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One Side is Losing the War of Nerves

Joelle Dine

Posted on April 2, 2022 17:58

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Systemic discrimination can be a cause of complex post-traumatic stress disorder, and has been brewing a mental and physical health crisis in our marginalized communities for centuries.

We’ve been ignoring the link between systemic discrimination and complex post-traumatic stress disorder for far too long.

In Dr. Howard Thurman’s words: a “war of nerves,” or the constant threat and occurrence of emotional and physical violence, is an inherent trait of the minority experience. Cornel West described this societal structure as a constant degradation of worth, fueling despair and a lack of valuing of life–in other words, something that looks a lot like complex post-traumatic stress disorder.

Marginalized communities (i.e. women, racial minorities, and members of the LGBTQ+ community) have higher rates of C-PTSD, as well as poorer physical health. Unsurprisingly, poor physical health can be a result of C-PTSD as well; the condition is often accompanied by–on average–two chronic physical health conditions.

So why aren’t we willing to address the elephant in the room and acknowledge the health crisis we are creating in our marginalized communities?

Maybe because it benefits us?

Society itself is traumatic. It is. We have to learn the right motions, possess the right priorities and choose the correct path at a young age; or else we risk being ostracized or failing to complete the seemingly simple task of survival. We’re all experiencing some form of trauma day in and day out; and perhaps this is part of the reason we don’t want to acknowledge that despite our stressful or mediocre lives, others may have it worse–to our benefit.

But our poor treatment of minority groups only fuels the societal structure under which we all suffer. After all, race is a construct–as has been demonstrated throughout history with our constantly changing categorizations based on whatever benefited those in power at the time–and black simply exists as a counterpoint to white. We could all become “black” at any point.

In fact, our system of capitalism started with slavery: slaveowners collected data on enslaved workers every day, and if they didn’t meet quota, they were beaten or otherwise punished–but if they met quota, their quota increased.

In order to solve the health crisis present in marginalized communities, we have to get serious. We need education on the realities of mental health–not just “acceptable” issues like depression and ADHD, but more repudiated conditions as well; we need social-emotional learning in schools to encourage emotional control, empathy and critical thinking; we need a universal healthcare program; and we need to start addressing the realities of history and the present day with young children.

And we’re going to face backlash. A lot of it. It will probably take a total overturn of our current social and political structure.

But if we want anything resembling an equal society with life, liberty and justice for all, we have to get serious about it.

Joelle Dine

Posted on April 2, 2022 17:58

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Source: CS Monitor

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