Colonial Psychiatry and the African Mind by Jock McCulloch

By Jock McCulloch

During this first background of the perform and theoretical underpinnings of colonial psychiatry in Africa, Jock McCulloch describes the scientific methods of famous eu psychiatrists who labored at once with indigenous Africans, between them Frantz Fanon, J.C. Carothers, and Wulf Sachs. They have been a disparate crew, working independently of each other, and more often than not in highbrow isolation. yet regardless of their adjustments, they shared a coherent set of rules approximately "The African Mind," premised at the colonial inspiration of African inferiority. In exploring the shut organization among the ideologies of settler societies and psychiatric examine, this interesting examine is without doubt one of the few makes an attempt to discover colonial technological know-how as a method of data and gear.

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Of immediate concern was the need to segregate the non-violent from the criminal cases. In 1932 Gordon made an appeal for amendments to existing legislation and for the introduction of new legislation to cover cases of mental deficiency. Such changes were to be delayed for many years. Mathari held African, European and Asiatic patients, a number of whom were native Goanese. Like Kenyan society itself, every aspect of the hospital's life was regulated by race, and each of the above groups was served an individual diet.

Over a quarter of the patients in Nigerian asylums had committed some crime, and to local psychiatrists this suggested an association between insanity and criminality. Rejecting this idea, Carothers observed that in England and Wales the majority of mental patients would eventually commit a crime if left outside institutions and in Nigeria such people were not treated until they had transgressed. It was the process of recruitment of inmates which explained the large number of criminal lunatics rather than the nature of mental illness itself.

The African wards were found to be not only poorly designed, with little light or ventilation, but practically derelict: 'The general design and layout of the buildings renders them totally unsuitable for a mental hospital. '15 There was no special accommodation for the physically ill, and many patients did not even have a bed to themselves. Despite the poor facilities the board found that the African inmates 38 Colonial psychiatry and 'the African mind' were well cared for and well fed, and that the European patients were as comfortable as inmates of lower-grade mental hospitals in Britain.

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