Posted in Blog, Mental Health

Friendship – Check Please

I want to talk about friendship and when you allow the boundaries to be overstepped, in the sake of friendship, how many times, before it all becomes too far?

I’m a good friend, I build people up, I see their insecurities and I use that to encourage them. I guess lately because of my state of Mental Health I’ve expected the same back from my friends, however the reason why my circle of friends has diminished is because I haven’t gotten this back.

One of my best friends came over to my place last weekend, it was the first time we’d seen each other in about a year but we speak on the phone almost every weekend. I was extremely excited, I cleaned the flat and I cooked. When she came, my partner and I showed her around as it was the first time she’d seen the flat.

She spent a lot of time on her phone, but I also still had to finish up dinner…

She didn’t show as much enthusiasm for my Wall of Black Magic (my pride and joy), as I thought she would. But then, you can’t expect everybody to share your passions…

Wall of Black Magic

She made inferences about my not being “woke” enough and she’s always done this, because I’ve always had interracial relationships, however now it was really starting to touch a nerve, because of everything I’m doing on social media to raise awareness for Black Mental Health.

There were also inferences like, because I don’t wrap my hair at night, while watching “Girls’ Trip”, I’m therefore not properly Black. Perhaps it was a joke, but because of everything else that had happened, I didn’t find it funny, because taking 14 pills a day leaves me too exhausted to know my own name, let alone remember to wrap my fucking hair every night.

Which brings me to the real dagger of the event: we were discussing my plans for once I finish my MSc in two or three years time. Currently, my partner and I are discussing the option of my working part-time as a therapist with ethnic minorities, while also pursuing the option of working in Cultural Psychological Research part-time, perhaps a part-time PhD.

My friend felt that because of my health issues, I shouldn’t have contact with people and that perhaps, advocacy would be the best option for now. Not two or three years from now. Now.

I challenged her about this, by saying that we don’t have enough people of colour in therapy, plus we’re not talking about now, but two or three years time, however she still disagreed. I also challenged her by saying that research is incredibly stressful, especially for people with mental health issues – my other friend is doing a PhD and her supervisor is unforgiving, plus just look at the challenges I’m facing with research at MSc level.

But then I’m crazy, what do I know? And too disabled.

I messaged her about it the next day and she backtracked, saying that she claimed that she thought we were talking about my plans for now.

But you asked the question: what are my plans for after?

She still stood by her opinion however, and although I don’t have to take her opinion (which I told her that I won’t), she only wants the best for me.

My theory is that she also wants to be a therapist, sometime in the future, therefore why not have people like me do all of the hard work in the field of research so that she doesn’t have to.

So it was a disappointing day, even little things: to not have seen a friend in a year and not compliment them on their appearance? And I know that I have to check myself here, because I waste way too much mental energy on shit like this, analysing the absence of compliments, ESPECIALLY when I have a partner who tells me how fucking hot I am every day!

And I don’t build my friends up to get something in return… I’m not building savings accounts to dip into whenever I need them 🤔 but the lack of validation from childhood still runs deep and my close friends know this. And with the absence of therapy/ access to therapy, Women of Colour need their friends to build them up.

For example, my weave is just one of the things that makes me feel more Black, so a compliment from my closest Black friend about my hair would’ve validated my Blackness.

Or at least given me some confidence, which I really need right now, which embarrasses me to admit…

Instead, although she ate the chicken I cooked for her, she picked at my rice and peas and made constant inferences on my “woke-ness”.

Now I just feel deflated.

There is a proverb about friendship:

“One finger cannot hold up a thing”

which illustrates the need for others in our lives. Relationships can be communal or exchange; communal relationships benefit the well-being of the people within the relationship, like a community; exchange relationships are where people give benefits with the benefit that they will receive comparable benefits in return.

While writing this post, I also spoke to another friend who said that sometimes you just have to shut the door and keep the world on the outside of that door, with you and your partner alone on the inside. Close friendships are great, but there’s nothing like a great partnership and it’s you two against the rest of the world.

XOXO

Posted in Blog, Mental Health

When Racial Microaggressions Become Aggressive Racism

White people are funny.


One minute you’re having a conversation, which without your consent then becomes a debate. 

But that’s ok, because you can hold your own. But then there’s more of them than there are of you, so what do you do?



Well, you still hold your own because this is a debate, except they gang up against you, because you’re more intelligent than them and suddenly this is an argument and now they’re overstepping the mark.

Now you decide to respectfully leave.

Some are blocking your exits; some chase you down alleyways; some follow you down the staircase.


But this isn’t real life. This is social media.  


I took myself out of a situation on Facebook and now I’m being stalked on Twitter, and there’s nothing that Twitter can do because they’re not saying anything nasty to me. They just weren’t friends with me on Facebook, and I fell out with a mutual friend of ours, who didn’t like the way things ended, plus they also happen to be the bullies I mentioned, who were part of the “debate” and have somehow tracked me down on Twitter to ask me “what my problem is?” with unbelievably poor spelling, punctuation and grammar 🤪


These women were implicitly and aggressively racist.

They were aggressive in their methods, yet did not realise that they were being racist and this is the problem with white people today in Britain. They allowed their insecurities about themselves to get the better of them, which controlled their emotions and turned them into bullies; perhaps my friend has always been racist or perhaps she lost herself in this moment amongst her schema (social environment)… who knows? 


As for her mother… well… we all know what Freud says about mothers, so there isn’t much left to say is there really?! The fact that she would have to fabricate stories, on behalf of her daughter about my disability to try and alienate my Twitter followers says it all really doesn’t it?

These are the sort of women who will say:

But her nephew is mixed raced, how is she racist?

I have five Black friends, how am I a racist?

Mate, my partner is white, and most of my friends used to be too, however l have no problem in declaring my issues with White people, because of their problems with me.


I’ve experienced ontological insecurity before: always in breakdowns of relationships with white women, and therefore, I know the warning signals. Another reason why these women came to find me on Twitter was clearly to gaslight me, which just proves really that they really are racists. So if that’s the kind of person my friend was, based on her behaviour, plus her mother’s and friend’s too, then I’ve had a fucking lucky escape. 

You have a right to protect your mental health 💜

Posted in Blog, Mental Health

Violence and Aggression against African American Women and Children, by Cece Alexandra Noel (2017)

DV (Image source)

Violence and Aggression against African American Women and Children

by Cece Alexandra Noel (2017)

I believe the theory of evolutionary aggression and violence can be seen in the homes of African American families. People require more than food and shelter to survive, so this aggression is also societal.

Social learning theory (Anderson & Bushman, 2002) caused by institutional racism – either directly experienced or observed – conceptualises the anger, hatred and frustrations of African American men, which are then being displaced onto their partners, lovers and children.

Anderson & Bushman’s General aggression model (GAM), a holistic framework then looks at the multiple theories of aggression, however scholarship has emphasised the male experience as opposed to the female.

Hill Collins categorises violence into three dimensions – the second of which concerns the relationship between actions and speech. We can hypothesise that this quantifies as aggression and violence, designed to belittle, humiliate, and strip victims of their sense of worth, while the powerful individual inflicting the violence has no idea that they – in fact – are reproducing the subverted climate of fear seen outside of their homes. To return to the theory of evolutionary aggression – which would typically come from perpetrators of racism and therefore is designed to belittle and humiliate the minorities, Hill Collins’ theory correctly establishes the ethnography of abuse for African-American women and children: silence will yield better treatment; victims know that their homes will provide better refuge in a world that preys upon the weak (Hill Collins, p.925).

Unfortunately, the man knows his power over his household, as do his victims, therefore he must be playing a role of self-efficacy (Anderson & Bushman, 2002, p.36), for his specific aggressive acts have been chosen with the belief that those he has victimised will remain in fear, just like the generations of Black people before him. Anderson and Bushman also suggest that the anger-aggression linkage is one that humans are evolutionarily prepared to learn, particularly in relationships.

My next hypothesis therefore, considers environmental factors, which have stripped these men of their self-esteem, but which Anderson and Bushman’s GAM does fail to consider. Their frustration stems from relative depravation (Myers, 2013), because the American Dream has failed them, and they are taking their learnt aggression out on their families, which they perceive to be the only property of worth to them. With low levels of serotonin and high levels of testosterone, it is generally accepted that the expression of aggression is caused by a combination of environmental and genetic factors (Laureate, 2017).

Anderson and Bushman suggest Multisystemic therapy, which is not only family focused intervention; it is also a biosocial intervention framework, built around the individual, as well as the family, to understand the cues of aggression and violence, with the goal of reducing it.

But what if you can’t escape the aggression cues such as racism, racial inequalities or societal humiliation? How much will the person really change?

A study on Domestic Violence in the African American Community by Hampton, Oliver and Magarian (2003) found that not only providing employment for Black men was the solution to, but simultaneously re-educating them on their perceptions of Black women, by confronting sexist stereotypes and enhanced male-female relationships, was a solution to helping to reduce violence within families. This was also intrinsic to reforming the Black community.

However, social psychology contributes to the problem because these methodologies do not protect women and children. I challenge psychologists to create interventions with an emphasis on building a biosocial intervention frameworks for women and children within the African American community, to feel safe enough to come forward and break the pattern of evolutionary violence within families.

The repetitive vicious cycle of violence is also a major issue within the African American ethnographic; children are either forced to resolve conflicts or become imitators. The biopsychosocial model explains how children who directly experience violence or observe others’ aggressive behaviour, then replicate the same negative responses outside.

R.E. Davis (1997) raised the key point that providers do not offer intervention to allow this ethnographic the space to elicit information about early traumatic life events (Hampton, Magarian & Oliver, 2003), therefore the psychosocial needs for children are not being met, allowing the cycle to continue into the next generation.

Black women are perceived to be the property of their partners – particularly if they are unemployed, and even if they contribute to the community, because in the eyes of the perpetrator this is not a contribution to the household. The feminist activities during the Black Panther Movement, were and still are significant downplayed and women were appallingly treated by their male counterparts. This was also all witnessed by their children.

Naples’ Activist Mothering, is just one example of how African American women in modern memory, continue community work, which not only involves nurturing work for those outside one’s kinship group, but also encompasses a broad definition of actual “mothering practices” (Naples, p.448). As well as adapting their environment, women also opened their homes to young women with children, challenged “traditional notions of gender and mothering” (Naples, p.454) and bequeathed a new legacy to their children.

However, there were consequences such as overlapping demands. Within the community itself this was taken care of with “othermothers” (Troester, 1984) to assist with childcare, but some of the women reported problems within their personal relationships, which I hypothesise is causal to an escalation of domestic violence due to emasculation and jealousy. Some of the women also chose to obtain professional credentials (three African-Americans and seven Latinos), which may further cause provocation of violence at home. Other than the “othermothers”, no other intervention was provided for these women and their children to safeguard them.

African Americans live a bicultural reality (Collins, 1998), where the social process of violence is “hidden in plain sight” of children (Collins, 1998, p.925); Women are accused of betraying their race, should they report their partners and flee a perpetrator. Religion plays a huge part; Women especially, turn to their faith. Spirituality and the Black Church are anchors within the Black community (Billingsley, 1992). Yet, religious ideology undermines Black women and doctrine sanctions women for breaking marriages, while teaching their children that their fathers are the physical and spiritual author of the household (Bell & Mathis, 2000).

Research suggests that children who live in female-headed households do not do as well on several social indicators; for example, there is a higher school dropout rate among these children, and that daughters are at higher risk of becoming teen parents (Allison & Belgrave, 2006, p.64-65) However, this is not a reason to encourage victims to stay in abusive homes. Breaking the cycle of aggression and violence with divorce / separation has a higher psychosocial impact, than keeping children within the conflict.

What these women and particularly their children need, are early intervention. African American children are forced into an early adulthood: there is less warmth at home (Hofferth, 2003), and they are forced to take on adult roles, but outside are still expected to be children (Allison & Belgrave, 2006). What they need is an outlet and community violence intervention resources, which will prevent them from engaging in violence and early sexual intimacy (Allison & Belgrave, 2006).

 

References

Allison. K.W., & Belgrave. F.Z. (2006). African American Psychology: From Africa to America. Thousand Oaks, California: Sage Publications, Inc.  Section II, Social Systems & Structures, Chapter Three: Kinship & Family, “Consequences of Family Structure on Children’s Outcomes”, (p.64). Section III, Individual & Developmental Processes, Chapter Ten: “Lifespan Development”, (pp.242-244).

Anderson, C.A., & Bushman, B.J. (2002). Human Aggression, Annual Review of Psychology, 53(1)27-51.

FORA.tv. (n.d.). Genocide to Abu Ghraib: How good people turn evil [Video file]. Retrieved from http://library.fora.tv/2008/01/24/Genocide_to_Abu_Ghraib_How_Good_People_Turn_Evil#Abu_Ghraib_Dark_Side_of_Human_Nature

Hampton, R., Oliver, W., & Magarian, L. (2003). Domestic Violence in the African American Community: An Analysis of Social and Structural Factors, Violence Against Women, Vol. 9 No. 5, 533-557. DOI: 10.1177/1077801201150450.

Hill Collins, P. (1998). The tie that binds: race, gender and US violence, Ethnic and Racial Studies, 21(1)5, 917-938, DOI: 10.1080/01498798329720.

Myers, D. G., & Twenge, J. M. (2013). Social psychology (11th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw–Hill. Chapter 10, “Aggression: Hurting Others” (pp. 352–391).

Naples, N. (1992). Activist Mothering: Cross-Generational Continuity in the Community Work of Women from Low-Income Urban Neighbourhoods, Gender and Society, Vol. 6, No. 3. Race, Class & Gender, pp. 441-463. Retrieved from: http://www.jstor.org.stable/189996

Laureate Online, (2017) Week 7 Weekly Notes: Aggression and Violence [Social Psychology]. Retrieved from https://elearning.uol.ohecampus.com/bbcswebdav/institution/UKL1/201820OCT/MS_LPSY/LPSY_311/readings/LPSY_311_Week07_weeklyNotes.pdf

 

 

 

 

Posted in Blog, Mental Health

Psychology in the English-Speaking Caribbean, by Tony Ward and Frederick Hickling

Psychology in the English-speaking Caribbean

Tony Ward and Frederick Hickling, (August 2004), Psychology in the English-speaking Caribbean, The Psychologist. Vol 17, No. 8

 

During my research on cultural psychology in my first module of Mental Health Psychology, I stumbled upon the above article, which piqued my interest. As you know, I’ve been looking more and more into my culture – which is unfortunately difficult because St Lucia is a small island. However, this article really struck me, because Jamaica speaks for many in terms of the psychological damage Western imperialism and Colonialism has done to the Caribbean. 

“Surely British society owes a debt to the peoples who were colonised for economic advantage for over 350 years?”

“Sun-drenched beaches fringed by palm trees and turquoise waters, an abundance of rum, a laid-back atmosphere… as the largest of the English- speaking Caribbean islands, Jamaica shapes the view many Europeans have of the region. Few tourists venture far from the resort areas to discover the realities of Caribbean life for the ordinary people. If they did, they would discover a local population struggling to make a living, and areas beset with social problems including drugs and violence. Some 40 years after independence, these societies are still struggling with the legacy of European colonialism. It is within this context that psychology has recently become established, and there is much scope for the discipline to make an impact.

Overcoming the legacy of colonialism
At a time when the British have disowned their empire and schoolchildren are barely aware of this aspect of their country’s history, former colonies are still grappling with the legacy of colonialism. These effects include the virtual annihilation of the indigenous population, the re-population of the region by migration of European settlers, and the forced migration of African slaves. Each European colonial power reshaped the social environment in its own likeness and image, much of which remains in place today. Under British colonialism, the culture of the African majority was suppressed in favour of the minority rulers. The BBC provided the official news, with Sunday worship available at the Church of England in Jamaica. Glissant (1997) wrote passionately about the effect on his home country of Martinique of French cultural dominance, pointing out such anomalies as the local press regularly alerting the population to the first day of spring, in a country where the temperature rarely falls below 30° centigrade. At the end of such domination, populations are left struggling for a sense of identity (see Trimble et al., 2003, for more general discussion of the issue of ethnic and racial identity development).

Coupled to this is the legacy of 300 years of slavery. Whilst modern Europeans may have difficulty seeing why current African Caribbeans should still be affected by the legacy of slavery over 150 years after abolition, it is hard to imagine the effect of constantly knowing that one’s ancestors were forcibly removed from their homeland to work on the plantations of the New World. Most Caribbean people insist that the African retentions of language, religions, and cultural expressions of art drama, dance and music present in everyday life are constant reminders of the major and often traumatic syncretism with European culture.

Most Caribbean people strongly believe that such deep trauma on a people can result in long-lasting psychic upheaval, which must certainly be a question worthy of psychological attention. Such trauma might be evident in the psychological make-up of the individual, for example in feelings of inadequacy and low self-esteem. More obviously, the total dislocation of slavery and its subsequent impact is likely to have disrupted social and family practices. Such disruptions are quite likely to have permeated across several generations, resulting today in dysfunctional families, poor parenting and difficult relations between sexes. Even if the effect were not as dramatic as some suggest, the ongoing legacy of underdevelopment and economic disadvantage is very real and undeniable.

Furthermore, as people of colour, African Caribbeans have had to endure generations of racial prejudice […] Caribbean psychiatrists from Jamaica and Trinidad respectively, Hickling and Hutchinson (1999, 2000), have suggested that these racial identity conflicts in African Caribbean people – when brought into confrontation with European racism – may be a significant cause of the high rates of psychosis that have been reported in African Caribbean migrants to the UK and Holland.

In our opinion, all of these issues affecting post-colonial societies demand a dynamic response from the psychological profession. There are several other immediate concerns for psychology in the English-speaking Caribbean. Crime and violence is escalating, demanding an input from forensic psychology. The continuation of the plantation economy and old management practices, inherited from the colonial legacy and now perpetuated by the present ruling elite, have contributed to economic stagnation. These factors, and the need to adopt the latest technology, suggest a role for occupational psychology. Troubles in schools, an outdated selection system based upon the old English grammar school hierarchy, and families split by parents having to seek work abroad, all point to the need for educational and developmental specialists. A growing HIV/AIDS problem and mushrooming mental health needs further point to the need for health and clinical psychology.”

“Few tourists venture far from the resort areas to discover the realities of Caribbean life for the ordinary people”.

 

 

WEBLINKS:

Jamaican Psychological Society:

www.jps.org.jm Caribbean norms and test development as well as material on ethno-psychology:

www.neuropsychologica.com

References

Crossman, E., Ward,T., Wright, E., Matthies, B. & Hickling, F. (in press).Validation of the Zung Depression Rating Scale for use in Jamaica. West Indies Medical journal.

Fanon, F. (2000). Black skin, white masks. London:Avalon Travel Publications. (Original work published 1956 as Peau noire, masque blanc)

Glissant, E. ( 1997). The poetics of relation. Ann Arbor, Ml: University of Michigan Press.

Hickling, F.W.& Hutchinson,G. (1999).The roast breadfruit psychosis – Disturbed racial identification in African Caribbeans. Psychiatric Bulletin, 23, I -3.

Hickling, F.W.& Hutchinson,G. (2000).Post-colonialism and mental health: Understanding the roast breadfruit. Psychiatric Bulletin, 24,94-95 .

Hickling, F.W. & Matthies, B. (2004).Training clinical psychologists at the University of the West Indies [Letter to the editor]. West Indies Medical Journal, 52(4), 326.

Trimble, J.E., Helms,J.E.& Root, M.PP. (2003). Social and psychological perspectives on ethnic and racial identity. In Bernai, G..Trimble,J.E., Burlew,A.K. & Leong, F.T.L. (Eds.) Handbook of racial and ethnic minority psychology. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Ward.T. (2002, February). Validation and norms of the University of the West Indies cognitive assessment system. Paper presented at the annual conference of the International Neuropsychological Society,Toronto, Canada.

Dr Tony Ward is Head of Psychology at Newman College, Birmingham (previously a senior lecturer at the University of the West Indies). E-mail: a.ward@newman.ac. ilk.

Professor Frederick Hickling is Head of the Section of Psychiatry at the University of the West Indies at Mona, Kingston, Jamaica. E-mail: frederick. hickling@im>imona. edu.jm.