Thoughts: Homosexuality and the Myth of Mental Illness

This post will differ a bit from what I usually write in that I don’t have a fully developed opinion on any of this yet, rather this is just a collection of ideas that, at somepoint (ie. after reading more Foucault and Szaz), I would like to expand upon and make into a full argument. Additionally, this post is, more a less, a stream of consciousness in that I’m not really revising it, rather I’m just getting my ideas out there. So take it as you will.

a10f4gSo prior to 1973, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) classified homosexuality and the like as a mental illness[1]. This classification of homosexuality as a mental illness led to widespread stigma against the queer body. In 1973, after intense pressure from lobbying groups and activist LGBTQ* groups, homosexuality was officially removed from the DSM and declassified as a mental illness.

Its declassification, however, brought with it some interesting implications about how “inclusive” the queer movement was and how so called “mental illness” is treated in America. From where I sit, it seems like issues of mental health are so heavily stigmatized in society that even other marginalized don’t want anything to do with the “mentally ill”. From what I saw, the movement to declassify homosexuality as a mental illness was one built around the notion that those with a supposed mental illness are, for some reason, wrong. The discourse in the movement was one of “no, we’re not the crazy ones! Those people are the REAL crazy ones!” and it is exactly this type of thinking and logic that lead to the stigma against homosexuality.

For you see, the heterosexual body would make claims like “look how crazy those gays are! eww!” instead of the queer body saying “okay? Let’s change the way we view ‘mental illness’.” they said “no, we’re not crazy! Those other people (eg. schizophrenics, depressives, etc.) are!!” and thus the stigma that was originally attached to homosexuality for being “crazy” was effectively shrugged off and handed to the next group…the “real crazies”. And it is this discourse and this logic that lead to the stigmatization to begin with and there’s no reason to think that shoving the stigma to another group will do anything to change societal views.

But, as I said at the beginning of this post, these are just random musings that I’ve been having lately. I have no solid argument nor do I have a solid opinion on what “mental illness” is or what homosexuality is, rather these are just thoughts I have as a person who cares about how “mental illness” is treated in society.


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