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Post-colonialism and mental health: Understanding the roast breadfruit

  • Frederick W. Hickling (a1) and Gerrard Hutchinson (a2)
Extract

We were encouraged by the many, varied, responses to our paper on the roast breadfruit psychosis (Hickling & Hutchinson, 1999). We have no intention of defining or creating a new nosological entity. We are proposing the centrality of identity negotiation as a psychological process occurring when one is faced with the concrete reality of racism and social exclusion. This process of negotiation, if unsuccessful, is a mechanism through which psychopathology can result as defined within the rubric of psychiatry. Identity negotiation as a trigger for psychosis must not be confused with nosological definition. One of the by-products of empires has been the European propensity to believe that their nosological constructs are universal and can therefore be applied to the cultural behaviour of their former subjects. This becomes dangerous when nosological characterisation is synonymous with pathology and the need for treatment, again in ways that are determined and deemed appropriate by the colonial hegemony. The construction of semiotic equivalence of knowledge and cultural systems that are widely diverse is another demonstration of the moulding of otherness into terms and perceptions understandable to the European mind and is as such the sine qua non of the European colonial experience. The post-colonial challenge is to seek liberation from these mechanisms and so foster insight into the behaviour and thought processes of both the former colonisers and those people they colonised.

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This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
References
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Hickling, F.W. & Hutchinson, G. (1999) Roast breadfruit psychosis: disturbed racial identification in African-Caribbeans. Psychiatric Bulletin, 23, 132134.
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BJPsych Bulletin
  • ISSN: 0955-6036
  • EISSN: 1472-1473
  • URL: /core/journals/bjpsych-bulletin
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Post-colonialism and mental health: Understanding the roast breadfruit

  • Frederick W. Hickling (a1) and Gerrard Hutchinson (a2)
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