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Drapetomania

Well before the DSM came into existence, a whole host of slave-related diagnoses justified the institution of slavery. In 1854, Samuel Cartwright, a surgeon and psychologist from Louisiana, took the Greek words for "runaway slave" and "crazy" and expounded on drapetomania in The Georgia Blister and Critic (above). His essay in the monthly Southern periodical, which focused specifically on "diseases and physical peculiarities of the Negro race," did blame this "disease of the mind" on white masters who either treated slaves as equals or "treated them cruelly." One prescribed treatment was amputating toes.

Other slave-related diagnoses centered on brain size and work aptitude—all musings that Baker says were "totally irrelevant to the practice of psychiatry and were never considered mental disorders per se—certainly not in the North." The theories didn't stand up too much in the South either following the Civil War.

"Madness" no more: How definitions of mental illness have changed over the years

By Vera H-C Chan and Claudine Zap

In 1952, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders weighed in at a wispy 50 pages. In 1994, DSM-IV numbered 943 pages. The DSM-5 will actually be less than that — still, when comparing the versions, "one thing you're struck with right away is the increase of diagnostic categories," says David Baker, director of the Archives of the History of American Psychology at the University of Akron. "It's largely a kind of a mirror on the culture... It's not purely objective."



Not surprisingly, well before the DSM came into existence, respected intellectuals were espousing psychological theories on why females went into hysterics, the sickness that made slaves want to run from their masters, and the upper-class ailment triggered by hard work and social upheaval. Here’s a look at disorders, past and present, that fell out of fashion, got caught up in other illnesses, or changed its name.