now to be “woke” while also trolling to drag more Black customers into their mental health system.

Psychiatrists and psychologists could never expect to be excused for their centuries of systematic structural racism if they laid out the details as it would be similar to Joseph Stalin asking forgiveness for being a little too harsh to dissidents while revealing how he killed roughly ten to twenty million Russians while also sending people to suffer and rot in his gulags. With that, I am laying out a short sampling of psychiatry’s destructive racial policies so you can consider whether or not their “apology” should be accepted.


Psychiatry has regularly claimed that minorities are less than human which has created a “medical” justification for harming them.

In 1797, psychiatrist Benjamin Rush, the “father of American psychiatry,” declared that the color of Blacks was caused by a rare, inherited disease called “negritude,” which derived from leprosy. Rush said that the only evidence of a “cure” was when the skin color turned white. This “disease” was used as a reason for segregation, so that Whites would not be “infected.” Rush also declared that Blacks had a higher pain tolerance which helped to justify cold living quarters and physical abuse of slaves.

1851 – Dr. Samuel A. Cartwright “discovered” a mental disease peculiar to Black slaves that he called “drapetomania” –  the urge for slaves to run away from their “masters.” The “treatment” prescribed was “whipping the devil out of them.”


Psychiatry has often used Blacks, especially Black prisoners, for human experimentation that included involuntary LSD research. In the 1950s at Tulane University, psychiatrist Robert Heath was doing mind control experimentation on Black prisoners by placing electrodes into their brains in search of pain and pleasure centers. Colleague psychiatrist Harry Bailey stated that it was “cheaper to use N*g**rs than cats because they were everywhere and cheap experimental animals.”


1883 – English psychologist Sir Francis Galton created the term “eugenics,” which meant “good in stock.” He also heavily wrote about the inferiority of the Black race. Eugenics societies grew around the world, including in the U.S. where Planned Parenthood founder and eugenicist Margaret Sanger wanted to sterilize the Black population as a main goal.

1905 and beyond – German anthropologist/psychiatrist Alfred Ploetz and psychiatrist Ernst Rudin created the German Society for Racial Hygiene (cleansing the lesser races) while Rudin also created the theory of psychiatric genetics, meaning that people were mentally better or inferior as passed down by race. This psychiatrist also pushed through the German 1933 sterilization law and was considered as Hitler’s right-hand man for racial hygiene. They considered Blacks as an inferior race to the Jewish population that they annihilated during the Holocaust, wherein the orders of who lived or died were signed off by psychiatrists.

1954 – Psychologist Hendrik Verwoerd who studied eugenics at the Max Planck Institute in Germany became the South African prime minister who created Apartheid. Among his abusive segregation policies were the creation of six psychiatric slave labor camps where Black South Africans were worked and tortured.

1990s – NIMH Director, psychiatrist Frederick Goodwin, compared inner city Black youth to “hyperaggressive” and “hypersexual” monkeys in a jungle and proposed a “Violence Initiative” to conduct research to see if African-American and Hispanic youth had a violence gene that could be controlled by psychiatric drugs.

Above is just a sampling of psychiatry’s leading role in the creation of racism, and doesn’t even include how their destruction of educational basics was first used in the Black community to plummet their literacy rates. Hopefully, you can now see how this story’s opening analogy in comparing psychiatry’s role in racism to Stalin’s role in the handling of political dissidents may not be too far off.