Lectures > Kupferberg Holocaust Resource Center & Archives

Mentally Ill People as Unfit for Society

Wednesday, April 2, 2014
51m:55s | 937 views

Dr. Christian Perring
Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies
Downling College, NY

This lecture will examine the concept of "unfitness" in 1930s Germany that led to the Nazi persecution of people with mental illness and its relation to eugenics movements in other parts of Europe and the United States. This presentation will show that these are serious issues facing psychiatry today and that we need to be on guard against too uncritical an attitude with regard to medicating psychiatry as inherently beneficial for society. Yet the argument will be made that these tensions and thoughts apply to any social system of regulation and categorization of people, and so the answer is not to avoid all categorization and differentiation but instead to proceed with it in a historically sensitive and compassionate fashion that is aware of its own fallibility.