Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Part Asian, 2x More Crazy

Dear No One in Particular,

Researchers from UC-Davis found that hapas* are twice as likely to suffer from mental disorders.
*For future reference, I refer to biracial Asian-Causcasian individuals as "hapa".

As a hapa woman myself, I can't help but be intrigued by the findings of this study. My knee-jerk reaction was somewhat defensive, but on future reflection, I don't really know how to feel about this. To be 100% honest, I'm hapa and I suffer/have suffered from psychological disorders. Do I think that my ethnicity was the reason for my problems? Not really, and if I'm reading it right, I don't think that the Davis researchers are saying that either.

I think that the research is stating a simple fact: hapas suffer from psychological disorders at a higher rate than their monoracial counterparts. The end. There doesn't seem to be any judgment passed on the individuals; they simply are. I am hapa, and I suffer from mental disorders; I simply am.

This is not to say that the study should be taken at face value -- quite the opposite. Such racially-charged studies tread along very dangerous territory. Studies such as the one conducted at Davis can be used to support eugenics arguments, and have been enacted in the past. Which leads me to one of my major problems with the study -- it goes nowhere positive.

I suppose that statement could be revised to say that "it goes nowhere" period. Like I said before, it makes the statement that, compared to monoracial Asians, hapas suffer higher rates of mental disorders. But that's it! Definitely, definitely there needs to be further study.
Why do hapas suffer more mental distress? Is it an environmental factor? A rearing factor? Or are they simply being over-diagnosed? What is going on here -- and most importantly, can it be remedied?

There is a danger in these findings, but there is also hope. Speaking from personal experience, a lot of my mental distress can be traced back to growing up hapa -- which could be chalked up to growing up as an island. I'm not very old at all, yet I knew only one other girl who was hapa, and I'm the only person in my family who is mixed. Really, there was practically no one who I could relate to, which I guess could have led to my issues with depression.

Perhaps, perhaps if the researchers didn't stop -- don't stop -- working with mentally disordered hapas, they can reduce the statistics and raise the awareness.


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