Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

A critical analysis of post traumatic slave syndrome: A multigenerational legacy of slavery
by Hicks, Shari Renee, Psy.D., California Institute of Integral Studies, 2015, 254; 3712420
Abstract (Summary)

This integrated literature review compiles past and present literature on the African Holocaust or Maafa to provide a more in-depth understanding of the unique sociopolitical narrative of the enslavement and oppression of Africans and African Americans for half a millennium in the United States. This study integrates historical data, theoretical literature, and clinical research to assess immediate and sequential impacts of the traumatization of the African Holocaust on enslaved and liberated Africans, African Americans, and their descendants. This investigation engages literature on trauma (Root, 1992), historical traumas (Duran, Duran, Brave Heart, & Yellow Horse-Davis, 1998), historical unresolved grief (Brave Heart & DeBruyn, 1998), and multigenerational trauma transmission (Danieli, 1998) to explore claims of slavery and relentless oppression leaving a psychological and behavioral legacy behind to the contemporary African American community (Abdullah, Kali, & Sheppard, 1995; Akbar, 1996; Leary, 2001, 2005; Poussaint & Alexander, 2000; B. L. Richardson & Wade, 1999). By and large, this study provides a comprehensive exploration and critical examination of Leary’s (2005) Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome theory (PTSS), which suggests that the traumatization of slavery and continued oppression (i.e., racism, discrimination, and marginalization) endured by enslaved Africans in the United States and their descendants over successive centuries has brought about a psychological and behavioral syndrome prevalent amongst 21st century African Americans. Findings from the critical analysis revealed that in addition to inheriting legacies of trauma from their enslaved and oppressed African ancestors, contemporary African Americans may have also inherited legacies of healing that have manifested as survival, strength, spirituality, perseverance, vitality, dynamism, and resiliency. Clinical implications from this research underscored the importance of not pathologizing present generations of African Americans for their attempts to cope with and adapt to perpetually oppressive environmental circumstances. Further quantitative and qualitative research that directly tests the applicability of PTSS within the African American community is needed to better grasp the representational generalizability of PTSS. Lastly, rather than focus on the repeated victimization of African Americans, the findings from this study suggest that future research should focus on the mental sickness of African Americans' oppressors in addition to identifying and delineating intergenerational legacies of survival, resilience, transcendence, and healing birthed out of the historical trauma of slavery.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Nzewi, Esther
Commitee: Morgan, Robert F.
School: California Institute of Integral Studies
Department: Clinical Psychology
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 76/11(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: African Studies, African American Studies, Ethnic studies
Keywords: African holocaust, Legacy of slavery, Maafa, Multigenerational trauma, PTSS, Post-traumatic slavery syndrome
Publication Number: 3712420
ISBN: 9781321892369
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