Apartheid Case Study

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Apartheid has been identified as a direct cause of mental health issues in South Africa. A case study on the Organization for Appropriate Social Services in South Africa (OASSSA) recognized the group’s greatest achievement as the establishment of the link between apartheid and mental health. OASSSA was a group of progressive, anti-apartheid mental health workers who first came together to discuss the land act because they “felt both angry and disenchanted at…the idea of discussing family dynamics and therapy within a homeland setting which [was] responsible for the break-up of thousands of families” (Hayes 2000, 328). Through their years working against the apartheid regime, OASSSA built a case as to why the social conditions produced by apartheid…show more content…
Under apartheid, approximately seventy-six percent of the white population had at least one black servant who was responsible for menial domestic work around the household. Apartheid policies thrived upon “the projected beliefs about the inferiority of non-white people” (Jahannes 1986, 749), which plays out not only through bias and segregation but also in irrational fears and hostile behavior towards Blacks. Black women working as servants described that this attitude resulted in them seeing themselves as inferior and dependent, and therefore they lack the motivation to develop themselves. Other occurrences of mental instability are caused by the inconsistent custom of having the domestic address their master’s children as boss and madam. This practice, which is only exacerbated by the fact that white children raised by black women grow up to become privileged white masters who continue the cycle, degrades the black women’s sense of self-worth and lead them to disregard their maternal instincts. The authors of the case study concluded that “the implicit assumption is that the ideology of apartheid creates circumstances for feelings of incompleteness and inferiority among this group of Blacks. Thus, apartheid has been created by the White racist minority to oppress and psychologically devastate the mental health of…show more content…
In particular, the effect of the violence during apartheid has a direct relationship to mental health disorder of PTSD. In their study a couple years after the end of apartheid, Ros Hirschowitz and Mark Orkin examined the effect of political violence prior to the first democratic elections on PTSD symptoms such as reliving aspects of trauma, avoiding situations which are reminiscent of the experience, and heightened irritability. They found that over twenty-three percent of South Africans aged sixteen to sixty-four had been exposed to one or more violent events, including being attacked, participating in violence, witnessing one’s being burnt and other traumatic events. Of those who experienced this violence, seventy-eight percent reported experiencing symptoms of PTSD as described above. They also described feelings of powerlessness, anxiety, depression, and fair or poor self-ratings of emotional well beings. Of the study, the authors concluded: “Healing the people of South African involves revealing the full extent of political violence that was committed during the apartheid era, confronting the effects of this violence and establishing both professional and community structures to deal with it on a large scale” (Hirschowitz and Orkin 1997, 169). Beyond apartheid, the notion of political violence linking directly with PTSD is not a new concept. In Sigli, Indonesia, an area
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