Post-Slavery Syndrome: Exploring The Clinical Impact Of The Trans-Atlantic Slave TradeWith Module Speakers:
Wayne Mertins-Brown, Eugene Ellis, Judy Ryde, Dr Aileen Alleyne, Foluke Taylor, Robert Downes, Lennox Thomas (1952-2020), ,
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This module is about living and practicing psychotherapy in a society that is deeply damaged by the legacy of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. Filmed at our 2019 conference, the discussion is premised on the theory that through the mostly unconscious transmission of intergenerational trauma, affect and narratives, we continue to perpetuate a destructive power disparity between today’s black and white communities; that we are locked into histories that we didn’t create but which control our thinking and which need to be continually challenged in order for us to grow emotionally as a society.Read More...
In curating the conference, we invited psychotherapists of all identities to come together to explore how post-slavery syndrome impacts upon our professional experience, our capacity to provide good therapy and appropriate trainings. This is not an easy discussion and it took courage to attend, to listen to these experiences with an open heart, and to develop a deeper sense of how we as individuals are positioned by our histories.
We heard how, for our black community this amounts to persistent experiences of feeling unsafe, devalued and misunderstood. For white people, the other side of this dyad often involves an emotional cocktail of shame, defensiveness and unwanted responsibility – sometimes referred to as “white-complexity syndrome”. It is suggested, however, that feelings of guilt are not useful. We are products of a system, not its architects. Nonetheless, adopting a sense of responsibility for addressing ongoing inequalities offers white mental health practitioners greater potential for insight, empathy and adaptability and the possibility of greater affinity with black colleagues.
Our hope was and is that by hearing stories about how People of Colour from the African diaspora as well as innovative white practitioners have developed a theory, vocabulary and therapeutic space for the post-slavery experience we can collaborate meaningfully across cultural barriers to find a shared meta-view of the post-slavery dynamic and roles played out between the black and white communities.