05 July 2020

Here is why racism is not a mental illness

I’ve been thinking a lot about this question, is racism a form of mental illness? I work in psych so this is something I am thinking about lately, especially.
On the one hand we cannot excuse racist attitudes and actions, even if they are the result of mental illness, and at the same time we want to address mental illness AND racism as societal problems.
I have seen people in a psychotic episode say horrible hateful things including racist things. We have obviously seen people NOT in a psychotic episode saying hateful racist things. So where’s the overlap? And why do some people say those things when they are psychotic but not when that are NOT psychotic, and why do some people say these things when they are NOT psychotic?
I think hating someone because of the color of their skin is the sign of an unhealthy mind. I can’t imagine anything else. It is learned, it is part of unhealthy power/over indoctrination, and it’s based in fear and lies.
The term “mental illness” is so broad, it covers a lot of territory. But back to the question, are racists inherently mentally ill in some way? Is racism a manifestation of some kind of mental illness?
What I am arriving at is that racism can exist in people who both are and are not mentally ill. A mentally ill person who has learned racism might express their racism through their mentally ill behaviors, but the mental illness does not cause the racism. Likewise a person with no discernible mental illness can learn racism and be a racist covertly or overtly not as part of any psychological syndrome.
What are your thoughts?