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A Look At Effects of Trauma Caused From the Devastation of Forced Degeneration of Slave Families in the US

I’m not sure what came over me this Martin Luther King Jr weekend but I can’t stop thinking of racial tensions. I would like to know what has been done, what is being done and what opportunities will the future hold. I want to see a plan that will reassign negative stereotypes into individual entities.

 

We ripped apart their family structure stealing children and other family members and selling them off like cattle. How could anyone with a soul do that? Not to mention the devastation it may have caused for generations to come.  Statistics for single black mothers is the highest of all other races.  This doesn’t prove that forced family denigration during slavery has decreased the chances for black families to thrive in the future.

Putting myself in the place of a young African woman. What was her life like before she was stolen away from her home and stripped of everything familiar. Not out of choice but by brutal force. I wonder how old she may have been and what were her customs? I imagine her in adolescence excited about a ceremony where she was coming to age or something. Maybe she gets her mother’s earrings that belonged to her grandmother and her mother before that. I can imagine her excitement as the day gets closer and the celebration is being planned. All her friends will be there and they are excited too. It’s probably all they talk about. The most memorable day in her life. A giant stepping stone into adulthood allowing her certain liberties that come with young adulthood. I remember the feeling of Christmas when I was twelve I was so excited. I can feel her apprehension about what her next chapter in life might bring mixed with the raw excitement of a child.

I wonder how old she may have been and what were her customs? Imagine her in adolescence excited about an upcoming ceremony her village has every year. She will formally enter adulthood. She inherits her mother’s earrings that belonged to her grandmother and great grandmother before that.

I can imagine her excitement as the day gets closer and the celebration is being planned. All her friends will be there and they are excited too. It’s probably all they talk about. The most memorable day in her life. A giant stepping stone into adulthood allowing her certain liberties that come with young adulthood. I remember the feeling of Christmas when I was twelve I was so excited. I can feel her apprehension about what her next chapter in life might bring mixed with the raw excitement of a child.

I can feel the thrill as the day gets closer and the busy preparations for a celebration are being planned. All her friends will be there and they are excited too. It’s all they talk about. It’s the most memorable day this will shape the rest of their lives. Imagine her daydreaming about the details of being escorted through the ritual.

She smiles at the thought of her mother crying as her beautiful daughter takes her first steps toward womanhood. Her dress has been made especially for this occasion. She loves the bright colors and it fits perfect. She’s tried it on five times! The excitement of festivities makes her dizzy.

She wakes up for school the day before the event trying on her dress one more time before she has to leave for school.

She never comes back.

Her mother is distraught. She hears rumors of strange men in strange clothes speaking a foreign language kidnapping men and children. This is the only information this mother will ever know about her daughter. The mother vows to never move from her house so her daughter can find her just in case she comes home.

I included terroristic effects because of this definition: Terrorism, a subset of human-caused disasters. There is also a section on trauma in children.

You can read the full article here. I just wanted to touch on things that validate or invalidate my question.

Here are some excerpts from the book.

a traumatic event—or witnessing such an event—triggers fear, helplessness, or horror in response to the perceived or actual threat of injury or death to the individual or to another (APA, 1994). Traumatic events are usually perceived by the individual to be life-threatening, unexpected, and infrequent, and are characterized by high intensity (Ursano et al., 1994).

In general, those exposed to a traumatic event show increased rates of acute stress disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), major depression, panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and substance use disorder (Kessler et al., 1995).

there is a spectrum of consequences ranging from distress responses such as mild anxiety to behavioral changes such as mild difficulty sleeping, to the onset of a diagnosable psychiatric illness (see Figure 1-2). These consequences generally can be placed into three categories of severity, which may also correspond to strategies for intervention:

  • The majority of people may experience mild distress responses and/or behavioral change, such as insomnia, feeling upset, worrying, and increased smoking or alcohol use. These individuals will likely recover with no required treatment but may benefit from education and community-wide supportive interventions.
  • A smaller group may have more moderate symptoms such as persistent insomnia and anxiety and will likely benefit from psychological and medical supportive interventions.
  • A small subgroup will develop psychiatric illnesses such as PTSD or major depression and will require specialized treatment.

People with mild symptoms may expect fairly rapid resolution of their symptoms and may require fairly simple interventions and/or support, such as appropriate risk communication messages from the media and public health community explaining that these symptoms are normal, expected reactions to the experience of a traumatic event. The minority of people with severe symptoms and/or psychiatric illness may require conventional treatment from the mental health system. This highlights the need for coordination and collaboration between the public health and mental health communities in order to address the needs of diverse populations across the spectrum of symptoms and manifestations.

I was looking at statistics of minorities with mental health problems in the US and they are least likely to be happy with treatment or be able to find adequate treatment.

The childhood experience of traumatic events induces immediate biological and psychological reactions, some of which may persist for an extended period. The psychological symptoms of traumatic events in children and adolescents are similar to those recognized in adults but often appear as age-appropriate expressions of the stressful event.

Possible reactions to traumatic events in children.

 

It is believed that prolonged levels of significant stress may adversely affect the neurophysiological development of young children in ways that may have long-term consequences for behavioral responses to stress and later psychiatric illness (for reviews, see De Bellis, 2001; Glaser, 2000).

This part is about disasters but includes terrorism in its description so I included a areas I thought may be relevant.

Event. Traditionally, mental health research has classified disasters into two categories: natural and human-caused2 (the latter includes technological disasters such as hazardous materials spills, aviation disasters, terrorism, and even acts of war) (see Figure 2-2).

a distinction can be made between inadvertent human-caused disasters such as those caused by error or neglect and intentional human-caused disasters such as those due to terrorism or mass violence. These two types of human-caused disasters may each lead to different types and severity of psychological consequences.

Mass violence (for example, shooting sprees, mass suicides, terrorism) events were significantly more likely to result in severe impairment in the populations under study than either technological or natural disaster.

Norris and colleagues (2001) propose that when at least two of the following four characteristics of disasters are present, the mental health impact will be greatest:

  • Widespread damage to property
  • Serious and ongoing financial problems
  • Human error or human intent that caused the disaster
  • High prevalence of trauma (injuries, threat to life, loss of life)

 

Post-Event. The presence or absence of psychosocial support is significantly associated with outcomes. When people feel that they have been neglected or forgotten by their government or community, they are more likely to have long-term adverse effects from a disaster experience (Norris et al., 2002b). In addition, as mentioned above, ongoing financial stress, job loss, and other post-event negative occurrences are associated with more severe adverse psychological consequences.

It’s a good thing black people have that unity about them. I’m from a middle-class white neighborhood. When my parents forced me to move to the projects I was so scared I tried to commit suicide! I ended up moving there. I had more fun there than I have ever had in my life! I dumped Joe Perfect for a black guy, my dad bought a 22 and chased him down the sidewalk in his underwear. The rest is history. What I meant to say is that I couldn’t believe that black people said hi and waved even if they didn’t know each other.

What I find really strange about specifically Africa is that when I was looking at Mental Health statistics I couldn’t find any in Africa at all. European countries had their share. I don’t know if it’s not an issue there or they don’t qualify it as an illness.

There is a hope:

Positive Psychosocial Consequences

Although less well documented than the negative effects, the experience of a disaster or other traumatic event may result in a positive impact on both individuals and the community. A small but growing literature exists on the process of posttraumatic growth, describing the development of adaptive coping mechanisms and feelings of self-efficacy following exposure to traumatic events (e.g., Calhoun and Tedeschi, 2001). Thus, the experience of a traumatic event can also promote resilience for future traumatic events.

*Psychologist Albert Bandura has defined selfefficacy as one’s belief in one’s ability to succeed in specific situations or accomplish a task. One’s sense of self-efficacy can play a major role in how one approaches goals, tasks, and challenges.

The communal experience of overcoming a disaster may promote greater community cohesion. Altruism and volunteerism frequently increase in the aftermath of a disaster. These are phenomena that can be beneficial both to those receiving the assistance and to those who volunteer since the perception of self-efficacy and the ability to “do something” can help people to cope with the disaster experience.

Maybe this explains the unity of the black community.

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