By Zulumathabo Zulu © 2017
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In the previous article, Reverse Engineering The Mind of the Colonizer – Part I, we gave a list of tools to be utilized in our higher science of reversing the mind of the colonizer. The purpose of reversing the mind of the colonizer is to uncover the inner workings of the mind via the mental processes, the brain structures involved and the brain chemistry that facilitates the mental states. In order to achieve this, we need an array of theoretical, analytical and methodological tools that will enable us to investigate the colonial phenomenon to produce new and high quality knowledge that will prove productive to those needing to use this knowledge to understand their colonial experience with the aim of decolonising that experience.
In this article, Reverse Engineering the Mind of the Colonizer – Part II, we have set out to cover the topical areas of the disharmony and negative mood states, historical perspective, decolonisation of psychology, theoretical and methodological tools, outline of reverse engineering tools and concluding remarks. However, the space does not allow us to cover all the topics of the thesis. We will cover enough ground today and then adjourn for another day.
Disharmony and Negative Mood States
In Western aetiology of mental illness, it is part of conventional practise to attribute causality of mental illness, including social anxiety, to genetic or chemical changes in the body. Although, this might be the case in some instances, the African aetiologists also give us another perspectival insight that a negative mood state or mental illness is also caused by an existence of disharmony between the organism and the natural environment.
In the unpublished book manuscripts The Color Medicine in the chapter African Aetiology of Mental Illness written by this author in Canada, we read the following:
“When an organism becomes disharmonious with its natural environment, the organism develops some form of psycho-emotional imbalance as a result of the overactivity of the HPA Axis (hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenalin axis). This imbalance manifests itself in a variety of ways including physical or mental illness. The sickness is an indirect consequence of disharmony with the natural environment via the causal chain of the HPA Axis.
In the case of mental illness, the phenomenon engenders a change in brain chemistry levels leading to some form of chemical imbalance with respect to the neurotransmitters such as serotonin, melatonin or GABA (gamma amynobutyric acid) levels, among others. These specific chemical messengers are key with respect to the ability of the organism to successfully interact in a social setting with others wherein mood stabilization, mood resilience and mood control are necessary.
Disharmony is synonymous with a mathematical theory of discontinuity in differential calculus. In this case of discontinuity, a discontinuous function reaches a point where it’s no longer possible to graph a value of an independent variable at a specific point because of an abrupt gap, hole or infinity. This is a sudden change similar to a chasm that cannot be continuously crossed. This disruptive change is equivalent to a precipitating incident that triggers disharmony”.
The Historical Perspective
The first person to be referred to as a psychologist is Dr. Wilhelm Wundt who founded an institute for the scientific study of psychology at the Leipzig University of Germany in 1879. However, Europeans are not the first to study mental illness.
The first documented case in the empirical study and application of therapeutics with respect to the mind appear in the ancient manuscript Ebers Papyrus, a book that is more than 3500 years old or 3567 years old to be exact. This historical document, also known as a medical manuscript written by the Africans of Egypt was removed from Africa and taken to the Leipzig University where it remains in permanent installation for the scientific benefit of the German academia while the African rightful owners of this scholarly material are cut off from it.
For this reason, Wilhelm Wundt, George Ebers and their Leipzig University are a bunch of thieves in stealing the scholarly works of the African ancients. I know some of you might say that George Ebers paid for the manuscript and therefore is not a thieve. The medical papyrus was buried with a mummy and the thieves came and removed it from between the legs of the mummy. Imagine someone stealing something between the legs of a corpse. How low does it get?
The idea of robbing a corpse is a strange one. The African ancients are recorded as highly spiritual and moral people. The legendary traveler, geographer and chronicler Ibn Battuta confirms the moral code that the African natives lived by in the 1300s, thus:
“One of the best things in these parts is, the regard they pay to justice; for, in this respect, the Sultan regards neither little nor much. The safety too, is very great; so that the traveller may proceed alone among them without the least fear of thief or robber. Another of their good properties is, that when a merchant happens to die among them, they will make no effort to take possession of his property; but will allow the lawful successors to it to take it”.
The theft of African intellectual property is legendary in our history as was the case during the colonial times which were also engineered and led by Germany in what is known as the Berlin Conference and the Scramble for Africa. Others in this traumatic business of brutalising the African natives, raping their land and removing their treasures include the English, the Portuguese, the Spaniards and the Dutch. In fact, when Wundt was busy building the institute of experimental psychology using stolen manuscripts from Africa, the English were busy in the same year of 1879 raping the land of Zululand and stealing her treasures.
I realise, I am digressing here and engaging in a moral argument. I need to come up with a scientific argument with respect to the aetiology of mental illness in a Western society. I will be giving a scientific argument in my subsequent articles with respect to the epistemologies, ontologies, axiologies, paradigms and methodologies in the production of knowledge in the discipline of mental illness. Ontology and methodology are particularly important since they determine the quality and substance of research outputs.
African Pioneers in Aetiology, Taxonomy and Therapeutics Before Europe
The African natives in the distant past pioneered and produced new knowledges in the area of aetiology, taxonomy and therapeutics including specialisation in the therapeutics of mental disorders.
In Odyssey written by the Greek writer and traveler Homer, it is recorded that the Africans in Egypt commanded superior medicinal knowledge and praxis in the treatment of mental illnesses. The author describes these African medicines as having “…such sovereign power and virtue…”. Homer goes on to say that once a person has taken this medicine mixed in wine, the individual “…cannot shed a single tear all the rest of the day, not even though his father and mother both of them drop down dead, or he sees a brother or a son hewn in pieces before his very eyes…”.
To witness your loved ones, like your parents, sibling or child brutally cut into pieces in front of you, has got to be most extreme experience of trauma. No one can survive that, not even me! However, Homer tells us that the Africans had a natural and medicinal solution to that traumatic experience.
This testimony to the efficacy of African medicines dealing with extreme forms of mental trauma confirms that the African medical pioneers have contributed greatly to modern medical science even though they never receive the credit and yet their knowledge is used and highly treasured. It is like a man who is in love with a woman but he only wants to consort with her in the dark because he does not want to be seen with her in the presence of others.
I shall rest here. In the next article, I will be covering decolonisation of psychology, theoretical and methodological tools and outline of reverse engineering tools.
To be continued…