Post Traumatic Slavery Disorder
November 26, 2002 10:11 AM   Subscribe

They call it "PTSlaveryD": Post-Traumatic Slavery Disorder. A Boston psychologist says "Black and Latino males are showing up in droves" with the symptoms. The Wall Street Journal invited readers to take it a step further - Post Traumatic Big Bang Disorder, anyone?
posted by Oriole Adams (40 comments total)
"Bill West: I suffer from RWD, reflected white disorder. I experience anxiety when I look in the mirror and see a white, middle-aged, middle class, middle-level executive from Middle America. I'm thinking of suing myself."
posted by tomplus2 at 10:18 AM on November 26, 2002

In other news, reparations for slavery will be paid in the form of increased health care costs...
posted by oissubke at 10:25 AM on November 26, 2002

It's the age personal accountability.
posted by Espoo2 at 10:42 AM on November 26, 2002

> Harvard University psychiatrist Alvin F. Poussaint wrote
> in 2000 about ''posttraumatic slavery syndrome,'' calling
> it ''a physiological risk for black people that is virtually
> unknown to white Americans.''

Don't be silly. My Anglo-Saxon ancestors were enslaved by the bloody Normans. I labor under the lasting effects of this oppression every day of by life. When did this take place, you ask? Oh, in 1066 AD? Practically yesterday! Society owes me!
posted by jfuller at 10:54 AM on November 26, 2002

> every day of by life.

Oh yeah, ad I hab a code. William the bloody Conqueror's fault.
posted by jfuller at 10:56 AM on November 26, 2002

As an underachieving Irish-American who is too shy to fake a fall in the aisles at Wal-Mart, I applaud their courage in coming forward with such a slapdash plan to mask their personal inadequacies and maybe get paid in the process. I eagerly await redress for the Potato Famine.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 11:02 AM on November 26, 2002

Why latinos as well? And why not Asians? Certainly sounds like a race/class thing, but I'm not getting the slavery connection.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 11:04 AM on November 26, 2002

So what are the odds of Israel getting some reparations from Egypt?
posted by PenDevil at 11:14 AM on November 26, 2002

God that's stupid. It's just masking real psychological problems with some race-baiting that's only going to exacerbate the problems.
posted by delmoi at 11:16 AM on November 26, 2002

Every day I come across more reasons to hate people.
posted by St Seneca at 11:16 AM on November 26, 2002

In other news, reparations for slavery will be paid in the form of increased health care costs...

I didn't realize that drug and insurance companies were all run by former slaves. Learn something new every day...

So what are the odds of Israel getting some reparations from Egypt?

Ever Heard of the Gaza Strip?
posted by Pollomacho at 11:20 AM on November 26, 2002

Why not pack something into the homeland security bill to stop lawsuits for things like THIS instead of the right to sue airports for negligence?
posted by Espoo2 at 11:22 AM on November 26, 2002

Every day I come across more reasons to hate people.

So did Whitey, that's how we got in this mess.

Oh COME ON, as if any other comment in this thread wasn't soon-to-be deleted race-bait...
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 11:22 AM on November 26, 2002

I agree with Michael Kinsley. Its stories like these that make me think its become too easy to write a book these days.
posted by gsteff at 11:25 AM on November 26, 2002

now if I can only sue the Catholic Church for the pain my ancestors suffered under Torquemada

NO ONE expects the PSpanishInquisitionSD!
posted by badzen at 11:34 AM on November 26, 2002

A fool and his theory are soon printed.

I liked the one about money better. Ahh, the good old days.
posted by tiamat at 11:36 AM on November 26, 2002

What about families of people who died fighting for emancipation of slaves in the civil war? Do they get a deduction? What's the equation? How do you put a price on ... what... is.. worth..

Hey, wait a minute, we haven't learned anything!
posted by Hildago at 11:37 AM on November 26, 2002

A quote from one of the authors:

''We can't wait for the mainstream to validate us because it'll be the day before we're on our deathbeds,'' Mims said.

What the hell is that supposed to mean? That they can't wait to die? That mainstream validation will be so shocking that it kills them? The two clauses in that sentence seem to lack a logical connection. Can't wait to read the book. Because it'll be the day before I'm electrocuted.
posted by mr_roboto at 11:43 AM on November 26, 2002

PTSlaveryD -- Didn't I see his video on MTV2 the other day?
posted by archimago at 11:44 AM on November 26, 2002

This makes me soooo angry. My father actually surfers from PTSD from being in Auschwitz and people like these authors trivialize his anguish.
posted by Raichle at 11:58 AM on November 26, 2002

I think its unfortunate that the term "Slavery" had to be included in the mix. I have no problem at all believing that any given minority is going to feel out of place and persecuted, especially when they have cause to. To blame this on events of the distant past perhaps misses the point.
posted by Ogre Lawless at 12:05 PM on November 26, 2002

This makes me soooo angry. My father actually surfers from PTSD from being in Auschwitz and people like these authors trivialize his anguish.

Yes, but don't you understand -- everyone needs to be a victim of something. Otherwise we would have to take responsibility for our own actions.
posted by pardonyou? at 12:07 PM on November 26, 2002

I think that anyone suffering from PTSD should get free psychiatric care. I also think that anyone with any disorder, medical condition, minor cuts and scratches should get free care as well. My problem would be if the government gave tax credits, free therapy etc to a certain race... that stinks of reparations.
posted by password at 12:12 PM on November 26, 2002

That's just what "the man" WANTS you to think. ;-)

and does anyone know why some of my link postings "vanish" off the front page? Happened more than once now.
posted by Dome-O-Rama at 12:38 PM on November 26, 2002

Chrysler's going to take advantage of this by offering the new PTSlavery Cruiser.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 12:41 PM on November 26, 2002

Try the FAQ, Dome.
posted by mr_roboto at 12:48 PM on November 26, 2002

Dome, they are probably double posts or inapproriate. Either way, this is not the place to ask about this. Go to Metatalk to ask metafilter related q's.
posted by Raichle at 12:51 PM on November 26, 2002

password: EXACTLY!
posted by Raichle at 12:51 PM on November 26, 2002

Yeah, it's not like black people have any control over their own lives, let's help them out. You know, because they're too dumb to make it on their own.

And what St. Seneca said.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 1:09 PM on November 26, 2002

There's something almost Jungian about this notion of a psychological disorder arising from transgenerational victimhood. I think this is pretty different from actual PTSD, though. Although we poorly understand the neuropyschiatry of true PTSD so far, it's not the same thing as negative social behaviors modeled from one generation to the next within a culture. It involves some actual psychic damage from life events, I think with attendant neuropathology, and it manifests in different ways than not excelling in school out of peer pressure not to be seen as "acting white." (I've seen this phenomenon firsthand.)
posted by alumshubby at 1:39 PM on November 26, 2002

I'm half Slav, myself. As everyone knows, the word "slave" comes from Slav.

How do I get my reparations? Is there a form I can fill out or something?
posted by ZenMasterThis at 2:02 PM on November 26, 2002

Every day I come across more reasons to hate people.

I've long since lost count.
posted by rushmc at 3:05 PM on November 26, 2002

Those bastards can lick my lilly yellow ass. Why don't they come meet my aunt, a wonderful, kind and loving woman who was forced into sexual slavery by those fucking wei-noms during WWII (English reference to specific ethnic group deliberately omitted).

People like that make me want to puke. How dare they imply that something they have NEVER experienced is somehow causing their problems today.

Being a descendent of a slave does not give someone some kind of automatic understanding of slavery. Only having been a slave does.

posted by Baesen at 3:06 PM on November 26, 2002

PTSD "sufferers" should probably just buy more lottery tickets.

You know it's strange, but I could have sworn that I read that Latino males also have the symptoms. Does that mean they have HPTSDT?
(Hypochondriac Post Traumatic Slavery Disorder Transfer?)
posted by hama7 at 3:33 PM on November 26, 2002

What a fun theory to trash! it's a little too easy, like shooting fish in a barrel and my paranoid side wonders if this Alvin F. Poussaint character - and his theory - is a plant by Neoconservatives to whip up anti-liberal sentiment and provide fodder for a great, easy demagogic bestseller.

But maybe Poussaint & co. are just dumb....nonetheless, I think it is probably (I'm white, OK, though I prefer to call myself third generation Welsh-Scottish-German) stressful as hell to be black in America. This stress is manifested, apparently, in higher bloods pressure levels.

OK, the stressfull part of the argument I'll buy. Reparations and intergenerational PTSD? - "*psst* - Hey mr. - wanna buy a nice chunk of stock in this new internet startup? You'll be rich."
posted by troutfishing at 4:02 PM on November 26, 2002

Psychologists generally group-classify things that occur similarly in several different people, for good and obvious reasons. There's nothing wrong with that. But what this condition is, it seems to me, is a manifestation of low self-esteem, poor self-image, frustration, failure and depression, externalized into a target of blame. People with that kind of condition often go around blaming something that they can't prevent or control for their condition (ex-wives, the government, parents, Jews, pornographers, etc). Depressive blame fixation is the cause of a heck of a lot of annoying political nonsense, because the depressed and angry aren't good problem-solvers.

To fix blame is not a conscious or desirable decision, a mad person doesn't say "Hey, I know! I'll blame {blah}, I can see that they've got nothing to do with it, but I think it'll help." It grows a bit at a time, and it works above all else as a defense mechanism for the self, because if your problems are someone else's fault, that means there's less things wrong with you. If you can spend time and energy building up the fantasy, you can avoid the pain and effort involved in tearing the structure down.

The problem in this case, and where I see the therapists involved as being irresponsible, is the degree to which they buy into the patient's fantasy. It's true that blacks get a lot of grief from a society where most of the power is with whites. And angry, frustrated, depressed blacks get far more of that grief than happy, well-adjusted blacks. Same goes for whites; angry, frustrated, depressed whites are far more likely to be hard-done-by by society in the many ways that society can do hard by a poor, aggressive and under-educated white person. But the therapist should never encourage the patient to keep a depressive, abused, passive world-view. It's the therapist's duty to bring a patient out of his or her miserable state, to show them a "path of light", a way the patient can improve their own methods of dealing with the world so as to get less grief and more joy. Acquiring the depressive condition isn't the patient's fault, but ridding themselves of it, with the therapist's aid and support, is the patient's responsibility.

To put it another way, this is just a form, perhaps even a common form, of depressive fixation. As such it is useful to examine groups of patients for comparison of effective treatments. Equality of opportunity and universal access to means of personal improvement (eg education and health care) is an worthwhile goal to pursue in its own right, not just for the sake of a number of depressed individuals for whom an ineffective response to racial inequality was a major cause of their depression.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 4:25 PM on November 26, 2002

This stuff leaves me all crazy. Does it mean that those slaves who were freed and then fought against the South might have had a double dose of Post Order ? And those descendents of slaves who have gone on to become middle class or better etc also suffer from this symptom? Or are they in some as yet unknown way free of it through acheivement?
As for Gaza strip given as compensation. No. Egypt signed peace treaty and said if Gaza comes with Palestinians, no thanks, you keep it . And the West Ban, same thing. Jordan said we want peace with you but you don't expect us to take back West Bank with Palestinians.
See: I can get snmippy too and drag in a herring.
posted by Postroad at 5:17 PM on November 26, 2002

Well, I think that every African-American who suffers from this psychological torment should be given virtual therapy by killing endless numbers of white people in hideous ways in Doom-style video games.
With such ultraviolent feedback, surely the light will dawn that 1) only you can make yourself a victim, and 2) victimizing others will not make your pain go away.

With these two realizations, true healing begins.
posted by kablam at 7:42 PM on November 26, 2002

troutfishing, it must be a plant -- because as everyone knows, there are no dumb liberals.
posted by dhartung at 6:31 AM on November 27, 2002

Oh great... now I have PTDumbassArticleD.
posted by Foosnark at 7:55 AM on November 27, 2002

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