Argumentum ad hysteria
|Cogito ergo sum|
Logic and rhetoric
The appeal to hysteria, or argumentum ad hysteria, is the (informal) fallacy of painting one's opponent as mentally ill in order to discredit their argument. It is a variant of the ad hominem fallacy which is a fallacy of irrelevant premise. It is fallacious because one's mental status, regardless if one is mentally ill or not, does not entail that one's argument is invalid, or one's statements/beliefs are false.
This is distinct from the clinical context of labeling a delusional belief as delusional with sufficient ethical grounds. It is an appeal to hysteria fallacy which takes it that because someone is mentally ill (whether one actually is or not) then whatever one says must therefore be false or unreasonable.
An argumentum ad hysteria argument has the basic form:
- P1: Person A makes claim X.
- P2: Person A is claimed to be mentally ill.
- P3: Whatever claims mentally ill people make are false.
C: Therefore claim X is false.
- "Your argument for the legitimacy of your gender identity is invalid because you have a mental disorder that is gender dysphoria."
- "Your argument about discrimination against the disabled is invalid because you're a diagnosed schizophrenic. How can we be certain you're not just being paranoid?"
- Drapetomania — or the idea that there's something medically wrong with black people not wanting to be human livestock.
- "There’s nothing wrong with the Soviet Union, comrade! You only think that because you’re suffering from sluggish schizophrenia."
- "Why should I accept anything said from an insane homosexual?" from when homosexuality was considered a mental disorder
- "The government isn’t spying on us. You’re just paranoid!"
- Dismissing women's complaints as female hysteria
- "These 30 'crazy' people have been proven RIGHT by history."
- ↑ 'Being Transgender is a Mental Illness': What Does the DSM Really Say?" — Gender Analysis with Zinnia Jones
- ↑ "30 crazy historical figures who were RIGHT"