Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome

Dr. Joy DeGruy has done an in-depth study about a condition she terms, Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome. She has subsequently written her analysis in the form of a book and study guide explaining what this condition entails, and why so many African Americans suffer under it. Her premise is that slave generations have resulted in three major drawbacks in social behaviour in African Americans. These include a lack of self worth, destructive behaviour towards themselves and their race, and general violent behaviour towards society.

Self destruction as a consequential attitude

According to Dr. DeGruy, generations of slavery have resulted in the genetic scarring of African Americans. This scarring has been carried through in their social behaviour and has drastically hindered their success in life. Dr. DeGruy also believes that African Americans need to identify this destructive attitude in order to move away from this kind of thinking. That is because it inevitably leads to violent behaviour and unnecessary tension between themselves and other races within America.

Rage and violent behaviour

Another theory provides the answer to why so many African Americans are prone to violent behaviour, speech, and thinking. Gang life plagues many cities in America and has resulted in countless deaths. Dr. DeGruy has studied this phenomenon and concluded that generations of abuse during years of slavery are the reason for this psychological state of mind. This abuse leads African Americans to a form of degradation of themselves, and those of their own culture and race.

Cultural insecurity

There is definitely a presence of cultural insecurity among African Americans—although to the untrained eye it is well hidden. African Americans are prone to act out in arrogance, but secretly have an aversion to people of their own race. They also use slanderous terms for each other—especially women—and then expect other races to avoid using these terms when addressing them. All of this points to a lack of self-confidence in who African Americans are as a people.

Dr. DeGruy may very well be on to something. She herself has spent years analyzing the behaviour and thinking patterns of African Americans and certainly seems to have hit on a sensitive, but relevant point. Taking her theories and further exploring them may pave the way for a mentally healthier society in America and less gang activity which has already claimed so many lives.


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