Medicalizing dissent was perhaps first used by Dr. Samuel Cartwright in 1861, when he invented the term drapetomania to describe a new disease, suffered only by slaves. The disease was a desire for freedom. It had to be a disease, you see, because Cartwright had to justify slavery. As you can see, it’s hard to talk about medicalizing dissent without being offensive.Drapetomania (Wikipedia):
Drapetomania was a supposed mental illness described by American physician Samuel A. Cartwright in 1851 that caused black slaves to flee captivity ..
Cartwright described the disorder — which, he said, was "unknown to our medical authorities, although its diagnostic symptom, the absconding from service, is well known to our planters and overseers" ..
He stated that the malady was a consequence of masters who "made themselves too familiar with [slaves], treating them as equals ..
"If any one or more of them, at any time, are inclined to raise their heads to a level with their master or overseer, humanity and their own good requires that they should be punished until they fall into that submissive state which was intended for them to occupy. They have only to be kept in that state, and treated like children to prevent and cure them from running away."
In addition to identifying drapetomania, Cartwright prescribed a remedy .. In the case of slaves "sulky and dissatisfied without cause" — a warning sign of imminent flight — Cartwright prescribed "whipping the devil out of them" as a "preventative measure" ..