How colonialism and capitalism helped place a stigma on mental illness

He argues, as the French philosopher Michel Foucault did before him, that the birth of stigma is inseparable from the birth of capitalism, of colonialism, of industrialization and of the slave trade. Stigma, in other words, consists of the act of branding, which, in the case of enslavement, could be literal. In creating labels such as “mad,” “pauper,” “savage” or “queer,” the intent was to brand and isolate people whom the powerful and the privileged would rather not see, and from whose labor they could not profit. Indeed, when the first asylums were created, the poor and the mad were locked up together with the rest of society’s outcasts. It is horrifying to think that, even today, for many people in America suffering a mental health crisis, their first port of call is the police — and that they are just as likely to end up in a prison as in a hospital.

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