THE PSYCHIATRY AND THE PSYCHOSOCIAL, PATHOLOGY OF APARTHEID, 1948 – 1982

Notes and Documents
(13/83)
by John Dommisse, United Nations Centre Against Apartheid
New York, New York, United States
May 1983
24 pages
Type: Report
Coverage in Africa: South Africa
Coverage outside Africa: United States, United Nations
Language: English
Contents: Introduction • 1. Black humiliation and white arrogance • 2. Personality development (and polarization) of blacks and whites • 3. The psychiatric effects of physical debility that results from apartheid • 4. The role of the medical establishment in alleviating adverse health conditions • 5. Mental health services under apartheid • 6. The isolation and betrayal of the victims of apartheid by the world community, especially the West • 7. Recommendations • Notes • The document says Dr. Dommisse is a South African-born psychiatrist now living in Portsmouth, Virginia, USA; he has published and presented, inter alia, several papers on the psychology and psychiatry of apartheid and apartheid sports; he is a member of medical, psychiatric and public health associations and of the advisory board of the South African Military Refugee Aid Fund (SAMRAF); he is also the national Secretary of the American Co-ordinating Committee for Equality in Sport and Society (ACCESS). The document says apartheid is the notorious policy of the Afrikaner-Nationalist Government of South Africa which has held uninterrupted power since the almost-all-white general election of 1948; during the Second World War this Party voted against fighting Hitler; during the 1950s the electorate was purged of its Coloured and African male voters in the Cape Province by a 2/3 vote of both Houses, after unconstitutional "packing" of the Senate by the ruling Party, and is indeed all-white at this time; currently there is a move afoot by the Government to allow Coloured and Indian people to vote for separate, new chambers of the Central Parliament and for individuals from these groups to be appointed to the President's Council, a purely advisory body; whites would still retain complete power by virtue of their elected numbers and the President having the final say, in a dictatorial way. The document says throughout South Africa police repression is widespread; decent people's homes are raided in the early hours of the morning and individuals held incommunicado in detention, without trial or habeas corpus, for up to a year or more, often in solitary confinement and under other methods of torture, before being tried or killed or banned or forced to leave the country; some, like Dr. Neil Aggett in 1982, are driven to suicide by being interrogated continuously for periods of 62 hours or more and so 'broken' mentally, and forced to make written 'confessions' of anything the security police would like to 'prove'. The document says in one of the largest mass human removal-schemes in the history of the world, three million African people, according to the Black Sash (a white liberal women's group in South Africa), have been forcibly moved from the 'white' areas of the country to the 'homelands', which are not even economically viable, let alone politically or militarily; a further one million Indian and Coloured people have been moved from their ancestral homes and living areas in 'white' South Africa to new townships on the outskirts of cities and towns - to be out of the way but close enough to commute to work for the whites. The document says attempts by various multiracial church, student, political and sports groups to build co-operation have been severely restricted, banned or circumscribed in one way or another, partly because the Afrikaner Broederbond saw these as "the English-speaking whites banding together with blacks against the Afrikaner". The document discusses voting and other rights, 'Bantu homelands' (Bantustans), indigenous Africans, the African National Congress (ANC), the Pan-Africanist Congress (Pan Africanist Congress, PAC), Robben Island, maximum security prisons, the University of Natal Medical School, the Extension of University Education Act, the Medical University of South Africa (MEDUNSA), Natal University, Gordon Allport, Pellagra, Kwashiorkor, the Medical Association of South Africa (MASA, M.A.S.A.), the World Medical Association, the South African Medical Journal, a black physician, the South African Nursing Association, the South African Board of Psychology, the American Medical Association, liberation movements, racism, the American Psychiatric Association (A.P.A.) Taskforce on South Africa, the South African Department of Health, Dr. Platman, Dr. Stone, The Psychology of Apartheid by Peter Lambley, medicine, Valkenberg Hospital, the security police, the Race Classification Board, Steve Biko, Barbara Hogan, Dr. Verwoerd, Parliament, Cape Town, died in police detention, Dr. Liz Floyd, Mr. Ernest Dipale, the International Defence and Aid Fund for Southern Africa (IDAF), mentally-ill black persons, Dr. Sidney Bloch, Royal College of Psychiatrists, Association of South African Psychiatrists, the United Nations General Assembly, the Security Council, sanctions, and the Reagan administration (Ronald Reagan).