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In discussion on Category talk:Mental illness diagnosis by DSM and ISCDRHP, I've suggested that this article does not belong in that newly-created category. I'm suggesting "Former psychiatric disorders" as a category to hold it instead. Any thoughts? -Willmcw July 9, 2005 16:49 (UTC)

I've just filed it under "mental illness", "pseudoscience" and "racism". Samuel Cartwright really was a piece of shit^H^H^H^Hwork. -- The Anome 10:41, July 15, 2005 (UTC)

Thanks, I really didn't want to have to create a new category just for this article. Willmcw 10:48, July 15, 2005 (UTC)

Please note that there is a misspelled entry Draptomania in the US Slavery section which I have removed and simply redirected to this more complete and correct one (the old one offered no information this one did not). Cheridy Sept 30, 2005


What does this have to do with Anti-Psychiatry? Drapetomania was coined before psychiatry as we know it even existed. -Willmcw 20:50, July 22, 2005 (UTC)

yes, but it (according to some people) may prove that what is now termed "mental illness" is in reality just behaviour at odds with current socio-cultural values, in exactly the same way that escaping slaves in mid 19th-century North America were not behaving as they "should" do and were therefore identified as having a mental illness. -- 14:09, 26 August 2005 (UTC)
Which "some people" are we talking about? -Willmcw 14:33, August 26, 2005 (UTC)
I agree with, although at first I didn't. Drapetomania was an example of how science & medicine may be abused in order to enforce particular attitudes and behaviours. Anti-Psychiatry certainly came along much later, but it's talking about exactly the same thing, so it makes sense to link it in the "See Also" section.--Pariah 04:17, August 27, 2005 (UTC)


While undoubtedly a spectacular example of bad science, the article does not state how influential the theory was. How many doctors actually make a diagnosis of drapetomania? How quickly did serious rebuttals begin to be published? How late did anyone believe this nonsense? If the answers are (say) "lots", "decades later" and "1927", this is an important article. If the answers are "just Dr Cartwright", "the following week" and "the following week" then it's just a piece of trivia. jnestorius(talk) 04:08, 5 November 2006 (UTC)

Here's a good new source, perhaps you'll find the ansers there: "DRAPETOMANIA A Disease Called Freedom". -Will Beback 06:12, 7 November 2006 (UTC)

Yes it would be really good to get a reliable idea of how widespread/longlasting the diagnosis was, how many black people affected by it etc. One unreliable source says "many". Not sure if the above link covers it. EverSince (talk) 10:43, 7 September 2008 (UTC)

The text The Social Ideas of American Physicians (1776-1976) by Eugene P. Link, which can be Googled and read online, states that Cartwright's influences on medical practices extended to the WWII era. It doesn't specifically refer to drapetomania, but that was just one of many claims he made.Lizfletcher (talk) 21:02, 27 October 2008 (UTC)(Liz Fletcher)

Dubious toe claim[edit]

I've added the dubious tag to the toe claim because:

  • Given Cartwright's paternalistic attitude it seems implausible he would prescribe it.
  • Szasz is not unbiased; besides, almost everyone is somewhat biased against racists. Szasz is, anyway, not a primary source.
  • It seems like all sources regarding drapetomania are actually secondary to one paper published by Cartwright.

My guess is that toes of runaway slaves were amputated, perhaps as "treatment" for drapetomania, but that Cartwright himself never prescribed this. Anyway, perhaps I will check local libraries for the Szasz book, and try to find his source. No promises though. –Αναρχία 22:02, 8 February 2007 (UTC)

I removed the sentence. Another possibility was that Cartwright mentioned this in his book, with the point being that it was sometimes done but if slaveowers were to use his "medical" procedures they would not have to do that. Anyway the sentence in the article did not even assert any relationship with toe-cutting to Cartwright. Steve Dufour 13:14, 6 October 2007 (UTC)

The reference just added, while I comend anyone for trying, is not to psychiatry[edit]

Please try to learn what psychiatry is. The only time the word "psychiatry is used in your reference is in the following quote:

Dr. Benjamin Rush, the "father" of American psychiatry

I fear that does not support anything about the connection of Drapetomania with modern day diagnostic classification, which was the issue. But thanks for trying. --Mattisse 04:11, 5 October 2007 (UTC)
Incorrect. And Malik, please read this. I added a reference to the beginning sentence which mentioned the subject was a psychiatric diagnosis, which it indeed was. Mattisse, you're referring to a different reference that I added. Psychiatry is the branch of medicine dealing with the mind and mental illness. While certainly saying it is a medical diagnosis makes sense, "psychiatric" is more specific and since another user added it in the first place, I am inclined to agree with him/her. I am possibly going to revert this, but would like Malik's opinion first. I agree with the deletion of the Oppositional Defiant, but not this. - Cyborg Ninja 04:59, 5 October 2007 (UTC)
It would be helpful if you identified the source a little more specifically than "the reference just added", since 7 references have been added today. I have restored "psychiatric" (in place of "medical") because psychiatry is the "branch of medicine dealing with the ... mind", and drapetomania was "a disease of the mind" (Cartwright). — Malik Shabazz (Talk | contribs) 05:29, 5 October 2007 (UTC)

Drapetomania has been brought to the attention of the Medicine deletion project[edit]

Although I withdrew the AFD because of the instant harassment and attacking, Drapetomania has been brought to the attention of the Medical deletion project cleaning up false and misleading articles placed under a medical category as this one was. It will be monitored, and returned to AFD if false and misleading material purporting to be medical, psychiatric or psychological is returned to the article.

I might be helpful if, not only did you learn something about psychology and psychiatry before you start adding terms, you learned something about the history of psychiatry and psychology. Psychology as a formal field distinct from psychiatry did not exist until World War II. Psychiatry in the 1800's was philosophically based and not scientifically based, with few exceptions such as Wilhelm Wundt. So you are mixing apples and oranges. Regards, --Mattisse 13:00, 5 October 2007 (UTC)

Please stop your personal crusade. You are clearly assuming bad faith among other Wikipedia users and stirring up problems. I don't mind you bringing this to the attention of the Medicine deletion project (though you are pretending the project is something it is not), but you are causing countless problems related to this article by trying to provide a point about pseudoscience. What's funny is that Drapetomania is included in the Anti-Psychiatry article itself. Are you going to crusade about that as well? - Cyborg Ninja 14:56, 5 October 2007 (UTC)

Please do not remove questionable source tags without correcting the problem as you have just done[edit]

Citing a cancer website does not prove anything about psychiatry. Please try to maintain a professional standard. --Mattisse 14:57, 5 October 2007 (UTC)

Apparently you think a prestigious medical university is not a reliable source, Mattisse? If this keeps up, I'll need to call a review. - Cyborg Ninja 15:00, 5 October 2007 (UTC)
A cancer institute is not a reliable psychiatric source. --Mattisse 15:22, 5 October 2007 (UTC)

Thank you for adding another reference to questionable statement - please stop referring to my edits as bad faith edits User:Cyborg Ninja[edit]

You are setting up a very unfortunate atmosphere here. My original AFD statement was not even a recommendation to delete. It was open ended. Yet you choose to attack me rather than focus on the article. --Mattisse 15:20, 5 October 2007 (UTC)

I have never "attacked" you -- merely refuted your false statements and tried to improve this article. AfD stands for Articles for Deletion -- you know very well that it is only used to nominate articles for deletion. You cannot use it as a "cleanup" tag would be used. That is against Wikipedia policy. - Cyborg Ninja 23:58, 5 October 2007 (UTC)

Political abuses of psychiatry - nonexistent article & nonexistent category[edit]

You have link a nonexistent article under See also. You have also categorized the article in a nonexistent category. Perhaps it would help if you read through the AFD on the recently deleted Psychiatric abuse to understand why this is inappropriate. It is important for you to have an overview of the issues on Wikipedia before you start creating articles and categories. --Mattisse 15:45, 5 October 2007 (UTC)

Some sources to add?[edit]

First appearance in The Lancet, courtesy of Google Books.

Another book: "Nowadays, drapetomania does not ring a bell for most people. It did in the nineteenth century, at least in the United States. Official Western medicine then recognised drapetomania, the tendency of slaves to run away from their owners, as a disease that commonly affected black persons."

Another book on the history of fugue states (now part of the DSM-IV), suggesting that its slow reception in the US may have been due to drapetomania being a "predecessor diagnosis" that would be preferred over that of fugue.

This is an appearance of the term in the journal "History of Psychiatry", but it requires a subscription so I don't know how relevant it is.

Appearance in a review at Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews, where it is mentioned as part of the "history of psychiatry".

This piece in the American Journal of Psychiatry Schizophrenia Bulletin by noted psychiatrist Thomas Szasz in which drapetomania is part of a list of historical diagnoses used by psychiatrists for abusive purposes.

Here it is briefly discussed in the Handbook of Relational Diagnosis and Dysfunctional Family Patterns (a psychiatric text) as part of the chapter "Cultural Considerations in Diagnosis".

New York Times article: "Bigotry as Mental Illness Or Just Another Norm"

Another book result.

I agree that this should belong to Category:Pseudoscience (that's how it's viewed today), but also Category:Psychiatry as these sources show it belonged to that field in 19th C. USA and was actively being used as a diagnosis, as opposed to being the fringe theory of an isolated individual. If that category's restricted to current Psychiatry, then Category:History of mental health and Category:Obsolete medical theories are options which it should be under anyway. Thomjakobsen 15:45, 5 October 2007 (UTC)

Please read Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/Psychiatric abuse. I wish the talk pages for the deleted article were available. Extensive discussions took place on the view you are presenting above. For example, Thomas Szasz is not considered a neutral, unbiased source as he is part of the Anti-psychiatry movement. Also there is an Category:Anti-psychiatry. Such categories as Category:Pseudoscience, Category:Obsolete medical theories etc. are fine. Please provide an unbiased third party source showing that this diagnosis was employed as a psychiatric diagnosis in the 1800s by the "psychiatric establishment". Also, what was the psychiatric establishment then, as those were the days of Freud and Jung? So far,it appears it is one medical doctor's idiosyncratic thought that has captured the imagination of many people today and they like reading about his thinking. No one denies that his views existed as pseudoscience or a "supposed" diagnosis. Is there verification that he was a psychiatrist?

...examples of prejudice cloaked in pseudo-science are regrettably common in the history of psychiatric medicine, common enough to provoke denials that there is such a thing as mental illness (e.g., Szasz 1987)

--Mattisse 16:18, 5 October 2007 (UTC)

I'm not "presenting a view" — these are the sources I found during a search. I'm not cherry-picking them to support a particular viewpoint, simply trying to establish whether there is enough coverage to support a balanced, well-sourced article. I didn't have a prior opinion on this, I just saw the AFD and the edit-warring over sources and decided to go look for some better ones. I'm hoping they can be used to improve the article. It's clearly a topic for which a range of sources exist, and, being historically documented, is not inherently POV (in the way that the "Psychiatric abuse" article was).

The list reflects what I found. Although Szasz would not be considered a reliable main source, he is nevertheless a notable figure and so his references to this diagnosis would merit coverage.

The other sources are varied, I would ask you to click on the links and check them out before dismissing the whole list on the basis of a single source. In particular, the Handbook of Relational Diagnosis... is a handbook for practicing psychiatrists and so is completely unrelated to the anti-psychiatry movement; it discusses Drapetomania as an example of how cultural factors can distort mental health diagnosis — in fact, it's given as the main historical US example of that tendency. The source shows that modern psychiatry recognizes this topic as being of relevance to current practice.

Another book is on the history of the diagnosis of fugue conditions. Again, I'm assuming in the absence of contrary indications that this is a reliable secondary source and is unrelated to the anti-psychiatry movement; it notes Drapetomania as being historically significant because its prevalent diagnosis in the US may have been a factor in the slow adoption of fugue-related diagnoses (nowadays covered in the DSM-IV under dissociative disorders).

The NYT article quotes a clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School (presumably independent of the anti-psychiatry movement) using Drapetomania as a prime example of how the classification of psychopathology can be influenced by cultural factors; he's actually calling for racism to be classified as a disorder, so really he's at the opposite end of the scale to Szasz. This shows that it's not just an anti-psychiatry topic and that it has current relevance.

As for, "what was the psychiatric establishment then, as those were the days of Freud and Jung?" Those two don't come into prominence until the early 1900s, half a century later. The American Psychiatric Association was founded in 1844 (under a different name), but the medical treatment of mental illness can be traced back to at least the 13th century with the founding of Bedlam, the first dedicated psychiatric hospital. The "psychiatric field" at that time would consist of all medical doctors engaged in the treatment of mental illness; the term isn't restricted to the 20th century despite the growth of the field as a specialist branch of medicine in that period. All the sources I've seen so far recognize this as part of the history of psychiatry; it may have been geographically confined to the US or even to the Southern states (the historical overview-type sources indicate somewhere between the two), and it may not have lasted very long (the American Civil War was just around the corner, so the problem of slave psychiatry didn't have much time left), but it's still very much psychiatry by any definition, however flawed in retrospect. If there were a "History of psychiatry" category as there is for psychology, neuroscience, etc. then that might be a more appropriate classification than just "Psychiatry", to reflect the fact that it's not current psychiatry. Thomjakobsen 18:29, 5 October 2007 (UTC)

I agree with Thomjackobsen's last paragraph above especially. I have been trying to show that while the subject matter is not currently used in psychiatry (which was clear even in the old versions of the page), it was still a psychiatric diagnosis. However flawed it may be, it is still of historical matter and I believe Wikipedians have made several steps to insure that nobody is misled to believe that it is currently diagnosed. After all, when I see the term "scientific racism," I tend to doubt that it's current psychiatric theory. - Cyborg Ninja 00:04, 6 October 2007 (UTC)

I had a look at the 1999 History of Psychiatry source helpfully listed above by Thomjakobsen. That particular article is a reprinting of a 19th century article on haematoma auris, a psychiatric diagnosis at the time. The mention of drapetomania is in a modern intro to the reprint, that's mainly in another PDF, pages 371-375 in the journal archive list [1] by Berrios who often writes conceptual insightful stuff on psychiatric classification. Since it's password protected I'll give some extracts of what he seems to be saying of relevance to this article and the prior debate I see about deletion/modern context:

"A tendency can be noticed amongst historians to concentrate on clinical states that are current, such as depression, hysteria, Alzheimer’s disease or Tourette’s syndrome, or fashionable, such as chronic fatigue syndrome, ’impulse disorder’ or ’low IQ-gene’ disease. ’Currency’ refers here to categories included in the official classifications (ICD-10 or DSM IV). ’Fashionableness’, in turn, concerns ’candidate’ clinical states of recent construction or reinvention which the media and the great public find interesting and/or convenient and hence are eagerly adopted by ’scientific’ sponsors."

"How, when and why does a clinical state come to be included in an official classification is not as clear a process as one might expect." ...

"It would seem, therefore, that research into this field is needed particularly for there are other past examples of equally suspicious clinical categories (e.g., drapetomania*, catalepsy, neurasthenia and haematoma auris - the topic of the present Classic Text) whose inception, inclusion and eventual dismissal from the official classifications remains poorly understood."

"What is the ’real’ difference, then, between mental symptoms or diseases that are current and those which are no more? The answer depends on the view one holds about the nature of disease."

"In summary, the question of what diseases are considered as current and which are not depends on far more than the modicum of ’scientific truth’ that it might be said to contain: it depends on factors and decisions that have nothing to do with conventional science and which issue out of higher level beliefs on what mental illness, concepts and science are, and also on the social and economic value of a given disease at the time. If so, writing on the history of diseases which are no more is no longer an exercise in antiquarianism: it becomes absolutely central to doing good history of psychiatry."

"Perusal of the extensive literature and serious science that went on haematoma auris since the 1860s up to the turn of the century shows that the term was used to refer to either a symptom, syndrome or disease. The observable phenomenon was a change in the shape and colour of the ear lobules of in-patients suffering from a variety of mental disorder."

"Pieterson’s entry has all the characteristics of mature or standard science. It defined the disorder in terms of natural history, clinical correlations, pathological anatomy, genetics, etiology and treatment. There was also the professional and academic dimension in that reputations were built on being an expert in hae11lato11la auris. This meant that any trainee who sat the professional examinations of the time (the Diploma in Psychological Medicine was already going on in London) and replied that haernatorna auris was an artefact caused by keepers controlling agitated patients by grabbing their ears would have done so at his own peril (in spite of the fact that the hypothesis was already available in the 1890s). By the end of the First World War the topic disappeared from the medical press and the experts moved onto new fashions: haematoma auris was no more."

"For the realist the answer is straightforward: some of the current clinical categories may turn out to be like haematoma auris but this is the price of progress: eventually science will identify the false or untrue states. Conveniently it follows from this view that society should continue supporting current researchers. But since the fashion is the neurosciences, this inference means starving social scientists, philosophers, sociologists and historians from much needed funds to continue researching into mental illness. Analysis from the constructivist perspective clarifies the situation further: the issue about the predominance of the neurosciences has less to do with truth than with the current economical and legal climate and hence it is imperative that other approaches to mental illness are allowed to participate in the process of understanding..." "Indeed, it could even be said that it would be unethical not to allow other approaches to participate in the common epistemological enterprise. Without such wider conceptual participation, the haematoma auris or the drapetomania stories will happen again."

"*Disease defined by a Dr Cartwright in the USA as an ’irresistible propensity to run away’ seen in Southern American slaves (p.48, Bucknill, J. C. and Tuke, D. H. (1858), A Manual of Psychological Medicine (London: John Churchill)). Conceptually, there is little difference between drapetomania and the so-called ’impulse-disorder disease’ recently proposed by a London researcher group."

EverSince (talk) 11:17, 7 September 2008 (UTC)

p.s. A psychiatric residency curriculum on the Care of African American Patients:

"The development of these curricula marks the culmination of a process of gradual understanding of the clinical importance of intercultural understanding, variability, and recognition. The history of psychiatry is replete with examples of the consequences of the failure to achieve this recognition. One of the earliest examples of the misuse of psychiatric diagnoses in this context is the term drapetomania, which was used to describe a mental disorder that caused slaves to run away from their masters. In various studies of psychosis published in the early psychiatric literature, it was believed that mental disorders were rare under conditions of slavery but became more common following emancipation. Many of these early studies attributed mental illness in African Americans to evolutionary and phylogenetic factors. Psychodynamic explanations of mental illness in this population invoked concepts of self-hatred, as exemplified by the workof Kardiner and Ovesey, who advanced the thesis that one of the characteristic features of African American identity is a self-directed contempt. Because of these historical precedents, African Americans came to be viewed by mental health professionals as nonverbal, hostile, unmotivated, intellectually inferior, and possessing character disorders that were not suitable for a dynamic therapeutic intervention. African American family life and child rearing practices were viewed as chaotic and psychologically destructive. Social conditions such as poverty and crime have all too often been attributed to mental illness, biology, and genetics. This has created a kind of nihilism on the part of mental health professionals, which has proven to be an impediment both to research and health care delivery. These deterministic views of race-based psychology have continued to appear in the literature and continue to exert a pernicious influence." EverSince (talk) 13:55, 7 September 2008 (UTC)

I removed the POV tag[edit]

I removed the tag as another editor has provided an appropriate introduction that adds some context. The article, in my opinion, still gives undue weight to the opinions of a long discredited diagnosis proposed by one man in the form of long, unanalyzed quotes.

This article with the long quotes is long than Samuel A. Cartwright's biography. Perhaps this article should be merged with his biography. --Mattisse 15:52, 5 October 2007 (UTC)

That's very white of you. — Malik Shabazz (Talk | contribs) 17:02, 5 October 2007 (UTC)
Humm. Does that mean I must become white? --Mattisse 00:43, 6 October 2007 (UTC)

I've removed the block quotes and included a few more secondary references to hopefully improve the article's balance. Addhoc 13:23, 6 October 2007 (UTC)

Merge to Cartwright's article[edit]

It seems to me that the concept of Drapetomania only existed in relationship to Cartwright, and he is mainly known only for that. It seems logical to merge the two articles. Steve Dufour 19:28, 6 October 2007 (UTC)

  • Oppose until it becomes clear whether both articles would benefit from the merge. At present you're claiming you can only find one source for the information thus the topic should be part of the originator. Maybe there are more sources or it was known separate from the individual. Reexamine it in a year. (SEWilco 19:41, 6 October 2007 (UTC))
I'm not suggesting removing any information from either article. Just put them together on the same page and redirect. Steve Dufour 20:00, 6 October 2007 (UTC)
  • Alternative suggestion I agree that Cartwright seems notable principally in relation to these diseases. I think his biography should be merged into this article. — Malik Shabazz (Talk | contribs) 20:19, 6 October 2007 (UTC)
  • Oppose The lede of Cartwright's article suggests this isn't the main cause of his notability, and as it's sourced to modern editions of A Dictionary of Louisiana Biography and Dictionary of American Medical Biography, there's no reason to suspect it's unbalanced. There's an essay here which appears to have been written by a class of high school students; the entry for Cartwright doesn't mention Drapetomania, although it does mention his other works on "race theory", his apparently notable writings on yellow fever and cholera, and his work improving sanitary conditions among the Confederate Army. I won't pretend high school students are a reliable source, but presumably they'll reflect the most obvious points from the secondary sources they've consulted. The sources I've listed above talk about Drapetomania in isolation, and most of them don't mention Cartwright; when he is mentioned, they name him as the originator but say nothing extra about him — the concept is the focus, not him. This all suggests to me that the two subjects aren't conflated in the minds of the people discussing them, and so a merge either way wouldn't be helpful. Thomjakobsen 20:21, 6 October 2007 (UTC)
You are right that there is more to Cartwright than just this. However the drapetomania article has only two paragraphs on its subject. After that it starts talking about another disease Cartwright "discovered". It seems if there is so little to say on the topic it might be just as well to make it a section in the other article, with a redirect of course. Steve Dufour 20:35, 6 October 2007 (UTC)
Comment I strongly believe that the article will be expanded and that you are not giving it enough time to do so by suggesting this merge. I have looked at Google Scholar previously and saw hundreds of academic articles about the subject. By suggesting a merge, you make it seem like the subject is unimportant or not very notable, but with the dozens of references down the page and a simple Google search, one can tell that the subject is indeed notable enough for its own namespace. A merge like this should only be suggested for sure-fire reasons in my opinion. - Cyborg Ninja 22:40, 6 October 2007 (UTC)
  • Support a merge one way or the other. --Mattisse 20:35, 6 October 2007 (UTC)
  • Alternative suggestion is fine with me. In fact, that may be the better idea as the Drapetomania article is now cleaned up and well referenced. The Cartwright article is unreferenced with large Original Research seeming section at the end and is much less interesting. Would hate to see the Drapetomania article screwed up with unreferenced stuff from the Cartwright article. recommend only merging information that has reference citations into Drapetomania. --Mattisse 20:35, 6 October 2007 (UTC)
But the Cartwright article is sourced — he has an entry in two separate dictionaries of biography. For anything other than news events of the last few decades, printed sources are generally superior to web links. As for the "original research" claim: which part of that section do you take issue with? The use of "scientific racism" to justify the South's antebellum position is well documented, Cartwright's views of blacks can be confirmed by checking out his book, and the DeBow's Review articles are again verifiable with a trip to a library. Thomjakobsen 21:05, 6 October 2007 (UTC)
If you look at the Drapetomania article, which has received some very good editing over the last day, including Addhoc and others, you will see that the article has reference citations per Wikipedia:Citing sources. That ensures that no one can remove material from the article unless that person can supply a superior source. The Cartwright article does not have footnote references. Wikipeida wants specific sources for statements that might be challenged, without the reader having to read through a bunch of references at the end. Specifically, although some of the statements at the top can be overlooked for the time being, the material under the section Slavery is unsourced and perhaps Original Research. There is no way of knowing without footnote citations. And all quotations must be specifically referenced. Otherwise, I would agree with you that the best way to go would to merge with Cartwright as he seems to have contributed much more than just the Drapetomania pseudoscience. --Mattisse 22:29, 6 October 2007 (UTC)
I don't support a merge with Cartwright, as I've tried to make clear in my comment earlier in this section. I think a merge would be inappropriate in either direction.
As to the Cartwright article: the upper sections don't exactly meet the style guidelines at Wikipedia:Citing sources, but that's far from being "unreferenced", which usually means "has no sources whatsoever". Had it been sourced from a long book, it would have made sense to add footnotes so that people can check the exact pages, but it looks like it was synthesized from two short dictionary entries, so naming the two sources at the end would have been acceptable at that early stage. It will need to be tidied up as the article expands, but the absolute requirement for inline citations is more intended for the addition of controversial claims or information that is likely to be challenged.
The "slavery" section is currently unsourced and can be improved but I don't see which part would constitute original research in the sense of WP:OR. Which statements in particular are you concerned about? Thomjakobsen 00:10, 7 October 2007 (UTC)
If you just source the slavery section I will be happy. You can always comment out parts and return them when you find the references. I agree that the totality of the man is much more complex than the Drapetomania part. And the total history of the man puts the Drapetomania in the context of the era, which makes less lurid and more a sign of the complexity of the times. --Mattisse 00:18, 7 October 2007 (UTC)
Comment "Otherwise, I would agree with you that the best way to go would to merge with Cartwright as he seems to have contributed much more than just the Drapetomania pseudoscience." This seems to be bizarre reasoning to me. If anything, I would have had the opposite conclusion. See below. - Cyborg Ninja 22:36, 6 October 2007 (UTC)
  • Oppose Cartwright is known beyond his theory of drapetomania, as is evident from the Cartwright article. Drapetomania itself is a well-known topic of historical importance. - Cyborg Ninja 22:36, 6 October 2007 (UTC)
If drapetomania was really a topic of wider importance then evidence for that needs to be found. Did any other doctors advocate Cartwright's views? Steve Dufour 00:08, 7 October 2007 (UTC)
  • Comment Certainly many doctors did advocate and practice Cartwright's suggestions. I don't know who added the link below, but it should make that clear to you. Really, all you needed to do was a simple Google search and read the other comments here. Your merging all these articles is um, a bad idea. - Cyborg Ninja 14:57, 7 October 2007 (UTC)
Have a look at: Find sources: "Drapetomania" – news · newspapers · books · scholar · HighBeam · JSTOR · free images · free news sources · The Wikipedia Library · NYT · WP reference
  • Oppose - sufficient references available. Addhoc 00:18, 7 October 2007 (UTC)
  • Action taken I went ahead and removed the information about the other "disorder" Cartwright "discovered", dysaethesia aethiopica, and merged that into his article. There are now two paragraphs about drapetomania. Go ahead and expand it with more information. I withdraw my merge nomination. Steve Dufour 00:20, 7 October 2007 (UTC)
  • I was going to split this article and create a separate article about Dysaethesia Aethiopica, but I was waiting for resolution of the merger question. Now that the merger proposal is moot, I'm going to do so. — Malik Shabazz (Talk | contribs) 00:41, 7 October 2007 (UTC)

Merging Dysaethesia aethiopica with Drapetomania[edit]

I believe Dysaethesia aethiopica should be merged with Cartwright's article, per Wikipedia standards. Dysaethesia aethiopica is a separate entity from Drapetomania, though they are both evidence of scientific racism by the same "scientist." If we stick with this merge/redirect for dys. aethiopica, you would have to add "Drapetomania and Dysaesthesia aethiopica" at the top, which doesn't make much sense. If you want to redirect it to Cartwright's article, I'd be for it, since dys. aethiopica doesn't seem to be as well-known as Drapetomania. I will edit Cartwright's article to include information on Dysaethesia aethiopica. - Cyborg Ninja 01:23, 7 October 2007 (UTC)

I think a redirect to Cartwright would do. It seems to be mentioned only as a sidenote to drapetomania, and doesn't have the contemporary references. Thomjakobsen 02:01, 7 October 2007 (UTC)
Granted, Dysaethesia aethiopica isn't as widely-known as drapetomania, but there are more than 300 non-Wikipedia Google hits. I haven't had a chance to go through them at length. I'd like to add to Dysaethesia Aethiopica Cartwright's prescription for preventing and treating the disease. Please give me a little time (it's dinner time), see what I come up with, and consider the merger then. — Malik Shabazz (Talk | contribs) 02:16, 7 October 2007 (UTC)
Sure, there's no hurry. Things are moving too fast as it is: the AfD lasted a couple of hours, the last merge proposal was withdrawn after 20 minutes, so I can understand if you're paranoid it'll get zapped while you get some food... suggest we give this a few days while things cool down? Thomjakobsen 02:33, 7 October 2007 (UTC)

Just so you know, I've added a link to the Talk page for Dys. aethiopica to an RfC. - Cyborg Ninja 03:32, 7 October 2007 (UTC)

I would vote for 3 articles, or merging Dysaethesia with Cartwright. I don't think merging the 2 "disorders" together makes much sense. In that case you might as well merge them both into Cartwright since he is the common element that brings them together. I learned a lot about the topics during this discussion. Thanks everyone. Steve Dufour 04:02, 7 October 2007 (UTC)

Picture caption[edit]

Did the artist, Eastman Johnson, according to the caption, say that the topic of his picture was African Americans fleeing slavery as a the result of drapetomania? Does this imply that Eastman Johnson believed the only reason African Americans would flee slavery was drapetomania? I believe this needs to be clarified and referenced. --Mattisse 20:21, 6 October 2007 (UTC)

I edited the caption, your highness. — Malik Shabazz (Talk | contribs) 20:25, 6 October 2007 (UTC)
  • Please do not make pejorative or sarcastic comments referring to me, Malik Shabazz. It makes constructive work on the article much harder when one editor is making such comments to another. --Mattisse 20:40, 6 October 2007 (UTC)

Isn't that an instance of the pot calling the kettle black, your excellency? Please apologize for your demeaning and vitriolic comments referring to me, Mattisse, or I will continue to respond to you in the manner I deem appropriate. — Malik Shabazz (Talk | contribs) 21:33, 6 October 2007 (UTC)

    • I, for one, was not adversely affected by his comment. I thought he was giving a compliment and indicating respect of your insight. (SEWilco 20:49, 6 October 2007 (UTC))
      • Perhaps you were not adversely affected by his comment because his comment was not directed at you. Please see Wikipedia:Requests for comment/Mattisse 2 to evaluate whether that comment might be directed at me as a compliment. --Mattisse 21:01, 6 October 2007 (UTC)
        • I see, and he has made himself clear now. Personal attack from him deleted. (SEWilco 21:40, 6 October 2007 (UTC))
          • Truly, I thank you. --Mattisse 22:03, 6 October 2007 (UTC)
Sorry. I thought it was implied that it was Cartwright who was saying so. With you guys' help I hope this is now clear. Steve Dufour 20:31, 6 October 2007 (UTC)
This problem, a year later, remains. I can't see what this painting has to do with the topic.--WaldoJ (talk) 02:32, 11 October 2008 (UTC)
Drapetomania was purported to be the reason why black slaves fled captivity. The painting illustrates slaves fleeing captivity. It seems like a fairly straightforward connection. ·:· Will Beback ·:· 04:16, 11 October 2008 (UTC)
Perhaps the caption could be modified to indicate that? Perhaps something like "Eastman Johnson's 1862 painting, A Ride for Liberty — The Fugitive Slaves, depicts an enslaved family escaping on horseback." I know no more about slavery or pseudoscience than your average American—I came to this entry after watching "C.S.A.: Confederate States of America" on Friday, looking to find out more about "drapetomania" as referred to in the movie. It was within that context that I scratched my head at this painting, wondering what it had to do with Cartwright. That simple contextual note may be something that would allow the image to remain, as I gather you desire, without confusing readers. --WaldoJ (talk) 18:16, 12 October 2008 (UTC)

Obsolete psychiatric theories[edit]

I'm using Phrenology as an example here. The phrenology article has various categories at the bottom that I think could be similarly applied to this drapetomania article. An "Obsolete psychiatric theories" category would be good. If one of you could argue it with the Psychiatry project (I assume there is one), that would work. BTW, I don't think this should be merged with Samuel A. Cartwright. I did put his picture on this article, but if anything, drapetomania gained more notoriety than Cartwright himself and drapetomania is more important. And I do think Cartwright deserves his own article too. - Cyborg Ninja 22:24, 6 October 2007 (UTC)

Another idea from Phrenology is Category:History of neuroscience. I notice the page for that category includes psychiatry, but I assume it's intended for areas of overlap and this wouldn't fit. Category:History of psychiatry would be nice, alongside all the similar subcats in Category:History of science. Thomjakobsen 22:32, 6 October 2007 (UTC)
"Neuroscience" fits the concepts upon which Phrenology is based better than the concepts behind this article's topic, so I don't think neuroscience quite fits here. (SEWilco 04:36, 7 October 2007 (UTC))
Yes, I think that's what I said in the second sentence there ("this wouldn't fit"). Following the example of Phrenology, we put it in a historical category to distinguish it from current practice. In this case, that would be Category:History of psychiatry rather than Category:Psychiatry. Thomjakobsen 14:04, 7 October 2007 (UTC)
The "History of psychiatry" category sounds like a good idea too. Maybe that is the best since it can cover obsolete theories, too. I asked Mattisse to consider adding the category but she threw a tantrum and has in essence stopped talking to anyone on Wikipedia. - Cyborg Ninja 12:14, 8 October 2007 (UTC)

Bad practice to refactor talk page without concensus - it causes confusion[edit]

You should stop. --Mattisse 02:15, 7 October 2007 (UTC)

Give it a rest. I moved comments regarding the merger you proposed to the section to which you linked. So what's the problem? — Malik Shabazz (Talk | contribs) 02:18, 7 October 2007 (UTC)
Wikipedia:Refactoring talk pages This is the problems. This is not the time to cause even more confusion and without consensus, and when there is confusion already. --Mattisse 02:31, 7 October 2007 (UTC)
I have no problem with merging the two sections. I am the creator of one of them, remember. Malik's move in no way was a violation. Please stop hounding him, Mattisse. Let it go, and recognize that he is a significant and great contributor to this article. All you have done is complain about other users' edits because they didn't fit your viewpoint. - Cyborg Ninja 02:47, 7 October 2007 (UTC)
Oh, is this why my Oppose comment got moved above the discussion to which I was referring in my comment? Whoever did that messed up the context of all the following comments in addition to taking my comment out of context. I object. (SEWilco 04:33, 7 October 2007 (UTC))
I have no idea what you're referring to, but I didn't have anything to do with it. Cyborg Ninja and Thomjakobsen made comments about the merger at the bottom of the page, and I moved them to the bottom of the merger section. I kept the heading they used. Here's the diff. I didn't disrupt the flow of the discussion. I kept all the comments in chrono order. Among rational people, this wouldn't be an issue at all. — Malik Shabazz (Talk | contribs) 05:15, 7 October 2007 (UTC)
Oh, I was thinking about something else, not that shuffle down here. Never mind. (SEWilco 05:21, 7 October 2007 (UTC))
Besides, what are you talking about? Your oppose comment was the first comment made, so of course it appears before the discussion. Here's the diff. Also, take a look at the time next to your name and the preceding and following comments. Sheesh. — Malik Shabazz (Talk | contribs) 05:23, 7 October 2007 (UTC)

Agenda to "trivialize" all three articles[edit]

I don't know about you guys, but trying to "trivialize" historical topics does not bode well with Wikipedia I believe. More on the Dys. aethiopica talk page. Everyone, please see Talk:Dysaethesia_Aethiopica. I'd like to know what you think about the "trivializing the three articles" agenda. I have a feeling that the article or comment might get erased, so I'll post it here:

Propose merge. Three small articles on essentially same topic prevents a clear picture. Articles are split off from main preventing a whole picture from emerging:

  • Dysaethesia Aethiopica (this article) +
  • Drapetomania +
  • Samuel A. Cartwright.

The effect is to trivialize all three articles. --Mattisse 02:12, 7 October 2007 (UTC)

I definitely find this worrying. These are relevant historical topics, and we users here have made that clear. - Cyborg Ninja 15:04, 7 October 2007 (UTC)

I presume she means "having three small articles has the effect of trivializing them", rather than "my intention is to trivialize them". I disagree, because I think there's enough for three good separate articles, but I assume the comment was made in good faith rather than any "agenda to trivialize". Thomjakobsen 15:36, 7 October 2007 (UTC)
Yes, it appears the comment was misunderstood. --Mattisse 21:50, 8 October 2007 (UTC)

DeBow's Review[edit]

Google Books has digitized copies of the collected "volumes" of this publication. Vol XI, covering Jul. 1851—Jan. 1852, has a full copy of Cartwright's paper to the Medical Convention of Louisiana. The volume itself is about 760 pages, so links to the relevant bits:

  • p.64, "Diseases and Peculiarities of the Negro Race", part 1.
  • p.184, "How to Save the Republic, and the Position of the South in the Union", an article by Cartwright in which he argues against abolition. The first few paragraphs are interesting, he says he hopes his medical paper can be used to assist in saving the Union by raising awareness of scientific discoveries of differences between whites and blacks.
  • p.331, "Diseases and Peculiarities of the Negro Race", part 2. This section deals in particular with Drapetomania and Dysaethesia Aethiopica.
  • p.504, "Diseases and …", part 3 (final).

Thomjakobsen 15:33, 7 October 2007 (UTC)

Caplan et al. also reprints Cartwright's paper in full, and can be read at (I find Amazon more user-friendly than Google Books because it's easier to search for words and phrases.) To give a little context, which I'm going to add to Cartwright's biography soon, the results of the 1840 census were manipulated and found high concentrations of "madness" among free Blacks in the northern US. Cartwright's paper was, in part, an explanation of this madness. His section on dysaethesia aethiopica refers to the fact that northern doctors were familiar with the symptoms of the disease but "they ignorantly attribute the symptoms to the debasing influence of slavery on the mind". — Malik Shabazz (Talk | contribs) 21:25, 7 October 2007 (UTC)
Yes, the importance of "scientific" arguments for slavery leading up to the civil war would be an excellent "context" expansion in all three articles, and could probably make for an article of its own. The existing section at Scientific racism#Justification of slavery in the nineteenth century is pretty short with no mention of the census, and John C. Calhoun's article has no mention of it either, nor his famous "Here is proof of the necessity of slavery" address to Congress. United States Census, 1840 is pretty much a stub too. Thomjakobsen 23:12, 7 October 2007 (UTC)
Thanks. I didn't realize that Scientific racism had a section that specifically referred to slavery. When I get some more sources together, I'll add some information there and to the census article. — Malik Shabazz (Talk | contribs) 23:16, 7 October 2007 (UTC)

Amputation of the toe[edit]

I have serious doubts as to whether this "remedy" has anything to do with Cartwright's diagnosis. Reading the description at the given reference, I get the impression that the author (an MD, not a historian) is inadvertently synthesizing: he's described a condition blamed for slaves running away, then found a description of a historical punishment for runaways, and presented the two in a way that suggests a connection.

It isn't mentioned in Cartwright's essays, and in fact he comes across as quaintly paternalistic, describing the slaves as children who need to be cared for but not allowed too much freedom, and he specifically says that mistreatment by cruel owners is often a cause of drapetomania (whippings apparently excluded).

I'm also a bit skeptical that toe amputation was practiced in the US — the source given is "Human Behavior Magazine" (which appears to be a kind of pop psychology magazine from the 70s, only indirect search hits), whereas the punishment usually described in historical works is "hobbling" by cutting the Achilles' tendon behind one of the ankles. Toe amputation would have carried an unacceptably high risk of infection and thus loss of work to the economically-minded slavers — perhaps it's a much earlier practice.

The only other reference I could find is this page, which says, "Cartwright suggested in New Orleans Medical and Surgical Journal that slave owners could treat and cure this 'medical disorder' by whipping slaves and amputating their toes", but this is mistaken. No mention of toes in the paper, unless I've missed something. Thomjakobsen 19:52, 8 October 2007 (UTC)

I'll get rid of it (I added it in the first place). I've never read his papers thoroughly and I think you know more about the subject. - Cyborg Ninja 20:25, 23 October 2007 (UTC)