21 Slices
Medium 9781855759084

8. Parental Distress and Childhood Disturbance

Barbara Fletchman Smith Karnac Books ePub

At thirteen-months-old, Little S, and his family, were referred to child guidance by a doctor at a mother and baby clinic. Both parents had visited the clinic at the father’s insistence. He was concerned about Little S’s behaviour: he was throwing food around, rocking, and head-banging against the side of his cot. The referring doctor mentioned that—physically—Little S was developing satisfactorily, and seemed well-cared for.

The family—father, mother, S the older son, and Little S— arrived for their first appointment half-an-hour late. Father was very reluctant to come in and see me, and only came in when Older S asked him to do so. I was struck by how extremely unhappy both the parents looked. Mother was thirty-five years old. She looked young for her age, and wore her hair in a girlish style. Father, however, looked all of his forty-one years.

Father began by telling me that he thought his son had a medical problem and should see a doctor. At this, mother gave father a look of contempt and pointed out that S had already been to the doctor. However, they were both worried about their child and agreed that his behaviour was growing worse. They described how S was rocking and banging his head first on one end, and then at the other end of his cot. He was also covering his ears, as if he had earache. When he rocked the noise he made travelled throughout their house.

See All Chapters
Medium 9781855759084

12. When a Mother Dies

Barbara Fletchman Smith Karnac Books ePub

Seeds of rivalry and of open conflict between Caribbean Africans and migrants from India were sown in the period immediately following the abolition of slavery. After slavery, free men had the opportunity—for the first time—of organising their labour in order to receive the highest price for it. In response to this, however, the plantation owners simply imported indentured labour from India, China, Europe, and the region referred to today as the Middle East.

George Lamming, in his Foreword to Walter Rodney’s A History of the Guyanese Working People 1881-1905, writes:

Indentured labour was bound labour. It was deprived of all mobility and was therefore condemned to provide that reliability of service a crop like sugar demanded. The planter class, with the full permission of metropolitan power, had given itself the legal right to deploy this labour as it pleased… [W]hat the ruling class could not acquire by the normal play of the market forces had now been appropriated through legal sanctions. Indentured Indian labour was enslaved by the tyranny of the law that decided their relations to the land where they walked, and worked, and slept… The presence of this indentured labour had a direct and immediate effect on the bargaining power of the free labour force. (Lamming, in Rodney 1981)

See All Chapters
Medium 9781855759084

10. On 'Struggle'

Barbara Fletchman Smith Karnac Books ePub

The term ‘struggle’ is very much a part of the vocabulary of British Caribbean people. Although there are many social, political, and personal definitions of ‘struggle’, for the most part it is understood as referring to something which occurs between the individual and his or her outside world.

To my mind, ‘struggle’ is best understood as the refusal of a non-frustrating object—that is, as the rejection, by a person, of any object which might provide that person with satisfaction. In other words, ‘to struggle’ is to set oneself wilfully in direct opposition to ease and freedom. The circumstances which can lead a person to reject what might otherwise provide them with satisfaction will differ in each case. In my opinion, however, emotional deprivation, coupled with severe frustration from the external world, seem to be at the heart of all forms of struggle.

Because the person engaged in struggle chooses to reject satisfaction, this leads to a characteristic attitude of ‘acceptance’ of suffering and distress. During slavery, for instance, this ‘acceptance’ of suffering, this determination to struggle, was adopted with the simple aim of survival.

See All Chapters
Medium 9781855759084

5. On a Male Baby's Earliest Vicissitudes

Barbara Fletchman Smith Karnac Books ePub

Much of Galton Flood’s fictional babyhood is not made available to us. However, in this chapter I shall present more detailed observations on what passes between a young male baby and his parents—in particular his mother—by referring to actual case material. I hope to demonstrate the ways in which the child sometimes learns fear from his parents, and the ways in which this makes it difficult for him to resolve the Oedipus complex.

* * *

Baby G was born in the United Kingdom. His mother emigrated to the UK when she was eleven-years-old, in order to rejoin her mother after some years of separation. During this time Baby G’s mother had been cared for by a maternal aunt and grandmother. My understanding of the situation is that there were no men actively involved in her care, and that Baby G’s grandmother had migrated to the UK entirely on her own.

Baby G’s mother became pregnant for the first time during her teens. The father of this first child wanted to marry her. She refused this offer and eventually he married another woman, but he maintained an interest in their child, Baby G’s half-brother. He also provided some voluntary financial support, and their son went to him for regular weekend visits.

See All Chapters
Medium 9781855758964

Chapter 2: Slavery and Psychological Trauma

Barbara Fletchman Smith Karnac Books ePub

European slave trading began in the Fifteenth Century. The Portuguese were the first Europeans in the trade. As time passed the trade established itself permanently, aided by the stirring up of wars in Africa for the sole purpose of taking people from the continent. Profit became the sole motive for all involved in the trade—Africans, Arabs and Europeans. Contrary to what some would have us believe, Africans were involved in the trade and some became rich from it. Others had more humble reasons for becoming involved. By far the greatest beneficiaries were the British and the French.

Over hundreds of years of the British slave trade, millions of people were transported from Africa to the Caribbean and the Americas via Britain. For every one slave who survived the journey, many more died or committed suicide and were thrown overboard into the Atlantic.

Whole new societies were created as a result of slavery. Free labour was extracted from Africans. They were forced to take on heavy agricultural and industrial work, out of which sugar and its products were the most profitable commodities. Sugar plantations were highly organized places and what was learnt from the Caribbean plantations was put into practice in industrial settings (“plants”) in England. That the British Industrial Revolution was honed in the islands of the Caribbean may be hard to believe, but it is the case. Total control of a labour force took the development of industrial processes and the power of the industrialists as far as they could go. Free labour ensured maximum profits for the plantation owners and maximum tyranny for the Africans made slaves.

See All Chapters

See All Slices