10 Am. Crim. L. Rev. 337 (1971-1972)
The Sane Slave: Social Control and Legal Psychiatry

handle is hein.journals/amcrimlr10 and id is 345 raw text is: THE SANE SLAVE: SOCIAL CONTROL AND
THOMAS S. SzAsz, M.D.**
The passion to dehumanize and diminish man, as well as to super-
humanize and glorify him, appears to be a characteristic of human
nature. For millennia, the dialectic of vilification and deification and,
more generally, of invalidation and validation-excluding the individual
from the group as an evil outsider or including him in it as a member
in good standing-was cast in the imagery and rhetoric of magic and
religion. Thus, at the height of Christianity in Europe, only the faith-
ful were considered human: the faithless-heretics, witches, and Jews
-were considered subhuman or nonhuman and were so treated. At the
same time, the popes were thought to be infallible and kings ruled by
divine decree.
With the decline of the religious world view and the ascent of the
scientific method during the Renaissance and the Enlightenment, the
religious rhetoric of validation and invalidation was gradually replaced
by the scientific. One of the most dramatic results of this transformation
is the lexicon of psychiatric diagnoses functioning as a powerful, but
largely unacknowledged, rhetoric of rejection and stagmatization.1
In May 1851 an essay entitled Report on the Diseases and Physical
Peculiarities of the Negro Race, written by Dr. Samuel A. Cartwright,
was published in the then prestigious New Orleans Medical and Surgical
Journal.2 In this remarkable document, Dr. Cartwright-not only in his
own name but also in his capacity as chairman of a Louisiana Medical
Association committee reporting on the diseases and peculiarities of the
Negro race-asserted that Negroes are biologically inferior to whites
and sought to justify black enslavement as a therapeutic necessity for the
slaves and a medical responsibility for the masters. In support of this
*This article is taken from two essays written by Dr. Szasz: The Sane Slave, 25 AM.
J. PsYcHoTtrxiY 228-39 (1971) and Social Control and Legal Psychiatry, 17 J. ALBERT
ErNS'rmN MEDicAL CENTR 52-59 (1969).
'Professor of Psychiatry, State University of New York Upstate Medical Center,
Syracuse, New York.
OF THE INQnsTmoN AyND THE MENTAL HEAL  MovEMrNT (1970) [hereinafter cited as,
27 Naw ORLEANS MEDIcAL AND SURGicAL J. 691-715 (1851).
[ 337 1

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