Mental Slavery: Psychoanalytic Studies of Caribbean People
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He viewed those suffering from psychosis as unsuitable for psychoanalytic treatment. However, he argued that there is not only meaning in madness, but also a fragment of historical truth. His understanding of psychosis also led to his discoveries of the unconscious and to the construction of theories to interpret or find meaning in dreams and other mental phenomena that at first sight appear opaque and nonsensical. However, despite the intensive study of irregular brain patterns and abnormal neural transmission, the results have been inconclusive. Many psychiatrists today would argue that organic and biochemical explanations of psychosis are limited in their explanatory value.
In terms of the treatment of psychosis, the debate focuses on whether biological and psychological interventions can effectively be integrated. Contemporary relational psychoanalytic theories view psychosis as part of the human response to overwhelming stress and perceived danger.
For example, delusions and hallucinations are understood as functioning to communicate that the self is crumbling and attempting to hold itself together in whatever way it can — a last stop before the abyss. This requires setting such accounts in their social context, particularly in power relations in the family. Thus, the stories mad people tell themselves function to create meaning and organize experience that has become disorganized and meaningless in the wake of a psychotic breakdown.
Delusions are viewed as arising from the healthy part of the person who attributes meaning to anomalous experience as a way of compensating for significant losses, traumas and destructive events that are too painful to directly acknowledge to the self.
One strand in developmental psychology sees the origins of psychosis as lying primarily in early environmental failure. Findings indicate that childhood experiences of neglect, stress, abuse and trauma can compromise brain development. Such studies challenge bio-genetic explanations of psychosis and support psycho-social explanations. Environmental failures of these kinds leave the child impervious to attachment communications and interactive psychobiological regulation and, therefore, initiate him or her along a potential developmental pathway that may culminate in psychological breakdown in later life.
This may give rise to a range of borderline phenomena and pathology of the self in later years.
Studies such as these highlight the extent to which unresolved experiences of loss, neglect, sexual, emotional and physical abuse, and concomitant symptoms of post-traumatic stress, have been overlooked in the treatment of psychotic people. This suggests that the coping strategies and mental defences that people adopt to cope with trauma, such as dissociation and hyper-vigilance, confers vulnerability to psychosis.
Franz Fanon, an early pioneer in this field, understands the experience of racism as psychic trauma. The impact of powerlessness on the mental health of persons from ethnic minorities alienated from the mainstream white culture needs to be considered, as does the way in which mental illness may function as a form of communication in a context of overwhelming confusion and intrapsychic conflict. Fortunately, there is now a greater willingness among psychotherapists to work with people whose sense of a secure psychological self has been severely blighted by loss, abuse and trauma.
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Mental Slavery: Psychoanalytic Studies Of Caribbean People by Barbara Fletchman Smith
I am a relational psychoanalytic psychotherapist and author in private practice in central and south west London see below in 'Extra Information' for details of my practice addresses. I work with individuals, offer couples counselling and also supervise counsellors and psychotherapists.
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Read full description. See details and exclusions. Buy it now. Add to basket. Be the first to write a review About this product. About this product Product Information Examines the complex historical and psychological effects of slavery across generations of Caribbean people.