Pseudoscience: Drapetomania


Originating from the Greek (drapetes, “a runaway [slave]“) and (mania, “madness, frenzy”),  Drapetomania was a supposed mental illness described by American physician Samuel A. Cartwright in 1851 that caused black slaves to flee captivity. Today, drapetomania is considered a pseudoscience and scientific racism. 

Cartwright described the disorder as “unknown to our medical authorities, although its diagnostic symptom, the absconding from service, is well known to our planters and overseers”  in a paper delivered before the Medical Association of Louisianathat was widely reprinted.  He stated that the malady was a consequence of masters who “made themselves too familiar with slaves, treating them as equals”.  (wiki)