Psychological implications of bigotry
March 31, 2013 11:43 AM   Subscribe

What happens psychologically to people who fight or confront bigotry for longer periods of time? Are there any studies about depression, PTSD or self-esteem issues? How do anti bigotry/discrimination organizations help their members with these problems?
posted by Foci for Analysis to Human Relations (8 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Off the top of my head there is the literature of Stereotype Threat. It actually makes people perform poorly consistent with the negative stereotypes.
posted by srboisvert at 11:48 AM on March 31, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Wikipedia has an article on minority stress.
posted by jb at 12:01 PM on March 31, 2013 [3 favorites]

Best answer: I don't know if you're looking for/have access to scholarly articles, but this one might be relevant:

"'Anger is Why We're All Here’: Mobilizing and Managing Emotions in a Professional Activist Organization," from Social Movement Studies: Journal of Social, Cultural and Political Protest Volume 9, Issue 3, 2010.

From the abstract:
Using in-depth interviews with activists at Amnesty International, this article...examin[es] emotional labour and emotional regulation among paid activists in a professional social movement organization. I explore the ways in which employees struggle with the emotional component of their work and the implications of these emotions for the quality of their working life, the stability of such organizations and the maintenance of social movements.

posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 12:12 PM on March 31, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I don't know much about actual studies, but to sort-of answer your third question:

This was a big thing among second-wave feminist consciousness raising groups, or so I've heard. One avenue to look down in that direction is ... I forget the exact term I've seen, hopefully someone will correct me, but something along the lines of co-therapy? The idea is that rather than having a therapist set up as an expert, a group of people learn the required skills and take turns helping each other.

The War Resister's League handbook has some resources for taking care of each other emotionally. They probably have them on their website as well.

Some anarchist / libertarian communist groups specifically include aspects of community building within the group in their work. This is maybe a little less intense than a feminist consciousness-raising group, but can include stuff like potlucks, sharing work that members need to do (eg. moving, cleaning, gardening), or similar. This is tied in with an older (IWW and other) union idea of solidarity among members. Most of what I'm thinking of originally stemmed from concerns around activist burnout, group members getting too overwhelmed by the magnitude of the struggle, or fear (often justified, historically) of repercussions for them and their families for their activism/union involvement. The idea is that if people feel supported as part of a community centered around their activism/union, then they are better inoculated against the stresses that cause burnout. Sharing work and resources and taking care of each other's physical needs being one major component in building community (especially in the case of unions, where, historically, members may have very different cultural, religious, or other backgrounds).

Another issue is how to incorporate intersectionality into an activist group organised to fight one particular axis of oppression; eg., how to deal with classism and racism in your feminist group, or racism and sexism in your union. I don't have specific sources at hand, but I think there's been a lot more written about this. From the union end, the IWW was known for being pretty decent at this, and may have some resources on their web site.

If any of this is related to your question, I can look up the relevant links and search for more on some of my half-remembered topics.
posted by eviemath at 1:18 PM on March 31, 2013

There is an extensive literature about the mental health and medical impacts of discrimination. Linking discrimination to higher rates of depression, high blood pressure, etc.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 3:54 PM on March 31, 2013

Best answer: This recent story in the Atlantic is a place to start: "A growing literature shows discrimination raises the risk of many emotional and physical problems. Discrimination has been shown to increase the risk of stress, depression, the common cold, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, breast cancer, and mortality. Recently, two journals -- The American Journal of Public Health and The Du Bois Review: Social Science Research on Race -- dedicated entire issues to the subject."
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 4:00 PM on March 31, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I've been looking for material on this after my half year 2011 experience in Finland.

Bobbi Schaetti has written a lot I've found useful with the complication of being a global nomad or third culture kid. Rootlessness undermines much of the sting of rejection because you know you don't represent what you look like.

I've worked with her over the phone. I found her pragmatically helpful.
posted by infini at 2:06 AM on April 1, 2013

Don't overlook the value of judiciously applied anger against the injustice of bigotry.
posted by infini at 2:07 AM on April 1, 2013

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