Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


African American young men-Mental health, Conduct disorder in adolescence-Diagnosis, Discrimination against African Americans, Imprisonment, Stereotypes (Social psychology), Stereotypes (Social psychology)-Psychological aspects, Conduct disorder, African American, Adolescent, Young men, Behavior, Incarceration, Disproportionate, Implicit bias, Stereotype threat, Theoretical


This paper will discuss the disproportionate overrepresentation of African American young men among those diagnosed with Conduct Disorder. Existing research attributes this disproportionality to a variety of factors but does not incorporate historical or social analysis. This project will endeavor to consider how the historical and enduring stereotype of black men as "criminal" impacts this diagnosing pattern, and explores alternate ways to define and treat behavioral symptomology among young black men. This paper will discuss how stereotypes as well as the fear of being stereotyped impact both client and clinician and affect their interaction, thereby influencing psychological assessment and diagnosis. This paper will also argue that in general clinicians may not adequately account for the environment with which African American young men contend, and that historical and ongoing oppression must be considered in the assessing and diagnosing process. The way in which a client's problem is defined leads to specific treatment, and thus it is necessary to explore varying ways to define the problem that manifests in behavioral symptoms for African American young men. This analysis will aim to examine the ways in which slavery and its legacy impact psychological assessment and diagnosis today, and how diagnosing clinicians may inadvertently contribute to the criminalization of young African American men when assigning Conduct Disorder diagnoses. The purpose of this project is to encourage social workers to critically consider the ways in which they define the healing and suffering of their clients.




iii, 108 pages. Thesis (M.S.W.)-Smith College School for Social Work, 2014. Includes bibliographical references (pages 99-108)