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To directly or indirectly deny proper care to people of the targeted category. The term primarily refers to medical and psychiatric care.

Note that malpractice which is neither directly nor indirectly based on a categorization of people is still malpractice, but not categorism. Categorist malpractice is discriminatory and usually rooted in prejudice and/or bigotry.

Malpractice as a facet of categorism

Something is a facet of categorism when it on some level and based on a categorization of people is an expression of prejudice, bigotry, discrimination, or some combination thereof. Malpractice is a matter of discrimination, often fueled by prejudice and/or discrimination.

  • Malpractice as discrimination: People are unfairly denied proper care, simply based on some irrelevant trait they have or are perceived as having.
  • Malpractice rooted in prejudice: A prejudiced doctor or healthcare system may have the best of intentions and still discriminate unfairly.
  • Malpractice rooted in bigotry: A prejudiced doctor or healthcare system may have bad intentions towards the client. Typically while telling themselves that it is for the greater good and that the victims only have themselves to blame for belonging to the supposedly "bad" category.


This facet of categorism is an expression of prejudice and bigotry.

It is likely to intersect with facets such as:

  • Incomprehensibilization: It is hard to treat people right when you don't understand them.
  • Representation Bias: It is hard to understand people, and thus treat them right, when you don't encounter them in a neutral way.
  • Marginalization: When a group is marginalized, society may care less about people in that group getting mistreated.

Examples of applying this facet to a particular foci of categorism can include:

  • misogyny: Bias against women combined with the fact that so much of medical research is done on male test subjects only often lead to women getting misdiagnosed or not diagnosed at all, while also receiving less care even of they get the right diagnosis.
  • misandry: Stereotypes about how "a real man can take care of himself" sometimes lead to persons being directly or indirectly denied treatment for being male. Note that the same stereotype may in other cases lead to male persons getting better care - based on the assumption that if he seeks help in spite of being a man, then it must really be serious. Stereotypes are fickle like that.
  • ableism: If someone has a certain condition (suck as obesity), doctors may lazily assume that whatever other problems the person has must also be caused by the first condition and thus not need to be treated.
  • homophobia or paraphobia: Lets say that a guy named Mark visits a therapist namned Carl. Mark's boss is forcing him to work overtime almost every day, and his mother just died. Mark is getting more and more frustrated with his life. However, Mark also happens to be gay. Or a fetishist, in which case this example is about paraphobia rather than homophobia. The therapist takes Mark's money, but refuses to address his actual problems in a serious manner. Instead, Carl keeps droning on about Mark's sexuality. Carl expects Mark (who payed a lot of money to Carl, not the other way around) to spend the therapy time educating Carl about the minority group Mark belongs to. Carl also keeps trying to make a connection between Mark's sexuality and the death of Mark's mother, ignoring Mark's testimony that these events are unrelated. This malpractice works on many levels...
    • Individual Level: Carl is prejudiced against the sexual minority Mark belongs to. Maybe he has no positive role models for that group, getting all his "knowledge" on the subject from bigoted theories.
    • Group Level: Carl's co-workers at the clinic are willing to back him up. If Mark complains to them, they will simply tell him that he should accept Carl as the authority and put the blame on himself.
    • Systemic Level: Homophobia and paraphobia is so wide-spread that Mark may have a hard time finding a good therapist anywhere. He may give up trying to find one at all. Or simply get a new therapist and try to evade the subject of sexuality. This therapist is very likely to correctly see that Mark is having a problem with sexuality, but far less likely to realize that this is because of how Mark has been mistreated by another therapist in the past.
    • Structural Level: Homophobia and paraphobia is deeply entrenched in the mainstream of the culture in which Mark and Carl (as well as other therapists Mark may encounter) lives, thus creating a foundation for the malpractice.
    • Discursive Level: Language which belittles homosexuals and other sexual minorities is widespread. Calling them "sick" or "sexual deviance", thus creating a false impression that they are something a therapist should treat. The concept of sexual deviance doesn't make any distinction between what is done alone or with a consenting adult partner and what is done as sexual abuse against a child, thus creating a false sense of urgency.
    • Dogmatic Level: Outdated scientific hypotheses turned into pseudoscience dogma, there's a lot of psychology literature defining various versions of the alleged "true nature" of sexual minorities. Carl and his colleagues are likely to have read some of this during their education to become therapists.
    • Law Level: If this story takes place in Russia 2015 or any similar place & time, Carl may worry that he might be breaking the law against gay propaganda unless he cracks down on Mark.
    • International Treaties Level: If Mark is gay and the encounter between Mark and Carl happened in the sixties, then we must realize that Carl's reaction was rooted in the WHO's ICD (World Health Organization's International Classification of Diseases), which still included homosexuality at this time. If the encounter takes place in 2015 but Mark is a fetishist, then the same problem is still true. While several countries has removed fetishism from their local ICD lists, the international list from WHO still includes fetishism.