The Foolishness of Bias
Bias is something you should recognize and control before it controls you.
Dr. Samuel Cartwright was a well respected doctor in Louisiana, who had internal conflict and bias of his own, which fueled his opinions in the antebellum climate of the Confederate States of America.
Cartwright was someone that I included in my research and journal article to explain and bring to light how powerful AND biased individuals can affect opinions, attitudes, and the way we treat others who clearly are different from us. Cartwright explained how enslaved individuals could be cured of “Drapetomania”, and the cure was inhumane, consisting of cutting off the big toes to stop runaways and/or severe whippings.
Cartwright’s observation and diagnosis was completely false. Cartwright used pseudoscience to justify his bias. (Scientific racism).
Doctors are to take a Hippocratic Oath, which includes segments of beneficence and nonmaleficence…In other words, “for the good of all involved, and above all else, do no harm.
Dr. Samuel Cartwright, surmised that enslaved individuals who wanted to escape suffered from a mental illness called “drapetomania”. The term drapetomania derived from the Greek words “drapetes” or “runaway” and “mania” or “madness”. Drapetomania was described as a mental disorder derived from slave masters who made themselves too comfortable with their property, treating them as equals.
Dr. Cartwright stated that with “proper medical advice, the practice of absconding could be prevented if warning signs such as sulkiness and dissatisfaction for no reason can be noticed early enough.”
The remedy or “proper medical advice” was to “whip the devil out of the runaway” or cut off their big toes to discourage running away.
In my expert opinion, Dr. Cartwright and the attitudes of the antebellum period was the elixir that fuels negative stereotypes. Check your bias before you make a
declaration or a “discovery.” Bias will fuel your findings.
McNeil © (2013)