Bell, Carl C.
KeywordsPersonality Disorder Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Sleep Paralysis Chicago Public School Millon Clinical Multiaxial Inventory
This short chapter highlights the career and contributions of Dr. Carl C. Bell, M.D. Dr. Bell has provided direction for the inquiry into whether racism might, in some cases, be a symptom of a narcissistic personality dynamics. Further, Dr. Bell and his colleague Dr. Ed Dunbar have proposed that at times racism may even be a symptom of a narcissistic personality disorder.
Carl Compton Bell, M.D., is the retired president/CEO of the Community Mental Health Council, Inc. and the retired director of the Institute for Juvenile Research (birthplace of child psychiatry) who is a clinical psychiatrist in Jackson Park Hospital’s Family Medicine Center. He is a retired professor of psychiatry at the College of Medicine and a retired professor of public health at the School of Public Health University of Illinois at Chicago. In addition, he is a distinguished life fellow of the American Psychiatric Association and a fellow of the American College of Psychiatrists.
Early Life and Educational Background
Bell was born in Chicago, Illinois, in 1947. A product of Chicago Public Schools, he graduated from Hyde Park High School in 1965, and he obtained a bachelor’s degree at the University of Illinois in 1967. After graduating from Meharry Medical College in 1971, Dr. Bell went on to pursue a psychiatry residency at the Illinois Psychiatric Institute/Institute for Juvenile Research from 1971 to 1974, where he assisted Dr. Theodore Millon in developing his Millon Clinical Multiaxial Inventory. After residency, Dr. Bell spent 2 years in the US Navy reading thousands of MMPIs and screening navy recruits.
During his 40 years of psychiatric practice since leaving the Navy, Dr. Bell has published 500+ articles, chapters, and books on mental health issues. He’s an editor of Psychiatric Aspects on Violence; coeditor of Family and HIV/AIDS: Cultural and Contextual Issues in Prevention and Treatment and Psychiatric Clinics of North America – Prevention in Psychiatry; author of The Sanity of Survival; coauthor of Suicide and Homicide Among Adolescents; and coauthor of The Harvard Medical School Guide to Overcoming Prejudice at Work and chapters on “Psychiatry for People of African Descent in the USA” in The Massachusetts General Hospital Textbook on Diversity and Cultural Sensitivity in Mental Health, “Black Psychiatry” in Mental Health and People of Color, “Black-on-Black Homicide” in Mental Health and Mental Illness Among Black Americans, “Isolated Sleep Paralysis” and “Violence Exposure, Psychological Distress and High Risk Behaviors Among Inner-City High School Students” in Anxiety Disorders in African-Americans, and “Is psychoanalytic therapy relevant for public mental health programs” in Controversial Issues in Mental Health. He has been interviewed by Ebony, Jet, Essence, Emerge, New York Times, Chicago Tribune Magazine, Chicago Sun-Times, People Magazine, Chicago Reporter, “Nightline”, ABC News, NPR, “CBS Sunday Morning”, The News Hour with Jim Lehrer, the Tom Joyner Morning Show, Chicago Tonight, and the “Today” show. He’s a former writer/commentator for “Prevention in Action” in Clinical Psychiatry News 2004–2011 and a medical editor, The Bipolar Report, December 2013. In addition, he has had several radio shows most notably “The Black Couch.” He has also been a member of several Institute of Medicine and National Academy of Sciences committees. He was an international fellow at the Institute of Philosophy, Diversity, and Mental Health, Center for Ethnicity and Health, Faculty of Health, University of Central Lancashire, Preston, United Kingdom 2007–2009. Dr. Bell has won many awards and honors such as American Psychiatric Association’s 2014 Distinguished Service Award, Special Presidential Commendation of the American Psychiatric Association in recognition of his outstanding advocacy for mental illness prevention, and for person-centered mental health wellness and recovery, the 2012 Agnes Purcell McGavin Award for Prevention in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. He has been appointed a founding executive committee member of the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention by Pamela Hyde the administrator of Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration; the National Research Council’s Committee on Assessing Juvenile Justice Reform of the Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education; and the National Institute of Mental Health National Mental Health Advisory Council by secretary of Health and Human Services, Michael O. Leavitt, from January 2008 ending September 30, 2011, resigned January 14, 2011; a member of the Chicago Board of Health by Mayor Richard M Daley in 2002; and a member of the Planning Boards for Dr. Satcher’s Surgeon General’s Reports on Mental Health – Culture, Race, and Ethnicity and Youth Violence.
Bell’s primary research interests have focused on African-American issues, public health, and prevention and resiliency. Accordingly, he has studied issues related to misdiagnosis of African-Americans with bipolar disorder, traumatic stress in children, prevention of violence (homicide and suicide), prevention of HIV, isolated sleep paralysis, racism, correctional health care, and fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. After being a Co-PI on a dozen NIMH-funded research grants, he was a principal investigator of NIMH R-01 international HIV prevention grant. He has also served as mentor for several K-Awards.
In 1978, Dr. Bell published “Racism, Narcissism and Integrity” about which he corresponded with Heinz Kohut, M.D. (Bell 1978), and in 1980, he published “Racism: A Symptom of the Narcissistic Personality Disorder (Bell 1980).” This issue has been the subject of numerous presentations and has been received internationally over the years. In the early 1980s, Dr. Bell began collaborating with Dr. Edward Dunbar on studying racism as a possible personality trait (Bell 2004), and in 2012, Drs. Bell and Dunbar authored Racism and Psychopathology in The Oxford Handbook of Personality Disorders (Bell and Dunbar 2012). From 2004 to 2009, Dr. Bell was a member of American Psychiatric Association’s Personality Disorders Work Group (Bell 2013) and helped to develop a proposed personality model that was relegated to DSM-5 in the “Emerging Measures and Models” section (Skodol et al. 2011a, b).
There is a need to do more research into the question of whether or not racism might not be a symptom of narcissistic psychodynamics as Heinz Kohut suggested in some of his essays. Further, although, learned behavior shapes racist behavior, there is a need to do more research regarding whether some racist behavior is rooted in primitive neurological brain structures driving stereotypic assumptions about racial differences. Moreover, whether these drivers, along with poorly developed frontal lobe control over these automatic stereotypes, and the socially accepted biases toward some out-groups, facilitate these primitive neurological brain structures in imposing pathological bias toward people that are different.
- Bell, C. C. (1980). Racism: A symptom of the narcissistic personality disorder. Journal of the National Medical Association, 72(7), 661–665. https://brainmass.com/file/300751/Bell_Racism%2520and%2520Narcissism.pdf
- Bell, C. C. (2013). State of the art and science – Dynamic descriptions of personality disorder in the DSM-5. American Medical Association Journal – Virtual Mentor, 15(10), 857–859. http://virtualmentor.ama-assn.org/2013/10/stas1-1310.html
- Bell, C. C., & Dunbar, E. (2012). Racism and psychopathology. In T. A. Widiger (Ed.), The Oxford handbook of personality disorders (pp. 694–709). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Skodol, A. E., Bender, D. S., Morey, L. C., Alarcon, R. D., Siever, L. J., Clark, L. A., Krueger, R. F., Verheul, R., Bell, C. C., & Oldham, J. M. (2011a). Proposed changes in personality and personality disorder assessment and diagnosis for DSM-5 Part I: Description and rationale. Personality Disorders: Theory, Research, and Treatment, 2(1), 4–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar