Is Xenophilia a Mental Illness?
A Vice article published on Tuesday has reignited the debate over whether racism (or “pathological bias,” to use the clinical term proposed by psychiatrists) should be considered a mental illness and included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. In turn, I would like to raise the question of whether pathological xenophilia should be considered a mental illness.
The idea of racism or anti-Semitism as a mental illness can be traced back to the 1930s. In a classic case of projection, Jewish psychologists such as Freud and Wilhelm Reich attributed German anti-Semitism to sexual neuroses. Others identified it with paranoia and mass psychosis. The Authoritarian Personality, a highly influential book written by mostly Jewish academics in 1950, diagnoses fascists with a personality disorder caused by excessively authoritarian parenting.
In the 1960s, black psychiatrists in America, led by Alvin Poussaint, pushed for “extreme bigotry” to be recognized as a mental disorder. (The APA rejected their proposal on the grounds that racist views were the norm among Southerners.) Jane Elliott, the mother of diversity training, also described racism as a mental illness. More recently, psychiatrist Carl Bell proposed that extreme racism is symptomatic of an underlying personality disorder, such as narcissism. In 2012, “pathological bias” was included in the Oxford Handbook of Personality Disorders.
The DSM, far from being infallible scripture, is simply a reflection of the values upheld by the APA and modern Western society at large. A hermit who devotes himself to solitary pursuits might be diagnosed with schizoid personality disorder. Normal boys with an abundance of physical energy are routinely diagnosed with ADHD. Blacks are disproportionately likely to be diagnosed with oppositional defiant disorder, antisocial personality disorder, and schizophrenia, but their lawless behavior is normal by African standards.
Homosexuality was categorized as a mental illness until 1973, when a gay cabal within the APA agitated for its removal from the DSM. (I do not consider homosexuality a mental illness, but its removal from the DSM was clearly a political maneuver.) In 2013, gender identity disorder was reframed as “gender dysphoria,” and its description was carefully modified to emphasize that the diagnosis pertains to the distress experienced by transsexuals on account of societal discrimination, as opposed to their delusional thinking. Last year, the APA issued a statement condemning “harmful masculinity” and claiming that it causes psychological distress. These are presented as judgments grounded in scientific reality, but they are purely qualitative and arbitrary.
The pathologization of racism is, of course, immediately reminiscent of the Soviet Union’s abuse of psychiatry. Dissidents were diagnosed with “sluggish schizophrenia,” a made-up illness supposedly characterized by the gradual onset of full-blown schizophrenia. Symptoms included pessimism, social maladjustment, and “delusional” thinking. Dissidents diagnosed with the illness were imprisoned in psychiatric hospitals, where they were subjected to various means of torture.
The idea of racism as a mental illness has met opposition from the younger (mostly gen-Z) crowd of woke activists, many of whom have been diagnosed with a litany of mental illnesses and boast of their diagnoses with pride. Declaring that one has “anxiety” or “OCD” has become a form of in-group signaling, particularly among white Leftists, who lack the status of POC. The more victimized you are, the better. Many younger activists see mental illnesses not as obstacles that must be reckoned with, but as identities to be celebrated and embraced. It would become rather uncomfortable for them if racism came to be officially recognized as a mental illness.
Some Leftists also fear that labeling racism as a mental illness would absolve racists of responsibility and allow them to get away with being openly racist. So Leftists fall on both sides of this debate. But all are in agreement that racism is evil and delusional. The very fact that the link between racism and psychopathology is a matter of debate among psychiatrists in the first place is a testament to that.
One could make a much stronger case for the idea that acute xenophilia is a mental disorder. It represents a pronounced deviation from healthy human behavior and works against one’s self-interest. The lack of alignment between one’s racial/ethnic identity and one’s loyalties can also cause psychological turmoil.
A moderate degree of xenophilia is not pathological. White people are uniquely curious about the world and its peoples, which is one of our most distinctive traits. Only a white man could have founded the discipline of anthropology. But in the past, our fascination with foreign ways of life did not threaten to subvert our identity because we had a strong sense of pride and maintained clear boundaries between us and non-whites. Our open-mindedness did not devolve into suicidal ethno-masochism.
Rachel Dolezal is a good example of someone who is pathologically xenophilic. When Dolezal made headlines in June 2015 for pretending to be black, many (including Dolezal herself) likened her to Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner, who had recently come out as transgender. The comparison is apt. Both individuals suffer from delusional thinking and an over-identification with the “Other” that verges on fetishism.
Most white liberals are not as xenophilic as Dolezal, but they exhibit a similar over-identification with non-whites. They are more offended by the so-called “murder” of a handful of black criminals than they are by the slow genocide of their own people. They celebrate the destruction of their own civilization and sympathize with those who want to see them dead. The thought patterns of the average white liberal are uncomfortably similar to those of someone like Dolezal, who is clearly a disturbed individual suffering from extreme xenophilia.
Apart from the question of whether pathological xenophilia itself can be considered a mental illness, it is incontestable that abnormally xenophilic people — white liberals — are more likely to be mentally ill than their “xenophobic” counterparts. 38% of white liberals (56% of white liberal women) have been diagnosed with a mental illness, compared to 15% of conservatives. Of course, there are other factors that account for this statistic: white liberals are more likely to consult psychiatrists and may engage in malingering to get victim points, and white liberal women are more likely to be childless and thus unhappy. But even considering those caveats, the discrepancy is striking.
Many people have remarked on the connection between Leftism and psychopathology. Most recently, Danish researcher Emil O. W. Kierkegaard published a comprehensive study on the subject. His conclusion replicates results found elsewhere. The results confirm the general pattern from before, namely that there is a strongly elevated risk for mental illness among the extreme liberals (+150%), a small increase among the liberals and slightly liberals (+29 to 32%), and somewhat lower rates among conservatives and extreme conservatives (-17 to 24%).
There are a number of explanations for the link between xenophilia and mental illness. First, xenophilia correlates with what psychologist Ernest Hartmann described as “thin boundaries.” For people with thin mental boundaries, the lines between reality and fantasy and self and other are blurred. They have a weaker grasp on reality and matters of identity, which makes them more susceptible not only to liberalism, but also to schizophrenia spectrum disorders and borderline personality disorder.
Second, xenophilia and mental illness both stem from genetic mutations. The most fundamental instincts in all living things are to survive, pass on one’s genes, and defend one’s tribe. These instincts have prevailed through natural selection for obvious reasons. Adhering to ideologies that violate our natural instincts — liberalism, anti-natalism, atheism (religiosity is pro-social and facilitates tribal cohesion) — is, therefore, highly maladaptive. One would expect the adherents of such ideologies to have high mutational load, and that is indeed the case: Edward Dutton established this in his paper on mutational load and atheism.
High mutational load is associated with mental illness. Mentally ill people are more likely to exhibit indicators of high mutational load such as fluctuating asymmetry, minor physical anomalies, and poor physical health (particularly allergies, asthma, and poor immune function). As Dutton has pointed out, mutants would have been more likely to die in infancy under pre-industrial conditions, and the cultural dominance of maladaptive ideologies today is partly a consequence of the relaxed selection that characterizes modern society.
Third, in-group preference is linked to oxytocin (yes, our vicious hatred is partly a product of the “cuddle hormone”), which has been hypothesized to have preventative effects against anxiety, depression, and autism.
Finally, white people with low self-esteem may be inclined to identify with those whom they perceive to be weak and oppressed, leading them to side with non-whites. Ted Kaczynski attributes this phenomenon to oversocialization: the oversocialized person comes to believe that the course of his life is outside his control, which produces feelings of powerlessness and a defeatist worldview. I would attribute it more to liberals’ innate neuroticism and susceptibility to depression.
Not all liberals are mentally disturbed, of course, and not all are congenitally disposed to liberalism and xenophilia. Many are simply ideological conformists who were brainwashed into espousing liberal views. But the unmistakeable link between xenophilia and mental illness should give one pause. The dominant ideology in the West today is an expression of maladaptive instincts and disproportionately appeals to people who are mentally disturbed. No civilization can survive under such conditions.
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