A Case of Lost Self-Esteem & Isolation
By Eddie Griffin
Thursday, July 17, 2008
From Canada, Laina writes:
*** We have to acknowledge that mental illness does exist within our communities and publicize places where people can either seek treatment - whether it be via black psychologists, therapists or group settings… perhaps then we can come up with solutions to solve the problems.
A couple of years ago I was working on an article for the Toronto Star and was looking to interview a black psychiatrist. I couldn't find one… I was surprised that there were not more therapists of colour available - and sure it might not mean much what ethnicity your therapist is - but I think that it might be a hindrance for some people who do not want to talk to a white therapist. I know that I don't want to!
If that means encouraging black youth to get into psychiatry or psychology, or start discussion / therapy groups, that would be great. I want to start a group for trans-cultural adoptees such as myself, who feel that they are suffering from self-esteem issues and / or isolation. It might be a small, insignificant thing for some people, but it would be a start in the right direction.
Cheers, Laina / Writing is Fighting
Eddie Griffin response:
Mental Illness is the most dominate problem in the African-American community, not that Anglo-Americans are exempt. The problem is how we define “Mental Illness”.
Let’s look at four components of the above letter in context with the problem.
First is the observation of “mental illness” in the community. This raises the question: Mental Illness from what vantage point?
This reminds me of the story of man trying to commit his crazy uncle to the mental ward. When they arrived at the hospital, the crazy uncle flipped the script, accusing the sane nephew of being the “crazy one”, which the young man vigorously denied. The psychologist, not being able to distinguish who was which, wounded up confining the sane nephew and allowing the crazy uncle to go free.
I say that to say this: A white psychologist cannot diagnosis a black man. In fact, the mass of whites do not understand blacks, because blacks do not fit neatly into the paradigm.
For years, I have disputed with psychologists about their evaluation methodology.
I neither endorse nor subscribe to conventional psychology. Therefore, I can understand why Laina does not want to talk to a white therapist. In fact, I never understood how one person could psycho-evaluate what goes on in another person’s head.
Subjecting oneself to a psychotherapist, in my view, is like putting oneself into the hands of a hypnotist.
Second, Laina further writes: I was surprised that there were not more therapists of colour available. There are black psychologists that “get it”, but most do not.
Psychology is culturally based. That takes into account the uniqueness of the individual, the subject’s ethnicity and regional background.
I remember once contending against an MIT doctor that it was not possible to conceive what goes on inside the mind of a black man, especially a Texas outlaw. In a match of wits, where the stakes were high, the doctor lost. Conventional psychology does not fit black people.
Third, Laina suggests that more black youth pursue a study in psychology.
The field of psychology is still ill-defined. Looking at the dismal state of mass psychosis today, we can demonstrate no improvement in the socialization process, using the current “melting pot” curriculum, and an estranged cultural paradigm. People are acculturated differently.
Now there is new generational psychosis cropping up, unique to the younger generation. (Whacked, I called it). But there are lingering old maladies, such as drugs and alcoholism and the associated neurological damages prevalent in our culture. Although the brain may have the capability of repairing damaged neurological networks, once connectors are severed by substance abuse, the individual is never quite the same again.
It makes it no better that we are a heavily medicated society, not because of our psycho-physiological needs, as much as it is for the profit of pharmaceutical companies. Again, foreign chemical substances alter the function of the brain. Any person on drugs, legal or illegal, cannot think and function at full capacity. They call it a trade-off, robbing the mind to keep the body healthy.
Then there is the gene pool that produces various birth-related deformities that rob some of babies of their cognitive and intellectual abilities by the time they are born.
Of course, there are those who are shaped by environmental factors, including those heavily influenced of television-watching. These are people who mentally map their environment by the distortion and misinformation they see on television. These people, though normal in all other capacities, are customarily “blindsided” because of their idealized view of the world.
The susceptibility of being “blindsided” is demonstrated when the driver of one car runs into another. “It was an accident, because I did not see you,” is the usual explanation. But how could it be possible not to see something right before a person’s eyes? The only explanation is the some people put on mental blinders. They put their minds on autopilot based assumption, in order to let their minds rest and “not have to think”. Then, Oops! An accident happens that they never saw coming. So, it characterizes their permanent mental state.
Fourth, Laina writes: I want to start a group for trans-cultural adoptees such as myself, who feel that they are suffering from self-esteem issues and / or isolation.
Half of the solution is self-diagnosis. There other half is therapy. Assuming that nobody is 100% sane, we all, therefore, are undergoing some form of therapy, which I typically call the “socialization process”, learning how to live with self and those around you, and building healthy relationships.
What are self-esteem issues? It is how we perceive ourselves through our own eyes. It remembers of a story in the bible about a people who were “grasshoppers in their own eyes”. Therefore, they feared to take on the challenge of conquering the land. So, they wondered around in the wilderness for 40 years.
Take a look at the last 40 years of your life. Have you been wondering in the wilderness, with low self-esteem, a sense of hopelessness and helplessness?
Are you alone in the world, isolated and alienated… alienated from others… alienated from self?
If there is a new psychology curriculum, the scope should cover the subject: Alienation & Self-Alienation.
The suggestion of a starting a group for trans-cultural adoptees is a good idea. Laina must break out of the isolated shell. To be useful and hence more valuable, she must engage the world in a direct way.
From personal experience, Eddie Griffin engages the world by preaching the gospel. But the gospel seems not to be everybody’s cup of tea.